Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 1 month ago

Faking Faith

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Ezekiel 14

After fourteen remain standing, ifyou're able- and we will- I'm read some of this- Some of this chapter- this first halfso this is versus one through eleven Zekiel fourteen one, three eleven then certain of the elders of Israelcame to me and sat before me and the word of the Lord came to me, son of men.These men have taken their idols into their hearts and set the stumblingblock of the iniquity of their iniquity before their faces. Should I indeed letmyself be consulted by them, therefore speak to them and say to them thus saysthe Lord God any one of the House of Israel who takes his idols into hisheart and sets the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face and yetcomes to the Prophet. I, the Lord will answer him as he comeswith a multitude of his idols that I may lay hold of the hearts of the Houseof Israel, who are all estranged from me through their idols, therefore sayto the House of Israel, thus, as the Lord God repent and turn away from youridols and turn away your faces from all your abominations for any one of theHouse of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel who separates himselffrom me, taking his idols into his heart and putting the stumbling blockof his iniquity before his face and yet comes to a prophet to consult methrough him. I, the Lord, will answer him myself and I will set my faceagainst that man. I will make him a sign and a by word and cut him off fromthe midst of my people, and you shall know that I am the Lord, and if theprofit is deceived and speaks a word, I the Lord have deceived that profit andI will stretch out my hand against him...

...and will destroy him from the midst ofmy people, Israel, and they shall bear their punishment. The punishment of theProphet and the punishment of the inquirer shall be alike that the houseof Israel may no more go astray from me, nor defile themselves, any more withall their transgressions, but that they may be my people and I may be their God,declares the Lord God. You may be seated well. We have here in his ekil fourteenis a really really sad situation. The elders and other people from theHouse of Israel were coming to prophets the profits of the Lord is equil among them. To inquire of theLord, a good thing, you would think I amright to go and seek the the will of God to go. Learn the word of the wardon that. Would you would think would be a good thing, but it wasn't really the word of theLord that they were after his Ekel doesn't say what they wereafter exam exactly, but Itel does tell us about the duplicitous nature ofthese people, half heartedness in which they werecoming to it to come and meet with God. He identifies three things are twothings and one a summary of the two that will focus on this evening andwe'll think about both what they were doing and the Lord's response to it andthe Lord's reason for that response. So, first, what were they doing?...

The Lord reveals the equal to things they had taken idols into their hearts. They had set a stumbling block ofiniquity before their face, and through these things they had separatedthemselves from him. The first of these things they hadtaken idols into their hearts. Now before you might remember thatEzekiel had been taken to the temple in a vision, the Temple of God, while itwas still standing- and he was given a tour of that temple, almost like a spyright with special x Ray Vision. He was able to see what was going in on insidethis place and what he saw was abomination after abomination. TheHouse of the Lord was filled with idols. Now here we see where that was comingfrom in a spiritual sense. They hadn't just accidentally, put up a statue here,an idol over there. They had brought the idols into theirheartsthe internal idolatry, had given expression to an external idolatry, andthat's, of course, how it always works. They were worshipping these false gods and it wasn't a pretense and even if itwere, it would be, of course, wrong. They had taken an taken these idolsinto their hearts. A second thing that they did isHesekiel describes it as they set a stumbling block on before their eyes.He sat a stumbling block before there or they set stumbling block beforetheir eyes. This is another way of referring to idolatry, but it reframes it in a way so and say in the first place he saysit takes him into their hearts. Now he talks about the idols as beinglike in front of them, which is of...

...course, how they would have worshippedthese idols. That's how we all worship Italas. We look at this thing. We havethis thing that we're after this thing that were there worshipping and they would look at this idol andthey would think of this this or that God, and they would say soand so will help me so and so will make things right. Maybeyou can imagine, some of these idols were may be beautiful in some way right,I'm covered in gold or silver. Perhaps chains, perhaps sat in a beautifulplace, an if you ever seen an actual physical idol that somebody has created,usually there's some care that go that is put into that and you can find themaround town here in Tucson or in people's homes. The places where they're set apartright, maybe in a restaurant or in a in a hallway and a home, a place wherethere's a special table and a special covering and a special bowl and onthings of good quality. They set these things before their eyes, but, but God reframes it, he says youknow, take your glasses off your crooked glasses and and see thingsrightly. What you'll see is this idol is, infact a stumbling block. That's how the Lord identifies it. It's not somewonderful, beautiful thing that ought to be treasured. It ought to beidentified as a stumbling block, something that will make you fall now when we walk around, we are alwaysbeing careful, usually less we're reading or on our phones or somethinglike that. We are careful about stumbling right. It can be very bad insome cases we try to be. It is wise to be awareright where we walk and how we walk, and if there's something in our path,we move it out of the way we move around it. Perhaps you go on walks inyour neighborhood and you're one of those helpful people that kicks thelandsgrave gravel. You know back into other people's yards. You know this issomething we're just aware of it's a...

