Summary: John wrote this letter to refute the teaching of gnosticism that had found its way into the church.
In Ezekiel chapter eight the prophet Ezekiel says he was sitting in his home and Judah's leaders were sitting in front of him. He says at that time, “The power of the Almighty LORD came over me” and he saw a vision of something that looked like a human but whose body looked like fire and glowing metal.
Ezekiel says, “It stretched out what looked like a hand and grabbed me by the hair on my head. In these visions from God, the Spirit carried me between heaven and earth. He took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance to the north gate of the inner courtyard of the temple. That was where an idol that stirs up God's anger was located.”
In verse 4-6 he writes, “There I saw the glory of Israel's God as I did in the vision that I saw in the valley. God said to me, "Son of man, look toward the north." So I looked toward the north, and there in the entrance to the north gate beside the altar, I saw the idol that stirs up God's anger. He asked me, "Son of man, do you see what the people of Israel are doing? The people of Israel are doing very disgusting things here, things that will force me to go far away from my holy place. But you will see even more disgusting things."”
In this vision God took Ezekiel to the entrance of the courtyard of the temple of God where there was a hole in the wall. God told him to dig through the wall and as he did he saw a door and entered through the door and saw all kinds of disgusting things the people of Israel were doing right in the very Temple of God where His holy presence was to be worshipped.
The walls of the temple were covered with drawings of every kind of crawling creature…every kind of disgusting animal and all the idols in the nation of Israel. In front of these drawings stood 70 of Israel's leaders, each of them holding an incense burner in his hand, and a cloud of incense went up as they led God’s people in the idolatrous worship of these false gods.
Ezekiel says in verse 12-13, “God asked me, "Son of man, do you see what the leaders of the nation of Israel are doing in secret? Each of them is in the room where his god is, and each one of them is thinking, 'The LORD doesn't see me. The LORD has abandoned this land.’ Then he said to me, "You will see even more disgusting things that they are doing."
God brought Ezekiel to the entrance of the north gate of the LORD'S temple. Women were sitting there and crying for the god Tammuz. The worship of Tammuz was a pagan fertility ritual where the king had intercourse with a priest at the beginning of each planting season so that there would be a prosperous harvest.
If that wasn’t disgusting, God asked Ezekiel, "Son of man, do you see this? You will see even more disgusting things than these." Then He brought him into the inner courtyard of the LORD'S temple. There at the entrance to the LORD'S temple, between the entrance and the altar, were about 25 men who had their backs facing the LORD'S temple. At the same time, they were looking eastward and worshiping the rising sun.
They had their backs to the Holy of Holies, their faces toward the east and they worshiped the sun. No doubt influenced by the Egyptians who worship the sun god Ra.
In verses 17-18 God asks Ezekiel, "Son of man, do you see this? Isn't it bad enough that the people of Judah have done these disgusting things that you have seen here? Yet, they also fill the land with violence and continue to provoke me even more. Look how they insult me in the worst possible way. So I will take action because I'm angry, and I won't have compassion for them or feel sorry for them. Even if they shout in my ears, I won't listen to them."
The temple of the Lord was utterly defiled, abominated and desecrated. This takes us to Ezekiel chapter nine where it starts out with God assembling what appears to be a group of six angelic beings to carry out His judgment on Jerusalem. Alongside the angels was another who was dressed in linen and carrying paper and a writing instrument.
Eze 9:3 Then the glory of the God of Israel went up from the angels, where it had been, to the temple's entrance. The LORD called to the person dressed in linen who was carrying paper and pen.
Eze 9:4 The LORD said to that person, "Go throughout the city of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of those who sigh and groan about all the disgusting things that are being done in the city."