Ezekiel 8-11

Thursday Evening Bible Study

August 4, 2005


Ezekiel lived at the same time as the prophet Jeremiah, though he would have been a bit younger than Jeremiah. This was the time of the destruction of the nation of Judah and the Babylonian captivity.

While Jeremiah stayed in Jerusalem and ministered to the people there, Ezekiel was one of the captives taken to Babylon. His ministry was with those in captivity in Babylon.

Keep in mind that Ezekiel is a priest.  He has particular concern about priestly things like what goes on in the Temple.

Ezekiel 8 – Secrets in the Temple

:1 And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house with the elders of Judah sitting before me, that the hand of the Lord GOD fell upon me there.

Ezekiel saw his first vision and had his call to the ministry on the fourth month, fifth day, of the fifth year (593 BC).  That would place on September 17, 592 BC., a year and two months after that first vision (Eze. 1:2) and six years before Jerusalem falls.

If you follow the chronology of Ezekiel, he saw the first vision, and then after seven days he had another set of words God, including the instruction to make up the model of Jerusalem and lay on his side for 390 days and then on the other side for 40 days.  Since the years were 360 days long in Babylon, that means this next vision would be occurring near or at the end of the model with the laying on the side.

This next vision will occur while Ezekiel has the elders of Judah sitting before him in his house.

Ezekiel is going to be given a glimpse of the things going on in Jerusalem.  This is going to help the exiles understand why the city will be destroyed.

:2 Then I looked, and there was a likeness, like the appearance of fire; from the appearance of His waist and downward, fire; and from His waist and upward, like the appearance of brightness, like the color of amber.

Ezekiel again sees something, a “likeness” of God.  God is appearing before Ezekiel.  Ezekiel is vague in his description, he doesn’t say exactly what God looks like, perhaps because he doesn’t see it clearly himself.

(John 1:18 KJV)  No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

:3 He stretched out the form of a hand, and took me by a lock of my hair; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven, and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the image of jealousy was, which provokes to jealousy.

by a lock of my hair – Ezekiel had cut his hair off with a sword (Eze. 5:1), but it’s had plenty of time to grow back.

in visions – Ezekiel isn’t physically transported to Jerusalem, but he’s being given a vision of what is going on.

the image of jealousy – probably an “Asherah”, a carved form of a female Canaanite goddess.

:4 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision that I saw in the plain.

Ezekiel sees the same vision of God’s throne that he had seen in chapter 1.

:5 Then He said to me, "Son of man, lift your eyes now toward the north." So I lifted my eyes toward the north, and there, north of the altar gate, was this image of jealousy in the entrance.

The gate described was between the outer courtyard and the inner courtyard.  There was a similar gate on the east and on the south.  It would seem that Ezekiel must be in the inner court, instructed to look to the north towards this gate.

At this gate of the Temple is the Asherah. But wait!  There’s more!

:6 Furthermore He said to me, "Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel commits here, to make Me go far away from My sanctuary? Now turn again, you will see greater abominations."

God is going to remove His presence from the Temple.

:7 So He brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, there was a hole in the wall.

Does the “hole” represent how the priests had been tearing down God’s Temple?

:8 Then He said to me, "Son of man, dig into the wall"; and when I dug into the wall, there was a door.

:9 And He said to me, "Go in, and see the wicked abominations which they are doing there."

:10 So I went in and saw, and there; every sort of creeping thing, abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed all around on the walls.

Forbidden things.

:11 And there stood before them seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, and in their midst stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan. Each man had a censer in his hand, and a thick cloud of incense went up.

seventy men of the elders – this is the leadership of the nation.  Moses set up “seventy elders” to help him judge the nation (Num. 11:16).  After the Babylonian captivity, this group would be known as the “Sanhedrin”.

JaazaniahYa’azanyah – “Jehovah hears”, an ironic name considering that the men are going to say that God doesn’t see them.

the son of Shaphan – Shaphan was a scribe in the court of King Josiah. He was a good guy who had quite a few good sons.  But Jaazaniah is the exception.  He’s the black sheep of the family.

censer – they are worshipping, offering prayers to Asherah inside the Temple of God.

:12 Then He said to me, "Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols? For they say, 'The LORD does not see us, the LORD has forsaken the land.'"

(Ezek 8:12 NLT)  Then the LORD said to me, "Son of man, have you seen what the leaders of Israel are doing with their idols in dark rooms? They are saying, 'The LORD doesn't see us; he has deserted our land!'"


