1 Some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat down in front of me. 2 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 3 “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all? 4 Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: When any of the Israelites set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet, I the Lord will answer them myself in keeping with their great idolatry. 5 I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.’
In verses three and four we find the phrase set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces repeated by God when He speaks to Ezekiel. I had never thought of having idols setup in the heart, but always external. Giving this a bit of thought, if one is worshipping an idol of any sort, sooner or later it becomes setup in one’s heart.
When idol worship becomes internalized and setup in one’s heart, then one’s heart becomes more arrogant and rebellious against God. In doing so God describes this as putting a wicked stumbling block before their faces. An interesting choice of words indicating one is then blinded to the truth as he or she has something in front of their face, blocking their vision – unable to see the truth. So God will answer them in keeping with their great idolatry and they will not like the answer. They will be answered in relation to their very real iniquity, not to their false piety. Their sins will be exposed and there will be punishment for them. Because of their great idolatry, they will have great sorrows.
God will do this so they may see their own false piety and hypocrisy within their hearts. They will know He is aware of everyone of their secret sins and of all of their secret idols as well that has kept them alienated and at odds with God. Then God gives them the path back to Him and His love so He may recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.
6 “Therefore say to the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!
If that proves to be insufficient, then what? What if they go to a prophet seeking a different answer?
7 “‘When any of the Israelites or any foreigner residing in Israel separate themselves from me and set up idols in their hearts and put a wicked stumbling block before their faces and then go to a prophet to inquire of me, I the Lord will answer them myself. 8 I will set my face against them and make them an example and a byword. I will remove them from my people. Then you will know that I am the Lord.
We should be careful where we seek and look for answers instead of listening to God when he reveals what is in our hearts to each and every one of us showing the way to repentance and forgiveness. Of course we know the way and should be sharing it with others – Jesus Christ.
19 God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. 2 Corinthians 5