Gracefully Truthful


Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Ezekiel 14:6-8

Therefore, say to the house of Israel: This is what the Lord God says: Repent and turn away from your idols; turn your faces away from all your abominations.

7 For when anyone from the house of Israel or from the foreigners who reside in Israel separates himself from Me, setting up idols in his heart and putting a sinful stumbling block before his face, and then comes to the prophet to inquire of Me, I, the Lord, will answer him Myself.

8 I will turn against that one and make him a sign and a proverb; I will cut him off from among My people. Then you will know that I am the Lord.

The Original Intent

1) How could it be that Israel, the people of God, needed to repent of their idols and abominations? (verse 6)

As a priest, Ezekiel prophesied in Babylon after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC (2 Kings 25:1-21) and was among the prisoners taken from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. In Ezekiel 1, we learn that the word of the Lord came to him by way of visions.

As a priest, Ezekiel was deeply concerned with restoring God’s people to holiness. His awareness of the depth of Israel’s sin is evidenced in his message from God recorded in chapter 20. In chapter 22 we’re given more specific insight into their offenses against the Lord’s holiness. Bible history tells us Ezekiel wasn’t the first man to see God in a cloud of glory (Exodus 24:14-18, 1 Kings 8:10-11), but his vision is noticeably more interior. That is, the prophet is “carried” to Jerusalem in an extraordinary way and given an up-close, grotesque look at the people’s sin. (Ezekiel 8)

Once there, he looks on with horror at the elders of Israel worshipping other gods in and around the temple. The depth of the sin was so deep, in fact, the glory of the Lord God was lifted away from His temple. (Ezekiel 10:18, Ezekiel 11:22-23) Israel was God’s chosen people, intended to be set apart as holy, but this election was not based on anything they had done or had acquired. It was the Lord’s presence among them that distinguished them from everyone else! (Exodus 40:34-35).

Tragically, because of their rejection of Him, the temple was vacated of God’s glory. Here in verse 6, God makes a grave plea for the Israelites to repent of their idolatrous ways. The theme of false worship is continued from the previous chapter, but God’s focus has turned to Israel’s elders. (Ezekiel 14:1-2)

Though they may have hoped for a word of deliverance, their idolatry had created a barrier between them and God that would result in His judgment on them. (Ezekiel 18:30-32)

The Everyday Application

1) How could it be that Israel, the people of God, needed to repent of their idols and abominations? (verse 6)

We read in Ezekiel 2 that the prophet had received a commission from God to preach judgment against his own people. Day in and day out, Ezekiel would relay the message God gave him with no evidence of change in the people. What a depressing mission from the beginning!

But our gracious God gave the priest-turned-prophet glorious visions of Himself. Sister, these sights would strengthen Ezekiel in his agonizing ministry of proclaiming the bad news regarding Israel’s pending doom. With His promise of judgment, God had also given the prophet encouraging news. Although Israel’s rebellion and idolatry had become so blatant that God’s glory left His temple, He would never completely abandon His people. THIS is our God, Friend!

The Lord gave Ezekiel a glimpse of His plan for future salvation and restoration tucked away in Ezekiel 11:16-20. Even through the exile of the Israelites, God was always their sanctuary. For one entire generation, the Babylonian exile lasted through their lifetime. Interestingly, God describes their exile as but a ‘brief moment’. I doubt they considered it to be a brief moment. Oh Sister! Can you see it now from God’s perspective, especially as it relates to His eternal character of love and mercy? (Isaiah 54:7-10)

Our sin is a serious matter. It separates us from God. But there is good news in the midst of the bad! When we turn from our sin and turn to the Lord, He is faithful to receive us and gift us with eternal life. (Romans 5:8-10) Attempting to justify our sin will never save us. Confessing it and calling out to God for mercy will! He is always ready to receive our sincere repentance.

The Original Intent

2) Why had Israel separated itself from God? (verse 7)

The Israelites had abandoned their God. Sadly, their leaders were no better. The Hebrew word zaqen can mean “elder” or “leader” or generally used as a term for an old man. In the first three verses of the chapter, we learn that the elders of Israel approach the prophet Ezekiel to receive a word from the Lord. Instead, they are met with a strong rebuke from God to repent of their sins and reform their lives. God had made it clear no double-minded person would be right with Him. (Exodus 20:3-6) The concealed devotion and adoration of idols had disconnected God’s people from Him.

We read in verse 7 how sin, whether committed by Israel or by sojourners living in Israel under God’s protection, was ruinous in their relationship with God. The false prophets were influencing the king and the people of Jerusalem to hope for divine deliverance from Babylon. (Ezekiel 13:1-4) These elders, those trained in the Word of God, have evidently heard previous prophecies and are now inquiring of Ezekiel regarding themselves.

