WARNING: Contains Graphic Images.
“Furthermore, they have defiled my Temple and violated my Sabbath day! On the very day that they sacrificed their children to their idols, they boldly came into my Temple to worship! They came in and defiled my house.” – Ezekiel 23:38-39 NLT
Sadly, we see the warning above on everything from DVD packages to video games. Even prime-time TV shows come with warnings about the graphic nature of their content. But it is surprising and a bit shocking to think of a chapter in the Bible that might need a graphic warning label. But chapter 23 of Ezekiel contains some of the most sexually explicit language in the Bible. To understand just how disturbing this message must have been for Ezekiel to deliver and for his audience to receive, imagine going to church one Sunday morning and hearing your pastor present a message that contained some of the same imagery and language that Ezekiel used. Just think how you would feel if he accused you of spiritual prostitution and used the same graphic details to describe your spiritual indiscretions. You would be shocked, appalled, and probably offended. So were the people of Judah. And that is exactly what God intended. He wanted to shock them. He wanted to offend them. And He wanted them to be appalled at the gravity of their guilt. So He used extremely graphic language to describe just how serious their sin was.
Sometimes we can become overly comfortable with our sin that we view it with a kind of casualness. We get so used to it that we forget just how detestable it is to God. That was Judah’s problem. They had sinned for so long that it no longer bothered them. They had learned to live with it and excuse it. They had gotten used to justifying their behavior as normal. But God made it graphicly clear that this was anything but normal. Like two sisters who blatantly prostituted themselves with other men, Israel and Judah had pursued relationships with other nations and other gods. They had turned their back on God and sought satisfaction elsewhere. They looked to other nations for their security. They turned to other gods for hope and healing. And while we might consider those actions less-than-shocking, God makes it clear that He sees what they had done as nothing short of immoral and unthinkable. Like a woman who walks out on her loving husband and gives herself physically to every man she meets, Israel and Judah had prostituted themselves time and time again – right in front of the very God who had chosen them, rescued them, and blessed them with His Law, His Temple and His presence.
This chapter is meant to disturb us. It should shock us and make us understand just how serious spiritual adultery is to God. He doesn’t take it lightly. He won’t tolerate it among His people. He would not and could not turn a blind eye to their actions. One of the most disturbing verses in the whole chapter is His accusation that “on the very day that they sacrificed their children to their idols, they boldly came into my Temple to worship! They came in and defiled my house” (Ezekiel 23:39 NLT). In other words, on the very day that they had murdered their own children as a form of their worship of other gods, they would come into God’s house and worship Him. They thought nothing of their actions or how they had offended God. But we do the same thing. We show up at church on Sunday having worshiped the gods of this world all week, then sing songs of praise and worship to God as if it doesn’t matter and He doesn’t care. We sacrifice our kids to the gods of entertainment, music, the Internet, and the culture, allowing them to watch what they want to watch on TV, listen to what they want to listen to, and absorb anything and everything from the world via the tube and the Web. Then we all show up on Sunday to worship God. We bring our unconfessed sins into His presence and act as if there is nothing wrong.
This chapter should disturb us and wake us up to the reality of the seriousness of sin. Spiritual unfaithfulness is an offense to a holy God. If it bothered them this much back in the day of Ezekiel, it must still bother Him today. He is calling us to remain faithful to Him. He is warning us to consider the seriousness of unfaithfulness in the life of the child of God.
Father, shock me into understanding just how much You hate when I am unfaithful to You. Don’t allow me to take my spiritual indiscretions lightly. You certainly don’t. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men