The Making of a Massacre
from Ezekiel – A Nation on Life Support
Chapter Eight from Ezekiel – A Nation on Life Support by Dr. Mike Holloway
The Panic of 1873 was an economic depression that gripped America, and the United States government was being pressured to take action in order to ease the pain. Rumors had spread that gold was in the Black Hills of South Dakota which could prove to be a ready-made solution for the American people. The only problem, however, was the Sioux and Cheyenne were living in that area. The politicians immediately decided to relocate these two tribes to a reservation to the east. Many, like chief Sitting Bull, refused to go. The following year, George Armstrong Custer led an expedition to the Black Hills to determine if a suitable place could be found to build a fort for providing protection for potential miners. During the expedition, he, too, discovered that there was much gold to be found. The government then faced even more pressure to open that part of the country for gold mining. Custer was known for being reckless as well as self-gratifying and arrogant. He once led an attack on the Cheyenne called the Battle of Washita River in which he claimed to have killed one hundred warriors with his newly formed 7th Cavalry. The Cheyenne, however, claimed he had killed eleven warriors and nineteen women and children. For Custer, clearing out the Black Hills of Indian stragglers who had refused to go to the reservation would make great headlines about his skill and prowess as a warrior and American hero. When he and the 7th Cavalry arrived near the suspected Indian camp, Custer split his army into three parts in order to surround the Indians only to discover that he and his men were surrounded by two thousand angry Indians against him and his two hundred soldiers. The result was the classic massacre that was so overwhelming no one survived nor could have.
What was the cause of Custer’s last stand at Little Bighorn? First, Custer’s enormous ego and desire for personal glory played a role in his defeat. Second, Custer was unwilling to believe his Indian scouts who had already spotted a much larger force than had been suspected. Instead of perhaps one hundred men, women, and children, Custer was stepping into a hornet’s nest of more than two thousand warriors. Finally, he had a flawed plan of attack that was not based on reality but instead on what Custer wanted to happen, which was a massacre of these rebellious Indians.
In this chapter, God described to Ezekiel the upcoming massacre that would take place in Jerusalem. The causes of this needless bloodshed and the Jews’ last stand were similar to Custer’s. First, the Jews had an enormous ego which made them think they could engage in idolatry contrary to God’s desires because they were in charge of their own lives, and nobody was going to tell them otherwise. Second, these Jews were unwilling to believe one of their own, the prophet Jeremiah! Like Custer’s Indian scouts, he faithfully reported that God was angry and was going to destroy them if they did not change their ways. Finally, they were trying to execute a flawed plan. They did not really believe God would do anything. They continued to live as they always had which included worshiping their false gods. How would all of this play out? This chapter describes the outcome, and it was to be a massacre!
Up to this point, all we have heard is that the Babylonians were going to surround Jerusalem and use the following three things to wipe out the Jews: famine, pestilence, and war. A siege could take more than a year to bring a city to its knees. The result would be starvation, disease, and finally death to the survivors. After Ezekiel was taken in a vision to Jerusalem, he was shown something that should have terrified the Jews, for the upcoming battle was nothing as they had imagined. The real invading army was not the Babylonians at all. Instead, God was going to send an army of only six angels. Why did God commit six angels to destroy Jerusalem when one angel was capable of killing 160,000 Assyrian soldiers who surrounded Hezekiah? By considering Custer’s Last Stand, we can get a better perspective. While Sitting Bull scored an easy victory against Custer’s 7th Cavalry, what they did not fully realize was that behind Custer’s army the entire United States government and its military awaited! The government had the power to destroy every Indian many times over. The Indians had never felt the full force of the American military, and wiping out Custer and his men did not mean they were now free to come and go and live as they pleased. That concept is what the Jews in Jerusalem had never considered. Their enemy was not just Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian army. They were fighting against God which included His army of angelic warriors. God dispatched six of His angelic warriors, not so much to fight against the Jews, but rather to fight against Satan and his demons who had corrupted all of Judah! Satan is the god of this world. Jerusalem had become a spiritual cesspool much to Satan’s delight. To destroy Jerusalem, God would have to overcome not just the rebellious Jews but also the demonic forces responsible for the idolatry as well as defending Jerusalem from God’s invasion. The judgment of Jerusalem would take place in the physical world with Nebuchadnezzar but would also require a spiritual battle to take place. While Nebuchadnezzar would be present to direct his army, God would be present to direct His army of angels as well.
God’s angels were performing … GUARD DUTY.
“He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.”Ezekiel 9:1
The Jews in Jerusalem had no idea these angels existed or were actually in Jerusalem protecting them. The Jews were just like most people as they were only focused on what could be seen and touched in the physical world. When it came time for this third and final invasion, God would call forth His guardian angels who were in charge of watching over the city. The reason, however, was not to protect the city, but to destroy the forces of evil that had turned God’s people against Him. For those who believe in guardian angels, we usually limit their protection to watching over our well-being to keep us from getting hurt or injured in a car accident. They also offer protection from demonic forces. There is a spiritual battle taking place all around us, and God has provided a security force for our benefit which could include keeping us safe from spiritual harm as well as physical. At the house of Elisha when a foreign king sent an army of trained soldiers to his home, Elisha’s servant was scared to death, yet Elisha simply prayed for God to allow the servant to see the many guardian angels that filled the surrounding hills.
