Ezekiel 16:2 states, “Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations.” The words for “abominable things” in the Hebrew language, is “TOEVAH,” which has the general meaning of being morally disgusting, and yet has many applications throughout Scripture. It is interesting that the use of the word is dispersed with some behaviors and practices that we find detestable today (idol worship, murder, human sacrifice, witchcraft), and others completely acceptable (homosexuality, sexual perversion, unfair business practices, lying, cheating, and disobedience). Whether we engage in such practices or simply tolerate them in our environment is not the defining line. The line is drawn in God’s commands to stay away from disgusting, detestable, and abominable behaviors and practices.
Can we accept the command to avoid an abomination like murder and yet tolerate or enjoy the sexual perversion in our entertainment culture? But, one may protest, “We are not under the ceremonial law anymore.” Yes, this is true, but we still ask the question, “Is it possible to accept some of the abominations and reject the others? Understand that God’s moral law never changes, and we are under the law of Christ. God’s commandments are still valid and necessary for all of us today. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
In the book of Acts, the vision that the Apostle Peter saw commanding him to eat the unclean animals was symbolic of Gentile salvation. Do we believe the Jewish Peter ate of unclean animals after he saw the vision or did he stick to his Jewish roots and avoid unclean flesh? (Acts 10:9-47) Did God become “un-disgusted” with unclean flesh after the dispensation of grace was brought in through Christ Jesus?
Can we reject the idea of making of an idol to worship because it is an abomination to God, while allowing the roots of paganism found in Halloween, Easter, or Christmas celebrations to enter into our sanctuaries as harmless festivities or objects of a cultural holiday?
Will we find the thought of bloody human sacrifice to an unknown god repulsive while at the same time tolerating “Christian” homosexual and lesbian ministers in the church? Will we today tolerate and accept homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle while being disgusted at the thought of a male temple prostitute in ancient times?
Shall we cast away those who practice witchcraft and sorcery, and accept the casual reading of the daily horoscope, or become self-medicated on prescription drugs? Is the thought of burning a child alive on a pagan god’s altar disgusting while at the same time accepting cheating in business, or treating others poorly as an acceptable way to climb the corporate ladder, or perhaps the organizational church ladder?
May we insist on the death penalty for the murderer and child rapist, and at the same time perjure ourselves to family and friends? Do we have permission to be arrogant, prideful, contentious, or deceitful? Is it situational, and can we justify our sin because of the situation and circumstance?
I believe we, as Christians, are closer to committing abominations and detestable things than we realize. Mostly out of ignorance of God’s word and commands. We are led astray by false doctrines. It is time to reevaluate our lives according to the commands of God. No yoke, no bondage, just understanding of the truth in God’s word. We cannot, we must not, accept some things and reject other things according to our likes and dislikes. That kind of thinking is an abomination, and we must kill the idols and abominable practices if we desire to live eternally with God. “And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable and abominable things.” (Jeremiah 16:18)
Create, Imagine, and Submit
In Ezekiel chapter eight, we read about the prophet Ezekiel warning the nation of Israel of impending destruction based on their worship of idols and false gods. The worship or trust in these demon-based gods is the result of their disobedience to the commands of the God of Israel. The “abominations” which the nation committed literally drive their true God away from His own sanctuary.
Passages in chapter eight depict three distinct methods in which people worship idols or place their trust in things other than God. There is no difference between the ancient nation of Israel’s idol worship and our modern day lifestyle of distrusting God in our lives. The three ways of idolatry still exist.
Images that we create
Images that we imagine
Images that we submit under
The fact that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever tells us that He fervently hates with a strong passion all idol worship. God hates anything that takes away our trust and confidence in Him and replaces it with a false security, pride, arrogance, strength, or belief. God will still remove Himself from your sanctuary (life) if you choose to continue to distrust Him.
“He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, see thou what they do, even the great abominations that the house of Israel commits here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? But turn thee yet again, and thou shall see greater abominations.” (Ezekiel 8:6)
Ezekiel saw abominations, and the first of these was related to images that were humanly created for worship. The ancients often drew or pecked images of animals, people, or other things on their walls, tombs, and temples. These images were not mere decorations, but invoked the spirit and assistance of the thing depicted. Many ancient cultures practiced this invoking of the spirits. Ezekiel peeked into a visionary hole within the temple wall, and saw the leaders of Israel worshiping or submitting themselves to the powers of demons, asking for assistance.
