“He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? They say, ‘The LORD does not see us; the LORD has forsaken the land.’ “
Ezekiel was enduring captivity in Babylon. The nation of Judah had been defeated by King Nebuchadnezzar. Their king, Jehoiachin, had been made a prisoner and Jehoiachin’s uncle had been installed in Jerusalem as a puppet king who ruled at Nebuchadnezzar’s whim. Long ago God had brought His people out of slavery in Egypt and given them a land of their own, just as He had promised to Abraham. However, because of the people’s unfaithfulness to Yahweh and their worship of other gods they were once again enslaved by a foreign power. This judgment on Judah had come only after a similar judgment had fallen on the northern kingdom of Israel, when that kingdom was overthrown by the Assyrians. Anyone would think that God’s people would have learned the consequences of worshipping idols.
In Chapter eight, Ezekiel is taken in a vision to the temple in Jerusalem. There he is shown a horrible sight – an idol has been set up at the very entrance to the inner court of the temple. Ezekiel must have been horrified. In this holy place where God has promised His people that He would dwell with them in a special way, they had broken the first two of God’s most sacred laws – worshipping anything but the one true God by setting up an idol. Ezekiel’s heart must have been broken. Clearly the remnant that God had graciously allowed to remain in Jerusalem had not learned the foolishness of idol worship. Imagine Ezekiel’s shock when he was told by his guide, “…you will see things that are even more detestable.” (verse 6)
Ezekiel is then shown a hole in the wall and told to dig. He uncovers a door and is told to, “…go in and see the wicked and detestable things they are doing [there].” Inside Ezekiel finds the walls covered with images of crawling things, detestable animals, and all the idols of Israel. As he presses further in he sees 70 of the elders of Israel, the very people who should be leading the people in repentance and righteousness, each one offering incense and worshipping at the shrine of their own idol. God then reveals to Ezekiel what these wicked leaders are saying in their hearts, “The LORD does not see us: the LORD has forsaken the land.”
How often do we attempt to hide our sin, not only from those around us, but from God Himself? What foolishness! The same God that we rely on to be by our side when we need Him most is surely right there when we sin. How could be possibly think to hide anything from Him? How many times do we put on a “righteous face” for our Christian brothers and sisters when we know that deep in our hearts we’re harboring secret sin? In James 5:16 we’re commanded to “…confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” I have discovered that there is great freedom in confessing my sins and asking for prayer from my Christian brothers. It frees to live a life without pretense. I no longer need to put up a false front so that others think I’m better than I really am. Like Paul, I want my life to be a “letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.” (2 Cor. 3:2). Our lives should be open books.
I urge you, if you have sin in your life, turn to God in repentance and allow the blood of Jesus to wash you inside and out. He wants to restore you and He already knows what you’ve done. Believe me; you won’t be taking God by surprise.