Shall we turn in our Bibles to Ezekiel the sixth chapter.
Ezekiel here addresses himself to the mountains of Israel. The people of Israel had built places of worship on the tops of the mountains, but not worship to Jehovah God, but to Baal, to Molech, Mammon. And because the mountains were the places for these altars and groves and places of pagan worship, he addresses the prophesy against the mountain telling of the desolation that is going to come. How that they are going to be wasted without inhabitant.
Now, as we get to the thirty-fourth chapter, thirty-fifth chapter, he again addresses himself to the mountains of Israel which have been desolate for so long. And he tells them that they are going to be inhabited again. So, it is interesting to make a contrast between this prophesy against the mountains of Israel where so much false worship had gone on, and later on, after the period that God has brought His judgment against the people and they are brought back into the land, how again he speaks to the mountains and how the blessing of the Lord will be there as the nation is inhabited again.
So, it is the word of the LORD that came unto me, saying, Son of man, set your face toward the mountains of Israel and prophesy against them, And say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD; thus saith the Lord GOD to the mountains and to the hills, to the rivers and to the valleys; Behold, I, even I, will bring a sword upon you, and will destroy your high places (6:1-3).
That is, the places of worship which were called the high places, the groves and all.
And your altars shall be desolate, and your images shall be broken: and I will cast down your slain men before your idols. And I will lay the dead carcasses of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will scatter your bones round about your altars. In all your dwelling places the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate; that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, and your idols may be broken and cease, and your images may be cut down, and your works may be abolished. And the slain shall fall in the midst of you, and ye shall know that I am the LORD (6:4-7).
So, he predicts this slaughter that is going to come and the places where they have worshipped these false gods to be destroyed, the idols to be broken, and the pieces of the idols scattered with the bones of the people who had been turning away from God in this sacrilege and the worshipping of these idols in these high places.
Now, we get this interesting phrase in verse 7, and it is used some sixty-two times in Ezekiel, where the Lord declares, “And ye shall know that I am the Lord.” You see, they had been worshipping these false gods and God is declaring, “I am going to destroy them and they that worship them, and you will know that I am the Lord.”
It is interesting when we get to the thirty-eighth chapter of Ezekiel and God there tells us of the destruction that He is going to bring against that massive Russian invasion, with all of the various allies that they will be bringing. And when God utterly destroys them He said, “And then the nations of the world will know that I am the Lord.” He is now seeking to teach them this fact. They’ve been turning from Him; they’ve been worshipping these other gods. So over and over He said, “I’m going to bring these judgments, and when I do, when this happens, you will know that I am the Lord.”
You’ve been worshipping false gods.
Yet [the Lord said] I will leave a remnant, that ye may have some that will escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries (6:8).
Now, though God has brought His judgment against Israel and an extremely severe judgment, and people might question, “Why was God so fierce in His judgment against His people?” But the Bible says, “Unto whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48). So, these people were extremely blessed of God. In fact, they were the most blessed people on the face of the earth.
“What advantage,” Paul said, “does the Jew have?” And he answered his question by saying, “Much, and in every way, for unto them were committed the oracles of God, the commandments, the statutes the ordinances” (Romans 3:1-2). God had given them so very, very much, and because He had given them so much, He in turn requires much from them.
Now that should be a warning to us, for God has given us so much. The knowledge and the understanding of His Word, and thus God requires much from us.
So, God brought His judgment against them. It was fierce and it has been a continuing judgment, but always, always though many of them became apostate, turned from God, yet God always had His faithful remnant among them. And this has always been the case. There have always been those who were true to God and faithful to God.
