ARE THE CANAANITES AMONG US?
Canaanites...who were these mysterious ancient people that inhabited the land God promised to Abraham and his descendants? This land "flowing with milk and honey", this fruitful land with prosperity beyond measure, is mentioned in sermons today as a place of inheritance God has prepared for us in the heart through obedience. It's the prosperity message that offers hope to the hopeless, peace in place of turmoil, wealth instead of want, and perfect health for sickness and disease. All you need to claim this land of milk and honey, these teachers say, is found in Deuteronomy 28. They say if you obey God and keep his commandments, that all the blessings listed in this passage will come upon you and overtake you. If you don't, all the curses will. So the believers of this message work with all their might to keep the commandments of tithing, obedience, and writing the laws of God on their hearts through recitation and ritual. Sadly, these dead works merely serve to create those whom Paul warned Timothy about in 2 Tim 3:5-7:
"Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts; Ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."
These teachers who promise this are nothing more than those who have
"gone in the way of Cain and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear. They are clouds without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots. Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever." Jude 11-14.
Who Were the Canaanites?
The Canaanites were the descendants of Ham, the son of Noah. Ham was the son that looked upon his father's nakedness and had lustful thoughts. He tried to influence his brothers, Shem and Japeth, but was unsuccessful. Noah cursed Ham for this act and commanded that Ham's descendants would forever be slaves to the descendants of Shem and Japeth. Ham's sons were Cush (father of Nimrod, the founder of Babel and creator of the religious system of idol worship, especially sun worship and the origin of Baal; Genesis 10:8-12); Mizraim, founder of the Philistines; Genesis 10:13,14; Phut; and Canaan. (The Amorites, Moabites, Hittites, Jebusites, and all the other "ites" were specific decendants of Ham's and their influences and decendants also went as far as Europe and Asia.)
Canaan's borders were from Sidon to Gerar unto Gaza, to Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim to Lasha (Genesis 10:15-19), but the modern world knows this as the region of Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. By these biblical accounts, we know that Ham, and specifically his son Canaan, was the influential founder of homosexuality, beastiality, idolatry and decadent societies.
The Canaanites were a great people of textiles, merchant marines, architects, artisans and much more, and were the first to use money in place of a bartering system. While most people are aware that Canaan was a pagan nation, they may not know what the word pagan really means. Most have some idea that it has something to do with archaic notions of idol worship, and relate that directly to statues of Diana, Isis, Rah and those mentioned on the History, Discovery and National Geographic channels. Some may correctly associate pagan worship practices to include witchcraft and black arts, such as astrology and psychic readings. However, the pagan influence that began in Canaan lives on nearly seven millennia since its origins.
Since the Canaanites were so powerful as a nation and so proficient with their methods of government, they naturally became the most influential people of their time. Surrounding nations began following suit as emissaries from Canaan would travel and settle abroad, taking with them their religions. They had a god for nearly everything around them---even a god named Ziusudra that represented Noah. Their main gods, however, were Ba'al (Baal), known in other cultures in later years by many names: Bel, Baalat, Molech, Merodach, Mars and Jupiter, and his mother Ishtar, also known as Aphrodite, Astarte, Ashtoreth, Cybele (or Sybil), Diana, Europa, Isis, Semiramis, and Venus. Baal was the god of war and the elements (rain, atmospheric conditions, and agriculture), and was represented by a golden bull. Ishtar, Baal's mother/lover, was the goddess of fertility, and was represented by her elaborate temples and temple priests and priestesses (also known as temple prostitutes) through ritual. The main elements in the worship of these deities were sexual rituals in the temple, fire, and human sacrifice (usually children).
Offerings of produce, money and fornication with the temple prostitutes were the forms of worship represented in this society. The Canaanites were ahead of their time in technology. They were known as the Purple People (Phoenicians) because they had managed to invent purple dyes made from tiny sea-snails known as murex and red dyes from kermes, tiny insects that live in oak trees. These dyes made them famous and wealthy for centuries. They were major traders of copper, tin, iron, gold and silver; papyrus and rope; cedar, cypress, pine and oak lumber; cattle, sheep, goats, camels and horses; wine, olive oil, grain, salt and salted fish; honey, nuts (almonds, walnuts and pistachios), fruits such as dates, figs, apricots, pomegranates, pears and peaches; spices for food, medicine, and temple offerings; amber from the Black Sea, Ostrich egg shells from North Africa for luxury and novelty. Since their skill as artisans was so renowned, they were called upon by King Solomon to help build the famous Temple of Jerusalem. They even knew how to produce glass, and were in fact the first to discover the secret of transparent glass.
They were a largely urban culture whose wealth was concentrated in the towns, especially in the temples, which became the centers of record-keeping and finance. Since for many centuries there was no money, all trade was carried out by the exchange of one type of goods for another (bartering system). The large temple complex, every city's central location, was the ideal set-up for storing the city's wealth. The temples were even able to finance trading expeditions. The money lenders in the temples mentioned in the Bible were not just shifty characters out to cheat people, but a natural outgrowth of such financial concentration, for the temples were able to amass large stores of goods and herds of animals which were brought to them as offerings, and use this wealth to speculate on trading trips around the Mediterranean and to India or England.
In Phoenicia, where cities often occupied tiny areas of land in a sheltered harbor, buildings up to 6 stories high were constructed, often with roof gardens. There were always wells or springs within the city walls, which is one reason the people were often able to withstand long sieges. Tyre even had fresh water piped in through a leather hose from an undersea spring.
This Is All Very Familiar Somehow…
The ancient Canaanite system of local ruling is surprisingly parallel to our own mayoral and town council. Each town was ruled by a king, but there seem to have been frequent changes in ruling families, unlike the long-standing dynastic lines of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Also in each town there was a council made up of its most powerful merchants who were responsible for many of the decisions of state. The prosperity of the town depended on the wisdom of these merchant council members for both advancing trade and avoiding war. Although there were slaves, certain laws protected them from mistreatment and even authorized payment to them in redress of grievances. They could earn their own money, purchase property and eventually could purchase their own freedom. It wasn't unknown for a freed slave to reach high office.
Interestingly, the Great American Dream today consists of these same aspirations. We find ourselves to be slaves to our occupations and the government with the hope that at some time in our life we can afford to buy our freedom and be self-supporting, buy our own lands, owe no man. The prosperity message perpetuated in pulpits feeds this hope and puts a label on it that this is the will of God. If we follow the rules, believe with all our hearts, and faithfully give 10% of our gross income to the "House of God", then He will open of the windows of heaven and get us out of this mess. When the blessing doesn't come, bewilderment sets in, then depression, then the backtracking to see what rule was missed so the promised blessing will arrive--and ultimately the mislead "believer" begins to wonder if Christianity is a hoax, and turns to other methods in hope of achieving what didn't come from the prosperity message, looking for "the God" that will ultimately give this dream of freedom and success.
Our cities and towns are ruled by mayors and council members who have complete control over the taxes of our communities, the zoning ordinances of the property owners. Who tell us how fast we can drive, where we can shop, and what we can and cannot do both publicly and privately. Our states are ruled by governors, state congressmen/women, and senators, who tell us how we can live in our state and how we can conduct ourselves. Finally, there is our President and US Congressmen/women and senators who have ultimate rule over our lives.
The churches, however, are the showplaces of the cities and towns - which one has the highest steeple, fanciest and biggest building, the most stained glass windows, padded pews and paved parking lots? The denominations with the largest memberships are those that offer the least requirements of personal responsibility. How is today's society different from the Canaanites?
The society, culture, philosophies, government, and religious beliefs of the Canaanites became interwoven with the Israelites through co-existence. They have become so woven into the world through time that they are still influencing teachings today. The difference is that we can no longer tear down the idols and temples as the ancient righteous did, because they are not anywhere near as obvious as they once were. With the subtlety of a serpent, Canaan's ideals of religion and commerce have become an integral part of the character of today's Christendom. Our only hope is to "come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." 2 Cor 6:17,18.
What God requires of us now is no different than what God required of the children of Israel when he told them to utterly destroy the Canaanites. When faced with the actual act of destroying this seemingly advanced and eloquent civilization, however, the Israelites often chose the path of compromise and compassion. We must not make the same mistakes. There is no room for compassion, reason, logic, or justification. To truly be a child of the living God requires one to be ruthless in the pursuit of truth. It is a painful and emotional journey that requires us to crucify ourselves and go against almost everything society has convinced us was right. It means to be born again.
When Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again to see the kingdom of God, he meant that he had to give up everything he ever knew as a high priest. It meant that he had to begin at the beginning. Jesus was telling Nicodemus that everything he ever believed had been influenced by the doctrines of men and was full of error. Nicodemus knew Jesus was telling him he needed to make the most difficult decision of his life--a decision that most assuredly meant facing rejection by his peers and his family, and perhaps even death. The commitment Jesus was asking for was personal and required something of him more than duty. It meant total surrender of his life (John 3:3).
