BASIC BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES
Love Of Money & Idol Worship In Church
Ezekiel was in Babylon while he wrote the book by his name. In chapters 8 and 14 we see that some of the leaders that were exiled in Babylon came to see Ezekiel and asked him to get a message from God.
In Chapter 8, the leaders of Judah were in Ezekiel’s home and God gave him a vision of what was happening in Jerusalem. He first saw a large idol at the entrance of the Temple, that made the Lord very angry. (Ezekiel 8:4) God declares to Ezekiel, “Do you see the great sins the people of Israel are doing to drive me from my Temple?” (Ezekiel 8:6) Next God showed Ezekiel the ‘unspeakable wickedness’ going on. Seventy leaders of Israel were worshiping idols in dark rooms. (Ezekiel 8:12) Then God took him to the inner courtyard of the Temple and twenty five men had turned their backs on God worshiping the sun. (Ezekiel 8:16) God’s response to the idol worship of these leaders, both religious and political was, “Is it nothing to the people of Judah that they commit these terrible sins, leading the whole nation into violence, thumbing their noses at me, and rousing my fury against them? Therefore, I will deal with them in fury. I will neither pity nor spare them.” (Ezekiel 8:17-18)
In this chapter, God is expressing his anger at the sins of the leaders of Jerusalem. Their idol worship was both seen and hidden. They had idols displayed in front of the temple and the leaders had their own favorite idols that they worshiped in the dark.
Is it possible that in a few, some, or even many churches, the leaders worship idols in their hearts? Is it possible that some preachers have turned their back on God and truly worship something else? Is it possible that the sins of the church, the hidden sins of idol worship in our hearts, has caused the presence of God to leave his churches?
It is not our job to point fingers, it is our responsibility to examine our own hearts and be sure we aren’t leading others astray because of our sinful hearts. Also, we are not to condone or tolerate deliberate sin in church leadership! Pray hard for those in leadership, that they will be wholeheartedly devoted to God.
In Chapter 14, the leaders of Israel visited Ezekiel and while they were there, this message came from the Lord, (Ezekiel 14:1) “These leaders have set up idols in their hearts. They have embraced things that lead them into sin. Why should I let them ask me anything. Give them this message from the Sovereign Lord: I, the Lord, will punish the people of Israel who set up idols in their hearts so they fall into sin and then come to a prophet asking for help. Therefore, give the people of Israel this message. Repent and turn away from your idols, and stop all your loathsome practices.” (Ezekiel 14:4-6)
The leaders, both religious and political, came to Ezekiel wanting a word. Because God sees everything about everyone, God became angry because these leaders weren’t truly devoted to Him, they were just making a show. God called them to repentance, exposing their hidden sins. What made God mad was the fact that they were hypocrites but claiming to want the advice of God. (Ezekiel 14:10)
In Revelations 3:15-17 Jesus tells the church, “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.”
God hates religious hypocrisy. He hates it when His churches aren’t fully devoted to Him. We must be sure that we are wholeheartedly devoted to God. We must be sure that we aren’t making a good show to impress others in our community by our ‘spirituality’. We must not become religious, motivated to do good things to make a good impression. Our relationship and devotion to God must always be the reason we go to church!
Thirdly, in Ezekiel 34 again God comes down on sin in his people. In verses 33:30-31 He says, “Son of man, your people are whispering behind your back. They talk about you in their houses and whisper about you at the doors, saying, 'Come on, let’s have some fun! Let’s go hear the prophet tell us what the Lord is saying!' So they come pretending to be sincere and sit before you listening. But they have no intention of doing what I tell them. They express love with their mouths, but their hearts seek only after money.”
Here again, we see the hypocrisy that can be in the church. The people are only pretending to love and pretending to be sincere because money is the real devotion in their heart. In Ezekiel 7:19 we read previously that the love of money caused them to fall into idol worship. And now again the love of money kills their devotion to God!
Six hundred years after this, Jesus came down hard upon the hypocrisy that he found in the leadership in the church. (Matthew 23) In the parable of the tares Jesus tells us that there will be true and false believers in the church. They will be left there until judgment day.
We all must examine our hearts and our actions. How much importance do we put on money? We all are commanded to work. We must be responsible and make money to support ourselves and our families. However, it is easy, so very easy, to let money be our god! Are we controlled by money or the Holy Spirit? Do we cheat in any way? Do we ever lie to put a little extra cash in our pockets? Are we consumed with how to make more money? Do we think more money is the answer to our problems? Are we using and abusing people to make more money? Do we think more money makes us better than others?
We have to keep balanced— work hard, love God more!
Let’s clean up our lives and be the church that God designed. Let’s truly Love the Lord our God with all of our heart, our soul and our mind. And let us love one another.