Ezekiel 8-11: It’s Painful to Watch God and His Glory Exit the Temple

It is said that if you feel far from God, it’s you who’s done the separating. In today’s chapters, we see the opposite. Ezekiel had a vision of when God’s Glory left the temple in Jerusalem for good. Where is it now? Let’s dig in…

Ezekiel 8 – Abominations in the Temple

And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house with the elders of Judah sitting before me, that the hand of the Lord God fell upon me there. Then I looked, and there was a likeness, like the appearance of fire—from the appearance of His waist and downward, fire; and from His waist and upward, like the appearance of brightness, like the color of amber. He stretched out the form of a hand, and took me by a lock of my hair; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven, and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the image of jealousy was, which provokes to jealousy. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision that I saw in the plain.

Then He said to me, “Son of man, lift your eyes now toward the north.” So I lifted my eyes toward the north, and there, north of the altar gate, was this image of jealousy in the entrance.

Furthermore He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel commits here, to make Me go far away from My sanctuary? Now turn again, you will see greater abominations.” So He brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, there was a hole in the wall. Then He said to me, “Son of man, dig into the wall”; and when I dug into the wall, there was a door.

And He said to me, “Go in, and see the wicked abominations which they are doing there.” 10 So I went in and saw, and there—every sort of creeping thing, abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed all around on the walls. 11 And there stood before them seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, and in their midst stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan. Each man had a censer in his hand, and a thick cloud of incense went up. 12 Then He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land.’ ”

13 And He said to me, “Turn again, and you will see greater abominations that they are doing.” 14 So He brought me to the door of the north gate of the Lord’s house; and to my dismay, women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz.

15 Then He said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? Turn again, you will see greater abominations than these.” 16 So He brought me into the inner court of the Lord’s house; and there, at the door of the temple of the Lord, 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 were worshiping the sun toward the east.

17 And He said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it a trivial thing to the house of Judah to commit the abominations which they commit here? For they have filled the land with violence; then they have returned to provoke Me to anger. Indeed they put the branch to their nose. 18 Therefore I also will act in fury. My eye will not spare nor will I have pity; and though they cry in My ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.”

Ezekiel 8 NKJV

Ezekiel 9 – The Wicked Are Slain

Then He called out in my hearing with a loud voice, saying, “Let those who have charge over the city draw near, each with a deadly weapon in his hand.” And suddenly six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his battle-ax in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen and had a writer’s inkhorn at his side. They went in and stood beside the bronze altar.

Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side; and the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”

To the others He said in my hearing, “Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the temple. Then He said to them, “Defile the temple, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!” And they went out and killed in the city.

So it was, that while they were killing them, I was left alone; and I fell on my face and cried out, and said, “Ah, Lord God! Will You destroy all the remnant of Israel in pouring out Your fury on Jerusalem?”

Then He said to me, “The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great, and the land is full of bloodshed, and the city full of perversity; for they say, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see!’ 10 And as for Me also, My eye will neither spare, nor will I have pity, but I will recompense their deeds on their own head.”

11 Just then, the man clothed with linen, who had the inkhorn at his side, reported back and said, “I have done as You commanded me.”

Ezekiel 9 NKJV

Ezekiel 10 – The Glory Departs from the Temple

And I looked, and there in the firmament (sky) that was above the head of the cherubim, there appeared something like a sapphire stone, having the appearance of the likeness of a throne. Then He spoke to the man clothed with linen, and said, “Go in among the wheels, under the cherub, fill your hands with coals of fire from among the cherubim, and scatter them over the city.” And he went in as I watched.

Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the temple when the man went in, and the cloud filled the inner court. Then the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub, and paused over the threshold of the temple; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the Lord’s glory. And the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard even in the outer court, like the voice of Almighty God when He speaks.

Then it happened, when He commanded the man clothed in linen, saying, “Take fire from among the wheels, from among the cherubim,” that he went in and stood beside the wheels. And the cherub stretched out his hand from among the cherubim to the fire that was among the cherubim, and took some of it and put it into the hands of the man clothed with linen, who took it and went out. The cherubim appeared to have the form of a man’s hand under their wings.

And when I looked, there were four wheels by the cherubim, one wheel by one cherub and another wheel by each other cherub; the wheels appeared to have the color of a beryl stone. 10 As for their appearance, all four looked alike—as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel. 11 When they went, they went toward any of their four directions; they did not turn aside when they went, but followed in the direction the head was facing. They did not turn aside when they went. 12 And their whole body, with their back, their hands, their wings, and the wheels that the four had, were full of eyes all around. 13 As for the wheels, they were called in my hearing, “Wheel.”

14 Each one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, the second face the face of a man, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. 15 And the cherubim were lifted up. This was the living creature I saw by the River Chebar. 16 When the cherubim went, the wheels went beside them; and when the cherubim lifted their wings to mount up from the earth, the same wheels also did not turn from beside them. 17 When the cherubim stood still, the wheels stood still, and when one was lifted up, the other lifted itself up, for the spirit of the living creature was in them.

18 Then the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim. 19 And the cherubim lifted their wings and mounted up from the earth in my sight. When they went out, the wheels were beside them; and they stood at the door of the east gate of the Lord’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them.

