Sacrificing Children To Idols
Gene & Kathy White
“Moreover, you took your sons and daughters whom you had borne to Me, and you sacrificed them to idols to be devoured. Were your harlotries so small matter? You slaughtered my children, and offered them up to idols by causing them to pass through the fire” (Ezekiel 16:20–21).
The degeneration of the Israelites is graphically pictured in these verses. They had turned their hearts away from God to graven idols, even to the point of sacrificing their own children to these gods of wood and stone.
The worship of the god Molech was in particular a very gruesome ritual. Molech was the detestable god of the Ammonites, usually graven from brass. Its head was that of a calf with a crown on it, its arms were outstretched, and it was seated upon a throne. The idol was designed with a cavity at its abdomen. In this hole, a blazing fire burned, sending flames throughout its body and limbs. When its brazen arms were searing hot, the sacrificial victim was placed on them and almost immediately burned to death. From the time of King Ahaz downward, the Israelites actually sacrificed their own children to Molech by burning them alive (Commentary on the Old Testament, Keil and Delitzsch).
In our own hearts, we shudder and stoically declare, “How terrible! We would never do anything like that!” However, we should consider a moment before we condemn these Israelites of so long ago. Is it not possible that we, too, could be guilty of sacrificing our children to idols? Of course, we do not take our children to a literal graven image and sacrifice them as an offering to some “Molech.” I would suggest, however, that we do the same thing in sacrificing our children to the idols of our modern material world. Please consider the following:
• Do we sacrifice our children and their spiritual character on the altar of physical pleasure?
• Do we sacrifice our children and their spiritual growth on the altar of social advancement?
• Do we sacrifice our children and their spiritual development on the altar of earthly treasure?
• Do we sacrifice our children and their spiritual understanding on the altar of worldly knowledge?
• Do we sacrifice our children and their spirituality on the altar of sensual appetites?
Moral decay is all around us. Instead of being separate unto the Lord, Christians are striving to be as much like the godless world around them as possible. Worst of all, we are not teaching our children to be holy to God, to be different from the world. The Israelites sacrificed the physical bodies of their children to heathen gods. In like manner, we are sacrificing our children’s spiritual well-being to the gods of this present world. We must set our minds on the things from above and guide our children in the paths of righteousness. Let us do our duty as parents to raise up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Please consider these verses from Psalm 78:5–7: “For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should teach them to their children. That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children, that they should put their confidence in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.”
The Israelites of old were commanded to teach their children about Jehovah God. We read in Jeremiah 9:13–14 that these specially chosen people of God were actually teaching their children the “ways of idols”! Let us determine not to follow in the example of the Israelites. Rather, let us teach our children to place their confidence in the Lord of heaven, to not forget the works of God, and to keep His commandments.
Christianity Magazine: January 1988, Volume 5, Number 1. 1988. Christianity Magazine: Jacksonville, FL
The Family Psalms
(Psalms 127, 128)
by Gary Ogden
There is a lot said in the Bible about good family relationships. Psalms 127 and 128 are in effect twins, approaching the subject of family life from different angles. Let us reinstate in our homes the principles stated in these two Psalms.
Let the Lord be the center of the home
“Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it” (127:1). “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways” (128:1). How can we ever expect to have a good family life if we leave the Lord out of the picture? If things aren’t right with God, how can they be right with your mate, children, parents? When God and His word rule our hearts and lives, family life will be a pleasant and rich experience.
Don’t worry, be happy
“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves” (127:2, NIV). “When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you” (128:2, NKJV). The workplace these days can be a real test of stamina and keeping things in proper perspective. Somehow the child of God must find the way to go about his business, do a good job for the boss, use his paycheck wisely and leave the rest to God. A fretful, worrisome disposition creates great havoc in the family. A lack of contentment frequently is the cause. For some families, it makes no difference how much money you make; it is never enough. Poor spending habits create tension, worry and strife.
Worry is a sleep-robber. Most people turn into real grouches when they don’t get enough rest. Reminds me of the woman who lamented, “Sometimes I wake up grumpy, and sometimes I just let him sleep.” There is no substitute for a good night’s rest, and putting our trust in the Lord while we work hard will accomplish the goal.
Think of family as a blessing from God
“Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward” (127:3). “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table” (128:3). One of the attitudes that prevailed among the ancients was that children were a gift from God. They besought God for children and considered having a large family as beneficial. Many people view children as a curse and a blight to be eradicated. Why do we have so many “unwanted children” these days? Quite simply, people do not fear the Lord and walk in His ways.
If you have a good wife and a house full of well-behaved children, you are a blessed man indeed. Good children look after the welfare of the parents in days of infirmity and old age; they espouse the cause of their parents when they need a defender; they produce grandchildren who become the “crown of old men” (Proverbs 17:6).
