Beholding the Glory, Forever Ruined to Filth

Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Ezekiel the priest the son of Buzi who was ordained and appointed as a prophet of the LORD in the fifth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters five through nine of this Old Testament book. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will encounter the one true and living God continuing to take the priest Ezekiel whom had been transformed into a mighty prophet of the LORD in an incredible and fascinating journey in the visions of God. If and as you read the words which are found within the opening verses of this prophetic book you will find it written concerning the heavens being opened unto Ezekiel and Ezekiel seeing visions of God. Moreover, you will also find and read how the hand of the LORD would be there upon Ezekiel at the river of Chebar in the land of the Chaldeans, and how the word of the LORD came unto him in the fifth year of Jehoiachin’s captivity. It would be quite easy to consider the words and language of “visions of God” and think of these visions as having to do exclusively and primarily with the glory of the LORD as what was found in the first and opening chapter. We know and we understand from the first and opening chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel that this priest turned prophet of the LORD in the land of the Chaldeans would indeed see the glory of the LORD as the heavens were opened unto him. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Ezekiel would see the four living creatures, and would see the firmament upon which the throne of the LORD was established, and would even see the throne of the living God, as well as the living and eternal God who is seated upon that throne. We know within the opening chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel that this prophet of the most High God would see visions of God and that initially Ezekiel would see visions of glory, visions of splendor, visions of holiness, visions of splendor, visions that would make him stand in awe of the living and eternal God who had appeared unto him. This reality and this concept of “the visions of God,” and that which was revealed and manifested unto Ezekiel in the first chapter, however, takes on a whole different meaning when you think about and consider it in light of what the LORD would show him within and during his time as prophet of the most High God. In fact, I am convinced that we cannot truly understand the rest of the prophetic book of Ezekiel—particularly its emphasis on the glory and holiness of the one true and living God—without recognizing and understanding that which is found in the first and opening chapter. With that being said, I invite you to consider the tremendous and awesome vision(s) Ezekiel saw there at the river of Chebar as he sat among the captives in the land of the Chaldeans:

“Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity, the word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar, and the hand of the LORD was there upon him. And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out o the north, a great cloud, and a fire unfolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, and out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the soles of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; then went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward: two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning. Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went. As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above. And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies. And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings. And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings. And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake” (Ezekiel 1:1-28).

Now, I fully expect you to wonder why I would take the time to present you with the entire first chapter of this prophetic book when speaking concerning the visions of God, and yet I am entirely and altogether convinced that it is necessary and critical for us to consider this opening vision and encounter Ezekiel had there at the river of Chebar in the land of the Chaldeans, for when the heavens were first opened unto Ezekiel, and when he first saw visions of God, those visions included a powerful vision of the glory, the holiness, the splendor, the majesty, and the wonder of the one true and living God. The first and opening chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel is one that begins with a powerful vision of the glory and holiness of the living God, which is actually quite interesting when you think about and consider it in light of Ezekiel having been a priest in the land of Judah prior to the captivity in the land of the Chaldeans. Scripture reveals how Ezekiel was a priest, and a how it was in the land of the Chaldeans the word of the LORD came unto him, and the hand of the LORD came upon him. It is clear that although Ezekiel was indeed a priest prior to his being carried away captive into the land of the Chaldeans, he would never experience the manifestation of the glory and holiness of the living God. We know that during the days of Solomon—when the Temple of the LORD was finished and dedicated and consecrated unto the LORD—the glory of the LORD appeared in the midst of the Temple, and the fire of God came down from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering and consumed the sacrifices which were upon the altar. Scripture reveals how during those days the priests of the LORD were unable to enter into the Temple because the glory of the living God was so strong and so powerful in the midst of it. It’s important to note that this would be the only time the glory of the LORD would fill that Temple, for from the days and time of Solomon until the time of its destruction by the Babylonians it would never again experience the glory and presence of the living God. Oh we know that in the latter part of the prophetic book of Ezekiel he would see a vision of the Temple of the LORD and the glory of the LORD departing from the Temple on the one hand, and on the other hand the glory of the LORD entering into the Temple. In order to understand this particular reality, it is necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in both the fifth and seventh chapters of the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles. Consider if you will the following words which are found concerning the days and time of Solomon and the glory of the LORD filling the Temple:

“It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God” 2 Chronicles 5:13-14).

“Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven,a no consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’s house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the LORD,s aging, For He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3).

It is worth considering the words and language which is found within these two chapters, for Scripture only speaks of one time when the glory of the LORD appeared in the Temple which Solomon had built, and that glory being manifested in the sight of all the people. Not once, but twice in the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles we find and read incredible and tremendous language of the glory of the LORD filling the Temple which Solomon son of David had built for the name and fame of the one true and living God, and so thick and so pervasive was the glory of the living God that the priests could not enter into the midst thereof, nor fulfill their service and work in the midst of the sanctuary. Moreover, the fire of the living God would come down from heaven upon the altar and would consume the sacrifices and offerings which were found upon it. From that time until the day of its destruction at the hands of the Babylonians the Temple of the LORD would never experience the glory of the living God being manifested in such a powerful way as they did during and at this time. This is what makes the opening chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel so incredibly powerful, for although Ezekiel wasn’t present during the days and time of Solomon son of David king of Israel when the glory of the LORD filled the Temple, and although Ezekiel was effectively cut off from the Temple and sanctuary being in the land of the Chaldeans, the heavens would be opened unto him, and he would see visions of God. It would be those visions of God which Ezekiel would see that would allow him to see the glory and holiness of the living God. Not only would Ezekiel see the heavens opened, but Ezekiel would also see—almost as it were—a storm coming out of the north with a fire infolding itself. Ezekiel would—in the visions of God—see the four living creatures, and both wheels and rings there in the land of the Chaldeans at the river of Chebar, and Ezekiel would see a wonderful and magnificent sight that would unfold before his eyes. Although Ezekiel was effectively cut off and separated from the Temple of the LORD, the LORD would allow this priest to see a powerful vision of the holiness of God, as well as a powerful vision of the glory of God. Ezekiel would encounter and come face to face with the glory and holiness of God—and not only the glory and holiness of God, but also the throne of God which would be above the firmament. Ezekiel would see a firmament before him there in the land of the Chaldeans, and at the very heart of that vision would be the throne, and One who was seated upon the throne.

This reality and concept of Ezekiel seeing a vision of the throne which was found above the firmament is actually quite astonishing and remarkable when you take the time to think about and consider it, for when and as you journey back to the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah you will find that this Hebrew prophet also saw a vision of the holiness of the living God. Within the very first prophetic book found in Scripture we find Isaiah the son of Amoz—in the year in which Uzziah king of Judah died—seeing the LORD seated on a throne and being high and lifted up. Of the various prophets who prophesied according to the word of the LORD during the days of the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, only Isaiah and Ezekiel would see visions of the throne of God, and one who was seated upon that throne. Ezekiel would see visions of God, and at the very beginning of those visions of God Ezekiel would see both the throne of God, as well as the one true and living God who was seated upon that throne. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for it helps shine a tremendous amount of light on to a similar vision which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning the throne of God. Although Isaiah would not see the same type of vision which Ezekiel the priest would see, he would nonetheless see a wonderful and powerful vision of the holiness of the living God. It would be as a direct result of that vision of the holiness and the glory of the one true and living God that would cause Isaiah to look inward within and upon himself, and to pronounce woe upon himself, for he was a man of unclean lips, dwelt in the midst of a people of unclean lips. I am absolutely and completely convinced that it is necessary to consider both of these visions of the throne of the true and living God, for Isaiah the son of Amoz would see the throne of God in heaven, while Ezekiel would see the heavens opened, and in visions of God would see above the firmament the very same throne, and the One who was seated upon the throne. It is absolutely necessary that we. Think about and consider this awesome and incredible reality, for it helps shine an incredible light on to this reality of “visions of God,” which Ezekiel the priest would see there in the land of the Chaldeans. With this in mind, I invite you to now consider the words which are found in the sixth chapter of the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah the son of Amoz and the vision he saw concerning the LORD seated on a. throne high and lifted up, and his train filling the temple:

“IN the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD sitting upon a. Throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the Temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feeet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: The whole earth is full of His glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongues from off the altar: and he laid it upon. My mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine in inquiry is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the LORD, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people” (Isaiah 6:1-9).

