Commissioned to Speak in the Divine Name
1. At the vision of the celestial chariot and its Rider at the river Chebar, why did Ezekiel prostrate himself, and about what might he have wondered?
LET us ask ourselves the question, What would I do if the emperor, king or president of my country took his official automobile and drove up to my home and, from his vehicle, made a personal delivery of a national commission to me? Well, that is somewhat of the experience that Ezekiel the son of Buzi the priest had by the bank of the river Chebar in the year 613 B.C.E., when, in vision, the celestial chariot of Jehovah, accompanied by four cherubs, wheeled down from the north and halted before him. Overwhelmed at this awe-inspiring spectacle of the “likeness of the glory of Jehovah,” Ezekiel reverently prostrated himself. As he remained prostrate with his face to the ground, wondering what was the purpose of this vision, he heard the voice of the Rider of the celestial chariot speaking to him. (Ezekiel 1:1-28) What did it have to say? Ezekiel informs us:
2. By what form of address is Ezekiel spoken to, was this to make him a type of Christ, or what was its purpose?
2 “And he proceeded to say to me: ‘Son of man, stand up upon your feet that I may speak with you.’” (Ezekiel 2:1) Ezekiel is addressed, not by his personal name, but as “Son of man [Ben adám].” Throughout the entire book of his prophecy Ezekiel is addressed ninety-three times in this form of address. Only once again does the prophet’s personal name appear in the book, and this time in Eze chapter twenty-four, verse twenty-four, where the prophet quotes Jehovah as saying to the house of Israel: “And Ezekiel has become for you a portent. In accord with all that he has done, you will do. When it comes, you will also have to know that I am the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.” In this way no prominence is given to the prophet’s own name, but he is continually reminded of his lowly estate and origin. He is but an offspring of earthling man. Over six hundred and forty years later Jesus Christ is reported seventy-six times (from Matthew 8:20 to John 13:31) as speaking of himself as “the Son of man.” But by this he is not comparing himself with Ezekiel, nor does this make Ezekiel a type of Christ.a Ezekiel’s fellow exile Daniel is also addressed as “son of man.”b
3. The divine command to stand imparted what to Ezekiel, and why was standing before the Speaker better for Ezekiel?
3 The command of Jehovah to Ezekiel to arise imparted active force to Ezekiel, enabling him to get up from the ground. As he tells us: “And spirit began to come into me as soon as he spoke to me, and it finally made me stand up upon my feet that I might hear the One speaking to me.” (Ezekiel 2:2) Standing before the Divine Presence, Ezekiel was more alert to hear what was said.
4. To whom was Ezekiel told that he was sent, and after he spoke Jehovah’s saying to them, what would they certainly know?
4 “And he went on to say to me: ‘Son of man, I am sending you to the sons of Israel, to rebellious nations that have rebelled against me. They themselves and their forefathers have transgressed against me down to this selfsame day. And the sons insolent of face and hard of heart—I am sending you to them, and you must say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said.” And as for them, whether they will hear or will refrain—for they are a rebellious house—they will certainly know also that a prophet himself happened to be in the midst of them.’”—Ezekiel 2:3-5.
5. Therefore, what proves that Ezekiel did not presume or himself assume to be a prophet speaking in the divine name?
5 There Ezekiel is definitely told that he is henceforth to serve as a prophet. He is commissioned to speak in the divine name, saying: “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said.” Just as Jehovah had sent Moses as his prophet nine hundred years previously, so now he was sending Ezekiel. Ezekiel was not raising himself up as a prophet and presuming to speak in the divine name. He was really a prophet sent by the Most High God. The fact that Jehovah appeared to Ezekiel in vision and spoke from his throne on his celestial chariot and directly sent Ezekiel on a definite mission with a definite message proves that Ezekiel was a true prophet, sent by God, and that what he spoke under inspiration was the real word of God. The fact, too, that he was sent on such a difficult mission adds to the proof that he did not assume to be a prophet speaking in Jehovah’s name, but that the Highest Authority in all existence sent him to speak in the divine name. He was thus, in an outstanding way, made a witness of Jehovah.
