Jeremiah 19:3 You shall say: Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I am going to bring such disaster upon this place that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. 4 Because the people have forsaken me, and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah have known, and because they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent, 5 and gone on building the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it enter my mind
Here God is giving instructions to the prophet Jeremiah on what he wants spoken to the wayward people Israel. Of particular shock is verse 5 which says the people had “gone on building high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal…”
As I’ve begun living into my 50th year, I find myself thinking more like the old people I remember from my youth – how things are such a mess. Gone are the good old days when… (fill in the blank here). And I suppose there is some truth to this sort of thinking. Some things have changed for the worse (the Dallas Cowboys come to mind here, but that’s another conversation :).
BUT some things have definitely changed for the better as well. In our world today, young children are given extremly high value. It would be inconveivable that our culture would permit, let alone promote, the burning of children as a sacrifice to the gods. It’s a kind of barbarity I can hardly get my head around. Yet I’m quite sure that, at the time of Jeremiah’s writing, there was a reasonable, logical rationale for this practice. In fact, some of my study materials indicate that two kings of Israel who lived during Jeremiahs’s time sacrificed their own sons to Baal. Unbelievable.
Which brings to mind a question:
What current practices, if any, might be viewed by future generations as barbaric?
Interesting question isn’t it?
Lord, it’s easy for us to look back at history and judge people for their apparent foolishness. But the truth is we are filled with it ourselves – just in different forms. Give us grace to see the world as you see it. Help us to work toward creating a world that aligns itself with your will and purposes. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.