D. The Withdrawal of God’s Presence and Glory from the People (Part 2): A Picture of Both Judgment and Future Restoration, 10:1–11:25

DIVISION II

The Coming Judgment Against Judah and Jerusalem: The End Result of Terrible Sin, 4:1–24:27

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D. The Withdrawal of God’s Presence and Glory from the People (Part 2): A Picture of Both Judgment and Future Restoration, 10:1–11:25

(10:1–11:25) Introduction: judgment is usually an unpopular subject. Few of us enjoy having our sins pointed out or being warned about coming judgment. But God has a purpose in judgment, a surprising purpose. His purpose in judgment or discipline is always to arouse us to draw closer to Him, to seek His forgiveness and help. We usually draw closer to God through suffering rather than through the good times of life. When God’s hand of judgment disciplines us through trials and hardships, it drives us to cry out for His mercy. In such times many of us trust the Lord, and He saves us from dooming ourselves eternally.

The present Scripture gives us a picture not only of God’s coming judgment, but also of the future restoration that Christ will bring about when He returns to earth. Remember that Ezekiel was sitting in his house surrounded by some of the leaders of the exiles (8:1-2). While he was seated there talking to the elders, all of a sudden the Spirit of God came upon Him and gave Him a shocking vision: God was removing His presence and glory from the temple and the people. Once His presence was removed, there would be nothing to hold back His judgment. God would pour out His terrifying judgment upon the wicked, idolatrous nation of Israel. This is, The Withdrawal of God’s Presence and Glory from the People (Part 2): A Picture of Both Judgment and Future Restoration, 10:1–11:25.

1. God began to withdraw His presence and glory from the people: a picture of judgment (10:1-7).

2. God withdrew His presence and glory from the temple: the result of the people’s defiling His house (10:8-22).

3. God stated the major cause for withdrawing His presence and glory: the wicked leaders (11:1-13).

4. God promised that He, His presence and glory would return: a godly remnant assured (11:14-21).

5. God withdrew His presence and glory from the city: a symbol of God’s allowing the people to live like they wanted (11:22-25).

1. (10:1-7) Presence, of God, Removed from Temple—Withdrawal, of God’s Presence, From Temple; From the People—Glory, of God, Withdrawn from Temple—Judgment, Described As, God’s Glory Withdrawn—Ezekiel, Vision of, God’s Glory Withdrawn—Jesus Christ, Vision of, Executing Judgment: God began to withdraw His presence and glory from the people. Remember that Ezekiel was in the midst of receiving a vision from the Lord, a vision of judgment. Soon the Lord’s presence and glory would withdraw from the people because of their horrible sins. Note the Scripture and outline:

Once again the Lord revealed His glory to the prophet, the very same glory He had revealed earlier (1:1–28; 8:4). Ezekiel was still standing beside the altar of sacrifice in the inner court, looking at the sanctuary. As he looked, he again saw the chariot-throne, the sapphire throne of God sitting on the expanse above the living creatures and the wheels. Throughout this passage the living creatures are identified as cherubim (vv.1, 14-15).

Suddenly the booming voice of God spoke from the throne, instructing the man in linen to begin executing judgment (vv.2-3). He was to go in between the wheels and fill his hands with burning coals of fire from among the cherubim. Then he was to scatter the fiery coals over the city of Jerusalem. As soon as the man in linen went in among the cherubim and wheels, the cloud of God’s glory filled the inner court (v.3). Then, as was mentioned earlier, God’s glory moved from the cherubim to the door of the temple (vv.4; 9:3). Immediately the brilliant, radiant light of God’s glory flooded the temple and the inner courtyard where Ezekiel stood (v.4). In addition to seeing the dazzling light of God’s glory, Ezekiel could hear the cherubim’s flapping wings sounding throughout the entire temple complex, including the outer courtyard. Ezekiel said that the beating of their wings sounded like the thunder of God’s voice when He spoke.

The prophet watched as the man clothed in linen obeyed God. When the man walked over and stood beside one of the wheels of God’s chariot-throne, one of the cherubim gave him a handful of burning coals (vv.6-7). Then the man immediately went forth to execute God’s judgment against Jerusalem and its citizens. Note that these coals of fire were not for the purpose of cleansing and purifying the people, but rather for executing judgment upon them. God’s agent of judgment, Babylon, was going to burn Jerusalem and the temple to the ground (see outline and note §2 Kings 25:8-10 for more discussion).

