God’s Chariot Is on the Move!
1. What automotive vehicle was seen in southwestern Asia long before the gasoline automobile, and what questions arise about it?
TWO THOUSAND five hundred and seven years before the gasoline automobile began to be manufactured industrially (in 1895 C.E.), a self-moving or self-propelled chariot was seen in southwestern Asia. It was not of man’s invention. It was no mere imagination. To the beholder it was awe-inspiring. Nothing like it has since been seen at the earth. It is beyond copying by man, although over the centuries a detailed description of it has been preserved for us. It is the horseless chariot that was seen by a man whose name has gone down in history, Ezekiel the son of Buzi the priest, and he wrote down a vivid description of it for all generations to come, including our own today. What he saw was the chariot of God, and it was on the move, down from the north. Where was it headed—to somewhere in outer space or to some earthly destination? From there where did it go? Does it still exist, or something like it? Is it now on the move? Good questions these are for our locomotive twentieth century.
2. Where was Ezekiel when first beholding the chariot, and how did he come to be there?
2 Our reporter, Ezekiel, recorded where he first saw this superhuman chariot of God, and the time and the circumstances. He was by one of the canals of ancient Babylon, which was located on the Euphrates River, the canal being named Chebar. Ezekiel was a priest, not of Marduk the principal god of pagan Babylon, but of the God whose chariot he saw in vision. What was Ezekiel doing there instead of being active at his duties as priest far west in the temple at Jerusalem, the capital of the Kingdom of Judah? Ezekiel was there in Babylon as an exile along with the former king of Jerusalem, namely, Jehoiachin the son of the late King Jehoiakim, along with princes and mighty, valiant men and craftsmen. King Jehoiachin had surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, who was besieging Jerusalem as a rebel city. The king of Babylon spared King Jehoiachin’s life and carried him and all these others, including Ezekiel, into exile in Babylon. That was in the year 617 B.C.E., as we reckon time today.
3. Ezekiel’s dating and locating matters indicates what concerning his prophetic book, and when first did Jehovah’s hand come upon him?
3 Accordingly, the year 613 B.C.E., the year in which Ezekiel first had the vision of the chariot of God, was the “fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin.” Ezekiel himself was in the thirtieth year of life. All that took place was, not imaginary or mythical, but actually historical, and so as a historian Ezekiel dated matters definitely in the opening words of his prophetic book, writing: “Now it came about in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month [the lunar month Tammuz], on the fifth day of the month, while I was in the midst of the exiled people by the river Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I began to see visions of God. On the fifth day of the month [Tammuz 5], that is, in the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin, the word of Jehovah occurred specifically to Ezekiel the son of Buzi the priest in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar, and upon him in that place the hand of Jehovah came to be.” (Ezekiel 1:1-3) So this was near the close of spring of 613 B.C.E.
4. What Ezekiel saw at the opening of the vision indicated what, and the thing that emerged therefrom came from what source?
4 What Ezekiel now saw was no hallucination caused by the taking of some drug like LSD, but was presented to him in vision by the “hand” or applied power of Jehovah that here began to operate upon him. Evidently Ezekiel was looking northward at the time, and what he saw was something allowing for detailed description. What was seen indicated that a tempest was brewing against someone or something. What now emerged upon the scene unmistakably came from a divine source because of all the glory and fiery manifestations out of which it emerged. First of all Ezekiel draws our attention to those who are attending upon the chariot of God, as he writes this description:
5. In Ezekiel 1:4-9, how did the prophet describe the four living creatures?
5 “And I began to see, and, look! there was a tempestuous wind coming from the north, a great cloud mass and quivering fire, and it had a brightness all around, and out of the midst of it there was something like the look of electrum, out of the midst of the fire. And out of the midst of it there was the likeness of four living creatures, and this was how they looked: they had the likeness of earthling man. And each one had four faces, and each one of them four wings. And their feet were straight feet, and the sole of their feet was like the sole of the foot of a calf; and they were gleaming as with the glow of burnished copper. And there were the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides, and the four of them had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joining one to the other. They would not turn when they went; they would go each one straight forward.”—Ezekiel 1:4-9.
