Sighs and Cries that Saved their Lives
Robert Wurtz II
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: Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. (Ezekiel 9:4-7)
There are two basic type of people in the world; they who are vexed by righteousness, and they who are vexed by wickedness. One group sighs and murmurs because of the overflow of sin, the other group sighs and murmurs because of holiness.
As Paul was writing to the Corinthians he was careful to advise the people that events that took place in the Old Testament were written for our example and for our learning. Moses, who had been seeking to lead the people in the Covenant of God and righteousness was faced with a group that would not follow God. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.” The people did not want to live holy and righteous before God. They wanted to go back to Egypt (a type of this present evil world). What did they do? They murmured against Moses.
Then there was the other group of “murmurers” if you will that appear in the time of Ezekiel. Israel had backslidden and was carrying on like the rest of the pagan world. However, not everyone was pleased with the sin and evil. In fact, God told a recording angel to go through the city and mark the forehead of each one that did “sign and cry” for all of the abominations that were going on in Israel. The backsliders had so defiled the Temple of God that He was departing and there was a group that lamented for it. What the backsliders did not know is that the Temple was about to be destroyed and the people killed or led into exile in Babylon. What can we learn from these events?
First: that they are recorded for our learning. There was no reason to record it for the people that suffered these things as they were already dead. So we see then, that it is a clear warning to the living. God will not long live with sin and compromise. This is our example. People are afforded a space to repent, as was Jezebel in the Revelation. If there be no repentance then we are certain that God will act in some way, of which we only have samplings spread throughout the New Testament. For Jezebel, she was cast into a bed of great tribulation along with those that agreed with her. For those in Ezekiel, they beheld the sin and as a result of their agreement or indifference, they were judged all the same.
Second: although it is impossible to know the counsel of God in such matters, we know that the examples of the Old Testament are exemplary. That is to say, they are a revelation of God’s estimate of the behaviors. Whether one dies in the same way as Jerusalem is God’s prerogative; but it is certain that He has demonstrated for all time by this one act of judgment how He feels about this type sin. God being no respecter of persons, each that commit the same sins under the same conditions deserve equal punishment.
Third: that there was a group that lamented for the sin. They did not walk around indifferent, but as was Lot in Sodom, they were vexed from day to day with the unlawful deeds. This means that God is taking account of how we react to sin and compromise. Do we lament for sin in such a way that had we lived in Ezekiel’s day God would have marked our foreheads? Would we have been spared from the wrath of God? This is an important question to ask in a day and age where the knowledge of God is being resisted at unprecedented levels. Sodom had no Bible. What aggravated the crimes in Jerusalem was that they had been entrusted with the oracles of God. To whom much is given, much is required.
Fourth: none that did not have the mark of God in there forehead were shown mercy. They were slain from the oldest to the youngest. Again, God is no respecter of persons. The youth that refuse to lament are just as guilty as the elders that refuse to lament. Why? Because they have casually sided with the enemy. They did not agree with God in the matters of sin that was being committed. Had they agreed with God, they would have been offended for His sake. They would have been stirred with zeal for God and His sanctuary. They were not and were left to perish with those that committed the acts. They were passive participants. This tells us that there is no middle ground. One is either a child of God that is vexed by sin and unrighteousness, or a child of the devil and are at home in it. Do you and I hate what God hates? Do we love what God loves? Or do we have those two reversed?
The people under Moses murmured against him and against righteousness, but the people in Ezekiel’s day murmured against sin and compromise. The one group was destroyed and the other group was spared. God heard the murmurings of both groups and He acted accordingly.