Summary: Ezekiel's Hair-Raising Vision
Have you ever been grabbed by the scruff of your neck - even by your hair and told to pay attention? That happened to me once. I was grabbed by my hair and actually lifted off my seat. I know it’s hard to believe when you look at what little hair I have. But like your pastor, there was a time when you could manage to grab a fistful of my hair. And that’s exactly what God did one day because he had an important vision to show me (Ezekiel 8:2, 3) - a hair-raising vision of secret sinners, sacred assassins, and saving insignia. May I share my recollection of this vision with you? I promise not to grab you by the hair to make sure you’re paying attention, but you will want to listen carefully. For the way God acted in my vision is how he will act on the Last Day when Jesus returns to judge you and everyone else who ever lived. This vision will help you prepare for that day.
Forgive me for not introducing myself. I am Ezekiel. I am a Jew who lived during the time of Daniel, the same Daniel who was once thrown into the lions’ den. Like Daniel, I was taken from my home in Jerusalem about 2,600 years ago and transported to Babylon because God was chastising our people for having turned their backs on him. It was bad enough to be taken from our homes, but the worst was yet to come. God would actually let the Babylonians destroy his temple and our beloved city Jerusalem. But not many believed that would ever happen. Most Jews in Babylon thought we would be going home sooner than later. But they didn’t understand just how bad things had gotten in Israel. Our nation was like a house, which on the outside looked fine, but was being eaten away by termites on the inside and was ready to collapse. I didn’t realize that either until God showed me the hair-raising vision. Here’s how it unfolded.
I was seated in my house ready for a meeting with the elders when I saw what looked like a man of fire. He reached out and grabbed me by the hair and lifted me high up into the sky! Did it hurt? Not really. It was only a vision after all. But God sure had my attention. I then felt as if I was being transported back to Jerusalem where I found myself standing in front of the temple. You might think I would have been happy to be back. But what I saw there made my heart sink. God had plunked me down in the temple courtyard where I found an idol! Can you imagine walking into your new church at the dedication service and instead of finding a cross above the altar, what greets you is a giant statue of Buddha?
God’s only comment to me was “You haven’t seen anything yet, Ezekiel.” And he was right. God showed me to a secret doorway and when I entered I saw 70 of our elders worshipping insects, frogs, and lizards like the Egyptians did! The elders didn’t see me of course. As a matter of fact they didn’t think anyone including God saw them. They even felt justified in their idolatry because they thought God had abandoned them. Might as well copy what the strong nations of the world did. Maybe it would help Israel become a powerful nation too they thought.
Before I could cry out to those elders God took me to the entrance of the temple courtyard where I saw women engaged in a worship ritual for the Babylonian god Tammuz. Where were the priests? Why didn’t they object and stop these women who were worshipping a false god on the doorstep of the one true God? That’s when God showed me what the priests were up to. They were standing with their backs to the Ark of the Covenant bowing low to worship the rising sun. I could not argue when God concluded: “Have you seen this, son of man? Is it a trivial matter for the house of Judah to do the detestable things they are doing here? Must they also fill the land with violence and continually provoke me to anger? Look at them putting the branch [up my] nose! 18 Therefore I will deal with them in anger; I will not look on them with pity or spare them. Although they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them” (Ezekiel 8:17, 18).
Friends, what spiritual reality would be revealed if God allowed me to walk through the secret doors of your life? What worldly practices have you adopted because you want to be popular? What sinful attitudes about money, sex, and revenge do you entertain thinking that no one sees – not even God? What snide remarks about fellow church members run through your mind even as you sing hymns here? What God revealed in my hair-raising vision is that there is no such thing as a secret sinner. God knows and sees all we do and think even if no one else does.