Five Ways to Evict God From His Own House
by Dennis Michelson
(Novelty, OH - FaithBaptistOH.org)
Introduction: The chapters following this one depict God "moving His furniture" toward the door as the glory of God departs from the house of God. It is sad to read in Ezekiel 11:23 "And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city." Not only had the glory departed but Ezekiel 8 seems to indicate that no one really missed having "God in the house."
The prophet Ezekiel records the specific matters that led to God departing from His own house. It is a bit ironic that Ezekiel heard from God "as I sat in mine house" (8:1) Can "church" become so abominable that God finds it more comfortable to go to your house rather than His? The following are five things you need if you would like to evict God from the premises of the church.
1. You Need An Image of Jealousy (8:1-6)
There is was - right at the door - an image of jealousy. Remember Exodus 20:5 - "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God . . ." Whatever this was it provoked God to jealousy. Something was right in the door to the place of worship that offended God since it competed with His absolute right for attention and affection.
What is it in your church or your life that offends God? One problem we encounter today is we have become more sensitive to offending men than offending God. Think about it. If we worked as hard to make God as welcome as our visitors then He might just come back!
2. You Need A Private Chamber of Imagery (8:7-12)
Read the text carefully. A wall was erected with a peephole. What is it you are trying to hide? When we erect walls and peepholes at home and then deny any relationship with worship then whatever is behind the wall has become an idol in your heart. Verse 10 indicates that these people had devolved into a worship of the creature rather than the Creator. Note the phrase "all the idols of the house of Israel."
All of these idols had to be borrowed from other nations. God becomes very uncomfortable and offended when we borrow the idols of the world and bring them into the worship of God. Notice who the leaders were in this abomination - "seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel" (8:11) Evidently the leader was Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan. Shaphan was a leader in the reforms of Josiah.
In one generation the son of Shaphan had moved from reformation to degeneration. This is seen frequently in the contemporary church where the new generation moves away from the "old paths" of the former generation. In some instances this is a good thing - in others it is reactionary and indicative of impure motives.
Verse 8:11 observes "with every man his censer in his hand." This sounds a lot like every man doing that which is right in his own eyes. The reference to the "chambers of his imagery" in 8:12 is particularly appropriate for our day. Here is a great proposal for your PowerPoint presentation this week. Display all the images from your mind from the past week and see how that moves the worship service along smoothly.
The bottom line for the "chambers of imagery" is really a form of practical atheism. Note 8:12 - "The Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth." Honestly, what would you load your "chamber of imagery" with this week if you really believed the Lord was looking over your shoulder (or through the peephole)?
3. You Need A Place For Women To Serve An Idol In Tears Rather Than The True God In Joy (8:13-14)
"There sat women weeping for Tammuz." Perhaps they were in a support group trying to help rebellious women feel better about their sin. I am all for support groups to help anyone deal with their struggles in this life. However "weeping over Tammuz" is somewhat like trying to make the way of the transgressor easier rather than hard.
I will likely be misunderstood on this point since hardly anyone has ever heard of Tammuz and a woman's tears are considered as sacred even when her actions may be contrary to God's will. The Bible says that "Jesus wept" but it also says "Judas wept" and there is a huge difference between the two.
Jesus could have used some support. Judas could have used some repentance. When a church becomes a place where a women can find sanctuary running from God then it will not be long before God is running from the church.
4. You Need A Place Where Men Can Turn Their Backs On The Son So They Can Worship The Sun (8:15-16)
"With their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east." Anything that causes a man to turn his back on the house of God or the God of the house will eventually lead to ruin. Notice that these verse are talking about the "inner court of the Lord's house." How sad when men who have been in the "inner courts" are now standing with their backs to the house of God.
5. You Need A Stick For Your Nose (8:17-18)
It all begins with a proud and haughty attitude. We are more like Satan when we are proud than at any other time. Be not deceived, God is not mocked . . . ."