The Lord’s Judgment upon the Guilty.

The wickedness of the people described in chapter 8 is now followed by its proper punishment at the hand of the Lord in full agreement with the certain fulfillment of all His threats upon the wicked. V. 1. He cried also in mine ears, with a loud voice, the Lord thus emphasizing the importance of His command, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city, the heavenly watchmen, the angels through whom the Lord intended to carry out His punishment, to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand, in order to punish the wicked. V. 2. And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, the angels assuming the shape of men and coming down from the upper entrance of the temple, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter-weapon in his hand, literally, “his weapon for shattering”, for in this manner the judgment was to be executed; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side, literally, “on his loins.” that is, suspended from his girdle; and they went in and stood beside the brazen altar, the altar of burnt offerings, their attitude showing a deferential waiting for the commands of the Lord. The white linen color of the writer in their midst was symbolical of the divine holiness and glory V. 3. And the glory of the God of Israel, which is evidently thought of as the cloud in which he revealed Himself in His Temple, was gone up from the cherub whereupon He was, to the threshold of the house, to the entrance of the Holy Place, whence the Lord intended to issue His commands concerning the destruction of the apostate people. And He called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side, v. 4. and the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, the repetition of this expression indicating the thoroughness with which the work was to be done, every part of the city was to be reached, 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. This mark, which come of the old Church fathers like to identify with that of the cross, since it. was the Hebrew letter tan, was a seal by which the wearers were to be securely guarded against special calamities about to be sent. They were the ones who were as yet deeply concerned about the increasing godlessness and were therefore to receive this consideration at the hand of the destroyer, V. 5. And to the others He said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city and smite, in a terrible judgment of extermination; let not your eye spare, as it might when seeing pitiful sights or hands raised in supplication, neither have ye pity; v. 6. slay utterly, to a complete destruction, with the purpose of working an utter extermination, old and young, both maids and 1ittle children, the very infants, and women, neither age nor sex being spared; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark, who was safeguarded by the Lord’s seal upon his forehead, where it could most easily he seen; and begin at My Sanctuary, for it was there that the greatest abominations had been committed, and that by the priests themselves. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house, who were guilty of sinful sacrifices. V. 7. And He said unto them, Defile the house, namely, by this slaughter, and fill the courts with the slain; go ye forth. And they went forth, after having performed their gruesome task in the entire Temple area, and slew in the city. V. 8. And it came to pass while they were slaying them and I was left, he being the first one to be spared, and possibly the only one, in the Temple area, that I fell upon my face, in the attitude of most urgent supplication, and cried and said, Ah, Lord God, wilt Thou destroy all the residue of Israel in Thy pouring out of Thy fury upon Jerusalem? He showed the same feeling of compassion as was exhibited by Abraham in making intercession for Sodom and Gomorrah. V. 9. Then said He unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah, of the entire covenant people, is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, on account of the murders and similar crimes which had been committed, and the city full of perverseness, not only of lawless conduct, but also of wresting of judgment; for they say, cp. chap. 8, 12, The Lord hath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not, thus denying both His interest in His people and His providence. To this the Lord gives His answer. V. 10. And as for Me also, Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity, but I will recompense their way upon their head, fully repaying them for all their wickedness. The time for mercy was past, and nothing but punishment remained. V. 11. And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, the more easily to keep record of all his works, reported the matter, announcing the accomplished fact, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me. Thus the first act of the judgment was accomplished. In the midst of this general punishment it is a consoling thought that God renders his people secure against the common ruin, though all things else on earth are confounded.