I’m not in the grandparent business yet, although I qualify by reason of age and wisdom. I do have a number of friends who declare that having grandchildren has great recompense of reward. If children are like having “olive plants around your table” (Psalm 128:3), grandchildren must be like having chocolate cake all day long. The best thing about grandchildren is that they give you yet another chance to nurture a soul bound for eternity. Let us help them learn to fear the Lord and walk in His ways.
The psalmist concludes with a prayer: “May the Lord bless you from Zion all the days of your life; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem, and may you live to see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel” (128:5–6). We need to be praying for our families. I hope and pray that you and yours will make the Lord the center of your home, that you will fear Him and walk in His ways, that you will treat your family as a precious gift from God and that peace, peace of mind, and prosperity will prevail in your home.
Christianity Magazine: March–April 1994, Volume 11, Number 3. 1994. Christianity Magazine: Jacksonville, FL
by Mike Grushon
THE CONCEPT OF offering blood as a sacrifice for sin is a basic principle of the Bible. God revealed to Noah the principle that the life power is found in the blood, saying, “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood” (Genesis 9:4). While God was talking with Noah about the role of blood in relation to physical life, we can also observe that the Bible establishes a vital link between the blood and spiritual life. The Hebrew writer says, “Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).
We live in a time when people, including many professing Christians, find the concept of forgiveness through the shedding of sacrificial blood to be primitive and distasteful. Neglect of the Bible doctrine of sacrifice has resulted in a religion that is devoid of the power and vitality that characterized the early church. We need to be able to sing with conviction: “There is power … wonder working power, in the precious blood of the Lamb.” That, indeed, is the essence of propitiation.
The doctrine of propitiation is an expression of God’s mercy. In Luke 18:13, the publican prayed: “God be merciful to me, the sinner.” The word translated “merciful” in that passage is also translated propitiation in other passages. Propitiation simply refers to God’s mercy as it is expressed through the sacrifice of His Son. “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17). Propitiation, however, is more than merely understanding that it involves the sacrifice of Christ; it also includes a proper understanding of the nature of that sacrifice.
The Greeks used the various words for propitiation in the sense of something offered to their gods to appease them. The Bible uses the word in a slightly different manner and the distinction is essential. To the Greeks, a propitious sacrifice was something man offered to his gods to satisfy their anger and to avoid their wrath. In the Bible, the word is used to describe the loving action of a God offended by sin, who offers His Son as the sacrifice for the sinner. Paul would thus say of Jesus, “Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood” (Romans 3:25). And John would say, “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins …” (1 John 2:2). Propitiation, therefore, is the offering by God of His Son as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. On our own, we would never have been able to provide such a magnificent sacrifice.
The doctrine of propitiation affirms that the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross was not a coincidental circumstance of history. It was the planned, central purpose of His coming to this world. John confirmed this when he declared, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus openly proclaimed that this was the purpose of His mission. He called Himself a “ransom” (Mark 10:45). While preparing His disciples for His death, He said, “Now my soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I came to this hour” (John 12:27). Jesus willingly went to the cross out of love for the lost. He went to the cross as a propitiation—the only sacrifice perfectly suited to atone for the sins of man.
Can we see the magnificence of this doctrine? God’s love for us was so great that He Himself provided the only acceptable sacrifice for our sins (1 John 4:10). It is interesting to note that the word translated propitiation is used in the Old Testament. It is used in Exodus 25:18–22 to identify the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant. The mercy seat was the place where the sacrificial blood was sprinkled on the Day of Atonement. The Jews were thus reminded of God’s great mercy and love. We are the blessed partakers of the ultimate expression of that love, for we are the beneficiaries of Christ’s propitious sacrifice. Thus we can sing:
“In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see;
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.”
Grushon, M. (1987). Propitiation. In B. Lewis (Ed.), Christianity Magazine: February 1987, Volume 4, Number 2 (B. Lewis, Ed.) (17). Jacksonville, FL: Christianity Magazine.
Give Meaning To Those Goals & Resolutions, Have Purpose!
Part 3: Do Your Goals & Resolutions Help Achieve His Purposes?
I find it refreshing to know that God has definite purposes for me. Many people ask what purpose God has for their life, assuming that He has different purposes for different people. Perhaps in some small way this is true since all of us have different roles in life, but ultimately God’s purposes for each person are the same: 1) glorify Him and 2) be with Him. Our last post focused on three ways we can achieve God’s purposes (praise Him, seek holiness and bless others), but what does that mean for our goals and resolutions? Everything.
First, thinking about God’s purposes and how they can be achieved will give greater meaning to the goals and resolutions that we’ve already made. For instance…
- Did you make a fitness resolution? Why? Perhaps your clothes were fitting a little snug, or you’re just tired of feeling tired. Have you thought how this goal also matches with God’s purposes for you? If our bodies are truly the temple of God, then our bodies are meant to glorify Him (1Cor. 6:19-20)! It’s hard to glorify God in our bodies when they are run down by poor diet and lack of exercise. Furthermore, if blessing others is one of the main ways that we glorify God, we may find that those fitness resolutions are making us more fit and able to bless others.
