What are idols & why do You warn us so strongly against them?
Updated: Jul 27
“For their hearts were devoted to their idols.” Ezekiel 20:16b
Table of Contents:
What are idols & why do You warn us so strongly against them?
Rebellion & Prophecy
“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I chose Israel, I swore with uplifted hand . . . and revealed myself to them . . . With uplifted hand I said to them, “I am the Lord your God.” On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of Egypt into a land I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands.” Ezekiel 20:5-6
Any time I have made a promise in my life, I have tried to keep that promise. Promises are important. They establish trust and respect. They are valuable. Yet, I have made so many promises that I have been unable to keep, no matter how hard I’ve tried. But You, Lord, make reference to Your promise (“I swore with uplifted hand”) three times in the above Scripture. That must be important. Throughout Your Word, You also continue this sentiment of repeating Your promises, lest we forget Your goodness among all the evil in the world. It’s almost as if You knew we are a people plagued with forgetfulness.
In an effort to further understand this Scripture, “Egypt” can mean any number of things to us today. The Israelites were enslaved in Egypt; so that word could mean any kind of difficulty we may face in life, any hardship, whether physical, mental, emotional, or even spiritual. A valley. A hard time.
But here, You tell us how You have searched for a land for Your children, knowing we have gone through difficulties. And You speak of this land as one flowing with milk and honey. The most beautiful of all lands. (Deuteronomy 8:7-9) That’s quite a promise, Lord. You DO want good things for us: in this life on earth and in heaven. (2 Corinthians 5:1) And there are plenty of good things for us to enjoy. Trials are most definitely part of this life, but one day we will sit in awe of the home You have prepared for us. (1 Corinthians 2:9)
When I was a little girl, I remember reading a book, ‘The Dolls’ House’, that always stuck with me. On the cover was a pretty white house with a red roof. I remember thinking it looked like a mansion. And I wanted that house. I think, in retrospect, I’ve been searching for that house ever since. A house that represents all that is possible in life. Money. Freedom. Success. All of it. What I didn’t realize is that the image of the “mansion” that took up residence in my mind, formed the foundation for a deception that bound me in chains.
Not to say that little girls can’t dream of beautiful and wonderful things, but that the enemy can take those beautiful things and turn them into something else entirely. Wanting the absolute best that life has to offer is a GOOD THING. But without Your Word resonating constantly in our ears, we can turn a pretty little white house with a red roof into something else entirely.
“And I said to them, “Each of you, get rid of the vile images you have set your eyes on, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” Ezekiel 20:7
Lord, I have learned what idols are the hard way. And I've learned how much you despise them too. Anything can be an idol. Because, ultimately, any GOOD THING held in too high a regard in our minds and in our hearts (anything that resides above You) can be twisted into an idol, without us even knowing it.
“‘But they rebelled against me and would not listen to me. . .” Ezekiel 20:8
I loved my job. I was an artist for a department store. I got to sit at a desk and paint and draw and create digital artwork. I designed art that went on clothing. And it was the first time in my life that I felt like I was doing something valuable. Worthwhile. I got a steady paycheck, benefits, and VACATION TIME! But that good thing somehow changed to a prideful attitude demanding more. More money. More recognition. More kudos. I was good at what I did. I worked hard at it. I tried to add something to the department that wasn’t there before. A deeper appreciation for quality art, new materials and techniques, more color options and better production techniques. I did a good job. But pretty soon that wasn’t enough. Honoring You by doing my very best work didn’t seem to cut it anymore.
“‘Yet the people of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness. . .” Ezekiel 20:13
All my complaining didn’t make a bit of difference, did it Lord? You didn’t let me have any of those things, did you? I remember giving ultimatums and standing my ground for what I “deserved”; all of which gave me panic attacks, unnecessary stress, and illness. When I quit and struck out on my own, my identity took a gargantuan hit. I felt insignificant. So much of who I thought I was seemed locked inside a seven-year experiment gone wrong.
