3 He stretched out the form of a hand and caught me by a lock of my head; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the idol of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy, was located. 4 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the appearance which I saw in the plain. Ezekiel 8:3-4
In a vision, God grabbed Ezekiel by the hair and took him in the spirit from his exile in Babylon back to Jerusalem and the temple. There in clear sight from the north gate of the temple’s inner court was erected the “idol of jealousy.” The audacity! There couldn’t be a more in-your-face idolatrous practice than to do so in such close proximity to the house of God! But Ezekiel was warned three times that it’d get worse. He went on to witness the laymen, the women and the priests worshipping every kind of detestable thing.
Seventy elders of the city were engaged in idol worship, and it went on in the temple and in their homes. Shaphan, the father of one of these idol worshippers, was a scribe during Josiah’s reforms. How far the fall! They did these deeds in the dark (v. 12), thinking no one was watching.
20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God. John 3:20-21
The women wept for Tammuz the god of spring vegetation. We are told this involved shameful immorality, with the thought that immorality and idolatry are inseparable. (v. 14)
The twenty-five men represented the twenty-four priests and the high priest, who turned their backs to God and worshipped the sun to the east, the ultimate of all insults. (v. 16)
Our God is a jealous God. His anger is provoked by the graven images we erect at the entrance of our heart. We may participate in practices in the dark that we refuse to give up, or have sunk into immoral practices that are shameful. We may have simply turned our backs on God and worship that which he created as his replacement. (Romans 1:23)
The Apostle John closed his first letter saying, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21) Idolatry in the life of a Christian can be insidious, slinking in as a new “unsaved” flame, a preoccupation with a hobby or sports team, a thirst for political power or fame, a new personal best time, perfect health and looks, an investment account, a house or yard, or your church facility. It’s whatever assumes the rightful place of God.
What is your “idol of jealousy.” Recognize it and send it to the ash heap! Put God back on the throne.