"With them was a man clothed in linen who had a writing kit at his side. (Ezekiel 9:2b).
The phrase "writing kit" caught my attention. Why was it so important to know he wore a horned inkwell about his waist? I immediately read anticipating the explanation for this unusual identifier.
"Then the LORD called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side and said to him, "Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it" (Ezekiel 9:4).
Oh dear! The next verse terrified me.
"As I listened, HE (the LORD Almighty) said to others, "Follow him throughout the city and kill without showing compassion..." (Ezekiel 9:5).
The one with the pen gave life. The one with the sword brought death. In this moment, the pen was mightier than the sword because it brought life not death. My mind went all over the place, but the first thing I must see is that God spares His children. This is a consistent storyline throughout the Bible. He spared Adam and Eve in the garden. He spared Cain and put a mark on him so no one could kill him. He spared Noah and his family for his righteousness. He spared anyone who put the blood of lamb on the door posts when Israel lived in Egypt on the night of the Passover. You get the idea. God is for us. He searches the earth to and from looking for the one fully committed to Him (2 Chronicles 16:9).
So God seeks the one seeking Him, but what about us? What are we responsible for? If we believe in the LORD, we will be appalled at unrighteousness and evil. In fact, we will hate it. This is not the kind of hate that wants to kill or destroy but the kind that comes from deep sorrow and grief because it knows there is a better way. We will hunger for the best in others and fight for righteousness. This is not about selfish gain or vain glory. So, the pen writes to bring life knowing once the sword is used the choice is gone.
Now don't get me wrong. I know the pen can bring death, too. I learned that as a child when I sent a note to a boy I liked. "I like you. Do you like me?" And he answered with big bold letters, "NO!" Written words hurt. They are painful. I later learned as an adult I should not write things down that are unkind. People can read them over and over. There is something devastating because the imprint of the visual sticks. So, I get it. The pen can hurt. And in some cases the pen is used to set about death, but the pen can choose to give life or death. And in this account the pen gave life to the righteous one.
In this passage, the pen wrote a mark. What was that mark? Listen to this quote in David Guzik's commentary,
“There is a prophetic significance in the Hebrew word for the mark. It is the Hebrew letter T (Tau), which at that time was written as a cross. Without being superstitious we can rejoice in this anticipation of salvation through the death of Christ on the cross” (Wright) (https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide2017-Eze/Eze-9.cfm).
The life giver wrote a cross. The significance of the cross was that Jesus gave His life that we might have eternal life. Jesus died on the cross that we might have righteousness. When we are in pursuit of His righteousness, we will grieve the detestable things around us. So, what are the detestable things? I imagine you can give a long list, but I will give just one. Idolatry for one is a big one. This beast can manifest itself in so many ways that we often do not realize we are in its grip. I will let you consider the countless ways you see idolatry in our culture. Oh my. Father, forgive us! Personally, we must deal with our sin and this is when we can change our culture's detestable things. It starts with the one.
So, today if the man with the linen clothes and a writing kit at his side were to come and mark you, would it be with a pen or would he step aside for the sword? Pursue righteousness at all costs and righteousness is found at the cross in the one who died as an innocent man to pay our debts that we might have the free gift of eternal life.