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Idolatry Behind the Gates


On October 31, 1517, now celebrated as Reformation Day, Martin Luther posted his “95 Theses” to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. In them, he attacked then- common practices and beliefs of the Catholic church, including requiring payment for forgiveness (called “indulgences”). He was determined that the truth of Scripture be upheld against corrupt human traditions.

Similarly, Ezekiel was given a mission by God to expose the sins of Israel. In Psalms 84 and 100, we’ve seen that praise and worship should happen at the temple. But in Ezekiel 8, God showed the prophet a vision of the idolatry that was actually happening. Specifically, God showed Ezekiel four pictures of spiritually detestable things happening in Jerusalem. First, He pointed out the “idol of jealousy” (vv. 5–6), called so because God is “jealous” in that He will not allow worship of any other gods (Ex. 20:3–6). This idol may have been Asherah or another Canaanite goddess. God was so disgusted by this that He had abandoned His own temple.

Second, God had the prophet dig into a wall to reveal a hidden doorway (vv. 7–13). Inside were leaders worshiping “crawling things and unclean animals.” Third, Ezekiel saw women engaged in rites for Tammuz, a fertility god (vv. 14–15). Fourth, God showed him people worshiping the sun in the very place where priests should have been (v. 16). Idolatry had become pervasive. The people foolishly thought the Lord did not see these “private” actions (v. 12). “Putting the branch to their nose” was probably a gesture of derision, like thumbing their nose at God. This was covenant-breaking of the worst kind, and God was righteously angry (vv. 17–18).

>> Do we hide our sins from the Lord? How ludicrous it is to try! As followers of Christ, we should confess our wrongdoings regularly and accept His forgiveness, in the process turning away from sin and toward righteousness (1 John 1:9).

BY Brad Baurain

Dr. Brad Baurain has worked as a writer and editor for Today in the Word since 1993. Currently, he serves as associate professor and TESOL program head at Moody Bible Institute. Brad has the unique privilege of holding a degree from four different universities (including Moody). He has also taught in China, Vietnam, the United States, and Canada. Brad and his wife, Julia, have four children and reside in Munster, Indiana.

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