Ya know, Lord, it's taken me a long time to truly understand that my significance is never dependent on my success as an artist. It never will be. My success lies in being Your Daughter and being obedient to Your Word, not in a check-off-the-boxes sort of way, but as an honored member of Your multi-cultural family. The GOOD THING of wanting my own “promised land” led me to idolize many things above You. Pride. Money. Success. Recognition. In the pursuit of chasing someTHING to give me value, I shoved aside what You had already given me. They were all idols. All false. All leading me away from You and toward the enemy. Even though I had long been a Christian, I began to act like a spoiled child demanding her cake and pony and mansion. Side note: I hope there will be unlimited cake and ponies in heaven. Just sayin’.
I quit that job, and for various reasons, it was the right choice. However, my prideful heart caused me to be ushered out of the building, quite disgracefully. In retrospect, it was painful to see that chapter of my life swept away by a bad attitude and arrogant heart. My hard work and dedication, all the years of superb craftsmanship and fierce dedication to artistic integrity, ended in a sad conclusion to that chapter of my life. Almost a decade later, the memory is still painful to me.
The sad truth that I feel obliged to share, is that there is punishment for our actions. We, no matter our wisdom or age, are but children to You, Lord. And children, for their own good, must be punished in order to learn Your ways. Because our lives are more than our eighty or so years on earth; our lives will be recorded in the millenniums of eternity.
So, we must persevere. We must turn our hearts to You, with repentance always following along behind. Because we are entering into a new period of time. A time of judgement.
“The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face toward the south; preach against the south and prophesy against the forest of the southland. Say to the southern forest: ‘Hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to set fire to you, and it will consume all your trees, both green and dry. . .’” Ezekiel 20:45-48
The “Son of man” here is referring to the author, Ezekiel, and the “south” referred to Jerusalem, or more generally, the land of Israel. In today’s language, that would mean that this prophecy is for God’s people. The church. The fire that is about to be set is representative of God’s judgement, Your judgement, in whatever form You choose. This is truly lamentable. Our society has sunk to such depths of morality that both righteous and unrighteous (both green and dry trees) will be, in some way, “burned”. These are the parts of Scripture that are hard to read, especially since I am included in this grouping. But I know that You are sovereign and that each of us that TRULY belong to You (a remnant of believers), will have our own version of this judgement to endure. Whether we are in direct danger, adjacent danger, or simply part of a world that appears to be on fire with sin and rebellion, all people will be affected. Some of us will be affected in a way that clears the path for fruitful, spiritual maturity. Some of us will be released from the audacious and openly flagrant sin that has consumed this world and be united with You in heaven. And there are probably enough different, yet specific outcomes, for all of Your people. I know that You are not a God that bulks us all together in a one-size-fits-all bucket of sin. I know You see us all as unique and beautiful individuals; therefore, despite the trials that lie before us, I am confident that any hardship any of us endure will be used for our good and Your glory. (Romans 8:28-30, Genesis 45:4-7, Revelation 4:11) In Jesus’ name.
“Therefore say to the Israelites: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Will you defile yourselves the way your ancestors did and lust after their vile images? When you offer your gifts—the sacrifice of your children in the fire—you continue to defile yourselves with all your idols to this day.” Ezekiel 20:30-31a
The question that faces all believers of Jesus Christ today is simple: Will we continue to let idols defile us? We are the ones who have been made holy, not because of our own actions, but because of Your goodness. Will we choose to walk blindly alongside non-believers in an effort to conform to the idolatry of this age? Or will we choose to walk alongside You, Lord, bravely and boldly? Knowing that the walk will not be easy. That we will not be liked by all. That our livelihood may be affected. But that we will only have to be true to One. . . YOU.
Will we ‘WALK THE WALK’ because we are more interested in our place in eternity than we are in this fleeting life? Will we care more about Your opinion of us than the millions of voices vying for our worship? It’s a question everyone who calls themselves “Christian” should be willing to answer.
