Ezekiel 8 - Outline of Ezekiel (Book Notes menu page)
In the previous chapters of this book, the LORD called and commissioned Ezekiel as a watchman to warn Israel of impending judgment. He then instructed him to depict the siege of Jerusalem around a model of the city, and to silently act out the hardships which the people would endure during the siege (ch.4-5). Following this visual presentation, which lasted more than a year, the LORD opened Ezekiel's mouth to declare the reason for, and the nature of, this judgment (ch.6-7).
     In chapters 8-24, the LORD intensifies this message, providing greater detail regarding the depth of Judah's sin and of her consequent destruction, as the day of judgment drew nearer. This section closes as the siege begins in Jerusalem (Eze 24:1,2).
1. And it came to pass in the sixth year,
in the sixth [month], in the fifth [day] of the month,
[as] I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me,
that the hand of the Lord GOD fell there upon me.
2 Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire:
from the appearance of his loins even downward, fire;
and from his loins even upward,
as the appearance of brightness, as the colour of amber.
3 And he put forth the form of an hand,
and took me by a lock of mine head;
and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven,
and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem,
to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north;
where [was] the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.
4 And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel [was] there,
according to the vision that I saw in the plain.
...the sixth year... the sixth month... the fifth day of the month...-
Ezekiel references time from the beginning of Jehoiachin's captivity, when he also was taken captive (cp. 1:1,2).
     Jeremiah references time according to the reigns of kings of Israel and of gentile nations. At the time of Jehoiachin's captivity, Nebuchadnezzar established Zedekiah as king. Zedekiah's reign lasted about eleven years, and ended with the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon, in 586 BC. Therefore, this vision (Ezekiel ch. 8-11) occurred about three and a half years before the siege, and about five years before the destruction of the city and the dispersion of its people (cp. Jer 39:1,2).
...the elders of Judah sat before me...
No doubt, these elders had come "to enquire of the LORD" through His prophet (eg., Eze 20:1).
...the hand of the Lord GOD fell there upon me.
Ezekiel had nothing to say to these men, until the Lord GOD {his Master, the LORD} gave him a message through this vision. The vision extends through four chapters. The answer to the elders is summarized in one verse (11:25). It is of utmost importance that the man of God hear from God, before speaking in His name.
...then I beheld... the appearance of fire... of his loins downward... upward... the appearance of brightness...
The LORD drew his prophet into His presence, as He had when He called and commissioned him (cp. v.4; 1:26-28; 3:22,23).
...and he put forth...an hand... and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem...
By His hand, the LORD had called and constrained this man for His service (1:3). By His hand, He had fed him with His Word (2:9- 3:3). Now, by His hand, He will show His prophet how that Word applies to his people.
     While Ezekiel remained physically in his house (v.1), he was transported spiritually, in the vision, to the Temple in Jerusalem.
...to the door of the inner gate... where was the seat of the image of jealousy...
King Hezekiah's son, Manasseh, had installed multiple idols in the Temple (2Kin 21:4-7). Although his son, Josiah, removed them, the subsequent kings had set them up again (Jer 7:30; 32:34).
From the time of Moses, the LORD had warned Israel that the worship of false gods would provoke His wrath (eg., Ex 20:4,5; Deu 6:14,15; 32:16,21).
5 Then said he unto me,
Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north.
So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north,
and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry.
6 He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do?
[even] the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here,
that I should go far off from my sanctuary?
but turn thee yet again, [and] thou shalt see greater abominations.
...lift up thine eyes toward the north... at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy... (v.3)
About 150 years prior to this vision, the original brazen altar, which Solomon placed in the inner court, had been displaced from its central position toward the north by Ahaz, to make way for a 'great altar' of his own design (2Kin 16:10-15). In itself, that great altar was an offensive symbol of human pride, even when its sacrifices were ostensibly devoted to the LORD.
     But now, the true altar had been given over to the worship of false gods, represented by the idols which stood nearby. These abominable {detestable} practices were reason for the LORD to distance Himself from His 'sanctuary' {ie., Holy Place}, for it was no longer holy unto Him.
...thou shalt see greater abominations.
While public worship had become terribly corrupted, the apostasy was much deeper than the visible presence of idols.
7. And he brought me to the door of the court;
and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall.
8 Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall:
and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door.
9 And he said unto me,
Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.
10 So I went in and saw;
and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts,
and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about.
11 And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel,
and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan,
with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up.
12 Then said he unto me, Son of man,
hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark,
every man in the chambers of his imagery?
for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.
...seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel...
These men were supposed to be the spiritual and moral leaders of the nation (ie., the Sanhedrin, cp. Ex 24:1; Num 11:16,25}. But their hearts and minds, being focused on all that was unclean and hideous, were far from the LORD.
     The phrase "every man his censer in his hand" calls to mind the rebellion of Korah and its consequences (Num 16:16-18,35).
     Several men by the name of Jaazaniah are mentioned in Scripture, but this man, only here. His father, Shaphan, was the scribe who read God's Word to king Josiah, after the neglected scroll was found in the Temple (2Chr 34:18). Shaphan had assisted in restoring the worship of the LORD, during Josiah's reign (about 35 years earlier). As Shaphan's sons, Jaazaniah and his brothers were privileged and would have easily risen to positions of leadership. Two of Shaphan's sons stood with Jeremiah, when others opposed his ministry (Jer 26:24; 36:10,25). Like them, Jaazaniah also was privileged to be familiar with God's Word. Yet, he was an instigator of idolatry in the LORD's house.
     In Eze 11:1, Ezekiel refers to another Jaazaniah, the son of Azur, who also was a leader of the apostasy.
...what... they do in the dark... every man in the chambers of his imagery...
These elders of Israel were officiating in judicial proceedings and religious rituals with pious sounding words. But hidden from their respectful followers, within their hearts, they had established their own idols and did not worship the LORD at all.
...they say, The LORD seeth us not...- Psa 94:7-10; Isa 29:15
...the LORD hath forsaken the earth {HB='erets, the land, as in v.17}.
These elders said that the LORD had abandoned the nation to its troubles. Therefore, they turned away from Him, to other gods. Yet, it was they who had forsaken Him, and brought calamity upon themselves and their people. Deu 31:6-8,16-18; Isa 1:4; Jer 2:17
13. He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again,
[and] thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.
14 Then he brought me to the door of the gate
of the LORD'S house which [was] toward the north;
and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.
15 Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen [this], O son of man?
turn thee yet again, [and] thou shalt see greater abominations than these.
16 And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD'S house,
and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar,
[were] about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD,
and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.
17 Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen [this], O son of man?
Is it a light thing to the house of Judah
that they commit the abominations which they commit here?
for they have filled the land with violence,
and have returned to provoke me to anger:
and, lo, they put the branch to their nose.
18 Therefore will I also deal in fury:
mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity:
and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, [yet] will I not hear them.
The apostasy was not limited to the elite class, but had infected the entire nation.
The LORD Himself had been displaced by false gods, within His own house and within the hearts of His people.
...women weeping for Tammuz...
'Tammuz' {meaning, 'sprout of life'} was a Mesopotamian deity of food and vegetation, who 'died' at the end of the growing season and came to life again when planting resumed. These women poured out their tears, mourning over the 'death' of their god, and praying for his favor in the next season. (cp. Jer 44:16-18, In Babylonian mythology, Tammuz was the son of the Queen of Heaven.)
...men... backs toward the temple of the LORD... worshipped the sun toward the east...
The location of these men, between Temple and altar, suggests that they were priests.
It was to this House of the LORD that believers were to direct their prayers (eg., 1Kin 8:29,30).
But these men, though standing at the Temple doors, directed their worship, in the opposite direction, toward heavenly bodies. Deu 4:19; Acts 7:42; Rom 1:18-25
...hast thou seen this...? they have filled the land with violence {ie., maliciousness, wrong}...- Jer 19:4
...and have returned to provoke me to anger...
Rather than returning to the LORD in repentance of their wickedness, they willfully returned to further their sin and exacerbate their offense against Him.
...lo, they put the branch to the nose...
This may refer to an idolatrous prayer ritual, in which twigs are held against the face.
Or, it may be a gesture of insult, toward the One who called them to turn back to Him. (eg., They 'thumbed their nose' at God.)
...Therefore, I will deal with them in fury... neither will I have pity... I will not hear.-
cp. Judg 10:13,14; Isa 59:2; Jer 11:11; Luk 13:23-27

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