6. Not only were Ezekiel’s words prophetic, but what was he himself at the same time?
6 Not alone were the inspired words of Ezekiel prophetic, but he himself was a prophetic figure in his action, as is later shown on occasions. (Ezekiel 24:24) Since Ezekiel himself was a “portent,” or “sign” (AV), of someone to come, and since he was not a type or prophetic figure of Jesus Christ, whom did the prophet Ezekiel typify in carrying out his divine commission?
7. We should look for the antitype of Ezekiel in what period of time, and since when have we been in that time period?
7 Although Ezekiel did not know it at the time that he was commissioned to be Jehovah’s prophet, the city of Jerusalem was to be destroyed by the Babylonians just six years later, in 607 B.C.E. Ever since Ezekiel’s former acquaintance, Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah the priest, was raised up back there in Jerusalem in the year 647 B.C.E., in the thirteenth year of the reign of King Josiah of Jerusalem, that city and the nation of Judah had been in their time of the end. (Jeremiah 1:1-3; 25:10, 11) In the right timing of things we today should look for the modern-day counterpart of Ezekiel as a type or prophetic figure in the “time of the end” in which we now find ourselves. Modern historians are agreed that an era ended in the year 1914 C.E., the year in which World War I began its violent, destructive course of more than four years and three months. What those historians do not take into account is that, according to the Holy Bible, the “times of the Gentiles” ended in early autumn of that very year of 1914. (Luke 21:24, AV) Since then we have been in the world’s “time of the end.”
8. During whose exile in Babylon did those Gentile Times begin, and how, and so the time for us to look for Ezekiel’s modern counterpart began when?
8 While the prophet Ezekiel was still an exile in Babylon, those Gentile Times began, in 607 B.C.E., when the armies of the king of Babylon brought destruction upon Jerusalem and, two months later, complete desolation came upon the whole land of Judah, including Jerusalem. (2 Kings 25:1-26; Jeremiah 39:1 to 43:7; 52:1-27) Ezekiel’s fellow exile, the prophet Daniel, was used to indicate that those Gentile Times would continue for a period of seven prophetic “times,” or for 2,520 years. (Daniel 4:1-28) A count of 2,520 years from the desolation of the land of Judah in the year 607 B.C.E. proves that these years of uninterrupted rule of the whole earth by the Gentile nations ended in 1914 C.E. Since that date the Gentile nations, including the nations of Christendom, have been in their “time of the end.” Do not world events and developments since then indicate this to be true? (Matthew 24:3-44) Here, then, since 1914, and particularly since the year 1919, after World War I had ended, we should look for the modern-day counterpart of the prophet Ezekiel.
9. Is the modern-day Ezekiel an individual person, and how does the apostle Paul illustrate how Ezekiel’s counterpart could be?
9 Who is Ezekiel’s present-day counterpart, whose message and conduct correspond with that of that ancient prophet of Jehovah? Of whom today was he a “sign” or “portent”? Not of some individual man, but of a group of people. Being made up of a unified company of persons, the modern Ezekiel is a composite personage, made up of many members, just the same as the human body is. This reminds us of what the onetime persecutor, the Christian apostle Paul, wrote to fellow Christians in Rome, Italy, saying: “Just as we have in one body many members, but the members do not all have the same function, so we, although many, are one body in union with Christ, but members belonging individually to one another.” (Romans 12:4, 5) Using the same illustration, Paul said in his letter to the congregation in Corinth, Greece: “Just as the body is one but has many members, and all the members of that body, although being many, are one body, so also is the Christ. For truly by one spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink one spirit.”—1 Corinthians 12:12, 13.