“Therefore I led them out of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. I gave them my decrees and made known to them my laws, by which the person who obeys them will live. Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the Lord made them holy.” Ezekiel 20:10-12
So easily, we take for granted all the miraculous things You’ve done for us. Even I get spiritual amnesia more often than I care to admit. We all do. Those of us that have been walking with You for any amount of time have seen You work in our lives. We’ve been led out of Egypt time after time, circumstances great and small. Jesus, please help us remember Your mighty work in our lives.
In the Scripture above, there are three ACTIONS that You take on behalf of the Israelites. First, You LED them out of Egypt (their valley) and brought them into the wilderness (out of slavery, but not yet the promised land). You then TOLD them how to be obedient to You so they could live (have a chain-free and fruitful life, not just “to stay alive”). (Exodus 20:1-21, Deuteronomy 5:6-22, Matthew 22:36-40) And You GAVE them one day out of every seven days as a special gift between You and them, reminding them that You have made them holy.
These are BIG actions; and our acceptance of these gifts IS the key to our TEMPORAL & ETERNAL renewal. You lead us out of slavery (sin) to safety, not only by eternal salvation but also through the circumstances of our daily lives. You teach us how to live a successful, God-honoring life. A life that is full of trials, yes, but which blossoms spiritual growth from our difficulties. (Exodus 20:1-21, Deuteronomy 5:6-22, Matthew 22:36-40) And You gift us with a day to spend time with You, worship You, rest in You, and remember that we have been made holy by Your great love for us. Those are massively generous gifts! And if we accept these gifts, day after day, walking alongside You on this journey called life, You teach us how to obey You out of love and how to live full lives, free from the lies that so easily entangle us. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
We live in a strange time. Life on earth AFTER You have come to sacrifice Your life, yet BEFORE You have returned to take Your children home. We live in the middle of the storybook, the middle of a promise. We know we will spend eternity together with You, but we are still waiting. And meanwhile, the entire world seems to be falling down around our ears, threatening to drag us down with it. Ultimate renewal is still on the horizon; and we long for it, don’t we?!
“I will take note of you as you pass under my rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me. Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 20:37-38
This judgement is not one of perfection. It’s not a judgment on how “good” we’ve been. It’s a judgment on our FAITHfulness. Have we lived in FAITH that You are our Savior or have we lived UNFAITHFUL to Your invitation and ignored You as our Lord and Savior? As this day approaches, we can be assured that the design of Your judgement is SO THAT evil will be done away with and ALL THINGS WILL BE MADE NEW. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Revelation 21:4-5) You will not let the enemy into OUR promised land! The world has chosen its leader. Whether by intention or indecision, whether realized or ignorant, the world obeys the devil. And his days are numbered. (Revelation 20:9-10)
“‘As for you, people of Israel, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Go and serve your idols, every one of you! But afterward you will surely listen to me and no longer profane my holy name with your gifts and idols. For on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord, there in the land all the people of Israel will serve me, and there I will accept them.” Ezekiel 20:39-40a
The Scriptures above are dripping with sarcasm. As the people of Israel (those that belong to You, Jesus), You challenge us. You don't tell us to go serve idols, You challenge us to make a CHOICE. The days are over when a person can claim they are a Christian when there is no fruit in their life to validate that assumption. No more are the days when one can claim Christianity on one day and then stand at the altar of their idols the next. Here, I feel like You are giving us an ultimatum. Choose. You or anything else. Because when You decide to rid the world of all evil, then NO ONE will profane Your name and all Your people will serve You (because those who don’t serve You will be judged and separated from Your Presence). Then, those true Christ-followers will have been tested and proved holy, not by their PERFECTION, but by their DEVOTION to You.
