The Word Made Fresh
1Then I heard the voice cry loudly, “Come out, you executioners who are in the city, and draw your weapons!” 2Six men came from the direction of the upper gate which faces north, each one held his weapon in his hand. With them was a man dressed in linen carrying a writing case at his side. They went in and stood beside the bronze altar.
3The splendor of the God of Israel had risen from the cherub on which it had rested to the entrance of the temple. The LORD called out to the man who was dressed in linen, the one with the writing case, 4“Go through Jerusalem and mark the foreheads of all those who mourn over the terrible deeds that are done in the city.” 5And I heard God say to the others, “Follow him through the city and kill without pity 6and without compassion, slaughter old men and young men and women. But don’t harm any who have the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.” And they began with the elders who stood in front of the house. 7Then God told them, “Pollute the temple. Fill the courtyards with the dead. Go now!”
Then they went through the city killing people, 8and while they killed, I was left alone. I fell to the ground face down and cried out, “LORD God! Are you going to destroy all who are left in Israel? Is that what you mean by pouring out your anger on Jerusalem?” 9And God answered, “The sins of Israel and Judah are great. The land is filled with blood and the city with sin. They say, ‘The LORD has turned away from the land and does not see!’ 10But my eye will not overlook anything, and I will have no pity; I will lay their deeds upon their heads.”
1-2: Ezekiel hears God call for executioners and sees six men approach with weapons, coming from the upper gate in the northern part of the temple compound, plus one man dressed in linen carrying writing paraphernalia.
3-10: Ezekiel hears God giving instructions to the seven. The scribe is to go out and mark the foreheads of those who grieve over the pagan worship going on in the city. The six with weapons are to follow him and slay all who do not receive the mark. Ezekiel protests, but God will not relent.
11: The linen-clad scribe returns, his job done. The implication is that the six warriors have also done their work, although they are not mentioned again.
Ezekiel’s visions are horrible and violent. It’s hard for us to imagine God not just allowing, but ordering such terrible things. God is love, but if we ignore God, or worse, worship “idols,” God’s anger can be aroused. We don’t want that to happen; so, now is a good time to examine ourselves, our thoughts and deeds, and see that we are being faithful to the One who made us.