Ezekiel Chapter 8 The Secret Abominations Exposed

Jun 25th, 2009 | By | Category: Ezekiel, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Ezekiel Chapter 8 The Secret Abominations Exposed

Ezek. 8:1 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.

The time setting was now about 611 BC, the sixth year of Zedekiah, or the sixth year of Jehoiachin’s (Jeconiah’s/Coniah’s) captivity. As the elders of Judah were seated before Ezekiel in his own house, honoring him and wanting his counsel, a trance seized the prophet. This chapter, recorded later, is the record of what he saw. The expression “the hand of the Lord GOD fell there upon me” signifies favor, a special and abrupt message. By starting the account abruptly, Ezekiel showed the source was extraneous (i.e., God). In other words, Ezekiel was the channel for the message about to be given. (Remember, the only time Ezekiel could talk was when the Lord so directed him.) When Ezekiel got this spirit, he felt a change take place in him—an illumination, a surging power. The purpose of this suddenness was to alert the listeners that the message was from God.

Ezek. 8:2 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.

The vision began with a representation of God, the One seated on the throne. It was like the earlier vision by the river Chebar (Ezek. 1:1). Ezekiel saw the form of a man with fire concentrated on his lower half and brightness on the upper half. No head was seen, just light. In other words, Ezekiel could see only the torso, not below or above. He could tell a figure was there, but the glory and brightness were so great that he could not see the personage.

Purity and judgment are suggested. Again, as in the earlier vision, we are reminded that “our God is a consuming fire,” “dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto” (Heb. 12:29; 1 Tim. 6:16). A message of vengeance is here but hope also, as indicated by the rainbow in Ezekiel 1:28. “Amber” was like burning or gleaming brass, like fire, a gleaming in the sense of light and brightness.

Ezek. 8:3 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.

A hand lifted up Ezekiel by a lock of his hair to a position between heaven and earth and took him to Jerusalem. As we have already seen, Ezekiel, the son of a priest, represents the truly consecrated dwelling in the “Holy” condition. This was a vision, but to the prophet it seemed like jet travel to Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple. Ezekiel was about to see things and hear God speaking to him, yet he would be unobserved by those in the Temple. He would get an insight into the abominations committed by God’s nominal or professed people.

The expression “image of jealousy” is based on the account in 2 Kings 16:10–18. King Ahaz of Judah went to Damascus to meet with King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria and remained there for a month or more. While there King Ahaz so admired the heathen Assyrian altar that he sent a model of it back to Jerusalem, telling Urijah, the high priest, to fashion an altar like it for the Temple of Solomon. Moreover, King Ahaz wanted the altar to be finished when he returned, so the high priest had people work feverishly. Because King Ahaz habitually went around the kingdom and prayed at various altars in the high places, he was considered a religious king by the people. He even acted like a priest and did the sprinkling. How disobedient!—for the Law was explicit as to how and where offerings were to be made. And Urijah was remiss for not objecting to the king’s practices and his order to build the heathen altar for the Temple. This counterfeit idolatrous altar was an “image of jealousy” in that it provoked God to jealousy for His holy name.

The Brazen Altar in Solomon’s Temple was 30 feet wide by 30 feet long by 15 feet high, and stairs led up to it (2 Chron. 4:1). The Damascus altar was not necessarily larger, but it was much more ornate. King Ahaz wanted the new altar (the copy of the Damascus altar) to go where the original Brazen Altar was. Hence the old altar was moved aside (a tremendous task because of its size), and the new heathen one was installed in its place. Now years later, long after King Ahaz had died, when Ezekiel was translated to Jerusalem in vision, the heathen altar was still in place, and Zedekiah was the king.

Ezekiel was taken to Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem and placed at the door of the Inner Court gate that faced north, but instead of seeing the Lord’s Brazen Altar, he saw the heathen altar straight ahead. In other words, he was strategically placed to see the image of jealousy. To add to the insult, King Ahaz had designated the heathen altar as the people’s altar, and he had personally offered on that altar. Then he used the old altar, the true Brazen Altar, as his private altar for daily worship. Imagine!—and the people did not cry out! In fact, another reason for the title “image of jealousy” is the failure of the people to cry out. The account shows that very few people are righteous. We must be loyal to the Lord, the truth, and the true brotherhood. Incidentally, Ezekiel saw a vision of a reality, for the altar truly existed.

Let us consider in more detail how the prophet was transported in vision to Jerusalem. Why did the man (on the throne of God, as it were) lift Ezekiel up by a lock of his hair? Based on the Nazarite vow, hair is a symbol of consecration, for the hair that grew during the period of the vow was considered holy and it represented strength (Num. 6:2,5). Ezekiel could actually feel the power of being lifted up. Why does the account say he was taken “up between the earth and the heaven”? Through God’s power (hand) and Ezekiel’s consecration (hair), he was lifted up to where the consecrated are (between heaven and earth). Thus the vision is related to the consecrated. Although Ezekiel was only mentally transported out of captivity, the experience seemed very real. Similarly, Satan transported Jesus in vision to a very high mountain and to Jerusalem when he was really in the wilderness for the entire 40 days (Matt. 4:1–10).

From another standpoint (and especially from the perspective of the antitype), the “seat of the image of jealousy” that Ezekiel saw as he looked through the gate toward the north was the false altar, which stood at the forefront of the Temple. (When a person wants to give his heart to the Lord, he goes north to divinity.) Here the blockage caused jealousy in God, who had declared, “I the LORD thy God am a jealous God” (Exod. 20:5). In antitype the blockage is the man of sin, Satan’s artifice. This man-made institution (or image) set up by Antichrist is the Papacy, “where was the seat of the image of jealousy”; that is, the doctrine of the mass, or transubstantiation, negates the doctrine of the Ransom sacrifice of our Lord (Dan. 8:11–13; 11:31; 12:11; compare Heb. 9:28; 10:12,14).

Ezek. 8:4 And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain.

The glory of God was in the Temple. In the earlier vision on the plain by the river Chebar, Ezekiel saw the glory of God in connection with the cherubim and the wheels.

Ezek. 8:5 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.

An added thought about the image in the gate that faced north is that the image was aligned with the altar. In Ezekiel’s Temple, the people will have to enter at either the north or the south gate so that they will see the Altar. Those who enter the north gate must exit through the south gate, and vice versa.

The altar was intended for true sacrifice, the continual or daily sacrifice. The Prophet Daniel said that an evil religious system would take away from the continual sacrifice by setting up its own false sacrifice in a more prominent place. “They shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate” (Dan. 11:31). In other words, the false religion was put between the viewer and the true religion (the altar). The type pictures Satan’s method of deception especially through Papacy and the Doctrine of the Mass, or Transubstantiation, the “abomination of desolation” (Matt. 24:15).

Ezek. 8:6 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.

The Temple was purportedly built in God’s honor, but He was showing Ezekiel the necessity for its destruction because of sins and abominations that crept in. No doubt Ezekiel felt shock, and he would be able to impart this shock to others later. Those of Judah who were born under these conditions—that is, the image of jealousy—would not recognize them as sin unless they diligently studied Scripture. There was some excuse and yet no excuse. To be ignorant is not necessarily a way out, for we are responsible for what we could know but refuse to look into.

Ezek. 8:7 And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall.

Another experience began. Ezekiel was brought to the door of the Inner Court where he beheld a hole in the wall. The Temple wall was thick—over 100 feet thick but not solid.

Although the wall was actually a building, it also acted as a divider. The wall was used by a preferential class who had access to its series of chambers or rooms. The common people could not enter these chambers in the Inner Court wall.

Ezek. 8:8 Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door.

Ezek. 8:9 And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.

God told Ezekiel to look at the hole in the wall and dig into it. Ezekiel obeyed, but in doing so, he dug into a dead end: a door. God then told Ezekiel to open the door and enter. Through this method God exposed the error. The hole in the wall was an error, a flaw, a weakness. God revealed the error, but Ezekiel had to do the digging; that is, he had to exert extra effort. Ezekiel had a responsibility, and God was telling him to get busy and look into the matter. For his efforts Ezekiel was given secret insight into the happenings in the Temple.

A “door” is a symbol of privacy. In obeying God’s instruction, Ezekiel dug into the wall, opened the door, and entered. Another significant factor is that the door was a secret entrance not in the original design. God instructed Ezekiel to enter so that he could see the secret worship of other religions. For example, many religious leaders do not accept the Bible as inspired and/or consider it infallible.

Spiritual lesson: The only class who see Antichrist are those who delve into the matter and search for it. With personal observation comes a greater realization of the depth of the evil.

Ezek. 8:10 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, portrayed upon the wall round about.

Ezek. 8:11 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.

What did Ezekiel see when he entered? A lot of people—70 men or important personages, one of whom he recognized as Jaazaniah. The chamber walls inside the big, thick wall were covered with imagery (as in Egypt): insects, animals, and creatures. (The walls in Egyptian tombs are embellished with creatures.) The drawings represented abnormal worship, and accordingly, the 70 (the Sanhedrin, the elders of Israel) were worshipping creatures. In addition, the 70 had incense, so there was smoke and an aroma in connection with worshipping the creatures on the wall.

The censers are a reminder of Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, who “offered strange fire [incense] before the LORD” (Lev. 10:1,2). They are also a reminder of Korah’s rebellion (Numbers 16). The room was filled with smoke from the censers. In antitype this illustrates the sanctimonious impression given by the false religions. The 70 men were ostensibly the worshippers of Jehovah but in reality were false.

Ezek. 8:12 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.

God asked Ezekiel, “Do you see what the ancients of Israel are doing in the dark? Each of the 70 is worshipping a favorite image. They say, ‘God does not see us; He has forsaken the earth.’” The 70, supposedly men of faith, uttered such things and worshipped creatures. What is the antitype? Ostensibly the “ancients” are priests and ministers of the Lord, but they imagine things (every man was in the “chambers of his imagery”) instead of adhering to the instruction and the principles of the Word of God. They have a “God is dead” attitude by walking according to their own counsel and imaginations.

This vision helped Ezekiel speak with conviction and authority, and from knowledge and experience. Thus he was forceful.

Ezek. 8:13 He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.

Ezek. 8:14 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.

Ezekiel was brought back to his first position where he had seen the image of jealousy, but now the scene had changed to women weeping for Tammuz. In Israel’s history the women got as close to the Temple proper as was permissible, although in this scene the women were actually in the Inner Court, which was not permissible.

Why were the women weeping? Tammuz pertained to Molech worship and the burning of live firstborn children (male and female) supposedly to appease God’s wrath. To repeat, live human babies were sacrificed. The Tammuz practice has other names as well.

There is another view, although the one just presented is preferable. Numbers 25:1–9 tells of Baal-peor worship. The incident, which occurred near the end of the 40 years in Sinai, was a test for the Israelites based upon Balaam’s advice to King Balak. To weaken Israel, Balaam had advised intermarriage of heathen women with Israelite men, and Numbers 25:9 tells the result: 24,000 Israelites died in a plague. When Moses saw that the Israelites were succumbing to the temptation, he told the judges to exterminate the unfaithful Israelite men. (The judges were responsible for such punishments.) Accordingly, the men were beheaded and their heads publicly displayed to face the “sun,” which represented God in this case. And that is an important point: The God we worship, who is a GOD OF LOVE, instructed this punishment. The slaying of the unfaithful stayed the plague, but 24,000 died first. Wives and children were weeping for their loved ones who had sinned, whereas they should have realized the slaying was proper punishment. While all of these things were occurring, and the women were weeping, an Israelite man had the nerve to take a Midianitish woman—in the eyes of the nation—into his tent for intercourse. Phineas rushed over to the tent and thrust a spear through the bodies of both while they were sinning. And what was the result? Moses was pleased and the Lord approved. This incident is a sober lesson on how easy it is to succumb to temptation, which in this case was along the lines of sex.

Weeping for Tammuz has deeper implications. Nimrod and (later) Osiris worship were practiced under various names. Osiris was slain, but in time there was a fantasy that he was revived. Tammuz was a male, and in later variations of this worship, Adonis (also a male) was the leading one. The custom was to have two festivals, at the two ends of the year, to mark his going into the underworld and then his arising. In weeping for the loss of this male symbol, the women assumed lewd and obscene practices in the Temple arrangement. Some scholars associate this history with the “weeping for Tammuz” in verse 14, but Molech worship seems to be a more fitting tie-in.

Ezek. 8:15 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.

Ezek. 8:16 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.

Ezekiel was again brought into the Inner Court. God’s presence was in the Most Holy, but instead of worshipping toward God, toward the west, the 25 men (the priesthood) turned their hindquarters to Him and worshipped toward the sun. (In the Tabernacle, the entrance was on the east, and progression was shown by moving westward, ending up in the Most Holy.)