I believe this is Your final word of complete separation. I believe You are saying those who pretend to know You yet do not actually know You, those who have heard Your warnings and continued on in their one-foot-in-faith, one-foot-out-faith, that You are done placating their half-hearted faith. You have declared that if they will not worship You alone, then they will not worship You at all. You do not want their worship if it is not genuine. And You will no longer accept it. As the English theologian, Matthew Poole says in his commentary on this Scripture, “You take yours [you sinners take your way], I will take my course [the Lord], and see whose word shall stand.” That’s pretty salty language! And to be honest, I don’t want to be on the receiving end of that challenge. We are mere servants standing before the Creator God who envisioned the world we now sit on, spin on, in a universe of objects any one of which could destroy us on impact. We are YOUR creation. Thank You Lord.
All things WILL be made new (2 Peter 3:13); and as hard as it will be to face this season of “tearing down” in order to “build up”, the reward IS what is yet to come. The renewal of everything sin has taken from us. From the pain of our failing bodies due to the long-term effects of sin, our mortality, the death of plants and animals, heartache of all kinds, to all the pain and suffering that has ravaged our world at a mind-numbing pace of recent. The prize IS coming. And it will be well worth the wait! (Revelation 22:1-5, Revelation 21:18-27)
“I will accept you as fragrant incense when I bring you out from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will be proved holy through you in the sight of the nations.” Ezekiel 20:41
All those who have made their choice in You will be accepted and You will bring us all together so that all of mankind will see Your holiness.
This word, “holiness”, that we hear so much about in Your Word, is a word that has lost its meaning over time. We forget its depth. Holiness means that You are whole, or perfect, in a moral sense. You are pure in heart, temper and disposition. You are free from sin and sinful affections. You are perfectly pure, immaculate and complete in moral character. THIS is the definition of holiness. And once all have been judged, these are the qualities that all mankind will be in agreement that You, ALONE, possess.
“‘But the children rebelled against me: They did not follow my decrees, they were not careful to keep my laws, of which I said, “The person who obeys them will live by them,” and they desecrated my Sabbaths. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger against them in the wilderness.” Ezekiel 20:21
So, what happens when we rebel against You? (Exodus 20:1-21, Deuteronomy 5:6-22, Matthew 22:36-40) When we abandon Your decrees and ignore the Sabbath? God’s wrath. Your wrath. And as Christians, why would we ever rebel against You? Well, that’s where the chains come in. My entire youth and into my thirties I had no understanding of the concept of spiritual warfare. Simply stated, spiritual warfare is armed conflict directed at the Christian (or would-be Christian) by a spiritual entity (demons). It's so strange to me that our world can be completely inundated with the fantastical, yet when anyone brings up the devil (or demons) people push away from the table, hands in the air, while chanting some version of “whoah, that’s a little too crazy for me!”
To dispel any misconception, demons are all around us. All the time. They are fallen angels who chose to follow another angel, Satan, against You. Satan and those angels lost the epic battle in heaven and were thrown down to earth where they are today. Sounds crazy? It's in Your Word! (Ezekiel 28:12b-19, Isaiah 14:12-14, Revelation 12:7-12)
“I said to their children in the wilderness, “Do not follow the statutes of your parents or keep their laws or defile yourselves with their idols. I am the Lord your God; follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.” Ezekiel 20:18-20
When I heard about spiritual warfare, I was furious. Reviewing the major (& minor) choices in my life, I thought back to specific times when the explanation of evil altering my course rang true. And it hit a nerve. Like a lightning bolt of clarity clearing away the cobwebs of confusion in my mind, light entered those dark places. Back then, it didn’t really matter what the issue or situation was, the result was a decision that led me away from You. And oh my goodness how incredibly subtle those nudges were! Like a door being opened into an open street full of commotion and chaos, when I chose some sin (no matter how small) to partake in, that door opened. And hell was invited into my life. Because of MY sin, the enemy was allowed to poke at, prod and fester any open wounds in my heart & my life, and exploit them with pinpoint accuracy, for the purpose of influencing me. Tiny sins, over and over, open that door wider and wider, until pretty soon, it effortlessly stays ajar.
