Originally written, Sep 2 2004 12:22AM
(Twenty years later, the observations are even more poignant.)
I attended an engaging seminar the other day on “The Archeology of the Bible.” It was a 14-week class. Below is the application I made in my mind. I doubt I preach this; however, I have been meditating on this for my benefit and thoughts.
A Tophet? What is a Tophet?
A Tophet is a cemetery erected for the purpose of burying the ashes and bone remains of the children that were offered as burnt sacrifices to Baal, Ashetroth, and Molech.
I learned about this for the first time from a local archeologist who teaches at a Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. He showed us the slides of a Tophet they excavated in Carthage. He explained to us that the Phoenician empire was made up of the people who inhabited the land area that would become the promised land in the Bible.
The religion practiced by the Canaanites was the same as those in Carthage. In this cemetery, they excavated a 20′ square and uncovered layer upon layer of cemeteries where children were buried for six hundred years. He estimated that the original cemetery was two football fields in size and that it was estimated that in a given year that up to 100,000 children were sacrificed a year in this local area. You do the math.
Over 36 million children are buried in a cemetery outside of one town. How many children were murdered in the worship of this demon god?
This demon worship and accompanying sacrifice of children facilitated hedonistic sexual immorality that illuminated the need to feed, raise, and care for the children born.
The ancients did this to manipulate their gods for favor and fertility. Interestingly, God knew these people and what kind of people they were and, therefore, warned Israel,
“Don’t do like they do; don’t sacrifice your children to demon gods!”
God did not want them to learn their murderous habits produced by their wicked sexual proclivities.
We know from history that Israel assimilated these heathen and unspeakable practices to the point that they would worship Jehovah and Baal. On one hand, they would carry the Torah, and on the other, a screaming child to be burned alive to appease some evil spirit.
Scripture points out that the reason that God rejected the Jews and ejected them from their promised land is that they followed the heathen in this and many other things Jehovah God expressly commanded them not to do.
False religion and its curse always fall on the heads of the children.
In this context, the Ten Commandments were given to the Hebrews upon leaving Egypt and before entering the promised land—the land where these worshippers of demons were sacrificing their children.
“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:4-6
Iniquity in all of its power and weight is suffered most significantly by the progeny of the righteous gone bad. While many have not tasted the dregs of sin and fail to appreciate the sheer evil of its depths, we can be guilty of dangling our children too close to the warmth that comes from a fire that can destroy them.
Idle words become thought patterns, and a little allowance becomes lifestyles of indifference. We see it all around us in our society and churches: an indifference toward goodness and stretching for what is thought to be benign.
The demons worshipped today are the spirits that glorify convenience and personal preferences.
I am sure that when Israel first began to entertain the thoughts of Baal worship, it was not placing their children over a belching pot of fire into the outstretched arms of a brazen Baal. However, little by little, slouching toward Sodom, the people of God became even eviler than the Philistines they were sent to eradicate. God, being Righteous, could not let his people get away with what he had judged other people for, so he judged them.
What are we building in the age of affluence, unprecedented technology, and spare time?
Memorials and Altars to the one true God, or are we digging the graves of our heritage by indulging in the appetites of self and entertainment?
As the lines of acceptability have been pushed so far that everything is acceptable with little exception, where will we dwell?
We that live in the Cities of the Plain? Will we be like Abraham, who chose the mountains of separation, or, like Lot, set our tents toward sodom until we sit in the gate with those who will be marked for destruction?
The critique of the Muslims is accurate when they decry the obvious wicked nature of the West and its excess.
It is interesting how God would use our enemies to bring us to repentance.
Seems this is the method he has used in the past.
God help us train our children in how they should live. What to love and what to hate.
To love righteousness and hate wickedness. To engrain in their spirit that there is but One Lord, One Faith, and One Baptism. To drill in their mind the things that will hold them in the storms of temptation that will come, that they will be able to survive and thrive as torches of truth as the world is sure to plunge into greater darkness.
I pray for wisdom to raise righteous men in an unrighteous world.
To raise God-fearing men in a fearless religious world. To raise a generation that still has a memory of a praying father and mother. Their future depends on how I live my faith.
I am Building an Altar for my Children! Not to sacrifice them but to sacrifice myself for their preservation and protection.
In Him, By Him, Through Him.