- Did you resolve to kick a bad habit? Great, and may God bless your efforts! And why wouldn’t He since ridding yourself of whatever the defilement is will help you to be holy as He is holy (1Peter 1:16)? So, if you have days when you struggle with this resolution (and there will certainly be struggles) remember that this is helping you glorify God!
- Did you resolve to read the Bible this year? A fantastic resolution, but why did you make it? Were you feeling guilty because you know a Christian should be reading his Bible, but you weren’t? We’ve all been there, but let’s not read the Bible out of guilt or it will quickly become a chore. Consider how daily Bible reading helps you fulfill God’s purposes. In its pages you will discover reasons to praise God and ways of doing so. It points the way to holy living and prepares us to bless others. In short, the Bible guides us in glorifying God and directs our paths to Him!
Second, let God’s purposes guide you into making new resolutions and goals. How can you resolve to praise God more this year? Perhaps you will set a goal of praying more and actually praising His name, rather than reciting a list of needs. Or maybe you’ll resolve to simply talk about our Father more. How can you resolve to seek holiness this year? Set a goal to get your eyes off of the TV or resolve to be offline more than you’re online. How can you resolve to bless others this year? Have you been spending too much time at work and not enough time blessing your family? Resolve to change! Have that paycheck spent before it’s even in your hand? No money left over for charitable deeds? Set a goal to rid yourself of debt and to use what the Lord provides to help others. Those are a few examples, but as you know the possibilities are truly endless.
If this last post seems incomplete, that’s because it is. I’m still meditating on and praying about God’s purposes, still considering how His purposes will shape my life in the coming year. My wife and I are planning on discussing this weekend what God’s purposes mean for our family. One thing I know is that I feel good about this year, confident that God will be with me and my family every step of the way as we seek to glorify Him and ultimately be with Him.
Give Meaning To Those Goals & Resolutions, Have Purpose!
Part 2: How Can God’s Purposes Be Achieved
If our goals and resolutions are to be meaningful they need to match-up with God’s purposes for us. In part one we looked at the purposes God has for man: 1) to glorify Him and 2) to be with Him. But how can these purposes be achieved, how can we glorify God so that we can ultimately be with God? From the Scriptures I propose three ways we can achieve God’s purposes. Again, you may disagree with the number, but hopefully you will find these three sufficiently helpful.
First, God’s purposes can be achieved through a life of praise. We’ve already noted the Psalmist’s proclamation that the Lord should “be glad in all His works” (Ps. 104:31). So, the Psalmist declared that he would “sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being” (vs. 33). Of course praising God is more than singing or saying thanks, although there should be a healthy dose of that in our lives! A life of praise is a life of gratitude and contentment. As the Hebrew writer reminds us, “make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’” (Heb. 13:5-6). Do you want to live a life that glorifies God? Then praise Him in your life, having full assurance that He is all you will ever need!
Second, God’s purposes can be achieved through seeking holiness. In both Old and New Testaments God exhorts His people to “be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:45; 1Peter 1:16). Through Christ we can be holy before Him (see Eph. 1:4; Col. 1:22), the grace of God cleansing us of our sins and making us His children. Furthermore, we are exhorted to “cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2Cor. 7:1). If you were wondering, here is where obedience fits in the picture. While we can only be holy because of God’s grace, we must also commit ourselves to holy living. His commands are not arbitrary, but were given so that through faithfully following Him we can be holy like Him. Do you want to live a life that glorifies God? Then commit yourself to holy living!
Third, God’s purposes can be achieved through blessing others. Sometimes lost amid God’s promises to Abraham in Genesis 12 is that fact that God said Abraham “would be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2). Without question, Abraham’s life of faithfulness was a blessing to those of his generation and for all generations to come. As the true children of Abraham we should desire to be a blessing to others. God would have me be a blessing to my wife by rejoicing in her, praising her and encouraging her spiritual growth (see Prov. 5:18; 31:28-29; 1Peter 3:7). God would have me be a blessing to my sons by lovingly bringing them up to follow His paths (see Gen. 18:19; Eph. 6:4). God would have me be a blessing to my brethren by looking for ways to encourage, edify and love them (see Heb. 10:24-25; 1John 3:10; 4:7-8). And God would have me love my community by setting an example of godliness, spreading His word and by being charitable (see Matt. 5:16; 1Tim. 6:18-19). Do you want to live a life that glorifies God? Then just as He has blessed you, you be a blessing to others!
Next Post: Do Your Goals & Resolutions Help Achieve His Purposes?