10. In order to determine which group is Ezekiel’s modern counterpart, what do we have to do?
10 So it is with the modern-day counterpart of Ezekiel: it is, not one person’s body, but a composite body, made up of many members. All these members were together to do the will of Jehovah, who is the Creator of this modern “Ezekiel.” Who, then, are the group of persons who, toward the beginning of this “time of the end,” were commissioned to serve as the mouthpiece and active agent of Jehovah? In order to determine this, check the history of 1919, the first postwar year after the first world war.
11. When we look at natural Jewry and then at Christendom for the proper group, what objectionableness do we find?
11 We do not look among the natural circumcised Jews, for they had actively taken part in World War I, the famous Zionist leader, Chaim Weizmann, lending his services as a discoverer in the chemical field to the British Government during that world conflict. In 1919 they were mainly interested in establishing a National Homeland for the Jews in Palestine, rather than in fulfilling any religious commission like that of ancient Ezekiel. But what about religious Christendom? Her appearance before Jehovah was also gruesomely bloodstained, for World War I was mainly her war, twenty-four of the twenty-eight participants in carnal warfare claiming to be Christian nations. When this first world conflict ended in 1918 (November 11), victorious Great Britain and her allies were interested in establishing a peace arrangement with the conquered nations, besides dealing with the newly arisen Communist State in Russia. Playing the modern-day role of the Bible “Ezekiel” was far from their thoughts.
12. When we look at the churches of Christendom, including the Vatican, for the proper group, what do we find?
12 The churches of Christendom had taken no courageous Christian steps to prevent World War I. They had split into two great camps over the nationalistic war issues. The end of the war found them disunited, needing to get reconciled and to become religious friends again. According to the Treaty of London that had been signed on May 9, 1915, by Italy, Great Britain, France and Russia, “the Holy See [the pope of Rome] was not to be permitted to intervene by diplomatic action in regard to peace or questions arising from the war.”c So the pro-German Vatican was not allowed to have any part in drawing up the Peace Treaty of Versailles of 1919, which was ratified by the required national governments involved on October 13 of that year. The Covenant of the League of Nations was made a part of that peace treaty.
13. To save face, what did the bloodstained churches of Christendom do respecting peace and security?
13 To “save face” the bloodstained churches of Christendom who had actively backed the war in which church member fought against his fellow church member came out in favor of the proposed League of Nations, because it was put forth as an international organization for world peace and security.
14. What was the position taken by the churches of England, Canada and the United States of America toward the League of Nations?
14 The Church of England supported the League of Nations inasmuch as its religious head was the King of Great Britain, the proposer and chief backer of the League of Nations. The churches of Canada, which held vows of allegiance to the Sovereign of Great Britain, also favored the League. In the allied country of the United States of America there was the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America, an interdenominational organization composed of representatives of various Protestant denominations.d On December 18, 1918, it sent its adopted Declaration to the American president and urged him to work for the League. The Declaration said, in part:
Such a League is not a mere political expedient; it is rather the political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth. . . . The Church can give a spirit of good-will, without which no League of Nations can endure. . . . The League of Nations is rooted in the Gospel. Like the Gospel, its objective is “peace on earth, good-will toward men.”
15. Contrary to what words of Jesus when on trial for life was the Federal Council going, and so what Kingdom of God was it that failed when World War II broke out?
15 In recommending and supporting the League of Nations as “the political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth” the Federal Council of American churches went directly contrary to the words of Jesus Christ, when on trial for his life before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, in 33 C.E., saying: “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If it did, my followers would be fighting to save me from arrest by the Jews. My kingly authority comes from elsewhere.” (John 18:36, New English Bible) By accepting the League of Nations as “the political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth” the members of the Federal Council of American churches were really accepting a counterfeit “Kingdom of God on earth.” Hence, twenty years later when the League of Nations was knocked out of business by the outbreak of World War II and “peace on earth, good-will toward men” were taken away, it was the counterfeit “political expression” that failed, and not the real Kingdom of God as proclaimed in the Gospel of Christ.
16. What was the sort of group before which the “chariot” of Jehovah’s organization could roll up in 1919 C.E. for bestowing the commission to speak in the divine name?