Who is “the man clothed in linen”? Commentators have differing opinions about his identity. However, three facts suggest that he is the Lord Jesus Christ:

⇒ First, He is clothed in white linen, which distinguishes Him from all other beings in the vision of God’s glory.

⇒ Second, the brilliance of His clothing shines as brightly as the dazzling, radiant light of God’s glory, suggesting that the very essence of His being is holiness and purity.

⇒ Third, one of the reasons Jesus Christ came to earth was to bring fire, or judgment (Lu.12:49). God Himself has given His Son the authority to execute judgment on earth, and judgment is the primary function being carried out by the man clothed in linen. (John 5:22-23).

“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world….Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt.25:31-34, 41).

“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed [assigned, entrusted] all judgment unto the Son” (John 5:22).

“And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead” (Acts 10:42).

“Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

“In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel” (Rom. 2:16).

“But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Rom. 14:10).

“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God” (1 Cor. 4:5).

“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom” (2 Ti.4:1).

“For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead” (1 Pe.4:3-5).

1. God began to withdraw His presence & glory from the people: A picture of judgment

2. (10:8-22) Temple, Judgment of, God’s Glory Withdrawn—Removal, of God’s Glory, from the Temple—Church, Judgment of, God’s Glory Withdrawn—Israel, Judgment of, God’s Presence Withdrawn—Presence, of God, Warnings Concerning, Can Be Withdrawn: in his vision Ezekiel saw the most tragic day in the history of Israel, the day when God withdrew His presence and glory from the temple. The people had become so wicked that they were engaging in corrupt, unholy worship. Consequently, God had to withdraw His presence and glory from the temple. As best as he could, Ezekiel described four aspects of the phenomenal sight:

2. God withdrew His presence & glory from the temple: The result of the people’s defiling His house, 8:6; 9:3; 10:3-5, 18-19; 11:23

1. The prophet described the chariot-throne of God, which he had also attempted to do earlier (1:5-28). Four features stood out in his mind.

First, the chariot itself had four sparkling wheels, one beside each of the cherubim (vv.9-11; 1:5-21). The wheels looked somewhat like a gyroscope, with two wheels intersecting each other. The wheels and cherubim always moved forward together and never turned. This is a clear picture of God’s readiness to always move forward to help His people or to execute judgment when needed. Of course, judgment is the subject of the present passage, so here the cherubim were standing ready to assist the Lord as He executed judgment on Jerusalem and its citizens.

Second, both the cherubim and the wheels were full of eyes (v.12). This is new information, for in the earlier passage Ezekiel said only that the wheels were covered with eyes (1:18). Being full of eyes symbolizes the fact that God sees all things and is never taken by surprise. God is omniscient, which simply means that He sees all and knows everything that happens. The present Scripture suggests that God saw the idolatry and every wicked deed of the people.

Third, the wheels were whirling (v.13). The fact that they were in constant motion indicates their readiness to carry out the instructions of God. Again, in the present Scripture the emphasis is upon their readiness to remove God’s presence and glory from the temple.

Fourth, the cherubim had four faces (v.14). Each had the face of a cherub, a man, a lion, and an eagle. In this present Scripture the face of a cherub replaces the face of an ox mentioned in the earlier vision (1:10). One reason for this could be that the face of the cherub was understood to be the same as the face of an ox. Therefore the terms cherub and ox were used interchangeably. Another possibility is that some scribe, when copying the ancient manuscripts, made a mistake and copied cherub instead of ox. The first explanation seems to be more reasonable since the living beings were cherubim. Being cherubim, each naturally had the face of a cherub, which was probably like that of an ox.

a. Ezekiel again saw the throne-chariot of God in detail

2. While Ezekiel was observing the chariot-throne of God, the Lord’s glory suddenly began its departure from the temple (vv.15-17). The cherubim rose up from the threshold of the temple’s door, and the wheels moved right along with them, never leaving the cherubim’s side. The wheels were the vehicle the cherubim used in serving God. When the Spirit of God stirred the living beings to move, the wheels moved, aiding the cherubim in carrying out the task the Lord had assigned them.

