Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 25: Friday
“Then the glory of the God of Israel went up from the cherub on which it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed in linen at whose loins was the writing case. The LORD said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.” But to the others He said in my hearing, “Go through the city after him and strike; do not let your eye have pity and do not spare.”
Friday’s Bible reading is Ezekiel 7–12. These chapters continue Ezekiel’s prophesy and vision of God’s judgment on Jerusalem. In the verses above, only those who are distressed over Judah’s rebellion against God will be safe from God’s judgment—the rest will not be spared.
In chapters 9–11 he describes the movement and departure of the glory of the Lord—first from the Ark of the Covenant in the temple, then to the threshold of the temple, then to the entrance of the east gate of the Lord’s house until finally the glory of God leaves Jerusalem altogether.
One of the most powerful sermons I ever heard in my life was on this vision of Ezekiel. The man who gave it was a missionary to Africa who had been back in the United States for a year or so to travel and give reports and raise support. He and his family were preparing to go back overseas with his family. I don’t know where he had traveled or what he had seen in the churches he had visited, but his concern for the churches in the U.S. was palpable. He had obviously seen enough churches with a name for being alive, but that were in fact dead, to the point where he was impassioned as he urged the church to examine her spiritual state. I still remember him asking how many churches existed in our country in which the word Ichabod—the glory has departed from Israel—is already written over their door.
There are abominations being committed in the midst of the city today. Where are those to sigh and groan over them? G. R. Beasley-Murray notes that the word used for mark in Ezekiel 9:4, indicates, “a mark in the shape of a cross.”1 God’s people are called to be a witness for Him. In writing to the Philippians, Paul exhorts them to follow Christ’s example and says:
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.”
Ezekiel’s words are sobering. He lived in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation as do we. We must hold fast to the word of life—to honor God as God, and to offer hope for those who would turn from their sin.
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1G. R. Beasley-Murray, “Ezekiel,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie,
J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., p. 670.
Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter