Just a Little Disobedience
Ezek. 8:17 Then he said to me, “Have you seen this, O mortal? Is it not bad enough that the house of Judah commits the abominations done here? Must they fill the land with violence, and provoke my anger still further? See, they are putting the branch to their nose! (NRSV)
17 He said to me, “Have you seen this, son of man? Is it a trivial matter for the people of Judah to do the detestable things they are doing here? Must they also fill the land with violence and continually arouse my anger? Look at them putting the branch to their nose!” (NIV)
Ezekiel is being shown the disobedience of the Israelites. From the NIV translation we see the comment that the people may have seen this as a “trivial” matter. Somehow they are not concerned and have convinced themselves that this is just a little disobedience. Their little disobedience is seen as an abomination in the eyes of God.
This disobedience is directly related to the worship of other gods. They have adopted the practices of the people around them and have committed themselves to the approval of the culture and not to God. They are provoking God’s anger for he is present and has promised to provide all that they need and yet they seek the approval of others.
I’m guessing that the people had convinced themselves that this was just a little disobedience and they could worship God, but throw in a little of the world around them as well. It is presumed that “putting the branch to their nose” was just another act in idol worship which was common in those days. But this they were doing openly in the eyes of everyone, and especially before God! A little disobedience, a little pluralism in worship, took them on a trajectory that was far from God.
The Israelites were bombarded on every side with worldly culture. All the other cultures had gods that you could see and the Israelites wanted so badly to fit in with the rest of the world. God’s expectation of his people meant that other people would think they were out of touch. I mean, who ever heard of worshipping a God who could not be seen? They had convinced themselves that they could worship the unseen God and add in a little bit of the culture of the seen gods and this would just be a little bit of disobedience. Sadly, it led them to separation from a loving God who was hurt by their practices.
I’m afraid that we have also convinced ourselves that a little disobedience is not a bad thing. Being a follower of Jesus Christ does not always meet with the approval of the surrounding culture. Nor does it mean that we can just go to church on Sundays and then do whatever we want with the world the rest of the week. Much of what the secular culture is throwing our way is a deviation from the trajectory that leads us to God. At what point do we simply say “no” — I will not do everything the world does, nor will I seek the world’s approval?
There really is no “little disobedience,” for the longer we follow that path the further we will find ourselves from God. The next thing you know we’ll be putting the branch to our nose and not even thinking that it bothers God. We are to seek God every day and pray that he will protect us from even a little bit of disobedience.
Lord, draw me to you today. Amen.