Ba'al - then and now
I studying Ba'al worship today in preparation for this coming Sunday's teachings about Gideon, who was called by God to confront Ba'al worship, among other things. It's an interesting topic today, because the overwhelming weight of the commentaries explain that Israel capitulated to Ba'al worship because of her tendency to blend devotion to Yahweh with worship of the gods in the prevailing culture. Of course, in the Old Testament, God had declared that only in uncompromising loyalty to Yahweh would Israel find peace. That was easier in the wilderness (and even there they complained) because in the wilderness there were no resources other than God. But in the new land, there were other 'gods' to whom one looked, to whom the surrounding culture looked. And Israel sought to incorporate those gods into her worship. Ba'al, being the diety associated with the productivity of the land, was the god to whom offerings were made, in hopes of gaining material prosperity. These worship ceremonies included indulgence in ritual prostitution and sexual orgies, which may have added to their appeal.
Hmmm... sex and money woven into the fabric of worshipping the true God resulting in an unholy trinity, created to the satisfaction of the prevailing culture, the false priests, and the masses. I wonder if I'll be able to find any practical application of this stuff to our day?