20 February 2017

Ezekiel 14:1-11

“Mortal, these men have taken their idols into their hearts, and placed their iniquity as a stumbling block before them; shall I let myself be consulted by them?” (v. 3)

Psalm: Psalm 110


The book of Ezekiel was written in the midst of the exile in Babylon. The people of God have been taken from their land, from the holy city and the temple. It is in this chaos and confusion that the Lord speaks to Ezekiel and calls him as prophet to the nation in exile (Ezekiel 2:3). In today's passage there is a group of elders sitting at the feet of the prophet, something that seems to be a regular occurrence in the book (eg Ezekiel 8:1; 20:1). We have no idea what these elders want because the word of God breaks into the narrative before they have a chance to speak (verse 3).

God first speaks directly to Ezekiel, calling him by the title "mortal" (or in other translations "son of man") and stating the condition of the elders' hearts. The charge is that these men have set up idols in their hearts and put up wicked stumbling blocks before their faces (verses 3, 4). Idolatry is a common theme throughout Ezekiel and other Old Testament books and is one of the reasons why the Israelites find themselves in exile.

When we think of idols we can remember examples in Scripture like the golden calf (Exodus 32), the statues of Baal (Judges 6:28) or Asherah poles (Deuteronomy 16:21). Here though it is not physical idols that are the issue, but those that have been set up in the hearts of the people. The idolatry which led to the exile has now become a part of these people - they have become idolaters by nature and not just in action. This is the charge laid against them and the warnings of judgement for those who do not repent follow from this.

To Ponder

  • What objects, items or people do you think are the modern-day idols?
  • Do we risk setting up idols in our hearts? How do we avoid this?

Bible notes author

The Revd David Wynd

David Wynd is a Methodist presbyter in the North Shields and Whitley Bay Circuit. He leads Cullercoats Methodist Church and is involved in a circuit project called Network.