Read Ezekiel 9
Judgment on the Idolaters
9 Then I heard him call out in a loud voice, “Bring near those who are appointed to execute judgment on the city, each with a weapon in his hand.” 2 And I saw six men coming from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with a deadly weapon in his hand. With them was a man clothed in linen who had a writing kit at his side. They came in and stood beside the bronze altar.
3 Now the glory of the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim,where it had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple. Then the Lord called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side4 and said to him, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.”
5 As I listened, he said to the others, “Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. 6 Slaughter the old men, the young men and women, the mothers and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the old men who were in front of the temple.
7 Then he said to them, “Defile the temple and fill the courts with the slain.Go!” So they went out and began killing throughout the city. 8 While they were killing and I was left alone, I fell facedown, crying out, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! Are you going to destroy the entire remnant of Israel in this outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?”
9 He answered me, “The sin of the people of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great; the land is full of bloodshed and the city is full of injustice. They say, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land; the Lord does not see.’ 10 So I will not look on them with pity or spare them, but I will bring down on their own heads what they have done.”
11 Then the man in linen with the writing kit at his side brought back word, saying, “I have done as you commanded.”
In Ezekiel 9, seven beings are summoned by God from His throne. Seven is a holy and perfect number in scripture representing wholeness and completeness. Six of these supernatural beings are asked to be ministers of death and destruction with weapons in hand. The seventh is dressed in linen with a pen to put a mark on the forehead of those Israelites saddened by the perversion and idolatry both inside and outside the temple of God. The first six beings are sent for judgment, but the one in linen was the giver of life and grace. This passage reminds us of Exodus 12:22-23 when Moses commanded the Israelites to paint the blood of a lamb on the frames of their doorposts in order for the Lord to “pass over” them and protect those families from the death of their first-born children as God’s judgment of Egypt.
Ezekiel desperately cries out to the Lord on behalf of his people and begs the Lord to save the remnant of Israel. As we read, his heart is one of love and care over the nation of Israel and he is asking God to spare them. Ezekiel loved his fellow Israelites even in their sin and disregard of God and His law. God explained the reasons for His wrath over his chosen people’s flagrant sin, murder, perversion and claims of God as unfaithful (v. 9). God makes clear that His judgment will always start in the House of God with his chosen people.
There are three lessons for us today in this chapter. First, the judgment of God has been satisfied in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His blood on the cruel cross is the blood of the lamb that takes away the sin of the world. We are offered salvation through Christ just as the stories above offered life with a mark on the forehead or the passover blood of the lamb. Trusting in Christ alone to save us from sin gives us adoption as a child of God. We are promised eternity with Christ, and our lives begin in harmony with him now. Because of Christ, we will never suffer this judgment we read in this chapter.
Second, like Ezekiel, our hearts should cry out to God for those that don’t know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. May we have the same desperate heart and ask the Lord to use us to spread the gospel message to our unbelieving neighbor everywhere. May we also cry out for those who do believe but are living in ways that are not pleasing to God. Pray and ask for the Lord to open the door to conversation that is both gracious, yet uncompromising to the word of God.
Finally, our God is holy and good and offers us all every moment of each day a vibrant love relationship with him. God’s judgment is real, but we as believers, have nothing to fear. Let us bring others into the hope and joy of 1 Peter 2:9, which says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
- What does this passage teach you about God? What does it teach you about humanity?
- How do you view the judgment of God? Is it something you think about often? Why or why not? Discuss this with you life group
- What has the cross of Christ accomplished for you?
George Williams, a 19th century commentary writer, said, “God’s grace acts from Calvary, and the wrath of God will act from Calvary. It is the center of Divine activity in grace and judgment. God’s controversy with man concerns His dearly beloved Son and the atonement he made for sin. Man tries in religion, but there is no substitution than that provided by God at Calvary.”