Focal Passages: Ezekiel 8:3b-4, 10-12; 14:1-6
It is hard to believe that “American Idol” has been around since 2002, but it has. And the show has done remarkably well. A 2011 edition of TV Guide said that for an unprecedented eight consecutive years the show had been ranked number one in U.S. television ratings. If nothing else, the show is responsible for returning the word “idol” to contemporary lingo.
When most of us think of an “idol” we either think of the aforementioned TV show or maybe a little wooden or metal image in a far off pagan culture. In other words, few of us actually think that we may be guilty of worshipping an idol. Yet, if we examine the scriptures we may be surprised to learn that idols are not limited to musicians or pagan trinkets.
In Ezekiel 8:3-4 the Lord transports Ezekiel to the temple in Jerusalem in a vision. While there Ezekiel sees the “offensive statue that provokes jealousy.” What does that mean? An idol. An idol had been placed in the temple of the living God. Worse, the leaders in Israel were all engaging in the worship of these false idols. According to Ezekiel they reasoned, “the Lord does not see us.” They thought that since God had allowed captives to be carried off and because he was not immediately judging their actions, they could get away with it.
But God is not unaware. He knows not only our actions, but the motivations and intentions of our hearts. In Ezekiel 14:1-5 we learn that it is our hearts that are most affected by idols.
God tells the prophet that he would give the Israelites over to their idolatry. The goal, according to v. 5, was that they would realize the emptiness of their idolatry and the Lord would “take hold of” (or, “recapture”) their hearts. God wanted them to repent and turn from their idols (v. 6).
We learn from the rest of scripture (e.g. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Matthew 22:3-38) that anything that comes before Christ – your spouse, children, career, retirement account, hobby, church, tradition, material possessions – is an idol. Christ must be first. Anything less and we are worshipping an idol.