In Ezekiel chapter 8 the prophet is shown the religious apostasy of the religious leaders in Jerusalem. In this chapter the prophet is taken from Tel-abib, Babylon, to Jerusalem in a vision. It was not that he was physically taken to Jerusalem but his experience was exactly the same as if he were there. Ezekiel arrives at the entrance of the gateway of the inner court that faces north. What he sees is an astonishing religious failure by the priests and Levites. What he sees is total religious failure. For a nation so blessed by God their actions are unbelievable but true!
THE IMAGE OF JEALOUSY
The first thing Ezekiel sees is an image called “the image of jealousy”. The image does not belong in the court of the Temple grounds. It did not belong anywhere in the land of Judah. This was the Temple area, a place dedicated to Jehovah. Yet when entering from the north a person could not enter without observing an idol to a pagan god. God is jealous over the fact that His people were worshipping a pagan deity rather than Him. God’s “bride” Israel was being unfaithful to Him. No wonder He was jealous. For this reason, God said, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel are committing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary?” No wonder God called the image the “image of jealousy”. Don’t be deceived. God is a jealous God. Later He will say, “And I will judge you as women who commit adultery and shed blood are judged, and bring upon you the blood of wrath and jealousy,” Ezekiel 16:38. Unfortunately, there are still more abominations to be shown to the prophet. They are unbelievable but true!
THE HOLE IN THE WALL
Ezekiel is now told to dig through a hole in the wall located at the entrance of the court. After digging he finds a secret door and enters a room full of abominations. Engraved on the walls were images of loathsome beasts and all the idols of the house of Israel. Inside were 70 leaders of the people burning incense to these false gods. They thought their deeds would not be known because they were in a “secret room”. The seventy said, The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land,” Ezekiel 8:13. It is unbelievable but true that the religious leaders of Israel, those living in Jerusalem and serving at the temple, were secretly worshipping idols – gods made with human hands.
THE INNER COURT
Now the prophet is brought to the inner court. He sees about twenty-five men standing with their backs to the Temple of the Lord worshipping the sun. God asks Ezekiel the question, “Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations that they commit here, that they should fill the land with violence and provoke me still further to anger? Ezekiel 8:17. This statement points out the sad truth that the nation was not only a religiously perverse nation but they were also acting violently against their own people. Unbelievable but true!
A WARNING TO GOD’S PEOPLE
When you study the Bible you find that God’s people have had a very difficult time remaining faithful to Him. According to the apostle Peter, there have always been false prophets among the people, 2 Peter 2:1. People will generally follow their leaders. Unfortunately, when elders, preachers, and bible class teachers go astray a great number of the people follow their error. In some cases the people go ever further away from God’s word than their leaders. By the time Ezekiel did his work the Northern kingdom of Israel had already fallen (722 B.C.). Even earlier (745 B.C.) the words Hosea were written to a people who had fallen away from God’s word. Hosea wrote sad words that depicted a fallen people. Here are a few samples of what the prophet wrote:
“There is no faithfulness or steadfast love and no knowledge of God in the land,” Hosea 4:1.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will forget your children,” Hosea 4:6.
“And it shall be like people, like priest, I will punish them for their way and repay them for their deeds,” Hosea 4:9.
TAKE GOD’S WORD SERIOUSLY
Don’t you love the people in the city of Berea? Paul and Silas entered their city with some “strange new teachings”. To their credit, the Bereans did not accept what they were told based upon the charisma and speaking ability of their teachers. When Paul taught, the people of Berea “were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so,” Acts 17:6. This should be the attitude of everyone who claims to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. We must compare the words spoken to us by our religious leaders with the Holy Scriptures. If the two conflict, take what the Scriptures say instead of the interesting new doctrines spoken by men.
Finally, we must not allow society to dictate our lifestyle. The morality and practice of most people is in direct opposition to what is written in the word of God. It is not enough to know the truth – we must practice it. Mold your lifestyle after the moral principles and teachings found in the Bible. Build your faith upon the rock and it will stand firm when the storms of life appear, Matthew 7:24-27.
When we take our faith seriously we will not be led astray. True religion is not just mental belief. We must live a lifestyle of obedience to the commandments of God. The key is to follow Jesus and His teaching. After all, it is through Jesus that sinful people like us are saved. When we obey the Gospel of Christ we are saved by the sacrifice made by our Lord Jesus Christ. His blood atones for our sins! From that point onward it is up to us to remain faithful until death, Revelation 2:10. As unworthy as we are, God loves us, and will save us, when we love Him and obey His commandments, I John 5:1-5. That is unbelievable but true!