Today: [Ezekiel 9] Beyond the 5-fold Ministry? Today in many church settings, the idea of a 5-fold ministry is embraced theoretically or historically but very little in evidence. Mostly the church recognizes pastors and evangelists, but recoils from the idea of apostles and prophets. As challenging as this might be, Ez. 9 goes a step further, suggesting a 6th ministry characterized by a writing gift that has hardly been identified, yet may be one of the most important giftings coming forth in the information age that we are a part of. A “don’t miss” Morning Light Bible Study on Ezekiel chapter 9.
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[Eze 9:1-11 KJV] 1 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. 2 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. 3 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; 4 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. 5 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: 6 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. 7 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. 11 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.
In the vision recounted in Ezekiel 8 the Lord appears to Ezekiel as a fire from his loin upward and a fire from his loins downward. Three abominations are revealed to Ezekiel: 70 elders behind a hidden door worshipping idols in the temple, the women of the city weeping for Tammuz, and 25 men in the holy place with their backs to the altar worshipping the sun god. In ch. 9 this vision continues with a call by the Father for “them that have charge of the city” to arm themselves and come forth.
These six men that Ezekiel sees come into the city and enter the temple via the higher gate which is in the north. We have shown in previous chapters that the north speaks of God’s dwelling place and of judgment. The events that we are reading of have implications for the people in Ezekiel’s day but also speak by prophetic inference to end time events and the temple of God which is embodied in His people as the community of the redeemed. The description of one of these 6 men clothed in linen might seem to indicate a being that would be angelic in nature, however the word used to describe him is distinctly mortal. He is are clothed in linen which would have been identified to Ezekiel’s eyes as priestly garments. For Ezekiel, it is a call for the legitimate servants of God in the temple rites to rise up and purge the three iniquities of ch. 8 from the temple grounds. For us we see the linen as a type of the righteousness of Christ and ourselves as those that are clothed in the righteousness of the shed blood of Calvary.
The number of men is specifically described as numbering 6 altogether. Why not 5 or 7? 5 would be a number associated with grace and the appearance of these men is not an expression of mercy but an expression of the cleansing of the temple. 7 is a number of perfection implying that which is done in the culmination of God’s purposes, in His sovereignty independent of man, however this that is taking place is specifically and emphatically involving mortal men working in concert with God to bring His glory as verse 3 tells us to the threshold of the house of the temple.
There are 5 men plus 1 mentioned but only the description and the actions of the 6th man are elaborated on. In Eph. 4:11 we see 5 ministries that Jesus gave as gifts to the church upon His ascension. These ministries are apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher. The church in the present day generally only accepts the office of the pastor and the evangelist. Even among those who claim to be “full gospel” in their distinctive state plainly in their position papers that they do not see apostles and prophets operating in the church today and in fact only specifically acknowledge ministers not even as pastors or evangelists, but as licensed, ordained or Christian worker’s that are legitimized not be a subjective call but by an issued credential. Why would this matter? Jesus in John 6:63 said that His words are Spirit and Life. In fact, ALL words regardless of their origin have a life and a spirit behind them. When those words are contrary to, or circumvent the plain language of scripture, what spirit are you dealing with? To join or partake of ministry deriving from doctrinal ground that deviates, or obscures the truth of scripture, is to open one’s self up to the spirit behind that deviancy. It constitutes mixture that can affect our lives in unexpected ways. What should we derive from this? Be careful what you read and be knowledgeable of the doctrinal ground of any church or group you are a part of in order to know what you are exposing yourself to. In that manner you can assure yourself that whatever your relationship is to a group you are a part of it is an informed and forearmed choice, not just a lax or casual one that may cost you more than you know.
If the 5 ministries of Eph. 4 are no longer accepted as currently in the church today then what are we going to do with the 6th man going forth with an inkhorn, commissioned to (v. 4) set a mark on the foreheads of the people of God? Dan. 12:4 speaks of a time when “knowledge shall be increased” in the earth. The term information age was first used in 1960 by a Pentagon Intelligence operative by the name of R.S. Leghorn. Daniel by the spirit of God predicted the information age 1000’s of years before its emergence. Ezekiel is defining for us what we can call a “6th man ministry” typified by the pen – the act of writing as the basis of the marking, or impressing upon the lives of God’s people the message that verse 3 tells us will bring the glory of God to the threshold of His house. We cannot overemphasize then the importance of identifying and acknowledging the ministry hinted at in these verses of a man with an inkhorn, a writing ministry that is rising up on the earth, not just penning words to paper in publishing a gospel message, but in broadcasting a message globally through that prolific instrument of content dissemination that is the internet.
It is time for the church and God’s ministers, who have been somewhat reticent to be fully engaged in social media and the internet to take it by storm as an instrument of spreading the gospel and building a digital spiritual community, validated and authenticated by our leaders as important in our day as Roman roads were to spread the gospel in Paul’s day. We are (v. 4) to go through the city. What city? That place where people are and where they can be accessed freely for the purpose of distributing inspired content originated from anointed men and women of God called to be there and communicate them message and confront the earth with the claims of Christ from the congested thoroughfares of the information superhighway. This is so important and so vital for our day that we see suggestive in the language of this chapter that it could herald the emergence of not only a 5 fold ministry, but something further as a 6th anointing specific to writing and distribution of content as the rider with the inkhorn of Ezekiel 9.
The purpose of the marking of those that are grieved from the abominations is for their survival. What is your attitude toward what you may see around you in terms of the abominations defined in the previous chapter? Do you see compromise and what amounts to idolatry in the church, and simply conclude “what can you do about it – that’s just the way it is…” Or are you one who “sighs and cries” for the “abominations” that are done therein? Thousands of people today that were once embedded in firm relationship to the traditional church have found themselves more and more finding spiritual interaction and community online. That in itself does not give them preferred status in the kingdom, but it is an indicator that rather than bemoaning empty pews that leaders should rise up and go where those people can be found to shepherd them there, and lead them there and provoke them to be who God called them to be out in the world regardless of whether they are sheltering in place in the brick and mortar church or not.
Those who are not marked by the rider with the inkhorn are displaced and not in gentle terms in our chapter. This begins with the ancient and the honorable, leaders first and then a purging taking place throughout the ranks of the people of God. We can look at leaders today and see a distinct reticence upon many toward dynamic, spiritual growth that is reminiscent of the veil of unbelief that came upon those that rejected what God was doing in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, born of Mary and moving in their midst. Because He didn’t come from where they desired to do what they desired in terms of buttressing the status quo, they crucified Him. Likewise, when they see God moving in the digital world and other dynamics outside the traditional religious venue there is a rejection of it out of hand simply because it isn’t something they are capable or knowledgeable enough to capitalize on.
The chapter ends with the rider with the inkhorn reporting to the throne of God that his task is accomplished. The question at hand is, have you been marked by this ministry described as the 6th man ministry in Ez. 9? If there is any validity in this perspective then it is a matter of importance for us. Are we just marching in place till Jesus comes? Are we simply looking past the excesses and contradictions in Christian culture to the pure pattern reflected in the book of Acts? Or are we sighing and crying – seeking a genuine basis of spiritual commonality and community that is authenticated by scripture and by signs, miracles and wonders? Are you willing perhaps to be one of that company that goes forth with an inkhorn to declare God’s message? Having identified the call you must realize that there is an accountability to then stand before the throne as the rider in v. 11 able to report your task as fulfilled.
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