Now, at the time of national apostasy when Israel had been led to worship Baal by Jezebel and her husband Ahab, and Elijah had had this contest with the prophets of Baal there on Mount Carmel. And after God sent the fire and he had the popular movement of the people going with him for a moment, he took advantage of it and he took the prophets of Baal, four hundred of them, down to the river and killed them all. Jezebel was out of town at the time. When she came back, heard what Elijah had done to her four hundred priests, she said, “God do so to me if by tomorrow night I don’t have that fellow’s head.” And Elijah took it on the run, and he ran all the way down to the area of Mount Sinai. And there he hid in a cave. And the Lord said, “ Come on out to the entrance of the cave.” And he came out and the Lord said, “Elijah, what are you doing here?” And Elijah said, “I have been jealous for God, for all of Israel has turned against God and I, I only am left. I am the only true servant You’ve got in the land, Lord, and they are trying to kill me. They are looking for me to kill me. Lord, You’re going to be without anybody pretty soon. As soon as they catch me, Lord, You’re not going to have anyone on Your side.” And the Lord answered Elijah and said, “Elijah, I have seven thousand among them who have not bowed their knee to Baal.”
God had His faithful remnant. Though it is true the majority of the nation had become apostate, yet God still had His faithful remnant among them who He knew. “Always I will leave a remnant; they will never be utterly destroyed.” God always keeps that remnant and from that remnant God will bring forth yet a people to praise Him and to bring glory unto Him.
Now, though Israel has seen among the people of the world some of the greatest tribulation, some of the hardest experiences, yet they have not seen the worst, for the worst is yet to come. Even worse than the holocaust. That period that is coming described in the Bible, especially in the book of Revelation, a great tribulation when they will be deceived by this leader that is going to arise in Europe. And many of them will hail him as their savior, because he is going to make a covenant and help them rebuild their temple. Yet, when he turns upon them and he comes to the temple that they have built and stands in the holy place and declares that he is God and demands that he be worshipped as God. When they at that point turn against him, he is going to turn upon them with all of his wrath and fury.
But God is going to save a remnant who will flee down to the area of the rock city of Petra, where God will preserve them for three and a half years. But this man will then seek to exterminate the Jews. And because he will have worldwide power, especially through economics, the Jews around the world will suffer once more heavy persecution.
It is interesting, tragically, the anti-Semitism that does exist in the hearts of sinful men. I know people who absolutely hate the Jews, bitter against them without any real reason to be. It’s just something that is in the heart of sinful man. And the Jews, unfortunately, have suffered from the hands of man for so long. But, yet, God will have His faithful remnant. And in the Kingdom Age, when Jesus comes again and establishes the kingdom, then shall they flourish and be blessed once more above all the nations of the earth, as the Lord sets up His millennial reign.
So, it’s a very sad and tragic thing, the judgment that has come, the judgment that shall come. But through it all, even in the whole thing, God always has His faithful remnant. As Paul speaks to the Romans, in his epistle to the Romans, eleventh chapter, of God’s faithful remnant. “So, I will leave a remnant that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations when you’ll be scattered through all the countries.” He’s not going to destroy them completely. And it is interesting that the Jew today maintains his national identity wherever he is.
And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart (6:9),
Literally, “I will break their whorish hearts.” That is, the heart that turned from God, from the love of God, and sought false lovers, these false gods.
which have departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall loath themselves for the evils which they have committed in all of their abominations. And they shall know that I am the LORD (6:9-10).
Again, He repeats that.
and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them (6:10).
They’ll know that I wasn’t just kidding, that I wasn’t just talking vanity when I said I was going to do these things.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; Smite with your hand and stamp with your foot (6:11),
Ezekiel was a very colorful man in his prophecies. As you’ll remember last week lying on his left side for three hundred and ninety days, drawing on tiles, and now he’s stomping with his foot and clapping his hands in front of the people, stomping his foot and he’s saying unto them,
Alas for all of the evil abominations of the house of Israel! for they shall fall by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence. He that is far off shall die of the pestilence; and he that is near shall fall by the sword; and he that remaineth and is besieged shall die by the famine: thus will I accomplish my fury upon them. Then shall you know that I am the LORD (6:11-13),
Third time in this one chapter.
when their slain men shall be among their idols round about their altars, upon every high hill, and in the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every thick oak, the place where they did offer their sweet savor to all of their idols. So will I stretch out my hand upon them, and make the land desolate, yea, more desolate than the wilderness towards Diblath, in all of their habitations: and they shall know that I am the LORD (6:13-14).
