Ezekiel chapter 8.

The judgment over the abominations in the temple. Part 1.


Ezekiel was called a prophet when he was 30 years old (see Ezekiel 1:1), and it happened on the fifth day of the fourth month of the fifth year of Ezekiel’s captivity. Ezekiel was taken to Babylon after the second siege of Jerusalem in the year 597. Here in chapter eight we read that we are in the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month. With the inclusive counting (of years) that Israel and Judah practiced, we are now in the year 592.

Ezekiel is given a vision where he sees the abominations of Israel in his day, and that God will eventually judge the rebellious and unfaithful people who call themselves God’s people. Ezekiel is led to the door in the north gate of the inner courtyard where he sees the ‘image of jealousy‘, which may have been an image of Tammuz, a Babylonian god, mentioned in verse 14. It may also have been an image of Astarte, but it is irrelevant what image it is that has been erected, the problem is that an image has been erected. Whatever the image, it is an idol erected in the courtyard of the Lord’s temple.

Tammuz was the ‘son of life‘ and a symbol of the nature, fertility and beauty, and the Gilgamesh epic refers to Tammuz as one of Ishtar’s lovers. Astarte was a Semitic goddess, similar to the Mesopotamian Ishtar (or Inanna), and was the goddess of love, fertility and war.

The prehistory of chapter 8 tells us about the fall of God’s people, a fall that has now become so deep and extensive that they have even begun to set up idols inside God’s house. This chapter in Ezekiel can also be placed in a typological context where what happened in Ezekiel’s time will going to happen again. This story had its mission and fulfilment in Ezekiel’s day, but there is also a fulfilment in today’s church.

We must also keep in mind that neither the book of Ezekiel nor the Bible was divided into chapters and verses from ancient times; this is a modern invention that makes it easier to find special verses and the like by referring to chapters and verses. However, it is disturbing and directly destructive to the understanding of the prophecies, as many do not see the connection between subsequent chapters. In the context where we talk about the church of our day, we must take into account that not all denominations can be called apostates. Here in the book of Ezekiel we see a man clothed with linen (Ezekiel 9:3). He is commanded by the God of Israel to … 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 the abominations that be done in the midst thereof., Ezekiel 9:4. Why is this being done? We find the answer in the next verse where it is said that all those who do not have this mark on their foreheads shall be beaten to death. I mean we see the seal and the judgment of the wicked in this passage.

As for Ezekiel 9:4 and the marking of the foreheads of those who sigh and cry over all the abominations, this points to Revelation 7:3 where it says: … Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. This verse is about the sealing in the very last days, just before Jesus’ return. As for the abominations, reference is made to Revelation 17:4-5 where it says. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication. And upon her forehead [was] a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. Here it is the judgment of the harlot that is in focus, and the harlot is the origin of all the misery that has crept into the church.

There are several similar verses in the Bible that deal with the same subject. In Zechariah 2:5-6 it says: I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand. Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, to measure Jerusalem, to see what [is] the breadth thereof, and what [is] the length thereof. It is not the physical measures of the city of Jerusalem that are of concern to Zechariah, but the condition of God’s people. They are the ones to be examined. This is made even clearer in Revelation 11:1, where John says: And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. Here, however, an investigative judgment is taking place.

The investigative judgment is a principle God works by, and which we also find in the judicial system in our time. When a crime is committed and the suspect is arrested, then the investigative judgement really begins. The prosecutor is trying to find evidence of the crime while the defence is trying to find evidence that the suspect is innocent. Then follows the trial and a judgement, guilty or innocent.

To transfer this to the cosmic conflict, this is what is happening in our time. On the one hand, we have a prosecuting authority, a prosecutor – Satan – who accuses all people of having sinned and that they deserve the most severe punishment available. On the other hand, we find our defence attorney – Jesus Christ – who is also a just judge, and He checks all the books (see Daniel 7:10; Revelation 20:12) and pronounces His judgment. Either the accused is acquitted or convicted.

Marking those who sigh and cry, and measuring the temple and those who worship there are two sides of the same coin. When the Bible was written, the authors pointed to an investigative judgment that was to come sometime in the future, which here is symbolized by measuring Jerusalem and those who worship there. The temple is the church of God, and those who worship there are every single person who make up God’s people. Then we see someone dressed in linen walk through the middle of the city which is an image of God’s church and mark the forehead, which is the same as the sealing of God’s faithful remnant in the end times, to all who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are made in the midst of her, who are all those who are not in Babylon, or the fallen denominations. These are those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:17), and who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12).

