The Divinely Protected Ones
Issue No. 224
When the nation of Judah became so lawless that God hired the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem and Solomon’s Temple, Ezekiel wrote that God would protect and spare those whose hearts were right.
The Six Destroyers of Jerusalem
In Ezekiel 9:1 the prophet saw six destroying “men” that God had called to destroy Jerusalem.
Verse 2 speaks of one of the six as “a certain man clothed in linen with a writing case at his loins.”
In verses 3 and 4 we read,
3 . . . And He called to the man clothed in linen at whose loins was the writing case, 4 And the Lord said to him, ‘Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark [tav, a mark or sign written as a cross or a T] on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.
We see here a picture of the divine protection upon those who were not held accountable for the sins being committed in Jerusalem.
The Prophecy of Ezekiel’s Hair
Earlier, the prophet was told to provide another demonstration of this principle of divine protection. First, Ezekiel 5:1 and 2 tells us about those who were to be judged:
1 As for you, son of man, take a sharp sword; take and use it as a barber’s razor on your head and beard. Then take scales for weighing and divide the hair. 2 One-third you shall burn in the fire at the center of the city, when the days of the siege are completed. Then you shall take one-third and strike it with the sword all around the city, and one-third you shall scatter to the wind; and I will unsheathe a sword behind them.
After portraying judgment upon the whole population, the prophet then was told in verses 3 and 4,
3 Take also a few in number from them and bind them in the edges [kanawf, “edge, extremity”] of your robes. 4 And take again some of them and throw them in the fire; from it a fire will spread to all the house of Israel.
Ezekiel was probably in Jerusalem at the time of this prophecy, as indicated in 4:1, although he was soon to go as a missionary-prophet to the house of Israel (3:11, 15) that had been deported to Assyria over a century earlier.
The few strands of the prophet’s hair in the above prophecy represent the divinely protected ones. They were to be put in the extremity of his robe—which was where the tassel was located.
In Num. 15:38-40 we read of the law of tassels,
38 Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels [tzee-tzeeth] on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue.
According to Strong’s Concordance, the word for “tassel,” means “a floral or wing-like projection; i.e., a fore-lock of hair; a tassel.” This is why Ezekiel was told to tie some of his hair to the tassels of his robe. It identified these divinely protected ones with the blue cord or thread in the tassel, which testified of a covenant keeper, a true believer.
39 And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, 40 in order that you may remember to do all My commandments, and be holy to your God.
In other words, the divinely protected ones were said to be those who kept the commandments of the Lord, who were not as the others who were lawless. More than that, since the tassel was said to be an expression of the person’s identity, the blue thread represents the law written in his heart.
The Hebrew word for tassel is tzee-tzeeth, which has a numerical value of 600, the same as the Greek word cosmos, “the world, or world-order.” A tassel includes eight strands and five knots. Jewish rabbis took note that 600 + 8 + 5 = 613, which is the number of laws that they counted in the Torah.
In my way of thinking, 600 speaks of the world; eight speaks of a new beginning, and five speaks of grace. The tassel thus represents a New Beginning of Grace for the World. That Grace is built into the law itself, particularly the law of Jubilee, for the Jubilee occurs on the 50th year. The number 50 is 5 x 10 (Grace and Law, or Grace IN the Law).
Hair as a Symbolic Type
Scripture teaches that hair represents the glory of God that is our covering and our divine protection. The tabernacle of Moses was covered by goats’ hair (Ex. 26:7). Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 11:15,
15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her. For her hair is given to her for a covering.
Thus, when Ezekiel was told to shave his head and beard, it signified the removal of God’s covering from Jerusalem, along with divine protection. This prophecy served as an illustrated type of the removal of God’s glory from the temple in Ezekiel 10 and 11.
The Protected Hairs Thrown into the Fire
Ezekiel 5:4, which was quoted earlier, said this:
4 And take again some of them and throw them in the fire; from it a fire will spread to all the house of Israel.
This seems a bit incongruous, for one would think that the righteous ones would be protected and not cast into the fire. Yet this is not what it seems. Daniel’s three friends were cast into the furnace of fire in Dan. 3:20. They were not killed in the fire, but were accompanied by a fourth Person (3:25), Who protected them in the midst of the fire.
Daniel’s three friends fulfilled Ezekiel’s prophecy of the hairs thrown into the fire. Not all of the protected ones are called to such a dramatic fulfillment of the prophecy, but some are.
