BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday October 12, 2014
IDOLATRY IN THE TEMPLE
(The slaughter of idolatry)
During the sixth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity in Babylon, while the leaders of Judah were meeting with Ezekiel in his home, the LORD took a hold of Ezekiel and began to show him a vision. It is no accident that this visionary experience occurs while the church leaders of Israel are present, as it is fully intended to explain to them, just why there is no hope for their homeland.
Ezekiel chapter 8 serves as the background for the phenomenal events of chapters 9-11, which depicts the withdrawal of GOD’s presence from the temple at Jerusalem. The first thing the LORD shows Ezekiel is a vision that appeared in the shape of a man, who, from the waist down, looked like a burning flame, and, from the waist up, looked like a gleaming amber (Vs.1-2). This man-like figure extended his hand and took Ezekiel by the hair, and the HOLY SPIRIT lifted him up into the sky, and transported him, in his vision, all the way back to Jerusalem.
Upon his arrival at Jerusalem Ezekiel was taken to the north gate of the inner courtyard of the temple, where a large idol had been placed there, that made the LORD very angry. Suddenly the glory of the GOD of Israel appeared to Ezekiel, as HE had appeared to him before, in the valley, down at the Kebar River a year earlier.
Ezekiel had been practically raised in the temple, but he had never before noticed the large idol that stood at the door of the church house. When we think about it, we should not be surprised, because many professed Christian Churches today, that have been defiled and profaned by our presence, and our unholy activities, actually does have “invisible demonic forces and idol gods”, that we’ve invited in, working and standing inside and outside on its grounds. However, we can’t see them unless we have “spiritual discernment from GOD”, which HE only provides to those who have a personal, experiential relationship with HIM. This vision, and all visions that GOD shares with the faithful, represent nothing more than GOD bestowing upon them, a “spiritual discernment” from on high, that allows us to clearly see those spiritually demonic forces that are at work all around us.
In verse 6, the LORD asks Ezekiel if he could now see what was going on outside, on the church house grounds, meaning HE had yet to show him what was going on inside the church. Here HE asks Ezekiel, “Do you see the great sins the people of Israel are doing (around the temple) to drive ME away? But come (follow ME), and you will see greater sins than these”. The closer we follow GOD, the more our sinful behavior is brought to our attention.
GOD then takes Ezekiel to the door of the Church courtyard where he could see an opening in the wall (v.7). HE instructed Ezekiel to dig into the wall where he uncovered a door to a hidden room. “Go in”, the LORD said, and see the unspeakable things going on in the church involving the leadership. Ezekiel went in and saw the walls engraved with symbols of all kinds of snakes, lizards, and hideous creatures (voodoo and witchcraft), and he also saw the various idols that were worshipped by the Church leaders and most of the people of Israel.
Instead of seeing walls that were engraved with images of cherubim and palm trees, which represented GOD’s guardians, and GOD’s fruitfulness and blessings, as GOD had instructed them to do in the plans for the temple (Ezekiel 41:25), Ezekiel saw that the walls were engraved with Idols and symbols from Egypt (represented today most prominently in freemasonry and fraternities), idols and symbols from Canaan (represented today in Ishtar, avatar, and the cartoon figure “shaman King), and idols and symbols from Babylon (still represented in Tammuz, astrology, Ishtar). All these detestable idols were, and still are being worshiped in the temple of GOD.
All seventy elders were standing inside the secret room holding incense burners, with Jaazaniah, son of Shaphan, their leader, standing in the middle. Every man was burning incense to these hidden idols when Ezekiel entered. This incense was also used by the elders in a misguided, twisted, and obviously useless attempt to shield their worship of these idols from the presence of GOD. In other words, using GOD’s idea of incense burning in worship (Leviticus 16:12-13), to try to conceal from HIM, the things they were doing against HIM (LOL).
GOD, WHO knew the hearts of these wicked men (and indeed all men), explains to Ezekiel that the elders actually believed that HE could not see them, and that HE had already abandoned Judah and left them at the mercy of the Babylonians (v.12). And so, under duress from their enemies, they had chosen to do the wrong thing, which was to take up further worshipping of other gods for their protection, secretly, because they did not trust the GOD of their forefathers. While facing the brunt of GOD’s anger for their open idol worship, this wayward group of churchmen simply moved their idol worship underground, forming a “secret fraternity”, if you will, against an all-seeing, all-knowing GOD. And sadly, this too, was not the full extent of Israel’s wickedness (v.13).
