Are the temptations to idolatry faced by God’s people in the Old Testament the same ones Christians encounter today?
Obviously, we give the idols different names. But as you analyze Baal worship in the Old Testament, comparisons aren’t hard to find.
Baal was the god of fertility, of both women and the land itself—the things on which one’s wealth and social significance depended. And Baal worship involved ritualized sexual prostitution to ensure such fertility. Of course, it also produced babies, but you could sacrifice them for added benefit. The sacralizing of sex and the sacrificing of babies led to a civilization so debauched that God “vomited” out its inhabitants (Lev. 18:25). These sins remain very much with us today, even if they tend to take different forms.
Baal was also the god of business deals, the kind a greedy king like Ahab and his Baal-worshiping wife Jezebel could invoke to bypass the land laws that protected Israel’s ordinary farmers. It is hard not to see their land-grabbing example reflected in the idolatry of greed and excessive wealth accumulation today, alongside growing inequality and dispossession of the poor.
The Old Testament exposes idolatries of greed, sex, arrogance, and abuse of political and economic power, and there is much that gets replicated right up to modern times. From the Book of Judges onward, it points out the consequences of idolatry with painful repetition—as if God were saying, “Don’t you get the message yet?”
🔒 Idolatry often involves the perversion of something good in itself, like family, work, beauty, or sex.
There are many good things about evangelical history & identity that can easily turn nasty, says Christopher J. H. Wright: https://t.co/qU7t6sc62V
— Christianity Today (@CTmagazine) January 31, 2021