Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumbling block of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them? Ezekiel 14:3.
God revealed to Ezekiel that this group of the elders of Israel consisted of double-minded men. Outwardly, they came to seek a word from God through His true prophet Ezekiel, but in their hearts they harbored loyalties to other gods. God asked Ezekiel a rhetorical question about whether He ought to give revelatory guidance to such religious hypocrites.
Perhaps you tend to think of an idol as a figure made from wood or stone to which primitive people pray and offer sacrifices. But the Lord defined what an idol is when He told Ezekiel that it is something that a person puts before himself in a way that causes him to stumble into iniquity. Idols aren’t just the carved objects that sit in pagan temples, they are the godless craving and commitments that rule in our hearts. The people of Ezekiel’s day set up these “idols of the heart”, even as they continued to practice their religious rituals. Having committed themselves to ungodly purposes, they came to the prophet expecting to find out what the Lord had to say. God promised to confound these hypocrites by telling them whatever they wanted to hear. Ultimately their idols would fail and judgment would come. Apparently it is possible to commit ourselves to things that are utterly opposed to God, and then expect God to bless us in our pursuit of those things. The worst thing that could happen would be for Him to bless us, for then we would be ensnared by our own worthless gods rather than liberated to find genuine goodness in the living God.
And idol can be anything we set up in our hearts that opposes the teaching of the written word of God. This is why it is so important for professing Christians, to take the time and read and study the word of God. It’s amazing how we can find time to read articles on entertainment, good housekeeping, how to stay young, entertainers, etc., but many professing Christians don’t have knowledge of the word of the God they’re worshiping. The elders were heads of households, representatives and leaders of tribes, they worshiped in the temple with other worshipers, but in their hearts they were worshiping other gods. They came to receive a word from God through His true prophet, Ezekiel, but in their hearts there was no repentance of their idolatrous behavior. They were instructed in the status of God, and what God desired from them as His people, but they continued to live according to the desires of their hearts whether than the word of God.
Idolatry is just as prevalent today as it was in Ezekiel’s time. People go to worship God on Sunday, and Monday through Saturday they live opposite of the teaching they have received from the man or woman of God. The Bible wasn’t just given for the ministers to minister by, but it was given for Christians to read and to know their covenant with God, and what God expects out of them of their covenant with Him. It’s not just God always giving, we have to give back to Him. In order to know what is expected of us as Christians, we must read the Bible, the written Word of God and then submit to its instructions. The day that Jesus return maybe at any day when you look at what’s happening in the world. The Bible gives us instructions to follow to prepare us for the coming of the Lord’s return for His church, the body of Christ. If we can follow the instructions of an employer’s code of ethics, mission statements, why can’t we read and adhere to God’s instructions? If we want the job, we follow the instructions, if we want to go to heaven, we must follow the instructions.