It’s TIME to WEEP over the UNGODLINESS among GOD’s PEOPLE
August 28 Bible Reading: Ezekiel Chapters 7-9
"Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer's inkhorn at his side; and the Lord said to him, "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it." To the others He said in my hearing, "Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary. So they began with the elders who were before the temple." (Ezek 9:3-6)
In this vision God took Ezekiel back to Jerusalem to show him the wickedness of God’s people. The glory of God moved away from the Holy of Holies and began to depart from the temple fulfilling the saying: “Ichabod—the glory has departed” (1 Sam. 4:19–22; Jer. 7:1–15). Without the glory of God, the temple was just another building; and without the presence of God in our lives, we are just like other people (Exod. 33:12–16).
In Ezekiel chapter 9, six executioners are seen coming from the north (the direction from which the Babylonians were to come) to destroy the idolaters among God’s people. The man clothed with linen may symbolize grace. The glory cloud (symbol of God’s presence) leaves the holy of holies in the temple, grieved away by the idolatry of the people. Those faithful Jews who sighed and cried being opposed the idolatry were sealed by a mark on their foreheads so that they would not be killed.
According to Bible scholars, the sign (or, mark) on the forehead was the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet (tau), which the rabbis said suggested completeness. It is also the first letter of torâ (law). Feinberg notes a fascinating parallel of this incident with that mentioned in Revelation 7:1–3: “Christian interpreters have seen a somewhat prophetic allusion to the sign of the cross. In the earlier script the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet (taw) had the form of a cross. Ezekiel, of course, could not have thought of Christian symbolism nor is the passage a direct prediction of Christ’s cross. It is a remarkable coincidence, however.”
Then the executioners began to slay the idolaters, starting with the elders of Israel, but God’s command has one restriction: “Do not come near anyone on whom is the mark,” says God. The literal fulfillment of this judgment is recorded in 2 Chronicles 36:17–19. God’s judgment proceeds without exemptions, as it did when the death angel struck all the homes which did not have blood on the doorpost (Exodus 12:13). Those who demonstrated a righteous attitude through true repentance and remorse were marked out from the hardened rebels and spared from the punishment.