Saturday, September 05, 2015
PROFANING THE HOUSE OF GOD
Furthermore He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel commits here, to make Me go far away from My sanctuary? Now turn again, you will see greater abominations.” (Ezekiel 8:6)
How carelessly we take holy things! How casually we approach a holy God! Reverence seems to be an unknown concept—our familiarity with the eternal has made us flippant. The pendulum had perhaps swung too far toward seeing God as virtually unapproachable, austere, and harsh in a former day. Now, it has swung too far in the opposite direction where God is viewed as an old permissive grandpa who winks and laughs at our antics. If the former is a distortion, the latter is a desecration!
In the eighth chapter of Ezekiel, we find the abominable profaning of the house of God described. God shows up as a consuming fire, and shows His prophet the filth that had been brought into the sanctuary (v.1-2). Four specific examples of these abominations are shown to Ezekiel—each worse than the last.
· An idol had been erected at the door of the inner court at the north gate (v.3-4). It is an “image of jealousy,” for God who demands exclusive love is jealous for His glory and His people. The Jews, however, were giving their hearts to an idol. We must wonder whether our hearts are given to passion for God when we gather in the house of God, or if man-made forms and ritual have supplanted our devotion to the glory of God.
· Idolatrous images had been painted on the walls inside the house of God (v.5-12). They burned incense in the darkness—in clandestine ceremonies. The very elders who were charged to be vigilant against such evil, were guilty of it! If one has to engage in secret rituals in the dark—in hope none can observe it—then why would we want to be involved in it? Do we really think we can hide anything from God?
· Women were at the entrance of the temple weeping for the Babylonian idol Tammuz (v.13-14). Tammuz was a fertility god whose worship involved sexual orgies. Sensuality and carnality take our focus off the spiritual and eternal. Still, the worship of many today is filled with “Jesus is my boyfriend” type songs, along with music, video, and light effects that appeal to the sensual and not the spiritual dimension. The feminization of the church has broadened that appeal.
· Men were actually daring to enter the inner court of the temple—reserved for priests—and turn their backsides to God while bowing before the rising sun (v.15-16)! How many turn their backs on God to pursue worship of the creation and not the Creator. They ignore the Lord’s House on the Lord’s Day, all the while claiming, “I don’t need the church to worship God. I feel close to God here at the beach or by the brook.” You can indeed worship God anywhere and anytime—you should—but, if it leads you to neglect the assembly of the saints, then that form of spirituality is only idolatry. It is pantheism—gods in the woods and waves—rather than the God of the woods and waves!
God asks, “Is it a trivial thing to the house of Judah to commit the abominations which they commit here?” He does not count it so and promises judgment on such people (v.17-18). Let us return to the fear of God and repent of profaning the holy!