DO YOU SEE?
As I sat on my bedroom floor reading Ezekiel 8 with my cup of coffee, I was struck by how it was written over 2,500 years ago and yet seemed to be speaking directly to us as the modern church. I shouldn’t have been surprised. Of course this passage would still apply to us, since “all scripture is inspire by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
And when the Bible says all scripture, it literally means all. Every single one. No exceptions. Every single verse is needed to equip us in our current day.
So why did this passage surprise me?
Possibly because I had read Ezekiel many, many times before in my life and yet I can’t remember this chapter at all. I had read it, it didn’t sink in, and I moved on.
Not this time though; this time God stopped me. This time I paused and meditated on it. This time I saw how deeply it applies to us as the modern church. This time I noticed the phrase in chapter 8 that God asks Ezekiel four times and the repetition grabbed my attention:
“Do you see?”
Just as God spoke that to Ezekiel four times in that one chapter, I felt Him asking me – “do you see? … do you see? … do you see? … do you see?” When God is so intent on getting my attention and asks me the same thing four times in a row, my heart’s desire is that I be able to respond with a resounding “YES!”. But what was God asking Ezekiel, and us today, if we see?
As Ezekiel was sitting in his house with the elders of Judah, in captivity in Babylonia, The LORD brought him to Jerusalem by a vision. The Lord took Ezekiel to four locations, starting with the north gate of the Temple court and then bringing him deeper into the sanctuary of the Holy One of Israel with every stop.
He showed him the “seat of the idol of jealousy” (possibly a high place) at the north gate entrance, idolatrous carvings within the court, women weeping for the idol Tammuz at the gate of the Temple, and then 25 men bowing to the sun in front of the altar of the LORD. Each abomination was closer to the physical presence of God in the Holy of Holies and closer to His heart.
The Lord showed Ezekiel sins of idolatry that the people thought were secret and He showed him sins of idolatry that were public and for all to see. Every time God showed him one of these abominations, He asked Ezekiel “do you see?”
I believe God is asking that same question of us today. He wants to expose the idolatry within His church. He wants us to see that whether the idol worship is being done in secret or in public, that nothing is hidden from His sight.
And the reason that God keeps asking if we see is because God wants us to care.
He wants us to care when His people are not worshipping Him the way HE desires (the high places) – in spirit and in truth.
He wants us to care when His people are secretly worshipping created beings instead of the Creator (the idolatrous carvings) – money, fame, sex, self, etc.
He wants us to care when His people are following traditions of the culture around them instead of His ways (weeping over the idol Tammuz) – turning His church into a mere business or list of programs.
He wants us to care when His people are in His very house but instead of turning their eyes to Him, they turn their eyes to and worship something else (bowing to the sun) – Jesus and His gospel not being the very center of every heart and every service.
God sees these things and His heart breaks. He loves His bride too much to let her stay in her idolatry and wayward worship. He longs to bring her back to a singleness of focus on Him and to her first love. He will not be silent. He now speaks to us through this passage of scripture from so many years ago and asks us the very same question: “Do you see?”
We must receive that question and ask ourselves:
Do I see? Do I see the ways that the church is breaking God’s heart? Do I see the ways that I am breaking God’s heart? Do I care enough to actually say something? Do I see the weight of importance that God puts on it and do I view it the same way? Do I cry out to the Lord to search my heart and see if any of these things are found there? Do I care enough to pray until revival happens in my heart and in the church? Do I care enough to give myself no rest and give the Lord no rest until He establishes His bride as the praise of the whole earth (Isaiah 62:6-7)?
I believe this is what God is saying through Ezekiel 8.
Christ came to forgive our sins, but to also set us free from them. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. He came to bring abundant life to us; life that is all caught up in Jesus and not in self. He came that we might know Him and have relational intimacy with Him. He came that we could experience His true grace, which breaks every bondage of sin and shame and brings victory that could never come from our own strength. This is the true gospel. Anything short of that is a façade.
Oh fellow believers, this is too important to ignore. We cannot turn a deaf ear to the agonies on God’s heart. We must be still, hear His question, and then ask ourselves – “Do we see?”