READ: Ezekiel 7-9
BACKGROUND: Again, for Ezekiel, I’d encourage you to ask questions in the comments section about anything you find confusing or would like more information about.
THINK: One of my favorite jokes was originally told to me by a friend in middle school. It goes something like this: A pirate captain was a bold and fearless leader who always wanted to fight alongside his men in battle. But he knew that they might lose heart if ever he was injured in the fighting and they saw him bleeding. So he came up with a plan. One day, a pirate crew member ran in to his cabin and said, “Captain, there be a ship upon the horizon flying the flag of Her Majesty’s Navy.” The captain replied, “Bring me my red shirt!” And he confidently proceeded to lead his crew into battle, knowing that even if he were stabbed it would not be evident to the crew due to the color of his shirt. A few weeks later a crew member ran into his cabin and said, “Captain, there be another pirate ship on the horizon.” And the captain replied, “Bring me my red shirt.” And again he led his crew in battle. This process repeated itself for months and months until one day a crew member ran in and said, “Captain, there be 20 ships bearing the flag of Her Majesty’s Navy on the horizon.” Stunned, the captain thought for a moment and said, “Bring me my brown pants!”
This section of Ezekiel doesn’t mince any words about God’s judgment and the wrath that he is going to pour out upon the wicked in Jerusalem. And Ezekiel 7:17 says that it will be so terrible and so frightening that, “every hand will be limp and every knee will be as weak as water.” In Hebrew though, the phrase ookal-birkim thalkne mim literally translates “every knee shall be water” an it is an idiomatic phrase that means, “everyone is gonna wet their pants.” If you have a new NIV, that’s how it translates it, “every leg will be wet with urine.” Take a second and wrap your mind around that. God doesn’t hold back. He is explicit here. He says very clearly that he will judge according to our wicked deeds and that his judgment is so terrifying that it will cause those who witness it to tremble so powerfully in fear that they cannot help but wet their pants!
As I look at my nation today, the practices that it has, and the many ways in which the church has embraced them – the zeal with which the church has chased the ‘American Dream’ to the neglect of God’s call – I cannot help but think that it might be prudent for me to go get some yellow pants. We are a society that has so much stock in our “silver and gold.” At the core of who we are, we believe that our security, our hope, and our future are held in our affluence and that the accumulation of material wealth will somehow save us. Israel made the same mistake. And while silver and gold may well be the keys to unlocking the treasures of this world, they are not the keys to God’s Kingdom. We have made idols out of our wealth and the things it procures. We have placed them on the throne of our lives and worshipped them instead of God. But he is a jealous God and he will not abide being cast aside. And when his wrath is poured out there is no number in a bank account or a retirement account that will be sufficient to satisfy or save.
It is easy to forget, sometimes, that we are destined for immortality. God has set it on our hearts and created us for it. And yet, we often find ourselves so caught up in the temporal things of this fleeting world. At the end of the day, all of our “gold and silver” are so useless and unimportant. They can buy bread but they cannot feed our real hunger. They can buy milk but they cannot quench our thirst. Only the Creator can satisfy the created. Let us head Ezekiel’s call to repentance. It is as relevant, or more so, to us as it was to ancient Israel. We must cast aside our idols and worship the only one who is worthy and the only one who endures!
ASK: One way to detect an idol is to ask, “What do I think I must have in order for life to be good?” For example: good grades, a great season in sports, a successful career, a stable family, a lot of money, or a nice home. Or consider a specific element of your life, and ask, “If this item were taken away would I still believe that abundant life was possible?”
PRAY: Now take your answers to the only One who can release us from idols–Jesus Christ! Confess your idolatry and repent. Ask God to help you keep him in his rightful place and ask him to help you bring the message of his truth and his judgment to a wicked culture that is certainly perishing.