Note that I did not capitalize "gods" in the title of this blog. That should tell you two things at least ... 1) My personal theology differentiates between small "g" gods and the Most High God, with a capital "G"; and 2) I acknowledge that other gods exist, and their impact on our culture is not only unproductive and unrighteous, but downright diabolical.
But I want you to understand that the reality of these gods is nothing new; that their influence in our culture is a repetition of their ancient authority and control as asserted in the Bible. They may have different names in the 21st Century, but the spirit behind them, and their assignments for the prince of darkness, remain the same. And there is a trinity of these ancient gods that lured the Israelites from their covenant with YHWH, and persuaded them to break the Second Commandment: "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3).
God had promised Abraham that He would bless and multiply his generations if they were faithful and obedient to follow His commandments and statutes; the land of Canaan would be theirs. BUT, God was very adamant that they resist the temptation to worship the Canaanite gods. At first, the Israelites were loyal, asking, "Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods?", declaring the supremacy of YHWH, at the same time they acknowledge the other gods existed. It was very clear that YHWH would not tolerate the idolatry of the Canaanites:
When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods (Deuteronomy 4:29-31).
Yet, they did not only become ensnared to follow after these gods, they compromised and jeopardized their promised inheritance. It is this same trinity of pagan gods that ensnares our culture today. So, let's take a look at them and see if you can tell how we have committed idolatry...
Ba'al. The name of this ancient pagan god has several meanings: "Master", "Husband", and the primary designation of "Possessor". Ba'al was the principal god of the Canaanites and considered the most powerful of all the gods. You can research the significance of this pagan god in all his religious influence, but for the sake of brevity in this post, I find that the description of him on the gotquestions.org website is the most succint and concise: "The Canaanites worshiped Baal as the sun god and as the storm god—he is usually depicted holding a lightning bolt—who defeated enemies and produced crops. They also worshiped him as a fertility god who provided children. Baal worship was rooted in sensuality and involved ritualistic prostitution in the temples. At times, appeasing Baal required human sacrifice, usually the firstborn of the one making the sacrifice (Jeremiah 19:5). The priests of Baal appealed to their god in rites of wild abandon which included loud, ecstatic cries and self-inflicted injury (1 Kings 18:28)".
And there is the well-known Biblical story of the confrontation between Elijah's God, YHWH, and the pagan god, Ba'al, worshiped by King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel. After three-and-a-half years of drought, Elijah challenged the prophets of Ba'al to a contest to see whether their pagan god, or the Most High God of Israel, controlled the rain. They set up a "dueling sacrifice", so to speak; each preparing a bull for a sacrifice to their God, declaring that their God would light the fire and consume the sacrifice. The 450 prophets of Ba'al prayed all day with all their might, calling for Ba'al to send fire from heaven, but there was no answer. With a simple prayer, Elijah called upon his God: "Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back". The fire of the Lord fell, consumed the sacrifice, and the people of Israel acknowledged that YHWH was the true God of Israel. And Elijah slaughtered the 450 prophets of Ba'al.
Ashtaroth/Asherah. This goddess was the wife of Ba'al and was known by several other names: Asherah, Ishtar, Aphrodite, Venus, and was acknowledged as "the Enchantress". She was the goddess of sexual immorality, confusing the natural order of sexuality. She had a priesthood that served her in her temple. The consistent word that described them was "prostitute". Throughout the Old Testament, the Israelites are continually warned that "none of the daughters or sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute" (Deuteronomy 23:17). Other translations use the words "temple prostitute" or "shrine prostitute", with the King James Bible being the most descriptive, declaring, "There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel".
The bottom line is that sexual perversion was practiced as the means of getting closer to the god, and these temples of Ashtaroth were dedicated to sexual rituals with the gods. Here is a quote from Dr. Merrill F. Unger, Dallas Theological Seminary and Ph.D. from John Hopkins: "The inhabitants of Canaan were addicted to Baal worship, which was conducted by priests in temples, and in good weather outdoors in fields, and particularly on hilltops called "high places." The cult included animal sacrifice, ritualistic meals, and licentious dances. Near the rock altar was a sacred pillar or massebah, and close by the symbol of the asherah, both of which apparently symbolized human fertility. High places had chambers for sacred prostitution by male prostitutes (kedishim) and sacred harlots (kedeshoth)."
