The Book of Ezekiel contains many important and very interesting prophecies. Ezekiel, the typical Son of Man, was one of the three great prophets of the terrible period of the destruction of God's kingdom and the beginning of the dreadful, evil, metallic, robot image of the dark and cruel Gentile times - the kingdoms of men, now coming to a close.
These three prophets were Ezekiel and Jeremiah, both of the priestly line ministering respectively to the Jews in Babylon and to the Jews in Judea and Jerusalem, and Daniel, of the royal line at the Babylonian and later in the Persian court.
All had vital work to do for God's people. It is clear that Daniel was providentially raised to high authority both in the Babylonian and Persian governments to protect the interest of God's people, just as Esther and Mordecai were a little later, and Nehemiah, cupbearer to the king.
All this was just over 2500 years ago at the beginning of the 7 times, or 2520 years of the Gentiles, in the last years of which we now live.
Bro Growcott - The glory of the Lord
1 He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.
The he who speaks to Ezekiel all through this vision is the enthroned manifestation of God that Ezekiel saw above the Cherubim in chapter 1. This manifestation appears to him at the beginning of this current vision in 8:2,
"Then I beheld a likeness as the appearance of fire: from his loins downward fire and from his loins upward brightness."
The fire of judgment for those cast down for wickedness, and the brightness of glory for those exalted for righteousness.*
2 And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man [the seventh] among them was clothed with linen, with a writer's inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar.
Ezekiel's six men were God's supervising angels and their slaughter-weapons were the Babylonian generals and their armies.
As we begin chapter 9, this personage - the manifestation of God - calls for the custodians for the city of Jerusalem to come forth with their slaughter weapons, whereupon (verse 2) six armed men appear. Who are these? History tells us that the agency God was about to use for this judgment was the Babylonian army. The number six points to a human agency.
It is significant that when the destroying Babylonian army broke into the city, just five years after this vision, as Jeremiah records in 39:3, that six princes of the king of Babylon entered and sat in the middle gate to oversee the operation. Six men with slaughter weapons, for they were the heads of the army.*
3 And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side;
But in this vision, there is a seventh man portraying the divine side of the picture. He is clothed in linen-righteousness-and carries writing equipment. Before the destroyers are allowed to begin their mission, this man is instructed (verse 4) to mark the forehead of everyone in the city who righteously mourns for the abominations that were done.
There is nothing haphazard about the operations of God. He overlooks nothing and makes no mistakes. Not one true grain of corn is ever allowed to fall to the ground with the sifted out chaff. There is great comfort in this - this man with the writer's inkhorn.*
4 And Yahweh said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
Anyone looking the events in Jerusalem with natural eyes would never have dreamed that God was carefully looking and controlling what happened to every individual. But we note that the only ones spared were those who sighed and cried for the abominations.
Sighing refers more to internal feeling; crying more to the external manifestation. The word here for sigh is also translated mourn and groan.
"Blessed are ye that mourn."
There are many words in Hebrew for cry; the one here is always associated with suffering and mourning. It is that type of crying.
It was not enough to just refrain from the abominations. Neutrals are no good to God or man. There had to be a complete separation from the abominations, and from those who committed them, and a mourning and crying out against them, to be spared by God in this terrible day of judgment upon Jerusalem. Neutrals, or those who are lukewarm, are never safe and never get any joy or satisfaction out of life.
To please God and to have joy in life, we must be enthusiastically all the way over on the side of goodness and righteousness. The things of God are so great and so marvellous that there is nothing more pitiful, more unreasonable than a half-hearted Christadelphian.*
5 And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
All sin will be punished: all righteousness at last rewarded.
The righteous mourners, having been marked for protection, the order goes forth (verses 5-6), "Go through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity, slay utterly old and young, and begin-begin-at my sanctuary."
This vision is representative and not actual. We are not to suppose that when the Babylonians broke into the city, they killed all the wicked and spared all the righteous. We are being shown God's ultimate judgments. Actually, we are given the picture that the righteous had already been taken out of the city - taken to Babylon.
In this way they were marked in the forehead. This is shown in such records as Jeremiah's two baskets of figs - the good taken away; the rotten left in the city. This was the general picture of God's deliverance of His true people at this time, but it was not obvious to the natural eye. It looked like those in the city were the favored ones, and those carried into slavery and into captivity were the unfavored ones. It had to be not obvious to the natural eye, or there would be no exercise of faith. Jeremiah suffered and died with the wicked remnant, because that was the work that God appointed for him to do.*
7 And he said unto them [the six men with slaughter weapons], Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city.
The house, or Temple, was already thoroughly defiled by the abominations committed there. God was now about to confirm that defilement by filling it with the slain bodies of the defilers. The glory was about to depart from the polluted sanctuary.
Back in verse 3, just before the beginning of these judgments, is the first indication of the departure of the Shekinah Glory of the presence of God that had dwelt so long over the mercy seat between the Cherubim.
"And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub...to the threshold of the house."
It left the Most Holy Place and paused at the doorway. We note that it departs slowly and reluctantly in stages, showing God's sorrow and mercy, giving opportunity for some indication of repentance and reform. But there was none. The cherub, or Cherubim, mentioned in 9:3, refers to the golden Cherubim in the Most Holy, which the glory is leaving.*
*Bro Growcott - The Glory of the Lord
In Ezekiel's day the cry was heard-
"The Lord hath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not" (ix. 9).
How this sound dings in our ears to-day! Some will say we are mistaken, and point, perhaps, to the universal weekly confession, "I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth." But actions speak louder than words. The habitual conduct of those who make this confession betrays their scepticism. Believe in God, and worship Mammon? Believe in God, and delight in the world's amusements? Believe in God, and make no effort to curb the sinful impulses of pride, vanity, and temper? Believe in God, and embrace no opportunity to converse upon His Word? Impossible!
Those who are guilty in these matters are like Israel of old-they draw nigh with their mouth, and honour with their lips, whilst their hearts are far away. Let us not be seduced by the unbelief of the age. It is productive of every evil. Because of it the land, as in the prophet's time, is filled with iniquity and perverseness.
"Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and they say, 'Who seeth us? and, who knoweth us?'"
Ezekiel lived on the eve of dire calamity and trouble. To announce this was a part of the prophet's mission. How the announcement was received is shown in the scoffing proverbs of the time:
"The days are prolonged, and every vision faileth." "The vision that he seeth is for many days to come, and he prophesieth of the times that are afar off."
How discouraging must this have been to Ezekiel! But how useful and comforting is his experience to us! Trouble and calamity, far exceeding that to which the prophet stood related, is immediately ahead. This is no speculation; God has most positively revealed it. His servants to-day know it, and are earnestly proclaiming it. But how few, very few, receive their testimony! The disposition of Ezekiel's time everywhere prevails. The false cry of "peace" is to be heard-"sudden destruction" will speedily follow. Because of these things the prophet's experience strikes home.
"Take, my brethren, the prophets who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience."
Let us follow Ezekiel. Let us ignore the opinion of the multitude, and with confidence wait the fulfilment of the word that God has spoken. At any moment may the declarations again be realised:
"The days are at hand, and the effect of every vision. There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done."
Bro A.T. Jannaway
The Christadelphian, Jan 1887.
8 And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Adonai Yahweh! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?
9 Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, Yahweh hath forsaken the earth, and Yahweh seeth not.10 And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head.
11 And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me.