-Now in the sixth year of his captivity in Babylon, which would have been in the year 592 B.C., while sitting before the elders of Judah in his house, the Hand of the LORD fell on him much the same way as the previous year with radiant appearance of fire like glowing metal (Ezekiel 8:1-2). The LORD stretched out His Hand and caught Ezekiel by a lock of his hair, and the Spirit lifted him up between heaven and earth in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court. This is where he indicates that the seat of the idol of jealousy, which provokes to the LORD’s jealousy, was located (Ezekiel 8:3). The glory of the LORD was there with Ezekiel as in the days previous, like he saw on the Babylonian plain (Ezekiel 3:22-23). Then the LORD spoke to him to raise his eyes to the north to where he could see this idol of jealousy at the entrance to the north of the altar. God asked Ezekiel if he could see what they (the leadership in Jerusalem) were doing with their great abominations in this holy place so as to drive out the presence of the LORD. Ezekiel could see, and the Sovereign told his prophet he would see still greater abominations. Ezekiel was then brought by the Spirit to the entrance of the court. This is where he saw a hole in the wall, which the LORD told him to dig through. The prophet obeyed in digging through to find the wicked abominations being committed in that place. “Every form of creeping things and beasts and detestable things, with all the idols of the house of Israel, were carved on the wall all around (Ezekiel 8:4-10).” Seventy of the elders of the house of Israel were there standing with censer and the fragrance of idolatrous incense rising before them as they worshiped false gods. They thought they were doing this in the dark, but the LORD was certainly aware and brought his prophet in to see and tell. The elders had given up hope in the LORD their God and turned to other modes looking for relief and salvation. They figured their God could not see and had forsaken their land (Ezekiel 8:11-12). This was true; God had forsaken their land. But, it was not for the reasons they rationalized. God knew their rebellious heart to disown Him when difficulties arose. Instead of leaning on Him for understanding, they gave up and attempted to go to other gods to solve their dilemmas. This was an affront to the Creator and King. For this He was enraged against them. But, there was even more heinous abominations as the LORD would reveal to his servant Ezekiel. He was brought now by the Spirit to the entrance of the gate of the LORD’s house, the Temple, which was toward the north. Ezekiel beheld there women sitting and practicing the pagan worship of weeping for Tammuz. Tammuz was the Babylonian god of spring and husband or lover of the goddess Ishtar. Believers in this false superstition postulated that the green vegetation shriveled and died in the hot summer months because Tammuz had died and had descended into the underworld. Therefore, worshipers wept and mourned his destruction, but rejoiced again and again in the springtime with the resurgence of growth, which they believed indicated that Tammuz had come back to life. Ridiculous right? God was showing his prophet the turning from His truth in the land of Israel as people worshiped vain entities in the ignorant ways of the world (Ezekiel 8:13-14). But there were more, and even greater, abominations than these. The Spirit of the LORD now brought Ezekiel into the inner court of His House. At the entrance to the Temple, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs to the Temple turned toward the east; “and they were prostrating themselves eastward toward the sun.” The LORD asked His prophet, called the “son of man,” if he saw once again. The abominations being conducted by the LORD’s chosen people were filling the land with violence and provoking their true Redeemer. This act described in Ezekiel 8:17 “probably finds its best explanation in the Persian ritual of the Avesta. When men prayed to the sun, they held in their left hands a bouquet of palm, pomegranate, and tamarisk twigs, while the priests for the same purpose held a veil before their mouth (Spiegel, 'Iran. Alterth.,' 3:571, 572, in Smend), so that the bright rays of the sun might not be polluted by human breath. And this was done in the very Temple of Jehovah by those who were polluting the whole land by their violence (http://biblehub.com/ezekiel/8-17.htm).” Their defiance was palpable. This is the context for the LORD’s final announcement of the chapter, “Therefore, I indeed will deal in wrath. My eye will have no pity nor will I spare; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, yet I will not listen to them (Ezekiel 8:15-18).”
-*Application* When we don’t want God, He has every right and privilege to withdraw His good graces from us. The choice was made in Israel, and I’m afraid too often in America. We don’t want Him in our government, in our schools, in our army, or many other public domains. If this is the case, we should not expect Him to bless these affronts to His sovereignty and protection. Are we still one nation under God or not?
Verse to Memorize: Ezekiel 8:18