Facing the Issues
Denny Mallonee is the pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Beaver Springs, Pennsylvania.
“Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth.” (Ezekiel 8:12)
Now Ezekiel was a prophet to the captive people in the land of Babylon. Though his physical body remained there, God took him in spirit back to Jerusalem, back to the Temple that was still in existence. There Ezekiel prophesied a few years before the Temple would be destroyed. He’s telling the people why judgment will fall.
“And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord God fell there upon me. Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loins even downward, fire; and from his loins even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the colour of amber. And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy. And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain. Then said he unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry. He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.”
I want you to notice as I read how many times we see the word ‘abominations’ or ‘abominable’ in the eighth chapter of Ezekiel. They appear six times. When God hates something, He tells us. When He tells us that something is abomination, that means He really hates it with a hatred that you can’t imagine. It is as despicable and low and as vile as it can get. God detests it. When God says something is an abomination, just mark it down, it’s something that you and I should not be involved with. Folks have seen some wicked things. Some are upset. Most people have gone along with it. Ezekiel, most folks have no idea of what’s really going on back there in the dark shadows.
“And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall. Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door. And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here. So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about. And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up. Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth.” (Ezekiel 8:1-12)
I want to preach to you for a few minutes on What’s Behind The Wall.
Our society is changing. It used to be that you could go away and leave your doors unlocked, but no longer. You’ve got to lock your car. Court houses have metal detectors, security check points, armed guards. I was talking to a supervisor of security at the hospital. In the children’s hospital and natal care unit where the babies are, they have magnetic bracelets. You can’t get that thing out the door or alarms go off and the doors lock, etc. People steal babies.
Can you imagine this wicked society? Department stores have little metal strips on the products. Barcode deactivates it when it’s checked out. If it’s not checked out, an alarm goes off when you try to go out the door and steal it because stores have had so much shoplifting.
The other day I heard about a mother who beheaded three of her children. Can you imagine something so despicable, so horrible. I’ve heard about a mother putting her children in an oven and baking and killing them. I’ve heard about a mother that stabbed her children and then committed suicide. Lots of times you hear about these bizarre murders. It’s usually live-in couples out of wedlock. Somebody is on drugs or drinking booze. Somebody hallucinates, or comes home in a drunken stupor. They don’t tell you the whole story, but folks are playing with sin, and it simply catches up to them. America is collecting the wages of sin.
Kids today have video computer games full of wars and blood shed. Some of the video computer games are very graphic. Knock the guy’s head off, the blood spurts all over the screen, nice little things for kids to play. People watch TV shows that promote cussing, immorality, homosexuality, perversion, all sorts of vile stuff, even witchcraft and Satanism. Yet the Bible is legislated out of our public school classrooms.
Kids go to school in an unbelievable state, compared to the dress rules when I was in school. My wife and I saw high school kids waiting for the bus to come. They are in their shorts and tee-shirts and jeans, just about as sloppy as they could be. It looked like they were on their way to clean the barn or something. That’s how they go to school. They wonder why they don’t have any discipline. Anything goes. It’s just all part of a philosophy that’s sweeping across our land.
Alcoholic consumption is at an all time high. Internet pornography is a multi-billion dollar business. Heroine and cocaine use are at epidemic proportions. Many people are even hooked on prescription drugs. Lying seems to be a way of life. If you’re a politician, it doesn’t matter if you tell the truth or tell a lie. Cheating, embezzlement. What’s so sad is these things are not limited to the heathen. Many Christians accept, live in, and are hardened to sins like this such as never before.
I read about Ezekiel and his vision of the Temple wall. In this vision, God takes him in spirit back to Jerusalem. Please understand that Ezekiel was still there in Babylon, but God took him in vision to Jerusalem to the Temple. This is the place. It says in verse four, “And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain.” God’s Shekinah glory was there. The place was built to honor God. It’s called the Temple, the dwelling place of God. God was there in His Shekinah glory and the smoke would fill the room to let people know that God was there among His people. God was grieved because of the sins of the people. We learn, as Ezekiel was shown what was going on behind that temple wall, that God’s Spirit was grieved.
Ephesians 4:30 tells us, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Now if God’s Holy Spirit is grieved, that means He’s hurt, He’s saddened. Something has affected the Lord. What God sees, He hates, and it disturbs Him greatly.
A parent can be grieved when a child is wayward in sin. Their heart can be broken and torn apart. That parent will hate what their child is doing. They will hate that sin with a holy hatred, and it’s detestable and an abomination in their sight. Yet they love that child and they’re grieved. They’re hurt.
The Bible says that if you’re a Christian and you’re born again, then your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:19-20) Do you know what that means? That means God lives there.
