Read: Ezekiel 8-11
Detestable practices are revealed graphically to Ezekiel through a vision that once again evokes thoughts of sci-fi movies. Ezekiel must have been an incredible artist–just by the way he describes visions. Artists have a different way of looking at things.
Chapter 8: Idolatry in the Temple
Ezekiel has another vision, like a continuation of the first vision, complete with detailed descriptions that are difficult to visualize. In this chapter he is taken on a journey to the temple where he can see the detestable hearts of those as they defile the sacred place.
“Son of man, do you see what they are doing—the utterly detestable things the Israelites are doing here, things that will drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see things that are even more detestable.” Ezekiel 8:6
Three times in this chapter we read, “you will see things that are even more detestable.” I guess Ezekiel is just getting started!
They are worshiping the idol of jealousy, drawing unclean animals on the walls; even the elders are worshiping idols of themselves.
“Son of man, have you seen what the elders of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? They say, ‘The Lord does not see us; the Lord has forsaken the land.’” Ezekiel 8:12
Worshiping themselves, worshiping the sun as it rose in the east with their backs to the temple and on top of that they add violence to the depravity. If we could see the heart of man, we would see these things, even today.
Although they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them. Ezekiel 8:18
Chapter 9 describes the horrible judgment that will be inflicted on the people, a rather graphic explanation of destruction. Chapter 10 explains that God’s glory will leave the temple.
Then the glory of the Lord departed from over the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim. Ezekiel 10:18
Chapter 11 continues the narrative of judgment, then adds a promise for Israel’s return.
Twice in this reading we hear Ezekiel cry out to the Lord for the remnant, once in Ezekiel 9:8 and here:
Then I fell facedown and cried out in a loud voice, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! Will you completely destroy the remnant of Israel?” Ezekiel 11:13
Ezekiel knew well that most of God’s people were going to be wiped out, he was really concerned about the remnant, the few, what would happen to them. As with yesterday’s post, God provides a glimmer of hope, an assurance that he will return:
“They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 11:18-19
As we look across America and see so many dying churches (some of which died a while ago, but have not disconnected the life-support system), we can’t help but wonder what we would see if God would transport us like he did Ezekiel. I think there are moments when we can discern the true hearts of man, scant periods of time when we fully see the broken nature of those around us. If we care to look in the mirror, we will likely find we are included in the group.
But there is hope in Jesus Christ. Lord, help us to articulate this hope in words, songs, images, in all kinds of expressive means. Help us to live a life that shows we fully believe in this hope!
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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.