Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The 4th of July = Baal Worship


The word “Baal” is generally used to represent the god of gods and is considered a pagan deity in both the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament. It is a false deity which can be manifested in many different ways and forms. Many times it is viewed as a god of fertility as well as a god of earthly blessings in general. The country known as America has become a Baal in the eyes of millions upon millions of people which includes professing believers in Jesus. This is shocking, sinful, and profoundly sad.

We have a God so wonderful, so powerful, so loving, so gracious, and who gave His only begotten Son for our redemption and yet we turn to idols? And this idol called America is closer to a mirror image of the golden calf than many could imagine. How can we measure such spiritual infidelity? What words are sufficient to describe such spiritual adultery? This is spiritual treachery manifested with carnal joy and vigor. This kind of idolatry is welcomed right into the church and shakes its patriotic fist right in the face of the Risen Christ. It is a monstrous betrayal that has entered the hearts of professing believers, festered through many decades, and emerged as a full blown departure from the faith.

Why do we not often identify it with such arresting language? It is because this kind of idolatry has been nurtured into our souls since we were born and then it was taught and practiced with such regularity and with such unquestioned energy that to even question its spiritual validity one must break through an atmosphere of deception that is fed and guarded by even the most revered preachers among us. Yes, to embark on an honest and vulnerable journey to uncover God’s truth about nationalism will require a rejection of what you have been told and what you have come to automatically believe, and then some levels of rejection from your peers. This is not a game, and this journey is not for the faint of heart.

But before you research the topic of nationalism and the kingdom of God you must realize you are not looking for some minor differences. This is not something you can do in moderation and still be walking in the Spirit. This is a journey to see if this is modern day idolatry with all the bells and whistles. Yes, most will not even question it and they will just assimilate it into their lives with no thought whatsoever. But there will be a remnant who will begin by sensing something is wrong, and then little by little more light comes shining through until one day – Boom! – there it is, a revelation from God’s Spirit.

Jam.4: Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

I Jn.2: 15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

How can I tell a story which has many central figures and in fact has seen millions of believers who have walked out this narrative in some form and in some way? This issue has bonded us together even though we still may be in different parts of the journey. This is a story of blindness, sincere and dedicated, but still blind. Yes, it begins with blindness and ends with sight. It begins in bondage and ends with freedom. In many ways it begins with man and ends with Jesus.

This is the story of one who came to faith in Jesus Christ and was changed forever. Once Jesus was an historical figure and maybe even a part of a religion but Who now is seen as the Lord of Lords and the only way to eternal life. Yes, this is a story of a born again believer whose life was changed. And that change took place first inside and then it worked its way out.

But the verses I posted and more throughout the New Testament point us to a different way, a different life, and a different spirit. The Scriptures use the word “world” to identify a pattern, a system, and a spirit which is employed by the world instead of the Spirit of God. It encompasses a variety of things including the love of the material universe, the lust for power, and the elevation of man and his wisdom. But at its core is man.

Man has always been busy creating his own little utopias designed for his pleasure and enjoyment and power. The lust for power over other human beings is immense. The dream of having other humans not only do your bidding but also help accumulate your wealth is an ongoing project and sought for with great energy. There is a symbiotic relationship between fallen man and money. That relationship dictates the direction of the entire world. In fact, it rules the world through the hearts of men. So when God tells us not to love the world or be its friend this is exactly to what He is referring.

We have so often been told that not loving the world is not attending certain movies or not smoking or not drinking, but those are only shadows compared to the colossal power and allurement of power and money. We live in a system which not only beckons us with the power of Greek sirens, but it imprisons us with strongholds of the mind, the body, and the heart. The world’s systems play for keeps and employ all kinds of nefarious strategies. And it is not enough to use and abuse those who remain spiritually fallen, but it is relentless in its quest to invite those who belong to Christ to return to the filth from which they just came. 

But even though so many people are not only gullible but passionate about their own wealth and pleasure, the world still uses a sophisticated strategy to enchant the visible church. By a patient but clever process the spirits of antichrist have led a clandestine campaign to incorporate the love of money and the love of self into the very practices and belief systems of the church. To say they have been successful is to grossly understate the achievements that the forces of evil have enjoyed. The modern church is now not only chasing after that which deeply displeases Christ, but it has embraced almost every aspect of this fallen planet and incorporated them into their practices. If you can step back and juxtapose God’s Word upon the current ecclesiastical scene you should be aghast. But if you do not do that, your barns will be filled while your heart will be empty.

And now I can hear some moan “Here he goes again about nationalism”. Oh dear brothers and sisters this has never been about nationalism. This is about Christ and His kingdom. What is in our hearts will determine if we can actually understand God’s kingdom and if the Spirit can supply the power with which to overcome this present world and not join in it. The choice is profoundly simple. Will we be of Christ and His kingdom or will we be of this world and all its fallen systems?