The secret thought life

Every time I read this I can’t help think of what a picture this is of a person’s secret thought life.  And here is Ezekiel being given a peek at the things that are going on inside the heads of these leaders of Israel.
Secret junk is the kind of thing that the northern kingdom had been destroyed over:
(2 Ki 17:9 NKJV)  Also the children of Israel secretly did against the LORD their God things that were not right, and they built for themselves high places in all their cities, from watchtower to fortified city.
If you’re involved in something that you feel you need to keep a secret from those close to you, there’s a good chance its wrong.
One of Satan’s best tricks is to isolate us by making us keep things secret.

And once we become enslaved to certain sins, but feel we need to keep it secret, then we become slaves for life.

The answer?

Bring it out into the light.

There’s no need to be in bondage any longer.

Help doesn’t come until you stop hiding. Help doesn’t come until you start admitting to God that you need help. With some sins, I’ve been finding that help doesn’t come until you confess your sin to another person and ask for help.

Live as if before a video camera.
As a kid, one of my favorite shows was watching "Candid Camera".
People would do the funniest things, and all because they didn't think anybody was watching.
But they were.  All of us were.
We need to live, knowing that there is an audience, a heavenly one.
(Heb 12:1-2 NKJV)  Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, {2} looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hezekiah faced an interesting test by God:
(2 Chr 32:31 NIV)  But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.

What do you do when you are alone?  Or at least when you think you’re alone?  That’s the best test of your relationship with the Lord.

(Isa 29:15 KJV)  Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?

 (Jer 23:24 KJV)  Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.

It’s good to have accountability.  It’s good to have friends or family that help keep you away from places you don’t belong.  But ultimately, we need to get to the place where we do what is right because it’s right.


Before you can get your pilot’s license, you have to do your “solo”.  You have to fly the plane by yourself.  No help from anyone.  It shows you can really do it.

Do you look forward to being alone because that’s when you can do your secret little sins without being caught?  If you didn’t have your spouse or your friends to bug you all the time, would you ever pick up your Bible and read it during a moment of free time?

:13 And He said to me, "Turn again, and you will see greater abominations that they are doing."

:14 So He brought me to the door of the north gate of the Lord's house; and to my dismay, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz.

TammuzTammuwz – “sprout of life”. A Babylonian deity. He was portrayed as a young shepherd and ruler who died too young.  He was thought to have been connected with vegetation.  He was supposedly married to the goddess Ishtar, the goddess of fertility.  He died in the summer time, and when he died, Ishtar supposedly followed him into the underworld to try and bring him back.  With Tammuz gone, the plants all dried up.  With Ishtar gone, fertility stopped.  This is why each year the women wept for him.  The worship of Tammuz also involved fertility rites, meaning immorality.

:15 Then He said to me, "Have you seen this, O son of man? Turn again, you will see greater abominations than these."

:16 So He brought me into the inner court of the Lord's house; and there, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men with their backs toward the temple of the LORD and their faces toward the east, and they were worshiping the sun toward the east.

They had literally turned their backs on the Lord in order to worship the sun.

(Rom 1:25 NKJV)  who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

:17 And He said to me, "Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it a trivial thing to the house of Judah to commit the abominations which they commit here? For they have filled the land with violence; then they have returned to provoke Me to anger. Indeed they put the branch to their nose.

(Ezek 8:17 NLT)  "Have you seen this, son of man?" he asked. "Is it nothing to the people of Judah that they commit these terrible sins, leading the whole nation into violence, thumbing their noses at me, and rousing my fury against them?

:18 "Therefore I also will act in fury. My eye will not spare nor will I have pity; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them."

Can you understand why it was necessary for God to finally bring judgment on the nation?

Ezekiel 9 – Marking the righteous

:1 Then He called out in my hearing with a loud voice, saying, "Let those who have charge over the city draw near, each with a deadly weapon in his hand."

those who have charge over the city – the angelic “executioners” of the city.

:2 And suddenly six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his battle-ax in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen and had a writer's inkhorn at his side. They went in and stood beside the bronze altar.

inkhorn - A case containing reed pens and ink and was carried in the waistband.  Think of it as an ancient magic marker.

Six guys show up, all carrying a battle-ax.  One guy has a big magic marker.

:3 Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer's inkhorn at his side;

:4 and the LORD said to him, "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it."

mark – Lit., a taw, the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, written at that time like a cross

Everybody in the city who was grieved with the wickedness of the city would get a special supernatural marking.

:5 To the others He said in my hearing, "Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity.

:6 "Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary." So they began with the elders who were before the temple.


The mark that saves.

God had done something like this earlier, having a mark that saved.  It happened at the Passover.
The Passover:

(Exo 12:13 NKJV)  'Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

The mark would be on the doorposts of the house.  The lamb’s blood would save the house.

This will happen again in the future, during the Tribulation:
(Rev 7:2-3 NKJV)  Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, {3} saying, "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads."
(Rev 9:3-4 NKJV)  Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. {4} They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
The ones with the special mark would be spared.  All others would be killed.
There’s a connection between the “mark” and the “heart”.
But the mark was only to show what was going on in a person’s heart.

