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1And 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.

Ezekiel was taken in the first wave of captives taken by the Babylonians when he was thirty years old. Hence his statement in Ezekiel 1:1. His vision from chapters 1-7 was in the “fifth year of Jehoiachin’s captivity”. Zedekiah, the puppet king appointed by Nebuchadnezzar, has 6 more years from Ezekiel 1:1.

For Ezekiel to reason from the thirtieth year would mean that he was going backwards to when he was six, before he was captured. It only makes sense for him to be using the same time frame as chapter 1. In chapter 1 he is in the 5th year of Jehoiachin’s captivity. Therefore it only makes sense that this is the sixth year and sixth month of Jehoiachin’s captivity. In essence, Ezekiel 8 begins a prophecy that Ezekiel receives a year after he receives his first vision. Jerusalem only has 5 years left before it is destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.

Having been captured in the first wave with a lot of high ranking Jews (2 Kings 24), Ezekiel is a high ranking Jew himself. It is therefore no surprise that he is in the company of other Jewish leaders in captivity, especially given Nebuchadnezzar’s policy concerning captives of other nations (Daniel 1). In the presence of these witnesses, Ezekiel receives this second vision.

2Then 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.

This person with a fiery lower torso and amber colored upper torso is God Himself. The fire of course represents judgment and the lower half means that God will tread out judgment wherever He goes. Remember from chapter 1 that amber is better translated as glowing bronze like we see in Daniel and Revelation 1. What we have then is God the Son in pre-incarnate form. It is Michael, the chief of princes, the archangel, the Son of God come to deliver this message.

3And 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. 4And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain.

Given that God is a spiritual being, His “hand” is not like our hands in constitution, but looks like a hand to Ezekiel. With this hand, God grabs Ezekiel by his hair. The Holy Spirit, who inspires all scripture to be written, lifts Ezekiel into the air and brings him in a visionary or spiritual sense to Jerusalem, to the inner gate of the temple.

Here Ezekiel sees an image called “the image of jealousy”. This image is a representation or perhaps even a personification of all idolatry in Judah. It is a false god that deals in things that create jealousy in men such as adultery. Even more, though, this image provokes jealousy in God in that God has commanded that there be no other gods before Him because He is a jealous God (Ex. 20:3-5). This image will be given a name momentarily.

There in the temple of Solomon, Ezekiel also sees the glory of God as he saw in chapters 1-7.

5Then 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. 6He 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.

God tells Ezekiel to look to the north side of the temple. Here the image of jealousy is. The idea is that idolatry is allowed into the temple itself. God asks Ezekiel if he sees these great abominations in the temple, “my sanctuary” (indicating that this is, in fact, God speaking). God asks then “should I go far from my temple?” God is going to abandon the Jews to their idolatry. Then He tells Ezekiel to turn and see that the situation is worse.

7And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall. 8Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door. 9And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here. 10So 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. 11And 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. 12Then 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. 13He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.

God brings Ezekiel in from the outer walls to the first court, the court of the Gentiles. The hole with the door that Ezekiel discovers represents a secret place, the idea that the Jews were attempting to hide their idolatry. Inside this secret area they worshiped animals, creatures lower than man (Genesis 2). These animals correspond to the Egyptian deities which were mostly animals.

The seventy men of the house of Israel harkens back to Exodus 24:1 and the rulers who went off to worship with Moses. These are those who should lead their respective tribes in worship by example (not as priests). Instead they have lead the people into idol worship. These princes of Israel say that Jehovah does not see what they do (it is in secret) for Jehovah has forsaken the land (earth). Again earth is a reference to the land of Judah, not the whole planet.

Then Ezekiel is told to turn and see even worse abominations.

14Then 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. 15Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.

Ezekiel is taken to the north gate leading into the temple inner courts (though not inside it yet). At the gate, there is a woman weeping for Tammuz. Tammuz is the name of a false god of the Summerians. He is the image of jealousy Ezekiel sees in the first of the chapter. Tammuz is associated with Astarte, Asthoreth, Ishtar, Aphrodite, Venus, and so on as her lover. In the Greek he is called Adonis. As Aphrodite’s lover who died by a boar goring him. He is worshipped as dead mostly by adulteresses who must endure their husband’s jealousy. This woman weeps for Tammuz because she is an adulteress. The woman in the vision represents the unfaithfulness of the Jews.

Ezekiel is told to turn one more time to see even greater abominations.

16And 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. 17Then 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. 18Therefore 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 last turn shows Ezekiel the inner court of the temple, Jehovah’s house. Between the porch and the altar (1 Kings 6-7) are 25 men with their backs toward the temple. This represents them turning their backs on God. Instead they are turned toward the sun to worship it, a Persian practice. Ultimately chapter 8 shows the Jews corrupted by every surrounding religion and culture: the Egyptians, the Phoenicians, the Sumerians, the Persians, etc. Their adultery with other nations was not just with one, but with all of them.

God asks Ezekiel rhetorically if what the Jews were doing was a thing of no consequence. The answer of course is no, it is in fact a thing of great consequence and God will punish them without repentance.

In Truth and Love.

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