Today’s reading: Ezekiel 9-12.
God always has a remnant, a smaller group among the many he is dealing with, who remain devoted to his word and his way. There was the line of Seth, Noah and his family, Abraham and his family among the Hebrews, Caleb and Joshua among the spies, Elijah and the 7000 who did not bow to Baal, and so on. God has a remnant that he preserves as exiles in Ezekiel’s time. He protects those who are marked as his remnant. He gives Ezekiel a vision of events in Jerusalem to demonstrate his sovereign safeguarding of the remnant.
“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.” As I listened, he said to the others, “Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. Slaughter old men, young men and maidens, women and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.” Ezekiel 9:4-6
In reality the Babylonians are the ones who went through the city killing without pity or compassion, but God is making the point that ultimately he decides who lives and dies. The exiles may have felt like they were abandoned by God, but their forceful removal from Jerusalem was actually God’s way of preserving them. They were part of his protected remnant.
It’s good to remember that God’s faithful remnant lives under his care and protection. They don’t escape trials but they survive them. They remain devoted to God while others are falling away. They continue to serve as witnesses to the true God when all the other voices of truth have been silenced. They serve as an ark carrying the gospel seed through stormy seas until it can be planted again in better soil.
There will be a remnant in the last days. Revelation 12 pictures the great struggle between Satan and the remnant:
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Note what characterizes the remnant in those last days – they keep the commandments of God and continue to testify about Jesus Christ. We talk a lot about the mark of the beast that is forced on all unbelievers in those last days, but let’s remember that God’s remnant people are also marked – with God’s own mark of protection. And the sovereign LORD is able to protect those whom he marks as his own.
Image by MTSOfan on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa 2.0