Idols first, then business.

Photo courtesy of GeoDum
Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all? Ezekiel 14:3

Let's be honest with each other for a moment. We all have idols in our hearts, do we not? If we look very carefully at out lives I think each of us will find that at times there is something (or somethings) that gets in between us and God, something that takes our primary focus off of Him. Maybe I'm the only one that struggles with this, but I believe that even the most spiritually mature among us deal with the issue of idolatry at one time or another. I am certainly not saying this is the constant state of affairs but occasionally it pops up. There is a reason that the first two commandments address this problem and it is because God's people, almost from the very beginning, have been guilty of idolatry.

By the time the prophet Ezekiel emerges onto the scene Israel is still confounded by idolatry and God aims to square them away. In Ezekiel 14:1-11 God has some very powerful and harrowing words for those among the people who are wrapped up in idol worship. First, as we see in the verse above, God asks the prophet if the people are going to consult Him, or are they going to continue to seek help from false, powerless idols? Then He goes on to tell Ezekiel how He is going to address the people. He says in verse 4;

I the Lord will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols.

In effect, God is saying, "Sure, I'll talk to the people but I'm going to address their idols first. Then we'll get to the other business." This same principle applies to us today. If there is any form of idolatry in our lives and hearts God is going to take care of that first and foremost. His number one priority is that we should have a right and intimate relationship with Him and that can't happen when stuff is in the way.

Idolatry is a prison that we put ourselves in then we ask God to come and talk to us during visiting hours. God is faithful so He comes to see us but there is a glass barrier between us and we have to talk through a telephone. The conversation might look something like this.

"Hey God. Good to see you. I was wondering if you could give me some advice about a situation I'm dealing with in here," we say.
"I'd love to, but I'd rather there not be this barrier between us. I really want to talk to you and fellowship with you and we can't do that with this glass in the way," God assures us.
"Yeah, I know but that isn't really the issue. I need your help with something else. Can we talk about that instead," We continue.
"No, you don't understand, the barrier is the most important issue. Come on out of the prison and we talk about anything you want." God says.
"But I'm pretty comfortable with this setup. I'm really starting to like it in here." We plea.
"Your comfort is not my priority. Your relationship with me is, and we can't have a deep relationship with you locked up behind this wall." He continues.

Have you ever had a conversation with God that looked like that? Obviously we don't see it in that way but that is the way it is. Let me ask you this. Has God ever exposed an idol or sin in your life either through reading His Word or in your prayer time? If He has you know that until you deal with that idol He will always keep coming back to it. Granted, its not always as neat as the fictional conversation above. God will sometimes give us guidance and speak to us regarding other things in the midst of our idolatry but He will always come back to it. Why? Because our God is personal and He wants nothing more than to have an intimate relationship with us. He knows that when our relationship with Him is where is needs to be other things will fall into place behind it. I refer to it all the time, but Matthew 6:33 tells us so much about God's will,

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

If we have idols in our lives and hearts God will not let it slide by. He will address them with the utmost urgency because He cares about us. Not only that but, let this blow your mind for a second, He wants you to get to know Him the way He knows you! The solution to the problem of idolatry, as it is with so many other things, is given to us in verse 6,

Thus says the Lord God, "Repent and turn away from your idols and turn you faces away from all your abominations."

This may be the simplest explanation to all of our problems, repent and turn from __________ and turn towards God.



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