By Ted Kyle
From Ezekiel 9:4-5 comes this challenging report: “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. 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.”
If the reader’s first reaction is to think, “These are Old Testament words for a far-distant time and place; it means nothing to me,” I beg you to think again. The God of the Old Testament is also the God of the New Testament. His nature has not changed one iota. The Old and the New are related. Furthermore, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that “Now all these things (virtually the entire Old Testament) happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. We are not governed by Old Testament Law but we are supposed to learn from those hard-won lessons.
In Ezekiel’s vision, God commissioned the angelic beings who had charge of Jerusalem, including the Temple (Ez. 9:1), to sweep through the city and destroy most of the residents. They were to have no pity. They were to “slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children, and women” (9:6). The only exceptions to this general slaughter were to be those who mourned because their city and nation were sliding ever deeper into sin.
Was this a warning vision or a prophetic vision? Probably both, in a general sense, for we know that God did ultimately use the Roman army to wreak His vengeance on the Jewish nation, and particularly Jerusalem, its capital city, where the slaughter was frightful. Included in the destruction was the Temple, which was burned and then enthusiastically demolished stone by stone, we are told, to recover the gold that had melted and run into the joints and crevices between the stones.
I greatly fear that God’s fulfillment of this vision will be reenacted in our country in our day, unless America turns back to God. We, as a nation, have already closed our schools, our courts, and our councils against God and have more and more declared Him either irrelevant or actually subversive. Meanwhile our churches, so many of them, are spiritually asleep and drifting further from the precepts and practices of God’s holy Word.
I believe Ezekiel’s vision also contains a pointed warning for the Church. Note the last part of 9:6: “ ‘And begin at my sanctuary.’ Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.” Verse 7 continues: “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.”
Where would these angels of death find their first victims? Among the priests and Levites who served the Temple. And first among them would be the “ancient men,” the leaders. The application for the Church is so obvious it cries out for emphasis: God’s judgment will fall most heavily upon the pastors and elders who lead their flocks away from the true Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This, of course, is as it should be. God entrusted the Church with a leadership role: She is God’s ambassador to the world! (cf. Eph. 6:20). She is charged with staying true to the Bible. More, she must be vibrantly alive. She must be a beacon of faith, and a bastion of righteousness. In short, she must once again truly represent our glorious Savior, Jesus Christ!
Without this taking place, I fear God’s terrible judgment on America and the Church is inevitable.
The question remains: How much do we, as God’s children, care? Does the already deplorable and rapidly worsening spiritual condition of our country grieve us? The answer may tell us much about our own spiritual condition!
This is the time for all true believers to “be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).
Let your light shine as you weep for your country!