“Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in the room of his pictures? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land’” (Ezekiel 8:12)
Just over a year has passed since our prophet had experienced a quite extra ordinary encounter with God. And here we see him caught up once again in an incredible experience with some shocking revelations. This section (8:1-11:25) is an exposure of the bad leadership which is at the heart of the people of God’s big problem.
From the outset God’s people are called to be holy, set apart, different to all other things around them. They are not to be odd, but to be distinctive; living life the way it was intended by God. However, this is not the case. Ezekiel is taken by the power of the Lord from Babylon to Jerusalem to pay a visit and see for himself how bad things really were.
Bowing down to an idol of jealousy, praying to animal deities, observing cults of the dead and worshiping the sun… all within the temple of the living God. This is shocking, yet it is not something which has disappeared from god’s people. As God’s mission moves forward and as the church grows there are always great challenges regarding false teaching and bad leadership which need to be addressed.
I’ll be clear, this is not just differences of opinion. No, these are things which are fundamentally opposed to the glory of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Take for example the prosperity movement which is very attractive across the world, particularly among peoples and places who are told that to be “western” is what life is really all about. This is evil and it is something we must pray against and must remember colours the backdrop of some of our teams ministry in East Asia.
Take another example. The rise of various cults twisting the word of God to suit a particular agenda which does not lead to the God of the bible and his gospel of grace. When we were in East Asia last summer this was something which was brought home to me once again. Slight changes, small movements and very quickly people are not worshiping God, but a deity they have fashioned. This too is something we must pray into, remembering the importance of teaching and training the next generation of local church leaders.
One final thing which seems to flow out of this whole section is the call to live life in holiness. This is applicable to us as individuals and as churches throughout Scotland as it is to our partners in East Asia and local church leadership located there. Friends, pray for continued holiness. Pray for the next generation to not see holiness as a burden but as a blessing. Ask that we would all be captivated by God’s purity and beauty so that we would not be found in the temple but far away from God in our hearts.