Within this particular passage we clearly see Isaiah the son of Amoz seeing a vision of the throne of God—and not only a vision of the throne of God, but also a vision of the holiness of the living God. In the year king Uzziah died Isaiah the son of Amoz would see the LORD seated on a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filling the Temple. What a powerful vision this would be as not only would Isaiah the son of Amoz see the vision of the throne of God, but he would also hear the seraphims crying one to another, saying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: The whole earth is full of His glory.” Stop for a moment and consider just how awesome and incredible this reality truly is, for it has the ability to further increase and enhance what we find in the prophetic book of Ezekiel. We know from the opening chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel that this ancient Hebrew prophet saw visions of God, and in those visions saw the glory and holiness of the living God. We know from the first and opening chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel that this priest turned prophet would see the throne of the living God, and that One who was seated upon the throne. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this—particularly and especially when considering the awesome truth of these visions of God which Ezekiel saw. I am absolutely and completely convinced that Ezekiel the priest would need this tremendous vision of God and of the holiness of the living God, for as you continue to read this prophetic book you will find the Spirit of the LORD taking Ezekiel to various different places, and showing him the tremendous amount of filth which had corrupted, polluted and defiled—not only the land itself, but also the very Temple of the LORD. It’s absolutely incredible that Ezekiel would see this vision of the glory and holiness of the living God, and would see it in the land of the Chaldeans, and how it would be completely separated and set apart from the Temple of the LORD. Ezekiel’s vision of the glory and holiness of the living God would be absolutely and utterly separate from the Temple which stood in Jerusalem, as when the heavens were opened, and when he saw visions of God, it would be in the land of captivity and exile. This reality of “visions of God” is actually something that is worth thinking about and considering, for more often than not when you think about it you will think of how “visions of God” deal exclusively and primarily with the glory and presence of the living God. The truth of the matter, however, is that this simply isn’t the case. We would like to think that “visions of God” are entirely and altogether set upon the glory and presence of the LORD, and how these “visions of God” bring us into the place where we encounter His manifest presence, and when we experience His holiness, His glory, His splendor, His might, and His power.

As I sit here today thinking about and consider this reality and concept of “visions of God,” I cannot help but be absolutely and completely gripped and captivated by the fact that “visions of God” have absolutely nothing to do with the glory and holiness of the living God alone. We would like to think that visions of God are all about the glory and holiness of the living God, and that they revolve around His presence as it is manifested within our lives, and yet the truth of the matter is that this simply isn’t the case. When we think about and consider this reality of “visions of God” we would like to think that it always has to do with good and pleasant things, and that it has to do with seeing the glory of the living God within our midst. In all reality, however, this simply is not the case. We would be incredibly naïve to think about and consider the fact that “visions of God” deal exclusively and entirely with the glory of the living God. I am convinced that it is entirely and altogether naïve to think about visions of God, and to think about it solely in terms of the glory and presence of the living God. We could indeed read the prophetic book of Ezekiel and allow ourselves to get caught up in the reality of these visions of God dealing exclusively and primarily with Ezekiel seeing a vision of the glory and majesty of the living God as it would come out of the north, however, I firmly believe that to do so would be entirely and altogether naïve and tragic. If and as you read the words which are found in the prophetic book of Ezekiel you will find that these “visions of God” dealt with more than simply visions of the glory and holiness of the living God, and dealt with the awesome and incredible reality of Ezekiel also seeing the tremendous filth which defiled, corrupted and polluted the land of Judah, the city of Jerusalem, as well as the Temple of the living God. In fact, if you come to the eighth chapter of this prophetic book you will again find Ezekiel being taken in vision of God unto the holy city of Jerusalem and coming unto the Temple of the LORD which still stood in the midst of the city. At this point the Temple of the LORD would still remain standing in the midst of the city of Jerusalem, and would not yet be destroyed by the Babylonians. What we find within this chapter, however, is a tragic picture of just how much the people of Judah and Jerusalem had defiled themselves—and not only how they had defiled themselves, but also how they had defiled, polluted and corrupted the Temple and sanctuary of the living God. We dare not read the prophetic book of Ezekiel and think about these visions of God solely in terms of the glory and presence of the LORD and not also think about it in terms of Ezekiel’s eyes beholding the tremendous filth which had polluted and corrupted the land. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this prophetic book beginning to read with and from the opening verse of the eighth chapter:

