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Read Ezekiel 8

Idolatry in the Temple

In the sixth year, in the sixth month on the fifth day, while I was sitting in my house and the elders of Judah were sitting before me, the hand of the Sovereign Lord came on me there. I looked, and I saw a figure like that of a man. From what appeared to be his waist down he was like fire, and from there up his appearance was as bright as glowing metal. He stretched out what looked like a hand and took me by the hair of my head. The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the idol that provokes to jealousy stood. And there before me was the glory of the God of Israel, as in the vision I had seen in the plain.

Then he said to me, “Son of man, look toward the north.” So I looked, and in the entrance north of the gate of the altar I saw this idol of jealousy.

And he said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing—the utterly detestable things the Israelites are doing here, things that will drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see things that are even more detestable.”

Then he brought me to the entrance to the court. I looked, and I saw a hole in the wall. He said to me, “Son of man, now dig into the wall.” So I dug into the wall and saw a doorway there.

And he said to me, “Go in and see the wicked and detestable things they are doing here.” 10 So I went in and looked, and I saw portrayed all over the walls all kinds of crawling things and unclean animals and all the idols of Israel. 11 In front of them stood seventy elders of Israel, and Jaazaniah son of Shaphan was standing among them. Each had a censer in his hand, and a fragrant cloud of incense was rising.

12 He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his own idol? They say, ‘The Lord does not see us; the Lord has forsaken the land.’” 13 Again, he said, “You will see them doing things that are even more detestable.”

14 Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the Lord, and I saw women sitting there, mourning the god Tammuz. 15 He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see things that are even more detestable than this.”

16 He then brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord, and there at the entrance to the temple, between the portico and the altar,were about twenty-five men. With their backs toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east, they were bowing down to the sun in the east.

17 He said to me, “Have you seen this, son of man? Is it a trivial matter for the people of Judah to do the detestable things they are doing here? Must they also fill the land with violence and continually arouse my anger? Look at them putting the branch to their nose! 18 Therefore I will deal with them in anger; I will not look on them with pity or spare them. Although they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them.”

Go Deeper

Ezekiel 8 is a chapter full of vivid imagery as Ezekiel is experiencing another vision given to him by God. This particular vision, which lasts from this chapter through the end of Ezekiel 11, is time stamped for us around 592 B.C. Ezekiel is sitting in his home with the elders of Israel gathered around when he is pulled (by his hair) and brought to Jerusalem in a vision where he is able to see the extent to which idolatry has crept in and is destroying the temple. 

Obviously, this chapter opens up a lot of questions (some we can know the answers to, some we can’t). What we do know is that Ezekiel’s vision gave him a glimpse into the temple and he was able to see the false idol worship of the elders of Israel (v. 9-13), a group of women mourning a false god (v. 14-15), and a group of men bowing towards the sun (v. 16). And God tells Ezekiel that it’s only going to get worse and more detestable! 

Dr. Ian Duguid, an Old Testament professor at Westminster Theological Seminary and contributor to the NIV Application Commentary, describes Ezekiel 8 this way: 

“In four brief scenes, then, Ezekiel has been shown the comprehensive nature of the sins of Jerusalem. Their sin extends from outside the city gate to the inner courtyard of the temple itself. It involves both men and women, even the seventy elders, symbolic of the leadership of the whole people. It includes idolatry imported from all sorts of surrounding nations (Canaan, Egypt, and Babylon) and involving all kinds of gods (male and female human figures, animal figures, and stellar bodies). This is a unified, universalized religion, the ultimate multifaith worship service. From the Lord’s perspective, however, the picture is one of abomination piled on abomination.”

The temple, the place where God’s presence was supposed to dwell, had become so defiled that it had to be dealt with. In the following chapters, Ezekiel’s vision shows him what that will look like, while this chapter is primarily setting the scene so Ezekiel can see just how bleak things had gotten. 

As we read this chapter, just like so many others in Ezekiel, we are to be reminded that idolatry in any form is destructive to our ability to pursue the things of God and that none of us are immune to it. These were supposed to be God’s people! How did idolatry creep into the temple of all places? The same way it always does: one compromise at a time. Let this chapter serve as a reminder today that we are to stand firm in our faith and to not even give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:27) where we might want to compromise.


  1. What stuck out to you the most as you read through this chapter? Why?
  2. Where are you tempted to create and worship idols of your own? Where are you most likely to give the devil a foothold?
  3. How can you ensure that you and your Life Group aren’t merely going through the religious motions of our day and instead pursuing Jesus with full devotion?

Did You Know?

This is the only usage of the phrase “putting the branch to their nose” (v. 17) in the entire Bible. While it may be impossible to know exactly what it meant to put the branch to their nose, most scholars agree that it was some sort of gesture of contempt towards God. 

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2 thoughts on “Ezekiel 8”

  1. What struck me today in Ezekiel’s vision was when God took him to the temple, where in a wall there was a hole/opening that revealed a door to a hidden room that exposed all kinds of wicked activity by the leaders of Israel. These who were responsible for leading the people in authentic worship to God, but in secret were sold out to idols their culture worshipped. What a mockery to God! Recall Hebrews 4:13 “ Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” I’m grateful that God’s spirit reveals what is in our hearts, that may we boldly take every sin captive unto the obedience of Christ. If someone were to peek into our hearts, what would they see? Praying for a clean heart and a steadfast spirit in each of us.

  2. YOU ARE THE TEMPLE OF GOD!!! God showed Ezekiel where and how these priests were doing things in “private” that they thought no one would know. But they were defiling the His house. We have let all sorts of idols in our lives that are destroying and making God so incredibly sad and angry. We have such a greater opportunity than these guys. BUT GOD has made the way for us to turn from these things and He will help us to walk.
    Rom 10:9-10 Believe in Jesus as your Savior
    2 Corth 5:17 New creation
    Eph all of chapter 1 He choose me
    Eph 6 the armour of God to protect yourself
    THE WORD OF GOD is filled with ways to help and guide our walk. God made you for Himself, He loves you with an unconditional love that has no end. Our job is to worship, adore, obey, and love Him. Respect His temple, He knows what you are doing ALL the time, dont try to hide things. Repent, turn away and ask for forgiveness and love God!!

    God I am sorry for the things that I let be greater than You. I repent and ask for Your forgiveness from letting money be more important than You. You have always always provide and I know You always will. Thank You for that forgiveness. Thank You for helping me use wisely my resources and not think about money all the time. Guide me in right decisions in Jesus name amen

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