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REFLECTION: Genuine Concern in Dark Days

Who was that same concern today?

 

Go through the midst of the city …. and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations…(Ezekiel 9:4)

 

The prophet Ezekiel lived in a day of decline. The sun had set over Judah, and the clouds of judgment were gathering. God’s blessing and favour enjoyed in former halcyon days were only a memory. Ezekiel was already an exile in Babylon, and Jerusalem’s destruction was imminent. But although the prophet was away from familiar places that were dear to him, he had not lost touch with the Lord. By the riverside in Babylon “the heavens were opened” (Ezek.1:1) and he viewed the glory of God. 

 

A careful reading of the opening part of his prophecy will show a departing glory. The presence of the Lord is first pictured leaving the most holy place for the threshold of the temple (9:3; 10:4) and then withdrawing to a mountain on the east of Jerusalem (11:23). What caused the Lord to remove His presence from His chosen city? The reason was the idolatry and corruption of a lip-serving people who had lost the heart-reality that He sought. For many of them, religion was simply an outward form with no real meaning. There was a desperate need to return to the Lord.

 

However, all was not lost. God has His “remnant” in every age. Those who stood apart from the corruption and idolatry were to be preserved from the sword of justice. As God’s six assembled instruments of judgment waited for the order to commence their painstaking work, “one man among them [who] was clothed with linen [and had] a writer’s inkhorn by his side” (9:2) was instructed to mark the forehead of some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem with ink. The people to be marked by him were the ones who sighed and cried as they witnessed the abominations being practised in the midst of God’s holy city (9:4). The mark they received would exempt them from the divine wrath that was about to be poured out. Once the mark had been imprinted, the other men were at once to carry out their work of judgment upon the guilty – and they were to show no pity.

 

A mark to preserve from future judgment was seen by Ezekiel. How different this is from Revelation 13:16 where those who accept the mark of the beast are, in effect, branded for judgment!   

 

 

SIMILAR DAYS

Our circumstances are very much like Ezekiel’s. Looking back, we can trace a serious moral decline in our society. Like Ezekiel, we have known the past blessing of God in our nation. We can rejoice that countless missionaries have left our shores to take the life-giving message of salvation to the ends of the earth. But how things have changed! Our post-Christian society has rejected Bible truth and has become arrogantly hostile to the appeal of the gospel. The country that knew both God’s mercy and His blessings now faces certain judgment.

 

In Ezekiel’s day “abominations” were evident among God’s people. Today, in Britain, many “abominations” have already been welcomed – and more are on the way. Like the few in Jerusalem who upheld God’s holy standards, we who love the Lord and seek to maintain the honour of His holy Word “sigh” and “cry” as we witness a veritable moral landslide happening before our very eyes.

 

It is a comfort to realize that God still takes note of those who detest what He calls “abominations” and that He has placed the mark of His Spirit upon them. Those who fear the Lord and have found salvation through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ know that they too have been spared the judgment that is coming.

 

However, God is “longsuffering… not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet.3:9). Still, in His mercy, He gives men and women the opportunity to turn in repentance to Him. We must continue to maintain His divinely-given standards in these awful days of moral declension, and as we consider our country’s tragic state we must seek with the Holy Spirit’s help to let the light of the gospel shine clearly. It is the only hope of averting sure and certain judgment.