20 This is the living creature I saw under the God of Israel by the River Chebar, and I knew they were cherubim. 21 Each one had four faces and each one four wings, and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings. 22 And the likeness of their faces was the same as the faces which I had seen by the River Chebar, their appearance and their persons. They each went straight forward.

Ezekiel 10 NKJV

Ezekiel 11 – Judgment on Wicked Counselors

Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the East Gate of the Lord’s house, which faces eastward; and there at the door of the gate were twenty-five men, among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azzur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people. And He said to me: “Son of man, these are the men who devise iniquity and give wicked counsel in this city, who say, ‘The time is not near to build houses; this city is the caldron, and we are the meat.’ Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man!”

Then the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and said to me, “Speak! ‘Thus says the Lord: “Thus you have said, O house of Israel; for I know the things that come into your mind. You have multiplied your slain in this city, and you have filled its streets with the slain.” Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Your slain whom you have laid in its midst, they are the meat, and this city is the caldron; but I shall bring you out of the midst of it. You have feared the sword; and I will bring a sword upon you,” says the Lord God. “And I will bring you out of its midst, and deliver you into the hands of strangers, and execute judgments on you. 10 You shall fall by the sword. I will judge you at the border of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord. 11 This city shall not be your caldron, nor shall you be the meat in its midst. I will judge you at the border of Israel. 12 And you shall know that I am the Lord; for you have not walked in My statutes nor executed My judgments, but have done according to the customs of the Gentiles which are all around you.” ’ ”

13 Now it happened, while I was prophesying, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then I fell on my face and cried with a loud voice, and said, “Ah, Lord God! Will You make a complete end of the remnant of Israel?”

God Will Restore Israel

14 Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 15 “Son of man, your brethren, your relatives, your countrymen, and all the house of Israel in its entirety, are those about whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, ‘Get far away from the Lord; this land has been given to us as a possession.’ 16 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Although I have cast them far off among the Gentiles, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.” ’ 17 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.” ’ 18 And they will go there, and they will take away all its detestable things and all its abominations from there. 19 Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose hearts follow the desire for their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord God.

22 So the cherubim lifted up their wings, with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel was high above them. 23 And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain, which is on the east side of the city.

24 Then the Spirit took me up and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to those in captivity. And the vision that I had seen went up from me. 25 So I spoke to those in captivity of all the things the Lord had shown me.

Ezekiel 11 NKJV

The 2nd Commandment

The overall theme of the Old Testament is God wanting His people to obey Him. He gave them the rules to follow, yet they couldn’t, they didn’t.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God…

Exodus 20:4 NKJV

Key Points

Pastor Sandy Adams explains what the vision could be…

There are three explanations… First, he was bodily transported. Second, Ezekiel simply sees a vision. Or third, he was literally taken away, but he was transported spiritually not physically. His body stayed in Babylon, while his spirit was transported to Jerusalem. This is similar to what happened to Paul when he was “caught up” to the third heaven. He told the Corinthians he didn’t know if he was in the body or out of the body… Ultimately, I’m not sure it matters. What’s important is what he saw, not how it happened.

Sandy Adams
  • Ezekiel witnessed the elders worshiping fake, non-existent gods.
  • Tammuz was the Babylonian fertility god.

Paul Wrote speaking of idolatry…

22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Romans 1:22-25 NKJV

Pastor Sandy Adams comments…

This was shocking, Israel’s elders were secretly worshiping idols – offering sacrifices to the beasts of the field, rather than to the God of heaven. As Paul observed in Romans 1:25 the Gentile world worshiped the creature rather than the Creator. Yet these idolaters weren’t Gentiles, but Jews – and not just Jews, but elders… Even Jaazaniah was guilty…

Jaazaniah was the son of Shaphan, a leader in King Josiah’s revival some forty years earlier. Here, a man with a godly heritage, and a priestly position, was involved with idols… On the surface these elders were probably claiming to serve the Lord. But in the secret chambers they were offering sacrifices to false gods.

And here’s the question for us, what’s going on in the secret chambers of our hearts? Are we guilty of secret sins? What do you watch after the kids go to bed? What do we do with our free time when we’re out of town? How do we live when no one else is looking? Even if our hands are clean, what goes on in the secret chambers of our mind? What kinds of lust do we nurture there?

Sandy Adams

Where’s God’s Glory now? It came back to earth with Jesus, and left with Him when He ascended to Heaven. It came back down on Pentecost with the Gift of the Holy Spirit and it dwells in the hearts of every born-again believer.

Jesus Gives Us NEW HEART

God sees and knows ALL THINGS! He knows your heart and He wants you to give it to Him willingly, sincerely, wholeheartedly.

Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart -- let Him in!
Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart — let Him in!

What are you waiting for?! Let Him in!

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift of Grace and the Confident Hope of Eternal Life…


Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!

Top image by Sweet Publishing from FreeBibleImages.org, (CC BY-SA 3.0)

2 thoughts on “Ezekiel 8-11: It’s Painful to Watch God and His Glory Exit the Temple”

  1. Pingback: Ezekiel 43: The Glory of God Returns to the Temple Forever! – Seek the Truth

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