The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set your face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them, and say, You mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God! Thus says the Lord God to the mountains and the hills, to the ravines and the valleys: Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places. Your altars shall become desolate, and your incense altars shall be broken, and I will cast down your slain before your idols. And I will lay the dead bodies of the people of Israel before their idols, and I will scatter your bones around your altars. Wherever you dwell, the cities shall be waste and the high places ruined, so that your altars will be waste and ruined, your idols broken and destroyed, your incense altars cut down, and your works wiped out. And the slain shall fall in your midst, and you shall know that I am the Lord. Ezekiel 6:1-7 ESV
For I know that the Lord is great,
and that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does,
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all deeps.
He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth,
who makes lightnings for the rain
and brings forth the wind from his storehouses. Psalm 135:5-7 ESV
In India there are many local gods and goddesses, and each one has a shrine where he or she is worshiped or honored. A shrine might be at the base of a tree, on a stone set in a niche, or simply a statue with flowers or a small flame burning beside it. Sometimes people offer chickens or goats to these gods and goddesses. Some of these gods look like warriors, and people hope that these warrior gods will protect them from danger. One example of a goddess that is worshiped by many women is named Santoshi Ma. There is a story that long ago a young woman’s husband left her so he could work, and she had to live with his parents, who were unkind to her. But she stayed faithful and loving and worshiped Santoshi Ma, and the goddess brought her husband home to her as a rich man, who gave her her own house with him. Many women set up shrines to Santoshi Ma and ask her for blessings, especially things for their homes.
There were many local gods and goddesses in Israel, and the people didn’t give them up, even though God had sent the Babylonian empire against them, who had taken many of their people, their king, and many treasures from their temple away from them. God told Ezekiel in faraway Babylon to speak words of strong judgment against the people who were left in Israel. Ezekiel must have longed for the mountains and hills and ravines and valleys of his home, but the sad truth was that all of these places were full of shrines and altars dedicated to false gods and goddesses. God was going to bring more punishment on the people, more war and more death, and dead bodies would be left around the destroyed shrines of the gods and goddesses they worshiped instead of the true God.
We might not have shrines with flowers and gifts for false gods or goddesses, but all of us are guilty of sinning against God. We turn away from him and go our own way, and we look to other things rather than God for good and for help. We deserve God’s judgment because of our sins, but God sent Jesus to be our Savior. Jesus took all of God’s judgment on himself when he died on the cross for us. Because of Jesus, God forgives us our sins every day, and he sends us his Holy Spirit to help us follow his ways and love and serve him as our only God.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus, our Savior. Help us to love and follow you every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.