A passage in Deuteronomy 18 caught my eye today. Following its trail led me to an unexpected lesson.
Deuteronomy 18:9-14 prohibits the practice of witchcraft and idolatry. It specifically prohibits the practice of "making his son or daughter pass through the fire." Every time I read that, I think, "What parent would put their children in the fire?"
Historically, many parents have done that very terrible thing, and they have done it for a kind of personal gain. Molech was an Ammonite god to whom child sacrifices were made. Some sources say the large idol was built with outstretched arms. A fire was kindled inside the idol so that the arms became red hot. The child was placed into the heated arms of the idol as a living sacrifice to the god of fire. When the child was sacrificed, the parents believed they would receive some sort of "blessing" in return.
The idea that doing evil will somehow result in good is utter foolishness.
"Whoever does this is detestable to God... because of these detestable things the Lord your God will drive them out before you..." Deuteronomy 18:12 nasb
Several verses were dedicated to the banning of child sacrifice and I wondered about how much Moses had written. Was this a problem for people in the desert? Weren't they far from Molech and people who worshipped Molech?
Amos 5 gives us the answer. Yes. It was a problem. No. The children of Israel were not far from the worship of Molech at all, because they carried the idols with them on their journey from slavery.
Even after the miraculous deliverance from Egypt, even during the years of miraculous provision in the wilderness, the people kept their idols close at hand and worshipped them. It may not have been public worship, but scripture makes it clear that they sacrificed to the idols.
"Did you present Me with sacrifices and grain offerings in the wilderness for forty years, O house of Israel? You also carried along Sikkuth (Moloch) and Kiyyun, your images, the star of your gods which you made for yourselves. Therefore, I will make you go into exile beyond Damascus," says the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts." Amos 5:25-27 nasb
God warned the people not to associate with those who worshipped these pagan gods, yet they would not obey. They would not remove these tools of idolatry from their midst. Eventually, their foolish rebellion led them to sacrifice their own children.
Lest you think this was the foolishness of slaves, it was not. King Solomon became involved in the worship of Moloch (also spelled Molek) after he married foreign wives who drew his heart away from God. Both King Manassah (2 Kings 21:6) and King Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:1-4) sacrificed their own sons to Moloch.
Jeremiah tells us that this sacrifice of children was one of the reasons for the captivity in Babylon.
The enemy of our souls comes to steal, kill, and destroy. When we snuggle with the things of darkness, when we cling to bits of the world, our choices will extract a steep price and we should not be surprised.
God did not warn His people against worshipping evil because He was harsh or unkind. His warning was designed to protect us and our children from the toll that must be paid to the evil one when we bow down to him.
We have a choice. Will we cling to God alone or try to divide our heart between the worship of God yet still hold to a bit of darkness? The children of Israel found that a divided heart would cost them a terrible price in the end. It always does.
We live in a dark and desperate world. There is much evil here, but the people of God must turn from the darkness and embrace His light. We are the light of the world, but choosing darkness will make our light indistinguishable to people in need of Christ.
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."
John 10:10 nasb
Our choices affect our children for generations to come. If we believe what we say we believe, let us shed our hidden idolatry and allow God to purify our hearts.
Is there anything of the world in us? Let us join with David, who prayed, "Create in me a clean heart, O, God, and renew a right spirit within me." (Psalm 51:10)
Be sure to check the updated Prayer List
In case you missed one of the past week's posts, here are the links: God Uses Everything, Even Manwich, The Angel-Talk: Fear Not, How Will We Respond to God: Fear or Faith?, The Infinite Pi and the One Who Created It, What God Requires, Casting Stones, Forgiving, and Forgetting, and Being Altogether Joyful
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