In all of this God is seeking, really, to establish in their hearts the fact that He is God.
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Also, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD unto the land of Israel (7:1-2);
Now, the other was to the mountains, now to the land.
the end is come upon the four corners of the land (7:2).
This is actually written in a poetic form in the Hebrew. It doesn’t come through. If you have some modern translations, sometimes they put it out in the poetic form.
Now has the end come upon thee, and I will send my anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations (7:3).
No mercy here, no grace here, but judgment according to their deeds. Recompensing them according to their ways. We thank God for His mercy and for His grace. David prayed, “ Have mercy upon me, O God, according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1). And God is merciful, but if people reject His mercy, then there remains only that certain fearful looking forward to of judgment. So they have rejected the mercies of God. They had done despite to the spirit of grace, and now God pronounces His judgment that is coming upon them according to their abominations.
And my eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity [no mercy]: but I will recompense thy ways upon thee, and thine abominations shall be in the midst of thee: and ye shall know that I am the LORD (7:4).
In contrast to these idols that you have been worshipping, you’ll know that I am the Lord.
Thus saith the Lord GOD; An evil, an only evil, behold, is come. An end is come, an end is come: it watcheth for thee; behold, it is come. The morning has come unto thee, O thou that dwellest in the land: the time has come, the day of trouble is near, and not the sounding again of the mountains. Now will I shortly pour out my fury upon thee, and accomplish my anger upon thee: and I will judge thee according to thy ways, and recompense thee for all your abominations. And my eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: I will recompense thee according to thy ways and thy abominations that are in the midst of thee; and ye shall know that I am the LORD that smiteth (7:5-9).
Now we find repetition here, and again, as I told you, it is written in Hebrew poetry and Hebrew poetry involves repetition. And that’s why in English it gets a little repetitious to us, but in Hebrew it’s really very poetic, and in reading it in the Hebrew you get the rhyme of it and you feel the poetry of the thing. You get not the rhyme, but the rhythm of it, and you feel the poetry. There is no rhyme.
Behold the day, behold, it has come: the morning has gone forth; the rod has blossomed, pride has budded. Violence is risen up into the rod into a rod of wickedness: and none of them shall remain, nor of their multitude, nor of any of theirs: neither shall there be any wailing for them. The time has come, the day is drawing near: let not the buyer rejoice, nor the seller mourn: for the wrath is upon all of the multitude thereof. For the seller shall not return to that which is sold (7:10-13),
Now, in those days quite often the seller had to sell because of financial problems, and so there was always that, “Oh, you know, this is the family’s and it’s the family inheritance.” And they would hate to sell that because when you inherited from your parents the land, it was sort of a holy trust. Your whole goal of life was to pass on to your children that which you received as the inheritance from your family. And so you would devote your whole life to the maintaining of that inheritance so that you could pass it on. Sometimes a person would get strapped, they would have to sell it, but in the deed there was always the revisionary clause--you could always buy it back in a specified period of time by adhering to the covenant that was drawn up at the time that it was sold. Or, if you could not redeem it, then a close relative could redeem it so it remained in the family. So there was usually sorrow involved in the selling of property. It was a holy trust. It was a sacred thing. This is the family’s and now I’m selling it. And the buyer, of course, if you could ever buy property, with it was a very happy time, you would rejoice. So he is saying, “Hey, look, the time is at an end. You that are going around buying, you don’t need to rejoice in it because you’re not going to really have it long. And you that are selling don’t really mourn, because you’re not going to buy it back again. You won’t be able to use your option to repurchase because you’re all going to be taken out of the land. So the seller shall not return to that which is sold, you’re not going to come back to it.”
although they are still alive (7:13):
But you’ll be a captive carried away to Babylon.
for the vision is touching the whole multitude thereof, which will not return; neither shall any strengthen himself in the iniquity of his life. They have blown the trumpet, even to make all ready; but none goeth to battle: for my wrath is upon the multitude thereof (7:13-14).
