DayBreaks for 8/04/15: A Kind of Child Sacrifice
And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind.– Jeremiah 7:31 (ESV)
Of all the sins of ancient Israel, it is hard to imagine anything that could compare to the sacrificing of children to pagan gods. Surrounded as pagan cultures as they were, those practices often infiltrated the national life of Israel. As I understand the worship of some of those gods, they were represented by metal images with their arms and hands outstretched in front of them. Fires could be lit beneath their arms and the arms would be heated until they glowed red-hot. And then the idolatrous worshipers would bring their children and place them into the super-heated arms of the pagan deities as sacrifices to placate the whim of those gods. Though it was acceptable culturally to the surrounding nations and many in Israel, It makes one shudder to even try to imagine such a thing!
On Sunday, the preacher was talking about worship and how we are innately worshiping beings: we all worship something – if not God, then idols. I fear he is right, and I also fear the extent of our idolatry even in the absence of physical images of metal or wood or stone.
In the name of financial gain, the pursuit of the perfect body, the head-long rush to climb the corporate ladder to dizzying heights, in the pursuit of our love of sports, fame or honor – we hold our children out and place them into the arms of those gods. Rather than holding our children and cherishing them, instead of making them the priority with our free time, we rush off and dump the children off on whoever is willing to watch them while we entertain ourselves.
I ask: is that not a kind of child sacrifice? It used to be that parents would selflessly sacrifice themselves in order to be there to raise their children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord”. Consider God’s admonition to Israel: Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. – Deut. 6:7 (NIV) You can’t possibly keep that command if you have sacrificed your children for the sake of convenience or expediency.
It was culturally acceptable at times in the experience of Israel to sacrifice their children. That’s how they explained it away, I suppose. Even though we don’t literally sacrifice our children on a burning altar, it makes me wonder if we haven’t fallen for the same “culturally acceptable” seduction when it comes to our children and grand children. The altar of materialism and career and accumulation are leading to sacrifice of our children.
I know not everyone has a choice – a single parent let to struggle raising children alone has a very difficult challenge to make ends me and yet be a parent. All I ask is that we think about our children as our most important “possession”. In making sacrifices “for” them, I can’t help but wonder if maybe we aren’t sometimes actually sacrificing them!
PRAYER: God, how desperately we need Your mind on this matter! We can make all sorts of excuses for why we are doing what we do but never let us forget that You have entrusted them to us and they are Yours and we will give an answer before Your throne for how we dealt with our children! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.
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