Prophesy Against the Mountains
God told Ezekiel to prophesy against the mountains. The message is really to the people, but the mountains are addressed because they are the center of pagan worship, of idolatry. God announced his intention to destroy these places of pagan worship and the people that worshipped at them. In verse 5, he said he would lay the dead bodies of the people around the broken altars. This, again, is a reflection of the covenant curses in Leviticus 26. In 26:30, God said “I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols.” (NIV)
It was common to build worship sites in the mountains and call them high places. 1 Kings 11 tells us that Solomon built high places for the worship of various gods worshipped by his foreign wives. These were built on the mountain east of Jerusalem. In addition to being on the mountain, they are raised platforms, giving further meaning to the phrase “high places”. They often had buildings next to the altars for festivities connected to the pagan worship.
God’s original command was to destroy all foreign altars when they invaded Canaan. (Exodus 34) Israel failed to do that, so God now will do it thoroughly and completely. He will destroy the people as well. They will fall from sword, famine and pestilence (11) as in chapter 5. These three horrors are also three of the four horsemen of Revelation 6.
God also commanded them not to marry foreign women who worshipped other gods. (Exodus 34:16) They broke all these commands. Of course, they also broke the first command of the covenant “so shall have no other gods before me”. (Exodus 20:3) Their basic loyalty to God, their king, was compromised. Now, God finally decided to bring judgment on their disobedience and disloyalty by executing the covenant curses.
God’s demand for exclusive worship continues into the New Covenant era. Jesus even said to Satan, during his temptation, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve”. (Matthew 4:10) He claimed the titles of Lord and king. He claimed to be the exclusive giver of eternal life. (John 14:6) He demands that we worship him and not money. (Matthew 6:24) He demands that we deny even ourselves. (Luke 9:23)
Yet, we too have our idols. There are two areas that especially concern me for the American church. First, many define Jesus to meet their desires. That is creating an idol you worship instead of Christ. The Jesus that wants to make you rich, the Jesus that does not care if you sin, the Jesus that does not care if you worship in the gathering of the saints, the Jesus that takes care of you even if you do not commit your self to him, these are all idols.
The second area that concerns me if that of entertainment. The same person who says he has no time to study Scripture or pray watches hours of television, movies and\or sporting events. God cannot be pleased by that.
God’s destruction would serve not only as judgment, but as proof of who he is. He said that when he had done these things, they “shall know that I am the LORD (Yahweh)”. (7) The same happens at the end of this age, when, after all the judgments have been poured out, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)
Although God would bring destruction and desolation, he would preserve a remnant. Verse 8 says he will leave some alive. Those will go into exile, then remember the Lord and how he had been broken by their unfaithfulness. (9) They would even consider themselves loathsome. And again, they would come to know that he is the Lord. (10)
Restating the Judgment
God reinforced his message by requiring Ezekiel to repeat it while clapping his hands and stamping his foot. (11) Again he said Israel would suffer death by sword, famine, and pestilence. God would spend his “fury” on them for their idolatry. Fury (wrath in NIV) is a fierce, destructive anger.
Let’s think for a minute about the words here used for the name of God. In the English Standard Version, which I use, the phrase used in this chapter is “Lord God”. (3) This is also the usage in the King James and New King James versions and the New American Standard Bible. The New International Version uses “Sovereign Lord”. That is because the personal, covenant, name of God, Yahweh, is followed by the word Adonay, meaning lord or master. Then the word is “LORD” in all caps, it means Yahweh. So, I think the reason Yahweh refers to himself as Yahweh Adonay is to reenforce the idea that he is their god, the God of the covenant, and their lord and master. Israel has rejected its master and the God with whom they made a covenant and now Israel will suffer for its disobedience.