What do we do in secret, in the dark, in our (with a scary movie announcer voice) ROOM OF PICTURES? God once asked the prophet Ezekiel, ““…have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures?” (Ezekiel 8:12) Perhaps the same question should be asked of us who are disciples of Jesus today. Let me put this scripture in its proper context, and then I’ll try to give some 21st century application.
Israel had repeatedly rebelled against God, killed the prophets, and committed idolatry. It wasn’t just the “average Joe,” but even the priests, elders, and the prophets had forsaken the Lord. Those who should’ve been leading the nation in repentance were instead leading them further away from the Lord. And judgment was on the way. Israel had not survived the earlier Assyrian invasion, and now Judah faced God’s judgment in the form of Babylon. God sent the prophet Ezekiel (already in exile) and showed him how far the people had fallen into idolatry. They had crossed the line; there was no room left for national repentance. And those who should have been the voice of God to the people had instead engraved idolatrous images in their “room of pictures,” and abandoned the true worship of YHWH. So what? I’m glad you asked.
We who are the present day disciples of Jesus are to “be Jesus” to the world. We are the body of Christ, and it is through the church that the world is to see the beauty of God’s holiness as we display the love, grace and mercy of God through our own lives. The only way for us to do this is to abide in Jesus, fixing our eyes upon the author and finisher of our faith. But in our “room of pictures” who is it that is portrayed there? Don’t misunderstand me, none of us are sinless, we all fall short, but the elders of Israel had engraved these idolatrous images on the walls of their hearts. This speaks to me of a habitual lifestyle, practicing sin if you will. Engraving to me denotes permanence, it was what and who they had become. Christian who or what is engraved on the walls in our room of pictures? Do we worship religion? Is it pornography, drugs, TV, sex, food, money, power, video-games, WHATEVER. What is it that we “gaze upon,” that we continually run to for comfort, purpose, and fulfillment? Like I said, we all fall short, that’s not what we’re talking about today. We are talking about things that may have become engraved on the walls of our hearts and are keeping us from Jesus. I know we don’t like to hear it, but we who are the Church bear some responsibility for what’s going on around us. “If the righteous are barely saved then what shall become of the wicked?”
The wonderful thing is that God continually extends love, grace, and mercy to us. The cross of our Lord says it all. If there are idolatrous images engraved on the walls in the room of pictures, in our hearts, the blood of Jesus can cleanse us. We who have experienced forgiveness, grace, mercy, and the love of God can then extend the same to those around us. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”