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Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me. And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 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 inquired of at all by them? ( Ezekiel 14:1-3 )
Why should I talk to them? Why should I deal with them? These guys that are sitting here in front of you, they've got idols that they have set up in their hearts.
Idolatry begins in the heart. There's where you first turn against God. There's where you really turn to God. "Believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead" ( Romans 10:9 ). "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life" ( Proverbs 4:23 ). "Out of the heart proceeds the evil speakings, the murders, the adulteries, the fornications, the lies, the heart" ( Matthew 15:19 ). And here were these men coming to inquire of God, to hear the word of the Lord from the prophet. And God says to Ezekiel, "Hey these guys that are sitting here, Ezekiel, why should I speak to them? Why should I be inquired of by them? Because they all have their little idols all set up in their hearts." Now, usually they would set up an idol on an altar, on a table, or some place in their home, that's bad enough. But it's even worse to set up an idol in your heart, because then you begin to deceive yourself, you say, "Well I don't have... I'm not guilty of idolatry. I don't have any idols. I don't have any little shrines in my home." But you've got it right here in your heart, that's worse.
Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that sets up his idols in his heart, and puts the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and comes to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh, according to the multitude of his idols; That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols ( Ezekiel 14:4-5 ).
I'll answer them, "They've all become a stranger to me because of their idols, idolatry, worshipping an idol, a principle, an ideal, a philosophy." Having a master passion governing your life other than God always estranges a person from God.
Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, [turn, change, don't just be sorry, repent, have a change of action] and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all of your abominations. For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourns in Israel, which separates himself from me and sets up his idols in his heart, and puts the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself: And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off out of the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the LORD ( Ezekiel 14:6-8 ).
God says, "I'm going to be fierce in My judgment of that person; I'll cut him off. Come to inquire of Me with idols in your heart? Hey, that's dangerous business." Ananias and Sapphira sought to do so. They came to God, but they had idols in their hearts. Mammon was sitting there. A desire, oh there were other idols too; it was desire to be acknowledged and recognized by the church as generous givers. "Oh my, isn't that marvelous? They sold their property and are turning all their money in. Ooh great, fantastic." But they weren't; they were only pretending to do so. They were holding back part of the profit for themselves. Now, there's nothing wrong with that. They didn't have to sell their house. They didn't have to bring anything in. God didn't require that. But they were making a pretense, it was a hoax, it was a sham. They were coming before God, but there were idols in their hearts. "Why have you conspired in your heart," Peter said, "to do this evil and to sin against God and to lie to the Holy Ghost? You haven't lied unto man; you've lied unto God." And of course, they fell over dead and were carried out. God said, "I will wipe them out from among My people." Be thankful God isn't so severe today as He was in the early church. We wouldn't have a church the size that we do. God's heavy hand.
And if the prophet be deceived when he has spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of the people of Israel. 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; That the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, nor 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 ( Ezekiel 14:9-11 ).
Oh, how He longed to be their God and for them to be His people and that they walk before Him in holiness and in righteousness, not polluted by their transgressions.
Now, the word of the LORD came unto me saying, Son of man, when the land sins against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out my hand upon it, and I will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it: Now 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 ( Ezekiel 14:12-14 ).
In other words, God says, "When I bring judgment upon the land, even though there are righteous men in it, those righteous men will only deliver themselves. They can't deliver anybody else by their righteousness. They'll only deliver themselves."
Now, it is interesting the three men that God spoke of: Noah, whom God delivered when He brought His judgment upon the earth; Daniel. Now Daniel was at this time alive and one of the counselors to Nebuchadnezzar. Already, he was a very young man, at this point probably in his early twenties, but yet he had already developed a tremendous reputation as a spiritual giant and as a spiritual leader, a spiritual man. And, of course, that was evidenced when first he was brought into captivity in Babylon. And he purposed in his heart not to defile himself with the king's meats and requested that he be allowed a vegetarian diet. He didn't want the meat that had been sacrificed to pagan idols, the meat that wasn't killed according to the kosher laws. And he said, "Just let us eat vegetables." And the guard says, "Hey, you know, if you guys are just eating vegetables, you'll begin to look skinny and sick, you know, then they'll have my head, man." Daniel said, "Well, give us ten days and take a look after ten days and if we look skinny and malnourished then we'll eat your meat." The guy said, "Fair enough." And after ten days ole Daniel and his buddies were healthier, ruddier looking and all than all the others who were eating this polluted meat of the king, so they were able to go on. Then he had begun to be known for his interpreting of the king's dreams and all. And so Daniel already was coming into prominence in the minds of the people, and though he was a young man, still he is named with Noah, Daniel, and Job. Righteous men, examples of righteous men.
Now if I cause noisome beasts to pass through the land, and they spoil it, so that it is desolate, that no man may pass through it because of the beasts: Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they shall only be delivered, but the land shall be desolate ( Ezekiel 14:15-16 ).
These men, if they were dwelling there, they could only deliver themselves. They can't even deliver their families. Every man must have his own personal relationship with God. God has no grandchildren, only sons. You cannot have a relationship with God through your mother, through your father, through your family. You've got to have your own personal relationship with God. And these men, as righteous as they were, Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord for he was righteous in all of his generation. And yet, he could only deliver himself and his sons who came into the ark with him.
Now, this of course, to me is a...God it says, "If I'm bringing these terrible things upon the land, the noisome beasts and the famines and so forth, the righteous can only deliver themselves." In other words, the righteous will be delivered even as we will be delivered before God brings His judgment upon this earth. And any man who says otherwise is denying the righteous principles of God.
Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and I say, Sword, go through the land; so that I cut off man and beast from it: 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. Or if I send a pestilence into the land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut it off from man and beast: Though Noah and 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. For thus saith the Lord GOD; How much more when I send my four sore judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, famine, noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut it off from man and beast? 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. 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 ( Ezekiel 14:17-23 ).
Now, soon these captives will be coming from Jerusalem, that remnant that will escape, and when they tell you the things that happen and when you see these people, you'll know that what I did was righteous in My judgment when you hear the abominations and things that were going on. You'll know that I was righteous when I brought My judgment against Jerusalem. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Ezekiel 14". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany