We become what we worship. When we idolize something, we cannibalize that thing to grant us identity. The only thing we can then hear, see, feel, or touch is that thing. We become calloused to the things of God and sensitized to the influence of that thing. A simple example can be seen in the present phenomenon of binge watching a TV show. Often, the characters, ideas, and places explored in the TV show end up seeping into our dream life. As John Paul Jackson used to say, “What we focus on we make room for.”
When we idolize a thing, we make decisions in our life dependent on that thing. When it is money, every decision we make is run through a budgeting spreadsheet. When it is sexuality, it is run by fashion blogs and magazines. God will challenge the thing that you have set upon the throne of your life. He desires that place, and He desires that you would become like Him, not like the stuff you serve.
Your heart is designed as the container of your life. The word for heart in Hebrew is “Leb” or “Lebab” (Strongs number 3820 and 3824 respectively). Deep within this inner sanctum of humanity lies the very essence of what drives you. The words Leb and Lebab are made up of two Hebrew letters: Bet, meaning “Tent,” and Lam, meaning “Shepherd staff.”
The Hebrew word Lebab was written as bet, bet, lam, or tent, tent, staff. It means the thing inside the thing inside that leads. There is one very direct reference in Jewish culture that is a tent with two rooms containing a shepherd staff: the tabernacle of David. When God depicts the tabernacle in Ezekiel that would eventually parallel the New Testament Christian, He called the central place of the tabernacle (the Holy of Holies) the place that He would rule from:
And He said to me, “Son of man, this is the place of My throne and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever. No more shall the house of Israel defile My holy name, they nor their kings, by their harlotry or with the carcasses of their kings on their high places. Ezekiel 43:7
The Holy of Holies was the place of His throne, otherwise known as the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant. Right within the tabernacle was a throne that God desired to occupy. And right within your heart is a throne God desires to occupy (the thing inside the thing inside that leads).
Getting back to Baal from our last post. I believe the lull that exists today in the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement is by design. God is challenging us to dive deep into our hearts to prepare ourselves for the outbreaking of the Kingdom. As I’ve said previously, we are ill-equipped to deal with low seasons. We turn to any number of things to placate the missing link within. We find other sources for comfort, guidance, safety, and security. Low seasons present us with existential crises that serve to highlight a deeper purging required to walk with God.
Low seasons show us what we have erected on the thrones of our hearts. They try and test us, purging and purifying the state of our hearts. What we turn to in these seasons demonstrate the gods that we serve.
The prophets that God had hidden away for His own purpose had circumcised their hearts for His purpose. They refused to place an idol on the throne God desired to occupy. The challenge presented to the prophetic movement is to discover the ways we have bowed our knees to Baal and kissed him with our lips. Only in purifying our hearts can we hope to see the radical expression of God’s power that we have been promised.
While I am not guilty of bowing down to a golden calf, I know I am guilty of lust for power, lust for pleasure, and lust for wealth. I may not be able to identify with Aaron and the Israelites at the base of the mountain and their desire to create an image of a false god, but I serve images of false gods daily within my own thought life. However, the greater desire within my heart is to be one of those 7,000 hidden away until the time the true God chooses to unleash His glory through His people. Every time a leaning to serve the old gods of fame, wealth, and lust arises within, I resolve to do everything in my power to mitigate those influences and place God upon the throne of my life.
What follows is a list of a few of the names given to the false god Baal. A number of these are the minute tendencies that we must deal with to find a greater place of pleasure within the heart of God.
Baal-Berith (lord of the covenant)
Loyalty. Exalting the ideology you come into agreement with.
Baal-Hanan (Baal is gracious)
Pride. To elevate yourself above others, the term gracious carries the sense of stooping down to someone who is beneath you.
Baal-Zebub (lord of the fly)
Embracing hidden sin. Addiction to prophecy. The sense of flies hovering and feeding off of decaying things. Additionally, oracles/prophetic utterances were associated with the worship of Baal-Zebub.
Baal-Peor (lord of the opening)
Lust or sexual desire. Baal-Peor was connected with licentious rites.
Baal-Gad (lord of fortune)
Financial gain. The term fortune carries the sense of distribution, this can often be the justification: “If I just had more, I would be able to be generous.”
Baalath-Beer (lady of the pit)
Gossip and slander. The temptation to drag and tear others down to your level in order to esteem yourself.
Baal-Hamon (lord of a multitude)
Church/organizational growth strategies. Attached to the idea of increase in numbers and influence.
Baal-Hazor (lord of the village)
Self-protection and preservation. This is especially at the risk and expense of others. This is group-think and identity. “Our village is special and better than anyone else’s village.”
Baal-Meon. (lord of the house)
Unhealthy family dynamics. An unhealthy allegiance to family, otherwise known as an enmeshed family dynamic.
Baal-Hermon (lord of seclusion/the sanctuary)
Isolation. The temptation to withdraw yourself from community.
Baal-Perazim. (lord of divisions)
Disconnection. One translation is possessor of breaches. Marked by relational problems.
Again, I may not have bowed my knee down to a literal idol, but I have definitely thought of my community as more important than others. I know I have attached the idea of increase in numbers (whether financial or physical) as something to strive after. I have definitely made excuses for habits that needed to die. In no way have I served an idol, but I have served my own impulses.
Why is it important that I have not bowed my knee nor kissed the mouth of any of these? Because prophetic ministry can bring financial blessing (Ezra 6:15) and I cannot be tempted to use it for gain. Prophetic ministry can bring healing (Luke 4:23-27) and I cannot be tempted to use it for acclimation. Prophecy can inspire others (1 Timothy 1:18), and I cannot be tempted to inspire them towards my ministry. Prophecy can expose something that needs to die (Jeremiah 1:9-10), I cannot be tempted to instruct someone to kill something I merely have a distaste for. Prophecy is to esteem leaders in love (1 Chronicles 25:2) and provide Godly counsel (2 Kings 1:2-3), I cannot be motivated by a desire to find acceptance in those leadership groups.
Wealth is not the problem, the carnal desire for more wealth is the problem. Growth in numbers is not the problem. The problem is when the thought is this: If I do it in this way more people will come. It is an issue of motive. If my motive for a church program is to attract people to build my ministry, I have just potentially submitted my thought process to the ancient gods Baal-Hamon and Baal-Berith. We spend far too much time with more in common with the world than God.
We must ask ourselves if our devotion to God is contingent upon some external matters, or is our heart truly devoted to Him? If we were deprived of that thing, whether it be ecstatic worship, deep giftedness, financial blessing, or attractive looks would our commitment to God wane? This is the qualifier that God laid out to Elijah to recognize the prophets that were hidden away for His purposes, that their reasons for prophesying were not tied to external matters, but were a matter of sacred devotion, trust, and intimacy with the living God.
In the next post we will discuss the characteristics of one set apart for God.