Ezekiel 11 – Ungodly Rulers to be Punished & Temple Abandonment

ThinkingThese guys really take their temples seriously, Thailand does too.  I was in Thailand in 1999, and I had been told that going inside their temples with your shoes on is a beheading offense.  We certainly don’t want to upset Buddha now do we? 🙂 

1 The Great Buddha
The Great Buddha of Thailand, also known as The Big Buddha, The Big Buddha of Thailand, Phra Buddha Maha Nawamin, and Mahaminh Sakayamunee Visejchaicharn, is the tallest statue in Thailand, and the ninth tallest in the world.

Located in the Wat Muang Monestary in Ang Thong province,[1][2] this statue stands 92 m (300 ft) high, and is 63 m (210 ft) wide. Construction commenced in 1990, and was completed in 2008. It is painted gold and made of cement.

The Catholic Church can be pretty snippety if you don’t honor their church, especially after they spend millions of dollars on it instead of feeding the poor.  That there is a sin against You, if it’s not idolatry it is sacrilegious.

“Who (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first born from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col 1:15-18).

“Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church” (Eph 1:21-22).

These are just buildings, You don’t care about them:

“God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:24-25).

I don’t want to sway too far away from these idolatrous people, but just for a minute, do You mind if we look at…

Ezekiel 11
Ungodly Rulers to be Punished

1 Moreover the spirit lifted me up, and brought me unto the east gate of the LORD’S house, which looketh eastward: and behold at the door of the gate five and twenty men; among whom I saw Jaazaniah the son of Azur, and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people.

2 God had pushed Dagon over 1 Sam 5.
God had pushed Dagon over (1 Sam 5).

“Pelatiah” – means “The Lord delivers.”

2 Then said he unto me, Son of man, these are the men that devise mischief, and give wicked counsel in this city:

3 Which say, It is not near; let us build houses: this city is the caldron, and we be the flesh.

“Let us build houses” – the residents of Jerusalem who were not exiled in 597 B.C. felt smugly secure, thinking that nothing worse would befall them.

4 Therefore prophesy against them, prophesy, O son of man.

5 And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the LORD; Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.

6 Ye have multiplied your slain in this city, and ye have filled the streets thereof with the slain.

3 Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Antiochus IV Epiphanes (c. 215 B.C. – 164 B.C.) was a Greek king of the Seleucid Empire from 175 B.C. until his death in 164 BC. He was a son of King Antiochus III the Great. His original name was Mithradates (alternative form Mithridates); he assumed the name Antiochus after he ascended the throne.

Notable events during the reign of Antiochus IV include his near-conquest of Egypt, which led to a confrontation that became an origin of the metaphorical phrase, “line in the sand” and the rebellion of the Jewish Maccabees.

Antiochus was the first Seleucid king to use divine epithets on coins, perhaps inspired by Bactrian Hellenistic kings who had earlier done so, or else building on the ruler cult that his father Antiochus the Great had codified within the Seleucid Empire.

7 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Your slain whom ye have laid in the midst of it, they are the flesh, and this city is the caldron: but I will bring you forth out of the midst of it.

8 Ye have feared the sword; and I will bring a sword upon you, saith the Lord GOD.

9 And I will bring you out of the midst thereof, and deliver you into the hands of strangers, and will execute judgments among you.

10 Ye shall fall by the sword; I will judge you in the border of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.

11 This city shall not be your caldron, neither shall ye be the flesh in the midst thereof; but I will judge you in the border of Israel:

12 And ye shall know that I am the LORD: for ye have not walked in my statutes, neither executed my judgments, but have done after the manners of the heathen that are round about you.

13 And it came to pass, when I prophesied, that Pelatiah the son of Benaiah died. Then fell I down upon my face, and cried with a loud voice, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou make a full end of the remnant of Israel?

14 Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

15 Son of man, thy brethren, even thy brethren, the men of thy kindred, and all the house of Israel wholly, are they unto whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, Get you far from the LORD: unto us is this land given in possession.

16 Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.

“Will I be to them as a little sanctuary” – a key verse in Ezekiel.  Although the exiles had been driven from Jerusalem and its sanctuary (the symbol of God’s presence among His people), God Himself became their sanctuary, i.e., He was present among them.  Later Christ also became a substitute for the temple (see Jn 2:19-21).

17 Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.

18 And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence.

4 Tetradrachm of Antiochus IV
Tetradrachm of Antiochus IV. R
everse shows the Greek inscription ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ ΘΕΟΥ ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟΥΣ ΝΙΚΗΦΟΡΟΥ.

While Antiochus was busy in Egypt, a rumor spread that he had been killed. The deposed High Priest Jason gathered a force of 1,000 soldiers and made a surprise attack on the city of Jerusalem.

The High Priest appointed by Antiochus, Menelaus, was forced to flee Jerusalem during a riot. On the King’s return from Egypt in 167 BC enraged by his defeat, he attacked Jerusalem and restored Menelaus, then executed many Jews.

19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh:

“One heart…new spirit” – inner spiritual and moral transformation that results in single-minded commitment to the Lord and to His will (see 36:26).  This happens to all people that fully trust in Jesus Christ.

20 That they may walk in my statutes and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

21 But as for them whose heart walketh after the heart of their detestable things and their abominations, I will recompense their way upon their own heads, saith the Lord GOD.

22 Then did the cherubims lift up their wings, and the wheels beside them; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above.

23 And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city, and stood upon the mountain which is on the east side of the city.

“The glory of the LORD went up” – the final eastward movement of the glory (as the Lord left His temple), which stopped above the mount of Olives.  God’s glory ascends back to heaven from the same place where Jesus would later ascend (Acts 1:9-11), leaving the temple void of His presence.

24 Afterwards the spirit took me up, and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to them of the captivity. So the vision that I had seen went up from me.

25 Then I spake unto them of the captivity all the things that the LORD had shewed me.

Temple Abandonment

5 White temple and ziggurat Uruk Iraq ca. 3200 3000 B.C.
White temple and ziggurat Uruk, Iraq ca. 3200-3000 B.C.

The desecration or destruction of temples in the ancient Near East represented grave national and religious calamities.  Temples were considered the abodes of deities who served as guardians of lands, peoples and nations, and elaborate temple liturgies were aimed at securing the presence of the deity.

Conquering army’s plundered temples as a demonstrable sign that the gods of the victors had triumphed over those of the vanquished (Is 36:18-20, 37:12).  Sacred objects were regularly transported and then installed in the sanctuary of the conquering deity.

6This carving of an ancient Philistine warrior
This carving of an ancient Philistine warrior was found among ruins at Thebes, Egypt. It is dated to around 1200 BC, around the time of Joshua.

For example, when the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant from Israel, they placed it in the temple of their god, Dagon (1 Sam 5:1-5).

From the perspective of the vanquished, it appeared that the temple had been abandoned by the deity.  This gave rise to a genre of ritual laments for temples and cities that had been destroyed.  A significant example of this motif is found in the Sumerian lamentations over the destruction of Ur.

The prophets used similar language to explain the destruction of the Jerusalem temple (Lam 2:7; Eze 10).  Biblical laments assert that the Lord had abandoned His sanctuary because Israel had first abandoned her God.

The idea of temple abandonment occurs as well with respect to the second temple.  Second Maccabees, an Apocryphal book, reports that the Seleucid king Antichus IV Epiphanies plundered the sanctuary of Jerusalem, an act that should have brought down divine judgment upon his head.

The text explains that such desecration was possible because God had temporarily abandoned the sanctuary on account of the sins of His people (2 Mic 5:17).  Other sources suggest that God abandoned the temple just prior to its destruction by the Romans in 70 A.D.

The ancient Jewish historian Josephus described a sound like that of a great multitude from within the sanctuary, announcing the departure of God’s presence (Jewish Wars, 6.5.3).


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