Then the Lord said to me, “Son of man, look toward the north.” So I looked, and there to the north, beside the entrance to the gate near the altar, stood the idol that had made the Lord so jealous.
“Son of man,” he said, “do you see what they are doing? Do you see the detestable sins the people of Israel are committing to drive me from my Temple? But come, and you will see even more detestable sins than these!”
So I went in and saw the walls covered with engravings of all kinds of crawling animals and detestable creatures. I also saw the various idols worshiped by the people of Israel.
“Have you seen this, son of man?” he asked. “Is it nothing to the people of Judah that they commit these detestable sins, leading the whole nation into violence, thumbing their noses at me, and provoking my anger? Therefore, I will respond in fury. I will neither pity nor spare them. And though they cry for mercy, I will not listen.” (Ezekiel 8:5-6,10,17-18)
Relate: Judgment is coming. This is the warning God gives Ezekiel in the chapters preceding and here in chapter 8 He takes the prophet on a little field trip to show him why. On this trip they made four stops. At the first one the entire community was worshiping an idol right out in public. The second stop was into a secret room where the community leaders had their detestable images. At the third stop God showed the prophet the women weeping for the death of Tammuz (the end of summer). For the final stop Ezekiel sees turn their back on God to worship the sun.
I am sure if I were to look them up I could find historical relevance that would point to modern day parallels. After all, the devil isn’t very creative, he simply takes what is and distorts it and usually he is simply up to the same tricks over and over again. Just as a knee jerk reaction I would call the fourth science, the third nature, the second porn, and the first politics. I don’t want to spend the time and effort into getting any more specific than that and there’s no point in arguing for a more accurate (or less convicting) interpretation because I really don’t care. The point isn’t what they were worshiping or how we commit the same sins today. The point is the fact that they were worshiping something else that was not God.
React: What am I worshiping in place of God? Will my world fall apart if next Tuesday’s election results do not turn out the way I am convinced “God wills”? If people heard me talking about my physical body would they think I put my trust in God or in my workouts, diet, or my “essential oils”? If they saw how my entire year revolved around my two weeks of vacation time, would they think I worshipped the god of summer? Actually, writers have called baseball stars “the gods of summer”, as a huge Yankees fan this is a slightly more convicting parallel than any vacation time I don’t really ever see. It might not be the sun, but is there something else that has caused me to turn my back on God with regards to my investments of time and money?
Pointing out that idolatry in our modern era is much more than simply a graven image is nothing new. Honestly, I have heard it so often and for so long that I can almost say that making such a claim has become cliche`. Just because we have heard something a thousand times doesn’t mean the lesson has taken root. It doesn’t mean it has changed us. I am sure if we were to talk to some of those Israelites we might have heard something like this: “Sure I shouldn’t be looking at those images but God knows I want to stop. Sometimes I just can’t help myself. I am a child of Israel He will forgive me. Besides, I’m not nearly as bad as those guys over by the gate. Their sin is right out in the open.” Then talking to one of those weeping women we might have heard, “Yes I know I shouldn’t be doing this, but I am still going to the synagogue every single week. Besides it isn’t as bad as what that priest was doing. Did you hear what he got busted looking at? I hear his name was on the hacked Ashley Madison list.” Just because we call ourselves a part of the people of God does not mean judgment isn’t coming. Is my idolatry sending me to hell even as I am fully convinced I am on the road to heaven?
Please don’t let me be surprised on judgment day. If there is something in my life that I have set up as an idol, help me to destroy it. If I have put my trust in something that is not You, take it from me. If I am investing my money in something that is not of You, make me broke until I learn to trust You again. If something in my life is robbing the time I should be spending with You, remove it from me. Help me to understand that You will not accept being a close run first in my life. For You it is an all or nothing affair. Help me to give You everything.