In Chapter 8, Ezekiel is carried away by Messiah to view the wild idol worship inside God’s house after the exiles departed:
“And there, engraved…all around, was every form of creeping things…and all the idols of the house of Israel…And before them stood seventy…elders of the house of Israel…censer in hand…for they say, ‘The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land…” (8:10-12, ESV).
That is followed by seeing women weeping at the entrance of the temple for the melting down of the idol Tammuz; then twenty-five men with their backs to the temple, worshiping the sun; and finally “raising the branch” of a tamarisk tree to their noses in a devoted form of pagan worship of the sun.
God’s response, spoken by Messiah:
“Therefore I will act in wrath. My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity…” (8:18).
When thinking of the impending judgment of God coming straight at the houses of Judah and Israel, I have wondered whether every person left in Jerusalem is lost to temptation, disobedience, and disunity from God, or if not, what happens to the innocents who quietly endure even though they have been faithful – will they be blown away by God’s wrath anyway?
I have wondered this, too, when I compare ancient Israel to the disunited Christian church and the faithful and non-believing portions of America when Jesus returns.
When God’s judgment comes at the return of Jesus the King, how will he separate the repentant from the unrepentant, the faithful from the unfaithful?
Chapter 9 has one answer when God, in the vision, calls for the executioners to descend upon Jerusalem. But before they do, God commands the head executioner:
“Pass through…Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who…groan over all the abominations committed…” (9:4).
To the remaining executioners, God commands:
“Pass through the city… and strike…but touch none on whom is the mark” (9:5-6).
God is commanding that his faithful ones not be touched by the slaughter of judgment, and they are given God’s mark when recognized by their palpable grief over the desecration of all God holds dear.
Repeat: God’s mark for deliverance from judgment is given to those who groan and grieve over desecration of all he holds dear!
Chapter 10 is Ezekiel’s vision of the whirling wheels of God’s judgment on the sinful idolaters. And Chapter 11 is the vision of that judgment on the twenty-five leaders led by Zedekiah within the temple.
Deep in grief, Ezekiel cries out, asking if God will make an end of all the remnant of Israel.
God answers with a powerful summary of what perfect unity means to him:
“I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. And when they come there, they will remove from it all the detestable things and all its abominations. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (11:16:20).
Remove everything detestable to God; receive one heart and one spirit; obey God’s commands (including those given by Messiah at the time of his appearance!); be one people governed by Messiah.
As we shall see, this perfect unity takes the form of unconditional love under the commands of Jesus in the New Testament. Of course, there is more to this mark of the faithful in the Book of Revelation.
For now, do we have visible, palpable grief, unity with Jesus, and God’s mark of the faithful when we see blatant disunity?