September 2, 2007
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- And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
- Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the LORD;
- Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!
- O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts.
- Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD.
- They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith: and the LORD hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word.
- Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The LORD saith it; albeit I have not spoken?
- Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord GOD.
- And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
- Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered morter:
- Say unto them which daub it with untempered morter, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it.
- Lo, when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said unto you, Where is the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it?
- Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hailstones in my fury to consume it.
- So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed with untempered morter, and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
- Thus will I accomplish my wrath upon the wall, and upon them that have daubed it with untempered morter, and will say unto you, The wall is no more, neither they that daubed it;
- To wit, the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, saith the Lord GOD.
- Likewise, thou son of man, set thy face against the daughters of thy people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy thou against them,
- And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you?
- And will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should not die, and to save the souls alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?
- Wherefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly.
- Your kerchiefs also will I tear, and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand to be hunted; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
- Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:
- Therefore ye shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver my people out of your hand: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
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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 enquired of at all by them?
- Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh 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.
- Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.
- For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire 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 from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
- And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people 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, neither 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.
- The word of the LORD came again to me, saying,
- Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it:
- 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.
- If I cause noisome beasts to pass through the land, and they spoil it, so that it be desolate, that no man may pass through 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 only shall be delivered, but the land shall be desolate.
- Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and 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 that land, and pour out my fury upon it in blood, to cut off from it man and beast:
- Though Noah, 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, and the famine, and the noisome beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it 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.
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- And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
- Son of man, What is the vine tree more than any tree, or than a branch which is among the trees of the forest?
- Shall wood be taken thereof to do any work? or will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon?
- Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel; the fire devoureth both the ends of it, and the midst of it is burned. Is it meet for any work?
- Behold, when it was whole, it was meet for no work: how much less shall it be meet yet for any work, when the fire hath devoured it, and it is burned?
- Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; As the vine tree among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so will I give the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
- And I will set my face against them; they shall go out from one fire, and another fire shall devour them; and ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I set my face against them.
- And I will make the land desolate, because they have committed a trespass, saith the Lord GOD.
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Thought for the day:
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In Ezekiel 14 a phrase is repeated several times that I believe has great relevance to us today. The expression is this:
"these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face" (3, 4, 7).
In our technologically advanced Western culture we tend to believe that idolatry is a sin that is limited to primitive societies. Perhaps Fundamentalists may look upon the statues of Catholicism and brand that as idol worship, but aside from that, idolatry is something that we tend not to worry about very much. In this passage the Lord through the pen of Ezekiel makes it clear that idolatry is not limited to the creation of small gods of wood and stone. A man can be an idol worshipper without establishing a grotto where he lights incense and prays before his man-made figurine. All he needs to do is place something of importance in his heart that he loves more than God.
The second half of the phrase helps to explain this idea of internal idolatry. There is something that they put before their face; something that they can see and desire. Because it is there it causes them to stumble in their walk with the Lord, which in turn causes them to commit iniquity. With idolatry carrying this type of definition, it becomes obvious that there are many things that could be considered idols, even in the life of a born-again Christian. If there is anything that I desire in my heart that causes me to not serve God in the way that I should, it is an idol. Thus, idols can take the form of recreational activities, friends, money, material goods, and even my own self. We all know that there are people who "can't" serve the Lord because of their golf game or their bowling league. There are folks who "can't" come to church because the Game of the Week is still on the television. There are people who "can't" give to missions or to their local church because they want a new car, an updated kitchen and bath, or a long vacation. There are church people who "can't" witness because they don't want their friends to be offended. There are people who won't take a public stand for the Lord because they fear how much it will cost them in terms of popularity and position. These people have placed idols in their hearts, and these idols are drawing them away from the Lord. They know what is right to do, but they stumble over that which their flesh desires. They know that they should give financially, but they can't bring themselves to write the check. They know that they should be in church, but they can't tear themselves away from the television or the picnic. They know that they should share the Gospel with their loved ones, but they can't take risk the loss of the relationship. They stumble, and then their failure to obey the Lord becomes their iniquity.
God said in verse 4 that He would deal with His people
"according to the multitude of his idols."
The root of the problem is the heart, not the action, for the Lord states in verse 5 that He will
"take the house of Israel in their own heart",
because the idols are what is causing Israel to be estranged from Jehovah. The real solution to the problem is not a correction of behavior, but a removal of the idols that produce iniquity. In verse 6 the Lord commands,
"Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols and turn your faces from all your abominations."
The same command is valid for us today. We must admit the error of our thinking, remove the idols from our hearts, and turn our eyes away from that which would cause us to erect new idols. As our hearts change, our actions will change accordingly, and our relationship with the Lord will be restored.
Pastor Mark J Montgomery