A Return to Paganism

Beginning in 1953, Dr. Joseph Free conducted excavations at the site of Tell Dotha, the ancient city of Dothan, located twelve miles north of Samaria. Samaria was the capital of North Israel after the division of the kingdom. It fell in 722 B.C., when God brought down the Assyrians to punish Israel’s idolatry and sin. Dothan was where Joseph was thrown into a well by his brothers (Gen. 37:17-28).

Dr. Free found several levels of occupation at the tell or mound, but one of his most interesting discoveries was at the Middle Bronze level (2000-1500 B.C.), about the time of Joseph. He found a heavy wall, in the corner of which was the skeleton of a child buried in a jar. The archaeologists believed that the child was sacrificed when the foundation of the wall was laid.

Foundation sacrifice may be attested in the Bible. We read in I Kings 16:34, “In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the Lord spoken by Joshua son of Nun.”

Admittedly this text can be understood differently. But other passages leave us in no doubt that the ritual killing of children was practiced. In 2 Kings 16:3 we read that king Ahaz sacrificed his son in the fire. King Manasseh did the same (2 Kings 21:5). The sheer number of Old Testament warnings against child sacrifice (Lev. 18:21; Deut. 12:31; Ps. 106:38; Ezek. 16:20) shows that the custom did exist among Israel’s neighbors, and that Israel was tempted to adopt it when devotion to the Lord was at a low ebb.

The face of religion is not always benign and friendly. Sometimes it is fierce and violent, because the fierce, violent aspect of human nature is always lurking just below the surface. The idea that all religions were equally beneficial for society is nonsense. Where the true God is unknown, as in ancient paganism, or is rejected, as is often the case today, the devil in us rises up and becomes a monster.

Israel struggled against paganism for over a thousand years. The final victory did not come until Christianity took the knowledge of the true God around the world. Then the gods of wood and stone, with their detestable ways, were laid aside. If knowledge of God and respect for His truth are lost, we will not, as many liberals vainly hope, slip into a mild, safe secularism that keeps the ethics of the Bible without the faith. We will see, instead, a resurgence of paganism. The old gods will spring back to life, bringing with them vicious, hateful, barbaric practices. Goliath will try again to slay David. The walls of old Jericho will be under construction again.

This is why the work we do is so important. The entire future of the human race, as well as the eternal destiny of every soul, depends on our faithfulness in resisting the encroachment of unbelief and standing for the truth. -

by Bill Brummit, Greenwood Park Messenger, Bowling Green, KY, July 14, 1993

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