...part of our life. We avoid stumbling, but then sometimes we don't. Sometimes we put this stumbling blockright in our path, close our eyes and then start walking, and that'sessentially what the people were doing with these idols. This was the idols, as God wants us tosee them or not some good thing. Nor are they even a neutral thing. Theyare a stumbling block thing, a thing that will make us fall and indeed it did make them fall, andthis is one of the great and very sad things about this passage. Israel had just these people that werecoming to Ezekiel were coming to him in Babylon, the elders of Israel and others thatwere coming to him and to false profits to seek a word o the Lord, who hadidols in their hearts and idols before their eyes are people who have justbeen cast out of Israel for idolatry. It shows you how idols capture our hearts enslave us howdangerous they are will come back and think about that a little bit more in amoment, and one of the things that's reallyimportant to remember about idolatry is that it really can be everywhere oranywhere. It can be attached to anything, perhaps you've. You can notice this bythinking about all the names of Gods that are out there. I M, even within aparticular system of religion, you might have dozens hundreds, thousands of godsnamed and unnamed. I think that's one. It's one way thatwe can remind ourselves of how keen we are to make idols. It's notjust a threat here or there, but we can...

...make them out of anything and that'simportant to remember that I idolatry in any place you find it in any falsereligion. Any time religion is expressed falsely that idolatry is, is not ultimatelyabout the object. Idolatry is about getting things youwant or think you need right. We have a God, supposedly, a God forthe harvest and a God for the moon and a God for the sun and a God for thisslithering thing and a god for fertility and a God for and on and onand on. It goes because these are the things that we think we need. These are the things that we think weneed to have to obtain, and so when we go and we seek them out, it's not somuch about the thing. That's there, it's it's what's in our heart is thething we're after and when you remember that none of us are left off the hook. None of us can look at the idols ofother people in their homes and their places of business and go huh suchrubes right. We can't look at that and saywell good thing. I don't do that. Well, I am glad you don't do that ifyou don't do, if you don't do that, but we're not off the hook because, ultimately they're doing theexact same thing we do when we covet things which is idolatry. The scriptures saycovetousness when we, when we are discontent about things when we thinkthere's something that we need to have an order for us to be okay and, as I've said, idolatry can come inso many shapes and forms just to list a few to kind of get yourminds and your hearts going a little bit your consciences. Think about the opportunities that wecrave, sometimes maybe it's a particular job or anopportunity to travel or living in a...

...certain place that that is just thething that we feel like. We need the thing that we're driving for the thingwe obsess about the thing we think about, and research and spend all ofour time and energy on, and maybe you would say well, I don'tspend all my time on it, but you know you know when too much is too much. Youknow when your heart is going after the wrong things, an inordinate ways. Maybe if it's not opportunities, maybeit's particular achievements, a particular degree or a particularpromotion, or maybe even just the appreciation of someone how many peoplehave gone to great lengths just to get a Ataboy from their dad or their mom. How many people have done even really despicable things to get the affirmation of someone else? This reminds us that, sometimes thatour idols are also relationships, a particular type of friend that I musthave a particular kind of of spouse or or something else. Then, of course, there's thingspossessions, houses, Gadgets, deals, harvests whatever there are things that are related toour bodies, that we think that we must have that. We must need a physicaltouch cure from a disease or being able to look a particular way or not look aparticular way. These things that we becrazed these things that we covetthese things that we say. If I don't get this, I'm not going to be okay. Whenever we're thinking those kinds ofthoughts, you know that you're slipping into idolatry, but God wants a hundred percent of you.

He doesn't want just a little bit ofyou or some of your time or some of your love or some of your trust. Hedoesn't want to be the source of most of your joy. Most of your hope, God desires to be everything to you andhe wants everything of you. He wants you to love him with all of your mind,with all of your soul with all of your strength, but in I am this idolatry and idolatrythat was in their hearts and idolatry a stumbling block that they put their upbefore their eyes. They were separating themselves for God from God, as he sayshere and that's what happens. You can't serve two masters, and this is a lesson the scripturesteach us over and over and over again a lot of times we tend to think. Well, Ican I can serve God in this way, I'll go and quire of the Prophet all I'll,go to church I'll, read my Bible I'll. Do this or that good thing, and indeedthose are good things not want to discourage you from them, but to gofrom them, go to them in in a hypocritical way or in a way that isnot actually trusting. The Lord is not good, and when we do that, we separateourselves from God. We separate ourselves from the only sorts of the things that we need, the thingsthat we desire, the things that he wants us even to have. So this is what these people were doing.They were going to these prophets with idols in their hearts a kind of a fakefaith, a pretense of religion. How does God respond? Well? The first thing he does are oneof the things he does is. He shows them that he e and not their idols is theone true God, and he does that in a number of ways. He says he will do thatin a number of ways. One is his power...

