Do You See What They are Doing

The Lord speaks to the land, just as he has spoken to the people and says in Ezekiel 6:3 “Look, I am bringing upon you the sword”. This is a cleansing of the land from idol worship. As the exiled leaders gather, it seems to inquire of the Lord through Ezekiel, the Lord exposes the idol worship that has been going on, even among “the elders of the house of Israel”. But as detestable as these things are to the Lord, the final indictment is in Ezekiel 8:17 “they have filled up the land with violence”. 

Mountains of Israel, Hear the Word of the Lord

Ezekiel 6:1–7
The Lord has not only spoken to the people to warn them and to Nebuchadnezzer to raise him up for judgement against the nation, but also to the land itself. This was part of the covenant and “The whole landscape has been defiled by idol-worship. There are pagan altars on the `high places’ (hilltops or platforms) and incense-burning and immoral rites under green trees (pagan symbols of fertility) … The sites where the Baal-gods have been worshipped will be littered with corpses (6:5), and the survivors will be scattered to other countries (6:8)”.1 but now, the Lord will break idol worship off the land and in

Leviticus 26:34 “Then the land shall enjoy its Sabbaths all the days of its lying desolate, and you shall be in the land of your enemies; then the land shall rest, and it shall enjoy its Sabbaths”.

Clap Your Hand Stamp Your Foot Say Alas

Ezekiel 6:8–14

The End Comes on the Four Corners of the Land

Ezekiel 7:1–9

Violence has Grown to a Staff of Wickedness

Ezekiel 7:10–19

The Worst of the Nations Will Take Possession

Ezekiel 7:20–27 

Do You See What They are Doing

Ezekiel 8:1–9
Look at the setting here in Ezekiel 8:1 “I was sitting in my house, and the elders of Judah were sitting before me. And the hand of the Lord Yahweh fell on me there”. Ezekiel is in his house. The elders of Judah are sitting in front of him. But these are the elders in exile as Ezekiel is and not those left behind in Jerusalem. The reason for this meeting isn’t stated, but “He held a prominent place among the exiles, and was frequently consulted by the elders (8:1; 11:25; 14:1; 20:1). His ministry extended over twenty-three years (29:17), B.C. 595–573, during part of which he was contemporary with Daniel (14:14; 28:3) and Jeremiah, and probably also with Obadiah”.2 and “it is more than likely that the elders, having come to question him about a matter, even perhaps about the state of affairs in Jerusalem, were sitting with him awaiting his reply”.3

The Lord responds in Ezekiel 8:1 “the hand of the Lord Yahweh fell on me there” and in Ezekiel 8:3 “the Spirit lifted me between earth and heaven, and it brought me to Jerusalem in visions of God to the doorway of the inner gate … there was the seat of the image of jealousy”. And the Lord said in Ezekiel 8:6 “Do you see what they are doing … so as to drive me from my sanctuary”. This seems to be historic context that Ezekiel would have already known because “While idolatry abounds throughout Israel’s history only one person (Manasseh) had the audacity to place an idol in the temple (see 2 Kings 21:7). Second Kings 23:6, however, tells us that Josiah (who is pre-Ezekiel) destroyed this idol”.4

But now the Lord is revealing hidden things, in Ezekiel 8:7-8 “he brought me to the doorway of the courtyard … A hole in the wall … And he said … dig now through the wall … and look! There was a doorway”. 

You Will See Again Greater Detestable Things

Ezekiel 8:10–18
The Lord showed Ezekiel the things that were happening in Israel behind closed doors, each more detestable than the last as he repeats “you will see again greater detestable things”.

This began with “the idol that provokes to jealousy” back in Ezekiel 8:3 and turns to what people are doing. And we find in Ezekiel 8:10 a meeting place for all of the leaders that was adorned with images but “These engravings were prohibited in the Mosaic law (Deut 4:16–18)”.5

And in this room were the elders in Ezekiel 8:11 there are “seventy men from the elders of the house of Israel” each of them involved with “his censer in his hand”. This “number of elders signifies the upper level of leadership in Israel (compare Moses’ selection of 70 elders in Num 11:24 and the presence of 70 elders in Exod 24:1)”.6

And it goes on to describe each doing their own rituals to their own idol in Ezekiel 8:12 “in the dark, each in the inner rooms of his idol, for they are saying, ‘Yahweh is not seeing us; Yahweh has abandoned the land.’ ” but the Lord is seeing.

The Lord takes him to another location, in Ezekiel 8:14 “to the doorway of the gate of the house of Yahweh that is toward the north, and look! There were the women sitting weeping for Tammuz”. Which doesn’t register with any meaning for us. However, it is said that Tammuz is “the divine representation of the life cycle of crops and therefore a vegetation deity (Langdon 1914: 114). It was held that the god died with the plants and rose again when they reappeared the next season; the cult … was found with assorted names given for the Tammuz deity from Egypt (Osiris) through Palestine (Eshmun) into Greece (Adonis)”.7

Then, there are in Ezekiel 8:16 “about twenty-five men with their backs to the temple of Yahweh and their faces toward the east, and they were bowing down toward the east before the sun”. In their culture, “Turning their backs shows great disrespect to Yahweh”.8

The Lord had said in Deut 4:19 “do not lift your eyes toward heaven and observe the sun”. But “Sun-worship came from the Persians, who made the sun the eye of their god Ormuzd. It existed as early as Job (Job 31:26; compare De 4:19)”.9

Now we come to the last thing, and the Lord reveals in Ezekiel 8:17 “Was it too small a thing for the house of Judah to do the detestable things that they did here? For they have filled up the land with violence”. All of their idol worship was bad enough, but on top of that is the violence which is here repeated from Ezekiel 7:11 “Violence has grown to become a staff of wickedness”.

Study Verses

Today’s Reading

  • Ezekiel 6:1-14
  • Ezekiel 7:1-27
  • Ezekiel 8:1-18


  • 1. Knowles, A. (2001). The Bible guide (1st Augsburg books ed., p. 326). Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg.
  • 2. Easton, M. G. (1893). In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.
  • 3. Taylor, J. B. (1969). Ezekiel: an Introduction and commentary (Vol. 22, p. 97). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  • 4. Hamilton, V. P. (1995). Ezekiel. In Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (Vol. 3, p. 567). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
  • 5. Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Eze 8:7–10). Biblical Studies Press.
  • 6. Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Eze 8:11). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
  • 7. Handy, L. K. (1992). Tammuz (Deity). In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 6, p. 318). New York: Doubleday.
  • 8. Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Eze 8:16). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
  • 9. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 575). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.