b. God’s glory began the final withdrawal from the temple

3. The prophet saw God’s presence and glory withdraw from the door of the temple and move to the throne above the cherubim and the wheels (v.18). This was the final departure of God’s presence and glory from the temple. And it should be noted that God’s glory has not returned to the temple since this departure. There is no record of God’s manifesting His glory in a special way either in the temple built by Zerubbabel or in the one built by Herod, which was the temple that existed during the days of Christ.

c. God’s glory withdrew from the threshold of the temple & moved to the throne-chariot above the cherubim

4. While Ezekiel stood there watching, God’s cherubim spread their wings and moved God’s chariot-throne away from the temple. And the glory of God, which was hovering above the chariot-throne, moved along with it. Ichabod, which means the departure of God’s glory, was now to be written over the temple. As God had done during the days of Samuel, He was once again withdrawing His presence and glory from His people (see outline and note—§1 Sam. 4:19-22 for more discussion).

So that no one would misunderstand what was happening, Ezekiel explained exactly what he was witnessing. These cherubim were the living beings he had seen earlier, and the One seated on the throne was the God of Israel Himself (vv.20-22; 1:1-28). The basic appearance of the cherubim was the same, and their faces and movements were the same.

The wicked, corrupt worship and lifestyle of the people had driven the special presence and glory of God from among them. And His presence and glory will not return until the end time when the Messiah returns to set up His kingdom on earth (see outline and note—Ezek. 43:1-12 for more discussion). Step-by-step God’s glory had withdrawn from the temple (9:3; 10:4), and the final separation from the corrupt worship of the people was now complete.

Thought 1. God’s holy presence cannot coexist with wickedness. Holiness and wickedness are incompatible. God can have nothing to do with unholy people who continually harden their hearts, reject Him, and engage in false worship. When people continue in wickedness, the Lord must withdraw from them lest He violate their free will. If they choose to live separated from God, He must allow them to continue to live as they wish—in wickedness and false worship. He is longsuffering and not willing that any should perish (2 Pe.3:9). But eventually, He must cease pleading with people to repent and allow them to walk in their unholy lifestyle and engage in their unholy worship. Sin causes separation from God, separation from His holy presence and glory. Listen to what God’s Holy Word says about our being separated from God and about God’s having to withdraw from us and give us up to our sins.

“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Mt.15:8).

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Mt.23:37-38).

“And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?” (Acts 7:41-42).

“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: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen” (Rom. 1:20-25).

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Rom. 1:28-32).

“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision [the Jews] in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:11-12).

“Neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you” (Josh. 7:12).

“But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him” (1 Sam. 16:14).

“And be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the Lord God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see” (2 Chr.30:7).

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Ps. 66:18).

“So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels” (Ps. 81:12).

“Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them” (Prov. 1:28-32).

“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:2).

“And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities” (Isa. 64:7).

“Thus saith the Lord, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?” (Jer. 2:5).

“That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols” (Ezek. 14:5).

“They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the Lord; but they shall not find him; he hath withdrawn himself from them” (Hos. 5:6).

d. God’s cherubim spread their wings & moved His throne-chariot & glory to the east gate of the temple: Ichabod, the departure of God’s glory, was to be written over the temple, 1 Sam. 4:19-22

3. (11:1-13) Withdrawal, of God’s Glory and Presence, Caused by—Leaders, Wicked, Judgment of—Removal, of God’s Presence and Glory, Caused by, Wicked Leaders—Wickedness, of Leaders, Causes God’s Withdrawal: the major cause for God’s withdrawing His presence and glory from the people was their wicked leaders. When leaders are wicked, their sinful behavior influences others. Naturally, God holds them more accountable for their behavior because of their positions of authority. In no uncertain terms, the Lord laid the major responsibility for Israel’s corruption upon the leaders. Note the Scripture and outline:

3. God stated the major cause for withdrawing His presence & glory: The wicked leaders

1. In Ezekiel’s vision the Spirit of God led him from the altar to the east gate. Twenty-five civil leaders were seated at the door of the passageway (11:1-3). These were not the same leaders as the 25 sun worshippers mentioned earlier (8:16). Ezekiel noted two chief officials in particular, Jaazaniah and Pelatiah. Interestingly, the father of Jaazaniah was a man named Azzur, which was also the name of a man mentioned in Jeremiah (Jer. 28:1). If this person was the same Jaazaniah, he was a brother of Hananiah, a false prophet who opposed Jeremiah and preached the same message of false hope that Ezekiel described here. Although the Lord had raised up Ezekiel to be the primary prophet to the exiles in Babylon, He had raised up Jeremiah to be the primary prophet to the Jews left behind in Jerusalem. Time and again Jeremiah had warned the people of God’s impending judgment. He told them that the Lord had chosen King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to be His agent to execute His judgment on Jerusalem and Judah (Jer. 25:9; 28:6; 43:10). But the leaders rejected God’s Word and refused to believe His warnings of coming judgment. Instead, they offered false hope to the people by assuring them that God would never allow the city of Jerusalem to be utterly destroyed.

Here, the Lord informed Ezekiel that these 25 leaders were guilty of plotting evil and giving the people wicked counsel (vv.2-3). They denied God’s warning of coming judgment and urged the people to continue their building projects and to trust in the city’s military defenses. They said that these defenses offered the same protection as a cooking pot offers meat set over a fire. As the cooking pot keeps the meat from being burned, so the city would protect the citizens who placed their trust in its defenses. Leaders were encouraging the people to trust the city, not the Lord.

a. God’s Spirit gave Ezekiel a vision of 25 civil leaders in Jerusalem

2. God instructed Ezekiel to issue a strong warning to the leaders (vv.4-6). The Lord knew their every thought. He knew they were denying His Word and deceiving the people by their wicked counsel. Their evil plots and behavior were not hidden from God. He knew exactly what they were saying and doing. Furthermore, He knew about their oppression of the people and their violent persecution of the righteous, a persecution that had filled the streets with dead believers.

b. God gave a warning to the leaders

3. God’s hand of judgment would fall upon the wicked leaders (vv.7-11). Contrary to what the wicked leaders thought, the righteous had been the real security and protection (meat) of the city (v.7). As long as the righteous lived in the city, they obeyed God’s holy commandments and pleased Him. So He restrained His hand of judgment and kept it from falling upon the city. But when the righteous were removed, there was nothing to hold back judgment. There was only wickedness, which naturally invited God’s hand of judgment to fall. Consequently, the leaders were to be driven out of the city and killed by the slashing swords of the Babylonian army (vv.8-10). God Himself would hand them over to the Babylonians, even those who fled to save their lives. Wicked leaders throughout the entire nation would face God’s judgment, for His judgment would stretch to the farthest border of Israel (v.10).

Note the purpose for God’s judgment: to arouse people to know the Lord (v.10). Once God’s hand of judgment began to fall, two things would happen.

First, everyone would know that the Lord is the only living and true God. They would realize how foolish they had been to reject God and choose to live wickedly, disobeying His holy commandments. Second, some of the survivors of the war with Babylon would cry out to God for mercy and help, trusting Him to save them. In love, God would rescue them and eventually return them and their children to the promised land. But for the present, the city of Jerusalem would not provide protection or security for the people, for God had already determined to execute judgment throughout the entire nation (vv.11-12). As mentioned above, when His judgment fell, the people would know beyond all doubt that He alone is the Lord, the only true and living God (v.12a).

c. God pronounced His judgment upon the leaders

4. God’s reasons for judging the leaders are clear. Two reasons are given:

⇒ The leaders had led the people to disobey God’s Word and refuse to keep His holy laws and commandments.

⇒ The leaders had led the people to conform to the worldly standards of their neighbors, to participate in their wicked lifestyles and commit the very same sins.

d. God gave His reasons for judging the leaders

5. Ezekiel confirmed God’s coming judgment upon the leaders when he preached this message to the exiles (v.13). Remember that Ezekiel saw all this in a vision that showed him what was going to happen. In his vision he saw the chief official Pelatiah drop dead while he was preaching. Seeing this beforehand weighed heavily upon Ezekiel’s heart, so he cried out to God and pleaded for Him to be merciful. He begged God not to destroy every single citizen of Jerusalem, but to make sure there was a small remnant of true believers who would survive and fulfill all the promises God had given to Israel.

