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Ezekiel 8:3b4, 1012; 14:16 comment (0)

June 5, 2014

By Douglas K. Wilson, Ph.D.

Related Scripture: Ezekiel 8:3b4, 1012; 14:16


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Dean, School of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile

When Idols Tug At Your Heart

Ezekiel 8:3b–4, 10–12; 14:1–6

State-funded idolatry was part of the reality of the Israelite kingdoms. King Saul rid the tribes of forbidden practices, but he knew exactly where to find a medium when he found no answers from God. As an older king, Solomon bartered peace by marrying idolatrous foreign princesses, leading to his apostasy and the division of the kingdom. Shrines, altars, temples, statues and places of infant sacrifice led to the fall of Israel in 722 BC. Spiritual reformations under Asa, Hezekiah and Josiah spared Judah’s complete destruction for more than 100 years. Unfortunately generations following these reformations reverted back to idolatrous practices, as the Lord had warned (Ex. 20:5; 34:7; Deut. 4:25–28). Ezekiel addresses ongoing idolatry in Jerusalem.

Idol worship continues to this day, and it is not limited to remote missions fields. Students in our churches are tempted to idolize musicians, actors and athletes. Our insatiable lust for entertainment has lulled us to sleep, while our children are brainwashed into thinking that the commandments of God are irrelevant. If they are reading and thinking critically, we are asked, why should we worry about whether our kids are being inundated by social agendas to normalize sexual immorality, infant (and pre-born) sacrifice, spiritual syncretism and atheistic humanism? Like Ezekiel, we must shine the light of truth in the darkness and expose idolatry so that we may repent and forsake it.

What’s in Your Temple? (8:3b–4, 10)

In this supernatural vision, Ezekiel witnesses the spiritual adultery committed within the temple area of Jerusalem. Leaders who had been consecrated to maintain uncorrupted, holy worship were secretly practicing forbidden worship. They exchanged the truth of God for the lie, idolizing created things rather than their Creator.

What do you think about when you first awake? When you have free moments to yourself, what do you long for? What occupies your thoughts as you lie down to rest? Idolatry in the lives of others may be easier to identify than in your own life. We can only rid ourselves of idolatry after we expose those selfish and ungodly desires and activities that steal our attention, our affection, our time and our resources.

Is God Unaware? (8:11–12)

Seventy apostate elders turned to unauthorized worship. Like King Uzziah before them, these men chose to burn incense in censors (2 Chron. 26:16–19), though they did so in the privacy of their own rooms. They had obviously not learned from the example of Nadab and Abihu in the Law (Lev. 10:1–2). In fact, they were convinced Yahweh had abandoned them and that He was ignorant of their activities. He was not unaware.

As we consider this scenario, it may seem that awareness of God’s omniscience and omnipresence would be sufficient means to keep the elders from their idolatry. Theological knowledge is not enough. Idols are jealous, and they are relentless. God is fully aware of our idolatry.

What’s So Wrong with Idols? (14:1–5)

By forsaking the one true God and replacing Him with created things, idolaters declare their hatred for God (Ex. 20:5; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15). Rejection of God’s authority is an invitation to His judgment. This passage relates God’s response to idolaters who want to hear a word from Yahweh. Unless true repentance and the abandonment of idolatry occur, those who worship false gods yet seek God’s direction deserve His wrath.

What’s the Way Out? (14:6)

Repentance is the answer. As we learn from Pharaoh and from Saul, recognizing the guilt of sin is not enough (Ex. 9:27; 1 Sam. 15:30). Showing remorse is not the remedy if there is no change of heart leading to change in behavior. Turning from idolatry and surrendering to Christ unshackles us from the fetters that bind. Discipleship teaches us how to live free as followers of Christ.

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