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Molech Worship and Baptism

By R. J. Rushdoony
March 01, 2003
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones. And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name. And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not: Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people. (Lev. 20:1-5)

What this text deals with is a very important matter. Children are the future of any society: control over the children means to command the future. Now Molech (also seen as Moloch, Melek, Milcolm, and Malcolm) means king. Molech worship was state worship, and the ceremony referred to in Leviticus 20:1-5 means the dedication of the child to the state.

Who Owns the Children?
Every culture has had rites of dedication of the child (often the male child, to symbolize heads of families) to the father, tribe, clan, or state. Ownership was affirmed by the rite.

In Molech worship, the child was passed over a low fire, or incense burner, before an image of the king, or the god of the state, or some insignia of the state to indicate that the child's life now belonged to the state and could be used at the ruler's will. Only on rare occasions was a child actually sacrificed, or slain. Most of the time, the ritual meant dedication. It was a rite of ownership. We have Molech worship with us still, the claim of the state to own the child and to command his life.

This makes understandable why God takes the dedication of the child to the state or any other false god as so evil. He is the Lord, the Creator. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Ps. 24:1). To give our children to any other than the Lord God is a criminal act, a fearful sin. We cannot give God's property to anyone other than the Lord: we are stealing what is His to give to another.

In some cultures, as in Sparta, a deformed child could be exposed to die; the state in other instances could decree abortion or ban it, depending on its need for warriors and state servants. All these represented forms of Molech worship.

Modern education is statist education for statist goals. The curriculum is designed, not to glorify God and prepare the child for His service, but to prepare the child for citizenship in the modern power state, to live or to die for social concerns. Humanism has demanded more human sacrifices than any other religion known to man. Marxism alone is clear evidence of this.

God's Ownership
As against all the pagan forms of dedicating the child to some variety of Molech worship, the Old Testament required circumcision. Circumcision means cutting off the male foreskin. It is a symbolic castration. It declares that man's hope is not in generation, but in regeneration, in the saving power of the Lord God of Hosts.

According to Ezekiel 36:25, the sign of the new covenant would be baptism:

Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I clean you.

The Jews baptized proselytes to indicate that their entrance into the covenant was through the Messiah.

Now baptism of children is no more an act of choice on their part than was circumcision on the eighth day an act of choice on the part of a male child. Our salvation is not an act of choice but God's act of Grace. Properly understood, all baptism, and especially the baptism of children, is a witness to our faith in predestination. In the baptism of our children, we give them to God, promising to rear them in His nurture and admonition, and we pray that He makes them His own, members of His congregation and kingdom.

The baptism of a child is thus an affirmation of the sovereignty of God's grace. It is a declaration of His property rights over us and over our children. We have a duty to serve God, and also to pray for our children's children, that they be God's children also.

Having received grace, we affirm our children's need for grace. Baptism is thus a witness to our faith in God's sovereignty, His mercy, His predestinating grace, and His mercy unto our children's children.


Topics: Reformed Thought, Statism, Education

R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.”  He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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