In the Old Testament, the Temple was a structure that was built. God in His Shekinah glory dwelt there so He could be in the midst of His people. When Jesus came and died on the cross before He went back to Heaven, He promised that a Comforter would come, Who would actually move in and make His abode in the person who received Christ as his Saviour. Our bodies would become the temple or the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit of God.
In the Old Testament, God’s Spirit existed with His people, but did not indwell them. That did not happen until after Jesus purchased our redemption on the cross. You are indwelt by the Holy Spirit if you are saved, but you can make the Holy Spirit sad by what you do. Listen to me. When you say yes to sin, that grieves the Holy Spirit of God. God is hurt. He is angry. He is grieved. If you’re born again, the Holy Spirit lives in you. What you do, what you say, what you put on, not only affects you, but the Holy Spirit who dwells within. That’s grieving the Holy Spirit.
When Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church in chapter five he said in verse 19, “Quench not the Spirit.” What does quench mean? That means put it out. Stop it. When you quench the fire, what do you do? You put it out. Okay, so if you grieve the Holy Spirit, you’re saying yes to sin. You quench the Spirit. You stop His working in your life. You’re saying no to the Spirit of God. When you say yes to sin, it hurts God. It grieves Him. When you say no to the Holy Spirit of God, you quench Him. You stop His work and you stop His moving in your life. You’re turning Him off.
God’s Shekinah glory dwelt in this Temple that Ezekiel saw. This took place between the years 606 and 586 BC, probably somewhere around 592 BC. Probably six or seven years before the Temple was destroyed and the city of Jerusalem besieged, ransacked and burned for the final time. The third siege of Jerusalem would take place. God was there, and He was greatly grieved and disturbed because of the sin that was going on in the Temple. Ezekiel writes what God shows him. Soon God would allow this Temple to be destroyed because of what was going on behind the wall of that Temple. The wickedness, idolatry, abominations, God called them. Verse nine, “Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.” They were practicing the worship of a false god.
In verse 14 it talks about women weeping for Tammuz. Tammuz was a Babylonian, middle-eastern idol, a fertility god. It was a Babylonian deity, the husband of Iztar. After his death, he supposedly became the god of the underworld and the god of fertility. Every spring he was said to be resurrected. They would have parties and dance and celebrate with rites of temple prostitution. How filthy and vulgar and wicked! Every fall they would mourn his death and worship the false god.
There were those in the next verses who worshiped the sun toward the east, standing in God’s Temple, worshipping something that God made rather than the God Who made it. There were all kinds of wicked, filthy, vulgar things in the name of idolatrous, heathen religion going on there in the Temple. No wonder God was upset. God said, “This is My dwelling place. This is My Temple, and I’m grieved because of the abominations that are going on in here. This place is going to be destroyed.”
Christian, do you see the message here that I see? What is the temple of the Holy Spirit today? If you’re saved, where does God live? In you. What is that strong, stern warning for you, Christian? It says that born again believers, those who are saved, cannot continually practice sin. First John 5:18 says, “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” God is not going to let you live on in your sin.
Hebrews 12 talks about the chastening of the Lord beginning with verse five. “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” God gives some pretty stern warnings. God said, “I’m dwelling in this Temple. I’m grieved so deeply about what’s going on in My temple and it doesn’t seem like My warnings are being heeded. I’m going to have to destroy this Temple early.” That’s pretty strong stuff. This is the picture that God painted for us through the pen of the prophet Ezekiel.
The word ‘abomination,’ does it mean anything to you? God said, “Look at what’s going on. It’s an abomination.” It’s bad that the world drinks beer and gets drunk. I think it’s worse that Christians would accept social drinking so they can get along with wicked society. It’s bad to have sex and violence on TV. It’s worse that Christians sit and watch it. It’s bad that we have a rock culture. It’s more than just music and a beat and loud noises. It’s a philosophy. It’s an evil way of life. But it’s worse that Christians will have their centers of worship, their rock bands, their pop rock music, their little 7-11 choruses to try to create a mood and try to do to people in the name of Christianity what the devil does to people in the world through the medium of rock music.
It’s bad that worldly philosophers promote self-esteem, situation ethics, sensitivity training, trying to brainwash you so you won’t be prejudiced against the homosexuals and the Sodomites and the perverts of society, but it’s worse when Christians live by situation ethics instead of getting their convictions from the Bible. It’s bad when rock performers live their perverted lifestyles and are promoted as heroes, and flaunt their immoral philosophy, but I think it’s worse when Christians behind the scenes in the dark shadows of their lives live the same way.