Ezekiel is then taken to the north gate of the temple by GOD (v.14), where he sees some Israelite women there sitting on the ground, and weeping (a form of worship) for the idol god, Tammuz. “Tammuz” is the Hebrew name for the Sumerian god, Dumuzi, who is the “god of spring vegetation”, and is also a pagan fertility god. They were praying and weeping to this idol god, in the LORD’s temple, in hopes that she would help end the drought in Judah that had been brought upon them by GOD, the CREATOR.
The LORD then takes Ezekiel into the inner courtyard of the temple, where at the entrance, between the foyer and the bronze altar, about 25 men were standing with their backs to the LORD’s temple, facing eastward, worshipping the sun (Osiris, or Ra, the sun god of Egypt).
The people of Judah had become so accustomed to mixing the profaneness of idol god worship with the purity of GOD’s Temple, that, it was now like second nature to them (v.17). The idol worship that had started with the church leadership in secret, had now spread, throughout the whole land of Judah, and had in fact, become commonplace, even in the church house! That is why GOD was so angry at HIS people in Judah, then, and that is why GOD is also angry with HIS professed Christian Church in this day and age.
Today’s Christian Churches still engage in such witchcraft practices as “miming”, mixing of gospel and secular music in worship services, self-promoting, using and wearing demonic symbols on our clothing in church, such as the so-called “peace sign” (Nero’s cross - which symbolizes “the destruction of Christianity”) and other anti-CHRIST symbols through fraternities and freemasonry. We continue to insult GOD on a regular basis by entertaining ourselves in worship services, literally “playing church” and fooling ourselves, really believing that what we are doing is “true worship”, because our spirituality is so “out-of-calibration”.
In Ezekiel chapter 9, in the second part of Ezekiel’s vision, the stage is now set for GOD’s judgment upon Judah. Here, with a thundering voice, GOD calls on HIS appointed slaughterers to rid the nation of its idolaters. Six men appeared, each armed with a battle club in his hand. One, however, who was dressed in linen, also carried a “writer’s case”, that was strapped to his side. They all went into the temple courtyard and stood beside the bronze altar, awaiting further instructions from the LORD (Vs.1-2).
At that time, the glory of the LORD arose from between the cherubim, and moved to the entrance of the temple. The LORD called the man dressed in linen and carrying the writer’s case, and instructed him to go throughout Jerusalem and mark the foreheads of all those whose heart were broken by the sin that flourished around them. This lets us know that, even though “true believers” will always be outnumbered in this life, the true believer is indeed, never alone. These marked individuals would become “the remnant” who would be saved from the destruction that was about to unfold in Jerusalem (Vs.3-4).
Then GOD instructed all the other men to follow the man in linen, and kill everyone whom he did not mark on the forehead, men, women, and children, and they were to start by killing the seventy elders that were there in the temple. The courtyard was littered with the bodies of the idolaters, and Ezekiel stood all alone and witnessed the carnage. He fell face down in the dust and cried out to the LORD for mercy, but no pity was shown upon the unfaithful (Vs.5-8).
The LORD told Ezekiel that the sins of Israel were too great, and they were not willing to repent. The entire land of Judah had been ravished by sin, and the people no longer believed that the LORD had a presence in the land (v.9). They viewed their nation-wide troubles as a sign that GOD had forsaken them. However, their troubles were, in reality, a product of their own ungodly behavior. We have to come to realize that we are not supposed to see GOD in our sins, but rather, in our obedience to HIM.
And so, it must not go unnoticed that the man dressed in linen apparently finished his task a lot sooner than the executioners did, as there were obviously many more idolaters than there were people who were faithful to the LORD, a condition that has held true in each generation since then, and still holds true in this day and age. Idolatry, witchcraft, and all sorts of profaneness are still just as prevalent in the Christian Church today as it has ever been, and perhaps, dare I say, even more so.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website