Ezekiel 14:4-5 – “Thus says the Lord GOD: Any one of the house of Israel who takes his idols into his heart and sets the stumbling block of his iniquity before his face, and yet comes to the prophet, I the LORD will answer him as he comes with the multitude of his idols, that I may lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel, who are all estranged from me through their idols.”
One day, while Ezekiel was serving as God’s mouthpiece in Israel, the leaders of the nation came to Ezekiel to receive a message from God through Ezekiel. The leaders were clearly not walking faithfully with the Lord, yet they wanted Ezekiel to bless them. As they came to Ezekiel, God’s message that he wanted Ezekiel to communicate was not some message of national blessing and prosperity to them. Instead, God’s message was quite predictable: “Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations” (Ezekiel 14:6).
Earlier, God had prepared Ezekiel for this interaction. He said that the leaders were going to come in with idols in their hearts that were stumbling blocks of iniquity before their face. What would it mean for an idol to be a “stumbling block of iniquity” before their face? Paul Tripp says idols of the heart are anything that is not God that we submit ourselves to as our ruler. When we are willingly submitting ourselves to idols, this idol is blinding us. It is preventing us from not only seeing our sin and idolatry, but it is blocking us from being able to see and hear from the Lord.
A stumbling block is anything that we might trip over. Therefore, a stumbling block of iniquity is something we trip over that leads us to sin. When idols are left unchecked in our hearts, the natural result is iniquity. This is scary to consider. When we are blind to our sin, we go on living our lives as if everything is fine. When we are blind to our sin because of our idolatry, we go on living our lives as if the things we are worshiping are good for us to be worshiping. We don’t see it. We can’t. The only way we will ever come to fully understand the presence of this sin is for the Word of God and the Holy Spirit to shine God’s light of holiness into our lives to show us our sin.
As David was caught in his sin with Bathsheba, he couldn’t see how heinous his sin was. It took Nathan the prophet coming to him to confront him over his sin. Even still, I imagine it took a long time for David to truly wake up and see the evil of his actions. Imagine the tenderizing of David’s heart that the Lord brought that led David to be able to say: “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:3-4).
Blind spots in our lives are real. They are larger than the blind spots we turn our heads to see as we are driving on the highway. They are larger than our physical and spiritual eyes can see without the work of the Holy Spirit’s conviction and illumination. I pray that we might be a people who daily plead with God to show us our sin. I pray that we would humble ourselves before the Lord, acknowledging that the sin of idolatry is real and blinding. Show us our sin, Oh God.