Sunday, July 31, 2011

Baal vs. Golden Calves - Part 3

In two previous posts (post 1 - post 2) I have advocated for the idea that the golden calves represent a deficient worship of the LORD (one that like Roman worship purports to worship the living God through dead images) not Baal worship or the worship of an equivalent non-existent pagan deity.

There's at least one further powerful demonstration of this thesis:

2 Kings 10:15-31
And when he [that is, Jehu] was departed thence, he lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him: and he saluted him, and said to him, "Is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart?"

And Jehonadab answered, "It is."

"If it be, give me thine hand."

And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot.

And he said, "Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD." So they made him ride in his chariot.

And when he came to Samaria, he slew all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed him, according to the saying of the LORD, which he spake to Elijah.

And Jehu gathered all the people together, and said unto them, "Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much. Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests; let none be wanting: for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live."

But Jehu did it in subtilty, to the intent that he might destroy the worshippers of Baal.

And Jehu said, "Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal."

And they proclaimed it.

And Jehu sent through all Israel: and all the worshippers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left that came not. And they came into the house of Baal; and the house of Baal was full from one end to another.

And he said unto him that was over the vestry, "Bring forth vestments for all the worshippers of Baal."

And he brought them forth vestments.

And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshippers of Baal, "Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the LORD, but the worshippers of Baal only."

And when they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings, Jehu appointed fourscore men without, and said, "If any of the men whom I have brought into your hands escape, he that letteth him go, his life shall be for the life of him."

And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the captains, "Go in, and slay them; let none come forth."

And they smote them with the edge of the sword; and the guard and the captains cast them out, and went to the city of the house of Baal. And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them. And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day.

Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel.

Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan.

And the LORD said unto Jehu, "Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel."

But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.
Jehu's attempt to exterminate Baal-worship was extensive and amazing. He tricks the Baal-worshipers into thinking he is the biggest fan of Baal ever, gets all of the Baal-worshipers in one place, orders them to expel any worshipers of the Lord from the place, dresses them distinctively to make them easy targets, puts them in an enclosed place with limited ways of escape, threatens death to those charged with guarding the exits if they fail in their duty, and then attacks them at the moment when the house is full of smoke but before they have eaten.

Yet despite all that, he continues to worship the LORD using the improper means set up by Jeroboam, namely the golden calves and the unauthorized priesthood and all that went with that. His sin, like that of Jeroboam, was not in failing to worship the Lord (he plainly distinguishes between the worshipers of the Lord and the worshipers of Baal) but in worshiping the Lord in a way that is out of accord with the way that the Lord wants to be worshiped.

The worship of the golden calves was very wicked, and it was the reason that Jeroboam's entirely family was wiped out. But the worship of a false god, Baal, was even more wicked, such that God rewarded Jehu for wiping out Ahab's family and the false god that he had re-introduced into Israel under the influence of his wife Jezebel.

Within a decade, under the reign of the boy-king Jehoash (and particularly under the influence of Jehoiada the high priest) Baal worship was suppressed in Judah as well, though it is noted that the high places were not destroyed.