More important is Ezekiel’s last statement in verse 4, “from it a fire will spread to all the house of Israel.” This has both a positive and a negative side to it. The negative side is that the fire of divine judgment will spread to the house of Israel in Assyria as well as to the house of Judah that was going to Babylon. The positive side is that the witness of these protected ones will bring the baptism of the Holy Spirit to the house of Israel.
The Fiery Law
Deut. 33:2 and 3 says,
2 The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; He shined forth from mount Paran; And He came with ten thousands of saints; From His right hand went a FIERY LAW for them; 3 Yea, He loved the people; All His saints are in Thy hand; and they sat down at Thy feet; every one shall receive of Thy words.
Take note that the fiery law comes from the right hand of God—and that “all His saints are in Thy hand.” In other words, the saints are the carriers of the fiery law. The fiery law is being administered by the saints of God.
This is the meaning of Ezekiel’s prophecy of the hair that is thrown into the fiery law. It was the means by which this fire was to spread to the whole house of Israel in captivity.
We may thus view Jesus’ disciples as the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy as well. After receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, where the tongues of fire came upon their heads, they were the vessels by which this fire was spread into the whole world, including the areas where the house of Israel had migrated after the fall of Assyria.
James wrote to them, greeting them in James 1:1,
1 James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes who are dispersed [of the diaspora] abroad, greetings.
Likewise, Peter wrote to them directly in his first letter, greeting them in the first verses,
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect aliens of the dispersion [diaspora], scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia 2 according to the foreknowledge of God . . . .
The diaspora, or “the dispersion” was the term used in those days primarily to describe the Israelites who had been dispersed in the Assyrian captivity. Peter wrote to those who had immigrated from the shores of the Caspian Sea westward into the northern part of Asia Minor. Many years later, of course, they were pushed further west into Europe by the modern Turkish people.
Thus, Peter tells them in 1 Peter 2:9,
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Verse 10 is a reference to Hosea’s prophecy of the house of Israel. If you recall, Hosea’s children were named as prophecies of Israel. His daughter, Lo-ruhamah, meant “No Mercy.” His son, Lo-Ammi, meant “Not My People.” The house of Israel was divorced form God and cast out. They lost their name Israel and became known by the Assyrians as the Gamira, or people of Ghomri (or Gomer).
Thus, Hosea’s harlot wife, who represented Israel, was named Gomer (Hos. 1:3). Yet Hosea 2:23 prophesies,
23 . . . I will also have compassion [mercy] on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, “You are My people!” And they will say, “Thou art my God!”
We see then that Peter was writing to these ex-Israelites of the dispersion. He was appealing to their lost heritage, but we also recognize that they could only regain their status as Israelites in the same manner as anyone else. So Peter’s letter is applicable to all men, not just those who can claim particular descent from the house of Israel. Isaiah 56:8 prophesies,
8 The Lord God, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, “Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered.”
This prophecy comes in the context of God’s house being “a house of prayer for ALL people” (vs. 7).
So we can see the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s hair prophecy in the New Testament disciples, who brought the fire of the Holy Spirit to the house of Israel and to the rest of the world.
The Protected Ones in David’s Time
In 2 Samuel 24:1 we read,
1 Now the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”
The nation had never observed any of its Sabbath-rest years nor its Jubilees, and so in the 38th year of David, the nation owed a sin-debt of 70 years. God foreclosed upon the nation at this time, and for this reason, “the anger of the Lord burned against Israel.”
In the providential judgment of God, their sin would cost the nation 70,000 lives, a thousand for each rest-year owed. See 2 Samuel 24:15.
But before God could judge Israel, He had to remove His divine protection which had been put into place at the last census that Moses took in the wilderness just before Israel entered Canaan under Joshua. The census law is found in Exodus 30:12,
12 When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the Lord, when you number them, that there may be no plague among them when you number them.
God apparently told David to number the people in the first census since the days of Moses. This was not a sin. Moses did it twice (Num. 2:32 and 26:51). David’s sin was in the fact that he did not collect the half-shekel ransom money from those being counted.
This failure uncovered the people and left them open to divine judgment—which was, of course, according to the foreknowledge of God, for He intended to bring judgment upon the people at that time. David was given three choices of judgment in 2 Sam. 24:13. They were (1) three years of famine; (2) three months of fleeing before their enemies; and (3) three days of plague.
David chose the three days of plague, which would be the least disruptive and the quickest judgment. So 70,000 men died in the plague. The other account of this story is given in 1 Chronicles 21, which gives us some further details that are important to our study. David had told Joab, the Head of the Armed Forces, to do the work of numbering the people, since they were only numbering the men of war—that is, the men from 20 to 50 years of age.
We read in verses 5 and 6,
5 And Joab gave the number of the census of all the people to David. And all Israel were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword; and Judah was 470,000 men who drew the sword. 6 But he did not number Levi and Benjamin among them, for the king’s command was abhorrent to Joab.
Joab was David’s nephew (1 Chron. 2:13-16), because his mother was David’s sister, Zeruiah. This would seem to make him, like David, of the tribe of Judah. However, we do not know who married David’s sister. It is likely from Joab’s actions that his father was of Benjamin, making Joab legally of that tribe.
Whatever the case, Joab found David’s command to number the people “abhorrent.” He complied with his orders, except that he did not number Levi or Benjamin. In his disobedience, he established an important prophetic type in this matter of divine protection. These two tribes had not been numbered, and so they were still covered by the ransom money collected in the days of Moses.
Thus, the 70,000 men who died in the plague were from all of the other tribes, but not of Levi or Benjamin. When the angel of God came to Jerusalem, which was on the border of Judah and Benjamin, the plague stopped. 2 Sam. 24:16 says,
16 When the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the calamity, and said to the angel who destroyed the people, “It is enough! Now relax your hand!” And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
God saw to it that the tribe of Levi was spared, because they represented the firstborn sons—typical of the Sons of God. Numbers 3:12 says,
12 Now, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the sons of Israel instead of every firstborn, the first issue of the womb among the sons of Israel. So the Levites shall be Mine.
In the original census, there were 22,000 Levites who were devoted to God (Num. 3:39). This number is a combination of 22 (Sons of Light) and 1000 (glory). They redeemed 22, 273 firstborn sons of all the other tribes (Num. 3:43). The 273 left over Israelite firstborn sons were redeemed by five shekels of silver (Num. 3:47-50).
Thus, the Levites represented the firstborn Sons of God devoted to Him. The tribe of Benjamin also represents the Sons of God, but in a different way.
Joseph and Benjamin were the two sons of Jacob through Rachel. Joseph’s name was a prophecy: “God will add to me another son” (Gen. 30:24). Benjamin fulfilled this prophecy. In types and shadows, Joseph was a type of Christ, the Birthright holder in His second appearance. Benjamin, the younger brother, represents the Sons of God who come after Him.
Keep in mind also that Benjamin was the only true Israelite of all the twelve sons of Jacob-Israel. The first eleven sons were born while his name was yet Jacob. Only Benjamin was conceived and born of Israel (after the angel had changed his name).
Benjamin means “son of my right hand.” Benjamin is a type of the Sons of God, who will rule with Christ in the Age to come.
Thus, when Joab refused to number Benjamin and Levi, he was acting unknowingly under the inspiration of God, who determined to establish the principle of divine protection for the Sons of God, the overcomers.
The plague in David’s time was stopped when David bought the threshing floor of Araunah and offered a sacrifice upon an altar. This later became the site of Solomon’s Temple.
The down payment for the Temple site was 50 shekels of silver (2 Sam. 24:24). He later paid the full payment of 600 shekels of gold (1 Chron. 21:25). When David made the sacrifice there, God sent fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice, for we read in 1 Chron. 21:26 and 27,
26 Then David built an altar to the Lord there, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. And he called to the Lord and He answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering. 27 And the Lord commanded the angel, and he put his sword back in its sheath.
And so the threshing floor was transformed into an altar and the Temple of God. How fitting this is, for the site of the Temple was purchased in the midst of “threshing,” that is, of judgment upon Israel.
The tribes of Israel were threshed in this story, but the Sons of God, the overcomers, the barley company represented by Levi and Benjamin, were spared. Even so, all things work together for good (Rom. 8:28), for in the end, this judgment made it possible to build Solomon’s Temple.
This is a great lesson for us today, for God has purchased a new Temple site in the New Jerusalem. He paid a down payment of “50 shekels,” because 50 is the number of Pentecost, the down payment of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13, 14). Ultimately, the price is 600 shekels of gold, for He will purchase the whole world (cosmos), whose numeric value is 600. This is the “50” of Jubilee.