Ezekiel 10 opens in the midst of a vision God has given Ezekiel. It is an account of the departure of God’s glory from the temple. This is the glory (think “pillar of cloud and fire” from Exodus) that led the nation of Israel out of Egypt and dwelt in the temple as a reminder of God’s covenant promise to them.
Ezekiel reports seeing a chariot-like throne bearing the glory of God away from the temple. (If you find yourself really struggling with this imagery as I did, remind yourself that by definition God is indefinable!) In response to the people’s idolatry, specifically that of listening to false prophets, God begins to withdraw from them. The departure occurs in stages, and at each stage he lingers a bit before moving farther away.
He offers the people the chance to repent, yet they do not. “…I will judge you at the border of Israel, and you shall know that I am the Lord. For you have not walked in my statutes, nor obeyed my rules, but have acted according to the rules of the nations that are around you” (11:11-12).
Well, this sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We live in a culture today that attempts to dictate norms that are anything BUT normal, according to God. Have you noticed how subtly this can occur? In Ezekiel the false prophets were misleading the people into believing that victory was at hand. It probably wasn’t hard to convince them, as people tend to hear what they want to hear. They had forgotten the historical fact of God’s provision and protection. Elevating the opinions of others over God’s declared word is idolatrous, and idolatry has disastrous consequences.
Thankfully, there is hope. “…I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (11:17-20).
Notice who’s initiating this movement? God himself will uphold the covenant, just as he promised Abraham, even as his own people are unable to. It’s a massive transplant, the only fix for our sin-sick selves. He will cleanse us from the inside out, creating a flock that delights in doing his will. The operating room for this procedure is, of course, the cross on Calvary. The organ donor? Jesus of Nazareth. Thanks be to God!