And we’re so susceptible, aren’t we, Lord? It's no coincidence that You refer to us as sheep and You our shepherd. We’re completely unaware of the dangers that lie within our own hearts and how easily we can be led astray. Years can go by and we are different people. But it can happen so slowly that we just don’t recognize the changes. (Isaiah 53:6)
“In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. . . ” Luke 4:33-34
Yes, people can be possessed by demons, but only if they have not accepted You into their heart. If You are their Lord and Savior, demons are not allowed to possess one of Your followers. You kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden because they became sinners, so it makes sense that You wouldn’t allow one of Your created beings, Satan, to live amongst You either. When we accept You into our hearts, You live there with us. And there is NO ROOM for the devil. But that doesn't mean that he or they (the demons) cannot influence or steer our actions, especially if we have sinned in some way that opens us up to it.
“Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her.” Luke 4:38
Sickness can also be an attack from the enemy. That’s not always the case, but our bodies are breaking down, aren’t they? Since the introduction of sin into our lives so long ago, sin has been ravaging our bodies. And if a particular illness is not the work of the enemy, our reaction to it may be. Or there may be some weakness in us that is revealed after illness, whether it be an emotional or spiritual one.
I have chronic illnesses that ravage my body. And I never know when they will attack. It’s most definitely a thorn I have asked You to take away MANY times. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10) Yet, despite my prayers for relief from this heartless disease(s), I do not believe they are a direct attack from the enemy. I don’t know this for sure, of course, but I do believe it is an INDIRECT one. I may be sick because of sin’s effects on my family’s DNA over generations of sin, but the enemy has a more subtle way to get to me. For one, I start to feel sorry for myself and then I get depressed; the enemy whispers that I have every right to retreat into a shell of self-loathing. This renders me useless to be productive in most any way. Also, You’ve given me a lot of artistic gifts and I have allowed them to puff me up with pride in the past; the enemy tells me how I deserve everything and should accept nothing less. But I feel confident this is a way You have used “the bad to bring good” (Genesis 45:4-7), to keep pride from consuming my entire life, teaching me humility. And of coursethere’sthe fact that I’vealways been professionally driven, and had I not gotten sick after the birth of my son, well, there’sno telling what kind of mom I would have been; the enemy still whispers to me that I deserve to have it all and should have it. This sounds nice, but it could have easily taken over my life, leaving my family no more than a second thought. In a very real way, my illnesses have kept my feet planted firmly on the ground. Thank You Lord.
“You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl. . .” Psalms 104:20-23
Night is a visual example of what can happen without the light, without You, Lord. Bad dreams can leave us in weird moods the following morning. Sleep interrupted can leave us weary and prone to nerves being on edge. And bad things DO happen in the dark of the night, when people hide their evil actions they would not dare consider in the light of the day. These can all be influenced by demons, among many many other scenarios.
Lord, sometimes I am amazed at my stupidity. Even aware of such truths as this, I still find myself completely unaware of what is really happening in my life. I have been learning and preparing and praying against the enemy for many years now; yet it never fails to amaze me how quickly that wisdom completely escapes me. It makes me thankful for Your Word. In my opinion, the most powerful thing we can do to keep our faith strong is to read Your Word daily, pray, and spend quiet time with You. We can get off course THAT QUICKLY and we need to be guided back on course ASAP, whether we realize it or not.
And, of course, this is also our BEST DEFENSE against it.
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.” Luke 4:1-2
In order for Your sacrifice to be legitimate, You had to endure Your own trials. You chose to be made fully human (while maintaining Your fully God status) in order to experience what we deal with in these bodies. And the interesting part is that You weren’t led BY the enemy, You were led BY the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit led You into trials in order for You to be proven sinless. There’s often a sinking feeling when we go through trials, as if You have removed Your hand of protection in order for us to be punished. But I believe that many times it is to teach us, test us, and prove our testimony that You are lifting us higher up the ladder of sanctification.