It is evident from God’s response that they have come to Ezekiel insincerely seeking God’s counsel. But the Lord saw through their facade and has set His mind against them because of their rebellion. These elders had committed sin in their hearts, as evidenced by their idol worship.

God will not share His people with other gods, nor will He give His rightful glory to an idol. (verses 3-5, Isaiah 42:8) Because He alone is God, He cannot allow His people to show contempt for His splendor and glorious dignity by dismissing Him for false gods. (Isaiah 48:11-13) God will answer them. He, Himself will. But not through word.

The Everyday Application

2) Why had Israel separated itself from God? (verse 7)

Israel had moved away from God in their hearts. Replacing the worship of God with the worship of idols is a sign of a heart no longer seeking God alone. Idolatry can make a subtle entrance into our lives as we begin thinking more and more often about things that aren’t of God or of His kingdom to come. (Ephesians 2:18-20, Colossians 1:13) None of us are immune to this luring away.

When I spend less and less time in God’s word and in prayer, I begin to notice in my own life that God seems further away. As that happens, I’m drawn into more distance by ignoring His prompting in my heart. When I have separated myself from God’s glory, my songs and prayers feel stale and empty. Thankfully, no outward expression will be adequate when there is a heart of idolatry within us.

I say “thankfully” because it is this distance that stirs me to do something. I feel it. Oh, do I feel it, Sister! Know this: even though the leaders came to Ezekiel for all the wrong reasons, God’s answer demonstrated His mercy. (verses 4-5) He does the same with us, Dear One. He wants our hearts.

Idolatry affects so many areas in my spiritual life. My faith in God begins to grow weak as long as my desires and hopes are moving me away from Him. This is where His grace appears as God’s pursuit of my heart rescues me from myself and the idols I foolishly bow down to worship.

Because He will not share His glory, He will not let me stay there without convicting me to return to Him. (Romans 2:4, Ephesians 2:4-7) Praise Him for that!

The Original Intent

3) What is meant by God’s message regarding “a sign and a proverb”? (verse 8)

God will answer His people. He will answer through His righteous judgment. God sends this message through Ezekiel to the Jews in exile: Yahweh has not been defeated, nor has He turned away from His people, Israel. But He will not tolerate idol worship among His people who continually demonstrate a secret rebellious spirit.

Notice the emphasis on the personal responsibility for sin throughout this passage. (verse 4) The Lord will oppose the one who separates himself apart from God (verse 7), and He will make those who pursue idolatry an object lesson to those around them. He will judge them according to His truth and righteousness. God’s penalty for their stubborn hearts will lead to being cut off from God and His protective provision.

Anyone in Israel who refused to truly, humbly repent of their sin would receive judgment from the Lord, and through that judgment he would be used as an illustration. The New Century Version helps us to understand what is being communicated, “I will reject them. I will make them a sign and an example … Then you will know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 14:8 NCV)

The way in which the unrepentant one will receive punishment will be memorable in all the wrong ways, in order to produce horror and dread within others. Bible commentator Daniel Block writes of the weightiness of the shame they would incur. “Just as the name ‘Nimrod’ has become proverbial for hunting prowess, and ‘Babel’ for incomprehensible speech, so the name ‘Israel’ would become proverbial for divinely imposed disaster.” (

God’s example would come as an astonishment and amazement to those who would observe what was occurring. (Deuteronomy 28:37, Ezekiel 32:10) Then all the people would know that He alone was God.

The Everyday Application

3) What is meant by God’s message regarding “a sign and a proverb”? (verse 8)

For those of us reading with western eyes, let’s consider God’s words as if we received them alongside Israel. Let’s gaze with the prophet (Ezekiel 1:28) using our ancient eyes so we feel the same hope today amid our difficult circumstances.

Friend, I pray right now for you and me to know, really know, that an all-powerful God is active and present in our lives. His Word is speaking to us even as we dig into this writing from thousands of years ago. God hasn’t changed. He is calling us to hear Him and turn to Him. “Then you will know that I am the Lord.” (verse 8)

We don’t want to wait until He shows up in judgment to acknowledge Him for it will be too late to be rescued. (Revelation 14:6-7) He deserves and desires our genuine worship now, and He is patiently pursuing us that we would fall on His mercy and accept His supremacy and sovereignty and find satisfaction and safety within Himself.

The Psalmist invites our hearts to join him in genuine worship, “Let the whole earth shout triumphantly to the Lord! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Acknowledge that the Lord is God. He made us, and we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His name. For the Lord is good, and His faithful love endures forever; His faithfulness, through all generations.” (Psalm 100)

It is this kind of worship we want to give our good God and Savior. It is this kind of worship we want to authentically cultivate in our lives to draw people to know our God.

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