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Posted in: Current Events, Education, Grow Together

06.28.23 ( Jeff Vines )

The Return of the Gods

(Excerpt from the Sermon)

Sermon Series: Under the Influence

We know in ancient literature that we find three gods that dominate the ancient world and that take on different forms as culture develops. Before, we talked about the God baal who shows up and basically tries to turn our attention away from God. The pursuit of God is now turned to the pursuit of something God has created, materialism. So, instead of worshiping God, we worship the blessings God has given us. We turn our attention to money, wealth, and power. Those are the things that give us meaning and security. So when Baal leaves, he ushers in Ishtar. Ishar is the God of sex, which illicit of pornography of every form of sexual immorality that you can imagine. Again, We traced how in those ancient writings, those things have been around for a long time.

Historically speaking, man gets weary of pleasure. He has so much pleasure, he gets weary. So he's gotta try something else. So he moves from worshiping stuff, materialism, to finding a way to worship one another. There's a great quote that I think is connected well with Ishtar or with the ashtoreth in the Old Testament and it goes like this, “Meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain. Meaning comes from being weary of pleasure, pleasure without God, without the sacred boundaries will actually leave you emptier than before”. In other words, when God goes, another God takes his place and that God will create insatiable lusts without a way to fill them. 

Before we go further, it must be noted that this series cannot be segmentable. You cannot compartmentalize this series. If you take one without the other, it can produce hate. I don't want you to do that. If you take another without the other, it can cause apathy. You got to take them all together with the culmination at the end of this series. So, the third God is a God by the name of Molech. He's the ancient God associated with Ishtar and Baal. You'll find him throughout ancient civilizations. His title is “The Destroyer”. In 1 Kings 11:7, “Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab on the hill that is east of Jerusalem and for Molech, the abomination of the people of ammon”. In Leviticus 18, God, as he gives his law, says to his people, “and you shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire of Molech.”

So when King Josiah attempted to bring the people back to God, he knew that the first thing you would have to do is obliterate the altars of Molech. He knew that Yahweh and Molech cannot coexist. So we're told in 2 Kings chapter 23, “and he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or daughter pass through the fire of Molech”. What is the fire? Well, Molech is the Spirit and God of child sacrifice. In the epic poem by John Milton, Paradise Lost, Milton writes this, “first Moloch, [which is another name for Molech] horrid king besmeared with blood, of human sacrifice. and parents' tears though for the noise of drums and timbrels loud, their children's cries unheard that pass’d through fire to his grim idol”. Winston Churchill used the figure of molech to speak of the evil of Adolf Hitler.

He said, “he [Hitler] had conjured up the fearful idol of an all-devouring moloch, of which he was priest and incarnation”. What is Churchill saying? He's saying that Hitler was possessed by the spirit of Molech. So what was the worship of Molech like? We don't have to guess. We find this among the Canaanites, the Greeks, the Romans, the Phoenicians and their African colony, Carthage. Diodorus Siculus, the Greek Historian states, “There was in their city a bronze image of Cronus, extending its hands, palms up and sloping toward the ground, so that each of the children when placed thereon rolled down and fell into a sort of gaping pit filled with fire.”

Now, why on earth would you want to murder or sacrifice your own children into the fires of Molech? it was happening in almost every culture, not just among the Amalekites, up until the Jesus movement. The first reason was because the children were undesirable if they were imperfect or blemished in some way. In fact, we've said before until Jesus came along, girls were not safe in the ancient world. They were the first to be sacrificed because they seemed to be more of a liability rather than an asset in an agrarian society.

The other reason that you would sacrifice your children in the fires of Molech is for the blessing of economic prosperity. A woman would be told that she would obtain the God's favor and she would be fruitful if she sacrificed her child in the fire for future economic success. Now, you and I can't imagine people offering their newborn babies up in a fire, and that's because you've been impacted by the Judeo-Christian value. The Greek historian, Cleitarchus, who wrote for Alexander the great, he said, “Out of reverence for Kronos, the Phoenicians, and especially the Carthaginians, whenever they seek to obtain some great favor, vow one of their children, burning it as a sacrifice to the deity, if they are especially eager to gain success.” 

Now, just as Baal ushers in Ishtar, remember what Baal does? He turns our attention away from God into the things God created. Ishtar ushers in Molech, in what way? Listen carefully. Ishtar ushers in unrestrained sex with no apparent concern with the ramifications. So in ancient times, actually in modern times as well but in ancient times, children were often the result of temple worship and sexual promiscuity. So in order to prevent a child born into this situation from hampering the mother or the father's economic life, the child then would be turned around and sacrificed back to Molech.

So sexual immorality with Ishtar's temple, an unwanted child occurs with the prostitutes and then you sacrifice the child to molech for economic gain. In modern times, as the sexual revolution bore its fruit in the sixties and seventies. And it did bear its fruit, didn't it? More and more children were conceived outta marriage and were more likely to be unwanted and eradicated. Abortion rates skyrocketed in America in the seventies, eighties, and nineties. Now it makes sense why? Because those were the years following the sexual revolution. 

So children, unwanted or unplanned, were produced from the sexual revolution, right? Free sex that actually wasn't free. It cost us immensely. I'm gonna make a statement. It's gonna be very harsh and like I said, you have to take all the sermons together. But abortion has become the modern day sacrifice to molech. 

Remember once again that the influence of the Jesus movement with the entrance of the gospel into the West, there was this inevitable clash or collision over the values of the sanctity of human life. So because of the Jesus movement, the value of women, the treatment of the weak, the care of the sick and the worth and protection of children born and unborn, the gospel brought an end to inequality and infanticide in the Roman world. As the Jesus movement spread like wildfire through the west, I had no idea until I'd done this research, the power of Psalm 139, the role that it played in the Jesus movement when it came to being concerned for the kids. Psalm 139, “you formed my inward parts, you covered me in my mother's womb. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in secret. And in your book, they were all written the days fashioned for me when as yet there were none of them”. Suddenly the Jesus movement understood that even when we are in our mother's womb, we are alive and we are a gift of God, and we are being shaped and formed. And God knows the number of our days. It was the Christian faith and the biblical valuing of life that brought protection to the young and unborn children and the definitive end of large scale murder. 

I know there are some women who are reading this who've had abortions. I hope you know that this is not a message of shame. This is a message to remind you of the forgiving power of Jesus Christ. The purpose of this message is to not somehow tell you that you're bad and you're worse than anybody else. You're not. But the purpose is to make us aware of what's going on in culture and to love you and to help you realize Jesus came to set the captives free. And I don't want you to be captive anymore.

So here's the question. We've asked it every week, has Molech returned to America?

That's not a hard question to answer, is it? 

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About the Author
Pastor Jeff Vines is the Lead Pastor of ONE&ALL Church. He spent twenty years on the mission field (Zimbabwe, New Zealand) planting churches and training leaders. Jeff is the author of Dinner with SKEPTICS: Defending God in a World that Makes No Sense (2008, 2011) and Unbroken: 8 Enduring Promises God Will Keep (2012). Jeff and his wife, Robin, have been married over 30 years and enjoy life with their kids Delaney & Sian, their daughter-in-law Jessica and sweet grandchildren Ada, Owen, & Layla.

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