A few years ago there was a Dove Award ceremony for ‘Christian’ music. I don’t think much of Dove Awards. Any time an organization starts patting people on the back, just look out. It’s corrupt, or soon will be. Michael English received a Dove Award, then it somehow came out that he was immoral with one of the female back-up singers in the group. It was embarrassing. At that time he was singing with the one of the biggest name gospel groups at the time. Michael English confessed it, said it was wrong and gave his award back. I thought, “How hypocritical for that bunch to even take it back.” I could name right now 25 performers who were living in the same type of sin. I thought, “That’s hypocrisy if I ever saw it.” A lot of these Gospel groups and professional singers take Christians’ money, sing Christian songs, and live the devil’s lifestyle.
I want to ask you a question. Is your mind pure? Second Peter 3:1, Peter writes his last chapter there. It says, “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:” Is your mind pure?
Paul wrote to Timothy in I Timothy 5:22, “...keep thyself pure.” Is your mind pure? Is your thought-life right? I want to talk to you about your Temple. Those Jewish priests and leaders were involved in all kinds of wickedness in secret. What’s going on in secret in your life? What’s behind the wall? What’s in the dark shadows?
Verse 12, “Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel...” The ancients, that’s the leaders, the people that you’re supposed to be looking up to, the people that give you guidance. That’s the crowd God is referring to. These people that you’re elevating as your heroes that are supposed to be leading you the right way, your spiritual leaders, see what they “...do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth.” We’re accepting things that the world thrusts upon us. God said that it’s an abomination and He hates it.
James 4:4 tells us that to be friends with the world means we’re enemies with God. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
In Romans 1:28 God paints a picture of man at his worst and most sinful. God is describing an abomination of sin here in verse 28. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:28-32) It’s describing Hollywood, and a lot of TV shows that a lot of Christians watch. Uh oh! You watch it. You enjoy it. You feed it in and let it program your mind. It’s sin, but you enjoy it. You spend more time in front of the TV set than you do reading your Bible. That’s what’s wrong with America. That’s what’s wrong with the average fundamental, independent, Baptist church. We spend hours in front of the TV set, but little time in the Word of God.
In I Corinthians 6:9-11 this list is repeated. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?...” Do you believe that? There are some folks that said that it doesn’t matter whether you believe in Allah or worship the Pope, or pray to Mary, as long as you’re sincere. Everybody is looking for God, everybody who wants to go to Heaven, everybody will end up going to the same place.
That’s not what my Bible says. It says unrighteous people are not going to get there. It’s pretty plain. It’s God’s Word. “...Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you:...” I put a circle around that word were and thank God none of this describes me now, by the grace of God. I hope none of that describes you. “...but ye are washed,...” I circled that word washed. Thank God for the cleansing power of His precious blood. “...but ye are sanctified,...” Set apart. “...but ye are justified...” Just as if I never sinned. Boy, there are some powerful, precious words of truth. “...in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
You know this describes the Hollywood crowd, the performers that a lot of people watch and idolize. They have their Grammy Awards and their Oscars, patting each other on the back and handing each other prizes. I’m sick of all that. America wants to know who gets what prize and who gets what honors and who has the number one movie. I’m disgusted with all of it. It’s that crowd that’s taking America down the road to Hell. God delivered me from rock and roll singing. Why should I want to watch, listen to, or go back to that kind of trash? If you go to amusement parks they blast you with rock music. You can’t even take your kids and grand kids to enjoy a ride somewhere. They’ve got to be blasting that boogie in your ears all the time.
Go to a ball park. I love to go watch the Orioles play ball. There is something more than I like watching the Orioles play ball; I like to see them win. But I hate going to ball parks anymore. All they do is blast that rock music in the speakers. The sound is deafening. The seats rattle.
Commercials on TV blast you with rock music. Behind everything they have to say they got to keep the boogie going. I think the best thing they ever invented is that little space cadet thing with a mute button on it. I call it the shut them up button. Commercial comes on, press the button. I don’t want to hear that junk. God saved me out of it. I don’t want to hear it. Some folks will sit there and watch it.
Ask my wife. Somebody took us to some kind of Texas Steak House a couple years ago to eat. It was country music. It sounded like rock to me. What they call country doesn’t sound too country anymore. I kid you not. The waitress hunkered down like this to hear our order that we had to yell over the noise. I said, “This is ridiculous.” We decided that we’re never going back there again. Why do they have to have that junk blasting in your ears all the time?
If God delivered you from booze, why go back to social drinking? If God delivered you from immorality, why do you watch it? Uh oh. “Now, Preacher, you’ve done gone meddling.” Think about this. Suppose your neighbor came over and said, “I want you and your wife to come over to our house into our bedroom.”