Dr. Howard F. Vos, noted theologian, Professor Emeritus of History and Archeology, author of 25 books on the Bible, and co-author of the Wycliffe Encyclopedia has this say: "One may question that those ancient enemies of Israel were as evil as the Bible claims that they were, but even a superficial glance at Canaanite religion alone demonstrates their iniquity. Base sex worship was prevalent, and religious prostitution even commanded; human sacrifice was common; and it was a frequent practice--in an effort to placate their gods--to kill young children and bury them in the foundations of a house or public building at the time of construction: Joshua 6:26, "In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn." The base sex worship also involved men dressing up as women, and women dressing up as men in their perverted sexual rites.
Molech. Who was this ancient god? Once again, I refer to gotquestions.org for a comprehensive description: Moloch worship included child sacrifice, or “passing children through the fire.” It is believed that idols of Moloch were giant metal statues of a man with a bull’s head. Each image had a hole in the abdomen and possibly outstretched forearms that made a kind of ramp to the hole. A fire was lit in or around the statue. Babies were placed in the statue’s arms or in the hole. When a couple sacrificed their firstborn, they believed that Moloch would ensure financial prosperity for the family and future children.
Before the Israelites had even entered Canaan, God warned them not to participate in Moloch worship (Leviticus 18:21) and repeatedly told them to destroy those cultures that worshiped Moloch. The Israelites didn’t heed God’s warnings. Instead, they incorporated Moloch worship into their own traditions. Even Solomon, the wisest king, was swayed by this cult and built places of worship for Moloch and other gods (1 Kings 11:1–8). Moloch worship occurred in the “high places” (1 Kings 12:31) as well as a narrow ravine outside Jerusalem called the Valley of Hinnom (2 Kings 23:10).
So, that's a pretty good introduction to the primary gods that influenced the culture of God's chosen people in the days after He became known to their patriarchs. And if you think that the worship of this evil trio is confined to the ancient past, let me suggest the ways that Satan has infiltrated our culture with his representatives. We may not openly associate the idolatry in our culture to names like Ba'al, Ashtaroth, or Molech. But their influence is alive and well in our generation.
Our society has become fascinated and addicted to sexual immorality, which includes everything from pornography to transgenderism, and everything in-between. Men dress up as women to read stories to our children. Our public libraries encourage sexual indoctrination to our young children. We are hard-pressed to find entertainment on TV or in the movies that does not include some form of graphic sexual imagery. And I invite you to read a prophetic post I wrote in 2016 about the erection of a replica of the ancient Arch of the Temple of Bel (Ba'al) in New York City. Perhaps you will recognize that this act gave legal authority for the spirits of Ba'al and Ashtaroth to infiltrate the spiritual realm of our nation.
And need I make the connection between our modern culture and Molech? Planned Parenthood serves as the priests of modern Molech worship today, encouraging women to sacrifice their children at the altar of convenience and continued prosperity. I know there will be those who say this sounds like religious fanaticism, but I earnestly request that you take the eyes of your soul off the world for a moment and see what our culture looks like through the eyes of our majestic God. He is the same Ruler of Heaven today as He was when He gave the promised land to the descendants of Israel. He requires that the same moral standards of virture and loyality from us as He did from the ancient Israelites. But like the Israelites, we have given the ancient gods access to our culture and our future generations. And they are only too happy to repossess the spiritual territory they once owned.
Sadly, we are like the person mentioned in Luke 11 ... our house [which is our body and the temple of the Lord] has been swept clean [of evil occupiers] by the blood of Jesus and the forgiveness of our sins. But if we have not filled that vacant space with the knowledge and heart to obey the Lord, then those wicked entities will move in and bring seven [or more] of their wicked companions. That's what we've done -- over the last 50 years, our culture has attempted to remove every vestige and trace of God from our culture. He's been removed from our schools and replaced with false idols of pagan belief systems. We, who still live by His righteous moral absolutes are mocked and increasingly attacked for not falling in line with the adulterous culture.
So, if you are able to see [with unblinded eyes] the spiritual forces of ancient wickedness at work in our culture, then join God's remnant and go into the spirit to do as he instructed his servants in ancient Israel: tear down the altars and the high places; destroy the asherah poles and the temples of prostitution. Let's break the cycle of the influence of the ancient gods and restore the worship and obedience to the One True God. The Lord Jesus is returning soon, and until then, we have to rise up in our power to stem the tide of darkness and let His Light shine!
#paganworship #pagangodworship #baalworship #templeprostitution #returntotruegod #godofisrael #ancientidolatry
Deuteronomy 12:3 You shall tear down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim [Asherah poles] with fire. You shall chop down the carved images of their gods and destroy their name out of that place.