16 February 2017Ezekiel 9:1-4
“Go through the city, through Jerusalem and put a mark on the forehead of those who sigh and groan over the abominations that are committed in it.” (v. 4)
Psalm: Psalm 107:1-16
Having received his first vision Ezekiel has been taking his message to the exiled community living in Babylon, presumably not without some effect despite the dire warnings at his commissioning. We know this because Ezekiel was visited by the elders of Judah in his own house (Ezekiel 8) and it is then that he has another vision. He is taken by a figure that looks like a human being to the temple in Jerusalem where he is shown idol worship undertaken by various people.
In today's passage, six angelic figures are summoned who each carry some kind of weapon, whilst among them is a man dressed in linen. His clothing suggests a priestly role and he is carrying some kind of 'pencil case'. At this point, the glory of the Lord which was normally thought to reside in the holy of holies inside the temple now goes to the threshold of the temple. It seems that the glory of the Lord is about to depart because of the idol worship going on there.
Meanwhile, the man with the 'pencil case' has been given a task. In a scene reminiscent of the Passover (Exodus 12:7) he is told to put a mark on the forehead of those who groan and mourn over the abominations taking place in the temple. And in the following verses (Ezekiel 9:5-7) we are told that the six go out and kill those who have not been marked in this way.
The mark placed on the foreheads was the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which in the oldest script is written as X. Needless to say, Christian writers have made much of this although it would not have meant this to the original Jewish readers.
- What do you think causes God to grieve and mourn over today? Do you share that grief?
- Ezekiel was recognised as a prophet by his community. Who do you recognise as a prophet today?