It started when the women invited the men to their sex-and-religion worship. They ate together and then worshiped their gods. Israel ended up joining in the worship of the Baal of Peor. God was furious, his anger blazing out against Israel. Numbers 25:2-3 (MSG)
I remember many years ago catching my youngest daughter in a lie. It was a small thing but I came down hard on her and she was visibly surprised by my earnestness in the matter. It wasn’t the small, isolated act but the principle that I wanted her to understand. When a child learns that lying is acceptable, then they can easily go down a path which leads to much larger deceptions and falsehoods. Pretty soon, you’ve wandered far off the path of truth.
It’s easy to read today’s chapter and scratch our heads at God’s anger and reaction to the actions of his followers. Baal worship was prevalent in those days. It started as a type of “fertility” worship which was common in ancient cultures. It morphed in a myriad of ways as it spread through middle eastern tribes and regions. What it became was an ongoing, blasphemous sexual free-for-all. And, when the Baal followers sexual “worship” produced babies, they would sacrifice the baby to Baal by burning the baby alive. Unbridled and unrestricted sex with no responsibility for the outcome. (Hmmm, the more things change…..)
Like a loving parent, God knew that Baal worship would lead His children down a tragic path that would be incredibly destructive to the entire nation. I have to believe that in this early confrontation between God and Baal, God wanted his young nation to understand how serious He was about avoiding entanglements with Baal worship.
Today I’m reminded that even when it seems that my Heavenly Father is being unfair or harsh, He knows the plans He has for me. They are plans for life and hope, and I can trust His will.