Driving God Out of the Sanctuary

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Psa 63:1 A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

Psa 63:2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.

Psa 63:3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.

Psa 63:4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.

 April 6, 2007         Driving God Out of The Sanctuary   Kathleen Maples

The prophet Ezekiel, whose name means "God will strengthen" was a prophet in Jerusalem and was among those taken into captivity among the first of the exiles into Babylon. This also included Daniel, and the three Hebrew children who went as well. In 597 BC Zedekiah's predecessor, Jehoiachin, surrendered, and went out with his family, surrendering to Nebuchadnezzar's army. He'd surely heard Jeremiah warn about the disastrous consequences of not surrendering to this because it was the judgment of the Lord. God had been sending Jeremiah to Judah and Isaiah to warn His people for years of this coming judgment, God pleaded with the people through the prophets He sent them, early and frequently, warning them to turn from their wickedness and they got angry. They rejected the Word of the Lord. God had so blessed these people, they had grown arrogant and no longer thought they needed the Lord. They wanted to do things their own way. They would sin their sins, break His commandments, and then come to His house with their lame and blemished sacrifices, and grudging hearts, to “do their duty” and get it over with. (Jer 7) They had no love or loyalty or appreciation for God at this time. They were more interested in their idolatry and pleasure. They had begun to out-sin the heathen around them, and it brought a great reproach on God. Those who surrendered and went into the captivity God would not forget and would guard them Himself. But, God had a people in the midst of a people who loved Him and held to His Word. Because of the sins of the people, judgment came in the form of enemy armies, and the righteous suffered with the wicked, to an extent, because when God sent the Babylonian army as his rod of chastening, the righteous lost their homes and were taken captive, as well. But even in their captivity God saw they were allowed to have new homes, plant gardens and vineyards, and He saw their needs were met.

Jer 29:4 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon;

Jer 29:5 Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them;

Jer 29:6 Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished.

Jer 29:7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.

He still loved these people, and even while chastening them for their long record of disobedience, He offers mercy. What a God we have, folks. What an awesome God. These were some wonderful promises made to people who God knew loved Him, and would have to suffer the loss of their home and nation, because of the wickedness surrounding them. He knew they would come under special attack by the enemy, in their captivity, so God determined to make provision for them. He knew they were being sent into the land of the Chaldeans-and Chaldea means 'demons or robbers'. Jesus said the thief cometh but for to kill and steal and destroy. I wonder today how many folks are being taught in their churches that God is love and won't let anything bad happen to us. I wonder how many shepherds are not preparing their flock for reality. God laid out the pattern for how He deals with people in the Old Testament, as He showed us how He dealt with Israel when they turned from Him and began to out sin the nations around them. When you look at the direction America has gone, and see that she is following almost exactly in Israel's footsteps, to read these Scriptures knowing God is no respecter of persons, well-you have to consider this.

2Ki 24:14 And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valor, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land.

Anyone perceived as being in any way a threat or profitable to the Babylonians was removed. They were loaded up and made to travel into the land of the Chaldeans. This was enemy territory. This was a long and hard journey to make by foot, over 200 miles from the Dead Sea which separates Israel from present day Jordan. The Babylonian army carried them away, just as God had warned.

Dan 1:3 And the king spoke unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king's seed, and of the princes;

Dan 1:4 Children in whom was no blemish, but well favored, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.

These were righteous, and loved God, yet they were taken away from everything familiar. They lost their homes, and were separated from their families and friends. They were given strange food to eat, which Daniel and his three friends refused. God granted them favor in the eyes of the king's servant, and they were permitted to eat pulse. They remembered the command of the Lord to be separate, to not defile themselves, to eat nothing unclean, so they were given pulse to eat. This means peas, or beans, edible seeds or grain of any kind, like barley or wheat. It could also include vegetable food in general, or herbs which are grown from seeds. This had to require strength from the Lord because the others around them were eating meat and drinking wine, and they were not. Imagine eating vegetable soup while those next to you at the same table were eating steak, and ham, and pork. Remember these were children, probably between 12 and 15 years, if they were that old. To make things worse, their names were changed. Their captor not only removed them from home, tried to defile them with strange food, planned to reeducate them in pagan Babylonian ways, worship and customs, but also changed their names. These children's identities were being threatened. God knew they would need something special to keep them pure and HE as always, was the only provision needed. We can take comfort from this when our children are in public schools, and we can trust and ask God to keep our children, too.

