God helped Ezekiel see his breaking point. Jerusalem was where he had stated his Name would dwell (2Sa 7:13). Now, due to Judah’s disobedience and spiritual rebellion, God was going to remove his presence from their temple. I’m sure this upset Ezekiel greatly, so God showed him why he was doing this. God took him on a spiritual vision quest.
Someone in likeness to whom he had seen earlier when God revealed himself to Ezekiel the first time (Ek 1) took Ezekiel to the temple in Jerusalem. God showed him the “idol that provokes to jealousy” which stood at the North Gate of the Inner Court of the temple. This is likely the image that Manasseh had erected here (2Ki 21:7). This is somewhat of a play on words, as God stated one of his names was Jealousy (Ex 34:14): “Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”. Yet, this is not the type of jealousy we think of or exhibit. This is the type where God was protective of his people and only wanted the best for them. This idol was certainly not the best for them. Yet, don’t we as well have idols in our lives which takes us away from our devotion to God?
God then led Ezekiel through a hole in wall of the inner court where Ezekiel saw priests worshipping all sorts of idols, paying homage to them with censers filled with burning incense. These priests believed God could not see them where they were. Isn’t this ironic. They are in his house and feel he can’t see what they’re doing. Yet, doesn’t our actions sometimes reveal we feel the same way?
Next, he took Ezekiel to the North Gate of the Outer Courtyard. Here, women were mourning for the god Tammuz. This was a Babylonian god who supposedly dies every winter and then comes back to life each year. Doesn’t this strike you as odd? They are worshipping the God of the people who are tying to conquer them. Did they think they would save themselves by pacifying the god of their conquerors?
The worship of Tammuz appears to date back to the time of Nimrod and the tower of Babel (Gn 10-11). This act of worship became so prominent that Tammuz became the name of the fourth month of the Jewish calendar (June/July of our calendar).
God then took Ezekiel to the entrance of the temple where twenty-five men stood with their backs to the temple as they stood facing east. They bowed to the sun rising in the east. This also seems to be part of the Tammuz worship as Tammuz was considered a sun god. Each of these acts, God considered more corrupt than the previous and stated he would not look on these people any more with pity (Ek 8:18).
Ezekiel then saw God’s glory move from above the cherubim, where his vision had seen God, to the threshold of the temple (Ek 9:3). God was in the process of showing Ezekiel he would remove his glory and presence from the temple where his Name was to dwell. The temple would then be ripe for conquest by the Babylonians. Six angelic beings came forward with weapons in heir hands and appeared on the north side of the temple. This is interesting because this is now where the bronze altar, the altar of judgment, now resided since Ahaz had it moved here and placed a bronze altar of his own design at its original position in front of the temple entrance facing east (2Ki 16:10-14).
With these six angelic beings was one dressed in white who had a writing implement in his hand. This one went throughout Jerusalem placing a mark on the foreheads of those who grieved and lamented on what they saw being done at the temple. The six angelic beings then went throughout the city killing those without the mark. Ezekiel wept for them, but God again stated his pity had passed (Ek 9:10). While this was not real at this time as it was a vision given to Ezekiel, the armies of Nebuchadnezzar literally slew thousands of Jews in 586 BC when he took the city, which became a literal fulfillment of this vision.
The one on the sapphire throne above the cherubim spoke to the one dressed in white to take coals and scatter them through the city (Ek 10:1-2). The coals on the altar of incense was for incense to burn, representing the prayers of the people. God is saying he will hear their prayers no longer. God’s Shekinah glory then filled the inner court. It then rose and moved to the threshold of the temple and then returned back to his place above the cherubim. This entire chariot of God’s glory next moved to the entrance of the eastern gate (Ek 10:18-19). It then traveled to the Mount of Olives and ascended back into heaven (Ek 11:23). This represented God’s presence had left the present temple and would not return until the Millennial Temple would be built (Ek 43:4-6; Zc 14:4). Ezekiel was then taken back to Babylon where he shared what God had shown him (Ek 11:25).
Is there a lesson for us here? I think so. While we expect God to be forgiving and longsuffering, which he is, he will not be that way forever. Just as Ezekiel and other prophets had prophesied coming destruction and captivity to give the people time to repent and turn back to God to avoid the prophecy, God word prophesies another coming time of destruction and catastrophe. Are we heeding his words? It’s time to turn our hearts back to him. That is our only hope. Will you take the journey back to him, or wait until the catastrophe hits?
Why Ezekiel Called His People Guilty