Idols in their hearts

Recently I read Ezekiel 14, and I was amazed at the timeliness of its message. Several of the elders of the nation of Israel approached the prophet in order to inquire of the LORD, and though Ezekiel himself could not have know the motive of their hearts, God revealed it to him. He said, “…these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity” (v.3). The context of this verse suggests that these men were outwardly righteous, never openly worshiping anyone but God, and yet 1 Samuel 16:7 teaches us that “…man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” These men could not fool God by their external conformity to God’s law, because he knew that inwardly they worshiped gods of their own design. This is certainly not unlike many Christians today, who have become adept at displaying an outward image of devotion to God while allowing temporal concerns to become preeminent.
God’s response to the Jewish elders was clear in v.6, “Therefore…Thus says the Lord God: Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations.” The idols that Israel was worshiping had caused her to stumble into all kinds of vile wickedness, and God pleaded with them through his prophet to repent of their secret idolatry of the heart. This, I believe, is what is needed in our church today. As God’s people, we must repent of our sins, but especially the idols which we keep locked away inside our hearts; idols of pleasure, financial security, recognition and honor, comfort, and self-reliance, just to name a few. What God wants most from us is found in v.5, “…that I may seize [them] by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols.” Will you ask the Lord to identify the idols of your heart, and will you allow God to have your heart completely? That is what God sought from the people in Ezekiel’s day, and what he still seeks today.

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