Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Image from How the world embraced consumerism", BBC

And they gave him threescore and ten pieces of silver out of the house of Baalberith, wherewith Abimelech hired vain and light persons, which followed him. And he went unto his father's house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone: notwithstanding yet Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left; for he hid himself.
Judges 9:4-5

At the end of the previous chapter we learn And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baalberith their god.1 This degeneration after the death of each judge, following a period of relative obedience is the pattern of the book of Judges, so not surprising that it happens here again. What becomes apparent in Abimelech's action though is what it actually means to "worship" Baal. Worshipping is not bowing down to an idol or an alter, that is merely the outward manifestation of worship. Worship is in our behaviour, in the choices we make. On the death of his father, Gideon, Abimelech falls into worshipping the idol of self-exaltation.2 Believing himself to be the most important of Gideon's seventy sons, he persuades his family to back him financially, hires vain and light persons, sycophants to do his bidding for a silver coin and proceeds with an horrendous act of mass fratricide. All in service to his own ego, in the absolute conviction he is righteous and justified. This is Baal worship, and millions engage in it today.

When we forget about, or dismiss the needs of others, and focus on our own self-centred drives for power, position, possessions, hedonistic pleasure, national identity, wealth and glory we are worshipping at the alter of Baal. God lives not in the closed loop of self-service but in the open fluidity of relationship, in the reaching out to friends, neighbours, even enemies, in the action of nurture, in the expression of love. To neglect the needs of others is to neglect God. Our daily choices are the prayers we make. To whom do I pray today?

1 Judges 8:33
2As described in 71. Consequences