“And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the LORD God fell there upon me. Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: for the appearance of his loins even cowards, fire; and from his loins even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the colour of amber. And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of jealousy. And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain. Then said he unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry. He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, sees thou hat they do? Even the great abominations that the house of Israel committees here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? But turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations. And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall. Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door. And he said unot me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here. So I went in and saw; and behold every form of c creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about. And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up. Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? For they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth. He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD’s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he unto me, Hast thou s even this, O Son of man? Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD’s house, and, behold, at the door of the Temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the Temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. Then he said unto me, hast thou seen this, O son of man? IS it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? For they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear tEzekiel 8:1-18).

The words which are found in this passage of Scripture must be carefully considered, for within them we come face to face with the tremendous reality of these “visions of God,” which Ezekiel the prophet would see. As the eighth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel opens, it does so with Ezekiel sitting in his house, and the elders of Judah sitting before him. It would be there the hand of the LORD God would fall upon him, and he would behold a likeness of the appearance of fire and brightness. There in Ezekiel’s house as he sat before the elders we find this one who appeared unto him putting forth his hand and taking him by the lock of his head, and the Spirit lifting him up between the earth and heaven, and brought him in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looked toward the north. It would be here at the door of the inner gate which looked toward the north Ezekiel would see the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoked the LORD to jealousy. Moreover, it would be here within and at this place Ezekiel would see the glory of the God of Israel present there, according to the vision which he had seen in the plain. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome reality, for within this chapter—not only do we find Ezekiel seeing a vision of the glory of God as he had seen it at the first by the river of Chebar, but we also find Ezekiel being taken in visions of God unto Temple which was present in the city of Jerusalem. What we find, however, concerning this particular manifestation of the visions of God is more than simply the glory of the LORD which Ezekiel had seen at first in the plain in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans at the river of Chebar. What we find within these visions of the glory of the living God is both a contrast between the glory of God—and the glory of God which Ezekiel would see first in the plain at the river of Chebar—and the tremendous wickedness, the tremendous iniquity and idolatry which was present in the midst of the land. It’ necessary for us to consider this awesome reality, for the visions of God which Ezekiel would see at this particular time would be a clear contrast between the glory of the living God and the wickedness of His people. Stop for a moment and think about the incredible significance of this reality, for although Ezekiel would see visions of God, those visions would present him with a clear contrast between the glory of the living God and the wickedness, the iniquity, the idolatry, and the transgression of men. What’s more, is that this contrast would be between the glory of the living God and the wickedness that was found within the Temple of the living God which was present in the midst of Jerusalem.