Imagine a collection of people start a baseball game. They had never known about the game before, and as they begin they have to understand the elements of the game by reading the rules and by the advice of those who have played the game for many years. At first they enjoyed the game but after a while they began to long for something more. They watched those who were playing baseball on a different field and seem to be having much more fun. The other field was playing a game that stepped outside the rule book but even so they were enjoying a great amount of pleasure.

And as they gazed over at the other field from which they themselves had come they saw that those people were playing baseball with a basketball and instead of playing by the rules they were making up rules which most pleased those players. Hmm. So what did these new people do? They studied the game that was being played without a rule book and with an eye to what appealed to those who played the most, and they copied them.

Again, this issue is not about nationalism which is only an observable symptom. This is about Jesus. Who was He, who is He, what did He do, what did He teach, and what does it mean to follow Him? Those seem like basic questions but in fact they are the essence of the faith. If we actually desire to define the faith, it is Jesus – plain, simple, and immeasurable profound. The issues about which we sometimes get caught up are many times distractions even if some of them are truths. If our faith is not about Jesus then it is about nothing. The church has taken Jesus, dissected Him, and presented a disjointed collection of half truths and moral pontifications. We have pulled out a few issues and made them our standard, but in reality Jesus has become an aside.

Following Jesus is now defined by political positions, moral crusades, conservative values, and allegiance to America.

You cannot serve two masters. If you desire to serve Jesus you must forsake all. I hope someday to fully discover what that means. But if we do not recognize what His steps look like we will walk a path that the culture has laid out for us. You see, nationalism is just a vehicle whereby the culture and the evil one can get us to live apart from the kingdom of God. Are you saying that to be a patriotic America is against the will of God?

Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. But please understand that nationalism is just a vehicle which takes us away from Christ and that is THE spiritual issue. And on the 4th of July millions upon millions of people will celebrate that which is against the kingdom of God. But it continues to be an incredible conundrum to see so many professing believers who claim to believe God’s Word and yet worship and pledge allegiance to a fallen system. In the 1960’s young people began to worship the Beatles. What affect does worship have? It changes people. The people that sat before the Beatles began to cut their hair like the, dress like them, speak like the, and they began to change in order to be like these young men. And they formed a camaraderie among all the rest of those who worshiped the same thing.

So when a person worships a nation what happens? They begin to change the way they think and act. They turn over their hearts to that nation. They join with all who have the same love and allegiance for that nation. Like those who chose their favorite Beatle these people chose their favorite politician and leader. They sing songs to that nation. They claim that their nation is superior to all the rest and in essence form a literal fan club. They love the nation with such strength that they will even kill for that nation and give their very lives for it. That is how professing believers are changed because they refused to separate themselves from the Baal worship called nationalism. It is inevitable. Whatever you give your heart to will change you.

And so as we approach another pagan holiday of which they all are, we as believers must remind ourselves that this is not our celebration. We do not belong here and we have no enduring city here. If we rejoice we rejoice in Christ and in Christ alone. God forbid we join hands with the pagan kingdom and celebrate the modern Baal. And why do people celebrate America? It’s because they love their lifestyle and the prosperity they have experienced. And it’s because they have been taught to do so since birth. In essence they are celebrating this fallen and temporal world because they feel it has benefited them. This is the pagan way and it is the essence of all the pagan religions to celebrate mother earth and all she has given us. Freedom, wealth, land, protection, fellowship, and everything else.

I will not, I cannot, bow down to Baal.
I used to do that years ago but by God’s grace I have been set free.
I will not look back.
Remember Lot’s wife.


Cherie c. said...

Can we go home now? I have had enough and want to get off this planet. Some would pay my way off the earth because they do not like that I do not worship countries or people or things or systems or other inventions of man. Yes, I was raised to enjoy a summer backyard bar b que for July 4th, just like other residents of America. But I choose to honor God not man or its nations, so I must pay a price for that; rejection, mockery, disdain, cursing and threats. I get this from professing Christian citizens of a Christian country called America. So if I choose God I am wrong? In a Christian Nation? Does anyone see the conflict here? crickets.....all I hear are crickets.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Annette said...

"Blessed is th man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly. Nor stands in the path of sinners. Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.' Psalm 1:1-2

Pastor Rick,
While in my late teens, I began listening to a rock band by the name of "Styx." Many of their songs caught my attention due to the amazing vocals and the combination of sounds, often mysterious and mesmerizing in nature. One song, "The Grand Illusion" begins with this catch phrase, "Welcome to the grand illusion, come on in and see what's happening....." The rest of the song lyrics are interestingly insightful to the spirit of this age. As a teenager then, I did not know the meaning of the band's name, did not seek out to understand their worldview (because I was more interested in trying to become popular-a failed endeavor), nor did I really care about the "deep" things of life, let alone read my Bible.

Yes, of course, our family attended church every Sunday, I was baptized as an infant, confirmed in the Lutheran church, and went about the "works" of religion, so as to appear righteous in the eyes of the system. I was not born of the Spirit of God, nor did I understand what that meant until 1995, well into my adult years.

We are products of those who are placed in authority over teach and guide us.......until.....



Anonymous said...

Cherie, you have expressed my thoughts exactly. The difference is that I'm Chinese, and we think we are superior to everyone else - the only reason we don't express this sentiment is because we don't condescend to let others know. Pastor Rick, I will again say that you are spot on, but whatever you say about America can be said about all the world.

Annette said...

As children, we learned at the mercy of our teachers. We were taught what they believed was the "truth" according to their learned information. In our small country-like school system, we said the flag pledge every day, learned the national anthem, revered the pictures and portraits of the gentelmen who "founded" this country and sang the songs like "God Bless America," "Home on the Range", "My Country Tis of Thee." etc. We were the products of our teachers in the educational system as well as the religious system. I did not know any better as I never took the initiative to research for myself, not that I was even equipped to understand at that particular time. I was not.

My question is this...."Were we taught a "grand illusion?"

Please allow me a moment for "farm speak" here. I love sheep; especially lambs; they are absolutely adorable! I remember watching Dad faithfully take care of our farm animals...cattle, hogs, sheep, ducks and chickens, with several wild turkeys roaming the yard as if they owned it. In the care of sheep, I always thought it odd that Dad had to give our sheep shots for "over eating"....what....they did not know when it was time to quit eating?....and if they over ate, then death could occur?....are you kidding me?....I thought it strange that when our sheep discoverd that weak spot in the fence and made their home running in the soybean field next door, that Dad would say, "let's get the leader in first and the rest will follow!" It worked every time....that flock of sheep would always, always, always follow the leader back into their fenced in yard. Now cattle, pigs, and chickens actually have minds of their own....many memories there as well; and I thought it at odds for Dad to put binders around the little lambs tails so they would drop off in time....for their own hygiene. And during lambing season, Dad would put in some long hours to be there during the birthing process as even the death of one lamb would go hard on him.

Sheep...interesting creatures....lambs....absolutely lovable and adorable. Oh, how I loved those little newborn lambs, with their oversized big, dark eyes looking innocently at you, that soft, virgin wool naturally crimped, those long wobbly legs, and that long tail swishing as if having spasms....and that high pitched "baaaaaa" as opposed to the deep, guttural bellows coming from the adult sheep. The lambs are innocent and are at the mercy of the adult sheep and the shepherd in charge. I love the analogy our Holy Scriptures in referncing people as sheep and Jesus as the Good all makes perfect sense to me now...and was especially moving to me at the time of my conversion....oh, how glorious is our God!

So where am I going with this, Pastor Rick? Well, to be perfectly honest here, if I may.....I feel like we have been force fed a line of "grand illusion" concerning the systems of man as a whole. We have been told what to believe and have accepted the status quo, actually putting our faith, trust and hope in man, rather than in our LORD Jesus Christ. In this world, we have been following men and women who are placed in authority over us who are perhaps blind in many ways, thus the phrase "the blind leading the blind."


Annette said...

But what happens when the true Spirit of God takes hold of you and the truth becomes apparent, like the light that literally blinded Saul/Paul on the Damascus road? At that moment, you desire to know God's truth, in fact, in the beginning, the new born again believer craves the truth that comes from our Shepherd, our Master. The truth of God's Word is revealed to the newborn by the Holy Spirit and it is "truth" at all costs that one desires.

School speak for a moment...In junior high school, we had a wonderful history teacher who made the words of our history books come alive. He desired that we learned in his class and we were required to work hard to earn the grade....our charming personalities were indifferent to him...we had to actually "work" for the grade....I want to believe that he taught us to the best of his ability and we trusted his knowledge in educating us. Did he know the true beliefs of these men and women of history....or their sordid, corrupt affairs....I do not know. We were still children then......most of us willing to learn and wanting to trust.

Now, after all of these years of reading my Bible and doing extensive research into the beliefs, systems, and affairs of this world; we can experience the greatest joy and peace in knowing that God's ways are so vastly differrent than man's ways.

And throughout this journey of life called reality, I am learning what true mercy and grace accordig to our Father, who art in Heaven, really looks like. I still have a long way to go....and my four wheeler will not get me to that final is only by the Spirit of our Living God.

Thank-You for this post, Pastor Rick, and also thank-you Cheri for bearing your heart. Please know that you are not alone and that many are experiencing forms of persecution as well for not idolizing a babylonian system.

The Psalms still sing loudly to us today..."It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes." Psalm 118:8-9

We can still sing Jesus' praises regardless of our circumstances, can we not? True speak....I do not have a pleasant singing voice as some were blessed with, however, I do love to sing, and my dog, Red, does enjoy my singing...perhaps they have a different sound system then men. And that is okay...go ahead and laugh!

Praise the LORD.

Kim said...

Amen, Annette, I have made the same discovery via a different road. And Cherie, I'm with you. I want to get off this planet and go home, too.