16 Certainly, then, back there in the postwar year of 1919 there were none among the war-guilty religious elements of Jewry and Christendom who qualified to be commissioned as the modern-day counterpart or antitype of Ezekiel. Was there no one, then, whom Jehovah could raise up to serve in a way that corresponded to that of that ancient exile in Babylon? Whom could the real “chariot” of Jehovah’s organization roll up to and confront that He might bestow upon this qualified one the commission to speak as a prophet in the name of Jehovah? Ah, there was a group whose members had suffered religious persecution during World War I at the hands of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, and whose members had, in fact, come out from the religious organizations of Babylon the Great. In fact, they had refused to be a party with Christendom and with all the rest of Babylon the Great in actively taking part in carnal warfare during World War I. Who were they?
THE MODERN-DAY “EZEKIEL”
17. What distinguished this group as true Christians?
17 They were a small minority group of men and women who had dedicated themselves to Jehovah as God by following in the footsteps of his Son Jesus Christ. To give public evidence of this dedication to Jehovah, they had undergone water baptism just as their Leader Jesus Christ had done when he was immersed in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. (Matthew 3:13-17; 28:19, 20; 1 Peter 2:21) They were very active in preaching the good news of God’s kingdom because their Leader Jesus Christ had set this preaching before them as their work in his prophecy at Matthew 24:14. They took literally the words of Jesus Christ, when before the Roman governor, that his kingdom does not belong to this world, and so they declined to have any part in the politics of this world and in its political struggles and conflicts. They took to heart Jesus’ words to his followers: “You are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.” (John 15:19) Hence they expected to suffer the world’s hatred for their living according to that Christian rule. Hatred toward them became violent during World War I.
18. This group was interested in what prophetic book of the Bible, and how was this interest met in 1917, with what later developments?
18 Did the ancient prophet Ezekiel mean anything to them? He did! One of the prophetic books that these students of the Bible had for years wanted to understand was that of Ezekiel. After years of waiting they felt that attention had been paid to their desire when the book entitled “The Finished Mystery” was published in July of the year 1917. This book of 608 pages, published by the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, contained an explanation, not only of the last book of the Bible, Revelation, but also of the twenty-sixth book of the Bible, Ezekiel. It severely criticized the religious systems of Christendom and exposed the clergy of Christendom as being false to the word of Jehovah. Can we wonder why this book had a circulation of less than nine months in the United States and Canada? It was because the book was put under ban, the wartime conditions of both countries being taken advantage of to bring this about. The Watch Tower Society’s president and secretary-treasurer, together with six other members of the Society who had a connection with The Finished Mystery, were imprisoned in the Federal Penitentiary, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.
19. Over what release did this group rejoice in 1919, and through what magazine did the encouragement for postwar work come?
19 The crippling of the work of preaching God’s kingdom during World War I greatly grieved these peace-loving dedicated, baptized followers of Jesus Christ. The burning question was, Would they have an opportunity to resume their peaceful activities in the service of Jehovah their God? The answer proved to be Yes! World War I did not lead on into an Armageddon for the Gentile nations but ended on November 11, 1918. They endeavored to get the imprisoned officers of the Watch Tower Society and their fellow prisoners out of the Federal Penitentiary. Their efforts were blessed from Heaven. After nine months of imprisonment these falsely charged servants of Jehovah were freed in March of 1919, never to return to prison. All the dedicated, baptized servants of Jehovah rejoiced. They recognized that their dedication to Him was for life and therefore they must do his will in the postwar period then opening up. The encouragement to be fearless and do so came through the columns of the magazine The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.
20. How was fear of men discouraged in the series of articles in the issues of August 1 and 15, 1919, of The Watch Tower?