Now the blowing of the trumpet really was more than just the summoning of the people to battle, but with Israel it was more or less an acknowledgment that the Lord comes forth to battle with us. But God said, “ I’m not coming forth with you any more. You can blow the trumpet; it’s not going to do any good. I’m not going to fight for you any longer. You’re going to be turned over unto the hands of your enemies.”
For the sword is without, the pestilence and the famine is within: and he that is in the field will die with the sword; and he that is in the city, the famine and the pestilence will devour him. But they that escape of them shall escape, and be on the mountains like doves of the valley, all of them mourning, every one for his iniquity (7:15-16).
So those that escape from the sword and pestilence, scattered throughout the mountains, weeping, mourning, wailing for that which has happened.
All hands shall be feeble, all knees will be as weak as water. They shall also gird themselves with sackcloth, and horror shall cover them; and shame shall be upon all their faces, and baldness upon their heads (7:17-18).
That is in mourning, the cutting of their hair and all.
They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is a stumblingblock of their iniquity. And as for the beauty of his ornament, he is set in majesty: but they made the images of their abominations and of their detestable things therein: therefore have I set it far from them. And I will give it into the hands of the strangers for a prey, and to the wicked of the earth for a spoil; and they’ll pollute it (7:19-21).
And it’s talking about, of course, the sanctuary, the place of majesty and the ornament of beauty, it’s is going to be destroyed, polluted.
My face will I turn also from them, they shall pollute my holy place (7:22):
Actually, the secret place the holy of holies will be profaned and polluted.
for the robbers shall enter into it, and defile it. Make a chain: for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence. Wherefore I will bring the worst of the heathen, and they shall possess their houses: I also will make the pomp of the strong to cease; and their holy places shall be defiled. Destruction comes; and they will seek peace, and there will be none. Mischief shall come upon mischief, and rumor shall be upon rumor; then shall they seek a vision of the prophet; but the law shall perish from the priest, and the counsel from the ancients. The king shall mourn, and the prince shall be clothed with desolation, and the hands of the people of the land shall be troubled: I will do unto them according to their ways, and according to what they deserve will I judge them; and they shall know that I am the LORD (7:22-27).
This terrible judgment that God is going to bring, as the temple of God is destroyed and profaned. And the people are driven out and killed with the sword, pestilence, and famine.
Now we move into a new section of the book that is really a conclusion of his first prophesy.
It came to pass now in the sixth year, and in the sixth month, and in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house, and the elders of Judah were sitting before me, that the hand of the Lord GOD fell upon me (8:1).
Ezekiel was there sitting in his house, some of the ancient men of Israel, the older men, were gathered there with him and God’s Spirit came upon him.
Then I beheld, and lo there was a likeness as of the appearance of fire (8:2):
And that is the appearance of fire. Greek Septuagint here translates this as the appearance of man. The word fire in Hebrew is esh, and the word man is ish. So the Greek translators felt that this was the ish, so the appearance of a man. And from the context it would seem that perhaps that is correct.
and from the appearance of his loins even downward, it was fiery; and from his loins even upward, it was as the appearance of a brightness, and as the color of amber. And he put forth the form of a hand, and he took me by a lock of my head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looks towards the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provokes the jealousy. And, behold, the glory of [God] the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I had seen in the plain (8:2-4).
That was the vision that he described of the cherubims there in chapter 1.
Now here is Ezekiel sitting with the elders and suddenly he sees this form of a fire or of a man, and from the loins upward it looked like fire and from downward this bright color of amber. And a hand came forth, took him by his hair, lifted him up between heaven and earth and then transported him to Jerusalem, to the inner court, the north gate of the inner court, where he saw there the horrible abominations for which God’s judgment had come upon the people.
Then he said unto me, Son of man, lift up now your eyes toward the north. So I looked my eyes toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar there was this image of jealousy at the entry. And he said furthermore unto me, Son of man, do you see what they are doing? even the great abominations that the house of Israel is committing here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn yet again, and you’ll see even greater abominations (8:5-6).
You see the things they are doing here? Right within the house, right within the sanctuary. Things that provoke Me to jealousy because of the false gods that were worshipped right there within the precincts of the temple. But He said, “Hang on, you haven’t seen the worst yet.”
And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, there was a hole in the wall. Then he said unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, I found a door. So I went in and I saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the walls around about (8:7-8,10).
So he came into this room and he looked at all of these filthy drawings on the walls.
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 (8:11),
Now, Shaphan was the scribe that when Hilkiah the priest had found the law, when Josiah had initiated these spiritual reforms you remember and they found the book of the law, and they brought it to Josiah and Shaphan read to him out of the law and he realized how far they had turned against God. And he repented even more and ordered this mass repentance of the people. Shaphan was a faithful scribe, but his son, the rat. He’s an old man now. He’s standing with the ancients, Jaazaniah, the son of Shaphan.
with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense was going up. Then he said unto me, Son of man, have you 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 does not see us; the LORD has forsaken the earth (8:11-12).
Now, here is the wild part about this. This hole in the wall that Ezekiel dug, coming into a room and looking around on the walls of the room, seeing all the pornography and all, God is saying, “Ezekiel, I’ve allowed you to come into the minds of these people. What you have been seeing is the things that are in their imaginations. The fantasies and those things that are in their minds, the imageries that are in their minds. These are their thoughts; these are what they are thinking. All of this filthy stuff that you’ve seen are the things that are going on in the minds of the ancient. These men who are supposed to be the spiritual leaders of Israel, and yet their minds are polluted.”
Now, that is sort of a heavy issue in realizing that God can probe right into our minds and He sees those images, those imaginations of our own minds. That, to me, is rather sobering. To think that nothing is hid from God, even my thoughts God knows. The imaginations that I have, God sees. That is why the Scripture says that we are to bring every thought into captivity, unto the obedience of Jesus Christ.
Now they were saying, “The Lord doesn’t see us and the Lord has forsaken the earth.” They were wrong on both counts. God did see and God has not forsaken.
But He said unto me, Turn again, and you’re going to see things that are even worse. 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 (8:13-14).
Now, Tammuz was a Babylonian god. He was the god of resurrection. He was worshipped in the springtime as the trees would come into blossom. They would morn for Tammuz in the fall as the leaves were dying on the trees and the trees were going bare and all; they would weep for Tammuz. But then in the springtime when the trees would begin to bud and blossom and all again, they would have great parties and they would decorate eggs and celebrate the resurrection of Tammuz, because now we have new life. The new life of spring is around us and the egg is a symbol of perpetuated life, because it’s through the egg that the little birds or chicks or whatever are hatched. And so it’s a symbol of the perpetuating of life. And so, they would take the eggs and color them, draw on them, and would have these parties with the colored eggs celebrating the resurrection of Tammuz.
Any similarity is far from coincidental. The church unfortunately adopted the pagan practice of the worship of Tammuz and the resurrection of Tammuz and incorporated it into the church, calling it Easter. And having an Easter Sunday, taking the name of the Greek goddess Ashtart who was supposed to be the consort of Adonus, who is the Greek equivalent to Tammuz. And we have incorporated into the church and there are churches that have Easter egg hunts and give baskets of colored eggs to the children and all at Easter time, Ashtart.
In the early church we don’t read of them celebrating the resurrection of Christ on any particular day, but because the pagans were all celebrating in this pagan worship of Tammuz, and they had this day which they acclaimed the resurrection and all in the springtime, the church didn’t want their people to feel left out. And so, they said, “This is the day that Jesus rose, and we’ll color the eggs and do the same bit, but we’re celebrating now the resurrection of Jesus.”
