Molech Then And Now

The Ancient Near Eastern culture described in the Old Testament and in which the Old Testament scriptures were given can sometimes seem foreign to our postmodern world. There are, however, some striking points of contact. One of these is the cult of Molech, to which Scripture refers in several places in the Old and New Testaments (E.g., Lev 18:21; 20:2–5; 1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 23:10; Jer 32:35; Acts 7:43).


Leviticus 18:20–22 connects the cult of Molech with sexual immorality:

You shall not have intercourse with your neighbor’s wife, to be defiled with her. You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the Lord. You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination (NASB; 1995)

Leviticus assumes that the hearer of this text will know what Molech is. Unfortunately, according to the great Old Testament scholar R. K. Harrison (1920–93) we know less than we might like. Let us start with what we do know. Harrison writes, “All OT references allude to an individual deity identified in specific instances with the Ammonite god Molech (cf. 1 K. 11:7), for whom Solomon built a shrine in Jerusalem” (s.v., “Molech,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia). There is, he reminds us, good reason outside of the Old Testament to think of Molech as a false god. The great scholar of the Ancient world, Cyrus Gordon (1908–2001), whose work should be better remembered than it is, showed that a word closely related to Molech occurred alongside Baal in a Ugaritic list of gods.

In Leviticus 20:1–9 we get a little more insight into the cult of Molech and its rituals:

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Say to the people of Israel, Any one of the people of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones. I myself will set my face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, to make my sanctuary unclean and to profane my holy name. And if the people of the land do at all close their eyes to that man when he gives one of his children to Molech, and do not put him to death, then I will set my face against that man and against his clan and will cut them off from among their people, him and all who follow him in whoring after Molech. If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people. Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. Keep my statutes and do them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you. For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him.

From this passage we infer that Molech was regarded by the pagan Ammonites as a deity. What it meant to “give” one’s child is debated by scholars but at least in some instances it meant to make of one’s child an offering to the god Molech. Under Old Testament religious and civil law this was a crime against Yahweh and the Israelite state and punishable by death. We may be sure that is was a religious crime since the passage explicitly turns to religious infidelity (necromancers, mediums etc). Scripture calls this a sort of spiritual “whoring.”

One of the marks of Solomon’s corruption was his building of a “high place” for Chemosh, the Moabite idol, and for Molech, “the detestable idol” of the Ammonites (1 Kings 11:7). This is a reminder to the Christian to put no confidence in princes, not even in the wisest ruler in Israel’s history, David’s son. There is only one son of David, one king whom we may safely trust.

The cult of Molech was tolerated, however, in Israel until the 7th century B. C. when the reformer Josiah finally tore it down, “that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire for Molech” (2 Kings 23:10; NASB95).

Harrison writes, “[i]n speaking of Molech the OT clearly referred to a specific deity (cf. Am. 5:26 AV; quoted in Acts 7:43) whose cult flourished among the Ammonites (1 K. 11:7, 33).”

For Christians, however, the case is answered definitely in Acts 7:43 where Stephen, as part of his indictment of Israel, quotes and interprets Amos 5:26: “‘You took up the tent of Moloch and the star of your god Rephan, the images that you made to worship; and I will send you into exile beyond Babylon'” (Acts 7:43; ESV). Note that “Molech” becomes Moloch but the reference is to the same deity.

What Hath Modernity To Do With Molech?

It might be better to ask, what does modernity not have to do with Molech? For a long time I struggled to understand how the pagans and certainly some in the Old Testament church could have fallen into the cult of Molech. As part of the tail end of the baby-boom, I am part of a generation that felt treasured (not bubble-wrapped).

I think, however, that the people born in the shadow of the Roe, Doe, and Casey decisions are better able to understand the attraction of the Molech cult better than I can. Every child born since Roe has been born, to one degree or another, with what we might call a scalpel of Damocles hanging over her head. For the first time in human history, a court declared that because they were in the uterus and defenseless, human children no longer have an inalienable, natural right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The court declared that the mother’s interest in a career is greater than an infant’s interest in life. Abortion became the sacrament of expressive-individual autonomy. More than 60 million human infants have been offered to the modern Molech since Roe. Even if Roe is overturned this month, abortion law will return to the states and though the number of abortions will likely decrease, it will remain a fixed part of American life as people move or travel to abortion-sanctuary states to put to death their unborn children.

Dragging Children To Strip Clubs

The most recent example of the pervasiveness of the modern Molech cult is the video showing parents voluntarily exposing their children a to drag-queen strip show, during which some of the children were encouraged to stuff money in the g-strings of men presenting as women.

Where abortion is about autonomy, convenience, and economic-social mobility, the drag-queen cult is about being perceived to be inclusive. Parents who would probably not pour kerosene on their children and set them alight will voluntarily scar their little souls by exposing them to the sort of sexual degradation once sought only by the vilest of sexual deviants.

That parents voluntarily throw their children into the spiritual fire of a drag-queen stripper illustrates why Israel had laws against Molech worship and against offering one’s children to the fires in the worship of Molech. After the fall, the human heart is desperately wicked (Jer 17:9). People worship false gods because they think that there is something in it, that they will gain some advantage from it. They are looking for this-worldly power or influence for themselves. People threw their children into the fire in the ancient world for the same reasons they abort them or take them to strip clubs now: because parents valued their social and economic status more than they feared God.

Good News For Idolaters

God the Son became incarnate knowing full well what the Ammonite pagans had done and how Israelite laity and leaders had fallen into the same cult. Remember, it went on in Israel for centuries. Josiah had to end it for a reason: there was a market for the Molech cult among those who had been delivered by Yahweh from Egypt.

Christ died for people had offered their children to Molech. Does that scandalize you? If it does, then you may not realize, apart from the grace of God, the depths of the darkness to which your own heart is apt. By his Spirit and grace Christ regenerates, grants true faith to, and through faith grants union with himself to those whom, by nature, would choose Molech over Christ.

There is a reckoning coming for those who have thrown their children into the fires of Molech, who remain impenitent and proud of their sacrifice to the gods of affluence and “progress.” God’s Word gives us a picture:

Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 20:14–15; ESV).

Satan and the pagans would like us to think of fire as a way to power but the Revelation shows us what it is: a precursor to eternal condemnation.

Nature itself tells us that parents who have offered their children to the modern Molech cults do so against nature and against conscience. If Child Protective Services ever had a vocation it is to protect children from drag-queen strip shows.

CPS cannot change the human heart. At most all they can do is to clean up some of the wreckage. The Spirit, however, can change the heart and he will among all those whom Christ has known and loved from eternity. Christian, pray for your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Some of them may well have thrown their children into the Molech-fires of our age. The hour is late but Jesus has not yet returned so it is not too late.

©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.


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  1. Considering what we have seen on the Twitter account “Libs of Tiktok”, even placing children in public schools is to risk giving them to Molech. Even secular experts are recognizing the danger of public schools and the damage they intentionally cause.

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