The prophet Ezekiel gives us a vivid illustration of what happens to a people who take their sin lightly. In this account, the seventy elders of Judah came to Ezekiel to receive a word from the Lord. These men were all in the service of the temple, and as they gathered with the prophet to worship, Ezekiel was given an amazing vision:
"As I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me . . . 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 . . . 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" (Ezekiel 8:1-3).
The Holy Spirit fell on this gathering, and God's holy fire filled the place with light: "And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there" (verse 4). Whenever God's fiery presence appears in a meeting, sin is always exposed. Suddenly, the prophet saw that these men's minds were filled with ". . . every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts" (verse 10). He is describing demonic strongholds, evil beings. And they had infiltrated God's house through the ministry!
There sat the seventy elders, calm and placid, appearing as worshipers seeking guidance from the Lord. In truth, however, they were covering hidden sin. They had been going through the outward worship procedures of the temple ministry, when in reality they all belonged to a secret society of sun worshipers. They employed prostitutes in the temple and as part of the worship ritual, these supposedly godly elders took part in fornication.
Worst of all, these men were not convicted of their horrible idolatry. They had convinced themselves that God winked at their idolatry. David was heavily burdened by his sin but these seventy elders felt no arrows of conviction, no loss of physical strength, no emotional pain. Instead, they were deceived by what Moses called a "false peace."
"And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst" (Deuteronomy 29:19).
In other words: "A deceived person is like a drunkard; he has lost all ability to discern. He can't even distinguish between thirst and drunkenness."