Thought 1. Wicked leaders have an evil influence upon people’s character and are stumbling blocks that cause them to fall. Because of their positions, leaders naturally have greater influence than average citizens. Thus God holds leaders far more accountable, and they will face a more severe judgment. That is the point of this Scripture. If we are in a position of leadership, we are either a building block or a stumbling block to our followers. We either build them up or cause them to stumble and fall. People follow leaders, and they often justify what they do by how their leaders behave. If leaders do wrong, their followers are more likely to do wrong. If leaders are people of outstanding character, they build up and strengthen the character of their followers. But if the character of leaders is weak, immoral, and unjust, the character of their followers is likely to be the same. Listen to what God’s Holy Word says about leaders who are stumbling blocks and live wicked lives:

1) Listen to the warnings God gives leaders:

“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour” (Lev. 19:15).

“Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow's raiment to pledge” (Deut. 24:17).

“Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen” (Deut. 27:19).

“Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother. And I set a great assembly against them” (Neh. 5:7).

“He will surely reprove you, if ye do secretly accept persons” (Job. 13:10).

“How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah” (Ps. 82:2).

“The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries” (Ps. 110:5-6).

“An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked” (Prov. 29:27).

It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted” (Prov. 31:4-5).

“Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them. Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies” (Isa. 1:23-24).

“The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses” (Isa. 3:14).

“Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed; To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless! And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desolation which shall come from far? to whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory?” (Isa. 10:1-3).

“Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain. And her prophets have daubed them with untempered morter, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord GOD, when the Lord hath not spoken. The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully. And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord GOD” (Ezek. 22:27-31).

“The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound: therefore I will pour out my wrath upon them like water” (Hos. 5:10).

2) Listen to what God says about those who are stumbling blocks to others:

“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Mt.23:13).

“Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered” (Lu.11:52).

“For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written” (Rom. 2:24).

“Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way” (Rom. 14:13).

“But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died” (Rom. 14:15).

“Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” (1 Cor. 5:6).

“But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend” (1 Cor. 8:9-13).

“A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9).

“He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him” (1 John 2:10).

“For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:4).

“And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumblingblock out of the way of my people” (Isa. 57:14).

“Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land” (Jer. 23:15).

“For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 2:7-8).

e. God gave confirmation of His coming judgment upon the leaders

4. (11:14-21) Remnant, of Israel, Promised, Restoration—Promises, to Israel, Restoration—Assurance, of Godly Remnant, Promised Israel—Presence, of God, Restoration of, Promised—Promises, of God’s Presence, Given to Israel: God gave Ezekiel a wonderful promise: He would save a remnant of believers and restore His presence and glory to them. A few people truly trusted the Lord, followed Him, and obeyed His commandments. These people would survive the Babylonian invasion and be scattered throughout the empire, even as Ezekiel and the earlier exiles had been. A few of these survivors would believe the promises of God and trust Him to fulfill His promises to Israel. These few would eventually be returned to the promised land. Note the Scripture and outline:

4. God promised that His presence & glory would return: A godly remnant assured

1. God issued a strong indictment of the people still in Judah, a charge of self-exaltation and self-righteousness (vv.14-16a). The people back in Jerusalem knew that God had chosen the Jews to be His very special people, the people through whom He would fulfill His promises. Therefore, they believed that God would eventually free them from Babylonian control and allow them to reestablish Judah as one of the great nations on earth. The people still in Judah also thought that God had cursed the exiles in Babylon. They viewed the exile as proof of God’s curse and concluded that the exiles would not inherit the promised land as their possession. Ignoring their own sins, the people in Judah felt they were the true people of God and the true heirs of His promises.

a. God’s charge against the people still left in Judah: They were self-righteous

2. God instructed Ezekiel to set the matter straight. The prophet was to inform the Jews that He had in fact chosen the exiles to be His special people. Through the discipline of the exile, they would cry out for mercy and help in their suffering. Some would turn to the Lord in faith, trusting Him to save them and to fulfill His promises through them and their descendants.

b. God’s discipline of the exiles: He had appointed the exiles to suffer so they would cry out for mercy & turn to Him

3. God’s promises made it perfectly clear that He had not forsaken the exiles. Someday in the future He would fulfill all His promises to them and their descendants. The Lord spelled out six specific promises:

⇒ God would be a sanctuary, a refuge for the righteous exiles scattered throughout the nations of the world (v.16b).