"Ye must be born again" has become a catch phrase in most congregations today and is usually described as an act of public confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, usually in front of a church during an altar call. This act, followed by obedience in baptism, regular church attendance, daily bible reading, and witnessing to others about Jesus and what he did on the cross, is said to yield eternal life. But this is not what Jesus said. He said in John 3:3-16 that one had to be born of water and of the spirit, be born again, in order to see the Kingdom of God. Eternal life is a result of his death and resurrection, and that if we love him, we will do the things that he said. He also said we needed to sell all that we own and give it to the poor and then come and follow him (Matt 19:21, Mark 10:21, Luke 12:33; 18:22). He said we needed to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, might and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-33 and Luke 10:27). Only then we can begin to be born again and SEE the kingdom of God. How many times have you heard this message? A person must come to the same crisis that Nicodemus and the rich young ruler faced. Either follow Jesus just the way He described (and we learned later that Nicodemus did), or go away sorely grieved as the rich young ruler because what Jesus requires is too much.
Elijah and the Prophets of Baal: What Really Happened
99.9% of those who attend church regularly have at some time in their life heard the story(s) of the Canaanites and the battles that the Israelites had with these people in Ancient Israel. Joshua faced them at Jericho after crossing the Jordan river, and the battle Elijah had with Ahab and Jezebel. When these stories are told in sermons today, however, important background information is left out that is crucial to what God has to say.
In deeply examining the small story of why Elijah had the battle with the prophets of Baal, I learned some things I never knew that changed the whole meaning of the story. The story is told in many ways to depict triumph over hardship, depression, etc. The very reason why Elijah stopped the rain for 3 1/2 years is the entire foundation of the message in the story, and it is the same message that applies to us today.
For you see, the Baal religion itself revolved around the cycles of nature necessary for survival and prosperity, primarily growing crops or raising livestock. This theme represented to Baal worshipers the struggle for life described in the annual renewal of the earth in springtime and harvest. Baal was the storm god, the bringer of rain, and thus fertility to the land. The disappearance of rain in the dry season portended catastrophe if it did not rain in the spring. The religion extended to be explicitly concerned with fertility, specifically cast in terms of human sexuality. Worship of Baal involved imitative magic, the performance of rituals, including sacred prostitution, which were understood to bring vitality to Baal. It takes little imagination to see the connection between the human sexual act and rain watering the earth to produce fruit. The biblical traditions use these same images of being fruitful or barren to describe vitality in human beings.
The emphasis was on the absolute necessity of rain. The needed water could not be the destructive water from floods or the lifeless salt water of the seas: it had to be the life-giving rain, falling at the proper times. Baal was often portrayed as the "Rider of the Clouds" and described in imagery associated with storms and meteorological phenomena, including clouds, thunder, lightning, and hail. Service to this god would allow continued human existence.
To what extent these religious practices had infiltrated the religious system of the Israelites and can hardly be overestimated. The problem that faced Israel through most of its history was not that the people had abandoned the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for the worship of Baal, but rather the problem was known as syncretism, the blending of Jewish religion with Baal worship. Jehovah had been experienced as the God of power who fought Pharaoh, who parted the Red Sea, who led the Israelites through the desert, who parted the Jordan, who brought them into the land by toppling walls of Jericho and routing the Canaanite and Philistine armies. He was the God of the patriarchs, a powerful warrior God who could be counted on to march in with his heavenly armies in times of crisis.
However, as the Israelites settled into the land, they encountered the fertility cult of Baal and were easily convinced that while Jehovah may be the God of battles and power, it was Baal who was in charge of the more mundane aspects of everyday life, such as rain and crops and livestock. They never abandoned the worship of Jehovah, they simply added the worship of Baal to it: one God for crisis, another god for everyday life. When crops were abundant, Baal was praised and thanked for his abundant rain. Drought had significant impact since the absence of rain was not only a threat to survival, but it was also a sign that the gods of the Baal myth were unhappy.
Therefore, when Elijah asked Jehovah to hold the rain from Israel for 3 1/2 years, Queen Jezebel was determined to destroy all prophets of Jehovah because she blamed them for the anger of Baal, signified by the drought. She was especially on the lookout for Elijah, since he was apparently the one who had closed up the heavens. In her mind, only Elijah's utter destruction would satisfy Baal and bring the rain again.
The contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal carries extreme significance. The purpose was to call the people to repentance, as well as to show who really controlled the rain. The plagues of Egypt had not been enough to keep the people devoted. Each plague had a purpose, to destroy the myth of the gods of Egypt, who were the same gods as the Canaanites (in fact were created by the Canaanites). So when Elijah called the 450 prophets of Baal to Mt. Carmel and had 2 bulls (the bull was the icon of Baal) to sacrifice, it was to destroy this syncretism.
