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The Prophet is following up the subject of the former Chapter in this, with an account of divine judgments. The destruction of the ungodly, and the salvation of the righteous, are here solemnly related.
The Reader will keep in remembrance the glorious person who was showing Ezekiel this vision, in the former chapter, (Ezekiel 8:2 .) The same it is that here cried with a loud voice in the ears of the Prophet. The Lord speaks loud indeed, when he speaks in judgment. It should seem, that by those that have charge over the city, is meant Angels. Scripture represents them as sent, both for destruction and mercy. 2 Samuel 24:16 ; Acts 12:21-23 ; Hebrews 1:13-14 .
I beseech the Reader, to pay the greatest attention to what is here said, and may God the Holy Ghost, be his Instructor. I should conceive, that by what is related of six persons, and one particularly distinguished among the rest, is meant seven in number; six angels, and one person yet more, eminent. And who could this be but the glory-man Christ Jesus? They were for destruction: but his office is mercy. The writer's ink-horn by his side, seems to define his character. Surely Jesus marked down the names of all his redeemed, when first he received them from the Father in the book of life. He did not die peradventure, and at an uncertainty, for an undetermined number; for he saith himself, that the power he had given him over all flesh, as mediator, (and no power could be given to him but as mediator, for all power was his as God, originally and underived, in common with the Father and the Holy Ghost, for all eternity,) was for this express purpose, that he should give eternal life to as many as were given him. John 17:2 . And therefore, as this was secret, known only to the Persons of the Godhead, angels not being privy to the solemn transactions, yea, not in being, when done; it was proper that the great Mediator, and Redeemer, should be present, when the angels came to destroy; and to mark his own, as a security from their destroying weapons. And I cannot but think, that the figure of a writer's ink-horn by his side, (alluding perhaps to the custom among men, who when they write abroad, fasten the ink-horn for convenience to their side) hath no unapt resemblance to the pierced side of Jesus on the cross, from whence issued blood and water. For as all the redeemed of the Lord are washed in his blood, so the mark by which they are known is the same. I do not presume to say, that this conjecture is right: but I confess to me it appears highly probable, and I love to discover Jesus everywhere, and in everything of mercy: for sure I am there can be no mercy but in him, and where he is. Who should write the names of his people in the Lamb's book of life, but the Lamb? Revelation 20:15 . Who shall mark the flock, but the owner of the flock? John 10:14 . And who shall finally count them over, and see that none is wanting, but He who first numbered them? and of whom it is said, that in all the cities of the mountains, and of the vale, the flocks shall again pass under the hand of him that telleth them. Jeremiah 33:13 . Precious Jesus! bring my soul under thy divine markings, and the sprinkling of thy blood, that when the destroying angels go forth, to execute their awful commission, like the houses of Israel, in the midst of the Egypt of this world, I may be found secured in thee, the Lord my passover. Exodus 12:29-30 ; 1 Corinthians 5:7 . I only detain the Reader with a short observation more, on this wonderful verse, just to remark, that the destroying angels, taking their stand beside the brazen altar, might perhaps be intended to intimate, that when the Lord's judgments really begin, they begin at the house of God. And therefore, what the Holy Ghost by the Apostle hath said, may well impress our minds. For the time is come (saith he) that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first 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? Solemn scripture! 1 Peter 4:17-18 .
There is somewhat most solemnly affecting in what is here said of the glory of the God of Israel, being gone up. Probably, the expression is in allusion to the withdrawing of the Shechinah, that is, the manifestation of the divine presence, from the mercy seat and, intimating perhaps, that when the Lord retires, judgment follows. Oh! how ought every truly awakened soul, to cry out with David; Lord! take not thine Holy Spirit from me! Psalms 51:11 . Reader! observe what is here said of the call to the man clothed with linen, and the commission given to him. Yes! it is a grand point in the gospel, and the great warrant to faith, that God sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. 1 John 4:14 . And here again, as in the former verse, of the writer's ink-horn, the linen garment is a further testimony of the Saviour. The High Priest, who was a type of Christ, was so clothed. Leviticus 6:10 ; Revelation 19:13-14 . It is well worthy our observation, how the Lord notifies his care over his people, and to show who they are. The sighs and sorrows for sin, are the true tokens of a broken and contrite heart. Therefore, doth any wish to know whether he is marked? The answer is direct! Do you sigh, and cry, for all the abominations that are done in the midst of the land? Are you humbled before God for sin, and seeking justification alone, by the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ? Where these effects are found, there is the sure mark of Jesus. John 16:8-11 ; Acts 5:31 .
