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Bible Commentaries

Layman's Bible Commentary

Ezekiel 9

Verses 1-11

Vision of Utter Destruction (9:1-11)

In the midst of his visionary review of the situation in Jerusalem the prophet sees in all its horrible detail the final destruction of the city. Usually he defines destruction as ordained of God to be carried out in the regular processes of history, but not in this case. For the first time in biblical literature there is a well-developed apocalyptic (superhistorical) description of God’s judgment. This sort of description becomes quite common later in Zechariah and Daniel as well as in some Intertestament books (for example, Enoch) and in the New Testament Book of Revelation. The prophet hears God command, "Draw near, you executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in his hand" (vs. 1 ) . Six men appear carrying weapons for slaughter, and with them there is another man, dressed in linen and having a writing case at his side. These are the emissaries of God and may in fact be the prototypes of the seven angels of God who later became prominent in Jewish and Christian writing. The man in linen is dressed like a priest, but the significance of that fact escapes us at this late date. These seven sinister figures go and stand by the bronze altar.

Significantly we are told that "the glory of the God of Israel" had gone up from the cherubim where it traditionally rested and had paused on the threshold (vs. 3). From that point the Lord instructs the man in linen to put a mark upon the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in Jerusalem (vs. 4). Thus the man in linen is de facto the priest or scribe of God. Those who do not show signs of remorse over the low spiritual state of life are to be utterly destroyed. Nobody, either young or old, is to be spared except those who have a special mark on their foreheads.

Destruction must start where guilt has its deepest root (vs. 6) . The sanctuary had been a front for everything except its intended purposes. Here pretense and delusion had flourished. For these reasons destruction began, according to the divine directive, with the elders who stood before the sanctuary, who were themselves deeply implicated in national and social guilt. Having been used for shame, the house that had been dedicated to the glory of God is now defiled and destroyed by the Lord’s command.

Orders are carried out. When the prophet in sheer agony of spirit asks the natural question, "Wilt thou destroy all that remains of Israel in the outpouring of thy wrath upon Jerusalem?", the Lord recites the record of "the land . . . full of blood" whose leaders say, "The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see" (vs. 9). The man dressed in linen reports with finality to the Lord, "I have done as thou didst command me." Thus, in apocalyptic style, the prophet portrays God’s final judgment upon a land which openly pledged loyalty to him but secretly worshiped other gods.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Ezekiel 9". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/ezekiel-9.html.