“1 Then certain of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. 2 And the word of the LORD came to me: 3 “Son of man, these men have taken their idols into their hearts, and set the stumbling block of their iniquity before their faces. Should I indeed let myself be consulted by them? 4 Therefore speak to them and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Any one of the house of Israel who takes his idols into his heart and sets the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to the prophet, I the LORD will answer him as he comes with the multitude of his idols, 5 that I may recapture the hearts of the house of Israel, who are all estranged from me through their idols.” (Ezekiel 14)
Its interesting to notice that, contrary to many people’s understanding, the Bible presents idolatry as a spiritual issue, as a heart issue, rather than as some physical process of worshipping some wood or stone carved shape. The phrase that stands our here is “idols of the heart”. In this text, God is saying that the great evil that the people have done is that they have ignored God’s instruction to them and have gone off and given their hearts in lives to the things that have no lasting value.
I think that this yields great insight into the way that our hearts work. We all live for our desires. We all do the things that we want, and that we believe will make us happy. To be full of desire is to be human and to be alive. Additionally, we can also notice that certain desires stand out from the rest, and really have the ability to take hold of our hearts and direct the course of our lives.
Whats wrong with that? Whats wrong with living for our desires? Nothing really…that is, if there were no such thing as God. But that’s the issue, isn’t it? God is God and this universe is a reflection of his amazing beauty and wealth and greatness. And as his greatness and our helpless desires collide we see the core issue of idolatry: it is cherishing and valuing anything more than God; it is giving your heart to something other than him.
Its seems that we are all helplessly worshipful. John Calvin once described the human heart as a “factory of idols”. We all come into this world being consumed with things that have no lasting value, and which cause us to defame God and indirectly rebel against all that he is, despite the beauty and greatness of the life that he has given us. Yet despite this ugly rebellion that fills our hearts, God has an unstoppable determination.
“…that I may recapture the hearts of the house of Israel, who are all estranged from me through their idols.”
What profound words. This is what the christian gospel is really about. Its not some set of rules or limitations to life; it is the story of a mighty and powerful God who desires to fight viscously for the hearts of his people. What a love! What a grace…
What does it take for God to win our hearts? What does it take for us too see that our idolatry will one day dissipate before the unshakable reality of an awesome and sovereign God? What does it take for us to see his infinite value and desire nothing else but for him to rule our hearts?
Despite the fact that I see that I am powerless in my idolatry, I see over and over again, that it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ which helps me to see it and to once again find my treasure and foundation in the amazing Lord to whom all things belong. This is the good news that recaptures my heart everyday. He exposes my self centered thinking and frees my mind and heart to see every step in life as an opportunity to thank him for his grace and learn to reflect his character in my heart all the more.
He tears down this idol factory and replaces it with a mirror that reflects his glory, making me a trophy of his grace.