I beseech the Reader to remark with me, the order which the Lord hath here observed, in his visitations. He first secures his people, before he executes judgment on the ungodly. He first marks, and gathers his sheep into his fold; and then the wicked, as goats, are driven from his presence, with everlasting destruction. So the Lord Jesus hath himself pointed out, the order of his judicial proceedings, at the last day. See Matthew 25:31-46 . There is another observation to be made in these verses, and it is a very solemn one, namely, the universal destruction of the ungodly: neither age, sex, nor condition, admits of exception. None can be saved, but those on whom is the mark. Reader! think how important it must be, to be found in Jesus! Think how tremendously awful to be found not in him! And observe yet further, the destroying angels, are to execute their high commission, in all the severity of it, without feeling pity or compassion. Yes! most certain it is, that to their intelligent minds, there can be no object to excite regard, but such as love the Lord. Those who admire the souls which bear the mark and image of Jesus, will abhor those who bear the image of the beast. Revelation 19:19-20 . And what an awful idea is it, that the beginning of this destruction of the wicked, is at the sanctuary: plainly showing, that there will be many found among this number, at the last day, who minister in holy things with unregenerated hearts. So the Lord Jesus hath taught his disciples to expect. Many will say to me (saith Jesus) in that day, Lord! Lord! have we not prophesied (that is, preached, or administered ordinances) in thy name: and in thy name have cast out devils; that is, probably have been made useful to the Lord's people, in helping them by the administration of his word, who never partook of it themselves. (For rather than the Lord's heritage shall go hungry, Jesus will feed them from their enemies table.) Wonderful works, these are, no doubt. But yet in common life, the same is found. Bad men may be appointed, thus to act for the good of others, and like the directing post to the traveler, guide to the right way, who never move a step towards it themselves. Think Reader! however; how very awful is such a situation! Matthew 7:22 .
The Prophet's situation is strikingly marked. While they were slaying, he was left alone. How must he have felt? What must have been his views? He knew, that it was distinguishing grace and mercy alone, that made all the difference. He knew, that in point of merit, he had none to shelter him; and that he was left alone, was the Lord's favor, and not his desert. Well might he fall on his face, and in such general desolations pray for Israel. Reader! think what an awful day of God that will be, when these judgments will be fully realized! The contemplation of it even at this distance is solemn. Surely though the Lord's people; who now rejoice in their mark of Jesus, rejoice with trembling. Who that now mourns in secret, for the abominations of sinners, but must feel for their final destruction. Here in this life these feelings are right: indeed they are unavoidable; but in the great day of God, they will be felt no more. The Lord's answer to the Prophet is most solemn. And it is well worthy our remark, that the wrath of the Lamb is spoken of, as being the token of long incensed patience and meekness; and not the wrath of the Lion of the tribe of Judah; that is to mark the fierce anger of the Lord at the last day. Revelation 6:16 .
This is a blessed conclusion to the subject. Jesus as Mediator, the Christ of God, is said in the New Testament, to deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father: when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority, and power. For having received from the Father, in his office-character the government, the kingdom of grace, when grace is consummated in glory, ceaseth, and the kingdom of glory in perfection begins. So that Jehovah, in his threefold character of Person, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, having commissioned, and set up, Christ the Glory-man Mediator, it becomes needful that the Mediator should be faithful to him that appointed him. And here, having marked and secured his people, and seen the destruction of his enemies, returns with the report, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me. 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 ; Hebrews 3:1-2 with Isaiah 42:1-4 ; John 17:4 .
PAUSE, my soul, and dwell with long, and solemn meditation, over this sacred scripture, which holds up to thy view a double aspect; like the pillar of cloud in the camp of Israel; brightness and defense to the Lord's friends; darkness and destruction to his enemies. Recollect, my soul, as thou ponderest over what is here written, that voice the Prophet, heard, thou wilt shortly hear; and a loud voice, to awaken all that are in the graves it will be. And at that voice, the angels will assuredly come forth, to destruction, with Jesus at their head. The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from Heaven, (the Scripture saith) with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of Christ. Precious Lord Jesus! hast thou marked me as thine own? Do I sigh, and cry, for the abominations that are done in Jerusalem? Do I mourn in secret, for the languishing state of Zion, in the present hour? Is it indeed a grief to my soul, that so few are asking the way to Zion, and so few live up to their high Christian calling? Yea, is it a grief to my very soul, that my own enjoyments of divine things are at so low an ebb, and that I live so far from Him whom. my soul loveth? Are these among thy daily exercises; and dost thou sigh, and cry, both for Zion's low estate around thee, and the low estate in divine things, within thee. Yea! dust thou groan, being burdened, as holy Paul did, for that thou carriest about with thee, this body of sin, and death? Pause, my soul, over the solemn consideration; and amidst these sighs and sorrows, recollect that these are the features of the Lord's holy mourners. These are the spots of God's children. These are the evidences that the man, the glory-man, the man Christ Jesus, from his pierced side, hath marked thee, and sealed thee, unto the day of eternal redemption. Take comfort my soul! The Lord hath in thine instance, fulfilled that precious promise, and hath poured out upon thee, a spirit of grace; thou art looking unto Him, whom thou hast pierced; and thou art mourning for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and as one in bitterness for his first born. And look up, and hope with full assurance of faith; he that soweth in tears, shall reap in joy. Shortly the Lord will come, to be glorified in his saints, and to be adorned in all that believe. And while the ungodly, and unbelieving, shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, the Lord will own thee for his own, and number thee among his jewels.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Ezekiel 9". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent