Sunday School Lessons

Sorrow and Action

In the previous lesson, we saw how God was speaking to Ezekiel through a vision, and several men were summoned (see Ezekiel 9:1-2).  Six of these men had weapons, but one had a writing kit and was dressed in linen.

Now the glory of the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, where it had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple. Then the LORD called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side and said to him, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.”
Ezekiel 9:3‭-‬4 NIV

Here, “above the cherubim” may be the location of the mercy seat on the top of the Ark of the Covenant (see Exodus 25:17-22), which was to be placed in the Holy of Holies within the temple.  (However, cherubim are also described elsewhere in these chapters, so I’m not absolutely certain, here.)  Regardless, although God is omnipresent, His glory – a visible sign of His presence – moves from its customary (or previous) dwelling place “to the threshold of the temple”.

The man in linen is instructed to traverse the city and identify those who, in my words, mourn over the ugly sins that are taking place there.

So, let’s pause and ask this: Are there “detestable things” that are done in your city?  (When I asked this question of the class that I was teaching, there wasn’t really any question about it.  Sin is pervasive in this fallen world.)

If so, here’s what is perhaps a more significant question: How do you feel about that?  Do we (especially men like myself) compartmentalize what other people do, or just try not to think about it?  Or, do we “grieve and lament” about it?  Are we continually offended by the sins around us, to the point where we spend time in sorrow over it, even if we aren’t the ones sinning?

One thing that I learned in a Biblically-based racial reconciliation program earlier this year (called “Be the Bridge”) was that “lament” – spending some time sitting in sorrow for evil that has taken place – is a part of the process of restoration.  We might like to avoid books of the Bible that dwell on bad things (including the one that is called “Lamentations”), but there is value and purpose in spending time absorbing how bad sin is, even if it’s not our own sin.

I know that when I read articles online, I will sometimes keep reading through important points, so let me state this again: there is a purpose for lament – for righteous sorrow – over sin that is around us.

However, while this is not necessarily covered in the passage above, I don’t think that we should just stay in a state of sorrow.  Eventually, lament and grief over the sinful state of our city, state, nation, or world should drive us to a renewed level of effort to make it better.  Sorrow without action doesn’t achieve anything for those caught in the sins we are grieving, while action without lament may run off in the wrong direction.

The actions that we take as a result of sorrow over sin around us may take different forms:

  • Sometimes, this requires helping sinful people change their ways, and find salvation from their sins.
  • Sometimes, this entails caring for those who have been hurt by sin, and – like the Good Samaritan (see Luke 10:25-37) – give of our own resources and time to help someone who was hurt (even if this was through no fault of our own).
  • Sometimes, this includes calling out to God and asking for His help, when the problems seem to be larger than we can address on our own.  As we do so, let us not forget, though, that although God certainly can – and does – bring His power to bear on the redemption of others, He might ask you to become a part of that solution.

As an example of both lament and action, let’s consider our perfect example, Jesus Christ.  He wept over Jerusalem (see Luke 19:41-46), knowing the judgment that was coming upon it.  However, Jesus didn’t only mourn over Jerusalem; He also did something to save those who would accept it.  He gave of Himself for those over whom He was mourning, even while sin was running rampant.

There’s more in this passage to consider, but let’s leave that for next time.  Today is a good day to spend some time in lament and in action.

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.

2 thoughts on “Sorrow and Action”

  1. “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.”
    Ezekiel 9:4 NIV
    This “mark on the foreheads of those who grieve…” reminds me of:
    “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.” Revelation 7:3 NASB
    They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
    Revelation 9:4 NASB

    Much is made of the “mark of the Beast” in The Revelation, but seldom do hear of the “seal of our God” on the foreheads of His servants!

    Liked by 1 person

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