High Places :: By Lea Sylvester

To know Christ according to the understanding of the apostles is to obey Him. There should be nothing between a Christian and His heavenly Father, not any of the cares or pressures of the day, nor the desire for comfort, the love of clothes, good food, and work. These will obscure our focus on God if we let them.

“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Jesus Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27, KJV).

Let God be our number one audience we seek to please all the time. He should be our priority before we start our daily activities. We should allow nothing to compete with God for our attention; we should never be divided between obeying Him and worrying about how to fix our challenges. We will not worry when everything we do, whether in word or deed, is done in the Name of Jesus Christ. Our fascination of anything except Jesus Christ must diminish if we are to serve Him and Him alone.

Worry stems from the desire to do things our way, to be masters of our own programs. It springs from our distrust of God’s ability to meet whatever needs confront us at that particular time. How do we see God? Do we view Him as an absentee Father? Today’s Christians are pulled in different directions under one name: “Christian.” Is it any wonder then why the world is impacting Christianity and why Christianity is not impacting the world? When we carry out a mission for somebody but change the requirements for its accomplishment, it is no longer the mission of the one who sent us but it becomes our mission. It is not sanctioned, nor blessed by the sender. The early church was focused on pleasing their Master because they knew His heart. Do we know God’s heart or are we willfully disobeying His instructions?

The Ekklesia is also known as the body of Christ. Are we the “spotless bride” that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, expects us to be? We have compromised our faith, we have “tolerated” sin (because it is a good thing to do or out of “love”), and therefore we have disobeyed God. A look at what King Solomon did confirms where we are today; as Christians individually and corporately, as a nation that was founded upon God’s laws and with the recognition and acknowledgment that without God, this nation would fall flat upon its face. And, for the most part, this nation is flat upon its proverbial face. Our society is making Christianity into the enemy, and we are letting it happen.

Leviticus chapter 20 shows us God’s lesson in holiness. In previous chapters, particularly chapters 18 and 19, God laid down a series of rules and ordinances that basically said, “Don’t do this as the pagans do, INSTEAD do that.” In chapter 20, God backs up and says, “IF you do any of these forbidden things, I’ve already told you not to do, THEN this is what will happen.” The things that God said were abhorrent to Him in Leviticus are STILL abhorrent to Him today. Think of these things as serious felonies. These principles are so visible in our modern lives.

God instructed Israel – INCLUDING any stranger living among them to follow God’s ordinances. Before anyone reading this says, “That is the law and we are not under the law,” ask yourself; what is obedience? What are we to obey? Do we make it up as we go along? Stay with me here.

These were for natural-born Hebrews as well as and including any stranger living among them or a foreigner who had given up their god in order to worship Yehoveh; and thereby formally joined Israel; AND it included any stranger living among Israelites This would have been a foreigner who had not joined himself to Israel but who was living among Israelites presumably for the benefits such a relationship would bring to him.

I point this out because it is so often said, “The laws of the Old Testament are just for Israel”…meaning of course, for those of Hebrew decent. And therefore, nothing of the Old Testament applies to modern gentile Christians; those NOT born as Hebrews, or as we say today─Jews. Nothing could be farther from the truth because just as it is not obedience to God’s laws that brings us redemption, neither was that so for the Israelites. The Law was and is about teaching what holiness is, and what it looks like. It tells us what is acceptable to God and what is not. It tells us what is good in God’s eyes and what is not. God’s laws, His commandments, are to show a redeemed person how to live a holy life, not to redeem an unredeemed person.

So, we see in the referenced chapter that if someone wanted to live among God’s people without formally BEING one of God’s people, that was permissible; but they were going to be subject to these SAME rules and laws of Israeli society. The same applies to us as Christians today. God’s commandments; those things He will not tolerate should NEVER be tolerated in our society today! Let us review:

Law Number One: No idolatry. (Specifically, no Molech worship.) Molech worship was of particular concern because it was practiced by a significant segment of the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the Promised Land at the time Israel took possession of it, and by some of the other cultures throughout the known world that the Israelites would encounter. God wanted His people separate from the pagans. He spelled it out for them. He wants us to be separate and holy, as well. He has spelled this out for us: It was/is necessary to obey this because God is holy and sovereign. The particular false god, Molech, was especially taboo because his chief attribute was that he demanded human blood (child sacrifice actually).