20 In the issues of August 1 and 15, 1919, of this magazine there was published a series of two articles on the subject “Blessed Are the Fearless.” In the third and fifth paragraphs of this article there appeared these statements that discouraged all fear of men: “There is a fear which is very proper, and which everyone must have who is pleasing to God, and this is known as ‘Godly fear’. It means a holy reverence for Jehovah and a fear lest we should displease him and come short of the blessings he has promised us. . . . The Scriptures abound with testimony that those whom God approves do not fear man nor any other creature, but have a holy, reverential fear of Jehovah. In times of old Jehovah justified some men to friendship with him, and the record of his dealing with them was written for the benefit of the church.” Following those articles there appeared the article “Opportunities for Service,” with the subheadings “Is There Work to Do?” “Work for the Little Flock,” and “Benefits of Assembling Together.” Also announcement was made of a General Convention to be held at Cedar Point, Lake Erie.
21. How did this group respond to the announcement of the Cedar Point convention of 1919, and what declaration in the public lecture regarding the League of Nations did they heartily approve?
21 This general assembly at Cedar Point, Ohio, was successfully held at the appointed time, September 1-8, 1919. Thousands of dedicated, baptized servants of Jehovah were in attendance from the United States of America and Canada. The president of the Watch Tower Society there urged their fearless resumption of Jehovah’s work, and this with a new magazine that would be a companion of The Watch Tower, namely, the thirty-two-page magazine entitled “The Golden Age.” The assembled thousands of servants of Jehovah hailed this announcement of the revival of the work, and that on an enlarged scale, with tremendous joy and the spirit of dedication to Jehovah. The public address of the convention was delivered at 3 p.m., Sunday, September 7, 1919, on the subject “The Hope for Distressed Humanity.” The conventioners heartily approved when the president of the Watch Tower Society, in the course of this public talk, as reported next day by the newspaper, the Sandusky (Ohio) Star-Journal,
declared a League of Nations formed by the political and economic forces, moved by a desire to better mankind by establishment of peace and plenty would accomplish great good, and then asserted that the Lord’s displeasure is certain to be visited upon the League, however, because the clergy—Catholic and Protestant—claiming to be God’s representatives, have abandoned his plan and endorsed the League of Nations, hailing it as a political expression of Christ’s kingdom on earth.e
22. When the League of Nations was ratified in 1919, how did Christendom’s clergy react, and how did Jehovah’s servants?
22 The clergy of Christendom got their satisfaction when the Versailles Peace Treaty was ratified by the required nations on October 13, 1919, and thereby the League of Nations came into being. The League of Nations really began to function on January 10, 1920, when ratifications were formally exchanged by all the signatory powers at Paris, France. But the dedicated, baptized servants of Jehovah did not accept this counterfeit “political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth.” They recognized that the real kingdom of God had been established in the hands of Jesus Christ in the heavens at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914, and now more vigorously than ever they undertook to preach it “in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” They did so with the additional help of The Golden Age (now the magazine Awake!).
23. Since the release of The Finished Mystery from under ban in June of 1920, Jehovah’s servants have shown keen interest in what prophetic book, and how? And why?
23 In June of 1920, when the book The Finished Mystery was released from under ban, these servants of Jehovah resumed the circulating of the book. With the use of it as a textbook they continued to study the Bible book of Ezekiel. Later, in the years 1931 and 1932, a more advanced, up-to-date understanding of the prophecy of Ezekiel was published in the form of three volumes of the book called “Vindication,” published by the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society. To this day their interest in the prophetic book of Ezekiel is keen, and they study it purposely in order to determine what further light it sheds on Jehovah’s will for them in these closing days of the “time of the end.”
24. Our attention to these facts of history helps us to identify whom today, and what name was embraced at the time when the book Vindication was released?
