Saturday, September 22, 2012

Ezekiel 8 & 9 - Vision of Judgment in Jerusalem

LINK: Ezekiel 8 & 9

BACKGROUND

Once again, the hand of the Sovereign LORD (see definition for this name of God HERE) came upon Ezekiel while he was in his house with the elders of Judah. Perhaps they were seeking Ezekiel out regarding the fate of Jerusalem. Ezekiel saw a vision of a "figure like a man" which is very similar to the one in Ezekiel 1. This was a manifestation or theophany of God.

In this vision, he was transported to Jerusalem, and he observed the idolatrous practices of the remaining inhabitants. The "idol that provokes jealousy" (8:5) probably means that it was an affront to God. God was being provoked to jealousy because a foreign god was being worshiped rather than Him. It may have been Asherah, the Canaanite goddess of fertility that King Manasseh was so fond of during his reign (2 Kings 21:7). 

Tammuz (8:14) is the Hebrew form of the name of the Sumerian god, Dumuzi, the deity of spring vegetation. The women in the chapter were mourning because during the hot summer months, his followers would weep and mourn his death and descend to the underworld that was thought to cause the death of all vegetation in the Middle East. In the spring, Tammuz would come up from the underworld and bring life-giving rains with him. In addition, priests were bowing and worshiping the sun in the east instead of facing west toward the altar of the one true God! They had literally "turned their backs" on God. On top of all this the people were "putting the branch to their nose" (8:17). Commentators do not exactly know what this means but early Jewish commentators believed it read "putting the stench to My nose," meaning that idolatry was putrid and offensive to the LORD.

All of these things were great abominations to God. This word occurs six times in these chapters and 117 times in the Old Testament. They were abhorred by God and brought down His wrath.

Ezekiel 9 is the vision of God's judgment on Jerusalem. Guards (probably angelic beings) and a "man clothed in linen who had a writing kit" came to the threshold of the temple. The man was ordered to mark the foreheads of those who grieved and lamented the abominable detestable things in the city (See Revelation 7:3-4). Those who were not marked were to be slain without pity starting in the temple (1 Peter 4:17) and moving outward to the city. The historical fulfillment of this is seen in 2 Chronicles 36:17-19.

The nation's sin had gone so far that not even Ezekiel's appeal in 9:8 could avert the Sovereign LORD's hand of judgment. Only those with the mark were spared.

REFLECTION

Do I "grieve and lament" over things that are detestable to God or have things crept into my life from today's culture that I do not even notice as detestable to Him?

I am pondering this today.

APPLICATION

Why don't we all ponder that?

PRAYER

This is not a pretty scene, Lord. I know You waited a long time for Your people to turn from their detestable ways towards You. Open our eyes so that we might see things in our life things that are detestable in Your eyes. Help us to grieve and mourn and lament over them and repent of them. Help us to set no worthless thing before our eyes. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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