If we research history, we find a god with almost exactly the same attributes being worshipped among various far-flung cultures; although going by different names. We can be fairly certain it is the same god being worshipped. For example, Ashteroth, Ishtar, Astarte, and Eostre are all the same goddess (the fertility goddess); just as the language of the culture where she was worshipped was different. By the way, this goddess’ name eventually gained an Anglo-Saxon name that is rather familiar to us today; Easter. And yes, that is exactly where the name for the so-called Christian holiday originated. But I digress…

Molech was considered a high deity, a chief-god. Because the world’s people worshiped many gods, a hierarchy of gods was developed. Of these, Molech was the chief god or high god. The Hebrew “El,” as in Elohim, or El Shaddai, simply means “highest god” or “chief-god.” Such a term has no meaning if there were no other gods to be compared to. When we see phrases in our Bibles like, “Lord of Lords,” and “God above all gods,” and “King of Kings,” ascribed to God and to Jesus Christ, these are but cultural language holdovers from the days of multiple-god worship among the Israelites. Yes, in Hebrew, and even during the period of the entire Old Testament, even into the time of the New Testament, multiple god worship was prevalent.

Just what was Molech worship and what did he want from his followers? Terms (especially concerning the worshipper’s children) were handed-over, devoted to, offer-up to, and a few others.

At one point, it was thought that only one or two of these terms actually indicated the most extreme version of child-involvement for Molech, which was the killing of a child and giving him/her to Molech as an appeasement. The idea was that the other forms of offering children to Molech simply meant that the child was dedicated to Molech, much as we have baby dedications to God in some churches today. General agreement now, however, is that all of these terms are just various idioms for the same result: the child is ritually executed.

Sometimes the child would become a burnt offering; perhaps even more often a child would be killed and buried in the foundation of a new building to dedicate the building to Molech, or to call for Molech’s blessing upon that family or activity that took place there.

Sadly, Israel’s history is replete with bowing down to the false gods of this horrendous cult. Israel at times, merely accepted the worship of Molech by foreigners living among them, for the sake of tolerance. This was in direct opposition to what God had instructed them to do.

In 1 Kings 11:1-8, we see that King Solomon built High Places, altars of sacrifice, to serve a litany of pagan gods INCLUDING Molech. He participated in the worship of a long list of the most detestable false gods and he allowed his family and encouraged his people to do the same. He thought it politically advantageous to show that he was understanding─toward those in his kingdom who did not believe as he believed. Not only that, it says he did it in “love.” His motive was love.

Does this shock you? It should. How could a “Bible hero” who is credited with writing three inspired books of the Bible; one of which is Proverbs, one of the most widely-read of any of the Old Testament Scriptures (or at least by today’s church), be accused of worshiping other gods? Well here it is, straight forward; in all it’s ugly truth. Solomon, builder of the first Temple, worshiped God all right. But also, eventually honored other gods, largely, we’re told, to satisfy his foreign wives (which was also against God’s commandment). Just so you understand: Solomon married all those women to create alliances. That was the usual way an alliance with another nation was created in that era; each wife represented Solomon’s alliance with another nation.

All these things were going full-force against what God had told Solomon to do and not to do and Solomon knew full well the requirements and the consequences. It isn’t as though Solomon began life as a pagan and THEN we have the happy ending of his disavowing those heathen gods and worshipping the God of Israel. Nope, he was raised under the Levitical Laws. He knew them well. He did this, all the time thinking that he was doing a good thing. That’s what it means when it says he committed idolatry in “love.” He was deceiving himself; what he was doing he did to please others. He made a mockery of all that Israel stood for and how that must have hurt, angered and offended those citizens of Israel who had worked diligently to stay true to the God of Israel.

