Barbie Dreamhouse recently celebrated 62 years of existence.[1] The first house included a black and white TV box, an uneven checkered rug, and a painful-looking plaid couch. Dreamhouse Toys began with a modest fantasy. Yet, few artifacts outline the recent history of commoditization as thoroughly as the Barbie Dreamhouse. Each decade fetched a brighter idea of what was worth striving for. Today, we have Barbie’s Content Creators Paradise, including intricately curated aesthetics, a slide, and a swing.

It squeals ‘social media maven,’ an exemplar of success and work in our day, a symbol of expansion and affluence. This magic mansion indicates that I may not be the only one who wants progress. Many of us want to make it. Wherever “it” is, we may not yet be aware. But we want it. Is this a bad thing? Stagnation has no monopoly on glorifying God. Indeed, doing well in our work can honor God. So, what’s the big deal?

The Bible tells us plainly: at work, we should do everything heartily as something done for the LORD (Colossians 3:23). But do we really? When I inspect my packed calendar, I am alarmed to discover how conditional my events are. One stipulation dictates how I prioritize meetings: progress. If I can measure an event’s potential for success, it gets considered — because I want to move forward in life! Deep down, I want financial freedom. I want health for my family. Ultimately, what I realize to be true of me, that also may be true of you, is I have the propensity to prioritize what can bring me the most material success and sustenance. Am I alone in this?

My calendar and Barbie are evidence — instead of worshiping at work, doing it heartily, we tend to worship the output of the work, doing it selfishly.

Somewhat sardonically, Barbie reminds me of an ancient Near East deity, Baal (בַּ֫עַל). In 2023, Barbie became the highest-grossing Warner Bros movie ever. Baal was one of the most popular ancient Near East (ANE) Deities. Baal was known as the son of El, the supreme god of the ANE. Barbie is the product of Mattel, the supreme toy creator in the modern West. I can keep drawing parallels, but I’ll stop before I form a conspiracy.

Baal (בַּ֫עַל) is ontologically a Semitic noun meaning ‘lord or owner.’ The name Baal occurs 90 times in the OT in reference to a local deity.[2] The worship of Baal demonstrably permeated the entire area inhabited by the Canaanites. During the Middle Kingdom, Baal was adopted by Egyptians, along with other Canaanite gods.[3] In the wake of the Phoenician colonization, Baal worship eventually spread all over the Mediterranean region.[4]

All the groups in the modern Syria-Palestine area had a distinct conception of Baal. Most of the information available today regarding Baal comes from Ugaritic texts — geographically Ras Shamra, Syria. Not only is Baal recognized as the god of the weather, but he is also listed as a royal king, protector, sovereign, and able to grant life.[5] In these depictions of Baal, we begin to see venerable characteristics that would purport to rival the God of the Bible.

Moreover, this ancient Canaanite Warrior Storm god, Baal (בַּ֫עַל), was seen as the source of all growth and wealth. Indeed, Baal was believed to control rain, a necessary ingredient for the lifecycle of vegetation. More simply put: Baal controlled the rain, and rain meant crops, and crops meant wealth. Vegetation has always been an indicator of economic health; however, it may have been the only indicator in the ancient Near East. Hence, Baal was considered the master of the natural elements that sustain life and increase wealth.

Ugaritic texts depicted Baal as an abundant provider. The ancient metaphor of “oil and honey” regularly describes the provisions of Baal,[6] strikingly similar to the Hebrew phrase “a land flowing with milk and honey” in Joshua 5:6 (also Exodus 3:8, 17; Leviticus 20:24; Deuteronomy 26:9; cf. Amos 9:13; Psalm 65:12).[7] These comparisons fueled an extraordinary contention between God and Baal in antiquity.

The Bible even describes Israel as having two seasons: the rainy season and the dry season.[8] During the dry season, the waters of the Mediterranean are very calm. The climate stirs up the Mediterranean Sea, creating violent storms that travel over the land. These storms were essential for agricultural growth. But the Canaanites realized they had no power to control these rains. The one (deity) believed to have control over these storms was Baal.[9] If it were true that Baal controlled the natural elements, then it only would make sense for the Israelites to honor him for sustenance. But Psalm 107 said YHWH stills the storms. So, who is it then? Did the people honor a counterfeit benefactor? This is a question Old Testament writers spent a considerable amount of time answering.

