Consequences Of Idolatry in Ancient Israel

In this article, I am going to discuss about Chapter 9 of the book of Ezekiel which very clearly illustrates the consequences of Idolatry among the people of God in ancient Israel. 

This chapter narrates a vision that the prophet Ezekiel had at that time. Though it’s a vision, it points towards an event that might happen in the future, and if we study this scripture prayerfully, we could get an insight into the prevalence of idolatry in today’s Christian church. Moreover, it will also help us to examine ourselves and make necessary corrections in our spiritual walk, so that, we will be marked and set apart by the LORD instead of being destroyed in His wrath.

1Then I heard him call out in a loud voice, “Bring the guards of the city here, each with a weapon in his hand.” 2And I saw six men coming from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with a deadly weapon in his hand. With them was a man clothed in linen who had a writing kit at his side. They came in and stood beside the bronze altar.

3Now the glory of the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, where it had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple. Then the Lord called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side 4and said to him, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.”

5As I listened, he said to the others, “Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. 6Slaughter old men, young men and maidens, women and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were in front of the temple.

7Then he said to them, “Defile the temple and fill the courts with the slain. Go!” So they went out and began killing throughout the city. 8While they were killing and I was left alone, I fell facedown, crying out, “Ah, Sovereign Lord! Are you going to destroy the entire remnant of Israel in this outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?”

9He answered me, “The sin of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great; the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of injustice. They say, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land; the Lord does not see.’ 10So I will not look on them with pity or spare them, but I will bring down on their own heads what they have done.”

11Then the man in linen with the writing kit at his side brought back word, saying, “I have done as you commanded.” (Ezekiel 9, 1- 11)

The events narrated in this chapter are not ordinary ones, they describe the way in which the LORD deals with those who claim to be the children of God, but, continue to live a sinful life by disobeying His Commandments. While reading this I was really troubled, because, the killing starts right in the temple courts and it begins with the elders and no one is spared except the saints who were marked by the LORD’s angel.

In verses 5 and 6, we see that, The LORD is  asking His angels to go around the city of Jerusalem and kill everyone who do not have the mark on their foreheads. And HE instructs them to start the killing from the temple courts, to begin with the elders. The angels did as HE commanded, they never spared anyone including women and children.

Here, an important point to note is; the slaughtering is happening in the midst of God’s children, not in the midst of a bunch of gentiles who do not know the LORD and His Commandments. So, we need to ask this question:

Why the LORD decides to slaughter His own people?

Well, we will get the answer for the above question when we read the following verses.

9He answered me, “The sin of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great; the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of injustice. They say, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land; the Lord does not see.’ 10So I will not look on them with pity or spare them, but I will bring down on their own heads what they have done.” (Ezekiel 9, 9-10)

Now, we have an answer – All these killings were the result of the sins of both, the house of Israel and the house of Judah and these sins are not accidental, they are willful and pre-meditated. The people chose to live in those sins, even though they were fully aware of the requirements and laws of the God of Israel.

They were willing to trade in God’s eternal love and caring for a few perishable comforts and pleasures of this world. By choosing to live a sinful life, the children of Israel had become Idolaters. They worshipped money and power instead of their God. They were mocking God’s Commandments by disobeying them. Consequently, the LORD decides to punish them.

Saints, when we look at the contemporary Christian world too, we could see a similar picture, the church is full of idolatry . It is very true that, the spiritual descendants of Abraham too have gone down on the path of a similar lifestyle; as the ones described in verses 9 and 10.

The land(The So-called Christian Nations) is full of bloodshed and is pregnant with injustice. Every kind of immorality is accepted and promoted among majority of the Christians. We have come to a state that we do not even know that we are sinning. The difference between right and wrong has disappeared. The Shepherds and the Sheep alike have become insensitive to sin. See what Prophet Jeremiah is talking about these people:

13“From the least to the greatest,all are greedy for gain;prophets and priests alike,all practice deceit. 14They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious.‘Peace, peace,’ they say,when there is no peace. 15Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?No, they have no shame at all;they do not even know how to blush.So, they will fall among the fallen;they will be brought down when I punish them,” (Jeremiah 6, 13-15)

In the contemporary Christian world, no one is standing for the Commandments of God, we live in an ” everything is OK” world. sheep can do any wicked thing and get away with it, because, shepherds are not courageous enough to rebuke them.