When this story is told by most preachers and teachers today, they somehow manage to leave out that our forms of worship today, including the buildings and rituals, are the same problem the Israelites faced in 1 Kings 17 and 18. God continues to use crisis in our lives to get our attention. Crises are meant to make us aware of sins in our own lives, or to prompt us to purge ourselves of the influences of the world around us, and doctrines of men and of devils. Our Almighty God, in His boundless mercy, is trying to get us to search our hearts for the truth, to seek His face, to humble ourselves and worship Him only. He is a jealous God and will have no other Gods before him.
Just as in the ancient days, these gods take many forms. If you think there are no idols in this modern day and age, look again: the primary god that rules peoples' lives is the love and endless pursuit of money. If you think that's not true, ask yourself what you're willing to give up for the truth. There are still the Jezebel's in the camp today that call the truth a lie. The way, error and doctrine of Balaam is the same thing - the blending of the world with chritianity. (See Rev 2 and the warnings of Jesus.) They distort the word of God to mean something that it doesn't, for personal and/or denominational gain, by telling the people what they want to hear in order to keep them coming and thus funding the ministry. When the afflicted, depressed, oppressed, sick, and needy seek counsel and comfort today from the pastors and teachers, they are usually told to pray harder, to better manage their finances, to look for sin in their life, say 10 "hail Mary's", and usually feel humiliated and more hopeless than when they came because the truth is not there.
Jesus said that you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free (John 8:32). But, if the pastors upset the congregation with too much truth and talk of absolute repentance, they risk being out of a house and job. Even the few who choose to risk some boldness and venture out on the limb of true evangelism often pull back when they sense the rejection of the message. By all means, let's not stand on the steps of the temple like Jesus did and call a spade a spade.
Let me tell you something...the truth is this: that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. We must repent or we will likewise perish as those did at the tower of Siloam. Luke 13:3-5 "I tell you, Nay, but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower of Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay; but except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish." In other words, these were 18 people considered to be righteous by society's standards and yet they perished because they had not repented. How many times have you heard "why do bad things happen to good people?" Next time you hear that, or think that, even about yourself, think about the tower of Siloam.
The Israelites didn't learn their lesson from Elijah, in spite of everything. We find in the Old Testament that the struggle continued until the time of exile to Babylon. Ezra and Nehemiah were passionate about God and were determined to purge Israel of Baal worship. We must be just as passionate and be willing to purge all influences from our lives that are contrary to what Jesus said.
Not the Easter Bunny!!
Our Easter holiday represented by the rabbit and eggs were derived from Baal worship because they are forms of fertility rites represented in the springtime which also represents the Spring Festival of Ishtar (note: Easter is a word derived from the word Ishtar). The Easter holiday in our society has become one of the most lucrative times of the year for our church denominations, because people who never attend church usually go on Easter Sunday to rid themselves of guilt. Merchants have their most profitable business at Easter, second only to Christmas, with people flocking to the local department stores to see who can go to church in the fanciest and most elaborate new spring dress and suit. They make sure every child has an Easter basket. The churches hold Easter egg hunts for the children and the church or civic group that offers the biggest winning prize, gets the most egg hunters, thus getting the most attention and recognition. Think this isn't true? Just check your local newspaper after the holiday and see what makes the headlines in the society pages.
This is no different from the spring festivals in Baal worship, their most important holiday. The spring festivals brought worshippers from far and wide to pay homage and tribute to the temples, wearing and giving only the best they had to give. Some were merchants from other lands who did not necessarily believe in the religions but paid tribute in order to keep the lines of merchandising open and increase trade. How many business men and women do you suppose go to church today, especially on Easter Sunday in an effort to appear "Christian" and "holy" for the inner purpose of generating and increasing business?
Weekly Sunday rituals of dressing up and going to a building to "worship" God is nothing more than the doctrines of men. While we participate in these weekly rituals we must be entertained. Church leaders must constantly be seeking new ways of making the services exciting in order to achieve growth in membership. The fear of death and disease has been replaced by the ultimate fear of boredom. The current wave is the "Seekers" and the services are filled with all kinds of emotional and energetic music and visuals. Some of the services go on for hours while people experience the "move of the Holy Spirit" and the "Fire from Heaven" of revival. All the while the members are sacrificing their children during the week to daycare centers and ungodly school systems in the pursuit of money to buy pleasure, wealth, entertainment. Spirituality is achieved through "prayers and sacrifice".
When You Gonna Wake Up?
