What does it say?
As you read Ezekiel 9 remember that this is the continuation of Ezekiel’s vision.
As a vision, these images are not literal, but God’s promise to judge his people engaging in idolatry and defiling the temple. Faithful followers of God agonizing over this idolatry receive a mark on their forehead sparing them from judgment. This contrasts with what John sees in Revelation 13 about those who take the mark of the Beast.
In chapter 10 Ezekiel describes his vision of God’s glory departing from the temple in Jerusalem. He once again sees the cherubim (angelic beings) and strange “wheels” that he had seen previously by the River Chebar in chapter 3. Remember that Ezekiel is already in Babylon with other exiles when Jerusalem finally and completely falls to Babylon. Here, Ezekiel sees Jerusalem’s fall and a group of leaders giving false advice to those who remained.
With chapter 11 the fall of Jerusalem is irreversible. Yet in this same chapter we see Ezekiel speak for the first time about restoration to come. Just as Jeremiah also predicts, Ezekiel sees a day when God will give his people a new spirit and new hearts.
God instructs Ezekiel to play the role of one being deported into exile. All that Ezekiel does in this chapter is really played out in great detail by king Zedekiah of Jerusalem as he and a new wave of Jews go into captivity in Babylon.
What does it mean?
Just as no one listened to Jeremiah, few Jews give serious attention to Ezekiel and his powerful messages. Most Jews still do not grasp the seriousness of the situation. If Jerusalem were to be overthrown it surely wouldn’t be in their lifetimes. Jerusalem is eternal, God’s city. Besides, Jeremiah and Ezekiel are just a couple of many prophets, and the others are giving messages of assurance and peace. Why not listen to them instead? Not only that, if judgment does come, it will be for leaders, not people like them. How could God really judge them for the sins of their ancestors? These and many more excuses keep most people from hearing seriously Ezekiel’s messages. Do we not tend to put our trust in similar excuses instead of taking God’s words seriously?
How will I respond?
Do I find God’s word interesting and instructive, or do I really take it seriously – seriously enough to hear and obey? Is there an aspect of God’s word that I have been trying to ignore? What can I do today to take God at his word more seriously?