“And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? 16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”2 Kings 6:15-17
Why were there so many angels on the hills surrounding the house of Elisha? They were there not to protect the prophet from the enemy soldiers, as just one angel could do that! They were there to protect him from the thousands of demons who wanted to destroy him. Behind every battle in this world is a spiritual battle being fought in the spirit world.
God’s angels were to receive … THEIR MARCHING ORDERS.
“And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar.”Ezekiel 9:2
When I was assigned to an aircraft carrier with my squadron, we constantly underwent a training exercise called General Quarters. An alarm would sound over the PA system, and then a voice would loudly state, “General quarters, general quarters.” The purpose was to alert every person on the ship that we had just gone into high alert and were about to enter combat conditions. Every person was assigned to go to a particular place where he would receive further instructions. For pilots, we were either to go to our ready room where we would be briefed on the threat and what we were to do, or we were to go to our aircraft in preparation for being launched.
In preparation for what was about to take place, God sounded General Quarters for the invasion was about to begin, and these six angels immediately made their way to a specific place where they were to receive further instructions. Where were they to go? They arrived at the brazen altar which was inside the temple. The temple was not only the place where God chose to reside, but it was also on this day His war room. While not only being informative as to how God conducts spiritual warfare along the same lines as conventional wars are fought, this passage also reveals that His angels are only provided with limited information. These guardian angels did not already know what needed to be done but were called to assemble in order to receive their new orders. They were already armed with slaughter weapons with which they were guarding the city, but there was also something described as an inkhorn that would play great importance in the upcoming invasion.
God Himself was to personally supervise … THE INVASION.
“And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side;”Ezekiel 9:3
The Civil War was such a massive killing machine that it changed how all future wars were to be fought. In bygone days, an army was led by their leader. Alexander the Great fought and conquered most of the known world by leading his army. Napoleon fought in this manner as well. When the Civil War began, the matter of leading an army into battle was delegated from the leading general to other generals. Why? Death was quite common and other generals were expendable. Both Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee would position themselves at the rear, so they could observe the fighting through binoculars and then issue commands as needed. During one battle in particular, Lee was on his horse, and when he saw that his men were being beaten and killed, he began to charge onto the battlefield to fight with them when his junior officers grabbed the reins of his horse and stopped him! They could not afford to lose him, so they held him back in safety.
In this coming invasion, God was not directing His army from heaven, but had been transported down to Jerusalem by a cherub. He would not delegate a battle of this importance to anyone, not even Michael or Gabriel. God was intent on leveling the city and killing every rebel worthy of death. He decided to take command Himself to ensure that justice was carried out and that His holiness was avenged and satisfied. God delegates a great many things in His kingdom, but when it came to His holiness, He chose to get personally involved.
God’s angels were to provide … SECURITY FOR THE GODLY.
“And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, 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.”Ezekiel 9:4
Whenever a celebrity or a VIP is going to be in a public setting where he could be attacked or even killed, it is not unusual for him to take an extra bit of precaution by hiring a bodyguard. Many may remember Mr. T from the A-Team in the 1980s. Before he ever made it to Hollywood, he first was a bodyguard who was hired to protect certain celebrities like Steve McQueen, Michael Jackson, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Leon Spinks, and even the king of martial arts Bruce Lee. Along with Mr. T, one other bodyguard became famous for the death of a person he was guarding. He was Secret Service agent Clint Hill who was assigned to guard President John F. Kennedy at Dallas. He was assigned to ride in the car immediately behind the presidential limousine. When the first shot was fired, he began making his way toward the President. By the time he reached the back of the limo, the President had been hit and Jackie Kennedy was beginning to crawl out of the backseat onto the trunk of the car. Clint Hill then pushed her back into the seat and covered the President and his wife with his body. As the limo then sped away, he sat in the backseat with the President’s exploded head in his lap, covering it with his coat to protect the President’s dignity.
What exactly is required of a bodyguard? Just one thing is required – a willingness to die if necessary to protect the client. As these guardian angels gathered themselves together at the brazen altar, one in particular was given the assignment of going throughout the city and placing a mark on the forehead of those who were godly, men like Jeremiah and others. By marking these people, they would be given divine protection by these guardian angels who would protect them at all costs. It would seem that this mark was a supernatural mark that could only be seen in the spirit world. If it sounds slightly familiar, it should because the devil stole God’s practice of marking His people by planning to mark his own people during the Tribulation. Satan’s mark will be known as the mark of the beast.
Another point of interest is that this mark is the second form of protection mentioned in the Bible that is given to godly people. In the book of Job, Satan mentions God’s hedge of protection that had been placed around Job keeping Satan and his demons from afflicting him. In this chapter of Ezekiel, an angel had marked Jeremiah and others for protection through these guardian angels. They may be different forms of protection given to God’s people, or the hedge of protection might be one or more guardian angels, but the bottom line is that God takes care of His own!
