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The Man With the Writing Case
The vision Ezekiel sees continues here. Now he hears the LORD calling, not to him, but to men who are to execute the city (Ezekiel 9:1). These men are angels (cf. Genesis 18:2; Genesis 19:13). They are to draw near because they are to execute His judgment which He announced at the end of the previous chapter. For this they must be armed with a destroying weapon which they must have in their hands, ready for immediate use. The Hebrew word for destroying weapon implies that it is an instrument used to destroy something.
Six men come forward from the north (Ezekiel 9:2). That they come from the north shows the direction from which God’s judgment is coming. The Babylonians will come from the north and destroy Jerusalem.
There is a seventh Man with them. He stands among them and is clothed in linen. Linen clothes are priestly garments (Exodus 28:42; Leviticus 16:4; cf. Daniel 10:5; Daniel 12:6) that symbolize the holiness of God. This seventh Man has no destroying weapon in His hand, but a writing case at his loins. He is not to destroy, but to protect from destruction. He is the Angel of the LORD, in Whom we recognize the Person of the Lord Jesus, “who rescues us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
Then they all enter and stand beside the bronze altar. The bronze altar is a picture of the cross and sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus. Christ’s death is the means by which God can offer grace to repentant sinners. Those who refuse that salvation will themselves suffer God’s judgment and perish. Their place next to the bronze altar indicates that the judgment that will be executed on Jerusalem is in perfect accord with the righteousness of God’s judgment that struck the Lord Jesus on the cross.
When the men who are to execute the judgment have entered together with the Man with the writing case, “the glory of the God of Israel” goes up from above the cherub (Ezekiel 9:3). It goes from the cherub to the threshold of the temple and starts, as it were, its way out. Here we see the first indication that God is in the process of leaving the temple, His house.
What should the glory of God have found on the threshold? The gatekeepers. But no faithful gatekeeper stood up for the glory of God when the four forms of idolatry described in the previous chapter were introduced into the temple and practiced there. No Pinehas arose to remove these abominations (Numbers 25:6-1 Samuel :).
When God’s glory stands on the threshold, He calls to the Man Who is clothed in linen and Who has the writing case at His loins. He instructs the Man to pass through the midst of the city and put a mark on the foreheads of those who sigh and groan because of the abominations done in the midst of the city (Ezekiel 9:4).
The whole city is full of idolatry, but there is a remnant who do not participate in it. Not only do they not participate in it, but they suffer from it. They suffer inwardly, they “sigh”, and express it loudly, they “groan”. For them, the word of the Lord applies: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). Do we suffer at the sight of all the horrors happening around us and keep far away from them?
The LORD knows them, just as the Lord Jesus in all times of decay knows the few who are His own (2 Timothy 2:19-Song of Solomon :). The Lord Jesus – He is the Man with the writing case – is to put a mark on the foreheads of those who mourn. That mark will protect them from the destroying weapon of the six men who will pass through the city after Him to destroy. It is not a mark of blood on the doorposts of their houses, as at the Passover (Exodus 12:7; Exodus 12:13), but a personal sign of the cross on their foreheads.
The Hebrew word translated “mark” is tav, which is also the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This letter corresponds to our letter ‘t’. In Ezekiel’s time this letter was written in the form of a cross, as we also recognize in our letter ‘t’. We can see in it the application that the believers in Jerusalem are preserved from judgment by the sign of the cross applied to their foreheads by the Man in linen clothes.
In the future, during the time of the great tribulation, believers will receive a similar mark on their foreheads (Revelation 7:3; Revelation 9:4Revelation 14:1). In contrast, apostates will bear the mark of the beast on their foreheads (Revelation 13:16-Esther :; Revelation 14:9Revelation 20:4). A spiritual application of the cross on the forehead for us is that we live in self judgment and no longer set our mind on the things of the flesh, of man, but on those of God.
