Ezekiel 14 & Psalm 55

Ezekiel 14

    Then certain of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me. And the word of the LORD came to me: “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? 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, that I may lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel, who are all estranged from me through their idols.

    “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations. For any one of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel, who separates himself from me, taking his idols into his heart and putting the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to a prophet to consult me through him, I the LORD will answer him myself. And I will set my face against that man; I will make him a sign and a byword and cut him off from the midst of my people, and you shall know that I am the LORD. And if the prophet is deceived and speaks a word, I, the LORD, have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. And they shall bear their punishment—the punishment of the prophet and the punishment of the inquirer shall be alike—that the house of Israel may no more go astray from me, nor defile themselves anymore with all their transgressions, but that they may be my people and I may be their God, declares the Lord GOD.”

    And the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, when a land sins against me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out my hand against it and break its supply of bread and send famine upon it, and cut off from it man and beast, even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, declares the Lord GOD.

    “If I cause wild beasts to pass through the land, and they ravage it, and it be made desolate, so that no one may pass through because of the beasts, even if these three men were in it, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, they would deliver neither sons nor daughters. They alone would be delivered, but the land would be desolate.

    “Or if I bring a sword upon that land and say, Let a sword pass through the land, and I cut off from it man and beast, though these three men were in it, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, they would deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they alone would be delivered.

    “Or if I send a pestilence into that land and pour out my wrath upon it with blood, to cut off from it man and beast, even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, declares the Lord GOD, they would deliver neither son nor daughter. They would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness.

    “For thus says the Lord GOD: How much more when I send upon Jerusalem my four disastrous acts of judgment, sword, famine, wild beasts, and pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast! But behold, some survivors will be left in it, sons and daughters who will be brought out; behold, when they come out to you, and you see their ways and their deeds, you will be consoled for the disaster that I have brought upon Jerusalem, for all that I have brought upon it. They will console you, when you see their ways and their deeds, and you shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, declares the Lord GOD.”

(Ezekiel 14 ESV)


Psalm 55

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Maskil of David.

    Give ear to my prayer, O God,
        and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
    Attend to me, and answer me;
        I am restless in my complaint and I moan,
    because of the noise of the enemy,
        because of the oppression of the wicked.
    For they drop trouble upon me,
        and in anger they bear a grudge against me.
    
    
    My heart is in anguish within me;
        the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
    Fear and trembling come upon me,
        and horror overwhelms me.
    And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
        I would fly away and be at rest;
    yes, I would wander far away;
        I would lodge in the wilderness; Selah
    I would hurry to find a shelter
        from the raging wind and tempest.”
    
    
    Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues;
        for I see violence and strife in the city.
    Day and night they go around it
        on its walls,
    and iniquity and trouble are within it;
        ruin is in its midst;
    oppression and fraud
        do not depart from its marketplace.
    
    
    For it is not an enemy who taunts me—
        then I could bear it;
    it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—
        then I could hide from him.
    But it is you, a man, my equal,
        my companion, my familiar friend.
    We used to take sweet counsel together;
        within God's house we walked in the throng.
    Let death steal over them;
        let them go down to Sheol alive;
        for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart.
    
    
    But I call to God,
        and the LORD will save me.
    Evening and morning and at noon
        I utter my complaint and moan,
        and he hears my voice.
    He redeems my soul in safety
        from the battle that I wage,
        for many are arrayed against me.
    God will give ear and humble them,
        he who is enthroned from of old, Selah
    because they do not change
        and do not fear God.
    
    
    My companion stretched out his hand against his friends;
        he violated his covenant.
    His speech was smooth as butter,
        yet war was in his heart;
    his words were softer than oil,
        yet they were drawn swords.
    
    
    Cast your burden on the LORD,
        and he will sustain you;
    he will never permit
        the righteous to be moved.
    
    
    But you, O God, will cast them down
        into the pit of destruction;
    men of blood and treachery
        shall not live out half their days.
    But I will trust in you.

(Psalm 55 ESV)

The following is taken from D.A. Carson's For the Love of God series...

 

THREE OBSERVATIONS FROM Ezekiel 14:

First, the peculiar expression “set up idols in their hearts,” repeated several times with minor variations in 14:1-8, reeks of duplicity. Publicly there may be a fair bit of covenantal allegiance, but heart loyalty simply isn’t there. To set up idols in the heart is to separate oneself from the living God (14:7).

That danger is no less treacherous today than in Ezekiel’s time. Somehow we manage to adhere to our creedal profession, but if anything goes wrong our undis- ciplined rage shows that we maintain little real trust in the living God: our secret idol is comfort and physical well-being. We attend church, but rarely do we pray in private or thoughtfully read the Word of God. We sing lustily at missionary conventions, but have not shared the Gospel with anyone for years. And deep down we are more interested in our reputation, or in sex, or in holidays, than we are in basking in the awesome radiance and majesty of God. Meditate on 14:8, and ask for forgiveness and grace to become more consistent.

Second, those who set up idols in their hearts are the very people most likely to seek out a prophet or a preacher to keep up appearances and secure a little help along the way. But God says, “I the LORD will answer [them] myself in keeping with [their] great idolatry” (14:4). He will “entice” the prophets (14:9-11)—the word might better here be rendered “deceive.” God’s “deception” of the prophets is part of his judicial sentence. Yet it is a peculiar “deception,” for God’s revela- tion is already there in public Scriptures to be read and studied; moreover, he now openly tells the prophets of his judicial hand upon them. If they had an iota of spiritual sensibility, the warning would drive them to self-examination and repen- tance. But no: the sentence is pronounced, and they are deceived. Such prophets lie to the people, and the people like the lies and listen to them (cf. 13:19).

Third, sometimes judgment becomes so inevitable that not even the presence of the most righteous would delay it any longer (14:12-23). The reasoning pre- supposes the theology of Genesis 18: God may spare a wicked city or nation for the sake of the just who reside there. But where wickedness overflows, not even the presence of Noah (spared from the Flood), Job (declared “blameless” and “upright,” Job 1:1), and Daniel (Ezekiel’s contemporary, serving in the Babylonian courts, renowned for his piety) will stay the disaster that God ordains. Indeed, when the exiles see the revolting conduct of the new refugees, they will realize how right God was (14:22-23).