Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
CONTINUATION OF THE
SEALING OF THE
1. cried--contrasted with their "cry" for mercy
is the "cry" here for vengeance, showing how vain was the former.
them that have charge--literally, officers; so "officers"
having the city in charge, not to guard, but to punish it. The angels
who as "watchers" fulfil God's judgments
(Da 4:13, 17, 23; 10:20, 21);
of Nebuchadnezzar's army were under their guidance.
draw near--in the Hebrew intensive, "to draw near quickly."
2. clothed with linen--
(Da 10:5; 12:6, 7).
His clothing marked his office as distinct from that of the six
officers of vengeance; "linen" characterized the high priest
emblematic of purity. The same garment is assigned to the angel of the
Lord (for whom Michael is but another name) by the contemporary prophet
(Da 10:5; 12:6, 7).
Therefore the intercessory High Priest in heaven must be meant
The six with Him are His subordinates; therefore He is said to be
"among them," literally, "in the midst of them," as their recognized
He appears as a "man," implying His incarnation; as "one" (compare
Salvation is peculiarly assigned to Him, and so He bears the "inkhorn"
in order to "mark" His elect
Re 7:3; 9:4; 13:16, 17; 20:4),
and to write their names in His book of life
As Oriental scribes suspend their inkhorn at their side in the present
day, and as a "scribe of the host is found in Assyrian inscriptions
accompanying the host" to number the heads of the slain, so He stands
ready for the work before Him. "The higher gate" was probably where now
the gate of Damascus is. The six with Him make up the sacred and
perfect number, seven
The executors of judgment on the wicked, in Scripture teaching, are
good, not bad, angels; the bad have permitted to them the trial of the
The judgment is executed by Him
(Eze 10:2, 7;
Joh 5:22, 27)
through the six
(Mt 13:41; 25:31);
beautifully does the Old Testament harmonize with the New Testament. The
seven come "from the way of the north"; for it was there the idolatries
were seen, and from the same quarter must proceed the judgment (Babylon
lying northeast of Judea). So
stood--the attitude of waiting reverently for Jehovah's commands.
brazen altar--the altar of burnt offerings, not the altar of incense,
which was of gold. They "stood" there to imply reverent obedience;
for there God gave His answers to prayer
[CALVIN]; also as being about
to slay victims to God's justice, they stand where sacrifices are
usually slain [GROTIUS],
Jer 12:3; 46:10).
3. glory of . . . God--which had heretofore, as a bright cloud, rested
on the mercy seat between the cherubim in the holy of holies
its departure was the presage of the temple being given up to ruin; its
going from the inner sanctuary to the threshold without, towards the
officers standing at the altar outside, was in order to give them the
commission of vengeance.
4. midst of . . . city . . . midst of Jerusalem--This twofold
designation marks more emphatically the scene of the divine judgments.
a mark--literally, the Hebrew letter Tau, the last in the
alphabet, used as a mark ("my sign,"
Margin); literally, Tau; originally written in the form
of a cross, which TERTULLIAN explains as
referring to the badge and only means of salvation, the cross of
Christ. But nowhere in Scripture are the words which are now employed
as names of letters used to denote the letters themselves or their
figures [VITRINGA]. The noun here is cognate to
the verb, "mark a mark." So in
no particular mark is specified. We seal what we wish to guard
securely. When all things else on earth are confounded, God will secure
His people from the common ruin. God gives the first charge as
to their safety before He orders the punishment of the rest
Isa 26:20, 21).
So in the case of Lot and Sodom
also the Egyptian first-born were not slain till Israel had time to
sprinkle the blood-mark, ensuring their safety (compare
So the early Christians had Pella provided as a refuge for them,
before the destruction of Jerusalem.
upon the foreheads--the most conspicuous part of the person, to imply
how their safety would be manifested to all (compare
Jer 15:11; 39:11-18).
It was customary thus to mark worshippers
(Re 13:16; 14:1, 9)
and servants. So the Church of England marks the forehead with the sign
of the cross in baptizing. At the exodus the mark was on the
houses, for then it was families; here, it is on the
foreheads, for it is individuals whose safety is guaranteed.
sigh and . . . cry--similarly sounding verbs in Hebrew, as in
English Version, expressing the prolonged sound of their grief.
"Sigh" implies their inward grief ("groanings which cannot be
"cry," the outward expression of it. So Lot
(2Pe 2:7, 8).
Tenderness should characterize the man of God, not harsh sternness in
opposing the ungodly
(Ps 119:53, 136;
at the same time zeal for the honor of God
(Ps 69:9, 10;
5. the others--the six officers of judgment
6. come not near any . . . upon whom . . . mark--
It may be objected that Daniel, Jeremiah, and others were carried away,
whereas many of the vilest were left in the land. But God does not
promise believers exemption from all suffering, but only from what will
prove really and lastingly hurtful to them. His sparing the ungodly
turns to their destruction and leaves them without excuse [CALVIN]. However, the prophecy waits a fuller and final
in ages long after Babylon, foretells, as still future, the same
sealing of a remnant (one hundred forty-four thousand) of Israel
previous to the final outpouring of wrath on the rest of the nation;
the correspondence is exact; the same pouring of fire from the altar
follows the marking of the remnant in both (compare
with Eze 10:2).
Zec 13:9; 14:2,
distinguish the remnant from the rest of Israel.
begin at . . . sanctuary--For in it the greatest
abominations had been committed; it had lost the reality of
consecration by the blood of victims sacrificed to idols; it must,
therefore, lose its semblance by the dead bodies of the slain idolaters
God's heaviest wrath falls on those who have sinned against the highest
privileges; these are made to feel it first
(1Pe 4:17, 18).
He hates sin most in those nearest to Him; for example, the
ancient men--the seventy elders.
8. I was left--literally, "there was left I." So universal seemed the
slaughter that Ezekiel thought himself the only one left
was the only one left of the priests "in the sanctuary."
fell upon my face--to intercede for his countrymen (so
all the residue--a plea drawn from God's covenant promise to save the
9. exceeding--literally, "very, very"; doubled.
or, "wresting aside of justice."
Lord . . . forsaken . . . earth . . .
seeth not--The order is reversed from
There they speak of His neglect of His people in their misery; here
they go farther and deny His providence
so that they may sin fearlessly. God, in answer to Ezekiel's question
leaves the difficulty unsolved; He merely vindicates His justice by
showing it did not exceed their sin: He would have us humbly acquiesce
in His judgments, and wait and trust.
10. mine eye--to show them their mistake in saying, "The Lord seeth not."
recompense their way upon their head--
Retribution in kind.
11. I have done as thou hast commanded--The characteristic of Messiah
So the angels
and the apostles report their fulfilment of their orders