Idolatry Will be Punished

You don’t have to go to heathen lands today to find false gods. America is full of them. Whatever you love more than God is your idol. (D.L. Moody - in Who said that? By George Sweeting, p. 270). … More

Idols

At the beginning of this chapter a group of the elders in exile came to Ezekiel to seek counsel of the Lord (vv. 1-3). It appeared that they were finally been convinced that judgment was coming to their brethren still at Jerusalem. The context indicates that the question in their mind was whether God would spare Jerusalem for the sake of a few righteous within it. But these elders were not motivated by a pure heart. Though not outwardly practicing idolatry, they were still enamored with idolatry. God condemned these elders for worshiping idols in their hearts and then daring to come to God’s prophet for advice. On the outside they appeared to worship God, making regular trips to the temple to offer sacrifice, but they were not sincere. He saw their hearts and asked them to repent and turn from their multitude of idols. The Bible’s principle is that when a person or a nation is irreversibly set in a downward way, as it was in this case, God must bring judgment. However, God does it in grace in order that those in error will see their wicked way and turn to the Lord.

It seems that the people of Judah, though eager to accept the message of false prophets, considered the presence of a few God fearing men as an insurance policy against disaster (vv. 6-11). In a jam they could always ask God’s prophets for advice. But merely having God’s people around doesn’t help. Each person is responsible for his own relationship with God. God never turns from an individual who repents of his sin. He receives him in grace, no matter how vile his heart is. But those in Jerusalem were still openly and defiantly serving other gods. Judgment must be administered in such a case. God says I will set my face against that man that continues in his rebellious way, but He is ever open in grace to the one who repents (vv. 6, 8, 11)

It is easy for us to criticize the Israelites for worshiping idols when they so clearly needed God instead. But we have idols in our hearts when we pursue wealth, acceptance, reputation, or sensual pleasure with the intensity and enthusiasm that should be reserved for serving God.

Application

I must never let anyone or anything captivate my imagination or allegiance in such a way to replace or weaken my devotion to God.

Ezekiel 14:1-11 (English Standard Version)

Then certain of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. And the word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, these men have taken their idols into their hearts, and set the stumbling block of their iniquity before their faces. Should I indeed let myself be consulted by them? Therefore speak to them and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Any one of the house of Israel who takes his idols into his heart and sets the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to the prophet, I the LORD will answer him as he comes with the multitude of his idols, that I may lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel, who are all estranged from me through their idols. "Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations. For any one of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel, who separates himself from me, taking his idols into his heart and putting the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to a prophet to consult me through him, I the LORD will answer him myself. And I will set my face against that man; I will make him a sign and a byword and cut him off from the midst of my people, and you shall know that I am the LORD. And if the prophet is deceived and speaks a word, I, the LORD, have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. And they shall bear their punishment--the punishment of the prophet and the punishment of the inquirer shall be alike-- that the house of Israel may no more go astray from me, nor defile themselves anymore with all their transgressions, but that they may be my people and I may be their God, declares the Lord GOD."

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