The hearts that were grieved at the wickedness around them.

Paul talks about the qualities of man that deserve judgment.
(Rom 1:28-32 NKJV)  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; {29} being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, {30} backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, {31} undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; {32} who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

It’s not just doing these things, but “approving” them as well.  Taking pleasure in watching them instead of being grieved about them.

I think we need to be careful about how easy it is to like the wrong kinds of things on TV.  Have our hearts become hardened, or are we grieved with these things?

Isn’t it fascinating that the mark mentioned in Ezekiel resembled a cross?
Is my heart “marked” by the cross?

begin at My sanctuary

(1 Pet 4:14-19 NKJV)  If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. {15} But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. {16} Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. {17} For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? {18} Now "If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?" {19} Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.

Before we go yelling at the pagan people to turn from their sin, be sure that we clean our own houses first.

:7 Then He said to them, "Defile the temple, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!" And they went out and killed in the city.

The Temple would be defiled by the presence of dead bodies (Num. 19:11)

:8 So it was, that while they were killing them, I was left alone; and I fell on my face and cried out, and said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Will You destroy all the remnant of Israel in pouring out Your fury on Jerusalem?"

:9 Then He said to me, "The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great, and the land is full of bloodshed, and the city full of perversity; for they say, 'The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see!'

:10 "And as for Me also, My eye will neither spare, nor will I have pity, but I will recompense their deeds on their own head."

:11 Just then, the man clothed with linen, who had the inkhorn at his side, reported back and said, "I have done as You commanded me."

Ezekiel 10 – The Glory moves

Ezekiel’s vision now focuses on God’s throne, the cherubim, and God’s heavenly chariot.  It will sound very similar to the description of these things from chapter 1.

:1 And I looked, and there in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubim, there appeared something like a sapphire stone, having the appearance of the likeness of a throne.

:2 Then He spoke to the man clothed with linen, and said, "Go in among the wheels, under the cherub, fill your hands with coals of fire from among the cherubim, and scatter them over the city." And he went in as I watched.

The angel with the magic marker is the one who takes the coals of destruction from God’s chariot and scatters them across the city.

:3 Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the temple when the man went in, and the cloud filled the inner court.

:4 Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and paused over the threshold of the temple; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the Lord's glory.

:5 And the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard even in the outer court, like the voice of Almighty God when He speaks.

:6 Then it happened, when He commanded the man clothed in linen, saying, "Take fire from among the wheels, from among the cherubim," that he went in and stood beside the wheels.

:7 And the cherub stretched out his hand from among the cherubim to the fire that was among the cherubim, and took some of it and put it into the hands of the man clothed with linen, who took it and went out.


Cleansing fire

When Isaiah saw a vision of God (Is. 6), he became very aware of his own sinfulness.  When he cried out that he was an unclean man…
(Isa 6:6-7 NKJV)  Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. {7} And he touched my mouth with it, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged."

Isaiah would be cleansed by the touch of this coal.

In a sense Jerusalem would also be cleansed by these coals, but it would be destroyed in the process.
Even though what Ezekiel sees appears to be symbolic, the Babylonians will be burning the entire city of Jerusalem (2Ki. 25:9)
Paul writes about a cleansing fire:
(1 Cor 3:10-15 NKJV)  According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. {11} For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. {12} Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, {13} each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. {14} If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. {15} If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Paul is talking about the day that we stand in judgment before God.  The things we’ve done in our lives that are worthless will simply be burned up.

But I see the fire of God at work in our lives right now.

How do difficult times affect you?

Do they cleanse you as Isaiah was cleansed?

Or do they destroy you as Jerusalem would be destroyed?

:8-22 Cherubim described again

Ezekiel goes on to give us another description of the cherubim and the chariot of God, very similar to the description of what he saw a year earlier (Eze. 1).

skip to …

:18 Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim.

:19 And the cherubim lifted their wings and mounted up from the earth in my sight. When they went out, the wheels were beside them; and they stood at the door of the east gate of the Lord's house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them.

:20 This is the living creature I saw under the God of Israel by the River Chebar, and I knew they were cherubim.

People who read Ezekiel 1 and think it’s a description of a UFO usually don’t bother to read chapter 10 where we are told what these creatures are.  They are the cherubim who dwell in the presence of God.

The glory of the Lord has left the Temple.  In chapter 11 we’ll see the glory of the Lord depart from Jerusalem.

skip to …

Ezekiel 11

:1 Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the East Gate of the Lord's house, which faces eastward; and there at the door of the gate were twenty-five men, among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azzur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people.

twenty-five men – could these be the same 25 men that had their backs to the Temple and were worshipping the sun (8:16)?