God’s angels were to form … DEATH SQUADS.
“And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:”Ezekiel 9:5
After providing protection for His people, God then gave very specific instructions to the other five angels. The word smite means to punish, to kill. These angels were given a warning, which is interesting, because it reveals the fact that they have a choice and perhaps harkens back to the rebellion in heaven when Lucifer and other angels chose to disobey God. These angels were instructed to punish the Jews in Jerusalem and to not allow a single one to escape God’s wrath. There were to be no survivors unless they were marked to be spared. This situation provides us with a very uncomfortable side of God that we know exists yet still have a hard time reconciling it with God’s love and mercy. It stands alongside the reality of hell and allows us to better understand God’s holiness. Everyone knows what war is, yet when broken down to its very foundation, war is all about killing bad guys and destroying an enemy. God chose to make war against His own people who made the mistake of disrespecting Him by their rebellion and worship of false idols.
God’s angels were to kill … BY PRIORITY.
“Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.”Ezekiel 9:6
When the angels in heaven chose to rebel against God, He immediately prioritized them according to His level of wrath. All of them were instantly expelled from heaven, but only one had his name changed to set him apart from all the rest. Lucifer’s name was changed by God to Satan which means the chief adversary. The second level of evil was then displayed when God chose to lock up certain demons who were so dangerous that God chose to imprison them in special prison cells in hell.
“For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;”2 Peter 2:4-5
It appears that these were the fallen angels who cohabited with women in Genesis chapter six resulting in creatures being born that were half human and half demon. The Bible also mentions demons that possessed people. Before one group of demons in particular were cast out by the Lord, they asked a favor, to be cast into some pigs, and the Lord granted their request! The point is that if God has prioritized evil among demons, He has also done the same thing in relation to people. Who were the absolute worst human beings on earth who were to be the first ones slaughtered by God’s death squads? They were the religious leaders referred to as the ancients. They were the ones responsible for leading the people astray and encouraging their rebellion, and they were to pay for their treachery by being first. Where were they to be found? They were in God’s sanctuary, pretending to be godly instead of the evil creatures that they really were. How does that situation look in today’s world? Somebody is working hard to destroy our churches. That somebody’s name is Satan. There are also people in our churches who have unlocked the church doors and have allowed the enemy to enter in, and they have done it for the purpose of money, popularity, and convenience. What does a pastor get out of taking a stand for holding on to the King James Bible and standards and refusing to go with the contemporary crowd? If churches are growing by adopting a different Bible, then would it not make sense to change in order to grow? With growth comes bigger offerings which translates into larger salaries for the preachers! What do we get out of not changing? As far as what the world has to offer, all we have to look forward to is more grief. However, by refusing to get on the contemporary bandwagon, one thing we are getting is protection from God’s wrath! God is keeping score. He will begin His wrath at the house of God, and somebody is not going to be happy when it shows up.
God’s angels were to ignore … ALL PLEAS FOR MERCY.
“And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth, and slew in the city. 8 And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord GOD! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem? 9 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 perverseness: for they say, The LORD hath forsaken the earth, and the LORD seeth not. 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.”Ezekiel 9:7-10
As Ezekiel began to witness the bloodshed that was soon to come upon Jerusalem, he began to cry out for mercy to be granted to his fellow Jews. God then reminded him of the evil they had committed against Him. As the angels were going about the city holding back the demons who were trying to shelter and protect the people, they were also using the Babylonian soldiers as a killing machine that killed with a fury. There would be no mercy shown. God’s angels were on a mission and they were deaf to the prayers and tears of Ezekiel. Only God could make them stop, and God had made up His mind.
God’s angels were to ignore … ALL PLEAS FOR MERCY.
“And, behold, the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter, saying, I have done as thou hast commanded me.”Ezekiel 9:11
I think it is interesting to see how this chapter ends. God allowed Ezekiel to behold in a vision what would one day take place in Jerusalem. While using human soldiers to attack and destroy the city, God also revealed that the real destruction and the guiding force of the Babylonians would be His own guardian angels. Following the destruction of the temple, the demolition of the gates, and the leveling of the city, the guardian angel who was in charge of protecting the godly people stood before God to give his official report. All that God commanded was accomplished. The scene reminds me of two things that will one day take place at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This one particular angel was given a task to perform. He not only accomplished it but then stood before God to give an account of himself. He had accomplished what God had commanded. The second thing that stands out to me in this passage is the simplicity of what it takes to please God. Obedience. The angels were told by God what they were to do, and they then went about doing what they were told. God had already equipped them, so they could do as they were told. Therefore, there was no excuse for failing. These angels were all there the day when Lucifer took a stand against God. From that day throughout eternity, every angel in heaven knows what the first two rules are in heaven. Rule number one is to obey. Rule number two is to repeat rule number one.
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