Thursday, November 10, 2011

The exotic call of spiritual decline

And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him. And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him.
1 Kings 16:30-31

Ahab is the most morally destitute of all of Israel's kings to this point in her history. He set himself up to be as much like the pagan nations as possible. He did two things that enabled his evil. First, he married a Canaanite woman and made her queen. And the name of Jezebel still echoes in our day as synonymous with wickedness, temptation, and perversion of the good. With his Canaanite bride came the most insidious of the Canaanite idols. Baal worship now plagued the northern kingdom of Israel and would continue for generations.

Ahab and Jezebel would force a new social order of Baal worship upon the people. And it had an impact. Archeologists still dig up Baal figurines in what was Jewish territory in Ahab's time. The problem was ubiquitous. The worship of this false god became an obsession in Israel. And it all began with Ahab. Here is a lesson in the power of social pressure.

Ahab made an alliance with the Canaanites in Sidon by marrying Jezebel. And Sidonian culture, particularly its false religion, flooded Israel with idolatry and immorality. This was the agenda that Jezebel brought with her to the queen's throne. The text will pick up in this book to show just how ambitiously the royal couple embraced the worship of Baal and enforced it on Israel. In one generation's time, the worship of God was being stamped out, not by pure aggression, but by wild acceptance of the exotic and new.

By application today, that warning still rings in the air. We can always be tempted to exchange the old truth for a new lie. Heresy and doctrinal deviation often begin with the lurid call of the exotic. And if we are not careful to measure the new with the standard of scriptural truth, we will quickly lose out. For me, the standard is always to gauge ALL teaching by the clear commitment to the particulars of the gospel. That will protect us from error and all kinds of evil.

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