I never realized how much “linen” was mentioned in the Bible until I started my study on the book of Ezekiel. In a few places of the account, Ezekiel mentions “the man in linen clothing.” Not having the background knowledge of linen, it made no sense to me. And it just may make no sense at all to you, the relevance or importance of “the Man in linen clothing.”
However, after study and research, I realized that “the Man in linen clothing” represents Jesus.
Why Linen? Revelation tells what linen represents: “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints (19:8). Throughout the book of Exodus, God gave specific instructions for building the temple of God. Inside and out was embellished with “fine linen.” The priests wore fine- twined linen, the curtains were fine-twined linen, the undershorts were fine-twined linen, and if the people wanted to bring an offering to the Lord, fine-twined linen was always welcomed (see Exodus).
Why a Man? Jesus is the embodiment of righteousness. He became man, went to the cross and is our high priests interceding on behalf of humanity. The priests had much work to do in the temple for the people of Israel. Jesus also has much work to do in the salvation of humanity. He lived and worked in the ruins to rescue us from the ruins.
Why the Man in Linen Clothing? Our Salvation hinges on this “Man.” He is the heart of redemption and He has a special task at the end of time, “And the Lord called to the man with the writer’s case, and said to him, ‘Walk through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who weep and sigh because of all the sins they see around them.’ “(Ezekiel 9: 3-4). Jesus is currently walking the ruins, looking to save His people, interceding on your behalf. As the emblem of righteousness, the Man who came to live and die for our sins, He has the task to seal us for eternity.
When this ruinous world comes to its catastrophic climax, only those whose names who are written in the lamb’s book of life will be saved. God gave the angels strict orders, to “Follow him [the man in linen clothing] through the city and kill everyone whose forehead isn’t marked. Spare not nor pity them— kill them all—old and young, girls, women, and little children; but don’t touch anyone with the mark. And begin right here at the Temple. And so they began by killing the seventy elders” (vs 5, 6). Imagine that, they began right in the church, where corruption is at its peak.
The Man in linen clothing is currently interceding on your behalf while you are in the ruins. His Spirit is pleading with you to Turn Turn and Live, to Go Straight Forward, and not be Afraid of Scorpions. God knows the struggles of the ruins. He knows how calamitous our lives are, how calamitous this world is and how unholy the temple (His abiding place) is. One day His cup will be full and He will pour out His fury on this rebellious word. Ezekiel 9 is a clear prophetic account of the last day events.
While Jesus hung there upon the ruinous cross, “He said, ‘it is finished’ ” then He bowed His head and died. (John 19:30). That part of the work is accomplished, but there was more work to do. He was buried in the grave, then He rose again. John makes a subtle but significant connection to “the Man in linen clothing.” John tells us that he and Peter ran to the grave to look for Jesus’ body. What did they find there? John said, “He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen” (20: 5-7).
The Man in linen clothing was no longer in the grave. His grave clothes were folded to show that the work is finished. He had accomplished the first part of the work in the ruins. He wouldn’t be needing those grave clothes anymore. He had conquered death. But, “the linen strips were lying there”, unfolded, just lying there. His priestly work had just begun. The work of righteousness was laid out before Him, to plead for and seal the people of God. He is in heaven performing those priestly duties, pleading for you and me who are in the ruins of this world. One day He will roam the world and seal the people of God.
During the climatic stages of this world’s history, Ezekiel tells us that one day Jesus will say to His Father, “I have finished the work you gave me to do” (Ezekiel 9: 11). He already said, “It is finished” at the cross, and Ezekiel tells us that He will say it again, during the closing scenes of earth’s history. He will seal the people who have accepted His robe of righteousness. God will set loose the angels to kill and destroy the ruins of our world forever. The Man in linen clothing is pleading for you, don’t get lost in the ruins. He wants to put a mark on your forehead and get you out.
John 20: 7, “And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself.”