24 Why, though, are all these facts of history brought to our attention? It is to show the fulfillment of prophecy. Jehovah has found and commissioned his modern-day “Ezekiel.” It is a composite Ezekiel. It is composed of those dedicated, baptized proclaimers of God’s kingdom, who have been anointed with His spirit for their work. (Isaiah 61:1-3) It is manifest that in the year 1919 the invisible heavenly organization of Jehovah, like the celestial chariot seen in Ezekiel’s vision, rolled up and stopped, not before Christendom’s advocates of the League of Nations, but before the anointed proclaimers of the heavenly kingdom of God in the hands of Jesus Christ. From atop this celestial chariotlike organization Jehovah commissioned this dedicated, baptized, anointed class of servants to speak to all the nations in His name. Thus, like Ezekiel, they became Jehovah’s witnesses. It was most fitting that, after twelve years of worldwide activity as such, they embraced the distinguishing name Jehovah’s witnesses, in the summer of 1931, and that in connection with the publishing of the book Vindication.
WHO COMMISSIONED THE MODERN-DAY “EZEKIEL”?
25. Of what concern is it that Jewish rabbis and Christendom’s clergy have not appointed Jehovah’s witnesses as an antitypical Ezekiel, and what is it that counts, and why?
25 Let not the rabbis of Judaism and the clergy of Christendom say, “We did not ordain and commission these witnesses of Jehovah to be the modern antitype of the prophet Ezekiel.” But what does that matter? Whoever made those rabbis and sectarian clergymen a religious body for the appointment of the official servants of the Most High God? Any ordination and commission proceeding from those religionists would be of no value and of no force in this regard. What is all-essential is for a person or group of persons to have an appointment and a commission from the Most High God, Jehovah, himself. This is what counts. As the Supreme Being he can go over the heads of those religionists and determine for Himself who qualifies for the special work that He desires to be done in this “time of the end.”
26. Who were disregarded in the appointment of Ezekiel to be prophet and witness, and from whom do Jehovah’s anointed witnesses of today recognize their appointment as coming?
26 Back in the year 613 B.C.E. Jehovah went over the head of the High Priest, Seraiah, and of the second priest, Zephaniah, at the temple in Jerusalem, and appointed Ezekiel the son of Buzi an underpriest to be his prophet in the land of Babylon, to speak in His name and to bear witness to Him. (2 Kings 25:18) From atop his celestial chariot Jehovah said to Ezekiel: “Son of man, I am sending you to the sons of Israel, to rebellious nations that have rebelled against me.” (Ezekiel 2:3) So it was with the anointed, dedicated witnesses of Jehovah back there in the year 1919 C.E. The facts from then on down to this date prove that they received their ordination and appointment and commission for their work in this “time of the end” from Jehovah himself through his heavenly chariotlike organization. Hence they have taken their divine commission very seriously as being a real Biblical thing, and they have tried to carry it out faithfully in spite of the criticism and objections of the clergy of Christendom.
27. What question arises as to the “sons of Israel, . . . rebellious nations,” to whom the modern-day Ezekiel was sent, and what about the natural Jews back in 1919 C.E.?
27 Who, then, are the “sons of Israel, . . . rebellious nations that have rebelled against [Jehovah],” to whom the modern-day antitypical Ezekiel is sent in this “time of the end”? They are not the natural, circumcised “sons of Israel,” who were seeking a National Jewish Homeland back in the year 1919 C.E., with Chaim Weizmann as their Zionist leader. No, but there is a modern-day counterpart of those ancient “sons of Israel, . . . rebellious nations.”
28. What is the modern-day counterpart of the “sons of Israel, . . . rebellious nations,” according to what religious claim?
28 That counterpart is Christendom, which claims to be a Christian Israel. To herself Christendom has applied the apostle Paul’s words in Galatians 6:15, 16 (AV): “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” For instance, in his “A Commentary and Critical Notes” (1836 C.E. edition), the Wesleyan Methodist minister, Dr. Adam Clarke, makes this comment on the expression “The Israel of God”: “The true Christians, called here the Israel of God, to distinguish them from Israel according to the flesh. See the notes on Rom. ii. 29, and Rom iv. 12.”
