Friday, November 2, 2012

Distracting Noises

This morning I happened upon a verse I had not read before: Isaiah 30:33
"Topheth has long been prepared;  it has been made ready for the king. 
Its fire pit has been made deep and wide, with an abundance of fire and wood; 
the breath of the LORD, like a stream of burning sulfur, sets it ablaze."

Pretty strong language.
 I was curious. What is Topheth? 
What in the world happened there? Why does God’s Holy anger burn against it so? 

I did a little research. And I found out basically, it all goes back to sin.

Doesn't everything?

First, there was a god called Molech. Its origins are in all ways evil. It was a god who produced sun, or warmth - in theory of course. In practice Molech was only appeased by death. Primarily the death of children. First born, new born, babies. Or perhaps, if the need was there, some children up to age six or so.
Really? The death, by sacrifice, of babies?

Think about it.
Don’t let your brain go all Hollywood and visualize drums beating and crazy people carrying babies to a big fire then…
Cut! Crying mother and its over.
This was real. You can go to archaeological digs in the Middle East right now and see thousands of dead baby bones. Thousands of dead babies. One account says at one point the nobles- the upper class, affluent people- thought the god was angry with them because instead of giving their own babies they were buying babies from poor people and giving them as a substitute sacrifice. So their response was to repent and offer up 200 of their children all at once. But in their zeal more than 300 children were actually slaughtered.

The god was represented by a large hollow metal statue. Being the god of the sun’s warmth a fire was lit inside of the statue. Some accounts have the tiny babies being dumped inside the hollow burning part all at once. Some say the statue had outstretched hands ready to receive the little ones. Perhaps it was spring loaded and then fed the children into its own fiery belly. One account says that was probably too mechanically complex. The babies were just placed in the statues’ hands and left to slowly burn to death over several hours as the fires grew hotter and the heat transferred throughout the statues’ metal body.

Do you think that precious innocent one was screaming in terror and pain?
Crying out in the confusion of being abandoned and tortured?
If they were old enough, calling out, “mama, mama”...

Without a doubt they were crying.

So how do you keep a parent from being moved by this? 
Play the drums louder. 
Add some horns and flutes. Chant.
How do you keep anyone from being moved by this?
Mask over their cries with distracting noise.

The practice of Molech’s sacrifices has gone on for a very long time. Leviticus shows us God’s admonition to the Israelites way back in chapter 18 verse 21 
 "Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD." 
 Even though this edict is very plain, some leaders and people of Israel actually practiced this ritual. Where?


It was a place right outside of Jerusalem where the sacrifices were performed. The word means “altar” but it was not a place of beauty it soon just became a garbage dump. It was a place where death and discard reigned. There was a continual fire burning, probably to mask the smell. It was also called the Valley of Hennon. This place was so vile it eventually gave birth to the Greek word Gehenna which we know today as Hell.

The Scripture from Leviticus is pretty plain and straightforward, “Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD."  

Why shouldn’t you sacrifice your children?
Not because it is hurtful to the parents or will seriously deplete your population growth? 

No, because it profanes God’s name. It hurts the very core of who He is.  

We are all defined by our name. God chose to reveal Himself to us by His many descriptive names. He is our Redeemer, Provider, Healer, Shepherd and on and on. It is of great interest that God forbids sacrificing children because it compromises who He is. It profanes or negates His Holiness and goodness. What a connection. God must truly see these innocent ones as a reflection of His purity and power. He must value them as a piece of Himself; a precious reflection of the Creator of the Universe in a sweet small human form.  Don’t misunderstand, there were sacrifices of adults as well. But just as God has clearly explained to us what is right and wrong, so also the demons know evil and good. The worshipers of Molech were fully aware of the abomination, the blatant evil, involved in this practice and did it anyway because they knew, as well, the wondrous power of the holiness of God. If they were to effectively try to bring down the LORD they must fight fire with fire. Pure innocence compromised allows evil to reign.

Totally irrelevant to us today?

God’s Word is never irrelevant. It speaks to us throughout time.

I can hear the cries of the innocent babies echo from sacrificial fires burning strong and bright, right now, today. The children of the world are being sacrificed as easily as they were thousands of years ago. Every time I choose to indulge in a North American luxury and turn my face away from images of malnourished toddlers the drums beat louder. Every time I think the numbers are too great and I cannot possibly make a difference another worshiper pushes past me and tosses an innocent one into the flames.  Every time I ignore the cries of the children next door being beaten and silenced I pour fuel on the fires of evil triumphant. Each time I give in and say "some" abortions are needed...

Do not tell me that children are of value to you unless you can take a stand; do something besides cry and turn away. Do not raise your hands in praise beside me and offer worship to God as His name is profaned by your indifference and ignorance to the cries of the little ones.

I pray that one day we may truly see the Holiness of God and comprehend our unworthiness of His love. Then perhaps we can value what He holds most precious and guard it with our lives. Then perhaps we can understand how beautiful to Him our prayers for the protection of His children truly are. How valued are our few dollars when used to buy rice for hungry tummies. How life changing and life saving is our compassionate response to their needs. How tenderly loved by God we are when we simply hand a needy mother a blanket to hold her baby in instead of having it ripped from her to be tossed into the fire.

The weapons with which we fight this evil are simple: faith, hope and love. 

The greatest of these is Love.

The Bible and the End of the World: Should We Be Afraid? By Margaret Nutting Ralph

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