“So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about. And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up. Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? For they say, the Lord sees us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth.” (Ezekiel 8:10-12)
The spiritual leaders secretly were placing their confidence and trust in false gods while in darkness. While on the surface they seemed legitimate and religious – they practiced demon worship in secret. The text states that they had censors and a thick cloud of incense was being offered to the drawings on the walls. Again, these were not mere drawings or paintings on a wall, but a thing created by human hands to invoke worship. The thing created represented the power of the animal or demon god. The worship always involved submission to a greater power.
The ancient Hebrews lived in an agricultural society and depended on the earth, rain and sunshine to grow food and sustenance. They also were concerned with insects, fires, floods, and other circumstances that could destroy their food. God promised them that He would take care of them if they would live in obedience to His commands. However, when they began to assimilate pagan practices from other nations and began to believe God had forsaken their land, they turned to trusting idols and false gods to meet their needs.
The question we must ask is how does this apply today? In what ways do you create an image representing your power, strength, assistance, sustenance, or survival? Does your car, job, or education represent your power and strength? Does your position on the church board or staff represent your spiritual survival? What can you not live without? What have you created as an image to place your trust in? If you trust anything other than God in your life, then you are an idolater. If you worship or submit to anything other than God, you have opened the door for demonic influence in your life.
The second manner of idol worship is creating an image of trust in our mind. “Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.” (Verse 14)
The false god, Tammuz, was an Assyrian fertility god. He was connected to the death of crops in winter and the resurrection to life in spring. The women of Israel cried over his death and mourned the death of their crops. They placed their trust, hope, confidence, and faith in the spring resurrection of this demon god to bring food and sustenance to the community. Instead of trusting the true God of Israel, they resorted to worshiping an imaginary god. They imagined an image of worship and trust.
What do you imagine will pull you through hard times, your dead mother or father? Do you place your trust in an imaginary stock market that will return to life after it had been dead for so long? How about trusting in your denomination, religious traditions, or child hood beliefs about God to get you through life’s dark winter? Do you imagine a great career after college that will make you self-confident and financially independent? Are you looking for that perfect man or woman to fulfill all your dreams? The point is that we cannot place trust in things we create in our minds over trust in God for our sustenance.
The third manner in which we can turn to idol worship is to submit and bow down to things that are real. “And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.” (Verse 16)
In this passage there are men in the temple of God with their backs toward the Lord and their faces toward the east sun. They are worshipping the sun. The Hebrew word used for worship means to bow down or prostrate oneself. It always connotes paying homage or submitting to a higher authority or being. Once again, when winter destroys all food sources, the spring sun is very important. However, these men were bowing down to the sun and invoking its power to save them. Rather than trust God, these idolaters trusted in the sun, or the spirit of the sun, as a god.
The sun is a real thing, not a humanly created thing or a thing imagined. What real things do you worship? What pastor, preacher, teacher, or spiritual leader are you trusting in rather than trusting in God? How about that “Christian” tattoo of a Scripture you put on your arm? What real church body or building do you submit under rather than submitting to the will of God? Are you trusting in your parent’s or spouse’s prayers to get you into Heaven? How about your ministry? Do you bow down to that ministry in submission believing that it will make you a better person in the sight of God?
Idol worship in any form or manner is a very serious thing with God. He is fervently jealous and will punish those who distrust Him. And not just for His sake, but for the good of society as well. Violence always follows idolatry. God destroyed the world by a flood because of the great violence on the earth. Violence is a natural outcome of demon worship because demon worship removes a person from obeying God’s commandments and taking on His character.
Seriously consider the three manners of distrusting God through things created, imagined, or real. Pray and ask God to reveal these things in your life, repent, and submit totally to the only God who can save and sustain you in this life and in the one to come. It is no trivial matter.
“Then he said unto me, have thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations, which they commit here? For they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.” (Verses 17, 18)
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