“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 ESV

God chose David, described as “a man after God’s own heart” as the one who would be the next king of Judah.  All his other brothers did not pass God’s heart check.

God is God and we are not. Nothing is hidden from God.  God knows what we are thinking.  God knows where our thinking will go before the first words of the thought come to our minds.  God knows how we will respond as a result of what we are thinking. 

What were we thinking?  What is occupying our thoughts right now?  What we think and what we do reflects the condition of our hearts.  We need to check our hearts daily to stay healthy and clean of all impurities—all that offends God and stands in the way of our hearing and seeing God.  The “idols” of our day that enter our hearts and monopolize our minds and subsequent behaviors of pursuit of them, may look differently than in Ezekiel’s day but they are just as lethal to our relationship to God.

Ezekiel 14, The Message

Idols in Their Hearts

1-5 Some of the leaders of Israel approached me and sat down with me. God’s Message came to me: “Son of Man, these people have installed idols in their hearts. They have embraced the wickedness that will ruin them. Why should I even bother with their prayers? Therefore tell them, ‘The Message of God, the Master: All in Israel who install idols in their hearts and embrace the wickedness that will ruin them and still have the gall to come to a prophet, be on notice: I, God, will step in and personally answer them as they come dragging along their mob of idols. I am ready to go to work on the hearts of the house of Israel, all of whom have left me for their idols.’

6-8 “Therefore, say to the house of Israel: ‘God, the Master, says, Repent! Turn your backs on your no-god idols. Turn your backs on all your outrageous obscenities. To every last person from the house of Israel, including any of the resident aliens who live in Israel—all who turn their backs on me and embrace idols, who install the wickedness that will ruin them at the center of their lives and then have the gall to go to the prophet to ask me questions—I, God, will step in and give the answer myself. I’ll oppose those people to their faces, make an example of them—a warning lesson—and get rid of them so you will realize that I am God.

9-11 “‘If a prophet is deceived and tells these idolaters the lies they want to hear, I, God, get blamed for those lies. He won’t get by with it. I’ll grab him by the scruff of the neck and get him out of there. They’ll be equally guilty, the prophet and the one who goes to the prophet, so that the house of Israel will never again wander off my paths and make themselves filthy in their rebellions, but will rather be my people, just as I am their God. Decree of God, the Master.’”

* * *

12-14 God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, when a country sins against me by living faithlessly and I reach out and destroy its food supply by bringing on a famine, wiping out humans and animals alike, even if Noah, Daniel, and Job—the Big Three—were alive at the time, it wouldn’t do the population any good. Their righteousness would only save their own lives.” Decree of God, the Master.

15-16 “Or, if I make wild animals go through the country so that everyone has to leave and the country becomes wilderness and no one dares enter it anymore because of the wild animals, even if these three men were living there, as sure as I am the living God, neither their sons nor daughters would be rescued, but only those three, and the country would revert to wilderness.

17-18 “Or, if I bring war on that country and give the order, ‘Let the killing begin!’ leaving both people and animals dead, even if those three men were alive at the time, as sure as I am the living God, neither sons nor daughters would be rescued, but only these three.

19-20 “Or, if I visit a deadly disease on that country, pouring out my lethal anger, killing both people and animals, and Noah, Daniel, and Job happened to be alive at the time, as sure as I am the living God, not a son, not a daughter, would be rescued. Only these three would be delivered because of their righteousness.

21-23 “Now then, that’s the picture,” says God, the Master, “once I’ve sent my four catastrophic judgments on Jerusalem—war, famine, wild animals, disease—to kill off people and animals alike. But look! Believe it or not, there’ll be survivors. Some of their sons and daughters will be brought out. When they come out to you and their salvation is right in your face, you’ll see for yourself the life they’ve been saved from. You’ll know that this severe judgment I brought on Jerusalem was worth it, that it had to be. Yes, when you see in detail the kind of lives they’ve been living, you’ll feel much better. You’ll see the reason behind all that I’ve done in Jerusalem.” Decree of God, the Master.


Even if “everyone” is doing it, worshiping idols that satisfy our selfness, is it right?  We tell our kids, if “everyone” jumped off a bridge, would you do it?  And do we really want the answer?  Mm, God does.

“All we are like sheep”, so God’s Word identifies us.  Shepherds will tell you that sheep are kind of dumb.  If you can get the leader to go the way you want them to go, then the rest will follow.  But if even one turns and goes another way, they will all turn and go that way.  Yep, “all we like sheep” without a Shepherd will follow whoever is in front of us.  Sad, but true.

Outwardly the religious leaders were serving the Lord, but secretly they were worshiping idols. Instead of loving God and His Word, the leaders loved idols. Yet they piously sat before God’s prophet and acted spiritual.  Listening to Ezekiel speak was more like religious entertainment than receiving spiritual warnings about their sins.

Are we like that?  Ears to hear and eyes to see but refuse to leave our idol thinking?

Believers today probably would not love physical idols—images. But anything that replaces God in our affections and our obedience is certainly an idol.  What we have in our hearts affects what we see and how we live. If Christ is our Lord, then we will have no place for idols.

“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” 1 Peter 3:15, NLT

Repentance is a change of mind; it means turning from sin and turning to the Lord. The Jewish exiles needed to change their minds about idols and the sin of worshiping idols and then turn to the Lord who alone is worthy of worship.  Like the believers in the church of Ephesus, they had left their first love (Revelation 2:4).

The condition of a person’s heart determines his or her response to the Lord’s test, for God deals with people according to their hearts.  Warren Wiersbe relates, “The attitude of the lost world today is that no absolutes exist; therefore, we cannot know “truth.” Satan is the liar and the deceiver, and He has blinded the minds of people so that they believe lies and reject God’s truth. We must do all we can to share the truth of the Word with a blind and deaf world, trusting the Holy Spirit to open their eyes and ears and save them by His grace.”  Wiersbe Study Bible

Why did the Lord choose these three men? For one thing, all three of them are identified in the Old Testament Scriptures as righteous (See Genesis, Job and Daniel for clarification.) All of them were tested and proved faithful—Noah by the flood, Daniel in the lions’ den, and Job by painful trials from Satan. All were men of faith.

God doesn’t punish people because of the sins of others, nor will God accept the righteousness of others to compensate for the wicked deeds of sinners.  EXCEPT when Jesus was sent to save us from our sins.  The only time God abandoned this principle was when Jesus Christ His Son died on the cross: He suffered for the sins of the world. When we trust Jesus as Savior and Lord, we receive the gift of His righteousness, and God accepts us because of His Son.

“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”  Romans 3:22-24

Jesus enters our hearts, forgives us of all our sins and makes us right with God!  May we live as redeemed people with God’s smile reflecting on our faces because of His glory working deep within our hearts!


You are God and I am not.  What you did for me I could not do for myself.  I believe. Purify my heart today and renew my spirit with Your Holy Spirit who lives in me.

In Jesus Name, Amen

About randscallawayffm

Randy and Susan co founded Finding Focus Ministries in 2006. Their goal as former full time pastors, is to serve and provide spiritual encouragement and focus to those on the "front lines" of ministry. Extensive experience being on both sides of ministry, paid and volunteer, on the mission fields of other countries as well as the United States, helps them bring a different perspective to those who need it most. Need a lift? Call us 260 229 2276.
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