God takes Ezekiel in a vision to Jerusalem to witness the idolatry being performed in the holy temple.
Ezekiel Chapter 8
Lessons from the text
Plucked Up and Taken Away Ezekiel writes that God pulled him by the hair of his head from his house and set him down in the temple at Jerusalem. Imagine the hand of God reaching down from heaven to pick up and move a spirit from one spot to another. This type of vision is drastically different from John’s experience where he was beckoned to come and see; John was given a choice, but Ezekiel was just plucked up and plopped down without even the curtesy of being told where he was going (Rev. 4:1-2, 6:1).
God reveals Himself differently to different people. While He does not show favoritism, He does interact with people in radically different ways. To some He is bold, commanding, and even authoritative. Yet to others He is gentle, concerned, and even timid. Depending on what God wants to convey, He exposes different aspects of His personality. To Ezekiel, who was a priest, God was extremely commanding. This reveals how much Ezekiel acknowledged the supreme authority of God; he did not complain or seem frightened when God exercised His divine authority.
Reflect on your relationship with God. How does He interact with you? How much of Himself does He reveal to you? Do you notice when He is trying to show you something? Are you comfortable with His divine authority to the point that it does not bother you when He suddenly plucks you up to take you where He wants you to be? We should all strive to be like Ezekiel and John who were willing to receive God in their lives and were accepting of the radical changes brought about by their new interaction with God.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1 The elders are sitting in Ezekiel’s house because he is still performing the sign of lying on his side against the drawing of Jerusalem (Eze. 4:1-8). God told him to lie on his side for a total of 430 days, leaving only a week or so left of sitting in his house when he receives this vision. Noteworthy is that by this time the elders of the captivity acknowledge that Ezekiel is a true prophet. This vision is not concluded until chapter 11.
2-4 Ezekiel’s spirit is plucked up out of his body and taken to Jerusalem. God is the one performing this, since the description matches the description of God in Ezekiel 1:26-28. The image of jealousy is an idol that the Jews have erected in the temple. Despite its presence, God has not lifted His glory from the holy temple, but has kept it there since the temple dedication by King Solomon (II Chro. 7:1-2).
5-6 God shows Ezekiel all the idolatry that is being performed in the temple. He begins with the idol placed in the northern court that is there for all the people to see. God says that this is enough to warrant His abandoning the temple, but through His grace He has not yet done so. God warns that this grace is coming to an end; the Jews have performed such abominations that God has chosen to forsake the defiled temple.
7-12 Inside the temple, the elders of Israel enter into a secret chamber where the walls are covered with the images of idols. There, they worship the false gods by burning incense to them. They believe that no one can see what they are doing, but God sees. No matter how one tries to hide one’s sins, God sees it.
13-14 Tammuz is a Babylonian god. The Jews have fallen so low that they will adopt the god of their conquerers on the belief that such a god is more powerful than the Lord since Babylon was able to conquer them.
15-16 The fourth and final abomination that God shows Ezekiel is the worshiping of the sun. To increase the insult, the Jews have to turn their backs on the holy place of the temple where God is to bow to the sun in the east. They have literally turned their backs on God.
17-18 Since the people have willingly chosen to turn their backs on God, He will no longer hear them. Beyond these abominations, they have filled the house of God with violence in that they perform wicked judgments that take advantage of the innocent and put to death innocents to advance their own sinful causes. Worse, God says that the Jews take these sins lightly; they do not believe that God will judge them for their actions. Such is, of course, false. God will deal with them in fury for their sins.
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