As I sit here this morning I can’t help but think about and consider this reality—particularly and especially in light of what we find in the life of Josiah the last and final righteous king who would sit upon the throne of David in the midst of Jerusalem. The LORD would show Ezekiel in visions of God the idolatry, the iniquity and immorality of the people of Judah and Jerusalem—and not only this immorality and idolatry, but also that which was found within the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD. How absolutely tremendous it is to think about the fact that these visions of God would not only allow Ezekiel to see the glory of the LORD as he had seen it at the first in the plain, but he would also see this same vision of the glory of the LORD, and the wickedness in the sanctuary of the LORD. THE GLORY OF THE LORD AND THE WICKEDNESS IN HIS HOUSE! THE GLORY OF THE LORD AND THE FILTH IN HIS HOUSE! THE GLORY OF THE LORD AND THE REVELATION OF IDOLATRY WITHIN HIS HOUSE! Ezekiel would indeed and would in fact see visions of God, and would in fact be taken by the spirit once more in visions of God unto the holy city of Jerusalem, however, these visions of God would contain more than simply the glory of the LORD and the image of the throne of God and His sitting upon that throne. These visions of God would first present Ezekiel with a vision of the glory and holiness of the LORD, and it would be from that place of observing the glory and holiness of the living God Ezekiel’s eyes would next behold the tremendous wickedness which was found in the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD. What makes this even more intriguing and astonishing is when you think about and consider the fact that the filth, the corruption the pollution which Ezekiel would see in the midst of the sanctuary of the LORD would be in direct contrast to that which Josiah king of Judah would do in the eighteenth year of his reign. If you read Scripture you will find that in the thirteenth year of Josiah’s reign the prophet Jeremiah would begin prophesying the word of the LORD, while in the eighteenth year of his reign the book of the Law would be found in the midst of the Temple of the LORD. What makes this finding of the book of the Law so absolutely remarkable is when you think about and consider the fact that it would be brought forth from the Temple and house of the LORD and would be read in the hearing of Josiah the king of Judah. More specifically, it would be when Josiah would hear these words of the book of the Law which were read in his ear that he would humble himself before the LORD. In response to what Josiah heard in the book of the Law of the LORD he would send messengers unto the prophetess Huldah that he might inquire of the LORD concerning the words which he heard. From scripture we understand the word of the LORD which would come unto Josiah was that the LORD would indeed bring His judgment and wrath upon the land of Judah and upon the city of Jerusalem, and how the LORD would fulfill that which He had spoken during the days of Josiah. What the LORD would, however, do was delay and postpone His wrath and His judgment during the days of Josiah, as He would bring it upon the land during the days of his sons.

It is this reality concerning Josiah’s actions upon hearing the words which were read in his hearing from the book of the Law that we truly understand the further and greater actions he would take in the midst of the land. We know Josiah would humble himself and would rend his clothes upon hearing the words which were written in the book of the Law, but we also know that he would immediately set forth in launching a campaign of cleansing in the midst of the land. If you read the Old Testament book of Second Kings you will find that Josiah would call the people of Judah and Jerusalem into covenant before the LORD, and how Josiah would have the words which were found in the book of the Law read in the hearing of all the people of Judah and Jerusalem. We dare not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for as you read the words found concerning his life you will find that beginning at the Temple of the LORD in the city of Jerusalem Josiah would being a process of purging and cleansing within and in the midst of the land. It was almost as if in the heart and mind of Josiah the Temple and house of the LORD was the first place which needed cleansing and purging, and he would order the priests and Levites to begin carrying out all the idolatry and wickedness that was found in the midst of the Temple before he would turn and direct his attention to the land. Oh it was true there would be a cleansing that would come upon the land, however, that cleansing would first begin at and with the house of the LORD there in the midst of Jerusalem. I am convinced it is necessary for us to consider the narrative of Josiah king of Judah cleansing the land, for when we come to the days of the prophet Ezekiel—that one who beforetime served as a priest of the LORD within the sanctuary of the LORD—we find the LORD showing this prophet/priest all the iniquity, all the idolatry, all the wickedness, and all the filth and pollution that was present in the midst of the house of the LORD. This is truly astonishing, for it’s almost as if within a matter of a single generation—perhaps less than forty years—all the work which Josiah king of Judah had done was undone by his sons. In the eighth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel we find this prophet seeing in visions of God the glory of the LORD as he had seen at first in the plain by the river of Chebar. The one fundamental difference this time, however, is that the visions of God would be about more than just the glory of the LORD, but would be about the contrast between the glory of the LORD which would be there in the midst of Jerusalem and at the Temple of the LORD. These visions of God which Ezekiel would see would be visions of the glory of God at first, however, it would quickly transition to his beholding with his own eyes the tremendous filth, the tremendous wickedness, and the tremendous idolatry and iniquity that was found in the Temple and court of the LORD. With this in mind, I invite you to consider the words which are found in the Old Testament book of Second Kings beginning with the fourth verse of this chapter:

