What does it say?
Ezekiel 5 is the enactment of another parable and is connected to the object lessons that Ezekiel acts out in chapter 4. This time Ezekiel cuts his hair and beard with a sword, a terribly humiliating act and contrary to Jewish law. It symbolizes the judgment and shame to come with the siege and destruction of Jerusalem.
Chapters 6 and 7 announce that the time of Jerusalem’s judgment and fall has arrived. These two chapters give the spoken word that accompanies and explains what Ezekiel previously acted out. These words could be a single prophecy or several oracles connected together here by their common theme. They are, in effect, a lamentation.
Chapter 8 begins a section centered on a vision that Ezekiel receives. Much like the Apostle John is caught up in the spirit (Rev 4:1-2), Ezekiel is also caught up in this vision to see the idolatry of Israel from God’s perspective. Notice Ezekiel’s attention to precisely date his prophecies. Tammuz is the Sumerian/Akkadian fertility god.
What does it mean?
Preaching is more than what is said from a pulpit. Ezekiel is instructed to use all sorts of creative means of communication. Equally important is to note that this is not a matter of choosing one form of communication over another, since the enactments of chapters 4 and 5 are expounded upon in words in chapters 6 and 7. God uses all types of means to communicate his truth.
Idolatry is an abomination in God’s eyes. Had we been in Jerusalem during the lives of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, however, we would have seen pious Jews going through the motions of the law and engaging in the temple worship. Had we asked if they were orthodox Jews in their faith, most would have answered in the affirmative. Yet they had combined God’s truth with the idolatrous influences of their neighbors without ever realizing the depth of their evil.
How will I respond?
When I have opportunity to share my story of faith, or given the opportunity to teach God’s truth to individuals or groups, what is one specific application I can make from today’s reading to be more creative and engaging in the way that I communicate?
What are examples of idolatry that might exist in my life of which I may not even be conscious?