A turned back, or a turn back?

Ezekiel 8:16 “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.”

In Ezekiel’s vision, he  was carried away from Babylon into the city of Jerusalem unto the temple of the Lord. In this vision, God shows Ezekiel four indictments that represented Judah’s abominable sins against God Himself. God had already permitted Nebuchadnezzar to seize Jerusalem twice; the third seize was quickly approaching, and this time Nebuchadnezzar would capture the city of Jerusalem including the temple and utterly destroy it. Unless Judah would wholly turn back unto God, judgment was inevitable.

The first abomination was of the “image of jealousy” that had been given a place in the inner court of the temple. Judah had built an idol in the inner court yard of the temple and the priests were worshipping this idol.  In one eye of these priests, was the view of the Shekinah glory in a cloud over the temple; and in the other eye, was the image of a dead god. Judah was choosing to worship the dead god over the living God. It sounds absurd, but this is exactly what had taken place. God is a jealous God and will not share His glory with another.  In the New Testament, the body of the believer is the house of God. Anything that we yield a place in our hearts and lives that competes with God’s preeminence is an idol. (I Cor 6:15-20) 

As to the second abomination, Ezekiel was shown a hole in the wall in the same court. Behind the hole in the wall was a door, and through the door was a room with many idols portrayed upon the walls. In the room, there were seventy elders burning incense to these idols. Ezekiel called this the secretive room representing what Israel does in the dark, every man the “chambers of his imagery.” This physical place represented the secret imaginations of their hearts.  In other words, the elders of Judah thought God could not see their idolatrous hearts if they hid their idols. However, there is no secret place from God.  No one can live a double life in the sight of God. Heb. 4:13 “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”

In the third abomination, Ezekiel was taken to the gate of the temple where a lady was weeping before the idol, Tammuz, and seeking help from this false god. It is a shame when the spiritual leaders appointed by God are not leading the people to the one and true God for the only hope of salvation. Acts 4:21 “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

In the fourth abomination, twenty-five men in the inner court had their backs turned against the temple of the Lord and their faces turned toward the east worshipping the sun. Scholars believe that the number twenty-five represents the twenty-four priests that acted for the twenty-four courses of the Levitical priesthood that King David had given the task to keep the service of the temple, and the twenty fifth included the high priest. This vision represented the totality of Judah’s idolatry.

Ezekiel was given a clear vision of God’s indictment on an idolatrous people who had not only turned their backs on God but had put the branch to their nose”  as well. (17) In other words, Judah was mocking God.  Ezekiel was told three times, “turn thee yet again and thou shalt see greater abomination.”   Jeremiah the pre-exile prophet, as well as Ezekiel the mid-exile prophet pleaded with Judah to return back to God and forsake their idols.  Instead, they turned their backs on God yet again and again. When their destruction came, they cried but God would not hear, nor would He have pity on them.  God had turned His back on them.

Which way is your back facing right now? Is it turned back against God or is it turned back against your idols? Is there anything in your life that holds a supreme place over your relationship with God? He is pleading with you to repent and turn back to Him; but, if you continue to keep your idols, be assured that God will not be mocked. (Gal 6:7) Repentance is a theme in God’s word and it means to “turn.” Repentance is a prerequisite to God’s saving grace. Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:17)

Job 23:22 “If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles.”

Jeremiah 24:7 And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.

Hosea 6:1 “Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.”

Joel 2:13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

Zechariah 1:3 Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.

Nehemiah 1:9 But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.




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