Ezekiel 9:1–11

Read the passage.

Having shown Ezekiel the idolatrous acts the people of Jerusalem are committing in His temple, the Lord summons angelic warriors to begin executing the people of the city. Six of them arrive, plus a scribe in charge of the heavenly record. Normally God’s glory rested above the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place, seated on His earthly throne as it were, but now He has moved to the threshold of the temple because He is about to remove His Presence from Jerusalem.

Before He goes, the Lord gives the angels instructions. The scribe is to go ahead into the city and put a mark on the foreheads of those who do not approve of the abominations that have taken place. The six warriors are to go after and slaughter everyone else, beginning with the twenty-five priests who are before them.

Greatly disturbed by all he has seen, Ezekiel falls on his face in despair. He fully expects no one will survive this disaster, and the remnant of Israel will not survive. In effect, this is an appeal to God’s promises that He made with the Israelites, to be their God and to preserve David’s kingly line. Ezekiel is worried that the exiles will never again be able to possess the Promised Land. Our God does indeed keep His promises, but He doesn’t reassure Ezekiel of that. Instead, He emphasizes just how wicked the people of Israel and Judah have been to each other, corrupting the land with bloodshed and injustice until it is saturated with it. There are no more chances for them, no more mercy; only wrath.

And in the time it took for that conversation to be finished, the angelic scribe returns to announce that he has completed his task. I’m sure an angel can move much faster than we can, and he wouldn’t be hindered by such small things as walls and doors, but angels are not omnipresent, so he would have to go to each person in the city who loved the Lord individually to apply the mark. That makes it seem like there really were not many people he had to mark. But it also shows the kindness and mercy of the Lord not allowing the righteous to be punished along with the wicked. Time and again we see Him do this: 2 Peter lists several examples such as Noah and Lot. Which is not to say bad things never happen to good people (ask Job and Jesus), but disasters that come upon many people specifically to judge the wicked are also not visited upon the righteous among them.

You keep all of Your promises and You shelter the righteous under Your wings in the day of trouble.

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