Best of Daily Reflections: What Are Your Idolatrous Mountains?Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Hear the LORD God’s word, mountains of Israel! The LORD God proclaims to the mountains and hills, to the valleys and their deepest ravines: I’m about to bring a sword against you and destroy your shrines. Your altars will be destroyed, your incense altars broken. And I’ll make your slain fall in front of your idols. (CEB)
Ezekiel 6 begins with a curious assignment. The Lord tells Ezekiel to prophesy against the mountains of Israel. Why the mountains? What have they done wrong?
Strictly speaking, the mountains themselves did not act contrary to God's will. But they were the setting where unfaithful Israelites worshipped in so-called "high places," using Canaanite shrines and practices. This was idolatry, pure and simple. Rather than worshiping God in the way he had specified, the people took on the ways of the land in which they lived, thus dishonoring God and calling forth his judgment. In Ezekiel 6, this judgment is proclaimed against the mountains in a poetic way. Of course, it was the people of Israel who were truly guilty of rejecting God's ways in favor of the sinful ways of the place where they lived.
This passage makes me wonder in what ways I have put aside the worship God desires, choosing instead to worship in the ways of my sinful world. What first comes to mind is my tendency to think of a worship service primarily in terms of whether I like it or not. If I enjoy the music, if the sermon speaks to me, then I like the service. Then worship is good. By making myself and my feelings the main purpose of worship, I have bought into the ways of the culture. I have lost touch with the real purpose of worship, which is not my pleasure, but God's pleasure. The question I should be asking about any worship service is not, "Do I like it?" but rather, "Am I truly worshiping God in this service? Am I giving myself to him? Am I loving him with heart, soul, mind, and strength?" I know I'm not the only one who struggles to make God the true center of worship, because we all live in a culture that places us in the center.
So, my idolatrous mountains tell me, "It's all about you, Mark. You're the center." Scripture tells me, "It's not about you. It's about God and his purpose. God is the center. And it's about the wondrous truth that the one, true God loves you and has called you to join him in his purpose for creation."
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What are your "idolatrous mountains"? How does your worship of God reflect the ways of our fallen world rather than the ways of God? Do you struggle, as I do, with the desire to make worship "all about you"? How might your heart be realigned to seek God's glory above all else, in every part of life?
PRAYER: Today, Lord, I am brought up short by this passage from Ezekiel. Though I don't go into the mountains to worship on high places, I have let my culture shape my worship. I confess that all too often I make worship all about me. I can get so caught up in my emotional responses and intellectual judgments that I deprive you of the worship you deserve from me. Forgive me, Lord.
Help me, gracious God, to see worship for what it really is: an opportunity to offer my whole self to you. And may I know that true worship isn't just about what I do in church. I am called to worship you in all that I do, in my work and my relationships, in my buying and my voting, in my resting and my playing. O Lord, help me to worship you more completely, more consistently. To you be all the glory! Amen.