Everybody knows that toilet humour is a no no. Even in the least polite company it’s a bad business to joke about flatulence or to sound off about the delicate details of one’s ‘personal life’. Oddly enough, the Bible writers generally did not share our embarrassment about these things. One of the most famous examples is undoubtedly Elijah’s potty-mouthed attack on the god Baal in 1 Kings 18. Having set-up a showdown between Baal and the LORD, he invites the prophets of Baal to call down fire from their god on a sacrifice. When Ball does nothing, Elijah suggests with more than a hint of sarcasm that perhaps Baal is ‘relieving himself’ and so unable to answer.
Molech: name-calling is positively encouraged
Elijah’s cheeky low blow is far from just a politically incorrect gaff at an interfaith prayer meeting. He’s getting at something quite deep in a biblical understanding of false gods, and it’s something that is covered-up with blushes and swoons in our English translations. Whenever we read about ‘the detestable god Molech’ or ‘the detestable god Chemosh’, the Hebrew is literally referring to these gods as ‘turds’. Look them up and you will see why they are singled out for such name-calling. They’re foul, filthy, useless, and fit only to be expelled and flushed away. In the face of the Living God, so are all our idols.
The greatest false god is of course the one who set himself up against the LORD at the very beginning, and for him is reserved the title ‘Beelzebub’ (2 Kings 1; Mark 3:22). It means ‘lord of the flies’, and the implication is fairly obvious. Beezebub, the prince of demons, is the most ‘detestable’ of all and therefore attracts the most flies! Next time you are ‘driving out a demon’, you may want to meditate on the wastefulness and shame of all that steals our love from the LORD God of heaven, and on the glory and goodness we find in Jesus.