Today: [Ezekiel 14] Could You Have Idols in Your Heart? In Ezekiel 14 the Father speaks through the prophet about the reality that idols can exist even in the hearts of God’s people. Do you have idols in your heart? If you did, how could you identify them and tear them down? An idol in this chapter is defined as anything that distracts you from your walk with God. This can be a person, a job on any outward thing. Toward this end Ezekiel 14 instructs us.
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[Eze 14:1-23 KJV] 1 Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me. 2 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 3 Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them? 4 Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; 5 That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols. 6 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn [yourselves] from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations. 7 For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself: 8 And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD. 9 And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. 10 And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh [unto him]; 11 That the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions; but that they may be my people, and I may be their God, saith the Lord GOD.
Chapter 14 of Ezekiel brings a very chilling thought of the reality and consequences of idols in the hearts of God’s people. This message comes to Ezekiel as he has received a formal visit from several elders in Israel that are part of the captive group at Chebar. The picture of an idol in the heart of a man is an exact duplicate of the idols that had been set up for some time in the holy place in the temple of Jerusalem which were still standing at this time. Ezekiel’s ministry took place in the overlapping years of Jeremiah’s prophesying. During this time the doors of the temple had been removed, and several pagan images erected in the holy place such as Baal, Molech, Chemosh and Ashteroth. The reason why these idols were allowed to stand before the ark of the Covenant is because the kings who allowed them (all sons of Josiah, a good and just king) these kings were attempting to win the favor of the Pharaoh of Egypt and the king of Ethiopia to come and protect them as a mercenary force against Babylonian invasion.
Just as there were idols in the temple at Jerusalem so the Lord declares there are idols in the hearts of His people. This is the very first reference to the idea that we are in our persons temples of worship, albeit this is a very negative reference. Paul taught in 1 Corinthians:
[1Co 3:16 KJV] 16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
This is an example of what Heb. 4:12 calls the principle of the two-edged sword. When you read any extrapolation of truth in the scriptures on its face, you can also invert the apparent meaning to see its inverse as being true also. For instance, in this verse in Ez. 14 – if a man can set up idols in his heart, thus depicting us as temples in our persons, then we can also erect (in our hearts) an altar to the living God, thus establishing the New Testament truth that we are the temple of God in our persons by His divine design and that the Spirit of God does not dwell in a building nor in a host as the Catholics suggest, but on the inside of us. Jesus did not die to establish religious infrastructure, nor did He die that there might be a church house on every street corner. He died that He might take up residence within the human heart.
Verse 4 tells us that when there are idols in our hearts and we approach a prophet – that God Himself will answer us according to the idols that are in our hearts. This is something that every person operating in the ministry of the prophetic must take into consideration when prophesying to someone. Verse 9 warns that if we as ministers speak unadvisedly and answer a person according to the idols that are in their heart that God will stretch out His hand against us. The prophetic is about edification, exhortation and comfort, not about giving a psychic reading or clairvoyant session whereby we impress the person or group with how spiritual we are.
Verse 5 gives us an idea of just what an idol might be in our lives and how to expose them. An idol is anything that estranges us from God. Ask yourself the question – does this thing in my life bring me closer to or further from God? Even Christian friends, and ministry and Christian activities can come between us and God, like the minister who said “I am so busy working for God I don’t have time to spend in His presence…” An idol is an image. Pagans of years past worshipped molten images, today we worship mental images.
12 The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, 13 Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it: 14 Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver [but] their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD. 15 If I cause noisome beasts to pass through the land, and they spoil it, so that it be desolate, that no man may pass through because of the beasts: 16 [Though] these three men [were] in it, [as] I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered, but the land shall be desolate. 17 Or [if] I bring a sword upon that land, and say, Sword, go through the land; so that I cut off man and beast from it: 18 Though these three men [were] in it, [as] I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only shall be delivered themselves. 19 Or [if] I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast: 20 Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, [were] in it, [as] I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall [but] deliver their own souls by their righteousness. 21 For thus saith the Lord GOD; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast? 22 Yet, behold, therein shall be left a remnant that shall be brought forth, [both] sons and daughters: behold, they shall come forth unto you, and ye shall see their way and their doings: and ye shall be comforted concerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, [even] concerning all that I have brought upon it. 23 And they shall comfort you, when ye see their ways and their doings: and ye shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, saith the Lord GOD.
Verse 13 speaks about the land sinning. Can a land sin? There is much more to this that we realize, in our westernized thinking. Land, according to the scriptures can have a life and a power all its own that both influences and is influenced by the conduct of those that dwell upon it:
[Lev 18:28 KJV] 28 That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that [were] before you.
In 2 Kings 17:26-27 the king of Assyria overthrew the northern kingdom and the people he settled there experienced great difficulty because they couldn’t figure out how to appease of the “god of the land”. The king of Assyria solved the problem by sending them a Levite to teach them the ways of God insofar as they could observe them and things improved. Offending the God of the land results in famine, difficulty and struggle. Because of the centuries of idolatry and paganism God declares in verse 14 that though Noah, Daniel and Job were in the southern kingdom during the ministries of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, no would be delivered save for their own souls by their righteousness and uprightness before God.
It would be foolish of us not to consider this in looking at our own land. What has happened to our country in the US that has been for so much of it’s history an impregnable fortress from the encroachments of our enemies? What about global warming? This has become such a partisan issue, but have we considered that perhaps the land, the earth itself is as Leviticus 18:28 suggests, vomiting out its inhabitants because of their iniquity? That being the case what is our path of progress when things can devolve so deeply that even though Noah, Daniel and Job were in our midst, the problem would remain unsolved? Verse 18 describes the situation as being so egregious that we would see situations where we ourselves might find a path of deliverance that even our own children after us would reject and refuse to walk in.
This is a very dark picture for us but the hope we find is in the last 2 verses that speak of a remnant that would be spare and a comfort that would be sent by God to His people. That remnant was the church and the comfort sent was the Holy Spirit though the Jewish nation existing at the time deliverance came rejected it out of hand because it did not rescue the idols which the people placed so much value in. The question again before us in this chapter is are there ideations in our hearts that impede our intimacy with God? Those images, mental images and constructs in our lives and personalities are more than just character traits of our upbringing or culture – they are idols that must be torn down lest they remain to our destruction.
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