Jaazaniah – there was a false prophet mentioned by Jeremiah (Jer. 28:1) who was also the “son of Azzur”.  Perhaps this was his brother?

We don’t know who Pelatiah is.

:2 And He said to me: "Son of man, these are the men who devise iniquity and give wicked counsel in this city,

These guys are bad leaders.

:3 "who say, 'The time is not near to build houses; this city is the caldron, and we are the meat.'

(Ezek 11:3 NLT)  They say to the people, 'Is it not a good time to build houses? Our city is like an iron pot. Inside it we will be like meat--safe from all harm.'

Several times Jeremiah warned the people of Jerusalem about the false prophets:

(Jer 6:14 NKJV)  They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, Saying, 'Peace, peace!' When there is no peace.

:4 "Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man!"

:5 Then the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and said to me, "Speak! 'Thus says the LORD: "Thus you have said, O house of Israel; for I know the things that come into your mind.

:6 "You have multiplied your slain in this city, and you have filled its streets with the slain."

:7 'Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Your slain whom you have laid in its midst, they are the meat, and this city is the caldron; but I shall bring you out of the midst of it.

It sounds like God is saying that the only ones that will be safe in the city are those who are already dead, the righteous people put to death by these wicked men.

:8 "You have feared the sword; and I will bring a sword upon you," says the Lord GOD.

:9 "And I will bring you out of its midst, and deliver you into the hands of strangers, and execute judgments on you.

:10 "You shall fall by the sword. I will judge you at the border of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.

:11 "This city shall not be your caldron, nor shall you be the meat in its midst. I will judge you at the border of Israel.

Many would be taken to the borders of Israel at Riblah were they were put to death in the presence of King Nebuchadnezzar.

:12 "And you shall know that I am the LORD; for you have not walked in My statutes nor executed My judgments, but have done according to the customs of the Gentiles which are all around you."' "

:13 Now it happened, while I was prophesying, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then I fell on my face and cried with a loud voice, and said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Will You make a complete end of the remnant of Israel?"

Pelatiah was one of the ones that was mentioned at the beginning of the chapter, one of the corrupt leaders.  Pelatiah’s death is a precursor of the judgment that is coming.

:14 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

:15 "Son of man, your brethren, your relatives, your countrymen, and all the house of Israel in its entirety, are those about whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, 'Get far away from the LORD; this land has been given to us as a possession.'

Those in Jerusalem had this haughty attitude towards those in captivity, thinking that God had abandoned the captives and that God only worked for those in Jerusalem.

Jeremiah had a vision of two baskets of figs, one with good figs, the other with rotten figs.  The good figs represented the ones already gone into captivity and the bad figs were those who were left in Jerusalem.

False trust.  We can think that because we live in America, that God is on our side.  But the truth is we are quite a wicked people.  We too deserve God’s judgment.

:16 "Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Although I have cast them far off among the Gentiles, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone."'

God says that the ones He will protect are the ones in captivity.  God is not wiping out the “remnant” as Ezekiel was afraid of happening (11:13).


Little sanctuary

God’s protection for us as we live in a foreign land.

:17 "Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel."'

:18 "And they will go there, and they will take away all its detestable things and all its abominations from there.

:19 "Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,

:20 "that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.


Hard heart or loving relationship?

Restoration is promised to the exiles.
Jeremiah writes,
(Jer 31:33-34 KJV)  But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. {34} And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

The Old Covenant, the Law of Moses, was written on tablets of stone.  The New Covenant would be written on hearts, on soft flesh.

Is your relationship with God based on rules and regulation?  Is it based on following the Law?  Then you will find a hard heart.
God wants us to know Him.  He wants us to have hearts that are soft towards Him.

:21 "But as for those whose hearts follow the desire for their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their deeds on their own heads," says the Lord GOD.

:22 So the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was high above them.

:23 And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain, which is on the east side of the city.

The glory of the Lord departs from the city.

When Samuel was a young man, the Israelites fought and lost a key battle with the Philistines.  During the battle, the sons of the high priest were slain, the Ark of the Covenant was captured, and then the high priest died as he fell down out of grief.  At that time, one of the daughter-in-laws of the high priest was giving birth to a boy, and she died during childbirth.  The nurse named the boy “Ichabod”, which meant “the glory has departed”. (1Sam. 4)

Again, the glory departs from Israel for a time.

The mountain east of the city is the Mount of Olives.  It’s interesting that Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives.  He also promised to return to the Mount of Olives.

:24 Then the Spirit took me up and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to those in captivity. And the vision that I had seen went up from me.

:25 So I spoke to those in captivity of all the things the LORD had shown me.

Remember that Ezekiel had been sitting in his house with the elders of Judah sitting before him.  He now communicates all these lessons to the elders before him.