Imagine cradling your infant son or daughter in your arms, then being compelled by such a force that you pitch your baby, your very own innocent and helpless child, into a blazing fire.
The people of Judah – God’s people – did this very thing. They sacrificed their children to Molech, the cruel god of the Ammonites and Phoenicians. The Lord prohibited this abominable practice in Leviticus 20, but the Israelites had wandered far from Him.
Josiah, the son of Amon and grandson of Manasseh, both of whom “did evil in the sight of the Lord”, became King of Judah when he was eight years old, right in the midst of Judah’s idolatry and profanity. In the 18th year of his reign, Josiah instructed that the ill-used house of the Lord be repaired. During the repairs, Hilkiah the priest discovered the lost book of the Law and brought it to Josiah. When Shaphan the scribe read it to him, Josiah tore his clothes in repentance and grief. He then instituted a cleansing of the land to rid it of all traces of profane practices, including the worship of Molech:
“He [Josiah] also defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire for Molech.” (2 Kings 23:10 NAS)
Of Topheth, Matthew Henry wrote:
There was Tophet, in the valley of the son of Hinnom, very near Jerusalem, where the image of Molech (that god of unnatural cruelty, as others were of unnatural uncleanness) was kept, to which some sacrificed their children, burning them in the fire, others dedicated them, making them to pass through the fire (v. 10)…It is supposed to have been called Tophet from ‘toph,’ a drum, because they beat drums at the burning of the children, that their shrieks might not be heard.
As horrendous as that sounds, there is hardly a difference between the detestable ancient practice of child sacrifice and today’s abortion holocaust. Only today the god is self, the altar is selfishness, and the beating of the drums is the seclusion and silence of the womb, as well as the endorsement of government and society.
Matthew Henry asserted that God extended extreme grace to Josiah to raise him up from an idolatrous family and make him a godly ruler who was courageous enough and sorrowful enough to stand against the appalling but accepted practices of his people. I wonder if there is enough sorrow and repentance in our nation to stop the flow of innocent blood. I wonder if the Lord would extend such grace to us and raise up a modern day Josiah.
If not, who will tear down the abortion altar of selfishness and silence the drums?
God, have mercy.
Janice Powell 2014