“I entered and looked. I couldn’t believe my eyes: painted all over the walls were pictures of reptiles and animals and monsters – the whole pantheon of Egyptian gods and goddesses – being worshiped by Israel. In the middle of the room were seventy leaders of Israel…each held his censer with the incense ring in a fragrant cloud. He said, “Son of man, do you see what the elders are doing here in the dark, each one before his favorite god-picture?” Ezekiel 8:10-11
From the outside, the House of God probably looked pretty normal. It stood steady and strong in the middle of Jerusalem, giving the people comfort as they went about their business that God was still in the neighborhood. As Ezekiel dug through the walls, however, he discovered that what used to be the home for God’s unmatched, uncontested presence, had become the home to “reptiles and animals and monsters – the gods of Egypt.” How did they get in there? Through the lives of the leaders. In the dark.
Probably the most dangerous lie we can believe in all of life is: “God doesn’t see.” It’s the lie that leads to every possible mistake. It causes us to question His love, His power, the need to be like Him, holiness…everything gets thrown off-kilter when we get comfortable with the idea of a distant or distracted God.
Also…um…the gods of EGYPT? Didn’t they leave these guys behind like 1000 years ago? Actually, the recent kings – Jehoahaz and Johoiakim – had been pressed hard by Egypt. Jehoahaz was even taken captive by Pharoah Neco and died in captivity. Turns out that the thing they were fighting externally (domination by Egypt’s system) was also the very thing they were worshiping internally. It reminds me that the things that have power over me – in fact the ONLY things that have power over me – are the things that I have built an altar for inside of my life.
This week, I’ve been reading the sad stories of some prominent pastors who have recently been exposed for living double lives. Both were dealing with stuff that was hidden deep inside the walls and stealing their devotion, their character, their purity, and their peace. Now, we look on and see the fall that comes – hard, fast and far – when we try to cover the inside with the outside…our character with our gifts…our gods with our God. Like a gold-plated cigarette case: the outside is pretty, the stuff inside will kill you.
The singular cry of my heart today is: make me authentic. Real. Genuine. Holy. Even if it costs me everything that once looked really beautiful.