Unit: Ezekiel (Part 1)
Theme: Sin & Consequences
Lesson Text: Ezekiel 9:1-7; 10:1-5, 18-19; 11:22-23
Supplemental Text: 1 Samuel 4:17-22; Exodus 24:15-17; 2 Chronicles 7:1-4
Aim: Determine to keep the glory of the Lord in your life, in your family, and in your church.
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By Mark Scott
God is a gentleman of the highest order. He will not stay where he is not wanted. However, he does not take lightly being pushed away. His patience has limits (Romans 2:4). If repeatedly pushed away, he will punish those who resist him. That is the essence of Ezekiel’s vision at this point.
Ezekiel was exiled to Babylon previous to Jerusalem’s final destruction in 586 BC. In his vision from God while in Babylon, Ezekiel saw Jerusalem being destroyed before it really happened (2 Chronicles 36:17-19). Following his call to prophetic service (chapters 1-3), he foresaw Jerusalem being besieged (chapters 4-5) and being judged due to her idolatry (chapter 6). He also foresaw the wrath of God being poured out on the holy city due to her abominations that took place in the temple itself (chapters 7-8). In the lesson text, we see God’s glory (the symbol of his presence) leaving the city before the destruction took place.
God seems to like mobility. He likes to go where his people are, and he likes his people to go where he leads. Since no one place can contain him, he resisted the idea of locating his presence in one spot (2 Samuel 7:6; 1 Kings 8:27; Acts 7:48). The temptation for his people to fall into idolatry with that spot was too great (cf. Numbers 21:4-9; 2 Kings 18:4). That being said, God also knows the value of sacred space (1 Kings 8:29-30; Daniel 6:10). Therefore, Jerusalem was very special, and the temple in Jerusalem was its crowned jewel.
Saints Sealed; Sinners Slaughtered
What Ezekiel heard and saw in this vision concerned God’s glory leaving the temple previous to its destruction. (That is the bottom-line meaning of this vision, lest we get lost in all the symbolic details.) God drew upon antecedent theology (previous biblical stories) to give this message to Ezekiel, since the people had a reservoir from which to draw to understand the vision. God’s glory symbolized as a cloud would make the people think back to the ordination of the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38). In 1 Samuel 4, God’s glory was symbolized in a child’s name—Ichabod—which made the people think back to the capture of the ark of the covenant by the Philistines (vv. 17-22). God’s glory, symbolized in a royal hall containing an altar with hot coals (Ezekiel 10:2), made the people think back to Isaiah’s call to prophetic service as his sins were atoned for (Isaiah 6:6). Then, Ezekiel’s own vision of God’s glory alighting on the Mount of Olives would set the table for a great future moment (Zechariah 14:4; Acts 1:9-11).
God would execute his judgment on Jerusalem with unseen angels (one with a writing kit at his side) and Nebuchadnezzar’s army. The people would see the army invading from the north (the Damascus Gate?). What they could not see was the heavenly host sealing the saints (cf. Revelation 7:3-4) and aiding in the slaughter of old and young men, women, mothers, and children. The faithful people in the city would receive a mark on their foreheads. This would protect them—similar to having blood on the doorposts of their houses (Exodus 12:7-13).
It would seem that the glory of the Lord was seen leaving the temple first and then the city at large—like God’s presence was leaving regretfully and in stages. The remnant would grieve (sigh) and lament over the detestable things (disgusting or abominable) done even in the temple. But the wicked would be slain, and their bodies would fill the courts.
Idols Defeated; Glory Departed
Ezekiel 10:1-5, 18; 11:22
Similar to Moses interceding for the people (Numbers 14:13-19), Ezekiel pleaded for the city, but it was too late (9:8-11). The temple had become so corrupt that idol stones representing other gods (lapis lazuli) were above the vault that was over the heads of the cherubim. The angel was commanded to gather the burning coals and ride through the city on his chariot (wheels beneath the cherubim) and scatter them over the city.
Twice we are told the glory of the Lord moved to the threshold of the temple (9:3; 10:4). This probably meant the entrance to the Holy Place on its east side. From there the glory of the Lord moved to the famous eastern gate (visible yet today) and then on to the top of Mount Olivet, east of the temple proper. Ezekiel had a loud and colorful vision. The wings of the angels made a sound similar to the voice of God. It is a terrible thing when God has left the church and only the spiritually alert notice.