Read Ezekiel 5 -- 9
Fourteen years after Nebuchadnezzar conquered the Kingdom of Judah, life in Jerusalem seemed to have returned to normal. Consequently, the people would not believe Ezekiel who wrote from Babylon when he said: Your altars shall be desolate, and your images shall be broken: and I will cast down your slain men before your idols. And I will lay the dead carcases of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will scatter your bones round about your altars. In all your dwellingplaces the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate (Ezekiel 6:4-6). Even the Israelites who were captive in Babylon were sure that the covenant of God was protection from destruction of His city and the only Temple on earth where His Presence dwelt.
But Ezekiel continued to warn: The sword is without, and the pestilence and the famine within: he that is in the field shall die with the sword; and he that is in the city (Jerusalem), famine and pestilence shall devour him (7:15). What a horrifying prophecy!
Fourteen months after his first vision (1:1), Ezekiel reported: As I sat in my house, and the elders of Judah sat before me . . . the hand of the Lord God fell there upon me. . . . the Spirit lifted me up . . . brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate . . . at the gate of the altar (was) this image (idol) of jealousy (8:1-5). This second vision given to Ezekiel was in the sixth year of the captivity of King Jehoiachin about five years before the partial destruction of Jerusalem.
The prophet was led to see even the great abominations that . . . Israel commits. . . . wicked abominations. . . . every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the House of Israel, portrayed upon the wall. . . . and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz (the Babylonian god of fertility). . . . men, with their backs toward the Temple . . . and their faces toward the east; and they worshiped the sun. As a result of their disobedience to the Word of God, they had filled the land with violence (8:6,9-14,16-17).
This second vision showed the reason for the coming judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem. Just as Ezekiel had prophesied, these Israelites refused to repent until it was too late. Then they shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed (discarded like rubbish): their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord (7:19). How typical of our generation with its overemphasis on materialism, success, and sex.
Wealth was never meant to be selfishly accumulated or to be lavished on ourselves. God entrusts wealth that you, always having all sufficiency (your needs met) . . . may abound (have an abundance) to every good work (for the Kingdom of God) (II Corinthians 9:8). The attitude of the heart is all important, for both rich and poor can lust after more money.
The Holy Spirit warns: Those who will be rich fall into temptation . . . and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition (I Timothy 6:9).
Christ Portrayed: The man clothed in linen (Ezekiel 9:2-11) represents Christ as High Priest, marking His people to be spared from the flaming sword of vengeance. There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus (I Tim. 2:5).
Word Studies: 5:16 staff means supply; 6:4 images means incense altars; 7:26 ancients means religious elders, supposed spiritual leaders; 8:12 imagery means perverse idol imagination.
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Optional Reading: Revelation 7
Memory Verse for the Week: I Timothy 6:9