Malachi 4:1 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the LORD of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.” 2 “But for you who fear My name the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. 3 “And you will tread down the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the LORD of hosts. 4 “Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. 5 “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. 6 “And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the land with a curse.”
In its near context this passage referred to the first advent of Jesus and John the Baptist was the Elijah to come. However this passage also defined a pattern for the coming of the Lord to possess a people, bring a revival or awakening. Just as we see that many passages have double fulfillments, or even more, depending on the principle they describe (See Acts 3:19 for another repetitive principle).
We have now entered a Malachi 4 season. I will call this the “Elijah pattern”. This “Elijah pattern” is repeated in similarities in subsequent “comings” of the Messiah as He comes to judge the unclean, purify and empower.
There were similarities of this pattern in the early1500’s with Martin Luther and the reformation. There were similarities at the turn of the 20th century when the Holy Spirit came with power upon Azusa street, Topeka Kansas and other places around the globe.
We have entered the “Elijah Pattern” again.
Elijah operated in this pattern even before Malachi spoke of him in Malachi 4. We see the pattern in I Kings 18. The Call of Elijah in, I Kings 18, was a call to forsake the worship of the god BAAL (plural Baalim) and to return to the commandments of YAHWEH. The Old Testament was clear with warnings against Baal worship.
Who is Baal who Elijah came and spoke so boldy against? What is Baal worship? Were you to walk into any church and ask the audience ‘What is Baal worship?’ you would probably not find many believers who knew.
In first Kings we find Elijah confronting the King of Israel, Ahab. Ahab is married to Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, the King and high priest of the Baal worshipping Sidonians.
1 Kings 18:
|17: And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? 18: And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.|
Why is the Most High so incensed when His people worship Baal? Are we, perhaps, wrong in supposing that Baal was some ancient god that has nothing to do with modern man? Or could it be that Baal worship is something of which our society is guilty?
The word Baalim is the Hebrew plural for BAAL, the pagan god of nature and fertility. A quote from the Westminster Dictionary of the Bible article ‘BAAL‘ (emphasis mine)
“… Baal worship apparently had its origin in the belief that every tract of ground owed its productivity to a supernatural being, or baal, that dwelt there. The farmers probably thought that from the Baalim, or fertility gods, of various regions came the increase of crops, fruit and cattle … The worship of Baal was accompanied with lascivious rites (1 Kings 14:24), the sacrifice of children in the fire by parents (Jer.19:5), and kissing the image (1 Kings 19:18; Hos 13:2). Baal was often associated with the goddess Astoreth (Judg.2:13), and in the vicinity of his altar there was often an Asherah. (Judg.6:30; 1 Kings 16:32-33,R.V.)”
Of the goddess ASTORETH the same dictionary says:
“… She was the goddess of sexual love, maternity and fertility. Prostitution as a religious rite in the service of this goddess under various names is widely attested. The identification of ‘Ashtart with Aphrodite is evidence of her sexual character.”
“Ashtaroth (plural of Astoreth). In connection with the plural of Baal, a general designation for the female divinities of the Canaanites …”
“Asherah refers to a wooden pole or mast which stood at Canaanite places of worship (Exo.34:13); originally it was, perhaps, the trunk of a tree with branches chopped off, and was regarded as the wooden symbol of the goddess Asherah, who like Ashtoreth, was a type of fertility … It was erected beside the altar of Baal. (Judg 6:25, 28)”
We can see from these quotes that Baal and Ashtaroth worship incorporated illegal sexual acts. Some have suggested that the Ashtaraoth pole was a phallic symbol. That word lascivious means lewd, lustful, licentious, lecherous, bawdy. In other words Baal worship was accompanied with sinful sexual acts.