I am reading Ezekiel. He is one of my favorites. I think it is because he was stubborn. God himself admits to having made Ezekiel as hard and stubborn as the Jewish people were. He was as hardheaded as “stone or flint.” (Ez.3:8) He would need to be. He would prophesy to people who would not listen to him and would fiercely oppose him. He had been taken in the Babylonian captivity, along with many other Jews. Though Jerusalem had not yet fallen, it would. That was his message to deliver to the exiles…that they were not going home. No rescue was coming. Jerusalem would fall, and God himself was doing this. You can see why he was not popular.
It is easy for New Testament believers to look at the God of the Old Testament and sum Him up as being harsh and judgmental pre-calvary, almost as if He has evolved somehow and is more merciful now than He used to be.
I think that is because we don’t understand the weight of sin and we don’t love His glory. If you ever find yourself in that place, passing judgment on the God of the Old Testament, I challenge you to slowly read Ezekiel 8. I did, and it completely changed my perspective on the Old Testament God.
It begins in Babylon with a group of exiled leaders from Judah. They come to Ezekiel’s home and ask to hear from the Lord, again, wanting news of deliverance from this situation.
As they sat there waiting, God took hold of Ezekiel in a vision and carried him to Jerusalem. Ezekiel is taken to the courtyard of the temple to see what is happening there in real time. He sees a large idol. An idol, that has been set up inside the temple courtyard. God says to Ezekiel, “Do you see?? But come, and you will see even greater sins than these.” He takes him to the temple courtyard where there is an opening in the wall. He asks Ezekiel to dig deeper into the wall. He does, and he finds a door to a hidden room inside the temple of God. He goes in and sees that the walls are covered with images of demonic creatures and idols worshipped by the people of Israel. Ezekiel sees 70 of the leaders of Israel standing there, in the dark. Each one of them is holding an incense burner, engaging in demonic, idolatrous worship. Each one of them. At that point, I grabbed a commentary because I knew that number had to be significant. It was. There were 70 leaders in there. This was the Sanhedrin. And every last one of them was worshiping idols, hidden away in the dark inside the temple of God. And they were not even hiding it from each other. They were ALL doing this together. And shortly after this, they would leave and resume their duties They were to teach the people to obey the Law of God. They were to abolish idolatry in the land. And yet, they knowingly worshipped idols, together. As if God could not see. Mocking Him in the very place that His glory was to dwell.
The chapter continues with God showing Ezekiel even greater sins than these. It culminates with him seeing 25 men with their backs to the temple, facing eastward, worshiping the sun. These were the priests. They were engaging in pagan, demonic worship together at the temple, and like the Sanhedrin, getting up, dusting off their robes and performing their duties as priests of the Holy God of heaven, offering sacrifices to atone for the sin of the people.
This was why judgment had come. The leaders of Judah had the audacity to imply that God was unjust and had abandoned them. As if they were the innocent party, abandoned by their God while they had been faithful to Him. How could they dare to say such a thing? Then it hit me. They assumed that God would deal with them according to the image they presented. They thought He would deal with them according to the righteous front they put out there for all to see…keepers of the law…priests. But he was not judging them based on the facade that everyone else saw. The temple would fall to the ground because of what was happening on the inside, after tearing through the wall into the darkest, most hidden room of all. That was what His eyes had seen. Not their facade.
I thought about that for a long time. He sees our souls. Not our Facebook profiles. He desires truth in the inward parts. He does not care one bit how we present ourselves to the world. He cares how we present our hearts to Him. When he pushes past the walls, does He find truth, or darkness?
*My blogs are written with the assumption that they are being read primarily by Christians. If you want to know more about what it means to be a Christian or about the gospel of Jesus Christ, click the link here:The Gospel