I am not certain what the Lord thinks about that. I wonder. The Lord said to Ezekiel, “Come and I’ll show you something that’s really disturbing. See those women, they’re weeping for Tammuz.” Not weeping for the desolation that was coming, not weeping because the sin that was rampant in the land, not weeping because they had come into such a moral decay, but weeping for Tammuz, the Babylonian god of resurrection.
Then he said unto me, Have you seen this, O son of man? turn again, you’re going to see even greater abominations than these. And he brought me to the inner court of the LORD’S house, and, behold, at the door of the temple, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east (8:15-16).
And so, here they were, backs towards the temple, signifying turning their backs upon God, and worshipping now the sun god, worshipping towards the east. I go over to Jerusalem and as we go up to the temple mount, and as I see there that large Dome of the Rock Mosque that occupies the center of the temple of the mount, and you hear this crazy wailing coming over the loud speakers. This musing and you see all of these people get out their little rugs and kneel and bow and face the east in prayer there on the temple mount today, it always brings to my mind that picture that Ezekiel got when he was taken there by the Lord in this vision and saw these men turning from God and worshipping towards the east.
Then he said unto me, Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they have committed here? for they have filled the land with violence, they have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch in their nose (8:17).
Now, this was a symbol that was, and a sign used in some of these pagan rites that are so horribly, unspeakably, vile that we could not even in a mixed congregation describe to you the rites by which they worshipped their gods. But God declared,
Therefore will I also deal in fury: my eye will not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them (8:18).
He cried also in my ear with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have the charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand (9:1).
So he heard Him now crying. He’s not ordering Ezekiel. Ezekiel is hearing God cry to these others, “Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.” He is calling now these angels of God who are to bring the judgment against the people.
And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lies towards the north, and every man had a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen (9:2),
Even Jesus Christ, really, one of the theophanies, we find Him in many parallel passages to this.
he had a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brass altar. And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house (9:2-3).
Now, the Spirit of God and the glory of God is now departing from Israel. No longer in the holy of holies, has now moved to the threshold of the house of God. Soon we’ll find it moving to the east gate and then to the mountain, the Mount of Olives, towards the east and then departing completely. And so, God’s glory, the cherubim leaving now. Dwelt there in the holy of holies of the temple, but now God’s glory, the presence of God, is leaving.
And to the others he said in my hearing, Go ye after him through the city (9:5),
No, let’s see.
And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city (9:4),
Talking to the one which had the writer’s inkhorn 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 sigh and that cry for all of the abominations that be done [in the middle thereof or] in the midst thereof (9:4).
So, this one with the inkhorn was to go through and mark all of those who were grieving over the abominations that existed. Those whose hearts were grieved by the things that were going on.
I’ll tell you, when I read the newspapers and I read what’s going on in our country, I grieve. God said, “Go mark those that have been grieving.”
And to the others he said in my hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: and let not your eye spare, neither have pity: Slay utterly the old and the young, both maids, and little children, the women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary (9:5-6).
You remember that Peter said, “The time has come when judgment must begin at the house of Lord.” It’s a reference to Ezekiel, where God said, “Begin at My sanctuary.” But Peter said, “If judgment begins at the house of the Lord, where will the sinner and the ungodly appear?” Now also these that are marked in the New Testament, in the book of Revelation, we have an interesting parallel in the book of Revelation, chapter 7, where there are four angels that are holding the four winds, ready to bring destruction upon the earth, and there is an angel that says, “’Don’t release those winds until the servants of God have been marked in their forehead.’ And I counted the number that were marked and there were a hundred forty-four thousand, that they should not be hurt by the plagues that were yet to come to pass” (Revelation 7:3-4).
So, God’s preservation again of a remnant. God had His faithful remnant in Jerusalem, “Mark them, and when the judgment comes, when you are to slay, don’t touch those with a mark.” And so, again, God preserving His remnant in the book of Revelation, chapter 7. Parallel passages.
He said unto them, Defile the house, by filling the courts with the slain (9:7):
Now, if you touched a dead carcass, you were to be defiled for a day. You weren’t to be allowed to come into the temple to worship if you’d touched a dead body. But he said, “Defile the temple, just kill the people in the courts of it, let it all be defiled.”
