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Expository Embryology


If the womb had a window, abortions would likely end.

Before ultrasounds, Psalm 139:16-19 gave us that window.


For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works; my soul know it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret.

Intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them,

The days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." -Psalm 139:13-16


Genesis 2 reveals that God personally formed the first humans at creation. Psalm 139 reveals that God personally forms all humans in procreation.


CREATION

Creator God spoke everything into existence out of nothing (ex nihilo). Except for humans. That was different. Creating humans in His image was completely Hands on. Here's how things went down on that first Friday "Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living creation." (Genesis 2:7) God used previously created material, "dust" (earth, clay or mud) to form man. The Hebrew word for "formed" is yatsar and describes the work of a potter in other Old Testament passages. (Jeremiah 18:1-4; Isaiah 45:9). God Almighty got His Hands dirty while making man's material part. Then He breathed into the nasal cavity of this newly formed mud man, the breath of life and created the spiritual part. Later Friday afternoon, God performed surgery on Adam, removed one rib, and formed the female, Eve.


PROCREATION

Eve understood that procreation was also the Creator's personal work. The inaugural birth announcement read, "I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord." (Genesis 4:1) The Psalmist echoes Eve's understanding saying, "...For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb." Creator God personally forms humans in utero. It amazes the mind to envision God using His Hands to form our first parents. But it humbles and greatly affects my heart to contemplate that God formed me in my mother's womb during the months of January to October, 1973. He did it. God was as personally involved in creating and forming each of us as he was in Adam and Eve's creation. Mind-blowing! Such personal involvement by Almighty God in 'fearfully and wonderfully' forming each of us should lead us to open-throated praise.


EMBRYOLOGY

The Bible is not a history book.

But when its speaks of past events it is always accurate.

The Bible is not an embryology textbook either.

But when it speaks of prenatal development, it is always perfectly true.


So, when God says he "formed our inward parts" and that "he knit us together in our mother's womb" what does that look like?


Embryology 101: Life begins when an egg cell is successfully fertilized by a sperm cell and then those two cells modestly disappear conceiving one new cell, a human being at the zygote stage. Over the next few days layers appear in the cell that will ultimately develop into the body's systems. One cell layer (ectoderm) will become the nervous system, another cell layer (mesoderm) will become the skeletal system and another cell layer (endoderm) will become the digestive system and respiratory system. Now this distinct, living whole human being nestles safely in the mother's womb at the embryo stage. The next phase is organ development. During this stage, cells are communicating, splitting, and growing. Genes are being turned off and on. Bioelectric fields are giving instructions and marching orders to the cells. All functioning as a coordinated organism.


Who is the master planner? 

Scientists continue to be baffled about the source of these precise instructions. Who is the master planner? Their confusion is not surprising, really. A naturalistic-materialistic, evolutionary worldview, does not include foresight or planning. However, God takes credit for forming each human through His sovereign, algorithmic instruction manual. While many embryologists would not agree that humans are formed personally by Creator God, they do agree that a human being comes into existence at fertilization.


"Human development begins at fertilization when a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoon) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell-a zygote. This highly specialized totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as unique individuals."

-The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology , p.15


So here is Critical Reproductive Truth #2:

Critical Reproductive Truth #2: 
The unborn are distinct, living and whole human beings. 

You didn't come from a zygote. You once were a zygote.

You didn't come from an embryo. You once were an embryo.

You didn't come from a fetus. You once were a fetus.

You didn't come from an infant. You once were an infant.

You didn't come from a toddler. You once were a toddler.

You didn't come from a teenager. You once were a teenager.


My wife is great about putting together photo albums for each of our children. Each of the albums starts with a black and white photo from their ultrasound. When we sit down together to look through those albums with our ,now much older children, and we point to those prenatal images, we don't say, "Look! There's a picture of a fetus!" Of course we don't. What do we say? "Look, there's a picture of you in Mommy's belly."


"My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret.

Intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them."


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