...over a people, unlike the false gods, which can'treally do anything because ultimately they're justexpressions of our covetousness and our false worship. They can't provide the things that wewant, but he can. He is powerful and he sayshe will even send a lying profits to go, speak to those who desire lying profits,those who go with half hearted hearts and those who go unto the profits notreally seeking. After God he will, he will confuse them. He will give them over unto their ownself deception. We also see his power over Providence.He says I will cut you off from my people, perhaps meaning a kind ofexcommunication, a dismemberment of a person from the body,and perhaps he means even death there, either way he promises to cut off thesepeople who go to him in this way and to make them a by word. You know what a byword is. It's a you know, sort of a everybody knows that kind of person orlike one example I came across and thinkingabout this passage was a lots, wife right, the sort of symbol or Sodom andGamora's another one. You you just say Sodom and Gamora. Everybody knows whatyou mean right, that's what God will make you if you go after him in theseways, he's that powerful he's powerful over what people think about how theyact. He's powerful over Providence, he's power full to judge these people go to God in this sinfulway they bring idols into their hearts. They bring idols into the temples.Thinking that God doesn't see...

...thinking that God is like the idolsthat they serve incapable, but it's not true is it. We read in First Samuel. Sixteen seven,the Lord sees not as man sees man, looks at the outward appearance, butthe Lord looks on the heart Solm. Seventy nine in other places likeDermela en talk about God, is the one who tests the heart and the mind he's atester of hearts and minds. First, excuse me first chronicles, twothousand and eight nine says the Lord searches all hearts and understandsevery plan and every thought you can't hide from that kind of God he's not a god ofwood and stone he's not a god of gold and silver he's a God who can penetratepast every pretense past every show into the depths of your heart and knowexactly what is going on there. God is going to show that he is the onetrue God in his control over events and people and his power to judge in hispower to discern we're going to see that even in theseactions, as these men, these elders of Israel, these men, who were supposed tobe leading, who are supposed to be overseeing guarding protecting thepeople instead they're going with idols in their hearts idols before their eyesgoing to profit. Saying tell me a word of the Lord, but God knows what is going on and he will punish them. He will also punish. He says the onesthat speak. These false words, remember is Zekel is one among many prophets,and many of those profits, as we've seen in other places, were falseprofits, bad profits, lineprofits. The...

...people of Israel had set up a wholefalse system of religion, of false places of worship, false priests, falselaws, full and, of course, false idols. Therewere people everywhere who are willing to say anything for a buck who arewilling to cat hurt those who are downcast, I'm notprotect those who are innocent, but take bribes and these kind of thingsfor their own gain. The whole system is going to comecrashing down. It already has, which is the shame of all this right. It alreadyhas in Israel and now here they are in Babylone, with the same sorts of things. They have separated themselves from God.They have put a stumbling block before their face and he responds by saying Iwill set my face against you, and I will separate myself from you and inthese ways, in these parallel ways that God is responding to their actions. Wesee his perfect justice, they set a stumbling block before their face, so he sets his face against them. They separate themselves from him. Heseparates himself from them. They seek after other gods. He shows by his power and his puttingthem down that he is the one true God, but God does something that they don'tdo. In other words, it's we have. We have a way in which there isn't aparallel in this passage and that's the call to repentance thepeople are hard hearted. The people are acting in the all these ways, Godresponds and his Justice, but he also calls them to repentance and that's an amazing thing there thinking again about these people beingin Babylon. I think it's worth spending a moment toobserve that sometimes, when judgment...

...and discipline comes into our lives, wetend to say things or we can say things like well might as well just give up it's all over. The worst has happened.I've been abandoned by God. I might as well just give myself over to the worldto my flesh to the devil we have a way of instead of learningfrom our discipline doubling down on our disobedience. Instead of noticingour losses we doubled down on them. Instead of noticing our defilement andseeking cleansing, we cover ourselves with more filth and we sin on and onand on. But here are these people cast out of the presence of God andIsrael cast out into this foreign land, and yet God is still speaking to them. God is still calling them to repentance.Isn't that amazing, he is still calling them to repentance. On the one hand, he say you think theworst has come it hasn't. You keep going this direction. There is stillmore judgment to be had, but there's this other thing, that'salso true. You may think there's no more hope. You think that God has lefthis people that you are abandoned, that you are in this foreign place, that youare no longer with him, but that's not true either. God is not so he's not like their idols,which are tied down to stupid blocks and stone. He can move anywhere, he cando anything and he can give hope and even thedarkest places the most isolated places, the most disorienting places when we think we are so far gone. God is still calling us to repentance,at least while we're still here well,...