And they went forth, and they slew in the city. And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, that I was left, and I fell upon my face, and I cried, and I said, Ah Lord GOD! will you destroy all the residue of Israel in the pouring out of your fury upon Jerusalem? And he said unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and of Judah is exceeding great, the land is full of blood, the city is full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD does not see. And as for me also, my eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head. And, behold, the man that was clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as you have commanded me (9:7-11).
And then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament [the heaven] that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne (10:1).
Again, the vision of the throne of God, similar to that which he had by the river Chebar in chapter 1.
And as he spake unto the man that was clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill your hand with the coals of fire from between the cherubims, and scatter them over the city. And he went in my sight. Now the cherubims stood on the right side of the house, when the man went in; and the cloud filled the inner court. Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD’S glory (10:2-4).
You say, “Oh, how beautiful.” No, it’s tragic, because the glory of God is leaving.
And the sound of the cherubim’s wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when he speaks. And it came to pass, that when he had commanded the man clothed with linen, saying, Take fire from between the wheels, from between the cherubims; then he went in, and stood beside the wheels. And one cherub stretched forth his hand from between the cherubims unto the fire that was between the cherubims, and took from it, and put into it the hands of him that was clothed with linen; who took it, and went out. And there appeared in the cherubim’s form of a man’s hand under their wings. And when I looked, behold the four wheels by the cherubims, one wheel by the cherub, and another wheel by another cherub: and the appearance of the wheels was as the color of a beryl stone [or green]. And as for their appearances, they had one likeness, as if a wheel had been in the middle of a wheel. When they went, they went upon their four sides; they did not turn as they went, but to the place whither the head looked they followed it; and turned not as they went (10:5-11).
So, they are the four cherubs. Their wings are each touching each other and they are faced inwardly. So their movements are in straight type of movements, not turning their heads as they move, but each head just following in a straight type of movement.
And their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes round about, even the wheels that they four had. As for the wheels, it was cried unto them in my hearing, O wheel. And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub (10:12-14),
Now, in chapter 1 he said the face was like an ox. Here he’s getting a look at it from a different perspective. He is standing down and looking up, as it has now ascended upward, and in looking up at it from this angle, it looks more like a cherub, whatever a cherub looks like.
and the second face was like the face of a man, and the third face was like a lion, and the fourth was the face of an eagle (10:14).
So the four faces, again, one in each direction.
And the cherubims were lifted up. This is the living creature that I saw by the river Chebar. And when the cherubims went, the wheels went by them: and when the cherubims lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the same wheels also turned not from beside them. When they stood, these stood; and when they were lifted up, these were lifted up also: for the spirit of the living creature was in them. Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims. And the cherubims lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight: and when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the east gate of the LORD’S house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above (10:15-19).
And so, now it has moved to the door of the east gate.
This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were cherubims. Every one had four faces, every one four wings; and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings. And the likeness of their faces was the same faces which I saw by the river of Chebar, their appearances and themselves: and they went every one straight forward (10:20-22).
Now, you have the difficulty of trying to describe in human language an indescribable kind of a thing like you’ve never seen before, as you observe these cherubim, these angelic beings. Cherubim is plural for cherub. The im is the plural in Hebrew. So, a cherub would be singular, a cherubim is plural, because there are four cherubim involved in this vision that Ezekiel saw, he uses the term cherubim, because it is plural.
There are these colors, there are these eyes, there are these faces, there are all of these aspects that he describes in human language as best he can. To us, it comes out as some kind of a monstrosity as far as the appearance is concerned, because we have never seen anything with four faces that in any wise would resemble what he’s talking about here. The lights that are flashing, the colors, when they move, the lightening, look at their movements.
And so Ezekiel is bound to language that he has, trying to describe these heavenly beings. Now, there is always that difficulty in trying in human language to describe that which is divine or heavenly.
Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Hey, if I’ve told you earthly things and you didn’t believe them, how are you going to believe if I tell you heavenly things?” Now, if we have difficulty describing earthly things, how in the world can you describe heavenly things? How would you describe to an aborigine in Australia a computer and how it operates? You’d have trouble, wouldn’t you? Because he has such a limited vocabulary, no understanding of modern technical instruments, how that you can punch out on this keyboard, but he doesn’t understand what a keyboard is.
Paul the apostle was caught up into heaven, but he was pretty smart, he said, “There is no language that can describe what I heard,” so he just left it there. He said, “It would be a crime for me to try to describe it in human language. There’s no way to do it,” so he didn’t even try. You know, when I get to heaven I’m going to talk to him about that. I think he should have at least tried. But he said it would be a crime to try and do it, because nothing that you could...there are no words that can describe that which Paul heard. So far beyond that any attempt would be less than what it was. It would be a crime, it would be so much less than what it actually was, that there’s just no way you can do it.
So, I’m certain that with everything else we get in heaven will be a new vocabulary. In order that we might again describe to each other those things that are of the heavens, those things that are heavenly.
So, Ezekiel is taking human language and trying to describe spiritual creatures, spiritual events. Doing the best that he can, but limited by his age and the technology and all that they had at that time, in his use of words, in describing these things.
Now, when you see the cherubim, it would be interesting if in this modern, more technical age, we would see them, if our descriptions would vary much from Ezekiel’s. Now, I really don’t know. He talked about their having the wings and touching each other. We think of Ezekiel and wings, you think of bird type wings. Maybe they’re not. Maybe we’d say, “They had wings like an F-04. And the noise sounds like a jet taking off.” And it could be that in using terms today we would use different terminology to describe these angelic heavenly creatures that are there about the throne of God, that are described here in Ezekiel 1-10.
But, for parallel passages read Revelation, chapter 4, as John also describes these same creatures in the heavenly scene. Familiarize yourself with them because when John gets to heaven, the first thing that attracts his attention is the throne of God and these cherubim around the throne of God and their activity there. So, you might as well familiarize yourself with them, because that’s probably the first thing that you’ll be seeing when you get to heaven. And if you aren’t a little familiar with it, you’re going to be going around with your mouth wide open looking like someone who didn’t do their homework.
So, interesting what we have to look forward to as we one day will leave this three-dimensional plane or three-dimensional living and enter into that spiritual dimension where we too will see the real world, not this temporal world of fantasy that is about us, but the eternal world, God’s kingdom.
In the news reports this evening, there are reports of Libya attacking Sudan. I think it was on Thursday that a couple of their planes bombed an area of Sudan, killing some of the civilians. The Middle East is in turmoil. One week can bring so many new events; one week could bring us to the end, as far as that goes. Kaddafi is a real problem upon the world today. It is thought by the FBI and the CIA that he has paid huge sums of money for the assassination of President Reagan. That is why Reagan did not go to the funeral of Sadat.
The United States feels that they have a score to settle with Kaddafi, and we could easily become involved in a move against Libya. We are, in a sense, sort of looking for the excuse to do something about that situation there. So, the whole Middle East bears watching.
I’m so glad that I know the Lord and I know the score, because God has given it to us a long time ago. Libya will not be taken by the United States. Libya will be an ally of Russia when Russia invades Israel. Libya is already an ally of Russia. They have publicly announced the defense pact made in 1975, a mutual defense agreement and should the United States attack Libya it will definitely bring retaliation from Russia. And yet, we feel that we cannot allow Kaddafi to continue his madman policies. So, be glad you’re not Haag or any of these other men that have to make the decisions in this chaotic world in which we live. But as Christians be alert, keep your eyes on the Lord, keep them looking up, because our redemption is so very, very close. God be with you and bless and keep you through the week. May the Lord strengthen you as the evil days are waxing worse and worse. As perilous times have come because of the pleasure madness of man. May the Lord establish your life in Christ and may your faith increase and your love and devotion for the things of God, for the things of the Spirit. In Jesus’ name.