Read Ezekiel 9
Focus on verse 4
A mark is a symbol of some kind that communicates to those who see it a message of some kind. There are many kinds of marks that we currently use in our culture. When one goes to the county fair it is not uncommon to be given a mark of sorts – perhaps a wrist band, or a ink stamp on the back of the hand, to indicate that one has paid the entrance fee and is therefore allowed to participate in the sounds and sights of the fair. A wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand is typically presumed to be a sign that the wearer is married. A brand on the hind end of a horse or cow indicates that the animal belongs to a certain ranch.
In today’s reading Ezekiel continues to describe the his rather epic vision of the city of Jerusalem in which a man dressed in linen, carrying a writing case, is instructed to mark certain people on the forehead so that the executioners who follow after him will not harm those who have been marked. All those people who were appalled at the abominations being committed within the city and the temple were to be marked so that they would not be killed. The rest of the population was to be utterly exterminated.
I cannot imagine what it would be like to be one of the survivors after the invasion. I wonder how many of them suffered from what we now have diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD)? Life would never ever be the same for these people. I can imagine they were glad to have survived, but the horrible images of what they had lived through would be in their memory for the rest of their lives. I suspect there would have been many “why me” questions: why did I survive when the rest of my family did not?
This is not the first time God put a mark on His people so that the angel of death would pass over their homes. When the children of Israel left Egypt there was a similar occurrence where God instructed His people to mark their doorposts with lamb’s blood so that the angle of death that killed all the firstborn of Egypt would pass over the homes of the families of Israel.
There is apparently at least one more event such as this coming according to the book of Revelation. A time will apparently come when the anti-Christ to whom the world will give control will issue a decree that all people are to take His mark on their right hand or forehead, and that those who refuse the mark will be considered traitors and hunted down. This will be a desperate time for those who remain loyal to Jesus Christ by refusing to take the mandatory mark. The prophesy tells us that many will choose to die rather then to accept the mark that would align them with the anti-Christ. It also assures us that this is the only right choice for those who desire to remain loyal to Jesus Christ.
This is a haunting question to me. Would I have the courage and faith to take such a stand? What would it really be like to stand handcuffed before a judge who is presenting me with two options: deny Christ and allow a mark to be placed on my hand, or refuse and be executed immediately? I would like to think that this would be an easy choice, and I pray that if I ever find myself in such a situation, that God will give me the grace and boldness to take up my cross and follow Jesus (as He told all His followers to do) to my death, knowing that it leads to eternal life with Him.