When I picture God, I picture a father in white robes with his arms open wide to comfort me. Good fathers are loving and protective. Fathers are also known to be fiercely protective of their children. God is our father. Above all, God is loving and forgiving. God can also be fierce. When you go to God and repent, God’s anger will often defuse. As a mom, I totally understand these emotions. When my children are misbehaving, I tell them to go to their rooms and calm down. After awhile, they come back to me and say “I’m sorry, Mommy,” and I move on and forget what happened. I just want them to stop behaving in ways that will harm them. God feels the same way about us, infinitely more.
God’s number one commandant is “Have no other gods before me”. God wants us only to worship him. There is only one God that created heaven and earth. When people worship other gods, they miss God’s almighty power and goodness. The old testament mentions Baal. The people were guilty of worshiping another god, Baal. The name ‘Baal’ means “Lord”. Baal was considered by some people to be the Lord of gods. Baal is mentioned about 90 times in the old testament.
The Lord’s Anger Against Israel
When Ephraim spoke, people trembled;
he was exalted in Israel.
But he became guilty of Baal worship and died.
–Hosea 13:1 (NIV)
Honestly, Baal creeps me out, and it is not my favorite subject. Our pastor explained the sacrifices to Baal during a Sunday service. Now, the name ‘BAAL’ pops out at me, whenever I read it. The people would have ceremonies, where they would create a brass figure. The priests would place a baby on the brass statue, light a fire and burn the baby alive. Sometimes, a ceremony would kill hundreds of babies.
It is said of these people,
“They offer human sacrifices!
They kiss calf-idols!”
–Hosea 13:2 (NIV)
This is such a horrific image to me. I hate thinking about it and writing about it. You may think, those people were savages! We would never do that now! Have you heard about the late abortion bill passed THIS YEAR in New York? Babies who are born alive from a late abortion, even a full term pregnancy, are left to die. Babies are starved of food and comfort and left to die. New York celebrated this new bill allowing babies to be killed by lighting up the One World Trade Center in pink lights. So yes, people are still killing new born babies, and now we celebrate it. It may not be on a brass figure. Now, it is in hospitals by educated doctors. Once this is acceptable, we will “sin more and more”, just like the Israelites.
“Now they sin more and more”
–Hosea 13:2 (NIV)
The first commandment holds society together. “Have no other gods before me”. There is only one God. When people start straying from God and worshiping idols and other things, there will be problems. God is mighty and so good. He does not want one of his children harmed. My kids used to ask why they had to listen to me. I would say that I am their mom, and its my job to make sure they don’t get hurt. In order to do my job, they have to listen to me. We need to listen to God, if we want the best out of life. God is our defender and protector. Like a parent, he must reprimand us, when we do the wrong thing, because God loves us so much.
“But I have been the Lord your God
ever since you came out of Egypt.
You shall acknowledge no God but me,
no Savior except me.
–Hosea 13:4 (NIV)
God is so loving, that if we repent, God will forgive us. Nothing that we do can stop us from God’s love. The Israelites worshipped other gods and killed their babies in sacrifices to false gods. Our loving, powerful father forgive them. When they repented, he not only forgave them, he went way beyond forgiveness. He promised to heal them and love them. God’s anger turned from them. God promised to be like a dew and have the Israelites “blossom like a lily”.
“I will heal their waywardness
and love them freely,
for my anger has turned away from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
he will blossom like a lily.”
–Hosea 14:4-5 (NIV)
God is a good father. God wants what is good for us. God has good plans for us and our lives. As a mom, I want the best for my kids. I get frustrated when they do the wrong thing or don’t use their gifts. Why? I want them to be happy. I want them to succeed. I don’t want them to go through the same difficulties that I had. As a mom, if I want what is best for my kids, how much more does our heavenly father want what is best for us? God knows what is best for us.
Who is wise? Let them realize these things.
Who is discerning? Let them understand.
The ways of the Lord are right;
the righteous walk in them,
but the rebellious stumble in them.
–Hosea 14:9 (NIV)
Other Mentions of Baal In The Bible
The Lord addresses the sins of the the people. The Lord asks if the people will steal, murder, commit adultery, perjury and burn incense to Baal and other gods and then go to the temple and worship God? Do the people think they are safe to do these detestable things, yet still go to the temple and worship God? The temple is a sacred place. God asks if the temple has become a den of robbers to the people? The Lord lets the people know that he has been watching. The Lord has seen the people do these detestable things.
“‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord.
–Jeremiah 7:9-11 (NIV)
The bible describes the temple of Baal and how Baal is worshiped. The people built high places to burn their sons and daughters in the fire. God did not command these sacrifices, nor did the sacrificing of children enter God’s mind. “They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire—something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind.” The place where the children are sacrificed will be known as the Valley of Slaughter.
The Valley of Slaughter
“‘The people of Judah have done evil in my eyes, declares the Lord. They have set up their detestable idols in the house that bears my Name and have defiled it. They have built the high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire—something I did not command, nor did it enter my mind. So beware, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when people will no longer call it Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter, for they will bury the dead in Topheth until there is no more room. Then the carcasses of this people will become food for the birds and the wild animals, and there will be no one to frighten them away. I will bring an end to the sounds of joy and gladness and to the voices of bride and bridegroom in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem, for the land will become desolate.
–Jeremiah 7:30-34 (NIV)