Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
The last two verses of the Old Testament give us the wonderful Good News that the Lord will send us "Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Mal. 4:5, 6). Elijah's specialty mission had been to confront the apostasy of Baal worship. This fact that Elijah is to return during the last days raises a reasonable question: could it be that the reason for the Lord sending him back is that the ancient worship of Baal is again currently among us?
The merest suggestion that we have a problem with Baal worship creates abhorrence: "Impossible! We may be worldly and backsliding, but we're not that bad!" Then why does the Lord say that we need Elijah to come back? On quiet reflection we begin to realize that something is wrong with our spiritual devotion. Could it be "Baal worship," and what is it? It was prevalent in Elijah's day, but Jeremiah wrote a book (Elijah didn't!) describing what it was. Some points of identity emerge:
1. It was an unconscious apostasy in ancient Israel which crept upon the nation surreptitiously (see Jer. 2:23, 25; 16:10, 11; 11:13, 18, where the people deny its existence).
2. It was combined with the worship of the true Lord and God in His Temple in Jerusalem, so it was difficult for anyone to tell where one began and the other ended. It was all woven together (7:9, 10, 30).
3. The religious leaders at the headquarters of the nation aided and abetted this process of amalgamation (23:11, 13, 15, 26, 27).
4. Elijah and Jeremiah themselves would not have been able to discern the subtle presence of the apostasy had they not been enlightened by the gift of prophecy (1 Kings 17:1, Elijah cited "the Lord God of Israel" as his authority; Jer. 11:18).
Modern Baal worship is serious: it is the worship of self disguised as the worship of Christ. Therefore religious leaders are terribly prone to it, for they are often flattered by the people. May the Lord save us!
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: October 10, 2004.
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