After both the investigative judgment and the sealing have been made, the final judgment falls on the wicked, those who themselves have chosen not to follow God the Creator, but have gone their own ways and followed human commandments and pagan teachings. Furthermore, we see that the final judgment is fulfilled in Ezekiel 9:6: Slay utterly old [and] young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom [is] the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which [were] before the house.

All Bible texts are from KJV 1611/1769 unless otherwise stated.

The abominations of Israel.

God presents himself to Ezekiel in chapter 8.

And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth [month], in the fifth [day] of the month, [as] I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord GOD fell there upon me. Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loin’s even downward, fire; and from his loins even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the colour of amber.  And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head. And the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where [was] the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy. And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel [was] there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain, verses 1 – 4.

The description that Ezekiel gives here of God is found again both in Daniel 7:9-10 and in Revelation 1:14-15. In the previous chapter, God tells Ezekiel that the judgment is near for Judah as well, and that God will repay all the abominations that the kings, the prophets at the king’s court, and the priesthood have been responsible for over years. Ethnicity is not sufficient to escape judgment when it falls on humanity, (see Revelation 11:1; 1 Peter 4:17). Something more is needed to escape the judgement. For that, a pure heart is needed that does not allow idolatry as Israel and Judah have done. In Ezekiel 7:2-4, God says the following: “Also, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord GOD unto the land of Israel; An end, the end is come upon the four corners of the land. Now [is] the end [come] upon thee, and I will send mine anger upon thee, and will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations. And mine eye shall not spare thee, neither will I have pity: 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”.

Israel, Samaria or the Ten Tribes, was conquered more than 100 years earlier by the king of Assyria Sennacherib in the year 721. In Ezekiel 7:9, God says to Judah. And mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: I will recompense thee according to thy ways and thine abominations [that] are in the midst of thee; and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD that smiteth. In the following verses, God says that the day is come and that the time is come and the day draweth near.

In chapter 8 verse 2, God appears to Ezekiel in a vision, and the Spirit lifted him up and led him into the temple. There he will eventually see all the abominations that Judah has committed against the Lord. Despite the conquest of Judah in the year 605 by Nebuchadnezzar and the captivity of Babylon, including Daniel, the newly installed king Jehoiachin continued his infidelity with God. This led to the siege of Jerusalem in 597, and now Ezekiel was among those taken captive to Babylon. It is after Ezekiel was taken to Babylon that he sees all the abominations that Judah does inside the temple, which eventually led to a third siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the city and the temple in the year 586.

The image of jealousy.

Then said he unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry. He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? [even] the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? But turn thee yet again, [and] thou shalt see greater abominations, Ezekiel 8:5-6.

This ‘image of jealousy’ has led God to withdraw his presence from his temple. Such images of various idols, such as Tammuz and Astarte, aroused the passion of men, which led them to be more inclined to satisfy their own desires instead of worshiping their God. The idols that were erected throughout Judah were also instrumental in arousing God’s zeal.

Seest thou what they do God says to Ezekiel in verse 6, [even] the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here. This is in Ezekiel’s day. But what about our time, is this valid for us too? How are you and I? Have we put up a small image of jealousy of Tammuz or Astarte in our hearts that we pamper and even love? We are quick to judge ancient Israel and Judah, but are we really any better than them when it comes to the play?

David says in Psalm 26:2; “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart”,

and in Psalm 139,23 he says; “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts”.

Do we dare let God search our hearts, or do we have something hidden, something murky, and something that blocks the work of the Holy Spirit in us? Perhaps we should begin with what Paul says in 2nd Corinthians 13:5; “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

My question was whether we are any better than Israel / Judah were, when it comes to the play. Perhaps Zechariah can help us with the answer, for Ezekiel 8.5 refers to Zechariah chapter 5, where it says the following: “Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll. And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll; the length thereof [is] twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof ten cubits. Then said he unto me, This [is] the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth: for every one that stealeth shall be cut off [as] on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off [as] on that side according to it. I will bring it forth, saith the LORD of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house, and shall consume it with the timber thereof and the stones thereof. Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what [is] this that goeth forth. And I said, What [is] it? And he said, This [is] an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This [is] their resemblance through all the earth. And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this [is] a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah. And he said, This [is] wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof. Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind [was] in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven. Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah? And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base”.

