Do You Worship a Sun God? Don’t Answer Too Fast!
Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21)
As Christians, we “believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.” This opening statement from the Nicene Creed is power-packed with so much theology. The creed as a whole describes what makes the monotheistic Christian faith especially distinctive from polytheistic religions both ancient and current.
In the Old Testament, we read of people worshiping Baal, Molech, Asherah, Dagon, the Queen of Heaven, and other pagan gods and goddesses. There were Sun gods, weather gods, fertility gods, and warrior gods. In fact, polytheistic cultures such as the Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks worshiped a different god for just about every facet of life.
In the agrarian culture of the time, a fruitful harvest was critical to the well-being and even survival of a community or nation. So it’s not hard to sympathize with these “ignorant” people who sought to please the so-called gods of the Sun, rain, weather, and harvest, to appease their anger and solicit their blessing. That is, until they expanded their worship to include human sacrifice and killing their own children.
Baal, the pagan god most frequently named in the Old Testament, was the Canaanite god of fertility as well as the lord of rain, dew, and storms. He and his consort Asherah were among the most alluring deities confronting Israel after they took possession of the Promised Land. Despite Yahweh’s many warnings against idolatry, the Israelites often fell to the temptation to worship Baal and erect poles and trees in honor of Asherah. When Ahab became king of Israel in the ninth-century bc and married a foreign princess, Jezebel, they made worship of Baal the state religion and killed many of Yahweh’s prophets.
And so the one true God sent His prophet Elijah to confront Ahab, setting up an epic contest between Yahweh and Baal on Mount Carmel. Three years earlier, Elijah had delivered a message from Yahweh that there would be a devastating drought. The food supply naturally dried up as a result, and the people were desperate for the rains to return and bring the land back to life.
That’s when Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a duel. The real God would be the one who could bring fire down from heaven to consume a sacrificial offering. The prophets of Baal went first. They shouted, cried, danced, and wore themselves out pleading for Baal to send fire. Nothing. Not so much as a warm breeze. Knowing Baal was a man-made idol, Elijah mocked them and suggested that perhaps Baal was sleeping or, worse, busy in the restroom.
Then it was Elijah’s turn. He prayed, and in an instant, Yahweh proved Himself to be the one and only God of heaven. The Lord sent fire in a flash, burning up both the sacrifice on the altar and the stone altar itself! When they saw this, the people of Israel fell on their faces and cried, “The Lord—He is God!” Then the rain clouds started rolling in. The heavens opened, and rain poured down on the dry earth.
Often we read this story and think how sad it is that so many people could have been deceived into following false gods like Baal. And yet today, millions of people still worship the Sun, moon, rain, and Earth. We all worship what we fear. If you fear God, then you will worship Him, which the Bible says is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).
In modern times, we like to think that we are more sophisticated than people of 3,000 years ago. Surely we are smart enough to not worship Sun gods or believe that fertility goddesses will prosper us. We wouldn’t throw our infants into a volcano to appease an idol in hopes of receiving some much-needed rain. How then are we to understand the fanatical talk and drastic recommendations of climate change activists?
In September 2019, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders suggested on national television that abortion is an important strategy for controlling climate change.1 That same month, a Swedish scientist claimed that cannibalism might save the planet if society were “tricked” into considering the idea.2 This past year, many have applauded the coronavirus pandemic as the Earth’s way of protecting itself by wiping out the “scourge” that is mankind. Human life and dignity are clearly expendable according to these perspectives.
It all boils down to an attempt to control—i.e., appease—Mother Earth and the “weather gods” because we can’t seem to control global warming or cooling on our own. Remember, people worship what they fear and cannot control.
We would do well to be humble when talking with climate change activists. Be aware that they are understandably anxious about things that are beyond their power to control. Keep in mind that most will not see their fear of climate change as a religious issue, but you can interact with them knowing that idol worship is at the heart of the matter.
Dear Father in Heaven,
You are the one and only God of all things, visible and invisible. And I believe that all of creation is in Your sovereign hand, including the weather. I want to worship You alone. Help me to converse with those who don’t believe You exist. Help me to defend what I believe with good reason in gentleness and with respect. And give me the courage and words to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.
In His name, I pray. Amen.
Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!
© 2021 Davis Carman
Davis is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of Creation-based science and Bible curriculum. He is the author of five illustrated children’s books designed to help parents instill a biblical worldview in the hearts and minds of their preschoolers. He believes that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now! You can hear more of what he has to say at the Let’s Talk Homeschool Podcast.