I just read Ezekiel 8-11 – it is shocking!
I found myself wondering how I would have responded if I was Ezekiel. God lifted him up and showed him the sin of the house of Israel and the leaders of Judah – and repeatedly stated ‘you will see things that are even more detestable...’ (Ezek 8:6, 13, 15, 17). The sin and rebellion of the people was shocking – insulting really. To set up an idol and then bow down to it – and to do that in the very sanctuary of God! That would be worse than inviting a prostitute to join you in bed when your spouse was in it! Or giving the PIN number to your joint bank account to a thief without asking your partner!
It is no wonder God was angry.
Idolatry leads to Jealousy.
Jealousy creates anger.
Anger is because of injustice.
Injustice needs to be put right.
God puts things right when he judges and punishes.
When we consider for a moment the idolatry of Israel we should be able to understand why God was so hard-line in dealing with sin and why God choose to leave. It was the idol or me!
Now, let us put ourselves back in the shoes of Ezekiel. If you had seen this vision and were then returned to your people – How would you deliver the news?
I reckon this vision would have influenced him in two ways. First it helps us understand the ferocity of the way that Ezekiel describes the sin of Israel (which is worth keeping in mind as we read through the coming chapters). Second it accounts for the strong emphasis in Ezekiel’s preaching on justifying the action of God. When the people challenge Ezekiel that God is behaving unfairly or too severely, he has this vision of their idolatry in mind and so he stands strong. Why make excuses for God when it is the people of Israel who are in the wrong.
And we too should take note.
Are there idols in your life which would provoke God to jealousy?
- Get serious about sin – we cannot hide from God.
- Double check your motivations. We are motivated by many things – both good and bad. Are they the kinds of things that God would want us to be motivated by?
- When Yes, praise God and ask that he would continue to work in that way in your life.
- When No, it is time for business. Ask God for help, to change your mindset and enable you to flee from the things which call you to do what God would not want.
- Work hard at obedience.
- Rest in hope. Know that despite your best efforts, it is only in Christ that our sin is dealt with – and completely.
- Live like someone who has been saved.