When Idols Destroy Your Life – Body and Soul
Ezekiel 8:3b-4,10-12; 14:1-6
Tom J. Nettles
One of the driving themes of
Ezekiel is that God will save a remnant of People in
I. For the knowledge of the exiled
A. This vision lasts from chapter 8 through chapter 11 when Ezekiel’s attention again can be directed to the elders that had gathered: “And I told the exiles all the things that the Lord had shown me” (11:25).
B. The vision began with the coming of the symbol of Christ
incarnate as seen in chapter 1. When he takes him to
C. Verse 3 and 4 – He summarized the upcoming vision by presenting the striking incongruity between the meaning of the Temple, that is, the presence of the glory of God, and the present practice in the Temple, the image that provokes to jealousy.
D. verse 5-17 - The Spirit gave Ezekiel visions of increasingly provocative practices of idolatry, indicating their complete indifference to the revelation of which they had been recipients, the privilege of the redemptive symbols over which they were to be guardians, and an embracing of the soul-destroying superstitions of nature gods. Not only so, but their leadership had led to fraud, oppression, and violence in the land.
E. Among the abominations seen by Ezekiel, this one,
“engraved on the wall all around, was every form of creeping things and
loathsome beasts.” There in the place of the glory of God for
F. verse 18 – Thus the verdict, “My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity.”
(Note the juxtaposition of the words “cry in my ears with a
loud voice.” (8:18b and 9:1) The first comes from
II. Chapter 9 – The remnant of
A. Verses 1, 2 - God called forth six executioners and one man with a writing case.
B. The glory of God began its departure from the house and came to the threshold, anticipating its departure in chapter 10.
C. The man with
the writing case marks all the faithful so that the executioners will past them
by. This is reminiscent of the Passover in
D. The executioners are instructed “Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.” (9:6)
E. Ezekiel cries
for the remnant of
F. Then the man in the writing case returned, having accomplished his assignment (9:11). Even as Jesus said, “Of all those that thou hast given men, I have lost none,” even so this linen-clothed man accomplished his task of preservation.
III. The glory of God now with great deliberation and with a manifestation of power, combined with displays of both glory and mystery, moves and commits the judgment of the city with fire to the man dressed in linen. This judgment, though it will come from the invasion of godless forces, nevertheless is determined in accordance with the holy purposes of God, even from between the cherubim. When the one that marked God’s people for protection returns in glory, he is authorized to appear in judgment with flaming fire (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).
IV. In this
position of manifest glory and at the point of the departure of the divine
glory from the house of worship in
A. the civil leaders of the city who mock the words of the prophets, reject their message of quick judgment, proclaim their long term safety and mislead the inhabitants. Ezekiel is given a message of judgment and as he proclaimed it, one of the civil leaders, Pelatiah, died.
B. Ezekiel again
asked if God’s intention is to destroy the remnant of
C. God shows Ezekiel his intention of giving a new heart to the remnant and of gathering his people from among the nations, removing the heart of stone and giving a heart of flesh to obey his statutes and delighting to be his people.
D. The glory of the Lord departed the city and brought Ezekiel in his vision back to the elders that had gathered before him. He told them what he had seen.
V. Chapters 13 and 14. Ezekiel symbolizes by a
dramatic enactment the captivity of
VI. 14:1-6 -
Having given a thorough picture of the judgment of God on idolatry, Ezekiel is
now called on to speak to the elders that evidently have journeyed from
A. Perhaps through his having written his prophecies as a letter to be read, they knew of him and wanted to see if he would maintain such a harsh stance in their presence. Perhaps they wanted him to contradict the words of Jeremiah and give some justification to their counsel of safety referred to in chapter 11. Men in power often seem to think that they can intimidate truth-tellers by their presence into a stance of compromise.
B. If so, they did not accomplish their goal. Ezekiel delivered a closely personal message to them about the spiritual condition of these elders themselves. Their inquisitiveness did not arise from true desire for worship or spiritual growth, but from an idle curiosity or an attempt to intimidate. They had itching ears (cf 2 Timothy 4:3-5) and wanted to have their way justified. In such cases, God would not allow himself to be consulted by them. (verse 3)
C. Ezekiel, rather than softening or altering his message in deference to their presence, points to the secrets of their own hearts, and uncovers stumbling blocks, iniquity, hardness, and idolatry.
D. Ezekiel, rather than quench their curiosity-driven thirst, or giving them any release from the pressure of the truth he has uttered to this point, calls them to repentance, to turn away from their idols and their abominations. And further, if any prophet that they consult should conform to their desire for a softer message, both the inquirer and the inquired will suffer the same punishment. We cannot play games with truth and allow the easily offended feelings of sinful people make us deliver a false message. A failure to uphold the immutable holiness of God, the sovereign prerogatives of his wisdom and justice, and the utter gratuity of his grace in redemption will result in our sharing the status of those who inquired with false motives or answered with falsely assuring comforts.