Notes from our most recent sermon are posted below each week.
Power of God’s Word:
Diluting God’s Word
October 17, 2021
Power of God’s Word: Diluting God’s Word
I. Beware of stumbling blocks to hearing God’s Word; 14:1-3.
1 Some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat down in front of me. 2 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 3 “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?
A group of elders comes to Ezekiel’s house with a concern. Some crisis appears to have caused them to seek a word from God through him. The response to these elders is an accusation of idolatry. They were longing for the idolatrous practices they had in Judah – the very things that caused them to be exiled.
God sees through seeking Him and His word only in times of crisis but you’re living in disobedience with other loyalties on your mind. Ungodly thoughts and loyalties block us from hearing God’s Word. God’s Word wants to be in control of our thoughts and loyalties.
II. God’s Word seeks to recapture your heart; 14:4-5.
4 Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: When any Israelite sets up idols in his heart and puts a wicked stumbling block before his face and then goes to a prophet, I the LORD will answer him myself in keeping with his great idolatry. 5 I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.’
The elders in exile are corrupted with the same sin as those remaining in Judah: internal idolatry. Even while externally willing to go through the religious motions of inquiring of the Lord, their hearts belonged elsewhere. They must answer to God; not God to them. The Lord has been insulted by their turning from Him, and now by their insincerity. All He can see is the multitudes of idols on their minds. His response ignores their concerns altogether. There is no point in dealing with their concerns when the inclination of their hearts needs to be dealt with.
How we approach God’s Word matters. God requires humility, submission, commitment, and obedience. God sees your heart as you seek Him and His Word. We answer to God. God doesn’t answer to us. God will ignore your crisis and questions to first deal with any sin that is a stumbling block to you receiving an answer.
III. God’s Word calls us to repent; 14:6-11.
6 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices! 7 ” ‘When any Israelite or any alien living in Israel separates himself from me and sets up idols in his heart and puts a wicked stumbling block before his face and then goes to a prophet to inquire of me, I the LORD will answer him myself. 8 I will set my face against that man and make him an example and a byword. I will cut him off from my people. Then you will know that I am the LORD. 9 ” ‘And if the prophet is enticed to utter a prophecy, I the LORD have enticed that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and destroy him from among my people Israel. 10 They will bear their guilt–the prophet will be as guilty as the one who consults him. 11 Then the people of Israel will no longer stray from me, nor will they defile themselves anymore with all their sins. They will be my people, and I will be their God, declares the Sovereign LORD.’ “
God’s second announcement of judgment opens with an urgent appeal to the Israelites to repent of their idolatry. Israel is responsible for its own future. God’s desire is the willing obedience of His people, which opens the door to a new future. God will make Israel an example of the fate of idolaters who fall into the hands of God. Not only has the bond between them and the land been severed; now they are threatened with an ultimate and final break with their God. Hopefully, they will finally acknowledge the person and presence of God.
There were clearly other prophets present in exile apart from Ezekiel, and the temptation to go shopping around for a more favorable word was significant.
If the people refuse to listen to God’s prophets who tell them the truth, the Lord will bring judgment on the people by giving them lying prophets, who will tell them what they want to hear. The guilt of each is equal, and so they are destined for a similar fate – that of being cut off or destroyed.
Yet the goal of God’s judgment on the exiles is not their total extermination, but rather their salvation. There is still room for God’s people to repent and return to God. Then the result of God’s purifying judgment will be a faithful and undefiled people, cleansed from their sins.
Hearing only what we want to hear confirms our guilt. Repentance and obedience to God’s Word will open a door to amazing new possibilities for your future. Half-hearted obedience and devotion don’t fool God. He doesn’t accept “some effort is better than none.”
The Lord is under no obligation to respond to those who demonstrate no faithfulness in their daily lives. To receive a favorable answer from God you must come with sincerity and on God’s terms – included is His exclusive right to your devotion.
The Lord remains gracious and merciful to all who repent of their sin. The Lord is never erratic in His judgment. His responses to human sin are consistent with His character and have as their goal the transformation of sinful human beings into a redeemed people, pure and exclusive in their devotion to Him.
People seek God’s help, yet often don’t want to give up on their other options. Ezekiel tells us that such an approach to God is not an option. You cannot serve the true God and keep one foot in the camp of idolatry and other options at the same time. God sees what we are really like on the inside; we cannot hide the truth from Him. The double-minded person stands to receive nothing from God.