166 – BAAL WORSHIP
We know that Baal was the supreme god of the Canaanites, which lived in Canaan before Israel came. When Jehovah called Abraham and made him the first promise, he took him from Haran and led him to the Promised Land, that is, Canaan. When he reached it, Abraham saw the land and Jehovah told him:“To your descendants I will give this land.” And the text says, “Now the Canaanite was then in the land” (Gen. 12:1-7). Who were the Canaanites? They were the descendants of Ham, the son of Noah who had seen the nakedness of his father. Noah cursed Canaan, son of Ham, who was, therefore, his grandson. The curse with which Noah cursed him was such that the Canaanites, Ham’s descendants, were all Sodomites. “And the territory of the Canaanite extended from Sidon as you go toward Gerar, as far as Gaza; as you go toward Sodom and Gomorrah and Admah and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. These are the sons of Ham, according to their languages, by their lands, by their nations” (Gen. 10:19-20; 9:20-25).
As the Canaanites were Sodomites and Baal their great god, the worship of Baal was abnormal and shameful. Let us read the prophet Jeremiah: “As many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to the shameful thing, altars to burn, altars to burn incense to Baal” (Jer. 11:13). These shameful services were practiced on the terraces of the houses of Jerusalem, and Jehovah brought Nebuchadnezzar to destroy the holy city by fire. Jeremiah predicted: “And the Chaldeans who are fighting against this city shall enter and set this city on fire and burn it, with the houses where people have offered incense to Baal on their roofs” (Jer. 32:29).
Well, the Moabites, Lot’s descendants, were Baal worshippers. Moab, son of Lot’s first-born, was born out of incest, a common thing in Sodom, where he lived (Gen. 19:31-38). The worship of the Moabites offered to Baal was practiced in the same pattern as those of Sodom, where their mother came from.
Balak, the king of the Moabites, Lot’s descendants, was afraid of Israel when he heard of their victories over the Amorites, and called the sorcerer Balaam to curse Israel, and in this way to be able to overcome them. He sent messengers to Balaam, who told him, “Now, therefore, please come, curse this people for me since they are too mighty for me; perhaps I may be able to defeat them” (Num. 22:6). Balaam served Jehovah and had the power to bless or to curse, and asked for the messengers to wait, for he was going to ask Jehovah about it (Num. 22:6-8). Jehovah gave orders to Balaam not curse Israel (Num. 22:12). Balak, getting news that Balaam refused to curse Israel, sent princes with promises of honor upon him. Balaam answered for the second time, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything, either small or great, contrary to the command of Jehovah my God” (Num. 22:18). Balaam was really a servant of Jehovah, and he was obedient. For the second time, though, he consulted his god Jehovah, who told him, “If the men have come to call you, rise up and go with them; but only the word which I speak to you shall you do” (Num. 22:20). Balaam went with them, and blessed Israel instead of cursing it, according to what Jehovah had told him (Num. 23:5-10). Balak was furious about it, and Balaam told him, “Must I not be careful to speak what Jehovah puts in my mouth?” (Num. 23:11-12).Faced with the insistence of Balak, Jehovah sent another message through Balaam. Balaam said,“Behold, I have received a command to bless; when He has blessed, then I cannot revoke it. […] For there is no omen against Jacob” (Num. 23:18-23).
For the third time Balak tried to incite Balaam into cursing Israel: Then the spirit of Jehovah took hold of Balaam and he prophesied blessing (Num. 24:1-9). Balak was filled with rage and said, “Flee to your place now.” Perceiving that Balak had become his enemy, Balaam told him in his ears: “If you, O king, make the sons of Israel take part in the shameful worship of Baal, the curse of Jehovah will fall on them, and you will overcome them.” This is not written in the Scriptures, but Moses said, “Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against Jehovah in the matter of Peor” (Num. 31:16).We read in Revelations that this counsel was to commit acts of immorality (Rev. 2:14).
Let us see what happened by the evil counsel of Balaam: “While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and Jehovah was angry against Israel” (Num. 25:1-3). In the midst of the sexual orgy that took hold of the people, Jehovah gave orders to Moses to hang all the heads of the people unto Jehovah, and in this way his wrath would be appeased. Moses then said to the judges of Israel: “Each of you slay his men who have joined themselves to Baal of Peor” (Num. 25:4-5). It is obvious that the people were hung to Jehovah in order for his bloody fury to be appeased. Besides these hangings Jehovah sent a plague that killed 24,000 (Num. 25:9). In the midst of all this disgrace, an Israelite arrived, bringing a Midianite woman in the eyes of the entire congregation. Seeing that, Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, the priest, took a spear and went after the Israelite man in his tent and pierced both of them through. The name of the Midianite woman was Cozbi, daughter of Zur, head of the people among the Midianites. This pleased Jehovah so much, that he stopped the plague, and made an eternal covenant with Phinehas and his descendants (Num. 25:6-15).
What is the moral of this story? Balaam was faithful and obedient to Jehovah, but he suggested to Balak the involvement of the Israelites with the Moabites in the shameful worship of Baal, and this rendered the people accursed, for Jehovah exchanges blessings for curses all the time (Deut. 23:5; Mal. 2:22-3).
Those Christians who are faithful and obedient, like Balaam, and are careful to obey Jehovah in everything, have the gift of blessing or cursing, just as Balaam had. They curse only when they think that this is the will of Jehovah. Christians that are prostituted in the Baal worship, watching pornographic soap operas, videos, or practicing sinful sex, or adultery, if they are married, or fornication, if they are single, are all condemned to death just as it happened in Baal of Peor. And who will condemn them, kill them, and set them in hell? The God and Father of Jesus? Never! For he wishes to save all men (Tim. 4:10). And the Father sent the Son, not to condemn, but to save (Job 3:17). And Jesus said that this is the will of the Father (John 6:38). The one who will condemn and afflict for eternity is Jehovah, for Christ came to deliver men from slavery to corruption, unto the glory of the children of God; and those who did not wish to be delivered, remaining slaves of the power of the flesh, remain under the condemnation of Jehovah (John 3:18). “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). These are the ones who worship Baal.
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira