Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Modern Day Prophets of Baal

In God We Trust. It's on our money, but is it in our hearts?

There is a great story in the Bible featuring a really tough old dude named Elijah. Imagine a guy who acts like John Wayne and looks like Mongo. If you don't know who Mongo is, then think big and hairy. How can you NOT know who Mongo is? Elijah goes to battle against 450 men. Not a physical fight to the death, but a spiritual fight to the death. The battle is actually between El Shaddai and Baal, respectively represented by Elijah versus the 450. Seems like a mismatch, but not in the way you think. You see, this battle really is a mismatch of incalculable proportions. The Deity who created all and is all powerful versus an imaginary person. I can just see the WWF advertisement: "SMACKDOWN! Hulk Hogan versus little Timmy's imaginary friend!!!"

Regardless of the truth, Elijah had to feel outnumbered physically even if he had the decided spiritual advantage. How often do you find yourself in the same situation? The visible circumstances of life seem to cloud the reality of the situation. The God of the universe has revealed Himself as "The Lord who provides" (a.k.a. El Shaddai) and has promised to go with us through any valley as the Lord our Shepherd. If that is the truth, then why are there more Elijahs running scared than facing off against the Baal-worshipping loons.

I've talked with many Christians and I keep hearing the same theme -- our country and our world is messed up! Many believers feel overwhelmed by the opposition. Honestly, I don't think this is anything new or that believers face more extreme opposition than those in the past. Christianity has always been opposed by the enemy and by his prophets of Baal. Christians are up against formidible foes such as crime, violence, drugs, abortion, hedonism, unbelief, false teaching, sexual perversions, and various other examples of sinful behavior. Apparently Paul witnessed the same kind of wickedness in his day and records that it was nothing new then.

Romans 1:21-32 Because, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is shameful, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was fitting. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not proper; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they who commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

It is important to note that we are not alone in this struggle. Elijah felt all alone. It is common for Christian leaders to feel alone. That is one major reason so many fall victim to the very sins they despise. Facing off against the modern day prophets of Baal is not for the feint of heart. On the other hand, you don't have to be big and hairy either. I believe Paul has the answer in Romans 1 to prevent any person from cooking up this "recipe for paganism"? Know God. Glorify God. Thank God.

Who are these modern prophets of Baal? Where do I start? How about the fools who want to remove God from any public displays? The Freedom from Religion Foundation is suing to prevent our nation's motto, "In God we trust" and the pledge of allegiance (at least the "under God" part) from being engraved into public displays. Think they will regret that decisions one day? Let's encourage them to know God, glorify God, and thank God. How? Compel, convince, reason, proclaim and live the truth, preach the gospel, teach, intercede, lead, mentor, and above all love.

An integral part of Baal worship was child sacrifice. This is common among ancient pagan religions. We've come so far in our modern society! Instead of "sacrificing" our unwanted children to appease the gods, we attempt to prevent them from being born. As if killing them before they are born is somehow more humane! Instead of immitating the mentally sick by shooting abortion doctors, let's encourage them to know God, glorify God, and thank God.

Who was this Baal character anyway? What was he supposed to do? Baal's alter ego was "god of rain". The Canaanites trusted him to provide rain for their crops. Israel fell in love with the religion of Baal, so that is why he had such a following during Elijah's life. God punished the Israelites for worshipping Baal by - this is so cool - holding rain hostage for seven years. Not until after Baal's crushing defeat on Mount Carmel did God release the rain. When He did everyone knew it was from El Shaddai, the Lord Who provides, and not the rain god, Baal.

Times are getting tougher. People are losing their jobs. The golden age of prosperity in America may be coming to end or it may just be a slump; but people are worried. Where is our faith? Is it in the God who provides or something as helpless as Baal? A lot of folks are refusing to trust in God, they are refusing to know Him, glorify Him, or thank Him. Romans 1 gives us a clear picture of what their lives are like.

What about you? Are you going to trust in God? We are on the mountain; Elijah is mocking the prophets of Baal. They are cutting themselves trying to get their rain god to do something. Are you going to stand with Elijah and call out to the One True God for rain?


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