“The Sons of Israel cried out to Yahweh saying, ‘We have sinned against you because we have forsaken our God and have served the Ba’als.”
If you were reading this account of the Judges for the first time, you might be inclined to say, “again???” And yes, the answer is, the cycle is beginning again. Yet, as tempted as we might be to wag our fingers at the people of this time, before we do that, we ought to first examine ourselves. How many times have we fallen into the same old sin and then, but only when the consequences of the sin are before us, turned to God and asked for forgiveness. Within the actions of these Israelites are the actions of every Christian, every church, and every people. Save for the grace of God, we are hopelessly lost in our sin.
And so, before we condemn, we must repent ourselves and seek God’s honor and glory in our lives and not to press his patience as we pursue the lusts of our own flesh. And while the response of God is a little different this time than it has been in the past, the principle is yet the same. We are called to honor God and to keep his commandments, finding our joy and pleasure in Him, not in the things of this world. Yet our sin always draws us away from that and we end up serving Ba’als of our own construction.
In Hebrew, the term בַּעַל (baal) means “master” or in some cases, “husband.” Ultimately, it is something or someone to which we bind ourselves. It need not be a golden image, it could be an employer, a hobby, an organization, or even a church. Anything to which you are bound (other than Christ) can become a Ba’al to you and you must ask, is that thing leading you away from God and away from the responsibilities you have before God? If it is, then it must be overturned and removed from your life lest you find yourselves in the situation that these Israelites have found themselves — and sadly, have repeatedly found themselves.