Recently I heard a missionary saying “oh! by telling a few lies we are not going to lose our salvation” these are the words of a missionary, but if we have this kind of attitude towards the sin of lying, and if we say the same thing to our little kids, can you imagine the way they would treat the “sin of lying”?

We, the Christians, do not have any idea about the God whom we worship, we don’t have any knowledge about the author of the word that we carry with us to the church on every Sunday. We think, God is light years away from us and he does not know what is going on in our lives. This is a wrong notion.

We worship a God who holds every atom in this universe together. He knows every thought in our hearts before they become thoughts. Every thought, word and deed of ours are recorded in His book and rewarded accordingly. So, it’s time for the church to wake up.

But, for this to happen, God’s word should be preached without compromise. Preachers and Pastors should have the courage to teach the Commandments of God rather than the Commandments of men. God’s servants should be true to the Word of God, even if it causes the whole congregation to leave their churches. Let us  build the church with souls not with stones.

Well, let us move to the next part:

3Now the glory of the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, where it had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple. Then the Lord called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side 4and said to him, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.” (Ezekiel 9, 3-4)

From chapter 9 we get two pictures about the nation of Israel. One shows that majority of the people are living in neck-deep sin, and the other part shows that a minority, who lives a righteous life, grieve and lament over the detestable things done in Jerusalem.

In fact, these minority are the real saints who literally followed God’s Commandments and lived a holy life. They were very indignant to the abominable lifestyle around them and totally separated themselves from it. For them, obeying God was more important than anything else in their lives. So, the LORD decides to spare them from destruction. This is how the LORD takes care of His children.

If we live an obedient life, we will be marked and separated from the crowd. But are you one of those who grieve and lament over the detestable things going on in today’s church? Do you feel troubled by the deterioration of morality and obedience in the church? Or are you also one of those dead fish that swim according to the current?

Saints, there is a reality that we all hate to see – that is, a huge number of people in the church today are already lost, because they live a life of continual disobedience which is the result of not teaching them the importance of obedience.

Remember; disobedience leads to punishment and destruction; that is what happened to the fallen angels, Adam and Eve and the children of Israel.

Please bear this in mind; God Almighty never compromises on His Commandments, because, they reflect HIS eternally Holy character. For HIM, Obedience is more important than sacrifice. Obedience leads to Holiness, when you disobey, you become unholy.

Under the new covenant, which was established by the Blood of Jesus Christ-the Son of God, punishment for disobedience is more severe for those who do not repent and turn away from it. Let us go through the following verses in Apostle Paul’s letter to the Hebrews.

26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, and again, “The Lord will judge his people 31It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10, 26-31)

We think, just because, we sit in a pew on every Sunday morning, we will go to heaven, that is a wrong notion and if someone has taught you so, it’s nothing but deception. God’s kingdom has its own Laws and Regulations. Once we become the citizens of that kingdom, we are bound to obey its Laws.

We were set free by the blood of Christ from disobedience and sin. We were set free to obey not to disobey. We have freedom in Christ to do the right things not to do the wrong things. When we disobey God’s Commandments, we are doing the wrong things. In other words, we are sinning.

Unfortunately, today’s church is so busy saving people on the street that; they have completely forgotten the people within the church, who are still bound by their old sinful nature. The church teaches about everything under the sun, but stays away from the topic of obedience.

In the contemporary church, very few people are left who, really grieve and lament about the detestable things going on in the midst of its people.

We really need People who live a holy life and intercede on behalf of the lost souls in the church. We need pastors and preachers who have the courage to call a spade “spade”. Preachers and teachers who are strong enough to swim against the current; not according to the current.

Dear Saints, Idolatry in any form is a serious sin in the eyes of the LORD Almighty, so, let us wake up, and also awaken those who are sleeping before the judgment comes up on the church.

May the LORD Almighty Bless You.

 

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