Summary: Ezekiel sees the false worship of the Jews
Ezekiel 8 - Getting Serious about Our Worship - March 11, 2018
Turn with me this morning to Ezekiel 8. Ezekiel is one of the major prophets of the OT. The books are called Major prophets because they are much longer books that the Minor prophets, which tend to be books with only a couple of chapters. Ezekiel comes after Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Lamentations, and right before Daniel. The setting of the book is the Babylonian Captivity. Because the Jews had ignored God and refused to live according to His ways, God allowed His chosen people, the apple of His eye, to be overthrown first by the Assyrians in 722 BC and later by the Babylonians in 586 BC.
The overthrow by the Babylonians came in three “waves” of invasion, with Daniel being taken with some of the royal families in the first wave, Ezekiel being taken with 10,000 of the Jews in the second wave, and Jeremiah being present in Jerusalem in the third wave when all but the poorest of the poor are taken. Daniel ends up in Babylon in the capital city serving King Nebuchadnezzar, Ezekiel is with the Jews in the resettlement camps out in the countryside, and Jeremiah remains with the remnant in Jerusalem.
In the last few weeks we saw that Ezekiel was raised a priest, but God takes him and changes his role to be a prophet, to speak out the words of God to His people. But God said that they were stubborn, rebellious, and obstinate, and that they wouldn’t listen to Ezekiel. So to get their attention, God uses Ezekiel to “act out” God’s messages. We saw last week that Ezekiel did all sorts of “action sermons” - setting of toy soldiers, laying on his side day after day, cutting his hair and burning it up, eating a starvation diet, and he was even mute. God closed his mouth so he could only speak when God had a message for him to say. I’m sure his wife wasn’t too happy about that - Ezekiel, did you hear me? Why won’t you talk to me!
But God said in Ezekiel 24:24, Ezekiel will be a sign to you; you will do just as he has done. When this happens, you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.’ So when the people looked at Ezekiel, they would know there was still a God in Israel. That was the whole purpose of the vision in chapter 1 - to a people who felt forgotten by God, Ezekiel reminds them that God is STILL on His throne. God is still calling the shots.
Today, we are going to look in chapter 8, and see another strange thing that God does with Ezekiel. He gives him a vision - God mystically transports Ezekiel to Jerusalem - hundreds of miles away - to see the sinful things that are occurring there.
Read chapters 8 & 9 - Pray
These are sobering words in this chapter. And this morning, we want to consider not just what is going on in Jerusalem 2500 years ago, but what this lesson means for us today. The first thing we want to consider is this: Ezekiel has a “vision.” What does that mean? It does NOT mean he just has a dream. Some would say that at night it is a dream and in the day it is a vision. But a vision is much more than that. One thing that Ezekiel makes clear throughout his book is that when he has these “visions” they come from the Spirit of God. So these visions are God dealing with Ezekiel in a direct way. And in these visions, God gives Ezekiel “divine revelation” - God reveals truth that could not be known apart from God declaring it.
Remember in the book of Daniel - King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream, but is going to kill all of his wise men because no one can tell him his dream. But God gives Daniel a vision, special revelation, telling him what the king’s dream was and what it meant. In the same way God gives Ezekiel a special direct revelation of truth.
The imagery of the vision is funny - God grabs Ezekiel by the hair of his head and takes him high up in the air. And then God lets him see all the way back to his homeland, Jerusalem. And God lets him see what is taking place there. Was it real? Yes. Was Ezekiel physically transported there? Probably not. But God supernaturally transports Ezekiel there to see what is taking place.
So should WE look for visions today? NO! Why not? First, because WE are NOT prophets of God! And before you start making the claim that you COULD be a prophet - remember the test of a prophet: if you ever say anything that turns out to not be true, you are to be KILLED!