6. By what name did Ezekiel later call these living creatures?
7. When did cherubs first appear to humankind, and, according to the golden carved cherubs of the Ark and Psalm 80:1, why was the position of the four living creatures by the chariot fitting?
7 Cherubs first made their appearance to humankind at the east of the Garden of Eden to guard the entryway to that Paradise of Pleasure after the sinners, Adam and Eve, were driven out into the thorn-and-thistle-infested ground outside. (Genesis 3:17-24) As a priest Ezekiel may have here remembered that the carved cherubs of gold that were part of the lid of the sacred Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy of the temple at Jerusalem had just two wings, stretched upward and forward to overshadow the golden cover of the Ark. (Exodus 25:18-22; 37:7-9) Since that golden lid surmounted by these cherubs pictured the throne of God, the words of Psalm 80:1, addressed to God, were appropriate: “O Shepherd of Israel, do give ear, . . . O you who are sitting upon the cherubs, do beam forth.” It was therefore in nice keeping with their position and office that the four living creatures or cherubs should act as attendants upon God’s chariot.
8. The faces of the four living creatures were those of what, and what was the position of their wings?
8 Besides their upper couple of wings and their lower couple of wings and their straight feet like those of a calf, gleaming like burnished copper, there were other prominent features that marked the cherubs of Ezekiel’s vision. What about their heads? Ezekiel writes: “And as for the likeness of their faces, the four of them had a man’s face with a lion’s face to the right, and the four of them had a bull’s face on the left; the four of them also had an eagle’s face. That is the way their faces were. And their wings were spreading out upward. Each one had two joining to each other, and two were covering their bodies.”—Ezekiel 1:10, 11.
9. What did the faces of a man, a lion and a bull represent as symbols?
9 The fact that these cherubs had the face of a man to the fore went nicely with the fact that they had the hands of a man under their wings and also that the cherubs had, in general, “the likeness of earthling man.” The heavenly cherubs also have the God-given quality or attribute of love, just the same as earthling man has, the first man Adam having been created in the image and likeness of God. (Genesis 1:26-28) The face of a lion, in being on the right side of the head of each cherub, emphasized the quality of rightness, justice. This justice has power as its support, which is well pictured in that opposite the lion’s face there was, to the left, a bull’s face. This face well comports with the fact that the cherubs had straight feet (or limbs), the sole of each of which was “like the sole of the foot of a calf,” gleaming as with the “glow of burnished copper.” In his later description of the cherubs, Ezekiel calls the bull’s face the “face of the cherub.” (Ezekiel 10:14) Doubtless, cherubs are creatures of great power, like that of the bull.
10. What did the eagle’s face represent as a symbol, and in what way did these four living creatures correspond with those described in Revelation 4:6-9?
10 Inasmuch as God, at Job 39:27-29, calls attention to the farsightedness of the eagle, the eagle’s face to the rear of the cherub’s head points to wisdom, the heavenly wisdom, which corresponds with the heavens in which the high-flying eagle soars. This face fits in nicely with the fact that the cherubs had each four wings, enabling them to match the eagle in its flight. The eagle’s face, as well as the man’s face, the lion’s face and the bull’s face, is found among the faces of the four cherubic living creatures that were seen in vision about seven hundred years later by the Christian apostle John, these latter cherubs being located around the stationary throne of God in heaven.—Revelation 4:6-9.
11. From whom do those four attributes, thus symbolized, differentiate God, and whom has he gifted with these qualities?
11 Thus, consistently, down through the centuries, the same symbols are adhered to in picturing God’s wisdom (the eagle), power (the bull), justice (the lion) and love (the man). These four attributes, in perfect balance with one another, differentiate Jehovah from all the gods of mythology and false religions. He has gifted his heavenly creatures and his earthly human creatures with the suitable measure of these four attributes.
