I have been thinking about this magical mystery tour, or magical mystical tour that involves the Christian church even today because we are surrounded by the occult even today.  We act so scientific and “modern”.  If we had the chance to study what it means to be modern we might stop and want to go back to the good old days.  The problem there is that the good old days were not that good. I had a member of my congregation come to me stunned because I told her that we were so immersed in the occult we didn’t even realize it.  After listing some of the reasons she went away muttering and came back a few weeks later agreeing with me.  She said something of note.  As she thought about my words she realized that all around her and her family were ideas, concepts and forces that she could not figure out.  They just appeared, got some criticism from folks who were called by some name that had an “ist” at the end of it, and became a part of life.  Tattoos written in strange languages that appeared on children were explained as “phrases” from the Bible and were accepted  on that basis.  Family members who died wanting to be cremated were never questioned because God can raise up even ashes.  Telling gender confused folks that they were hero’s was suddenly forced upon folks who a few years ago would have suggested some serious “couch time” for them..  She commented on the stunned response she had when she woke up one morning and literally felt like she went to bed the night before with children who understood marriage and engagement, and woke up the next day to children who found nothing at all wrong with living together without marriage.  The accumulations of things that seem to have happened overnight that changed a lifetime of thought and action for her was startling.  She said that she “did not know what to make of it”.

That set off a bell in my head.  That little phrase was in my memory a part of a marvelous essay by G.K. Chesterton.  He is talking about the great cities of Rome and Carthage and how Rome was not exactly a kind and gentle empire, but they had an attitude about life that settled on the family.  Their idols were family idols meant to protect the hearth and home and family.  Even the empire took second place to family.  That love of family based on the old Roman Empire is shown in our modern day by movies like the “Godfather”.  No matter how murderous the mob boss was, he cared about the family and it became the center of life.  Carthage had an entirely different character and religion.  They were cosmopolitan traders and traveled the world.  They were, for want of a better phrase, the cool kids on the block.  They signed onto a God that they believed would get things done and that God was Moloch or Baal.  Their worship was centered on the sacrifice of their own children and the Romans “did not know what to make of it.  The fact that they cooked them alive in public worship in order to advance the commercial interest of the nation was not lost on Chesterton. “These highly civilized people really met together to invoke the blessing of heaven on their empire by throwing hundreds of their infants into a large furnace. We can only realize the combination by imagining a number of Manchester merchants with chimney-pot hats and mutton-chop whiskers, going to church every Sunday at eleven o’clock to see a baby roasted alive.”  This horrid practice was going on for years and was introduced to Israel by the famous witchy women Jezebel.  I’m sure the folks back then would have acted like the lady mentioned above and said that it seemed like it happened overnight.  Well it happened and God raised up the great prophets to fight it.  Our Sunday School stories about Elijah have to do with Jezebel and worship of Baal and Moloch.  The Romans did not know what to make of Hannibal (grace of Baal), who was rolling over the alps to destroy Roman culture and who was a direct descendant of Jezebel.  But they did have a motto that also developed over night – Delenda est Carthago.  Carthage must be destroyed.  It was.  Eventually all the inhabitants were sold into slavery and the city was razed.  Some believe that the Romans seeded the ground with salt so that nothing would ever grow there.  Archeologist have found the site and had a hard time recognizing it as a city, but they believe it is Carthage because of the dump site of thousands of tiny bodies they found that had been obviously burned.

I bring up stuff like this because God told the prophets to wipe out people like the Baal worshippers root and branch because the occult power of a God that people would take seriously enough to sacrifice their children to is eternally dangerous even though ultimately false and stupid.  The power of a Baal in not in the idol but in the mind of those who follow.  The fact that a cult like that can take over large groups of people seeming overnight made one of my old professors say that the war against Jezebel even though criticized by the “modern man” was necessary.  Why?  Because she represented an occult practice that was taken up by her distant relative Hannibal that would have spred to the whole world.  The Roman motto that Carthage MUST be destroyed recognized the basic life unit as a family and saw Carthage as a death cult that must be stopped.  My professor said something to effect of “What would happen if the world became a cult of death that sacrificed children for commercial reasons?”  How awful would that be?  He spoke those words 1 year before the pro abortion decision of the Supreme Court in 1973.