“And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the Temple of the LORD all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Beth-el. And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. And he brought out the grove from the house of the LORD, and without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to power, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people. And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove. And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defied the high palces where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beer-sheba, and brake down the high palces of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man’s left hand at the gate of the city. Nevertheless the priests of the high places came not up to the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, but they did eat of the unleavened bread among their brethren. And he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son of his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech. And he took away the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entering in of the house of the LORD, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the c hamberlain, which was in the suburbs, and burned the chariots of the sun with fire. And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the LORD, did the king beat down, and brake them down from thence, and cast the dust of them into the brook Kidron. And the high places that were before Jerusalem, which were on the right hand of the mount of corruption, which Solomon the king of Israel had bailed for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon, did the king devil. And he brake in pieces the images, and cut down the groves, and filled their places with the bones of men. Moreover the altar that was at Beth-el, and the high place which Jereboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, and made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove. And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the LROD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words. Then he said, What title is that that I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God, which came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar of Beth-el. And he said, Let him alone; let no man move his bones. So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet that came out of Samaria. And all the houses also of the high places that were in the cities of Samara, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the LORD to anger, Josiah took away, and did to them according to all the acts that he had done in Beth-el. And he slew all the priests of the high places that were there upon the altars, and burned men’s bones upon them, and returned to Jerusalem. And the king commanded all the people, saying, Keep the Passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the book of this covenant. Surely there was not holden such a Passover from the days of the judges that judges Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah; but in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, wherein this Passover was holden the LORD in Jerusalem. Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abomonations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD. And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him” (2 Kings 23:4-25).

It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand the narrative of Josiah king of Judah, for what we find within his life is a powerful cleansing that would take place in the midst of the land of Judah, in the land of Israel, as well as in the cities of Samaria and Jerusalem. What makes this all the more intriguing is when you think about the fact that when we come to the days of the prophet Ezekiel we find the Temple of the LORD once more being defiled, polluted and corrupted in the sight of the living God. That which is found in the eighth chapter of this prophetic book is truly astonishing when you take the time to think about it, for as surely as the LORD had allowed Ezekiel to see visions of God concerning His glory and His presence, He would also show him the tremendous wickedness, iniquity, idolatry and transgression that was found in the house of the LORD. Ezekiel the priest of the LORD who would stand before Him and serve as prophet would once more see in visions of God the glory of the LORD, however, he would see much more than that. Still in visions of God the LORD Himself would show Ezekiel the tremendous wickedness and lewdness that was found in the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD. It would be the LORD who would bring Ezekiel in visions of God unto the city of Jerusalem, and unto the house of the LORD, and it would be in those visions the LORD would show him all the abominations and iniquity which was found within His sanctuary and within His Temple. This same Temple and this same sanctuary which Solomon had built centuries earlier, and in which the glory of the LORD had filled so much so that the priests could not bear to enter would now become defiled, corrupted and polluted within the land of Judah, as not only would there be an image which would provoke to jealousy, but there would also be countless other atrocities that would take be found and committed in the sanctuary of the living and eternal God. When you begin reading with and from the fifth verse you will find the LORD showing Ezekiel northward at the gate of the altar the image of jealousy which was present there at the entry. The LORD would go on to ask Ezekiel if he saw what the people of Judah and Jerusalem did—even the great abominations which the house of Israel committed at the sanctuary of the LORD that He should go from the sanctuary. What is perhaps the underlying reality and truth found and contained within this chapter is when you consider the fact that the LORD would declare unto Ezekiel on more than one occasion that he would see greater abominations than what he saw. It’s almost as if the further Ezekiel went in these visions of God the more abominations, the more wickedness, the more iniquity, the more idolatry, and the more sin he would see. Even more than this, we find the LORD Himself showing Ezekiel the wickedness that was found within His house. Oh, I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like for Ezekiel to have been a priest—and perhaps to have even served in this Temple and sanctuary—to see all the wickedness and all the idolatry that was found in the midst of the sanctuary of the LORD. Stop for a moment and think about what Ezekiel might very well have thought about when he was brought in visions of God according to the Spirit unto the Temple of the LORD in the midst of Jerusalem that he might see the great abominations and wickedness that was found therein.