12. Why did those four living creatures not have to turn themselves when they desired to change direction of movement?
12 Having four faces to their heads, the cherubs did not have to turn themselves if they wanted to change the direction of their movement from straight forward to the right or to the left or to reverse and go backward. Having a face looking in each direction, toward the four cardinal points, they could change directions instantly and follow the face that looked in the desired direction where the quality or attribute that was symbolized by the particular face was to be exercised and applied. They could move with the speed of lightning. Their forms were outlined or bordered with a fiery brightness surpassing that of man-made fire as then made, so bright, in fact, as to generate lightning. With the help of God’s spirit of inspiration Ezekiel describes these aspects of the four cherubic living creatures, writing:
13. With what comparisons did Ezekiel describe the brightness of the four living creatures, and their speed?
13 “And they would go each one straight forward. To wherever the spirit would incline to go, they would go. They would not turn as they went. And as for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire. Something like the appearance of torches was moving back and forth between the living creatures, and the fire was bright, and out of the fire there was lightning going forth. And on the part of the living creatures there was a going forth and a returning as with the appearance of the lightning.”—Ezekiel 1:12-14.
THE CHARIOT WHEELS
14. Who today on earth cannot duplicate God’s chariot as to maneuverability?
14 Could the movements of any vehicle or chariot correspond with the movements of those four cherubic living creatures? Impossible as it is for modern automobile manufacturers to duplicate, the prophet Ezekiel saw such a maneuvering of the chariot of God, and without any steering wheel or shifting of gears. Take note as Ezekiel explains it to us:
15. How does Ezekiel describe the wheels as to their makeup and movements?
15 “As I kept seeing the living creatures, why, look! there was one wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, by the four faces of each. As for the appearance of the wheels and their structure, it was like the glow of chrysolite; and the four of them had one likeness. And their appearance and their structure were just as when a wheel proved to be in the midst of a wheel.a When they went they would go on their four respective sides. They would not turn another way when they went. And as for their rims, they had such height that they caused fearfulness; and their rims were full of eyes all around the four of them. And when the living creatures went, the wheels would go beside them, and when the living creatures were lifted from the earth, the wheels would be lifted up. Wherever the spirit inclined to go, they would go, the spirit inclining to go there; and the wheels themselves would be lifted up close alongside them, for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. When they went, these would go; and when they stood still, these would stand still; and when they were lifted up from the earth, the wheels would be lifted up close alongside them, for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.”—Ezekiel 1:15-21.
16. What was the position of the wheels with regard to one another, and how much ground could they be aware of covering with one revolution?
16 A wheel being alongside each living creature would result in four wheels, not abreast of one anotherb nor in one long line, but in four related places,c like the four faces of the cherubs. They were thus at the four corners of a rectangle. All the wheels were alike in appearance and structure. They glowed like chrysolite when reflecting the light. Their rims were full of eyes all around, as if the wheels could see where they were going. They were not going blindly in any direction. And were the wheels high! Their height was fear-inspiring to Ezekiel. Having such a great diameter and a correspondingly big circumference, the wheels could cover a great distance with just one revolution on their axis. So, like the four cherubs, they could move like lightning.
17. How did a wheel prove to be within a wheel, and for what maneuverableness did this allow?
17 As for the structure of those wheels, there was something of an oddity about them. Each wheel had a wheel inside it, not a smaller wheel within the big wheel and in the same plane with it and turning simultaneously with it on the same hub or axle. No, but a wheel of the same diameter and fitted into the base wheel crosswise, rim touching rim at a right angle. Only in this way could the wheels be said to “go on their four respective sides,” one side curving frontward, another backward, another right and another left. No wonder these wheels did not have to turn around as when rounding a corner in order to go in another direction. Instantly they could change direction because there was a side of the wheel facing in each direction. Thus the wheels could conform their direction of movement to that of the four living creatures who had four faces and who therefore did not need to turn around to change directions. On four wheels of this structure the body of God’s chariot could ride by invisible support just like a hovercraft that skims over water or land held up by a thin cushion of air.
18. What empowered these wingless wheels to conform their movements to those of the four living creatures?
18 There were no wings on those four wheels as there were on the four living creatures, and yet they could rise from the ground and take off into space just the same as those living creatures could. Those wheels were not hitched to any team of chariot horses or other traction animals or apparatus. Where did they get this power to conform to all the movements of the living creatures? What was the force behind their locomotion? Ah, it was the spirit of the Almighty God. The same invisible active force of God was in those wheels as that within the living creatures, and they did not need any gasoline engine or electric motor to propel them. Simply stated, “the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.”