...we still have breath to breathe, whilethe Lord has not yet returned in judgment, and this called repentance is awonderful thing when Jesus comes to inaugurate the new covenant. We seemany of these things in him and I want to think about just one story with you, where I think we see a lot of theseelements all together and that's a story of the woman at the well remember the secrets in her heart. Iher five husbands. I believe it was these things which she was known bythese things, which she had begotten a reputation for her and she comes to thewell. She meets Jesus there, the Prophet Greater Than Moses Right, thevery son of God and Shetries to have this liketheological conversation with him. Well, I don't know this mountain or thatmountain we worship here we worship there and Jesus cuts through it allright, just like he does here in his uka fourteen whenhe speaks to these these profits, these false profits and he speaks to thesepeople who were coming and Oh, seek a word of the Lord and we'll have adiscussion about theology Adia. No, no! I know what you're doing I knowwhat's going on in your life, he says to them. He says to her. He shows hispower in this and come and he reveals himself in this way and he calls her to repentance and she goes away and she says he saidthings that I right. He knew these things about me and she goes and she tells people abouthim,...

...the Lord calling people, even when theyare sort of at the brink or far past, where we think there's any hope ofreturn. There are many examples of this Peter after his three denials of theLord. After being told that he would do these things after saying that he wouldnot do these things and the Lord calling him back to himself many many many examples as long as we are breathing. As long asthe final J of Judgment has not come as long as the Lord is still calling.There is time, even the harshest of disciplines thatwe face in this life are not necessarily the end, even excommunication, even being cutoff from the church and from God's people it's meant to lead US towardrepentance. If we have your seer, if we wake up from our stupors, if wewake up from our covetousness and idolatry and see our God who is at work, Jesus of course not only revealedhimself to this woman at the well and a Peter. He not only revealed that he, asGod, was the seer of hearts, the forgiver of sins, the one callingto repentance, but he's the one that actually secured these things. For us, our idolatry as we see from Zekielfourteen as we experience in our lives, has a way of capturing our hearts.Doesn't it it holds US fast? It holds us down, there's only one power, only one personwho has the power to break that who in the world can break the power ofidolatry, who can change a human heart...

...from exchanging the glory of God for creeping things, and man made things the only one who can break that powers.Of course, God himself and that's what the Lord does. The promise here in his Egel is notonly seen in the called repentance, but in the promise of God he says I will dothese things that they will know me that they will defile themselves. Nomore. That probably would be a prayer worthpraying. Lord help me to stop defiling myself. They would defile themselves nomore that they would love him, that I would be their God and they would be mypeople, that's what he secures for us in Jesuswhen he comes, and he takes on the punishment that we deserve when he iscut off for our sins. For I R idolatry, it's a great sadness that when Jesus was crucified, he wasmocked as though he were a false god, king of kings, right they put over hisa king of the Jews they put over his cross, but Jesus was the king of the Jews and the King of the gentiles, the Kingof Heaven, and the Lord Yawa. He is the one who came to revealhimself as the one who has the power to do allof these things, and it's that God, who has come in love, it's that God who hasgiven himself up for you that wants all of you. So when God says I don't want idols inyour heart. I don't want idols before your eyes. I want all of you think about what a blessing it is tohear that...

...if you got your dream job, your dreamrelationship, your dream, school, you don't say: Well, I'm sorry that I gotthese things right. If you, let's say you're, tryingto apply and get into a school and then you get into the school. You don't sayhow selfish of them to want me right now. If that's true for these thingsthat we have think about how much more this ought to be true of our desire forGod, for God to speak of us and say I want all of you, I want you to belongto me. I am going you have my attention. You have all my love. You have all myblessing in my life. You will have everything you need. What higher thing could we possiblywant, and this is what God wants to give us,the God whom we've offended the God whom we've broken his laws, the God whom we'vereplaced with false gods? That God is expressing his love towards thesepeople, even in this moment, even in their idolatry, even in their falsereligion, even in Babylon, and if you can do that for them there, surely hecan do that for us here and he does he promises to you to night his grace. He promises to you his himself when you repent of your sins and turn away from your idols andtoward him. May God grant us to do just that? Let's pray. I.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (562)