The Old Testament polemic against Baal finds its climax in 1 Kings. King Ahab finds himself as the primary polemicist in 1 Kings 16:29-33. Ahab did more evil in the eyes of God than anyone before him. How? Ahab married Jezebel. As the Queen of Israel, Jezebel defied the laws and prophets of the God of Israel — leading the people astray. Ahab marrying Jezebel was a wide leap forward from the internal apostasy of his predecessors. 1 Kings 16 explains how Ahab officially replaced the cult of YHWH with paganism for the first time.[10] Notice how the father of Jezebel had “Baal” in his name — Ethbaal (literally אֶתְבַּעַל). Ethbaal was the king of the Sidonians, and his name translates as “with Baal.” Ahab married into the principal family of Baal worshipers. Baal no longer rivaled YHWH, he usurped him.

Nonetheless, Ahab’s failure set the stage for YHWH to outshine Baal. In 1 Kings 17 and 18, God sent Elijah, the prophet, to clarify that YHWH reigns. Baal was supposed to be the storm god who controlled the rains. So, YHWH’s prophet Elijah declared, “There will be no dew or rain during these years except by my command!” (1 Kings 17:1).[11] Baal was supposed to ensure agricultural fertility and harvests, yet it was Elijah and Elisha who provided grain and oil in 2 Kings 4:1-7.[12] Baal was supposed to control lightning and fire, yet it was Elijah who commanded fire from heaven in the name of YHWH (1 Kings 18:38).[13] Baal was supposed to control life and death, yet it was Elijah who healed and raised the dead (1 Kings 17:7-24).[14] So, everyone bore witness to the fact that the provider of life was not Baal. The God of the Bible delivers the rain, which provides the grain, which provides life whereby all may flourish. The LORD provides all of our needs, justice for the oppressed, and food for the hungry (Philippians 4:19, Psalm 146:7-9, Deuteronomy 2:7). His name is YHWH.

Worship of Baal wormed into the hearts of Israelites regardless. The cult started as a daft home option with a checkered rug. A remnant of pagans had resided among the Israelites as they entered the promised land. About this remnant, the author of Judges 3:4 says, The Lord left them to test Israel, to determine if they would keep the Lord’s commands he had given their ancestors through Moses.” To test them.

The Baal cult lulled Israelites with the promise of economic flourishing. Worship Baal and receive and never go hungry — they believed. Your storehouse will remain full. If you want to be protected from drought, pay homage to Baal. If you want your lineage to grow, esteem Baal. Worshipping Baal was a prerequisite to having a big garden and family. These things would almost ensure power and success in the Ancient Near East. As the years went by, the people of God believed they had found paradise with a new god. People turned away from Yahweh because of the crafty commodification of belief.

Yet the move was insidious, not an overt departure from Yahwism. Many Israelites viewed Yahweh as God from a redemptive-historical perspective. When it came to their daily needs, many began looking to Baal as their Sustainer.[15] As the Hebrews left the wilderness and entered Canaan, they were tempted to ask their new neighbors, “How does your garden grow?” And they gave their answer, including their ungodly gods.[16]

We have much evidence to suggest we, too, are tempted to lean on progressive efforts, calendars, and titles for subsistence. We need to be careful, lest we be found silently lodging with the Baal of our own day.

What is the Baal of our day? No worship of Baal is recognizable today, yet its spirit is apparent. The zeal of Baal exists in our endless pursuit of occupational advancement. What are the means by which our accounts grow? In 2024 on the eastern coast of America, it seems we have made business progress the Baal of our day. Business does not simply coexist with God as a propped-up figure but has superseded God in our conception of provision.

We must not accommodate the spirit of Baal that says, “The God of the Bible is my LORD and whoever cuts my paychecks is my provider.”

Look no further than our own efforts to include God in our places of business. Who are the highlighted professionals at our faith and work conferences? What roles do they hold? Are they not typically from the executive suite? Are not entire organizations dedicated to helping business leaders and entrepreneurs exercise their Christian might in the workplace? At what point does this, itself, uphold a habitat that commoditizes Jesus, making Jesus Lord of our Spirit but business Lord of our senses? Where is the faith and work conference headlined by the blue-collar dishwasher, the night shift janitor, and the loading dock security guard?