Verse 1 I looked again – and there before me was a flying scroll!

Verse 2 He asked me, what do you see? I answered, I see a flying scroll, thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide» (NIV 1984).

* Hebrew; twenty cubits long and ten cubits wide, about 9 meters long and 4,5 meters wide.

The flying scroll is a symbol of how God will answer those who refuse «to change clothes,» or

turn to the Lord and cease to be rebellious against the Holy Spirit. The fact that the scroll is flying means most likely that it perform its work. The speaker here is still the angel explaining the vision of Zechariah.

Verse 3 Then he said to me, This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole land. For everyone who steals shall be cleaned out according to what is on one side and everyone who swears falsely shall be cleaned out according to what is on the other side, (English Standard Version.)

Verse 4 I will bring it forth, saith the LORD of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house and shall consume it with the timber thereof and the stones thereof.

The SDA Bible Lexicon says that everyone that steals sins against his neighbor, while everyone that swears falsely sins against God. Thus, these two sins embrace the law of God, the Ten Commandments. Here, as in Revelation 5:1 we see a scroll where it is written both inside and outside of the scroll. The scroll presented in Revelation 5, and opened in Revelation 6 shows us the history of the church from the cross to the second coming of Jesus. On the other hand, this scroll shows us the judgment through the expressions everyone who steals shall be cleaned out, and everyone who swears falsely shall be cleaned, and the scroll points to God’s Ten Commandments. Can this scroll refer to Deuteronomy 28:15-68, which lists all the curses that are to come upon those who do not follow God’s commandments? Finally, God, through judgment, will eradicate all wickedness. (See also Jer 36:2; Ezek 2:9-10.)

The first four verses of this chapter also give us a kind of introduction to the rest of the chapter. However, this is not about individuals, but about a major power factor. To repeat myself. When the books of the Bible were written, there was no punctuation like today, where we divide the text with commas, colon, semicolon and period. Verses and chapters did not exist either, so I think these four verses tell us what will happen to the main character (s) in the next seven verses.

Verse 5 Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what [is] this that goeth forth.

Verse 6 And I said, What is it? And he said, This is the ephah basket that is appearing. And he said moreover, This is their iniquity throughout the land, (New Heart English Bible).

An ephah was a standard unit of measurement in Old Testament times and was equivalent to 36.4 litres of grain. Here the term an efa is used to describe ‘God’s standard’ and is ‘God’s unit of measurement‘, and God’s standard can be seen all over the earth, and not least; God’s standard applies to the whole earth. God’s standard is God’s commandment, and they are incorporated into the expressions everyone who steals shall be cleaned out … / and / … everyone who swears falsely shall be cleaned out. We can put God’s Ten Commandments instead of the ephah, because in the end it will be God’s Ten Commandments that we will all be judged by. Some translations, such as New Heart English Bible use the land instead of the whole earth in their translation, thereby limiting the prophecy to apply only to Judah. This is destructive of prophecy and takes away the end-time perspective.

Verse 7 And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this [is] a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah.

When the woman sits in the ephah, it means that she is measured according to God’s standard. The woman in the ephah is in verse eight defined as the wickedness of the angel who gives Zechariah this vision. Woman is in the Bible an image of God’s people, church or congregation. This woman is an unclean woman all the time she is explained as the wickedness. This also shows that she violates God’s commandments in every conceivable way.

Verse 8 And he said, this [is] wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof.

A weight of lead over the woman in the ephah means that the woman’s impurity is known by the people, but they does not care about it. This also appears in the fact that the prophet sees two other women coming forward, not from the ephah for it was closed with a weight of lead. Lead is regarded as the metal of the curse, and it may mean that the woman’s sins are enclosed in the wrath of God.

Verse 9 Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind [was] in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven.

There came out two women means that we have with two church systems to do, and it is implicitly in the text that these two women cooperate. These two women first came forth when the prophet lifted his eyes or focused on the vision. The first woman the prophet saw can therefore not be one of those two, which we can read out of the fact that these two appear after the ephah in which the first woman sit is closed with a weight of lead.

The wings of a stork. A stork is an unclean bird, and this underlines the claim that these two women must represent two unclean or fallen denominations and/or pagan religions.

