Introduction: Does it sometimes seem that God is not real? Or, if He
is real, He is not very concerned about us? Or, if He is concerned,
that He is falling down on the job for reasons we do not understand?
When this happens, who do we blame? All the questions I just asked
put the blame on God. Pinning blame is a complex issue that
generally turns on the facts. But, we should always question our
attitude if we blame God. Let’s dive into the our study of the Bible
to learn more about the exile of God’s people, their attitude, and
the attitude we should have towards God!
- Recall that we studied how King David was dancing with
delight as he brought the Ark of God into Jerusalem (2
Samuel 6:12-15). David’s son, King Solomon, built the
Temple of God in Jerusalem and had the Ark placed in it
(1 Kings 8). Let’s read a part of King Solomon’s prayer
of dedication for the Temple and the Ark. Read 1 Kings
8:46-49. What does Solomon pray about sin and punishment?
(He connects the two.)
- What is the way out of the punishment? (Turning to
God “with all their heart.”)
- Read 1 Kings 8:59-61. What does Solomon say is the
purpose of his prayer? (That God and His people would
have such a relationship that everyone who lives on the
earth would know that “the Lord is God and that there is
- Is that the goal of your life?
- Secret Worship
- Read Ezekiel 8:1 Ezekiel says that he is in his house
with the Elder of Judah. What does that suggest? (He must
have been in some sort of administrative or religious
- What does it mean to have “the hand of the … Lord
[come] upon me?” (The Holy Spirit is reaching out to
- Read Ezekiel 8:2-4. Ezekiel is taken by the Holy Spirit
into a vision. Where does his vision take him? (To the
capital city, Jerusalem, and to the north gate of the
Temple – the same Temple dedicated by Solomon to the
glory of God.)
- Read Ezekiel 8:5-6. Are the people worshiping jealousy?
(No. Exodus 20:5 tells the people not to worship false
gods, for Jehovah is “a jealous God.”)
- Are we only taking about one person worshiping one
idol? (No. God says “the House of Israel” is doing
- The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old
Testament tells us that sacrificial animals were
taken through this gate to be offered as sacrifices.
What does this suggest about the nature of this sin?
(That instead of relying on God in their worship,
the people were now relying on false gods.)
- Read Ezekiel 8:7-11. Ezekiel sees what is going on by
enlarging a hole in the wall of the temple. What do you
think this symbolism means? (This is not public worship.
Ezekiel was looking through a peep hole, which he
enlarged to a door. This worship was being done behind
- Read Numbers 11:16. Do you think that Ezekiel was
watching seventy men? Or, do you think the term
“seventy elders” is symbolic? (This number seems to
refer back to the seventy men who were the leaders
of Israel during the Exodus. Thus, I think this is
symbolic of all the leadership of the nation.)
- Think back over these texts. What are we to conclude
about the worship of Judah during this time? (Ezekiel is
having a big meeting with the leadership, and God shows
him that they are secretly worshiping other gods. The
whole purpose of the Temple is being corrupted.)
- How can we apply this warning today? I’m rather
sure that no “secret” practices are taking place in
my church, but what about our homes? Are we
worshiping other gods through the television,
Internet, magazines or books?
- Are we corrupting the message that the true God is
the One to whom all glory is due?
- Read Ezekiel 8:12. Why are the people secretly turning
away from God? (They either think God doesn’t care (“The
Lord has forsaken the land”) or God doesn’t know (“The
Lord does not see us.”))
- Would people worship other gods through the
television, Internet, magazines or books because
they thought God did not care or does not know? Or,
is this just a bad fit – the lesson does not really
apply very well to us today?
- Let’s explore the nature of the problem a bit more. Read
Ezekiel 8:16-18. What do you think it means to turn your
back to the Temple and bow down to the sun? (They were
worshiping nature. They turned their back on the true God
and worshiped what He had made instead. This turns the
whole purpose for the Temple on its head.)
- “Putting the branch to their nose” is not a phrase
with which I am familiar, but I have heard of
“turning up your nose.” What else are these people
doing? (They are hurting their neighbors and
worshiping nature. The original goal was to bring
glory to God through the good works of the people.)
- How does God respond? (God is going to execute
- The Mark
- Read Ezekiel 9:1-2. What a group! Who are these men?
(Armed temple guards and a scribe.)
- Read Ezekiel 9:3-4. What is the basis for getting the
- Read Ezekiel 9:5-6. We decided that the worship problem
was widespread because the “seventy” elders were symbolic
of the entire leadership. Why does the judgment begin at
the temple in Jerusalem? (Those would be the people who
were in leadership. Those closest to the worship system.)
- Notice the standard for judgment in Ezekiel 9:4. Who
survives the judgment of God? (Those who “grieve and
lament over all the detestable things that are
- Is this consistent with righteousness by
faith?(Last week we decided that righteousness
by faith is linked to the right attitude. Those
who survived the judgment did so because of
their attitude. They were troubled by sin.)
- Is this a lesson that applies to us today?
(Yes. We see that the people were involved
in active evil, but when it came to
executing judgment, the decision turned on
- The Bible records in 2 Kings 25 the Babylonian
destruction of the Temple built by King Solomon. The
Temple no longer brought glory to God. The judgment
foretold by Ezekiel and others took place. Recall the
people said that God does not know or does not care? We
see here that in fact God knew and cared because He
warned the people of judgment, and then executed it.
Let’s turn next to God’s attitude about this.
- God’s View
- Read Jeremiah 29:10-11. What we just read in Ezekiel
seems pretty harsh. What is God’s main plan for us? (God
wants to bless us, not harm us. Even with the Babylonian
destruction of the Temple of God, and the killing and
captivity of God’s people, God tells them that He will
rescue them in seventy years.)
- Read Jeremiah 29:12-14. What kind of attitude is God
looking for here? (He wants His people to seek Him with
all of their heart.)
- Read again Ezekiel 8:18. What makes the difference
in God’s willingness to listen?
- What relationship is there between the “grieve and
lament” attitude of Ezekiel 9:4, and the “seek and find
Me” attitude of Jeremiah 29:13? (If your goal in life is
to give glory to God through your relationship with Him,
then the sin problem in the Temple would be very
- The Righteous Reaction
- Read Nehemiah 1:4-7. When Nehemiah hears of God’s
judgment on Jerusalem, he makes this prayer. What do you
think are the important elements of this part of
Nehemiah’s prayer? (He acknowledges the true God, who is
a God of love. He confesses sin.)
- Can you imagine a prayer in which Nehemiah would
accuse God of being lax or uncaring because of the
destruction of the temple and God’s people?
- Let’s continue on with Nehemiah’s prayer. Read Nehemiah
1:8-9. What important element of prayer do we find here?
(Nehemiah recalls God’s instructions and His promises.
Notice the goal: “a dwelling for My Name.” God’s glory is
- Read Nehemiah 1:10-11. Where does Nehemiah place the part
of the prayer about himself? (At the end!)
- Can you see in Nehemiah’s prayer the “grieve and lament”
attitude and “seek and find Me” element? (Yes. This is
the fusion of those two attitudes that God desires for
- Friend, do you have the attitude of Nehemiah? Are you
unhappy about the sin problem? Are you seeking God with
all of your heart for the purpose of giving glory to Him?
If not, why not repent today and ask the Holy Spirit to
change your attitude?
- Next week: In Spirit and in Truth.