A whopping 0.019% of all full-time workers in the United States are on an executive team.[17] Learning how to exercise faith at work from this group of people is certainly helpful, but it is directly helpful to the faith of very few Christians. So, why is it happening so frequently then? We are drunk with the idea that God has ordained Content Creator Mansion levels of career success. If we only want to learn how to exercise faith in the workplace from Christians who have achieved the highest levels of corporate success, then it may be fortune we desire, not faith.

Dolores Hart is a Chicago-born actress who went viral in 1957 for playing the role of Elvis’ love interest in a movie. Her first break in Hollywood proved to be a big one. Soon after, Dolores was starring in films and winning awards on Broadway. Having converted to Catholicism at the age of 10, Dolores trusted her success was God’s doing. In a documentary about her life, Dolores said, “Hollywood chose me because I had a series of incredible strokes of luck. I often wonder why the Lord gave me the opportunity… I prayed to become an actress, and I knew God was on my side.”[18]

Yet, Dolores could not shake the deep sense that she ought to consider becoming a Roman Catholic nun. At the age of 24, she appeared at a familiar monastery in Connecticut. She ended her career in Hollywood and her engagement to the love of her life. Dolores Hart would become the nun who kissed Elvis.

Very few people are compelled to dismantle their careers for a life on the Abbey, not least because there are fundamental issues with such an order. Leaving those matters aside, there is something to be garnered. A heart that can walk away from a successful Hollywood career carries the substance required to put work in its proper place. It is the heart of Abraham on Mt. Moriah, who — knowing the Lord would provide — was willing to sacrifice his lifelong dream.[19]

What if we all carried a spirit that puts work in its proper place — as a means to human flourishing?

We would be set free from an improper allegiance to work. When we see work is not the Provider but simply a means the Provider uses, it will liberate us from unhealthy work culture.

We might no longer participate in the salaried 80-hour work week. Instead, we might rest as a means by which we can do our best work (and in this way maybe never reach a point where we need a permanent retreat like the Abbey provides).

We might worship at work knowing every successful client, patient, partner, and investor was Provided. Moreover, we might reintroduce our work in worship settings. In the earliest and first iteration of the church, members brought the literal fruits of their labor as an offering. They understood “cast your burdens on the Lord” as a call to bring our whole self — especially our labor — to God as a sacrificial offering.[20] When the spoils of business become a sacrificial offering, work ceases compete with God as an object of worship. Work instead becomes subject to worship.

When we detach ourselves from the concatenation of constant progression and pink swings, we may finally begin worshipping at work instead of worshipping the work and its output. Such is the way it was always meant to be.


[2] W. Herrmann, “Baal,” ed. Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), 132.

[3] S. Morenz, Ägyptische Religion [RdM 8; Stuttgart 19772] 250–255

[4] ibid

[5] Ibid. See also Ugaritic tablets  (KTU 1.1 iv:24–25; 1.2 iv:10; 1.3 iv:2–3; 1.4 vii:44; 1.6 v:5–6; vi:34–35; 1.10:13–14

[6] KTU 1.3 ii:39; 1.6 iii:6–7, 12–13,

[7] W. Herrmann, “Baal,” ed. Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), 134.

[8] These seasons are even marked with consecrated feasts (Exodus 23, Leviticus 23).

[9] Walton, John Old Testament Today. See also the story of Marduk vs. Tiamat in the ANE creation story “Enuma Elish.”

[10] Merrill, “Kingdom of Priests” pg. 361

[11] Walton, John. Old Testament Today pg. 177.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] W. Herrmann, “Baal,” ed. Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking, and Pieter W. van der Horst, Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Leiden; Boston; Köln; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999), 138.

[16] Dr. Mark Futato. Joshua-Esther lectures. RTS Mobile App,

[17] 24,873 Executive Leaders out of 132.55 Million full-time workers. Numbers from Zippia and Statista. (a) (b),132.59%20million%20full%2Dtime%20employees.

[18] Quoted from short documentary film “God is the Bigger Elvis” 2012. HBO Max Original:

[19] Genesis 22

[20] Psalm 55:22

Brandon is the Founding Pastor of Eden Church in Bergen County, NJ, and former Executive Pastor at Renaissance Church in Harlem, NY. Brandon completed his MABS at Reformed Theological Seminary, NYC. In his corporate background, Brandon held roles at and

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