⇒ God would liberate the exiles who truly believed in Him, and He would return them to the promised land (v.17). Note that the sovereign Lord, the Lord God Himself, guaranteed this particular promise.

⇒ God would arouse the returned exiles to destroy all idols and never participate in any form of idolatry or false worship (v.18).

⇒ God would fulfill the new covenant through the returned exiles (v.19). He would give them an undivided heart and a new spirit, removing their heart of stone that had been so stubborn against Him.

⇒ God would stir up the returned exiles to follow His commandments and to keep all His law (v.20a).

⇒ God would make the returned exiles His people, and He would personally be their God (v.20b).

c. God’s great promises

4. In addition to making these wonderful promises, God issued a strong warning to all the Jews and, by implication, to everyone else (v.21). All who were devoted to anything other than the Lord would face His judgment and condemnation. Note that the sovereign Lord, the Lord God Himself, also guarantees this warning.

Thought 1. God’s promise of preserving a godly remnant of believers can be applied to us all. God can remove all our guilt and save us from future punishment because of Jesus Christ. Christ died for the sins of the world. If we will just trust Him as our Savior, repenting of our sins, God will accept us. God will save any of us who believe in Him. He will give us a new heart and a new spirit and deliver us from the coming judgment. This is the promise of His Holy Word:

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3:3-8).

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (Gal. 6:15).

“That ye put off concerning the former conversation [behavior] the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:22-24).

“And [you] have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col. 3:10).

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5-7).

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Pe.1:23).

“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him” (1 John 5:1).

“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise” (Ps. 57:7).

“And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart” (Jer. 24:7).

“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh” (Ezek. 36:26).

5. (11:22-25) Presence, of God, Withdrawn—Removal, of God’s Presence, from Jerusalem—Glory, of God, Withdrawn, from Jerusalem—Wicked, the, Judgment of, God’s Presence Withdrawn: Ezekiel foresaw the final removal of God’s special presence and glory from among the Israelites. Suddenly, without any signal from the Lord, the cherubim spread their wings, and the glory of God arose and left the city for the final time. The special presence and glory of God would not rest upon Jerusalem again until Jesus Christ returns to establish God’s kingdom on earth. As Ezekiel watched, the glory of God arose from within the city and stood above the Mount of Olives. The reason for stopping above the mount is not stated. Apparently it was to symbolize God’s longing and compassion for the people who were about to suffer His terrifying judgment. When the glory of God arose from the Mount of Olives and departed, God was no longer present to restrain the sins of the people or His hand of judgment. From this moment on, the Lord’S unrestrained judgment would pour out upon the city and its citizens.

At this point in the prophet’s vision, the Spirit lifted him up and returned him to the exiles in Babylon. The vision of God’s glory withdrawing from the people had ended. Courageously and boldly, Ezekiel proclaimed everything the Lord had shown and said to Him in the vision. He preached the totality of God’s Word, both the judgment and the promises of God (v.25).

Thought 1. When God withdrew His presence and glory from Jerusalem, the people were left to their own devices. He was allowing them to live as they chose. God has given us free will, the ability to choose to do right or wrong. When God created us, He did not want robots that would mechanically worship and follow Him. Rather, He wanted creatures with free will who would voluntarily choose to love, worship, and serve Him. This is the reason some of us believe in Christ and some of us reject Him. We exercise our will, our free choice to believe in Him or to reject Him. The more we reject Him, the more stiffnecked and stubborn against Him we become. The more we reject God, the easier it becomes to reject Him. Our nature becomes conditioned to rejecting Him. God warns us that we can become so hard that we will never repent and turn to Him. When this happens, God gives us over to our sins. He leaves us to our own devices, allowing us to live exactly as we choose. Listen to the warning of God’s Holy Word:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Mt.23:37-38).

“And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness?” (Acts 7:41-42).

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Rom. 1:28-32).

“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:5-8).

“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Eph. 4:17-19).

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Th.2:11-12).

“Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled” (Titus 1:15).

“And be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the Lord God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see” (2 Chr.30:7).

“So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels” (Ps. 81:12).

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jer. 17:9-10).