Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lessons From a Vision

I was reading through Ezekiel the last few days, and when I got to chapter 8, my Nelson's NKJV Study Bible had an interesting commentary on what God was showing Ezekiel. If you don't remember Ezekiel 8, the basic premise is that God took Ezekiel up in the spirit (in a vision) back to Jerusalem to show him the atrocities that were occurring in the Temple... There were idols set up in the entrance and courtyard, and after Ezekiel dug a hole in a wall, he saw images of every beast and creature imaginable carved on the wall on the other side. Inside, the 70 elders of Jerusalem, the top leaders, were offering up incense to these pagan gods. Other women, like the elders who were hiding themselves, were weeping for Tammuz, a pagan god of fertility, because they could not bear children. A far cry (bad pun intended) from Samuel's mother... And there were another 25 men with their backs turned to the Temple facing the east bowing down towards the sun!

We all understand that God is mad because here were His people breaking His first two commandments, probably along with many others, in worshipping these gods and images. What made the Study Bible commentary interesting was what these wicked people thought and why. Some of these people were worshipping outside in broad daylight. And yet, there were many terrible acts going on in private. Verse 12 states, "And He said to me, Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, each man in his image room? For they are saying, God does not see us; God has forsaken the earth." In other polytheistic cultures in the Middle East at that time, gods were thought to have human-like characteristics. The Greek gods and goddesses in the old movie version of "The Odyssey" come to mind. They were so far removed from God that they thought He, YHWH, the LORD Eternal, could not peer into to closed, dark rooms to see what they were doing! They recognized God was still there, but continued on!

I drew from this commentary one of the many reasons God does not want us worshiping made-up gods and images, other than the fact that it's stupid, pointless and leads to rebelliousness: It causes us to drag God down to our human level. And it will only hurt us when we do...

God is invisible and silent to us in this age, so people who aren't close to Him through prayer and Bible study will naturally not understand His awesome power and character. But once we are called to be His special people and draw closer to Him, we must cast off what's around us and point our attention on what's above (Col. 3:2). However, if God is believed to be on our level ("What if God was one of us?" Blech!), then He can't see our every doing. He can't help, clothe, feed or house us. He can't forgive us of our sins and help us overcome. He can't overthrow Satan. He can't resurrect us into eternal life. We slowly, but totally, lose faith in Him, His power and His incredible plan for all mankind. Our weakened faith then leads us to try and go it alone with our own human reasoning.

Today, most Christian religions worship physical objects as Jesus Christ and God the Father. Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, crosses, pictures, Christmas trees, yule logs, etc. "remind" people of their god. As shown above, physical objects worshiped as God merely make the Father and Jesus Christ less god-like in our minds! They take on a more human personality; one we are comfortable with. This personality doesn't judge us, but rather accepts us as we are. This god does not get angry at us for sinning against it. We project our own weak human experiences and reasoning to some inanimate object that we bow down to and worship as our god.

It doesn't take a logic major to see that this "god" is merely our own self.

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