Keeping all this information in mind, let's go visit Ezekiel at home. In Ezekiel 8, he's sitting in his house, with the elders of Judah before him and the hand of God falls on him. He gets a vision of the Lord that wows my heart. The Spirit of God begins to reveal things to Ezekiel in visions, and shows him what is happening in the temple and helps Ezekiel understand what an abomination this is to Him. He shows him the entrance at the North Gate into the temple, and says there is an image of jealousy that was provoking God to anger in there. They had set up an image-or statue, as an idol, in the House of God. The glory of God was there (Eze 8:4) but men were looking to this image. What do you think of when you hear the term 'glory of God'? When I hear it, I think of it this way: the holy Presence of God, coupled with the opening of His Word to His people under the anointing that destroys the yoke of bondage. It will cause a reverent fear to fill our hearts with awe of Him. It's the light, life, truth and love of God manifested through the presence of His Holy Spirit. I may be seeing it wrong. I don't know. But that is what I think of when I think of the glory of God.

If you read on, God starts talking to Ezekiel.

Do you see what they are doing with their great abominations and they are doing it here in My Sanctuary? I can't remain here with these things going on. My Presence cannot stay. But look over here, and you will see things even worse than this image.” Oh, didn't David say God, please don't take Your Holy Spirit from me? Please keep in mind as we read these Scriptures that we are told in the New Testament that today WE are the temple of God...He gives us the illustration of a physical temple, but consider carefully as we read this together, that now if we are born of His Spirit, WE are the temple. (1 Cor 3:16)

Eze 8:7 And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall.

Eze 8:8 Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door.

Eze 8:9 And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.

Eze 8:10 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.

Now consider what Jesus said:

Luk 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

Think about the creeping things for a minute. This alludes to reptiles or any other rapidly moving things that creep up on you. Reptile. Serpentine. Demonic. This could be thoughts, infused in people's minds by the enemy. This could be influences that have crept into the temple, allowed or tolerated when they should not be there because they are not like or of God. Think for a minute how it was when we first got saved, how we glowed, how we loved the Lord so much, who forgave us so very much, and how with gleeful abandon, desperately anxious to please Him, we began to cast off things of this world, and become the new creation He wanted us to be. But over time have we gotten careless? Have we let things we once forsook creep back in, and even tried to justify it with "I don't see anything wrong with this?" Do we make excuses for these things?

Gal 2:18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.

God shows Ezekiel there are abominable beasts portrayed on the wall of the temple, too. Israel was surrounded by heathen nations, because they refused to cast out all of the inhabitants of the land when they entered into the promised land. These became a snare and thorn to them, causing them endless grief. These included Edom, Moab, Assyria, Babylon, just for starters. They all had their own pagan customs and idols that time and again Israel took in to themselves, finding their ways-the ways of the world around them more attractive than God. The carnal mind and being led by the flesh which is led by the 5 senses can lead us to such destruction. When we let the things around us consume our thoughts and affections and time we are heading in the wrong direction.

Eze 8:11 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.

Eze 8:12 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.

Eze 8:13 He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.

Now imagine, the elders in the House of God, who are supposed to know God and represent Him to the people, to instruct the people in HIS ways, and look what God reveals to His servant, Ezekiel about them. This man Shaphan was the scribe who brought the law to Josiah and read it to the king and when Josiah heard it, he ripped his robes apart in grief at their ignorance and disobedience to God. Fear gripped his heart as he realized how far the people had fallen from the Word of God. He began to do what the Word said and tore down the idols, and cleansed the place, and there was a great revival. There was never another king that went so far to try to restore the people to the ways of their God. And this man's son, Jaazaniah was here in the midst of these elders, unable to claim that ignorance, and they had their censers in their hands, offering up incense. Incense is like a perfume, it's the smell of the sacrifice, a sweet smell of frankincense that was used to fumigate the air after the burnt sacrifice was made. But consider this: the altar of incense was more connected with the holy of holies than the other things in the holy place, like the shewbread table and the candlestick. Incense was a mixture of four ingredients, gum resin and spices that produced a sweet smelling perfume when burned in worship. There was a prescribed order of God for this. This incense was not to be used in any other way, or offered up by anyone other than the Levitical priesthood, i.e. the high priest and his sons. Smith's Bible Dictionary puts it this way:

Aaron, as high priest, was originally appointed to offer incense each morning and evening. The times of offering incense were specified in the instructions first given to Moses. Exo_30:7-8. When the priest entered the Holy Place with the incense, all the people were removed from the Temple, and from between the porch and the altar. Compare Luk_1:10.