Judgment Begins With the Household of God
The executors of judgment are commanded to go after the Man in linen (Ezekiel 9:5). They are to pass through the city and kill without sparing anyone and without any pity for anyone. The judgment is without regard to persons, no regard being had to age or sex (Ezekiel 9:6; cf. 2 Chronicles 36:17). However, they are not allowed to even touch anyone who has the mark applied by the Man in linen. The mark is the sure protection from judgment because He has applied it.
The LORD also says where the six men are to begin. According to the Divine principle, they are to begin where the worst sins have happened and that is in the place where the greatest privileges were given. It is precisely in that place that His people have despised them and replaced them with the greatest abominations. It is an illustration of the saying: the corruption of the best is the worst corruption. Therefore, they must start from the house of God. Those who are in the closest relationship to God and serve in His house are most responsible to live in accordance with this great privilege. If they do not, they are the most guilty.
That is what the two oldest sons of Aaron experienced. They approached God in His dwelling place in a self-willed way. For this, God had to judge them. As the reason for this judgment He pronounces: “By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy” (Leviticus 10:3). According to this principle, God also acts with His New Testament house, the church: “For [it is] time for judgment to begin with the household of God” (1 Peter 4:17).
When the men start to judge, they also start with the most responsible, “the elders”, the twenty-five who worship the sun (Ezekiel 8:16). They are commanded to “defile the temple” with the slain (Ezekiel 9:7). This is no different than making visible what had long been the condition of temple. This is how God makes visible the hidden transgressions.
Ezekiel’s Response; Answer From the LORD
It seems that Ezekiel has felt so closely about what the LORD has said to the six men and the Man in linen that he feels he is in their midst. When he sees the men leave to strike, he feels he is left alone (Ezekiel 9:8).
It is not the application of the mark by the Man in linen that makes a great impression on him, but the striking of the men with their destroying weapon. He has seen what abominations the people have committed (Ezekiel 8). However, when he sees the judgment being carried out without mercy, he falls on his face and makes intercession. We also see this love for an ungodly people to be judged by God in people like Moses and Paul.
He cries out to the Lord GOD (Adonai Yahweh) whether He intends to destroy what is left of Israel in Jerusalem by His wrath. Surely this cannot be true. Ezekiel is still too attached to the city to believe that the city will be destroyed. We see the same thing later with the disciples of the Lord Jesus. They are impressed by the temple, while there is no place there for the Lord. He therefore tells them that not one stone will be left upon another (Mark 13:1-Exodus :).
God answers Ezekiel and accounts for Himself (Ezekiel 9:9). Israel and Judah have sinned “very, very great”. The land is full of blood, and the city is full of perversion” (cf. Exodus 23:2) Twice God uses the word “full”. The measure of iniquity is full. It can’t get any worse. God is patient, but when the measure is full, He must judge. If His people no longer have an eye for Him, if they act as if He is not there, although He has so often shown His goodness and also His discipline, their situation is incorrigible and judgment must come without exception and without pity (Ezekiel 9:10). They get no more than they deserve, nothing but what they themselves ask for. Their self-willed way comes on their own heads.
Judgment, however, does not have the last word. In a striking way, at this moment the Man clothed in linen with the writing case at His loins comes to give an account (Ezekiel 9:11). He has done what was commanded Him by God: He has put the mark on the foreheads of those to whom judgment will pass. This means that not all the people have been annihilated, but that there is a remnant. God thinks of His own when they are in the greatest need and protects them.
Only the Lord Jesus can give such an account. Only He can say, “I have done just as You have commanded Me”. No other man has ever been able to utter that before God or will ever be able to utter that. He alone has perfectly done what He was commanded to do. What the Man says here is an impressive reminder of the words of the Lord Jesus to His Father: “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4). This includes that He would guard those whom the Father gave Him, which He did perfectly (John 17:12; John 18:8-1 Samuel :).
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Ezekiel 9". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent