Summary: Exposition of Ezekiel 8-9 regarding the idolatry and judgment of Israel in preparation for our Fall Revival
Text: Ezekiel 9:1-11, Title: Where are the Marked Men? Date/Place: NRBC
A. Opening illustration: words to the song by Matt Papa, Where’s the Difference?
B. Background to passage: Ezekiel 8-11 are four successive visions given on Sept 18, 592 BC. In chapter 8, God is showing the elders of Israel who are gathered in Ezekiel’s home in exile in Babylon, the gross idolatry that was provoking His jealousy (and also their violence toward each other that was provoking His anger). As I read in Deut 31 this week, God told Moses that the people would take the land, grow fat, and then turn and serve other gods forsaking the Lord, then accusing Him of forsaking them (just like in our text today). And God would judge them, turn from them, and scatter them. So here in Ezekiel, he showed them of the defilement of four groups of people covering all socio-economic strata of people, and ending with the worse the leaders in the inner court of the temple worshiping the sun god with their backs turned to God. The presence of God begins to leave the temple at this point as well, making the first of three stages of departure. And in all of these things, God pronounces judgment without mercy. Chapter 9 outlines that judgment and gives the character of the only people who will survive it…
C. Main thought: God, prepare our hearts for FCW
A. The Unseen Idols (v. 8:5, 10, 14, 16)
1. When Ezek 9 begins, God is instructing angels of destruction to kill. And so one must ask why. In Ezek 8, it is obvious. God shows Ezekiel in a vision the gross idolatries that were and are going on in Jerusalem. First was the image of jealousy just north of the altar gate. Then was the leadership of Israel worshiping animals, and probably the Egyptian pantheon in the city. Then the women weeping for Tammuz at the entrance to the temple. Then finally, the leaders of Israel, in the inner court worshiping the sun god with their backs turned on God! God says it is not a trivial thing to exalt other gods. Then to “thumb their nose” at God all the more, they then returned to God in order to have the appearance of genuine religion. “Idolatry is by far the most frequently discussed problem in the scriptures” –David Powell, Biblical Counselor.
2. 2 Tim 3:5, Matt 15:19, 23:27, Heb 10:26-31, Ezek 14:4-5, Rom 1:21-25
3. Illustration: “Idolatry is worshiping anything that ought to be used, or using anything that ought to be worshiped.” -Augustine. WHAT IS YOUR GOD? "Whatever you love most, serve most, seek out most, give to the most, worship the most, and care about the most is your god. Your “god” can be your career, your bank account, the way you look, a particular position or degree, influence, power, or physical pleasure. It can even be something that is considered intrinsically good, yet you allow it to dominate your life more than God – such as your marriage or your family. Your “god” is whatever you allow to control you, to be the ultimate guide to decision making, the place of your supreme loyalty, and the source of your self-worth." –James White, “We bow our hearts, we bend our knees, O Spirit, come make us holy. We turn our eyes from evil things, O Lord, we cast down our idols! Give us clean hands! Give us pure hearts! Let us not lift our souls to another…”
4. Like Elijah on Mount Carmel, we are called to challenge people to choose between the God of the Bible and the gods of the culture. But we all say, we have no idols, it’s even strange to sing it in a song. But the whole process of sanctification is about constantly pulling doing the idols of our hearts. John Calvin said “the human heart is an idol-factory.” For God doesn’t take idolatry lightly. Most of our idols are good things that we have no intention of making idols. “We take good things, and make them God things, and thus they become bad things.” -Mark Driscoll. All sin is actually are worship issues (sex, food, appearance, attendance, smoking, internet—functional saviors). The most common idols are: money, family (and other relationships, and ways to maintain these relationships—lying, gossip, manipulation, reputation, popularity), sex, and substance (drugs, alcohol, TV, tradition, hobbies, careers, education, food, morality, music, etc.). And to put any of these before God Himself is idolatry. And in ch 8-9 the refrain is that “the Lord does not see, and has forsaken the land,” which is wrong, but fulfills Deut 31 to the letter. So what are your idols? Not, do you have any, but what are they? What do you value more than Christ according to your checkbook, your datebook, your friends, your clothing? What good thing have you let become a God thing? Ask God to turn on the lights to your idols. Be willing to gouge out the eyes and cut off the hands and burn down the altars. With an unwillingness to see our own idols, we will never see a revival in our own hearts.