19. What did Ezekiel see above the four wheels, and what sound did he hear produced by the wings of the living creatures?
19 Let us now, with Ezekiel, look above those fearfully high four wheels and see what is above. There is, as it were, the floor of the chariot, for Ezekiel goes on to say: “And over the heads of the living creatures there was the likeness of an expanse like the sparkle of awesome ice, stretched out over their heads up above. And under the expanse their wings were straight, one to the other. Each one had two wings covering on this side and each one had two covering on that side their bodies. And I got to hear the sound of their wings, a sound like that of vast waters, like the sound of the Almighty One, when they went, the sound of a tumult, like the sound of an encampment. When they stood still, they would let their wings down.”—Ezekiel 1:22-24.
20. How did the wheels and the living creatures compare as to height, and the expanse above, in being like ice, had what quality?
20 The four living creatures were not as gigantic as those four wheels were. So the firmament or “expanse like the sparkle of awesome ice” that rode on invisible support above the four wheels was far above the heads of the four living creatures. Corresponding to that, the “expanse,” although solid, was translucent. It was indeed awe-inspiring, a fact that fully accorded with the dignity of the One who was riding upon it.
21. By the comparing of the sound of the wings of the living creatures to different things, what is thus suggested?
21 There are insects on earth that make a musical or resonant sound by rubbing their wings together. Not different from the sound-producing power of insect wings, the wings of the four cherubic living creatures in motion produced an impressive sound. We know what the sound of many waters or vast waters is when they are agitated. The sound of the wings of the living creatures was like that. Their flight was not a silent one. The sound could even be compared to the sound that the Almighty One can produce in his natural creation that can make a person start up. It was not a peaceful sound. It was like the sound of a tumult or a tumultuous crowd. The sound was far from tranquilizing, since Ezekiel says that it was like the sound of an armed camp, an encampment of soldiers. This suggested the imminence of war, of battle. So, instead of its being the four tremendous wheels that rattled noisily, it was the wings of the four living creatures that drew attention to the approach of the chariot of God as coming on no peaceful mission. It was coming as a war chariot! Why? We must wait to find out.
THE RIDER OF THE CELESTIAL CHARIOT
22. The voice from above the expanse calls attention to whom?
22 Our ears are now turned from the noisy sound made by the wings of the four living creatures to a voice that comes from above the floor of the celestial chariot, this calling our attention to the chariot rider. Evidently the chariot stops, as the living creatures stand still, in order that its rider may speak to this exiled priest Ezekiel. Regarding this, Ezekiel writes:
23. How did Ezekiel describe the appearance of the glory of Jehovah above the expanse?
23 “And there came to be a voice above the expanse that was over their head. (When they stood still, they would let their wings down.) And above the expanse that was over their head there was something in appearance like sapphire stone, the likeness of a throne. And upon the likeness of the throne there was a likeness of someone in appearance like an earthling man upon it, up above. And I got to see something like the glow of electrum, like the appearance of fire all around inside thereof, from the appearance of his hips and upward; and from the appearance of his hips and downward I saw something like the appearance of fire, and he had a brightness all around. There was something like the appearance of the bow that occurs in a cloud mass on the day of a pouring rain. That is how the appearance was of the brightness round about. It was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Jehovah.”—Ezekiel 1:25-28.
24. The description given of the Rider of the chariot, though given in earthly terms, indicates what about Him in reality?
24 For the color of it the throne of the chariot rider appeared to be of precious sapphire stone. Its color matched well the azure blue of the skies from which the chariot rider came. The throne being like an earthly throne, the One seated upon it was like earthling man in appearance. As Ezekiel was merely a human himself, the human form was the best form that he could appreciate for this divine manifestation. But that human form, enveloped in glory, glowed like electrum, however, as if it were being treated by fire inside a furnace. From the waist of this manlike form there was this elegant glory extending both upward and downward, the whole form being thus encased in glory. This was a mere representation of the Almighty God, but it indicated that in actuality, in the invisible realm, he is indescribably glorious.
