Summary: This sermon covers the background and current application of Baal and Molech worship.
Motif-“Baal and Molech have long arms”
Title-“American Idols: Baal and Molech in our Culture”
Enhancer: Today’s we talk about two bad guys from the Old Testament; Baal and Molech. These guys were like old luggage—they never went away and were always a source of problems and temptations for the ancient Hebrews
This weekend Kim and I rented and watched Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World and loved it. I think Russell Crowe might be one of the best actors around. He’s still no Mel Gibson, but he is certainly better than Ben Afleck, especially now that Bennifer is gone!
There is a scene in the film when the captain played by Russell Crowe proposes a toast. He holds his glass in the air and says with all appropriate seriousness, “To our wives and our sweethearts”. All the men at the table, the officers say dutifully, “here here”. Then Crowe says with a giggle, “may they never meet!”
We who are Christians have committed ourselves in covenantal marriage to Jesus. Yet we all live in secret desperation that he might find out about our other sweethearts. You know, the ones we lavish such attention on, the ones we can’t wait to see again, the ones we spend so much money on. What a terrible thing if God found out about them!
The weeping prophet from the Old Testament, Jeremiah, announced to Israel that God had indeed found out about their other sweethearts named Baal and Molech!
READ TEXT HERE!—Jeremiah 32:30-35
Jeremiah, as the mouthpiece of the one true God, Yahweh, implores the people to tear down their false idols for he will not bless them until they do.
Today we are equally guilty of harboring false idols and secretly devoting our best energy to pagan deities. We cannot be the wife of the King until we give up our other lovers.
We must tear down our idols.
Baal and Molech: Background Check
Through the words of the prophet Jeremiah, Yahweh, our one true God, is telling the people why he is about to send them out and why he is so mad at them. They have turned to Baal and to Molech. These were the two favorite false gods of the Old Testament. Time and time again the people would turn to these false demon deities.
Baal is one you’ve probably heard of. He has roots that go deep into the Hebrew history. Baal is semitic in origin which means geographically he is identified with Palestine. He is the local god. Archaeological evidence puts Baal worship predating Abraham. Literary evidence both in the Bible and in epigraphic sources outside the Bible indicate that Baal worship has been around indefinitely.
One way we can identify this is with names. Oftentimes Baal would appear as a prefix on a name like Jerubabaal in the book of Judges or Baal Peor as place in the book of Exodus. Perhaps the most famous is Jezebel, whose father’s name was Ethbaal which means “Baal is alive”. It is important to note that the modern word Belezebub, a synonym for Satan or the Devil, is actually a form of Baal zebub!
Whenever a good king would come into power, like David, Josiah, and Hezekiah one of the first things the Bible says he would do is pull down and destroy the high places and the Asherah. When you read the Old Testament, especially the history books, you’ll see the word Asherah a lot. Asherah and High Places are directly related to Baal worship. Asherah is the name of the wife of Baal. In fact, Asherah is a generic term that was applied to the female consort of all of the Near Eastern gods, even Molech. There are even some curious places where the archaeological record reflects a belief in an Asherah of Yahweh.
Baal was worshipped in a rhythmic, cyclical way. The Asherah poles which were high, hence high places is where the worship took place. Baal is associated with weather patterns, seasons, and fertility. It was, for example, believed that Baal died every winter and then was born every spring. With his birth comes the spring harvest and blossoms. Then he thrives through summer and ages in fall only to die in winter.
It was believed that public, cultic sex would bring his rebirth every spring. Baal worship included female and male prostitutes along with homosexual acts.
Baal worship emphasized the environment.
Baal was worshiped through by practicing sexual perversion.
Baal was tangible. One could taste the crops yielded. People could feel the pleasure of sex. It felt like the right thing to do.
Molech is a little more mysterious than Baal. Admittedly we do not know as much about him. He comes from the region of Tyre in Palestine, but most certainly was imported to Tyre by the ancient Phoenicians. You’ll remember the Phoenicians from your world history because they are the empire that fought three wars with Rome and lost. The great military strategists Hannibal was from Phoenicia. Their great city was named Carthage.