29. What does Romans 2:29 say, and how does Dr. Adam Clarke speak in comment on this?
29 Romans 2:29 (AV) reads: “But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” On the expression “But he is a Jew,” Dr. Adam Clarke comments: “A true member of the Church of God.” On the expression “Whose praise is not of men,” he comments: “It has, with great probability, been conjectured that the apostle may here refer to the signification of the name Jew, or Judah, יהודה Yehudah, PRAISE, from ידה Yadah, he PRAISED. Such a one is a true Israelite, who walks in a conformity to the spirit of his religion: his countrymen may praise him because he is a steady professor of the Jewish faith; but God praises him, because he has entered into the spirit and design of the covenant made with Abraham, and has got the end of his faith, the salvation of his soul. Sentiments like these, on the same subject, may be found in the ancient Jewish writers.”
30. How could the “sons of Israel” be then spoken of as “nations,” and how did Christendom come to correspond with this in 1054 C.E.?
30 Christendom, however, has not been true to her claims to be “the Israel of God.” Her history since the fourth century proves that she has been like the “sons of Israel” to whom Ezekiel was sent, “rebellious nations that have rebelled against me [Jehovah].” “Nations”?f Yes, because back in 997 B.C.E. there was a revolt against the rule of David’s royal line and the twelve tribes of Israel were split up into two kingdoms, the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah, and thus there came to be two nations of Israelite stock. Many God-fearing Israelites left the rebellious Kingdom of Israel and went over to the Kingdom of Judah. Also, many exiles of the Kingdom of Israel were in the provinces that the empire of Babylon had taken over from Assyria. Correspondingly, in Christendom, in 1054 C.E., there came the final break between the Greek churches and the Latin churches, when the Roman pope’s legates excommunicated Patriarch Michael Cerularius of Constantinople.
31. What further splitting took place from the sixteenth century onward, and how can Christendom rightly be called “nations”?
31 Later, in the sixteenth century there came a further split when, in the year 1529 C.E., the Protestant movement was established by the followers of the ex-priest Martin Luther. Later, in 1534 C.E., the English Parliament passed acts declaring the king of England, Henry VIII, to be the Supreme Head of the Church of England, with authority to redress errors, heresies and abuses in the Church of England. After this, non-Roman Catholic religious sects sprang up by the hundreds throughout Christendom. Religiously, Christendom can be called “nations,” inasmuch as a number of so-called “Christian” lands have their own national State churches. To this twentieth-century Christendom the modern Ezekiel class was sent by Jehovah.
FEARLESSNESS NEEDED FOR THE ASSIGNMENT
32. Why was it a hard mission on which Ezekiel was sent, and what expectation according to God’s prediction would comfort and strengthen Ezekiel?
32 For Ezekiel of old it was a hard mission on which Jehovah sent him, he being sent to people “insolent of face and hard of heart.” In order to carry out his mission to the end he needed to have fulfilled toward him what his name Ezekiel meant, namely, “God Strengthens.” At the time, they might not view or appreciate him as a prophet of Jehovah. But whether they heard him as such or refrained from hearing and paying attention to him, the occasion was to come when these rebellious people would “know also that a prophet himself happened to be in the midst of them.” Jehovah would confirm him as a prophet before them by causing what Ezekiel prophesied to come true. (Ezekiel 2:3-5) The expectation of this would be a comfort and strength to Ezekiel, not to be discouraged because of the way he was being considered and treated at the moment.
33. Why is the mission of the modern-day Ezekiel class likewise a trying one, but, too, what must Christendom also come to know?
33 Likewise it was a trying mission upon which the modern Ezekiel class was sent, to religious people of the same type as those in Ezekiel’s day. But regardless of how Christendom views or regards this group of anointed witnesses of Jehovah, the time must come, and that shortly, when those making up Christendom will know that really a “prophet” of Jehovah was among them.
34. Ezekiel was told to speak God’s word fearlessly despite what about the rebellious house of Israel, and why has the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses likewise had to speak fearlessly?
34 Would we today like to tell Jehovah’s message among things that prick us and among scorpions? It would take great courage and trust in the One who sent us to do so. Into such a situation Ezekiel was sent, according to the words that Jehovah further said to him: “And you, O son of man, do not be afraid of them; and of their words do not be afraid, because there are obstinate ones and things pricking you and it is among scorpions that you are dwelling. Of their words do not you be afraid, and at their faces do not you be struck with terror, for they are a rebellious house. And you must speak my words to them, regardless of whether they hear or they refrain, for they are a case of rebellion.” (Ezekiel 2:6, 7) Since the year 1919 C.E. the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses have found it to be just like that as they have spoken fearlessly the word of Jehovah in the midst of Christendom.
35. Christendom’s condition today shows that she has responded in what way to Jehovah’s word presented by every means of communication, and so in what way should Christendom not be imitated?
35 The religious condition today in Christendom bears witness to the fact that, rebelliously, she has not listened to the word from Jehovah’s Holy Scriptures that has been spoken to her by every means of communication, by house-to-house calls with the printed page, by recordings played on portable phonographs, by the loudspeakers of sound cars, by direct public lectures, by radio networks and by television. Regardless of Christendom’s indifference or even rebelliousness, the anointed witnesses of Jehovah have done just as He told Ezekiel to do, saying: “And you, O son of man, hear what I am speaking to you. Do not become rebellious like the rebellious house. Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you.”—Ezekiel 2:8.
36. What was Ezekiel given to eat, and what did it contain, for his information?
36 What was Ezekiel given to eat? His written account tells us: “And I began to see, and, look! there was a hand thrust out to me, and, look! in it there was the roll of a book. And he gradually spread it out before me, and it was written upon in front and on the back; and there were written in it dirges and moaning and wailing.” (Ezekiel 2:9, 10) From what was written on the scroll Ezekiel learned the content of the message that he was to deliver to the rebellious house of Israel in the name of Jehovah.
37. How was the fullness of the message to be delivered portrayed, and why was the kind of message the proper one to be delivered, both by Ezekiel and by Jehovah’s witnesses of today?
37 As no space was wasted on the scroll, but it was written upon on both sides, front and back, it was to be a full message that Ezekiel proclaimed, it was to contain a great deal of gloomy dirges, moaning and wailing. It was to be no pleasant message, and it would not be altogether pleasant for Ezekiel to deliver it. But when rebellious people refuse to turn from their ungodly way, what other kind of message than this is there to be pronounced over them? No less so, as Jehovah’s anointed witnesses of today examined the prophetic book of Ezekiel and other parts of Jehovah’s Word they found just such a message for Christendom.
38. In what way was the scroll offered to Ezekiel, and what question arises as to the acceptance thereof?
38 The hand that was thrust out to Ezekiel to offer him the scroll was likely a hand that was under a wing of one of the four cherubic living creatures who accompanied the celestial chariot of Jehovah. (Ezekiel 1:8) It is later reported that the hand of one of these cherubs was used to put fire into the hand of the “man clothed with the linen.” (Ezekiel 10:6-8) But did Ezekiel accept from that hand the scroll despite its revealed contents and then eat it, making it a part of himself? What did he as a “sign” or “portent” for the future indicate that Jehovah’s remnant of anointed witnesses would do in this twentieth century?
a By speaking of himself as “the Son of man,” Jesus Christ was not directly identifying himself as the Christ but was comparing himself with the “Son of man” seen in vision in Daniel 7:13 (AV). See also Acts 7:56.
b See Daniel 8:17.
c Quoted from The Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 17, edition of 1929, page 633.
d The Federal Council was superseded in the year 1950 by the organizing of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., a corporate federation of 33 Protestant and Orthodox churches to advance the programs and policies of mutual interest to it.
e See the Federal Council Bulletin, Volume II, No. 1, of the year 1919, pages 12-14.
f Some think that “nations” here refers to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin who, together, made up the Kingdom of Judah. Each tribe could be considered a nation, according to Genesis 35:11, as addressed to Jacob or Israel.