“And it came to pass while they were smiting, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord Jehovah, wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy wrath upon Jerusalem? Then said he unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of wresting of judgment: for they say, Jehovah hath forsaken the land, and Jehovah seeth not. And as for me also, mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will bring their ways upon their head. And, behold, the man clothed in linen, who had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me.”
“This passage shows how wrong are those evaluations of Ezekiel that see him only as a merciless religious zealot. The prophets of God had a heart for the people to whom they had to preach condemnation and judgment.” Ezekiel loved his people and their sacred city Jerusalem; and it is possible that he still might have been thinking that the “righteous remnant” so often mentioned by Isaiah, and which also vividly appears now and then in his own writings, would undoubtedly be found “in Jerusalem.”
However, the events which Ezekiel saw in this vision appeared to the prophet as the end of any such possibility as that of a “righteous remnant” remaining in Jerusalem.
No! The “righteous remnant” would be found among the captives in Babylon, not in Jerusalem; and the complete end of Jerusalem, as it began to unfold before the eyes of Ezekiel, broke his heart, because he probably thought there might not be left any remnant at all; and that appears to be the reason for his passionate, tearful and heartbroken intercession.
“I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord, wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel …” (Ezekiel 9:8)? The background of this plea is most certainly that of Ezekiel’s knowledge of God’s promise that a “righteous remnant” would remain, There is a similarity here to Abraham’s intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah.
Both intercessions were offered in the form of a question. Both were based upon previous promises of God. Here, the promise was that God would spare a remnant.
With Abraham, the promise that God would destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Here the tearful question is “Wilt thou destroy the residue of Israel?” With Abraham, the question was, “Wilt thou destroy the righteous with the wicked?” There is also a third similarity, namely, in the fact that both intercessions failed. Both Jerusalem and Sodom were destroyed, exactly as God promised.
God did not violate his promise in either case. There were not ten righteous persons in Sodom; and God preserved a “righteous remnant,” as he promised, only it was not in Jerusalem, but in Babylon!
“The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great …” (Ezekiel 9:9). God here gave the grounds for the utter necessity of Jerusalem’s destruction. At first, we are surprised that God did not here enumerate such things as Israel’s worshipping other gods, or their defiling the temple, or of their neglect of sacrifices, despite the fact of such sins being the source of all their wickedness. The wickedness mentioned here was, (1) the land was filled with blood; (2) the city is full of injustice, and (3) they do not believe in an omniscient, personal God to whom every man must give an account. “These terrible conditions were the end result of the peoples’ false religion.”
Nothing is any more important in the life of any man or any nation than his religion.
The relationship to God is the governor and determiner of everything else. If that relationship is correct, so will be his life; if it is wrong, no other obligation or duty will be honored for one minute longer than the personal wishes of the sinner may dictate.
Illustration: This writer once visited a young woman just married who was severely prejudiced against her husband’s religion; and she vowed that, “I am going to take him away from that church.”
She did so. Seven years later, she called, pleading for aid to save her marriage. He had developed an affair with another woman; and the answer to her was, “What did you expect? When any person forsakes his duty to God, why should he honor any other duty?”
“Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity …” (Ezekiel 9:10). This was God’s answer to Ezekiel. Jerusalem would be subjected to the destruction which they so richly deserved. “God would have his servants humbly acquiesce in his judgments and trust God to do exactly what is right.”
Ezekiel’s passionate intercession evidently caused him to forget the sparing of those who received the mark upon their foreheads; and, to soften the dreadful news of Jerusalem’s fall,
God permitted him to hear the report of the Angel of Jehovah in Ezekiel 9:11.
Those who received that mark were the true “righteous remnant”; and they were in no danger whatever of being forsaken.
“I have done as thou hast commanded me …” (Ezekiel 9:11). Yes indeed, some of the righteous remnant were in Jerusalem right up to the fall and through the dreadful events that followed, among whom, we feel sure the great prophet Jeremiah was numbered.
“The execution of God’s command in Ezekiel 9:4 to mark the faithful was passed over as being self-evident until this verse (v. 11), where the accomplishment of it was reported.” It might have been mentioned indirectly here in order to encourage Ezekiel and to let him know that, after all, that “righteous remnant” was still and would continue to be intact.