The first test: You were tempted with food because You were hungry. Satan took a BASIC need of Yours and used it as a weapon against You, EXXAGERATING food as the most important thing to You (Luke 4:3-4). The second test: You were tempted with POWER because You were fully God and fully human. Even though You are God, in that body You had accepted the life of a nomad instead of royalty. The enemy knew Your earthly possessions were few and tried to make them look worthy of WORSHIP (Luke 4:5-8). And the third: You were tempted with PRIDE because You knew You were protected by Your Father. The enemy was challenging Your identity by tempting You to TEST Your Father in heaven (Luke 4:9-12). All of these scenarios reach deep into our humanity. And our best example of how to fight them is through Your example of silencing the enemy. With Your Word. You answered every single threat with Scripture. Every single one.
“When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” Luke 4:13
The devil WILL come at us when we are weak and tired, hungry and afraid, prideful and arrogant. He will come at us whenever we are struggling and he sees an advantage in his favor. And when we defeat him with You by our side, by quoting Scripture out loud, recognizing his schemes for what they are, praying, and getting back to the business of the day, he’ll leave. We must always be aware that he WILL come back at another time of weakness.
“. . . ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In this also your ancestors blasphemed me by being unfaithful to me: `When I brought them into the land . . . and they saw any high hill or any leafy tree, there they offered their sacrifices . . .” Ezekiel 20:27-28
Like a jewel covered by years of dust lost in the passage of time, the sheer volume of words in this great book requires time to uncover and understand its beauty. A word like “any” can escape us entirely. But those three letters are so much more powerful than its size implies. Whether the people were sacrificing to idols or whether they were sacrificing to You in ANY place that THEY chose, the people proved their UNfaithfulness by disobeying Your very clear commands. Either by a lack of interest in knowing how to present their sacrifices or because they thought they knew better, they were choosing their way over Yours. And in essence, they put their faith in idols or themselves, neither of which is wholeheartedly You.
FAITH is such a simple concept, yet so very hard to master. Or even get right PART of the time. Faith is complete and total trust in You. It is believing that YOU ARE WHO YOU SAY YOU ARE and that YOU WILL DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU WILL DO. And trusting that You will work all things in our lives for our good and Your glory regardless of the outcome. Our belief in this truth will radiate as a beautiful and multifaceted reflection of You on our lives. (Matthew 5:14-16) Sounds easy, but I think we all know that it's not.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19
It IS a process that doesn’t just happen overnight, but with time, care, and dedication. And ever so slowly, Your mission becomes ours. We are ALL poor (in spirit) before we come to know You; we are all chained by the bonds of the enemy before we come to know You; we are all blind before we see You, Lord. It is important that we continue forward, leading those who are imprisoned OUT of the dark and into the light, to find You (freedom). Just as it is important for us to be reminded of the kindness, forgiveness, and compassion You have shown US when forgiving our debts (sins), as we do the same for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
You, Lord, were tasked with healing people and setting them free. The stories we hear in Your Word are of disease and demons, sickness and sin, but the thing that ails every one of us is a life without You. What an incredible physical manifestation of the work You do in our hearts! Your Words (the very words in the Bible) command demons. They rebuke illness. They are filled with authority and power. Our freedom comes from knowing You by knowing Your Word as You live IN us and WITH us.
“Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!”. . .” Luke 4:35
“and they asked Jesus to help her. So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. . .” Luke 4:38b-39
“At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people. . . ” Luke 4:40-41a
From Your mouth comes power, authority and unparalled teaching! (Luke 4:32, 36) And since You ARE the Word, diving into our Bible is the best way to get to know You. (John 1:1-5, 14) The words remain the same, year after year, but this book LIVES! It's amazing how certain passages speak louder at certain times in our lives while others jump off the page at an entirely later juncture in life, like they had just recently appeared on the page. That’s the beauty of this truly remarkable story.
And among those words are these:
“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” . . . When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break . . . ” Luke 5:4-7
Your Word, You, bring unimaginable blessing! Praise You, Lord!
