By Vin Sparks
The Old Testament book of Ezekiel is actually a series of visions given by God to Ezekiel, a young man who was part of the Jewish captivity in Babylon. This book was probably written sometime between 593 and 565 BC.
In the following passage Ezekiel shares what he saw in one of those visions:
In the sixth year, in the sixth month on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house, with the elders of Judah sitting before me, the hand of the Lord God fell there upon me. The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem.
And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold, there was a hole in the wall. Then He said to me, “Son of man, dig in the wall”; and when I dug in the wall, lo, there was a door. And he said to me, “Go in and see the vile abominations that they are doing there. “ Ezekiel 8 RSV
Reading further you will find that upon doing so, he sees images on the walls of the temple of “creeping things” and animals that the Jewish law considered unclean. He witnessed the elders engaged in the worship of the sun and women “weeping for Tammuz” (the son of Nimrod – the first world conqueror and inventor of war). He also saw an idol referred to as the “image of jealousy”. See this in Ezekiel 8:7-13.
God asked Ezekiel, “Son of man, do you see what the elders do in the dark, every man in his room of pictures?”
God gives the prophet this vision and it turns out to be an allegorical narrative that addresses our imaginations. The elders didn’t think anyone knew what they were doing in the dark – in what another version of the Bible calls the “chambers of imagery” – but God knew and showed it to Ezekiel.
Each of us has our own little chamber of imagery and we can do anything we want to in there. No one else can see what goes on behind the doors of our own room of pictures. I shudder to think I would ever commit murder, but I can be consumed with hate to the point where I kill someone in there – and enjoy the image of it over and over again. We can set people straight, and often do. We can say anything we want, to whomever we want, and even make it sound so good that no one has a rebuttal.
In our room of pictures, we are the best – the best musician, the best athlete, possess the most common sense, and are the most attractive, of course. Everyone is amazed by us. We can flirt with anyone we want, capture the affections of anyone we desire, and even sleep with anyone we choose. No one knows.
Maybe you don’t imagine you’re the best – maybe you are bound by fear. It is the worst that can possibly happen that you imagine, time and time again! That’s what takes place in your room of pictures – the worst-case scenario. A family member doesn’t answer the phone and your mind sees the family car in a mangled wreck. You are constantly thinking that your new job is in jeopardy because you cannot believe that your boss and colleagues can possibly like your work.
Dr. J.G. Holland wrote these words many years ago, but they are just as sharp today.
“There is an enchanted middle ground between virtue and vice, where many a soul lives and feeds in secret, and takes its payment for the restraint and mortification of its outward life.”
That enchanted middle ground is in the imagination where we allow ourselves rewards that we would never indulge in real life. So, I have a few questions to be considered. Is what we allow to take place in our thoughts considered “real life”? Don’t we do things in our imagination that we would never really do? When we do these things, are our lives unaffected or does it have an impact on us? Does it impact the people around us?
- Napoleon Hill said that thoughts are things and powerful things at that.
- “For as [an individual] thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7
- Remember, happiness doesn’t depend upon who we are or what we have; it depends solely on what you think. Dale Carnegie
- The power of our thoughts, according to Frank Outlaw:
Watch your thoughts, they become words;
Watch your words, they become actions;
Watch your actions, they become habits;
Watch your habits, they become character;
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny
The elders didn’t think anyone could see what was going on, but God knew and showed Ezekiel. I sometimes muse about thoughts being captured and projected on the Jumbotron at the stadium or in Times Square. I wonder how many people would show up in church Sunday morning if random thoughts, daydreaming, and hateful or lustful thoughts scrolled on the big screen in front like a Twitter feed.
One thing is for sure, I doubt anyone would leave unscathed. Maybe something that drastic is what has to happen to get us talking about the things that hold us back. Are your thoughts affecting your success, your family, your ministry, your walk with God? What will you do about it?