Verse 10 Then said I to the angel that talked with me, whither do these bear the ephah?

Verse 11 And he said unto me, to build it a house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established and set there upon her own base.

To build it a house means that these two women will cooperate to set up a system that reflects the first woman, and that they will unite under her visualized in that the two put her on her own base. This means that they worship the woman who was in the ephah — in other words, idolatry. Sinear is another word for Babylon, and then we probably have the clues we need to see what this is.

The woman in the ephah, which is the wickedness, is described in several places in the Bible, and is a pagan system that has accumulated up through Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and the Roman Empire, and has been dressed in a Christian cloak by the Roman church leader, the pope. That the woman can be described as wicked is because she is measured against God’s standard, God’s Ten Commandments, which here is the ephah. If we then put the woman who is the wickedness to be the Catholic Church, it cannot at the same time be one of the two women who have wings like storks. Then these two women represent the fallen Protestantism and the modern spiritualism. Some want it to be Judaism and pagan religions, or a mixture of all parts – which is unlikely as women are synonymous with God’s people or God’s church. Nevertheless, we see that all religions recognize the pope as the world’s religious, spiritual head.

We know for sure that there are denominations that have set up the image of jealousy, so the prophecy in Ezekiel hits as well today as it did in Ezekiel’s time. The question we all have to ask ourselves is whether we have a little Tammuz or a little Astarte hidden in our hearts. However, the image of jealousy was not all Ezekiel saw. He gets to see more ugliness.

All the idols of the house of Israel.

And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall. Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door. And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here. So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about, verses 7-10.

Egypt had many different deities, many of which were depicted as animals, birds, insects, or mixtures of animals and human figures. To highlight some of these I can mention Anubis who is depicted as a jackal, Apep as a snake god, Apis as a god with a ox head, Benu as a bird, Geb as a snake (the snake’s father), Maahas as a warrior god with a lion’s head , Wadjet as an Egyptian Cobra. Ezekiel saw just such images inside the secret rooms of the temple.

Ezekiel is now shown that there is a hole next to the main entrance facing east. There was a secret door that led into some hidden room, and there Ezekiel saw every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about. Inside the temple, rooms were set up where they had placed all kinds of idols. This is in stark contrast to what God said to Israel at Sinai.

The second commandment we find in Exodus 20:4-5 says. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me.

In Ezekiel 23:14 we red. And [that] she increased her whoredoms: for when she saw men portrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion,

Paul says in Romans 1:23. And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.

In Deuteronomy chapter 28, God uses 54 verses to tell Israel what will happen to them if they break God’s commandments. Despite seeing what God was capable of doing, and what curses God had pronounced on apostasy, Israel chose to turn away from God and worship foreign gods.

How are we? Do we have any sins that we keep hidden from our fellow human beings? If we do, we must get rid of them right away, for God sees them. He sees everything.

It is bad enough what Ezekiel has seen, but he should be shown worse things than this.

Seventy of the elders of the house of Israel.

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, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up. Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou 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 seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth, verses 11-12

Inside the hidden rooms were the 70 elder in Judah. This means that our leaders also run the risk of worshiping gods other than the Creator of heaven and earth. What exactly is the situation like in the highest bodies of our church community? Do they resist all influence from ecumenical cooperation, or have they willingly allowed themselves to be bound up in this. The General Conference, the highest body of our church community, actively participates in ecumenical cooperation and sits on various committees. Also at the local level, as the respective unions, are deeply involved in ecumenical cooperation. In Norway, the Seventh-day Adventist Church participates in ecumenical cooperation, admittedly only as an observer, but they are still involved in ecumenical cooperation. Here in Norway, SDA’s representative was given the honourable assignment / position to sit as chairperson / chair of the translation committee for the first fully ecumenical Bible in Norway, the Bible 2011.

The main argument for participating as an observer in ecumenical cooperation is that we can influence the other denominations. However, this is an argument they cannot believe even those who use it. If we SDA alone, one voice, can manage to influence all the others, how easy is it not for all the others to influence our church community?

In Amos 3:3, the prophet rhetorically asks, Can two walk together, except they be agreed? This is a very good question. In the Catholic Douay-Rheims Bible, the text is Shall two walk together unless they are agreed? There are many who will not refer to this Bible, but here the text is very apt. The Aramaic Lamsa Bible is also spot on, to put it this way: Will two men go on a journey together unless they have made an appointment. So which agreement is the basis for SDA’s participation in the ecumenical cooperation?

