Leviticus 20: 1-8, page 85
The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any alien living in Israel who gives any of his or her children to Molech must be put to death. The people of the community are to stone him or her. I will set my face against that person and I will cut him or her off from the people; for by giving his or her children to Molech, he or she has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. If the people of the community close their eyes when that man or women gives one of his or her children to Molech and they fail to pit him or her to death, I will set my face against that man or woman and his or her family and will cut off from their people both him or her and all who follow in prostituting themselves to Molech.
“’I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute him or herself by following them, and I will cut him or her off from the people.
“’Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord who makes you holy.
Halloween is here – or just passed – and fit for the season is this scripture passage on Molech – an idol, but one with powers that make you wonder whether he is real or not.
Such was the case in Salem Massachusetts in 1692. Driven by the fear that three young girls had been afflicted by witchcraft the town took to the warpath. They first accused the most disempowered, the easiest possible scapegoat, a slave woman named Tituba. However her testimony only led to Martha Corey, an upstanding Puritan woman in the community. And while it may have been fine with those Puritans to think about that poor slave woman as a witch, Martha Corey was different – if she was a witch anyone could be a witch. So after her accusation and eventual execution failed to rid the town of witchcraft many more were accused. In the end, logic and justice were suspended. 19 were hanged, one crushed to death under the weight of stones and at least four died in prison while awaiting trial.
The most interesting aspect of this tragic piece of American history to me is that Martha Corey’s execution didn’t solve the problem, but intensified it. Her execution didn’t rid the town from the evil, but the injustice done to her became just the beach-head evil needed to launch it’s attach on Salem. Her accusation and execution hardly rid the town from evil but made things worse as terror-fueled finger-pointing engulfed Salem.
Should someone stand up to question these proceedings, well, what better evidence that the questioner was a witch himself! Salem’s fear of witchcraft only intensified with each accusation, giving that dark magic more and more power.
It started with – our children are at risk! How can we protect them? That fear led the community to blame Martha. But when the problem didn’t go away things only got worse and Molech’s powers doubled, then tripled, until Molech had turned all of Salem Massachusetts into a great ball of fear and blame. They knew that Molech had to be stopped, that the children must be protected, but how?
The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any alien living in Israel who gives any of their children to Molech must be put to death.’”
They had taken extreme measures – and not just one person but 24 had been put to death, but still the children were at risk.
“I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute him or herself by following them, and I will cut him or her off from the people.”
Indeed, the people of Salem were cut off from each other – cut off by way of fear and finger pointing. No one could be trusted, as anyone could be a witch. The witch could be next door, down the street – you might even be married to a witch.
Molech has to be stopped; the children are at risk, but how can we stop him?
Fear over communism swept through the United States through the 40’s and 50’s. During this time many thousands of Americans were accused of being Communists or communist sympathizers and so became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies.
To McCarthy and his proponents, the investigations were necessary – as America could not fall into the hands of the Communists.
The primary targets of such suspicions were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and union activists. The level of fear surrounding communism at this time was simply too great for real justice, so suspicions were often given credence despite inconclusive or questionable evidence, and the level of threat posed by a person's real or supposed leftist associations or beliefs was often greatly exaggerated.
But the communists had to be stopped so what else was there to do but to suspend justice? However, with each accusation the communist threat became greater than it was before.
Molech has to be stopped, the children are at risk, but how can we stop him?
On September 11, 2001 the unfathomable happened. Many were murdered, as Molech was given a new face. Fear swept the county and along with it came water boarding, prisoner abuse, the suspension of rights and justice, and eventually war. To look at the last few years we know that Molech has been at work, but the most lethal weapon of mass destruction that Molech has used against us, the one that has caused the most harm to our country and our world is fear. Out of fear we suspended our values and our sense of justice, and began to look like the monster that they claim we are.
But Molech has to be stopped! What can we do?
We must storm his lair – kill his priests – burn his holy scripture – eradicate him from the face of the earth!
But the problem is that Molech is made of stone, and the only way to stop Molech is to take back the power we gave him.
So the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or ay alien living in Israel who gives his or her children to Molech must be put to death…because I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy.’”
Molech – Witchcraft – Communism – terrorism?
They are not God. And their power slips away when they can’t feed on our fear.
So the Lord doesn’t command Moses to destroy or eradicate Molech – that would only validate his power over the Israelites and Molech isn’t responsible for the evil being done among the Israelites.
Molech – was Molech responsible? No – it was the Israelites who turned to this idol who were responsible for the horrors done to their children.
Witchcraft tore the town of Salem apart – but was some witch the source of the chaos? No, the chaos was a result of the people’s fear of witchcraft.
Communism ate at the seams of American society – but were the Russians truly that crafty? No, the injustice done was not a result of communism, but the people’s fear of communism.
And terrorism – could Osama Bin Laden have orchestrated the mess that we are in? Is he so powerful that he could have pulled the rug out from under the economy – certainly not? But isn’t what is happening now exactly what he would have wanted.
As the economy flops, as we react out of desperation and worry – our greatest defense against terror is to never fuel his strength with our fear.
We are not at the mercy of any idol or any person.
So Moses charges us – Do not prostitute yourselves to idols – do not give your power away.
Who is it that can hold you hostage? Who can prevent you from doing and getting what you want? Is it the democrats, the republicans; is it your boss, your spouse? Do you work at a job you hate, but feel as though you can’t quit because you fear losing security?
When we honor these other gods with our fear, we disempower ourselves and know the jaws of Molech.
For Molech – Witchcraft – the Communists – the terrorists – teachers – friends – drugs – alcohol – may have power, but what they intrinsically have is nothing compared to the power they posses when we give our power over to them through fear.
There is only one living God - and while this living God demands your life just as Molech does, it is not so that you might die – though even death has lost its sting by the hands of our God – it is so that in dying to the fears, wants, and worrier of this world that you might truly live.