“As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I will cut you off completely. I will show you no pity at all because you have defiled my Temple with your vile images and detestable sins. A third of your people will die in the city from disease and famine. A third of them will be slaughtered by the enemy outside the city walls. And I will scatter a third to the winds, chasing them with my sword. Then at last my anger will be spent, and I will be satisfied. And when my fury against them has subsided, all Israel will know that I, the Lord, have spoken to them in my jealous anger.
“So I will turn you into a ruin, a mockery in the eyes of the surrounding nations and to all who pass by. You will become an object of mockery and taunting and horror. You will be a warning to all the nations around you. They will see what happens when the Lord punishes a nation in anger and rebukes it, says the Lord.” (Ezekiel 5:11-15)
Have you ever seen someone discipline a child by threatening, “If you do that one more time . . .”? If the parent doesn’t follow through, the child learns not to listen. God was going to punish the Israelites for their blatant sins, and he wanted them to know that he would do what he said. The people learned the hard way that God always follows through on his word.
Shaving one’s head and beard signified mourning, humiliation, and repentance. God told Ezekiel to shave his head and beard and then to divide the hair into three parts, symbolizing what was going to happen to the people in Jerusalem (see 5:12). Along with verbal prophecies, God asked Ezekiel to use dramatic visual images to command the people’s attention and to burn an indelible impression on their minds.
One of the things God wanted to impress upon the people was the seriousness of their defiling the Temple, God’s sanctuary, by worshiping idols and performing other evil acts within its very walls. In the New Testament, we learn that God now makes his home within those who are his. Our bodies are God’s temple (see 1 Corinthians 6:19).
We defile God’s temple today by gossiping, bitterness, love of money, lying, or any other wrong actions or attitudes. By asking the Holy Spirit’s help, we can keep from defiling his temple, our bodies, and maintain our integrity.