Profound silence was observed among the congregation who were praying without, compare Rev_8:1, and at a signal from the perfect, the priest cast the incense on the fire and, bowing reverently toward the Holy of Holies, retired slowly backward. The offering of incense has formed part of the religious ceremonies of most ancient nations. It was an element in the idolatrous worship of the Israelites. 2Ch_34:25; Jer_11:12; Jer_11:17; Jer_48:35.

This goes back to reverence in the House of God. Don't discount this because it's Old Testament. It's an illustration of how the priests made intercession and worshiped before God with their offerings for the sins of the people. These 70 elders were

Eze 8:12 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.

Eze 8:13 He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.

God was revealing the secret thoughts of their hearts to Ezekiel. They thought they could stand and minister before the altar of incense with idolatrous hearts and minds polluted with sin and God not know. When He says they do this in the dark, in the chambers of their imagery" He's talking about their secret, innermost imaginations.

Eze 8:14 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.

Eze 8:15 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.

Eze 8:16 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 worshiped the sun toward the east.

These men were having a sunrise service, with their backs turned on God, and their worship given to the sun. That kind of makes me wonder why it is on Easter many churches have sunrise services. We are to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ every day, not just once a year. The Lord is the Bright and Morning Star, and all worship of the sun, is an envious attempt of the devil to draw mens' attention to the physical sun, which he collects as worship, because he was called the son of the morning before he fell from heaven. (Isa 14) Remember, the Egyptians most famous idol was Ra, the sun god. I'm not saying it's wrong to have sunrise services-but if it comes from pagan customs, no matter how long ago it started, and it doesn't come from Scripture, I think we'd best leave it alone.

If you read over these Scriptures and don't take time to dig into them and find out what these strange words and names mean, you cheat yourself. We need to know. Why else would He say "study to shew thyself approved?" Study to see if the Word approves or disapproves of the life you are living, the faith you are professing. I guarantee this Word will challenge as well as build your faith. So, who was Tammuz and why were the women weeping over him?

In different areas and cultures, Tammuz was identified with different deities. He was to the Syrians-Adonis, lover of Venus. To the Sumerians and Accadians, he was called Dumuzi. He was the god of vegetation and fertility. He was married to a 'goddess' named Ishtar, who was a Sumerian-Babylonian goddess of love and fertility; she was identified by the Greeks as Aphrodite. God called her Ashtoreth in the Bible. She was also known as the queen of heaven.(See Jer chapters 7 and also 44 for how God felt about this). Tammuz was supposed to be a deity that symbolized death and rebirth in nature. The Chaldeans' calendar had a month set apart to honor this god, the month of June to July, beginning of the summer solstice. They held a festival which lasted six days, where the worshipers would cry and wail, and weep for Tammuz. The women would rip out their hair in wild grief, and yield their bodies to prostitution. It was like a cult, with sexually immoral and idolatrous practices and the priests allowed this display in the temple even though the Lord said I am God and ye shall no other gods before me. They knew better.

Tammuz was also a named month in the Hebrew calendar. In my research I found varying accounts of why this Tammuz died, but either way, according to mythology, each year he died during the month, tammuz, and some said demons would come claim his soul, and his wife, Ishtar would lead the mourning and on earth and then six months later she would descend into the underworld and after fighting fiery trials with demons would bring him back, causing joy and fertility to return to the earth. Other cultures tell the tale differently, and frankly, I was surprised at the inconsistencies of the myths concerning these two. The stories vary, the endings vary, and the details vary, according to region and culture. I thank GOD His Word doesn't change-not for anybody. Not for any generation or culture. It's the same yesterday, today and forever! (Heb 13:8).

Eze 8:17 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.

Eze 8:18 Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them.

It's bad to have secret sin in your life. But these folks brought their idolatry, their worldly and wicked worship of other things into the House of God. But how does that apply to us? Do we sit in the House of God with our minds on the TV or some ball game that is coming on? Or perhaps we are recording so we can watch it when we get home? Do we sit there with our minds on our jobs, our problems, a relationship, anything but GOD? This is wrong. When we enter the House of God, first we need to come prepared-prayed up, read up, and on fire for HIM. We need to praise Him, to honor and adore Him. The devil does not want this and will try to bring in other things to distract people from the Lord. The devil wants to cheat the Lord out of the worship he so desperately craves himself. He will try to bombard people's minds with their problems, their own lives, or draw their attention to carnal things outside or even in the House of God. He will even send in his own sometimes to be tares among the wheat, to try to cause division or lead others astray. We must be careful to read this BOOK for ourselves and know what the Lord requires and learn what to be on guard against. We must do this because He had it written and it's available to us, His Spirit is wanting to teach who ever will give Him time and space to do so, so we will stand before Him without excuse.

Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

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And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32