“Son of man,” he said, “do you see what they are doing? Do you see the detestable sins the people of Israel are committing to drive me from my Temple? But come, and you will see even more detestable sins than these!” – Ezekiel 8:6 NLT
When God finally gave Ezekiel permission to speak, He didn’t exactly give him an easy message to deliver. Like Jeremiah, Ezekiel was told to share some fairly disturbing news to the people of God. What Ezekiel had to say was not going to help him win friends and influence enemies. God was telling them, “Soon I will pour out my fury on you and unleash my anger against you. I will call you to account for all your detestable sins” (Ezekiel 7:8 NLT). God was fed up. He had had enough. He saw that His chosen people had become proud, wealthy, self-sufficient and over-confident. They didn’t need God. They had their money and they had used their wealth to make their own gods. They no longer knew God or feared Him. And to prove to Ezekiel just how bad things were back home in Jerusalem, God gave him special “birds-eye” tour of the holy city that sounds like something straight out of Scrooge. In a vision from God, an angel picks up Ezekiel by his hair and transports him to Jerusalem. His first stop? The north gate of the inner courtyard of the Temple. And what does he see? A huge idol sitting smack-dab in the middle of the courtyard. We’re not told which god this was, but it could have been a statue of Asherah, the Canaanite godess of fertility, whose worship encouraged sexual immorality and self-gratification. Ezekiel had to be shocked by what he saw, but God assures them that this magical mystery tour of Judah’s sins was just getting started. Next the angel took him to the door of the Temple courtyard. Ezekiel is told to dig through the wall and he discovers a hidden door. When he goes through the door he discovers 70 leaders of Israel worshiping a variety of idols in secret. And their excuse for their actions? “The Lord doesn’t see us, he has deserted our land!” (Ezekiel 8:12b NLT). They blamed God. He had left them, so they were forced to worship other gods in hope of finding a solution to their problem. But they were the problem. Ezekiel had to be appalled. But there was more. The angel brought Ezekiel to the north gate of the Temple where he saw women weeping for the god Tammuz – the Babylonian god of spring. These women were mourning his death because he died at the beginning of every summer, only to return again in the spring. Finally, Ezekiel was taken by the angel to the inner courtyard of the Lord’s Temple. At the entrance to the sanctuary, Ezekiel saw 25 men standing with their backs to the sanctuary of God, facing east, worshiping the sun! They had turned their backs on God and were worshiping a false god – right in the Temple that was built to honor God.
They had replaced God. They had turned their backs on Him and were placing their hopes elsewhere. Rather than trust God for their future and return to Him in repentance over their sins, they were searching high and low for a solution to their problem. They didn’t want to admit their own culpability. They didn’t want to own their sins. Rather than repent, they looked for another way to resolve their issues. They searched for another savior. They prayed for another deliverer. As we look around the world today and see all that is going on, where do we turn. When we experience the physical and spiritual drought taking place in our country, do we turn to God in repentance, or do we look elsewhere for solutions? Do we put our hope in politicians? Do we turn to science? Do we rely on our own wealth and distract ourselves with entertainment and affluence? God is the solution to ALL of our problems and the answer to ALL of our needs. But are we guilty of looking elsewhere? Are we placing our hopes in something other than Him? If we are, God finds our behavior detestable and unacceptable. He will not tolerate rivals.
Father, You are so patient with us. When You look down from Your throne and see us worshiping the various gods we have made, it must anger You just like it did in Ezekiel’s day. You know that our hearts stray from You regularly, but rather than destroy us, You patiently call us back to You. Open our eyes and let us see that we are just as guilty as the people of Judah were. We are just as unfaithful and prone to wander. Call us back to You so that we might truly know You – intimately and personally. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men