We know that one of the points in the ecumenical agreement is to find a minimum common multiple they can gather around and agree on, and then cross out all the other points they do not agree to silence this to death. We also know that one of the points that has come up on the road to a ecclesiastical union with the Roman Church is that one should not engage in aggressive preaching to steal members from one another. NOTE! If so, where will be the influence we can have as observers in this ecumenical collaboration? What value does it have for our church community that we are present at these ecumenical meetings? I think the answer to that is that it has zero value, regardless of whether we can or cannot preach.

More and more of our leaders have their theological education from Catholic / Jesuit universities, such as former head of SDA Jan Paulsen, who took his theological education and doctorate at the Catholic-Theological Faculty at the University of Tübingen in Germany.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Paulsen and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_T%C3%BCbingen)

As we can see, all the 70 elders are inside the hidden rooms, and inside they worship the idols that are on the walls. The scent of incense rises around them. Incense is a symbol of prayer, and each of the 70 elders has a vessel of incense in his hand. There is a man there whom Ezekiel knows: Jaazaniah, son of the pious scribe Shaphan, who stood by Josiah in his great battle against all idolatry (see 2 Kings 22:3). Even a man of such good and godly lineage had been carried away by this awful idolatry.

This shows us that we are not sure of anything. If someone is born into the church and / or holds leading positions there, we have no guarantee that they will not worship their idols in secret. They even say that God does not see them because He has left the land. This is a prophecy that will soon be fulfilled. God will draw the Holy Spirit back from the earth as both the fallen church and the end-time church of God enter more and more into idolatry and iniquity.

In addition, SDA became a full member of STl Oslo when this local team was founded on 21 October 2021. STI means the Co-operation Council for religious and philosophical communities, and is an underuse of ecumenical co-operation.

The following is stated on their website: The Co-operation Council for Religious and Philosophical Societies (STL) is an umbrella organization for religious and philosophical societies and associations of these. STL works to promote common interests and the members’ reasonable special interests.

As we see, the interests of the community take precedence over the interests of the individual church. How can one defend a membership in such an organization that gag members in matters of faith? In this Co-operation Council we find all shades of Christianity, both Protestant and Catholic, mixed with Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Baha’i community, the Mosaic faith community, Sikhism, the Holistic League, the humanists, the human-ethical union in a true mess, or to use a biblical term; this is Babylon.

Psalm 94:7 says; Yet they say, The LORD shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard [it].

Isaiah 29:15 says; Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, who seeth us? And who knoweth us?

In Ezekiel 9:9 it says; Then said he unto me. The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah [is] exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not.

And through Zephaniah 1:12 God says; And it shall come to pass at that time, [that] I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.

The women are crying over Tammuz.

He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, [and] thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. 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, verses 13-14.

Tammuz is, as mentioned, a Babylonian god, the women of Judah sit and weep over this idol, and they have willingly been led into this idolatry. When the gate to the north is mentioned, there is a lot of symbolism in this. North is the place where God has his throne, and it is this place and throne that Satan wants to occupy by trying to fight true worship of God. Judah has in fact let Satan into the temple of God in Jerusalem by worshiping Tammuz, or weeping over him as the prophecy here in Ezekiel says.

Jeremiah 7:17. Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?

Jeremiah 7:30. For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight, saith the LORD: they have set their abominations in the house which is called by my name, to pollute it.

2. Kings 23:7. And he broke down the houses of the sodomites*, that [were] by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove. * Hebrew: qedesjim, i.e. those who practice homosexuality and prostitution during idolatry.

Even more abominations and the land filled with violence.

Then said he unto me. Hast thou seen [this], O son of man? Turn thee yet again, [and] thou shalt see greater abominations than these. 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. Then he said unto me. Hast thou seen [this], O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations, which they commit here? For they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose, verses 15-17.

Why is it so bad that they turn their faces to the east when they worship? This is connected with the worship of the sun god. The sun worshipers always worship towards the sunrise, towards the east.

No matter where in the world one has worshiped, and still worships the sun god, this happens towards sunrise. When I was in Machu Picchu for the first time, we arrived in the city at 05.30 in the morning. I had read a lot beforehand about this famous city, and about the temple of the three windows (El templo de las tres ventanas in Spanish).