We live in a "follow the leader" mentality in a "follow the leader" world, and we have an inherent "don't rock the boat" mindset to keep our mouths shut and mind our own business. It boils down to something the bible calls "the fear of men." Even the utter and complete depravity of homosexuality is readily accepted by society and some denominations, not wanting to use so "judgmental" of a word as "abomination," but instead blandly labeling it as an "alternative lifestyle," explained away as a genetic defect or result of abuse instead of the blatant, filthy sin that it is. (NOTE: if you fall into this category, then you are no different than Lot's wife, and when the judgment comes on these sinful people, don't think it won't also come on you.)
Abortion has been accepted and justified by wrapping it in neat little packages of "in cases of rape or incest", or "to save a mother", or more importantly "in the name of science and stem cell research", and performing the ritual murder and dismemberment of unborn children behind unseen closed doors. I recently read an historical article that mentioned research during the middle ages that used the fat rendered from stillborn infants mixed with herbs for treatment of leprosy. The practice was so undercover for fear of death that the price was extremely high to any midwife willing to work with an apothecary. If found out, they were burned at the stake. Today, the issue of abortion and sacrifice of these innocent children is the forefront of political campaigns and women/human rights movements. The fear of death today is to those who stand up against abortion by those who support it.
Teenagers are in control of their parents and authorities by crying molestation and abuse when they don't get their way, and it's okay. Christmas cannot be mentioned in most public school systems because somebody might get offended. Prayer is not allowed in schools until somebody gets shot, then they hold prayer vigils when only the moment before the shooting those same people praying would be seriously disciplined.
I have experienced the gut wrenching repentance that comes with seeking and finding the true knowledge of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and the bewilderment of asking myself, can this surely be the truth. The journey for the truth began with my daughter Shelley, expanded to my husband and has now spread through our family. However, in the beginning of this experience and journey of truth, I can say with all honesty that everything in me wanted to reach out and fight with the very word of God. But Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would be the teacher and guide us into al truth, and he has been that and the comforter through the rejections of family, friends and fellow "Christians".
Just as He promised us, Jesus is raising up and preserving the remnant of true believers, and you will not find them in a church building--because when you learn the truth, it takes you away from the building and into the worship in spirit and truth.
Is this you?
Do you know how you know if this is you? Answer this one question....WHO ARE YOU WHEN YOU'RE ALONE? (i.e.; Are you cheating on your spouse? Having a few too many drinks after work? Reading unpopular material or watching tv shows or movies you wouldn't want anyone to know about? Or is whatever you do, say or act as if your very existence and eternal life depended on it? Col 3:17, Eph 4:5-9) Still think you know beyond a shadow of doubt that your doctrine is true and you are uncorrupted?. Will you continue to allow the preachers, teachers, and society to make your choices? Will you stop following these "clouds without water", and study the bible alone and let the Holy Spirit show you the truth? Will you take the leap of faith and really DO what Jesus said? Will you destroy the influences in your life and be truly born again?
The day will come when we will all stand before God and answer for every word we spoke and every act we did. What will you say? I encourage you to throw out everything you ever knew, get on your face before God, repent - truly repent - and read the "red" letters for the first time in your life. Paul said that godly sorrow works repentance. I heard a man once say that repentance was a radical wrench that goes to the roots of our personality and rips away anything and everything that is not of God. It is an experience and process that cannot be taught. It must be experienced. The ax must go to the root of the tree.
Each time we try to make the fruits of the spirit work in our lives we fail, because the fruits of the spirit are not attitudes that can be applied. Rather, they come when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives. They are the natural byproducts of the tree of life and truth, the living proof of one's co-existence with God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is no other way into the Kingdom of God except by Jesus Christ, and most people have never met him. They only think they have because they say they believe in Him, read their bible, and attend church regularly. They think they have because during Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays they work to get food to a few needy families and toys to needy children. They think they have because they pay their tithe regularly and live an upright and moral life.
I have learned to be content in whatever state I'm in. I have learned that He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the Alpha and Omega, He is the Word made flesh. He was tortured and died the cruelest and most gruesome of all deaths, yet He is alive and seated at the right hand of God the Father. I have learned that the Holy Spirit is my teacher and that He guides me into all truth. He is my comforter and my strength. I love my husband, my children, and my grandchildren more than words can say, but when I lay my head down at night and when I go through my days, the only love that really counts in the end is my love of God. When I opened myself finally to Him, He gave me the desires of my heart. I can say now that I have no other gods in my life. I have been crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live; yet, not I but it is Christ that liveth in me; and the life that I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Now I know who I am when I'm alone. The Spirit of God is grieved and He will not always strive with man. Let the journey begin, or be like the rich man.
The choice is yours.
Return To Front Page