Wherefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a communion of the body of Christ? seeing that we, who are many, are one bread, one body: for we all partake of the one bread. Behold Israel after the flesh: have not they which eat the sacrifices communion with the altar? What say I then? that a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have communion with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot partake of the table of the Lord, and of the table of devils. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he? I Corinthians 10:14-22 ERV
As a kid growing up in an evangelical church in the 70s, nothing in the bible seemed quite as far removed from my life as the concept of idolatry. Oh sure, I heard sermons on idolatry as an abstraction, on the perils of loving money, or things, or popularity, or anything else more than God. Those modern applications of the warnings against idolatry were valid, but actual idols, pagan gods, and pagan temples, seemed more salient to ancient Rome or some village in an Asian jungle than to me in the Great Plains of 20th century North America.
Well no more, it seems. Paganism in all it’s ugly, three-eyed glory is alive and well in the USA and growing everyday.
Just to build up to my point, I recall to your attention that in August 2015, the Empire State Building in New York City was lit with the image of the Hindu goddess Kali Ma. Big deal, it was a light show, right? True, and other than getting some people worked up, it didn’t seem to have much effect on anything. It’s certainly not like America isn’t crawling with paganism already, but you have to admit, seeing this garish display glaring down on the sidewalks of New York must have been a little jarring for some people:
Halfway around the world during August 2015, that mob of hirsute inbreeds known as ISIS was busy tearing up things in Palmyra, Syria, like pagan temples and basically anything that offended their narrow-gauge sensibilities. Just for laughs, they also beheaded Khaled al-Asaad, the 82 year-old chief of antiquities in Palmyra before proceeding to convert the 2000 year-old Temple of Bel into gravel. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? We’re throwing up images of Kali in New York City, and Mohammad’s band of hairy men are blowing up pagan temples in Syria.
Almost a year ago in the post Have the Seven Vials Begun?, I said,
“Do you not find it curious that the world, which has so often persecuted both Jew and Christian, has shown nothing but foolish, suicidal tolerance of Islam? Even now we see a rise in antisemitism, and Christians are being singled out and persecuted around the world, but the Mohammedan cult is welcomed, coddled, tolerated, placated, appeased, while it espouses only the death and subjugation of those who are not Muslims. The world and its evil system will always welcome its own.”
Not only does the evil world system welcome its own, its supposedly opposing sects work hand-in-hand around the globe to create even more evil. It seems that those geniuses in ISIS couldn’t destroy a particular stone arch at the Temple of Bel, try as they might. At last report, it still stands, in spite of pounding it with high explosives. (Just a suggestion, but they might try to acquire some artillery; I bet that would do the trick).
In the news this week, the Institute for Digital Archaeology, in cooperation with those stalwart guardians of western mores, Harvard University and Oxford University, have announced plans to erect replicas of the stone arch of the Temple of Bel in Times Square and in Trafalgar Square as a “gesture of defiance.” I have to wonder, in defiance of whom? Ostensibly, of ISIS, but what does ISIS care if they duplicate a stupid stone arch and stick it up in London and New York. Islam has hit both of those cities already, and will likely do so again in the future.
If you didn’t realize it, “Bel” is sometimes spelled “Baal.” That’s right–New York and London will be getting replicas of an arch from the Temple of Baal. Baal is that Canaanite god, the prophets of which Elijah had a showdown with, incurring the wrath of Jezebel. Baal worship consisted of the usual staples of pagan idolatry–sex worship, temple prostitution, and human sacrifice, especially child sacrifice (I guess children can’t put up as much of a fight as an adult can). Now that I think about it, where better to erect a temple to Baal than New York? Just about anywhere in the US would do just fine. This country has been murdering its children by the bushel basket for over forty years now, and we are foundering in immorality of every kind. People are getting worked up over this Temple of Baal arch like it’s some sort of moral assault on America, when in fact it is just a symptom of the underlying disease. It’s like worrying about bleeding on your new suit when you’re dying of Ebola.
I imagine that it’s hard from some to believe that a 2,000 year-old artifact could have any significance to 21st century people beyond its archaeological value. In our Western “sophistication”, we have lost the ability to appreciate the spiritual aspect of things, not in a hocus-pocus, new-age way, but in the sense that some things can be–some things are–inherently evil*. Yes, even a stupid stone arch that some morons in Syria couldn’t blow up. Given God’s intense dislike of the Baal cult in Old Testament Canaan, how likely is it that He will be displeased that somebody is erecting copies of its temple in New York and London?
(*If you doubt this, then I suggest you do some research on a thing called the Pergamon Altar. It is a 2200 year-old artifact, a copy of which played a pivotal role in the 20th century. If you come across Nuremberg in your research, you’re on the right track. By the way, this is likely to what Jesus refers in Revelation 2:13 “…where Satan’s seat is.”)