In each case after showing Ezekiel an abomination—that is, in verses 6, 13, and 15—God told the prophet He would reveal still “greater abominations.” The thought is not that each sin was exceeded by the next but that the sins were accumulative. Each sin was in addition to the previous one. It was a heaping up of evil.

The sins can be viewed in still another way. There were four terrible sins, as follows:

1. The image of jealousy was a wrong altar (an object or piece of furniture).

2. The worship of creatures in the dark was wrong worship by important personages in the wall in secret—hence secret sins.

3. Women weeping openly in the Inner Court for Tammuz was also wrong worship but open sins this time.

4. Men worshipping the sun with their backs to the Lord was the priesthood in false worship.

These abominations were practiced in Israel before the destruction of the Temple in 606 BC. The antitype or counterpart during the Gospel Age has been false practices in the professed Church, namely, (1) the Doctrine of the Mass, (2) the Doctrine of the Trinity, (3) the Doctrine of Eternal Torment, and (4) Papacy and/or the worship of the pope. We will consider these one by one.

1. The image of jealousy pictured the Doctrine of the Mass, or Transubstantiation (verse 5). In Israel this practice took away from the daily sacrifice. In the Roman Catholic Church it takes away from Jesus’ Ransom sacrifice and his ever efficacious one sacrifice.

2. Seventy men (the Sanhedrin, which was involved in civil matters) worshipped animals that were painted on the walls (verses 10 and 11). The key to the counterpart in the Christian age is the “chambers [rooms] of his imagery [idolatry],” that is, the worship of other gods (verse 12). The Doctrine of the Trinity is included under polytheism.

3. Women (plural) wept for Tammuz (verse 14). As part of Nimrod worship, there developed the Book of the Dead, which concerned the occult and the worship of the dead. The Christian counterpart is the blasphemous Doctrine of Hellfire, or Eternal Torment, which distorts God’s character as being vindictive and cruel. Four places were devised for the dead: Hell, Purgatory, Limbo, and Heaven. The Doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul is also involved.

4. In practicing sun worship, the 25 men (priests) turned their backs on the Temple—and thus on God (verses 15 and 16). Because they were concerned with religious matters, it was more serious for them to go astray than for the Sanhedrin, which handled civil matters. The Christian counterpart is the pope. Why is Papacy (and the pope) the worst?

Because the system (the pope) takes the place of God and thus breaks the First Commandment. In Israel the individuals were more interested in sun worship than in the worship of God. In Christianity the parallel is even worse. As in the true (favorable) heavens the sun represents the gospel light or Jesus, and the moon is the Law, so in the false (unfavorable) heavens the sun is the pope, and the moon is papal canon law.

Sincere followers, whether clergy or the lowliest communicants, consecrate and dedicate their whole life to the Catholic Church. Papacy has posed—and is posing—as an angel of light.

The 24 courses for the priesthood set up by David were based on the lunar year of 360 days, a priest for each half month. In time the Jews had a second high priest—that is, an extra one—in case the anointed one got sick at the time of the Day of Atonement. Thus the 25 priests mentioned in verse 16 and the two high priests were changes made by the Israelites over the years.

Ezek. 8:17 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.

Ezek. 8:18 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.

Still in the Temple at Jerusalem in vision, Ezekiel saw that the coming destruction on Judah was necessary, for disease was in the very fabric of the nation. Like a leprous cloth that could not be cleansed and thus had to be burned, the nation had to receive judgment.

The clause “they put the branch to their nose” should be translated “they put the branch to my [God’s] nose.” The professed people of God, especially the leaders, were trying to appease God’s wrath (His nostrils). Nostrils are a symbol of wrath, as in a snorting bull, and a branch is a symbol of peace. When the dove brought back an olive branch to Noah after the Flood, the signification was that God’s wrath had been appeased. Jesus is the “branch” in antitype.

“They … have returned to provoke me to anger.” What hypocrisy to perform God’s rituals in complete disobedience! A counterpart in the Gospel Age is the Confessional in the Roman Catholic Church. To tell one’s sins to the priest and then repeat the same sins over and over does not bring forgiveness.

“Therefore will I also deal in fury.” God was saying that the coming destruction of the Temple was proper, necessary, and inevitable. The whole house was to be torn down—with violence and physical destruction.

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