Ezekiel 9-11 is a dire set of chapters. They describe the way in which God was going to bring judgement on Jerusalem. It is important to remember that these chapters are all part of the vision that begins in chapter 8, when God lifts Ezekiel and takes him to Jerusalem and shows Ezekiel the abominations that the people were doing with idols. In the vision Ezekiel sees in chapter 8, God shows Ezekiel increasing degrees of abomination done by the people of Jerusalem, their own elders among them.
The four abominations are:
- worship of the idol of jealousy (possibly the Asherah that Manasseh had set up in 2 Kings 21/2 Chronicles 33)
- the worship of animals with incense intended for use in worshiping God
- A woman mourning for Tammuz. Tammuz was a Babylonian god of food and vegetation. Part of worship to him involved a period of mourning when the days grew short and winter set in. It was believed that Tammuz died during this time and the women would mourn for him as they waited for his return from the underworld in the spring.
- 25 men bowing to pray to the sun in the inner court of the temple, a place that was designated for priests to pray to God\
These abominations all break the very first commandment God gave to Israel: You will have no other gods before me; and because of these abominations God is bringing judgement on the city and the nation, judgement that includes the removal of his presence in their midst. These passages remind us that God is holy, and his holiness cannot stand to be in the presence of sin and abomination.
We know that God has covered over our sin with the blood of Jesus, and because of that we are able to have a relationship with God. For that we are eternally grateful. But we must also be careful that our hearts remain wholly and only God’s. Israel’s great sin was that their hearts were divided. They thought they could worship God but then have a little foreign religious influence on the side and everything would be ok. That divided heart got them in trouble.
God promises Ezekiel: “I will give them one heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh so they may follow My statutes, keep My ordinances and practice them.” God’s desire was to remove their divided heart and give them one single-minded heart instead, a heart for following God’s statutes and ordinance. We must pray that we have such a heart.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Ezekiel 13-15