For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

9:1.  “He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.”


“... them that have charge over the city” is also translated “you executioners, you scourges,” each one to have with him his weapon, assuring us that they were to be God’s agents of destruction as He executed judgment against the city’s wicked inhabitants.  Most scholars understand them to have been angels.


9:2.  “And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brazen (bronze) altar.”


The linen-clad man is generally understood to have been a seventh in the midst of the six, and there can be little question that he represents the Lord Jesus Christ.  Six is the biblical number of man, weakness, sin, departure from God, and it always has a bad connotation.  Seven, on the other hand, is the number of perfection or completeness. 


Their coming from the northern gate of the city confirms that their coming was to execute judgment, for as noted already, the north is always connected with intelligence rather than faith, and is almost invariably associated with judgment, the slaughter weapon or battle axe in the hand of each enhancing the idea of judgmental destruction.  Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, coming from the north in 586 BC, were God’s literal instruments of judgment.


Their standing at the brazen altar (brass or bronze is always the biblical symbol of judgment), adds yet another confirmatory stroke to the symbolic picture of doom and death about to envelop the sinful city.


The one clothed in linen (biblical symbol of righteousness) reminds us of the absolute justice of the judgment about to overtake the wicked nation; and the writing case by his side is the further reminder that the Scriptures given to Israel declared not only God’s righteous standard governing man’s conduct, but also the penalty that must attend disobedience.  Israel could never say that she hadn’t had abundant warning relative to the consequences of rebellion.  Nor can today’s equally apostate Christendom.


The writing case, however, may be also the symbolic reminder that God keeps a full record of each man’s life, with every indication that that record will be opened on the day of judgment, see Re 20:12 which describes what will occur at the judgment of the unbelieving dead at the great white throne, “... and the books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” 


9:3.  “And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house.  And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side.”


Most scholars believe that the “glory” was the shekinah cloud of glory that was over the two guardian gold cherubim which kept constant symbolic vigil over the mercy seat, at either end of which each cherub stood.  The movement of the shekinah cloud from its position over the cherubim, to the threshold of the Temple, was God’s intimation of His departure from both the Temple and the sinful people, and His abandonment of both to judgment.  Its next step of departure was to a position above the cherubim who appear to have been waiting outside the door of the Temple, the next step being to the mountain.  It will not return again until it takes its place in the millennial Temple.


Some, however, take a different view as noted in The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, “The text implies that Jehovah went to the threshold (9:3), while the cherubim and vacant throne waited (10:3) until the Lord remounted and departed (10:18).”


9:4.  “And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.”


The linen-clad man with the writer’s inkhorn was then commanded to go through Jerusalem placing a mark - generally believed to have been in the form of a cross - on the forehead of every man who deplored and disapproved of the filthy practices engaged in by the majority of the citizens.  This surely reminds us of the sealing of the 144,000 Jews in Re 7 prior to the outpouring of the terrible judgments of the Great Tribulation.


Believers of this present Church age are also sealed by the indwelling Holy Spirit, against judgment, the Lord Jesus Christ having borne their judgment at Calvary.


9:5.  “And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:”


9:6.  “Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary.  Then they began with the ancient men which were before the house.”


Without regard for age or sex, all not having the mark on their foreheads were to be slaughtered, beginning with the idolatrous seventy ancient men mentioned in 8:11-12, who worshiped idols even within the Temple precincts.


9:7.  “And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth.  And they went forth, and slew in the city.”


The “house” was the Temple, and its being the place where the slaughter was to begin reminds us of what is written in the NT relative to judgment, see 1 Pe 4:17-18, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?  And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”


They were to defile the Temple with the carcases of the slain, only because the people themselves had already defiled it by their wicked deeds.  The fulfillment of all of this is recorded in 2 Chr 36


9:8.  “And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord God! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem?”


“... and I was left” means simply that Ezekiel had remained behind while the executioners proceeded through the city doing their deadly work, the extent of the slaughter so shocking him that he prostrated himself and asked the Lord if the whole nation was to be annihilated in the Divine judgment.


9:9.  “Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness (injustice): for they say, the Lord hath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not.”


The judgment was proportionate to the wickedness of Israel and Judah.  They themselves had shed blood wantonly, and had perverted justice without compunction, assuring themselves wrongly that the Lord had gone away and didn’t see what they did.  In other words, they had simply put Him out of their minds, and lived as though He didn’t exist.


Will anyone deny that this is the very same attitude as marks the world today?  Men live as though there was no God; but condign judgment, similar to that which overtook Israel and Judah in the days of Zedekiah, is also about to break in the impending Great Tribulation, like a thunder burst upon an unsuspecting world that plunges on to destruction heedless of warning.


9:10.  “And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head.”


Ezekiel was assured that the God Israel and Judah had mocked, would neither spare nor pity any of the wicked nation; and so will it be also in the coming Great Tribulation.  Today’s world will receive a judgment commensurate with its wickedness, God having neither mercy nor pity for those whose sinfulness has made them the heirs of judgment.


Relative to this verse The Jamieson, Fausset & Brown Commentary makes the following interesting comment, “mine eye - to show them their mistake in saying, ‘The Lord seeth not.’”


9:11.  “And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me.”


The linen-clad servant, having done as God had bidden him, returned to report that he had completed his assigned task.  The Lord also could say in John 17:4, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”  It would be well for us who are believers were we able to honestly present the same report, but it is to be feared that such are a very small minority in the midst of even genuine believers today.

[Ezekiel 10]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough