Tuesday In the Fourth Week of Easter
1 The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, who therefore delivered them into the power of Midian for seven years, 2 so that Midian held Israel subject. From FEAR of Midian the Israelites made dens in the mountains, the caves, and the strongholds.
Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil.
for you are at my side.
One does wonder; what was the evil that the Israelites did in the sight of the Lord?
Answer: Baal was the name of the supreme god worshiped in ancient Canaan and Phoenicia. The practice of Baal worship infiltrated Jewish religious life during the time of the Judges (Judges 3:7), became widespread in Israel during the reign of Ahab (1 Kings 16:31-33) and also affected Judah (2 Chronicles 28:1-2). The word baal means “lord”; the plural is baalim. In general, Baal was a fertility god who was believed to enable the earth to produce crops and people to produce children. Different regions worshiped Baal in different ways, and Baal proved to be a highly adaptable god. Various locales emphasized one or another of his attributes and developed special “denominations” of Baalism. Baal of Peor (Numbers 25:3) and Baal-Berith (Judges 8:33) are two examples of such localized deities.
According to Canaanite mythology, Baal was the son of El, the chief god, and Asherah, the goddess of the sea. Baal was considered the most powerful of all gods, eclipsing El, who was seen as rather weak and ineffective. In various battles Baal defeated Yamm, the god of the sea, and Mot, the god of death and the underworld. Baal’s sisters/consorts were Ashtoreth, a fertility goddess associated with the stars, and Anath, a goddess of love and war. The Canaanites worshiped Baal as the sun god and as the storm god—he is usually depicted holding a lightning bolt—who defeated enemies and produced crops. They also worshiped him as a fertility god who provided children. Baal worship was rooted in sensuality and involved ritualistic prostitution in the temples. At times, appeasing Baal required human sacrifice, usually the firstborn of the one making the sacrifice (Jeremiah 19:5). The priests of Baal appealed to their god in rites of wild abandon which included loud, ecstatic cries and self-inflicted injury (1 Kings 18:28).
The Return of Baal And the Jezebel Spirit in America
It is uncanny how much this moment in history resembles the conflict between Elijah and Jezebel, between the power of God and the satanic lie of Baal. Are we under the demonic influence of Jezebel?
Jezebel first appears in 1 Kings 16, when she marries Ahab, king of Israel. Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, the king and high priest of the Baal worshipping Sidonians. Baal worship was closely associated with obsessive sensuality and often involved sex acts. Jezebel, as a daughter of this perverse kingdom, was raised in an atmosphere where sex was a path to power and influence (sounding familiar yet?).
Ahab, King of Israel, was completely subdued and dominated by Jezebel (a type of modern man?). Jezebel then introduced the worship of Ashtoroth to Israel. This god/goddess was a power-hungry goddess of love and sensuality. Priestess-prostitutes filled her shrines and serviced her worshippers. The lure of these legal, readily available erotic encounters was more than the men of Israel would resist. By Jezebel’s influence, most Israelites, the northern kingdom, left the worship of God for Baal and Ashtoroth. The prophet Elijah laments that only 7000 men in the entire nation were not swayed by her control (How many men have left God – exchanged the power of supernatural grace for sensual pleasure – by simply clicking on to easy access porn sites? How many men have either abandoned their family or refuse to get married at all?).
· The Jezebel spirit is born of rebellion (1960s? Now?). The Spirit of Jezebel is basically a controlling spirit working through the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (The counter forces to these are poverty, chastity and obedience).
· Other ways a Jezebel spirit can gain power of a nation …
o Puts power and politics ahead of people
o Baal worshippers would propagate child sacrifice (today’s abortion)
o Operates through fear and intimidation (Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals)
o Intolerant of Word of God (Banish God from public sphere, loss of religious freedom)
o Allows seduction to prevail
o Twists truth; Lies
o Usurps the law
o Propagates sorcery; Black magic (New Age, Witchcraft, Satanism, Reiki, crystals, horoscopes, ouija boards, luck charms, etc.)
Is any of this sounding familiar? It should. This almost perfectly describes the Motus Operandi of most of the liberal secular ruling class in power today.
Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing. (1 Kings 18:21)
John McCain in his book Character is Destiny examined the character traits exemplified by Roméo Dallaire who in 1993, was appointed Force Commander for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), where he witnessed the country descend into chaos and genocide, leading to the deaths of more than 800,000 Rwandans. When the rest of the world looked away, he stayed behind in a manmade evil for the sake of duty and justice. Dallaire was in charge of a small overwhelmed African peacekeeping force, he could have left but he refused and witnessed the genocide. He is ashamed he could have not done more and the reaction of the world that stood by for 100 days doing nothing allowing the devil to reap carnage, terror and hopelessness. Dallaire was the one candle in a darkened room of despair created by the collective failure of mankind’s conscience along with the apathy and deceitfulness of world governments toward Rowanda’s plight. McCain writes of Dallaire’s dilemma:
The U.S. government, our allies, and the United Nations went to extraordinary and ridiculous lengths to avoid using the term, “genocide”, aware that once genocide was acknowledged, they would have to act. Day after day, long night after long night, for over three months, more men, women, and children were added to the rolls of the victims by their hate-crazed persecutors. Romeo Dallaire soldiered on, saving those he could and agonizing over those he couldn’t, all the while begging the UN, and the world, to send more troops, to do something, anything, to help. In his telling, his mission was to keep peace; peace was destroyed by unimaginable violence, and many thousands died. He failed. He tried to convince his superiors to send him more men. He failed. He tried to get the United States and other powerful countries to listen to their consciences and help. He failed. He tried to persuade the world to stop genocide. He failed. And while many, many people who had a responsibility to stop the killings looked the other way and never had a moment of doubt or a night of troubled sleep, Romeo Dallaire took his failures very, very seriously.
A righteous person, no matter how blameless, will always take humanity’s failures personally.
Rwanda Lessons Learned
· The first and enduring lesson of the Rwandan genocide – not unlike the Holocaust – is that they occurred not only because of the machinery of death, but because of state-sanctioned incitement to hate and genocide. It is this teaching of contempt, this demonizing of the other – this is where it all begins. Indeed, as the jurisprudence of the Rwandan tribunals has demonstrated, these acts of genocide were preceded by – and anchored in – the state-orchestrated demonization and dehumanization of the minority Tutsi population – using cruel, biological ascriptions of Tutsis as “inyenzi” (cockroaches) – prologue and justification for their mass murder.
· The second lesson is the danger of indifference and the consequences of inaction. The genocide of Rwandan Tutsis occurred not only because of the machinery of death and a state-sanctioned culture of hate, but also because of crimes of indifference and conspiracies of silence. What makes the Rwandan genocide so unspeakable is not only the horror of the genocide, but that this genocide was preventable. Simply put, while the UN Security Council and the international community dithered and delayed, Rwandans were dying.
· The third lesson is the danger of a culture of impunity. If the last century was the age of atrocity, it was also the age of impunity. Few of the perpetrators were brought to justice. Just as there cannot be a sanctuary for hate or a refuge for bigotry, neither can there be a haven for the perpetrators of the worst crimes against humanity.
· The fourth lesson is the danger of the vulnerability of the powerless and the powerlessness of the vulnerable – the brutalized children, women victimized by massive sexual violence, the slaughter of the innocents – all the first targets of mass atrocity. It is our responsibility to empower the powerless while giving voice to the voiceless, wherever they may be.
· The fifth lesson is the cruelty of genocide denial — an assault on memory and truth – a criminal conspiracy to whitewash the Rwandan genocide. In the obscenest form of genocide denial – as in the case also of Holocaust denial – it actually accuses the victims of falsifying this “hoax.” Remembrance of the Rwandan genocide is itself a repudiation of such denial – which tragically becomes more prevalent with the passage of time.
· The sixth lesson is the importance of remembering the heroic rescuers, those who remind us of the range of human possibility; those who stood up to confront evil, prevailed, and transformed history.
Finally, and most important, we must remember and pay tribute to the survivors who endured the worst of inhumanity – of crimes against humanity – and somehow found in the resources of their own humanity the will to go on, to contribute and to make our society a better and more compassionate community. And so, this anniversary must be an occasion not only to remember but to learn the lessons of the crime whose name we should even shudder to mention – namely genocide – and most important: to act on these lessons.
Tuesday: Litany of St. Michael the Archangel