“I’m ready to kill him!”
I heard these words come out of a haggard mother’s mouth in the grocery store today. The little boy’s eyes filled up his face like a pair of pancakes with a chocolate chip in their middles. He melted. I don’t think he knew that his mom was making a hyperbolic statement reflecting her frustration.
Most parents can relate to spouting off like that sometimes (or at least thinking that way), but usually a parent doesn’t really mean it. (We hope, right? I mean, you never know.) Could you imagine yourself making a child sacrificing, though? Like, literally ending a baby’s life in a sacrifice to appease some god? Whether the baby’s yours or not, that is inconceivable for us. We bristle at the thought of such a horrific thing.
That’s something that ancient people encountered in some pagan religions. Did you know that? It’s not something only featured in The Beastmaster.
The Israelites knew of this practice and encountered the people who worshiped those gods. Molek was one of the idols to which people sacrificed who demanded child sacrifice. Beastmaster-type stuff, without the cool hero talking-to-animals-telepathically. Eventually, the Israelites ended up worshiping Molek during different periods of time in their history.
Really? Really, Israel? Child sacrifice?!?! Makes you wonder why God would still want to keep the covenant He initiated between them. Right? How would you feel if the people you fashioned out of slaves rejected you and started worshiping another “deity” who demanded such a disgusting thing?
It’s almost like I can hear God yelling, “I’m gonna kill her!” in reference to Israel.
In fact, God pretty much said that kind of stuff. God sent Israel into exile and enslaved them AGAIN through brutal, oppressive regimes like the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Medo-Persians. He did it all because of their idol worship, which also led to their disregard for their own poor, widows, and orphans. Prophets like Elijah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and tons of others warned Israel that it would lead to destruction. But Israel didn’t listen.
Israel goes into exile away from their homeland for decades upon decades. Loss, oppression, slavery.
And yet God does not give up on Israel. Like a child who needs disciplining, God treats Israel as a kid who needs to learn a lesson–for it’s own survival. God never gives up on Israel. Prophets rise up and declare that God has not given up on them. Zephaniah is one of these propohets. We don’t know much about the guy, but he records some excellent stuff. One of my personal favorite verses is found in chapter 3, verse 17. Listen to this verse BUT REMEMBER that the God who said it is also the one who said “I’m gonna kill her!”
“The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”
I love that! God is a God who takes great delight in us. God rejoices over us with singing!
Today, when I was in the grocery store, Livvy started singing O Come All Ye Faithful. She’s not doing this because it looks like Christmas outside right now (which it totally does with 6 inches of snow on the ground ON THE DAY AFTER PALM SUNDAY!). She sings that song because she has God in her heart. Livvy’s singing is what reminded me of this verse. I’ve sung that Christmas hymn song over her as she’s falling to sleep.
This is what parents do, they rejoice over their children. No matter how much a kid might drive their parents crazy, those parents love that child to death.
Ironic how God gets so upset at the Israelites worshiping Molek, who demands child sacrifice, considering that God send The Son to willingly sacrifice Himself for our sins. The difference is that the way it works out is on God’s terms, not anyone else’s.
So when you get down on yourself or you feel like you’re drowing in your regrets, remember that God rejoices over you with singing.
God takes delight in you.
So go forgive yourself. Go tear down those altars of shame. Rejoice in the God who rejoices over us–even when we drive Him crazy.