25. How is his maintaining his composure pictured, and what effect does this have on the exercise of his attributes?
25 Notwithstanding the mission of the divine Chariot Rider, he maintained his calm and composure. How beautifully this is pictured in his being accompanied by the lovely rainbow, “the bow that occurs in a cloud mass on the day of a pouring rain”! In that calm attitude he can keep his attributes of wisdom, justice, power and love in perfect balance. He can never be accused of being unwise, unjust, unpowerful and unloving. His glorious appearance is never tarnished by the committing of anything wrong.
26, 27. How was Ezekiel affected by the vision before being spoken to, and how does his description of it affect us?
26 Well, what is our impression of this description of the mere “likeness of the glory of Jehovah”? What was the effect upon Ezekiel, who actually saw these things in vision? He tells us, writing: “When I got to see it, then I fell upon my face, and I began to hear the voice of one speaking.”—Ezekiel 1:28.
27 The mere written description of it can never work upon us the overwhelming effect that the very sight of the vision in all its grandeur worked upon this priestly man Ezekiel. He could not do otherwise than just prostrate himself before this “likeness of the glory of Jehovah.” But Ezekiel’s inspired description deepens our appreciation of certain aspects of the One who desires us to know that he is Jehovah. However, the impression upon us is made even more moving and stirring when we see, in the Bible’s light, the meaning of this chariot of God.
28. How does Jehovah make clouds his chariot, as Psalm 104:1-4 says, and was the vision of a chariot (different from clouds) given to Ezekiel for his entertainment?
28 Certainly Jehovah does not ride on such a chariot as that seen in the vision given to Ezekiel. The ancient psalmist was inspired to say: “Bless Jehovah, O my soul. O Jehovah my God, you have proved very great. With dignity and splendor you have clothed yourself, enwrapping yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent cloth, the One building his upper chambers with beams in the very waters, making the clouds his chariot, walking upon the wings of the wind, making his angels spirits, his ministers a devouring fire.” (Psalm 104:1-4) Of course, Jehovah does not make the literal clouds of earth his chariot, but he can use them as his agencies for doing certain things to or for mankind on earth. What Ezekiel saw in vision resembled a four-wheeled chariot more than clouds do. Jehovah did not inspire Ezekiel to envision that celestial chariot just to entertain him with something fantastic in appearance. He showed Ezekiel that unusual, self-propelling chariot as a picture of something still greater. There is profit for us in knowing what it signifies.
29, 30. The symbolic nature of the furniture in Jerusalem’s temple suggests what for the visionary chariot seen by Ezekiel, and why do the living creatures beside the wheels remind us of Psalm 18:6-10?
29 Just as the various articles of furniture in Jehovah’s temple at Jerusalem were designed by him and made according to his pattern to picture spiritual things of greater importance, so, too, the celestial chariot that wheeled up before Ezekiel in his miraculous vision pictured something vastly greater. What? The heavenly organization of Jehovah as composed of all his holy spirit creatures in that invisible realm. By the appearance of the four cherubic living creatures that had symbolic features and that accompanied the four wheels like chariot runners, we are reminded of what the psalmist David wrote, in Psalm 18:6-10:
30 “In my distress I kept calling upon Jehovah, and to my God I kept crying for help. Out of his temple he proceeded to hear my voice, and my own cry before him for help now came into his ears. . . . And he proceeded to bend the heavens down and descend. And thick gloom was beneath his feet. And he came riding upon a cherub and came flying, and he came darting upon the wings of a spirit.”—Psalm 18:6-10; 2 Samuel 22:7-11.
31. What, then, does the visionary chariot seen by Ezekiel picture, and how does Jehovah ride it?
31 Jehovah does not confine himself to riding upon the one cherub mentioned by the psalmist, nor upon four cherubs as seen in his vision to Ezekiel, nor upon all the cherubs in that order of spirit creatures in heaven. He rides upon all his spirit creatures, whether cherubs, seraphs or general angels. He is the Most High God, the Supreme Being. They are all subject to him, and so he rides them in the sense of dominating them and using them according to his purpose. Instead of personally and directly going to any place himself, he can send a cherub or seraph or angel there, and by having his spirit (his invisible active force) accompany that messenger to operate through that one, Jehovah in effect rides that spirit creature. All cherubs, seraphs and angels, together, make up his united, coordinated, harmonious, obedient heavenly organization. This superhuman, spirit organization is like the celestial chariot seen in Ezekiel’s vision and is pictured by it. As on a chariot he rides this organization, causing it to move to wherever his spirit impels it to move.
