Are there things in your regular schedule that you don’t enjoy (or downright dislike), but which have to be done? I admit that when working from home during the pandemic, I did not miss having to shave every day. Like brushing my teeth, shaving isn’t difficult, but it’s an extra step that takes time out of my day. Still, having returned from work, I need to attend to these things as part of working in a professional environment (even after growing a “coronabeard”, which still needs to remained trimmed and neat).
Maybe the things in your life that you don’t enjoy (but still endure) include going to the dentist, or having regular checkups with the doctor. Maybe they involve a regular activity at work that is needed for closing out the books every month, or weekly tests in school. These events are not defined by the joy that they bring us, but by their necessity to keep things functioning well.
To step back a bit, a previous group of articles from Ezekiel 18 showed us how God considers the righteousness of individuals, and not their parents or children.
The next series of articles (starting with this one) is from portions of Ezekiel 9, 10, and 11. These passages also speak about those who are righteous and those who are unrighteous, but its focus is a little different. Ezekiel 18 shows examples of good and bad behavior, and emphasizes that not only are individuals judged according to their own choices, but also those who change their direction in life can move from one category to the other. Chapters 9-11 in Ezekiel speak more about judgment, though.
Judgment is not a fun topic to talk about. We might avoid preachers who talk about God’s judgment often, or we might try not to think about the coming of God’s judgment. We may even appreciate the metaphor in the name of the movie, Terminator 2: Judgment Day (although I’m not endorsing that movie here, for reasons that are probably obvious to those who have seen or heard of it).
In some sense, we might appreciate when judgment is properly doled out to those who deserve it, like when justice is rightfully served for a crime. This should be a sober matter, though, where we still pray for the spiritual redemption of the convicted. However, as we inspect our own lives, the fear of judgment (whether by others, or from God) is a much more personal consideration.
Before getting into Ezekiel 9, though, we should probably set some background here from chapter 8. Ezekiel is sitting in his house, with “the elders of Judah” sitting before him. Based on the background from commentary (who help us with a researched view of Scripture and history), this is taking place in Babylon, so references to Jerusalem that we read about here would be prophetic visions. God provides visions to Ezekiel that appear to continue into the first part of chapter 11. In chapter 8, God shows Ezekiel various types of evil – generally related to idolatry – that the people of Israel are practicing. It’s pretty bad, and Ezekiel 8:17-18 explains God’s judgment on them.
Ezekiel 9 begins with this part of the vision:
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.” 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.
Ezekiel 9:1-2 NIV
Ezekiel has been spoken to in chapter 8 by a figure, fiery and bright. I would not be surprised if this was Jesus – or possibly an angel – appearing to Ezekiel, but the main point is that a sort of “narrator” (who may be God Himself) is speaking to Ezekiel in this vision: telling Ezekiel what to do and showing him things that are going on. As a result, this “narrator” is the “him” mentioned in Ezekiel 9:1 (above). In fact, the NASB capitalizes this reference, indicating that its translators were confident that God is speaking to Ezekiel.
Ezekiel’s guide in this vision summons the instruments of judgment, and there are 7 men who show up. Six of these men are armed (as they had been instructed), and the seventh seems to be something of a recorder, like a stenographer or inspector.
Although I encourage you to read the entire chapter (and maybe several chapters) in Ezekiel, let’s continue studying the commission to these men (from Ezekiel’s vision) in the next article.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for August 28, 2022
- The Lookout, August 28, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.