The more you read the eighth chapter the more you will get the strong sense that what Ezekiel was experiencing in these visions of God is in fact greater and deeper visions of the tremendous and gross iniquity and idolatry that was found within the house of the LORD. You cannot read the words found in this chapter and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome reality that Ezekiel would be brought unto the Temple of the LORD in Jerusalem—not to experience and encounter the glory of the LORD there in the midst of the Temple, but rather the wickedness that almost seemed to replace the glory of the LORD. In fact, the LORD would ask Ezekiel if he saw the great abominations the people did in the midst of the sanctuary that he should go far off from His sanctuary. Oh please don’t miss and lose sight of this awesome and tremendous reality, for to do so would be to miss out on what is actually contained therein. Within this passage of Scripture we find Ezekiel seeing first and foremost the image of jealousy which provoked unto jealousy before being brought further and deeper into the corruption and pollution that was found in the house of the LORD. Oh, we tend to think of visions of God and how they deal exclusively and primarily with His glory and with His presence, and yet what we find here within this passage of Scripture is a powerful and awesome picture of Ezekiel being brought in visions of God to the Temple of the LORD that he might see the gross immorality and iniquity found in the midst of the sanctuary and Temple of the LORD. After the LORD showed Ezekiel the image of jealousy which provoked to jealousy, the LORD would them bring Ezekiel to the door of the court where he would see a hold in the wall. Ezekiel would be instructed to dig in the wall, and upon doing so he would see a door. As Ezekiel went through the door the LORD invited him to behold the wicked abominations which the people did there—namely, every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel portrayed upon the wall round about. Moreover, Ezekiel would see seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up. The LORD would ask Ezekiel once more if he saw the abominations which were committed in the sanctuary and house in the midst of Jerusalem—that which was committed in the dark, as every man would commit their iniquity and idolatry in the chambers of his imagery. These men would say within their hearts that the LORD did not see them, and that the LORD had forsaken the earth.

As you continue reading within this chapter you will find the prophet Ezekiel being shown even more and even greater revelations of the wickedness and iniquity found within the sanctuary of the LORD, for he would be brought to the door of the gate of the LORD’s house, which was toward the north. It would be there Ezekiel would see women weeping for Tammuz, and it would be there the LORD asking Ezekiel if he saw the great wickedness and iniquity which was being committed at His sanctuary and at His house. Once more the LORD would instruct and invite Ezekiel to turn again, and upon doing so he would see even greater abominations than that which he previously saw. Ezekiel would then be brought into the inner court of the LORD’s house, and, behold at the door of the Temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the Temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. The LORD would then go on to ask Ezekiel if he had seen this, and would go on to ask him if it was a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they committed there. Moreover, the LORD would declare unto Ezekiel how the people filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke Him to anger, and put the branch to their nose. The words which are found within the eighth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel are actually quite astounding when you take the time to think about and consider them, for not only do they present us with the reality of Ezekiel seeing visions of God, and once more seeing the glory of the LORD, but this chapter also presents us with Ezekiel seeing visions of God in direct comparison and contrast with the LORD showing this prophet the great abominations and wickedness that was committed in the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD. It’s almost as if the LORD would first show Ezekiel a vision of His glory and His holiness that when Ezekiel saw the abominations, the wickedness, the filth, the iniquity and idolatry that was found in the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD he would be absolutely and utterly repulsed by that which he saw. Stop for a moment and think about the fact that it does something within the heart and life of an individual when they see a vision of the glory and holiness of the living God, and then after seeing a vision of the glory and holiness of God your eyes and your senses are awakened to that reality, and it is from that place where you are not only repulsed by the wickedness committed in the sight of the living God, but you also find yourself sighing, groaning, weeping and mourning over the great abominations that are committed before the LORD—particularly and especially within His sanctuary and within His house.

I sit here today and I can’t help but think about the fact that Ezekiel’s eyes first beheld the glory and holiness of the LORD, and such a sight would be forever imprinted and implanted within his heart and soul that he would look at the iniquity, the abominations, the wickedness, the idolatry, and all the filth that was found in the midst of the land in direct light of that glory and holiness. I can’t help but get the strong sense that the LORD would allow Ezekiel to first see His glory and His holiness in order that Ezekiel might be radically changed and transformed by that holiness, for his eyes would see and behold the great abominations and wickedness that was committed in the sight of the LORD by the people of Judah. Ezekiel would see visions of the glory and holiness of the living God, yet his eyes would also behold the great abominations, the great wickedness, the great iniquity, and the great transgression the people of Judah and Jerusalem committed in the sight of the LORD. We cannot and must not miss and lose sight of this, for it’s almost as if in order to prepare this prophet for what he would see—particularly and especially in the sanctuary of the LORD—the living God would allow Ezekiel to first behold His glory and His holiness. I can’t help but get the strong sense that one of the greatest needs within our hearts and lives is a true and present vision and experience with the glory and holiness of the living and eternal God. There is not a doubt in my mind that we as the people of God need to be radically transformed and altered by a vision of the holiness and glory of the living God. Much like Isaiah saw the LORD seated on a throne high and lifted up, and saw His train filling the Temple, and heard the cherubim crying one to another, saying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory,” so also would the prophet Ezekiel see a vision of the glory and holiness of the LORD and would look upon and behold the great wickedness and transgression of the people of Judah and Jerusalem. We think about the reality and concept of visions of God, and we think about it in terms of God’s glory and God’s presence, and yet the truth of the matter is that within the life of Ezekiel we find visions of God causing and allowing him to see the great abominations and wickedness that was committed within the land. What’s more, is that immediately after Ezekiel would be brought in visions of God unto the Temple and sanctuary of the LORD in the midst of Jerusalem he would see men clothed in linen going through the city and slaughtering all those whom that one with ink horn had not placed a mark on their foreheads, thus separating and distinguishing them from all the others in the midst of the city.

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close, I find it absolutely necessary to draw and call your attention to the words found in the ninth chapter of this prophetic book, for it is in the ninth chapter where we essentially find our response when we have seen visions of the glory of the living God, and have then been permitted to see the wickedness and abominations which are being committed before and all around us. It’s almost as if the vision of the glory and holiness of the living God saw in the land of the Chaldeans by the river of Chebar would prepare him for what he would see in the land of Judah, in the city of Jerusalem, and in the sanctuary of the LORD. Ezekiel would first be brought to the place where he would see the glory and holiness of the living God, and it would be in seeing visions of the glory and holiness of the living God he would then see the wickedness and abominations which were committed in the midst of the land. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome reality, for has tremendous application within our own hearts and lives, and how we view the wickedness, the iniquity, the idolatry, and the transgression that is found before and all around us. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the words which are found in the ninth chapter of this prophetic book. In fact, I leave you with the words found in the ninth chapter as a powerful invitation to examine your own heart and soul, and whether or not you have truly seen a vision of the glory and holiness of the living God, and how you view wickedness, iniquity, transgression, immorality, and idolatry in the midst of the land, ad in the midst of the church, and even within and in the midst of your own life. I leave you now with the words found in this ninth chapter and. Calls and draw your attention to the tremendous truth contained therein, as there was a clear and present distinction that was made in the midst of the land between those who would see the iniquity and immorality and weep, sigh and. Mourn over it, and those who would treat it casually, carelessly and flippantly. Consider. Now if you will the words which are found in the ninth chapter of the prophetic book of Ezekiel beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse of the chapter:

“HE cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying gwewapon in his hand. And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s ink horn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar. And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon He was, the the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s ink horn by his side; and the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sight and that cry for all the abortion ants that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city. And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord God! Wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem? Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LROD seeth not. And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head. And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the ink horn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me” (Ezekiel 9:1-11).

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