The Law Of Moses And Idolatry

John Pat Gibbons

“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Say to the people of Israel, Any one of the people of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones. I myself will set my face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, to make my sanctuary unclean and to profane my holy name.” Leviticus 10:1-3 [ESV]. 

“Molech” is spelled in different ways: Moloch, as well as Milcom, and is called “Milcom, the abomination of the Ammorites” as well as “The abomination of the children of Amon.” 1 Kings 11:5, 7. 

This is a plain and solemn warning to Israel concerning the worship of idols. Molech is here specified, but the same was true of all idol worship. Remember Exodus 20:1-5 where the importance of worshiping God, only, is given, and of the sin of making idols is specified, thus involving the first two of the Ten Commandments.

The worship of Molech involved the use of fire, and it was referred to as “passing through the fire.” It probably did not involve live sacrifices, but that is possible at times. It did involve human sacrifice, but they were probably slain and then burned on the altar. In the later days of Israel, the Valley of Hinnom, where Tophet stood, which had a huge altar for burning sacrificial victims, was the place where this worship was practiced. Though Israel knew about this worship, even from the time of the Exodus, it was not prevalent in Israel until Solomon built an altar to Molech, according to 1 Kings 11:5, 7. With the approval of the king, it became an accepted thing.

The children of Israel did not listen to the command of God. Thus, idol worship became quite prevalent in the history of Israel. King Josiah destroyed the worship of idols during the days of his reformation. The chief place of this worship, promoted by King Ahaz, King Manasseh, and others, was in the Valley of Hinnom. After Josiah’s day, the Valley of Hinnom was a place for garbage burning, where a fire was kept burning continually. Therefore, it became a synonym for hell. The Greek word for hell is gehenna, and, according to Henry Thayer and others, it is derived from Hinnom.

The children of Israel were punished for their worship of this idol. The act of Solomon, in bringing in idolatry, is one of the reasons for taking the kingdom from him. 1 Kings 11:31-33. “31 And he said to Jeroboam, ‘Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am about to tear the kingdom from the hand of Solomon and will give you ten tribes. 32 (but he shall have one tribe, for the sake of my servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city that I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel), 33 because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the Ammonites, and they have not walked in my ways, doing what is right in my sight and keeping my statutes and my rules, as David his father did.” [ESV]. It surely led to many defeats at the hands of the enemies of Israel. 

When one chooses to disobey God, he will suffer the consequences. We cannot turn away from God with impunity, that is, without penalty. Molech is not around today, but anything we put ahead of, or substitute for God, becomes a god for us. The worship of idols will mean that, in eternity, we will burn in a place with a never-ending fire. 

Choose now to obey God, not idols; and you can look for a far different reward. –119 Holden St., Rogersville, AL 35652. (256) 247-5549.

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