On this day God has made, September 17, the elders of Israel met at Ezekiel’s house in Babylon to ask for God’s help and direction. As they waited for an answer, God showed Ezekiel the horrible sin that was being practiced in the Temple at Jerusalem. The story is told in Ezekiel 8.
This vision was in the year 592 B.C. This was just 6 years before the final overthrow of Jerusalem to the great Emperor of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar.
This vision is found in Ezekiel 8 and was to warn the Israelites that judgment was coming because of their sins. They did not believe they deserved punishment. God took Ezekiel to Jerusalem to show him why the Israelites had to be judged by God. God had no options, unless Israel repented.
In the 14 months since Ezekiel’s first vision, he had acted out four object lessons and received two messages from God. Now God gave him a new vision to share with the people.
Ezekiel was immobilized in his house in Babylon by God’s command and had finished lying on his left side for 390 days. When this vision was given to him, he was in the middle of lying on his right side for 40 days. God had him do this as an object lesson of the torments the nation of Israel would suffer in captivity for their sin, having been deported from their homeland, and held against their will as if paralyzed for 430 time periods of years. He had to stockpile the “bread of affliction” to last him during these long months of paralysis, so by this time, his supplies would have been low and very stale.
In Ezekiel 8, Ezekiel sees a spirit that had the looks of fire, from his loin downward was fire, and from the loins upward was bright and as the color of amber.
This spirit that Ezekiel saw took him by the hair and lifted him up between the earth and the heaven, and brought him in a vision to Jerusalem to the north gate of the Temple where he saw an image of jealousy. This was a horrible thing. King Manasseh had put an Asherah image in the courtyard during his reign, 2 Kings 21:7. This was removed, 2 Chronicles 33:15, but Josiah burned one during his reign, 2 Kings 23:6. The Israelites refused to keep the Temple and area holy. They kept desecrating it with images, even though God directly forbid it, Deuteronomy 16:21.
Then God said to Ezekiel “son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry.”
Then God brought him to the door of the court and there he saw a hole in the wall. Then God told Ezekiel to dig in the wall, and Ezekiel found a door that God told him to go in and see the “wicked abominations that they do here.”
So Ezekiel went in and saw: “behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about.” In the midst he saw seventy elderly men with a censer in each of their hands. A thick cloud of incense smoke ascended from them.
“Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? For they say, The Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth.”
“He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.” Then God brought Ezekiel to the North gate of the temple, and he saw women weeping for Tammuz (an idol).
Then God brought Ezekiel to the inner court of the temple and he saw 25 men with there backs to the temple and there faces to the east worshiping the sun.
God wants us to see him as the only God. He gets very jealous when we turn away from him and go to worship other gods. Worshiping other gods besides God makes Him angry and can make Him take big measures to stop us from disobeying.
Craigie, P.C. Ezekiel. The Daily Study Bible Series. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001, c1983).
Criswell Center for Biblical Studies. Believer's Study Bible. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995. c1991 electronic ed.), Ezekiel 8:1.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995) Ezekiel 8:1-18.
Lagass, Paul, and Columbia University. The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed. (New York; Detroit: Columbia University Press; Sold and distributed by Gale Group, 2000). “Constitutional Convention”
McGee, J.V. Thru the Bible Commentary. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, electronic ed., 1997, printed edition, c1981). Vol. 3, Page 457.
Walvoord, John F., Roy B. Zuck, and Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985). Ezekiel 8.
W.S. Lasor, “Ezekiel” ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1988; 2002). Vol. 2, p. 262. This is the source of the Sept. 17 date.
James Luther Mays, Harper's Bible Commentary (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1996, c1988). Ezekiel 8:1.This is the source of the year.
Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002). Vol. 9, p. 66. This is the source of the 40 days on a side.