In chapter eight we are once again given a date. The first date was as the book opened, the fifth year of the exile of king Jehoiachin, about 593 B.C. This is a year later.
Even in exile, there was some semblance of order among the exiles. Ezekiel was of priestly ancestry. We would expect the Elders and priests of the exiles to be together. Perhaps their reason for coming together was for the Elders to seek advice from the priest. In any case, the message is not good.
While the exiles are suffering for their sins, their counterparts in Judah are not penitent at all. In fact, they have gone from bad to worse. We do not know if Ezekiel was bodily transported to Jerusalem, or if what he saw was a vision as if he were transported to Jerusalem, but neither matters. What matters is that there, in the place God had caused his name to dwell, was every kind of pagan worship. Idolatry, the worship of animals (forbidden in Deuteronomy 4:16-19), and even the worship of the Babylonian god of vegetation, Tammuz was all going on in the Lord’s temple.
If all this were not enough, Israel imagined that the God of their forefathers no longer cared for them. If He did, He certainly had a strange way of showing it, allowing them to be besieged, defeated and exiled as He had. But rather than repenting and seeking the Lord’s favor, they simply chose other gods.
The notion that one is free to choose his own god and manner of worship persists to this day, but those familiar with the Bible story understand that God brooks no compromise in allegiance to Him. One god is not as good as another. Only one God lives, and only one God matters. Divided allegiance has only one result: abandonment by God. He says: “I will not look on them with pity or spare them. Although they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them.”