Marked

Marked

Then He called out in my hearing with a loud voice, saying, “Let those who have charge over the city draw near, each with a deadly weapon in his hand.” And suddenly six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his battle-ax in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen and had a writer’s inkhorn at his side. They went in and stood beside the bronze altar.

Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side; and the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”

To the others He said in my hearing, “Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the temple. — Ezekiel 9:1-6, NKJV

Men, Ezekiel is still deep within a vision with the Lord, who has shown Ezekiel how great Israel’s sins have become, even desecrating the temple of God with idols, images of idols and worship to false deities. While in the vision the Lord calls out for the angelic entities who are responsible for overseeing Jerusalem, “Let those who have charge over the city draw near, each with a deadly weapon in his hand.” At the Lord’s command, 6 men came, each with his battle-ax. 1 man had an ink-horn in addition. To the one with the ink-horn, the Lord gave instruction to go throughout the whole city and mark each person who took issue with the abominations happening within Jerusalem.

In the next group of passages, the remaining angels will be given orders to spare only those marked. The Lord takes great care to preserve those who had not fully conceded to the worship of lesser entities and objects. The Lord instructs that this marking process begin at the temple, recognizing where the greatest problem is first and sends the angels out from that point. There will be no mercy afforded to any without the mark regardless of gender, age, or position.

We get an understanding here, that what will happen in the physical realm, begins from the unseen spiritual realm. What do we ourselves look like to angelic entities who survey our towns? We know these figures exist, what do they see? We cry out over injustice and fraud from our elected officials, do we cry out for the injustices and false worship against the Lord our God? We dress in team colors and body paint to worship in sports arenas, but struggle to acknowledge the Lord publicly. We invite filth into our homes and think no one else sees or cares. While we’re distracted by issues of the day, are we being marked preceding the judgment of the end of days?

Move forward men, conscious of what is seen of us from outside our life. Live clearly defined as a believer in Christ alone who is worthy.

Vance Durrance

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Descrating the Temple

And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house with the elders of Judah sitting before me, that the hand of the Lord God fell upon me there. Then I looked, and there was a likeness, like the appearance of fire—from the appearance of His waist and downward, fire; and from His waist and upward, like the appearance of brightness, like the color of amber. He stretched out the form of a hand, and took me by a lock of my hair; and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven, and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the north gate of the inner court, where the seat of the image of jealousy was, which provokes to jealousy. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision that I saw in the plain.

Then He said to me, “Son of man, lift your eyes now toward the north.” So I lifted my eyes toward the north, and there, north of the altar gate, was this image of jealousy in the entrance.

Furthermore He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel commits here, to make Me go far away from My sanctuary? Now turn again, you will see greater abominations.” — Ezekiel 8:1-6

Men, in just over a year, Ezekiel has completed the 430 day event of lying on his side. Now the elders of Israel are sitting in front of Ezekiel inside his home when “the hand of the Lord God fell on” him. Like the first vision, Ezekiel sees the form of a man in the appearance of fire from the waist down and the appearance of amber brightness there upward. The Lord stretched out His hand and took Ezekiel between the earth and heaven to show him Jerusalem, into the door of the north gate of the inner court. There, inside the gate of the inner court an idol had been erected which provoked the Lord to jealousy.

Many scholars believe this idol was of Ashera, a fertility false goddess. Ezekiel does not expand on the practices the Lord drew his attention to in v6. The Lord called it “abominable”. To bow to an idol inside the inner sanctuary of the temple was in itself abominable, but if this were Ashera, there may have been further practices inciting the Lord’s anger. In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul addresses the Corinth church who had allowed sexual sins to pervert the congregation. Paul reminds the people to flee sexual immorality, because the body is the TEMPLE of the Holy Spirit within us.

In Ezekiel’s time, God dwelt in the physical temple, but no longer, He has caused the temple to become desolate, and now dwells in the believing hearts of His children. Now we ask ourselves, if He dwells in our hearts, what are we asking Him to dwell alongside of? Are there idols erected in our innermost hearts that the Lord God must share cohabitation? Will the Lord be provoked to jealousy from within our own hearts?

Move forward men, removing that which is abominable from His temple within our hearts. Ask Him to show us what He sees, to reveal that which needs to be removed, then ask Him to help you surrender it to Him. May the Lord God alone be lifted up within us. He alone is worthy.

Vance Durrance

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Book Burning

Book-Burning

Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver.” –Acts 19:18-19

Contrast this good ol’ fashion book burning with what a man says later about the Christians to angry Ephesian businessmen whose finances have been threatened by the decline in Artemis worship.

“For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess.” –Acts 19:37

The believers of Ephesus apparently remained respectful toward the religions of others. They never succumbed to picketing idol shops or zealous bombings of their clinics. Nor did it seem did they even slander these “so-called gods,” (1Co 8:4-6).

Perhaps we need to be reminded that God is not an idol that needs to be propped up (ex: 1Sa 5:2-4). He needs no defense and will see to it Himself to bring all idols to shame and destruction (Num 33:4; Rev 19:20).

Furthermore, what business do we have judging those on the outside (1Co 5:9-13). Jesus never upset the tables of foreign temples but sought only to cleanse His own (Mat 21:12-13). Therefore, our duty then is not to cleanse the nations of this world of their iniquity, but merely to purify (Jos 3:5; Rev 22:14) our brothers and sisters in the faith (Mat 7:5; 18:15-17; Gal 6:1; 2Th 3:13-15; Heb 10:24) who bear that same eternal citizenship of Heaven (Phi 3:20).

So let us boldly topple idols (Judges 6:25-26) among hearts that have been conquered for God (Deut. 7:5)—especially our own. Idolatry is spiritual adultery (Jer. 3:9; 13:27; Eze. 16:15-22), and we should take seriously God’s warning of life (Deut. 32:47). Therefore, we have great need to severe their hold, and gouge out their influence (Mat. 18:8-9). As Amy Carmichael told the Indian Christians to burn their idols, may we be like those who once practiced magic arts, and so eagerly cast all our former trades and leisure pursuits to the fire of destruction, before these powerless gods weigh us down into captivity (Isa 46:1-2).

Billy Neal

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