Every day the sun rises between two high mountain peaks that form a V. These mountains are located just east of Machu Picchu. The special thing about this is that on June 21, which is the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere, the sun appears exactly where the mountains meet – at the bottom of the V, and the first rays of light shine right into the middle of the third window. On June 21, 2002, I stood in this window and saw that the sun rose exactly at the bottom of the V a few minutes past 06. In this picture, the sun rises a little to the right for the middle window, and goes northwards because we are in the southern hemisphere. This was a very special experience, and I got goose bumps all over my body. I must add that this happened before I became a Christian and an Adventist. In most pagan religions, sun worship was central, and when other religions and cultures built such temples, the sun worship was the same.

When Israel built the tabernacle in the wilderness, they were told to set it up in a certain direction. The main entrance to the tabernacle should always face east, so that those who came to worship in the tabernacle always had their backs to the east. Inside the Most Holy, the Ark of the Covenant was always on the wall facing west. It was from the place above the Ark of the Covenant that God revealed himself and spoke to Moses. We read about this in Exodus 25:21-22: And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark, thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which [are] upon the ark of the testimony, of all [things] which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

When these 25 men worship to the east, they worship the sun god, and they do so from somewhere inside the temple of God. At the same time they turn their backs on the temple of God, and while they have turned their backs on the ark of the testimony and the altar of the Lord, they all stand with their faces lifted to the east, and as the sun rises, they bow in humble worship to the sun-god. Obviously and rudely, they turn their backs on God and clearly show that they despise Him – because they have their face turned to the sunrise, and they are with heart, in their thoughts and in their prayers busy worshiping a foreign god! And these are claimed to be the guardians of Israel!

As a movement, we were called to separate ourselves from the others.

As a movement, the Adventists were called out from the fallen churches…

…because, we are to be different from the world,

…because, we are to take the Word of God seriously,

…because, we must keep all the commandments of God,

…because, we are to have the faith of Jesus,

…because, we are to have the testimony of Jesus Christ, which is the spirit of prophecy.

However, there has been a shift in the last 50 years, our church leaders have changed. Now they no longer see the need to separate from the others, there is an extensive collaboration across the denominations, and one participates in the ecumenical collaboration at all levels, from the General Conference to the local churches. This is not only regrettable, but this warns Ellen G. White us against in her book Early Writings under the heading Church Difficulties. There she writes; “As error is fast progressing, we should seek to be awake in the cause of God, and realize the time in which we live. Darkness is to cover the earth, and gross darkness the people. And as nearly all around us are being enveloped in the thick darkness of error and delusion, it becomes us to shake off stupidity and live near to God, where we can draw divine rays of light and glory from the countenance of Jesus. As darkness thickens and error increases, we should obtain a more thorough knowledge of the truth and be prepared to maintain our position from the Scriptures”.

It is precisely dullness that has led the church into ecumenical cooperation. God called the founders of the Advent movement from all denominations when W. Miller began preaching the imminent return of Jesus. This also applies to us today. God has not changed, nor has His call to come out of the fallen denominations. We have even been given the great and honourable task of proclaiming this calling through Revelation 18:4: … Come out of her, my people. But what are our leaders doing? Well, they run as fast as they can back to the mother church and into the thick darkness of heresy and seduction through participation in ecumenical cooperation.

Who is wrong? Is it God who does not know what is best, or is it our leaders who are on a wild goose chase?

Back to Revelation 18.4 where it says: And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. The question that forces itself is. How can we get out of the fallen church and at the same time participate in the ecumenical cooperation the mother church is behind?

As we see from the text in Revelation 18:4, the fallen churches will eventually be judged. If we participate in ecumenical cooperation, our church will also be affected by the same judgment. I do not think that everyone who is a member of SDA or other denominations will perish because of the ecumenical cooperation, because there are many honest and faithful seeking people in all denominations who will hear Jesus say: Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, Matthew 25:34.

What our leaders are doing today is the same as Ezekiel saw the about 25 men did in the temple in Jerusalem in his vision in chapter 8 verse 16. What this means is that they are actually turning their backs on God, and would rather follow the harlot and her daughters. They do not dare to deal with the abominations of the temple, which in our time are the fallen denominations because then they can lose the goodwill and be excluded, not from the good company, but from the bad company, as the ecumenical cooperation really is.