Ezekiel is given a terrifying vision of the fury of the LORD in chapter 9. He stands in Jerusalem next to an angel who only seems to be able to yell at the top of his lungs the commands of the Lord for each step of judgement against the people of God. Judgement always seems to come loud. There is something about fury that is loud and causes us to want to cover our eyes and ears in the face of the anger and wrath that is coming. Perhaps one of the greatest distinctions between God’s righteous anger and the unrighteous judgement of men is the volume. When men pass unrighteous judgement we try to conceal it and keep it quiet. But, when God breaks forth, there is deafening ferocity. He need not hold back his judgement nor does He require approval.
In verse 4 God commands that those who “sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in [the city]” be marked with a saving brand on their foreheads. In other words God goes out of the way to protect those who are troubled by the sin they see around them. (So, ask yourself, do you grieve over sin?) He lays out a mark on those who are actually recognizing the sin that surrounds them. These people are then spared death that follows. So the angels of God travel through the city of God and slaughter the people of God but spare those who are marked by the heart of God. Those who are marked are the ones who share the heart of God. They are the ones who grieve over sin and pray for The Lord to rescue. They are spared death, but they are not spared judgement. Everyone around them dies and in the next chapter the Lord departs from the temple. Just because we may share the heart of God and grieve over sin, there comes a point at which we will suffer the judgement of God on our corporate bodies simply because we are a part of a people who have turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to sin for far too long.
In verse 6 we are told that the judgement begins in the sanctuary. The terrifying nature of God is that He purifies from the inside out. God always begins His judgement with His people. Peter warns us of this principle in 1 Peter 4:17 when He admonishes us not to be surprised in the Church of God should suffer punishment from God. The only comfort we are offered is that when this life is over, we have been marked and did not have to face the second death.
Ezekiel falls down before the Lord and cries aloud, begging the Lord to spare the remnant. Now at this point, we assume that God will say, “of course I am going to save a remnant Zeke… don’t worry about it.” But that is not the way this story goes. God tells Ezekiel in verses 9-10 that everyone must suffer because the guilt of the house of Israel is too great and the Lord is bringing justice. What a terrifying justice! God determines that His own people must be destroyed! The people of God are so wicked in Ezekiel 9 that they cannot be rescued until judgement has already landed. The must walk through the judgement of God.
The judgement of God is terrifying. It is loud and clear. It slaughters everyone and even those who are marked for protection from death suffer the pain of that judgement. It begins with His people and there is no escape from it. The only hope we have is that God would intervene and give us new hearts, bring dead bones to life, and fill His temple again… but that won’t happen for almost 30 chapters. (ch. 36-43)
Beloved, the church in America is not far from Ezekiel 9. Some of us may be spared death, but our idolatry and self-centered worship has risen before the Lord and He will respond. What you are seeing happen in the world around us is merely a symptom of our own long standing wickedness. Hear the call of the Lord to repent from sin and love like Jesus. The longer we tarry to obey His word, the more imminent judgement becomes. God will decimate our churches so that He can have a valley of dry bones to resurrect. Dry bones that cannot save themselves. Dry bones recognize their state as completely dependent on His word for life. They do not try to save themselves and they are not able to ignore the voice of God when He calls. Let us do as Ezekiel and prophecy to the dry bones! Let us herald the coming of justice to the house of God! Let us speak the Word of the Lord and watch it change the world beginning with the church! Let us fall face down and beg the Lord to forgive the iniquity of His people. Only then will dry bones live! Perhaps then the Lord will have mercy on us.