32. How was the vastness of Jehovah’s heavenly organization shown in vision to the prophet Daniel?
32 Many years after Ezekiel had his vision of the celestial chariot, the prophet Daniel, who had been taken into exile with Ezekiel, had a marvelous vision, “in the first year of Belshazzar the king of Babylon.” In the vision Daniel saw the four-wheeled throne of Jehovah in a Court scene in heaven. Daniel here makes prominent the vast body of attendants that are subject to Jehovah in heaven in the following description: “I kept on beholding until there were thrones placed and the Ancient of Days sat down. His clothing was white just like snow, and the hair of his head was like clean wool. His throne was flames of fire; its wheels were a burning fire. There was a stream of fire flowing and going out from before him. There were a thousand thousands that kept ministering to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand that kept standing right before him. The Court took its seat, and there were books that were opened.”—Daniel 7:1-10.
33. According to Bible record, what was the last vision given that showed the vastness of Jehovah’s heavenly organization?
33 In the last visions of God to be given to a Bible writer, the Christian apostle John had a vision of God’s throne in the heavens around which were stationed four cherubic living creatures. In his description of what went on up there, John also calls attention to the vast throngs of spirit creatures as they all together recognize God’s fairness in giving a reward to his Son who was slaughtered like a sacrificial lamb here on earth in behalf of all mankind. John writes: “And I saw, and I heard a voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders, and the number of them was myriads of myriads [ten thousands of ten thousands] and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: ‘The Lamb that was slaughtered is worthy to receive the power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.’”—Revelation 5:1-12.
34. What is Jehovah to this heavenly organization, and how do its parts function, and why so?
34 Jehovah, who created and organized all the universe visible to our eyes, has organized all these holy heavenly spirit creatures into one vast universal organization, over which he is the Universal Sovereign. Each one of them has his own place in the organization and has his God-given duties to perform. God rides them all as his chariot. He moves over them, in control of them, as he sends them, singly or unitedly, on any mission in any part of the universe, visible or invisible. There is no friction between parts in his organization. All parts function together smoothly and efficiently in perfection, being pervaded by his holy spirit, the perfect bond of union. The marvelousness of Jehovah’s heavenly organization grows on us more and more, the longer we contemplate it.
MODERN-DAY DISCERNING OF THE HEAVENLY ORGANIZATION
35. When did Jehovah’s Christian witnesses begin to appreciate that He has an organization, and what did the last issue of the Watch Tower magazine of 1924 say about it?
35 Jehovah’s Christian witnesses of this twentieth century have come to appreciate that He has such a marvelous organization. Early in the third decade of our century they were helped by His spirit to perceive this awe-inspiring fact. Before the year 1922 this was called to their attention. After that references to the heavenly organization were made in the religious publications that they used in spreading Bible instruction. For example, in the issue of The Watch Tower as of December 15, 1924, on page 371, under the subheading “God’s Organization,” we read:
The better we understand Jehovah’s plan, the more fully we appreciate the fact that he has the most wonderful of all organizations. His majesty and dignity preclude him from giving direct attention to the details and the execution of his orders. From his eternal throne in the highest heaven he exercises his power as he may will. In the offices of his heavenly courts there are different creatures, as indicated by their names. Some are called cherubim, some seraphim, and some angels. It may be properly said that the angels are messengers and executive officers of the great Jehovah.—Paragraph 3 of the leading article entitled “Rapture of the Angels.”
36. What did the book Prophecy, chapter V, have to say about “God’s Organization”?
36 In the year 1929 the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society published the book entitled “Prophecy,”d chapter V of which bore the title “God’s Organization.” Ezekiel’s vision as described in the first chapter of his prophetic book Eze 1 was applied to God’s heavenly organization of his spirit creatures. On page 121, lines 2-7, it says: “The living creatures and the inanimate objects, or instruments, appearing in the vision, together give the appearance of an enormous living chariot-like organization extending high into the heavens, and over all of which Jehovah God presides.”
37. How did Volume I of the book Vindication apply Ezekiel’s vision of the celestial chariot, and how did this affect the front-cover design of the Watchtower magazine?
37 Later, in the year 1931, the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society published volume one of the book entitled “Vindication.”e This contained a commentary on the first twenty-four chapters of Ezekiel’s prophecy, Eze 1-24 and this book also applied Ezekiel’s vision of the celestial chariot to Jehovah’s organization. At seeing this, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses were filled with such appreciation that, from the issue of October 15, 1931, to that of August 1, 1950, the front-cover design of the Watchtower magazine carried in its upper right-hand corner an artist’s conception of Ezekiel’s vision of the celestial chariot.
38. Measuring only from Ezekiel’s vision, how long was Jehovah’s heavenly organization in existence before the Christian congregation, and to what extent was Ezekiel a witness of Jehovah?
38 Ezekiel had the vision of the heavenly organization of the Most High God 645 years before the organization of the Christian church or congregation in the spring of 33 C.E., on the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem. Jehovah’s heavenly organization was in existence in Ezekiel’s day and was on the move in that year of 613 B.C.E., when Ezekiel was favored with the marvelous symbolical vision. In the visions given to him Ezekiel was a witness of Jehovah’s organization in symbol, but he actually saw how that heavenly organization operated down till Ezekiel finished his writing of prophecy in the year 591 B.C.E. Outstandingly he was one of that great “cloud of witnesses” of Jehovah that the Christian apostle Paul describes in Hebrews 11:1 to 12:1. Out of the 6,961 times that the divine name Jehovah occurs in the inspired Hebrew Scriptures from Genesis through Malachi (New World Translation, edition of 1971), 439 of these instances occur in the prophetic book of Ezekiel, and for sixty-two times Ezekiel quotes God’s statement of his steadfast purpose that nations, peoples and individuals “shall know that I am Jehovah.”
39. Whom does Ezekiel picture in our day and since when, and what was then on the move the same as in Ezekiel’s day?
39 As regards our twentieth century, the prophet Ezekiel well pictures the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses since the year 1919 C.E., the critical year in which there was a revival of their public activities as foretold in Revelation 11:3-12.f It is true that in 1919 this spiritual remnant did not appreciate Jehovah’s organization as they do today. It is also true that they did not then discern that Jehovah’s organization was prophetically pictured by the symbolic chariot in Ezekiel’s vision, not till the year 1929. Nevertheless, Jehovah’s heavenly organization was, of course, in existence in the year 1919 and it got in spiritual touch with the anointed remnant in that year to revive them as Jehovah’s public witnesses to all the world. That chariotlike organization was on the move then in 1919; it is on the move today, and apparently its wheels of progress are turning faster than ever. Jehovah rides again!
40. At the vision of the “likeness of the glory of Jehovah,” what was Ezekiel moved to do, and at discerning Jehovah’s heavenly organization, what were the anointed remnant of this century moved to do?
40 At the visionary “likeness of the glory of Jehovah” the priestly Ezekiel was irresistibly moved to fall upon his face, prostrate. He desired to know why this celestial chariot had drawn up before him and stopped. He found out as a voice came to him from the One enthroned upon the chariot, above the “likeness of an expanse like the sparkle of awesome ice.” (Ezekiel 1:22, 26-28) Likewise, at the discernment of Jehovah’s heavenly organization by the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses of this century, they were filled with awe. More strongly they felt obliged to worship Him and to become witnesses to his gloriously historical name, Jehovah. World War I having ended on November 11, 1918, and the postwar world having set in, they keenly listened in the year 1919, after their revival, to hear what Jehovah had to say to them through his chariotlike organization.
a In a footnote on this the 1971 edition of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures says: “Possibly, be centered at right angles on the same axis.”
b See the picture on page 119 of the book Prophecy, first printing, 1929. Out of print.
c See picture on page 25 of the book Vindication, Volume One. Now out of print and out of stock.
d Now out of print and out of stock.
e Now out of print and out of stock.
f For the explanation of these verses see the book entitled “Then Is Finished the Mystery of God,” Chapter 19, on “Death and Resurrection of the ‘Two Witnesses,’” page 259 and following.
[Full-page picture on page 44]