You say, “What a dirty, lewd thing to suggest! How filthy can they be?” But you watch somebody else’s husband and not even his wife. It just happens to be part of the program that you’re watching. Turn it off. In my own timid, tactful way, are you getting what I’m talking about? God, have mercy.
Your kids sit glued to that TV for hours on end. Can your kids quote any Scripture verses, or do they know the lyrics of the TV commercials better? Can they tell you the TV heroes and all the characters and the names of the Hollywood actors and actresses, but not know the heroes of the Bible? How much time do they spend watching TV? How much time do you spend watching TV? How much time do you spend reading the Bible? What are you feeding into your heart and mind and life? From where are you getting your philosophies of life? What are you accepting as okay that God calls an abomination?
Folks, did you ever stop to see how many times the word ‘abomination’ or ‘abominable’ appears in Scripture? God hates it. If I can’t do anything else, I hope I can drive home this point. Folks, we need to learn to hate what God hates and love what God loves. We’re letting the world dictate what we believe. We’re getting our standards and convictions or lack of them from the world and not from the Bible. We’re letting society that’s running at a wild pace away from God decide for us what we should do and what is right and what is wrong. What is in your heart? How did it get there?
God said to Ezekiel, “Go behind the wall in the dark place. Look and see what’s going on.” You see your reputation, that’s what folks think you are, but character is what you are in the dark. Reputation is what people see, but character is what God knows that you really are. Many professing Christians really don’t have the fear of God.
Jesus told us in Matthew 7:21-22, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” They lived a life of not fearing God. They thought they were okay. When they stood at the Great White Throne Judgment, it was way too late.
Psalm 139:21-24 says, “Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee?...” Does that mean hating people? That’s not what it’s talking about. The people that rise up against God, the philosophies that are anti-God, anti-Bible, people that spout off stuff that’s wrong and sin, you should hate it. That is what this is talking about. “...and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?” Are you? Does it even bother you? “I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Are we willing to pray this prayer with the Psalmist? “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me...” “Lord, this is the prayer of my heart. I want You to go behind the wall, Lord, of this temple. I want You to look in the dark places. Lord, I’m willing for You to come and show me what’s there. If there is something that is abomination, Lord, if it’s something You hate, Lord, I want You to show me, and I want to get rid of it. Lord, I don’t want You to be grieved with what goes on in the darkness behind the wall. I want my life, both public and private, to be clean and pure before You, and pleasing to You.” That’s the prayer that was prayed here in Psalm 139. Can you honestly pray that prayer? “Search me, O God, and know my heart.” You can’t honestly pray that prayer until you get rid of what you already know doesn’t belong there.
God said to Ezekiel in this vision, “Come here. I want to show you something. Look behind the wall. Look what’s going on. It breaks My heart, Ezekiel. It’s sad to think that those in the house of God, those to whom people look up to, are committing these abominations, flocking after other gods, immoral in their worship, vulgar in their practice.” We tend to think of an idol as some kind of thing made out of wood or a piece of metal stuck on a shelf and people bow to it. There are a lot of people worshipping idols. They might not be sitting on a shelf. It could be their money. It could be their pride and their prestige, things that they lust after, immorality. I could name a whole lot of things.
What should we do? Can you pray a prayer and say, “Lord, show me what’s behind the wall in the dark places. Lord, you know my life, the part people don’t see, Lord, help me to be honest with You and come to You and get right.” Maybe it’s a stubborn, rebellious spirit. Maybe you’re holding onto your money like it’s a god, rather than letting it be used for God.
Psalm 119:37 says, “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.” Psalm 101:3 says, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” I’m not going to watch what I know is wrong and what I shouldn’t live. Psalm 119:18 says, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” I’m not saying that everything on television is bad, just most of it is. If I watch news, it won’t be mainstream news media because at least I can get a little unbiased bit of reporting, but then they’ll bring these idiots on there and start arguing some of these programs, and I just can’t stand that. My wife will say, “Dear, I can’t stand that bickering and arguing back and forth.”
Do you pray this prayer? “Lord, Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. Open my eyes to Your truth. Help me to understand what the Bible says.”
I heard a story about a man who had been immoral, and it shocked everybody. Afterward they searched through his desk drawers and personal belongings and found all kinds of pornography. For a while he still looked good on the outside and folks still looked up to him as a leader and example, but what was going on in secret was a whole different story. That’s what was going on behind the wall in the dark shadows.
What’s going on behind the wall in your life, Christian? God knows. God sees. Does it grieve Him and break His heart? Does it make Him angry and offend Him? What is going on in the dark recesses of your thought life, the ‘chambers of imagery’ or imagination? Every Christian needs to stop and examine, because judgment is on it’s way if we don’t get our hearts and minds and lives cleaned up. God knows what’s behind the wall.
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