The LORD said to the man clothed in linen, “Go in among the wheels beneath the cherubim.”
In Ezekiel 10:2 quoted above, the prophet has been watching the ministry of “the man clothed in linen.” He’s introduced in the previous chapter like this:
Then I heard him call out in a loud voice, “Bring near those who are appointed to execute judgment on the city, each with a weapon in his hand.” And I saw six men coming from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with a deadly weapon in his hand. With them was a man clothed in linen who had a writing kit at his side. They came in and stood beside the bronze altar.
Now the glory of the God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, where it had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple. 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 9:1-4 NIV
God commands the six with the swords to go through the city and slay everyone not marked by the man clothed in linen.
After scenes of bloody aftermath in the city, we find him attending the heavenly altar of God.
I looked, and I saw the likeness of a throne of lapis lazuli above the vault that was over the heads of the cherubim. The LORD said to the man clothed in linen, “Go in among the wheels beneath the cherubim. Fill your hands with burning coals from among the cherubim and scatter them over the city.” And as I watched, he went in.Ezekiel 10:1-2 NIV
Who can this be, but Christ himself?
I’m moved by this description of the “preincarnate” Christ. Maybe you will be too.
He’s described as “the man.”
This is his identifier. He isn’t “that which looked like a man,” but, “the man.” Even in this apocalyptic vision he stands with skin and flesh and bone. Moving and ministering among the theopany, cherubim, and mighty, winged-wheeled creatures, he stands, walks, and writes with human legs, feet, arms, and hands. He speaks through vocalcords and hears back “the voice of God Almighty” with human ears.
He is the man “clothed.”
He isn’t a unique vintage of human. Were it not for his dress we would have no way to distinguish him. He is not known by anything striking in his person. He isn’t the tall man, strong man, or handsome man. His only physical distinguisher is something he can remove. It is something he wears from social awareness. He isn’t just biologically human like a feral child or the Gerasene demoniac. He’s one of us. He is Emmanuel.
He is the man clothed “in linen.”
This fabric is meant for him and he for it. Its fibers required no violence to obtain. They grew as humble grass from the earth but required intentional cultivation. The cloth was produced with patience, skill, and care. The mention of this garment’s fabric suffices to describe its color – pure, natural white.
The linen garment is unspoiled and unembellished. Just as its wearer. It has been said, “Clothes make the man.” In this case they reveal the makeup of the man who made all things. This generic man easily wears his unseen glory. He is the very embodiment of purity sans pretense. He is luminscent innocence. Even wading through wrath’s bloodbath and brushing against Israel’s defilements he remains unspotted.
The man’s clothes symbolize his character while also signifying his role. His is the linen garment of Aaron and his sons that remained in the temple reserved for priestly service. It is the garment of his ancestor/progeny, David, at the height of his glory dancing wildly before YHWH. Surely the role of messiah can only belong to one so holy and humble as this one. In his linen garment he executes God’s judgment and in it he reaches in the very consuming fire blazing on God’s throne.
He is our Christ – the man clothed in linen. All glory to him who is and was and will ever be!