Praise the Lord
“You will know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt practices, you people of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.’” Ezekiel 20:44
I think this concept is something many of us simply forget or never fully understand. No matter how many times we hear it in church, we still seem to believe that our “works” or our “deeds” are the way we get into heaven. Our minds seem to default to this idea, but here You tell us that we DO NOT get into heaven because of the sinful nature that so easily distracts and corrupts us NOR do You accept us based on our drive for unobtainable perfection. (Ephesians 2:8-9, Acts 16:31, Romans 10:9-10) As Christians, we have not done well in speaking Your praises or sharing Your message of salvation. In fact, we’ve strayed so far from where You want us to be. So very far. Compromising our faith and our families. But there is hope; and it is found in Your name. You don’t deal with us as we deserve; You deal with us in order to glorify Your name.
“But for the sake of my name . . .” Ezekiel 20:9
“But for the sake of my name . . .” Ezekiel 20:14
“. . . for the sake of my name . . .” Ezekiel 20:22
Ya know, when I first read about “the sake of Your name”, I admit to being a little perturbed. My thinking was, “Why does His name need to be protected?” “If He’s God, does He really need to prop up His image?” I remember being put off by the concept, not really “getting it”, and honestly, not really wanting to. It took a long time for my heart to turn from that logic and see the truth in those words.
So, why is this even a concept in Your Word? Since this really gets down to “image” and how You are being viewed by others, I think its just that simple. I believe the protection and promotion of Your name is for others’ benefit. Those that know You and need to remember who You are. Those that have not yet given their hearts to You but may. Those that will never give their hearts to You in defiance. And those who may be somewhere in between any of these points. Your Name is who You are. It’s Your sovereignty. Your majesty. Your power. Your goodness. Your name is You. And no one else can rightly claim they are God.
And even more than the above, You are so high above the rest of us, that it would be disrespectful not to glorify Your Name above all others. Because You really are that amazing! And anyone who says differently doesn’t really know You. But we do. Your children know You. (John 10:27-30) And we always declare Your Name above all others; not because we have to or because it's expected of us, but because we actually believe it!
“Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;…" Psalms 104:1b-2a
“How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” Psalms 104:24
“All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time.” Psalms 104:27
May we do better in glorifying Your name, Lord. May we take our eyes off ourselves long enough to remember the larger story taking place around us. The story of eternity in the hearts and minds of those in our sphere of influence. The pain and suffering of those around us. And how You are capable of holding it all in Your mighty hand. (Isaiah 40:12, Psalms 18:16, Psalms 95:4) May we find a greater measure of humility and a lesser measure of self-importance.
Yes, sin is always crouching at the door, waiting to inhale us entirely. Yes, we mess up and turn good things bad with our selfishness and pride. Yes, we need to do better. But the better doesn’t come from us trying harder to be better. It comes from our relationship with You. When we love You better, we naturally want to do better.
No, we will never be perfect this side of heaven and we will all continue sinning. But the key to it all isn’t perfection, it’s FAITHFULNESS. Meaning, we constantly look to You for our worth and our direction. The most glorious burden of our lives is to consistently seek repentance. We get up every morning with the aim to please You and walk with You. When we mess up, we ask for forgiveness and live like we believe that we are truly forgiven, without shame or guilt. It is our calling and duty to always move toward getting to know You better every day. Because You want our hearts, not our perfection.
My dear brothers and sisters, don’t waste your lives searching for perfection. Seek Jesus; He’s your perfection.
“At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” Luke 4:42-43
Because we have work to do. It is time to hasten our pace and steady our gaze on our Savior.
“Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” Luke 5:10b-11
“Praise the Lord, my soul. Praise the Lord.” Psalms 104:35b
May we speak of Your goodness to others. May we sing Your praises and remember where our eternity lies and with whom. And may we do so all the days of our lives! (Psalms 104:31-32)
“I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord.” Psalms 104:33-34
We love You, Lord and we praise You! Amen.