Are you glad you didn’t witness that? Not so fast! I will never forget the sickening picture of our president, shortly after September 11, 2001, standing in a Mosque in a ceremony transmitted around the world, declaring that Allah was good, and that Allah was god, and that Allah was the same as the god of the Christians and Jews, and that Islam is a valid and true and peaceful religion to be favorably compared with the religion of the Bible. About 20 years after King Solomon did essentially the same thing, his country fell into civil war and disintegrated, not to appear again as a unified nation for almost 3,000 years. I’m not in the business of making “predictions” but explain to me how it is that the elected leader of our nation, who professes on the one hand that Jesus Christ is LORD, can on the other say that a false god is also the Lord, and there be no reaction from God. Folks, we’ve all felt that we are on a slippery precipice and I’m not sure there can be a much more serious offense against the Lord (made on behalf of a nation) than the one I just reminded you of.

And, to top it all off, this same leader used all his power to dislodge Israel from major portions of the Promised Land, even from the Temple Mount, and he said he was doing it in love and for the cause of peace. Sounds like Solomon, doesn’t it? Well, it was President George W. Bush. We’ve gone downhill from that time, steadily.

Most of Christianity blew off this act as a political leader of a nation being political and it had nothing to do with anything more than that. That it is okay to call on the nation to join with pagans to worship their god if it is done in the name of peace and love. It was not okay when Solomon did it, and I doubt it is okay now. Why? Because God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow! And, He is not a liar.

As Christians, we must understand the unbelievable abomination of tolerating the worship of other gods. How easy is it for today’s churches to honestly believe that we are true to Him when it/we are so corrupted by the desire for power, position and money and NOT wanting to be ostracized by the world in general. There are almost no limits to how far it/we will go to be inclusive in order to prosper and grow. That is why the word “tolerant” must be eradicated from our vocabulary. Harmony and unity at any price…tolerance and appeasement have been made into virtues in our day. They are not. They are cowardice, rebellion and sin against the Lord. It is choosing to be against God.

So, today we have people such as Rick Warren (America’s Preacher) and others saying that all roads lead to God. No, the wide path leads to hell and the narrow path leads to heaven. Hell is real and heaven is real. These preach a “different” gospel. Today we worship Molech; otherwise known as Satan. Worshipers sacrifice some of their children thinking they receive the blessing of prosperity and well-being for the remainder of the family. Abortion is but modern day child sacrifice. Why are the unborn sacrificed? Almost always for our personal well-being and prosperity and comfort. The doctor says, maybe there’s a defect…better get rid of it, because it could only prove costly and troublesome, or even heartbreaking.

The little blue ring in the bottom of the test tube says there is a new life growing in the mother’s womb-oh, but that it would put a burden on our already stretched-to-the-limit finances, better stop it now. The human secularist and environmentalist see new life as a threat to our over-populated (in their view) planet. So, it is a kind and compassionate thing for those who already live to get rid of it. This is the ESSENCE of Molech worship. In the Old Testament, the penalty for this was death; all those who would commit the act, and all those who would tolerate it. This means that our God, yes God Almighty, WILL execute judgment on those just mentioned. And those who would tolerate it or would not stand against this will also be under the same judgment. This includes “pro-choice Christians” and anyone who doesn’t stand upon the Word of God on this matter or any other to be frank.

The day has come when we must search our hearts in light of God’s Word─not the world’s word. Are we serving the One True God? Are we putting Him first in ALL THINGS? Are we being tolerant of sin because we are showing “love?” Remember what God tolerates and what He does not. We are to hate what He hates and love what He loves! We are to be set apart. The world should see us as “different” and we should NEVER want to look like the world, smell like the world or love the things of this world. We should certainly never tolerate sin in any form.

“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” (1 John 2:15).

We are not promised tomorrow. Serve the Lord with gladness today. There are not “vacations” from God. The apostles did not have a holiday from revealing the Son of God in them to their world. Light was in them until the day they died. Darkness does not have the ability to lock out light. If our neighborhoods do not see light in us, then we are no longer light in our neighborhoods. If God’s light is consistently visible to our friends and neighbors the enemies of the gospel will ask us to tell them the reason for our joy, love, faith and hope when everybody else is falling apart. Christ-like behavior will shine even in the darkest of places. We will stand out, because we are different.

“But beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. But yet, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 17-21).

Questions or comments to sylvester.lea@gmail.com