Ezekiel 8

Ezekiel 8 Devotional
by Pastor Lawrence

Sitting in his house some fourteen months after receiving his first vision from God, Ezekiel, who is now surrounded by the elders of Judah in exile, receives a second vision of the Lord which is described in chs.8-11. Once again, Ezekiel sees the glory of the Lord in the figure of man who transports him in a vision to the city of Jerusalem and shows him many vile things. At first he takes him to the north gate of the temple courts and looking outside the entrance of the gate he sees a theophany of the glory of the Lord shining in all his brightness. Yet right next to that clear manifestation of God’s presence stands a tall pagan idol which is referred to as the seat of the image of jealousy for its very presence in the outer courts stands as a rival unto God and provokes the Lord to jealousy. And as the prophet sees juxtaposed these two discordant images, the Lord asks him, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel are committing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary?” At this moment, the Lord is giving the prophet second sight so that he can see what God sees and feel what God feels over the sins of Israel. But that first image is just the tip of the iceberg, for the Lord continues to show Ezekiel even greater sin and idolatry as they move toward the inner recesses of God’s Most Holy Place.

When the Lord turns Ezekiel around and leads him back towards the entrance of the courts of the Lord he tells him to dig into the walls of some of the rooms along the wall themselves in order to see the vile abominations they are committing inside the temple. Once inside the prophet sees engraved on the inner recesses of these private rooms many idols of creeping things and beasts and the seventy elders of Israel worshipping them in God’s house of worship. Among the rooms the prophet sees one prominent man named Jaazaniah, the son of Shapan worshipping these idols in the dark as well. In the days of revival under King Josiah, Shaphan was the man put in charge of the Law of God after it had been found in the temple ruins, and he was a significant leader in the revival itself. But now, here, his son is secretly worshipping pagan idols along with the rest of the leaders of Israel.

Again, the question is asked of the prophet, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures?” Normally, no Israelite would be privy to such secret sins and the leaders of Israel even say to themselves, “The Lord does not see us,” but, indeed, the Lord does see, and in this instance has given his prophet eyes to see what is lurking in the darkness in Jerusalem, and Ezekiel then is sharing this information with the elders of Judah in exile.

Still farther in, past these rooms, Ezekiel sees women in the courts of the Lord weeping for the pagan sun-god Tammuz who was believed to have been a handsome shepherd somehow slain by a wild boar, which was the symbol of winter. The goddess Ishtar also mourned for him and descended into the underworld in an attempt to deliver him from death, thus the women of Israel were in league with a pagan goddess crying over the death of the one they believed held the power of life and fertility. Again, the Lord asks Ezekiel, “Have you seen this, O son of man?” For surely God sees it every day.

Then at the very entrance of the inner court of the temple itself Ezekiel sees twenty-five men looking away from the temple to the east worshipping the god of the sun. So the men and the women of Israel together are blatantly worshipping other gods in God’s house. Again, Ezekiel is asked if he sees all this. The Lord then explains that in addition to all of this idolatry, the people are filled with violence and transgress the Law of God in so many ways that it is as if they have purposely put a branch to his nose. In other words, they have purposely harassed and irritated him, but all the while they still claim that he doesn’t see any of this since he has done nothing about it. Since the Lord did not deliver them from the Babylonian siege, those remaining in the land after the exile have assumed that their God is both blind and deaf powerless to help them and powerless to confront them in their sin. But although the Lord is gracious and slow to anger, he will not let sin go unpunished. Therefore, the Lord promises to act in his wrath and to bring a full judgment upon those who have despised his name and derided his power and glory. And in the day of his coming, the Lord promises to take no pity upon those who cry up a prayer of anguish in the midst of their misery since they arrogantly and defiantly challenged God’s authority in God’s holy place.

With the full revelation we have received of the Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament, we are so grateful that the Father has poured out his wrath and indignation upon his only son so that we might be forgiven of our own sin, rebellion and idolatry. Nevertheless, we must not think for a minute that the Lord is not provoked to jealousy by our sins and idolatry today. We must think for a minute that God does not see nor that God does not care what we do either in church or in the inner recesses of our homes even in dark places. Indeed, the Lord sees it all. There is nothing hidden from his all-seeing eye. And our God has not changed. He is still a jealous God, still a holy God, and still a wrathful God who burns with anger against all sin and idolatry. Therefore, let us be mindful of his great love and jealousy over us even this day and be careful not to grieve his Holy Spirit by our sin, not to quench the fire of the indwelling Spirit by our idolatry. For our God is the Lord whose very name is jealous.