Appointed as a Watchman to Christendom
1. When should a watchman specially be appreciated, and into what danger had Christendom entered by the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E.?
A WATCHMAN should be specially appreciated in time of danger. His services by day and night, if appreciated and acted upon, result in protection and life for those over whom he acts as watchman. The people of Christendom have been in great danger ever since the “time of the end” began with the expiration of the “times of the Gentiles” (“the appointed times of the nations”) in early autumn of the year 1914 C.E. This being in danger has been not just because the first world war was then raging and gaining momentum, to introduce an “age of violence” that has continued on down to this day. There is a danger also for a more serious reason, as we shall see.
2. What did Christendom set up as her watchman, and what showed that her clergy could not be a reliable watchman?
2 Christendom set up first the League of Nations, and in 1945 the United Nations, as her watchman in behalf of world peace and security, but these have not worked. Rather, the spiritual interests of the people of Christendom have been endangered, the danger in this respect being particularly great because the spiritual interests have to do with one’s eternal life or one’s eternal death. The fact that the clergy did not stick to Christian principles so as to prevent World War I proved that, collectively, they were no reliable spiritual watchman.
3. Could Christendom’s clergy raise up a spiritual watchman from their own ranks, and how did God prefigure that he would do so?
3 Consequently, at the close of that savage international conflict on November 11, 1918, the need arose or became more pressing for a spiritual watchman to be raised up by the Supreme Spirit Being in whose hands the eternal destiny of the people rests. He had to raise up such a watchman with the qualities of unrebelliousness, reliability and faithfulness, because the clergy of Christendom, Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox, could not produce such a watchman from their own ranks. That the Most High God would do so was prefigured in the case of Ezekiel the son of Buzi the priest. The year 613 B.C.E. was a late point of time in the forty-year “time of the end” for Jerusalem and its domain, the land of Judah. It was only six years more until both Jerusalem and the land of Judah should be completely desolated, without man or domestic beast. Exile in Babylon during Judah’s seventy years of desolation was in store for the few Jews who survived the destruction of Jerusalem. Jehovah foreknew that. He especially knew the danger to the Jewish people who were involved. Years in advance, in 613 B.C.E., He mercifully raised up a watchman among those who were already exiles in Babylon, Ezekiel the son of a priest.
4. What was the purpose of Jehovah’s celestial chariot wheeling up before Ezekiel, and what questions come up as to Ezekiel’s disposition of the scroll offered to him?
4 There was still time left for a watchman to give warning ahead of the great coming calamity. Suddenly Ezekiel found himself being favored with a vision from Jehovah the God of Israel. In the realistic vision the awe-inspiring celestial chariot of Jehovah wheeled out of the north to before Ezekiel there at the bank of the river (canal) Chebar in Babylonia. The purpose of this vision was for Jehovah, atop the chariotlike organization, to appoint Ezekiel as a prophet and a watchman in behalf of the endangered sons of Israel. As a prophet Ezekiel needed to have a message, and as a watchman he needed something to call out. Ezekiel’s prophetic message and the warning that he was to cry out were contained in writing on the scroll that was now extended to Ezekiel by a hand, together with the command that he should eat this scroll. Did Ezekiel desire to proclaim the “dirges and moaning and wailing” that were written on the front side and reverse side of the scroll? Would a scroll with such a message be palatable, enjoyable to eat? Would Ezekiel be rebellious like the sons of Israel, as Jehovah told him not to be? (Ezekiel 2:8-10) What was Ezekiel’s choice, as an example for the modern Ezekiel?
5. What was Ezekiel commanded to do, and what was the first effect when he complied?
5 Referring to Jehovah enthroned on his visionary chariot, Ezekiel says: “And he proceeded to say to me: ‘Son of man, what you find, eat. Eat this roll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.’ So I opened my mouth, and he gradually made me eat this roll. And he went on to say to me: ‘Son of man, you should cause your own belly to eat, that you may fill your very intestines with this roll that I am giving you.’ And I began to eat it, and it came to be in my mouth like honey for sweetness.”—Ezekiel 3:1-3.
6. Why did Ezekiel’s eating the scroll bring sweetness to his mouth, and who had a like experience seven hundred years later, and where?
6 As might be contrary to expectations, the gloom-laden roll was as sweet as honey in Ezekiel’s mouth. This was because its becoming a part of Ezekiel’s very system meant an acceptance of an assignment to do Jehovah’s special work. This is a sweet experience for one who appreciates the honor of being appointed to serve the Most High God in a special capacity at a critical time. Seven hundred years later a like experience was to be had by the Christian apostle John, who, like Ezekiel, was an exile, on the Isle of Patmos in the Aegean Sea, far to the west of the river Chebar. In this experience John imitated Ezekiel’s example. If John the beloved companion of Jesus Christ had his experience in the year 96 C.E., then it was sixty-six years after Jesus called him to be a disciple that John had his vision, whereas Ezekiel was only in his thirtieth year when he received his commission. Let us note the similarity of the two experiences as John writes:
7. How does the apostle John describe his experience in connection with the scroll in the hand of an angel?
7 “And the voice that I heard out of heaven is speaking again with me and saying: ‘Go, take the opened scroll that is in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the earth.’ And I went away to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll. And he said to me: ‘Take it and eat it up, and it will make your belly bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.’ And I took the little scroll out of the hand of the angel and ate it up, and in my mouth it was sweet as honey; but when I had eaten it up, my belly was made bitter. And they say to me: ‘You must prophesy again with regard to peoples and nations and tongues and many kings.’”—Revelation 10:8-11.
8. Ezekiel’s experience with the scroll was taken as a model for what, and whose experience did it prefigure?
8 Since Ezekiel’s experience was taken as a model of John’s experience, it indicates that Ezekiel’s experience was prophetic, prefiguring not John’s experience, but the experience of the same class today as was represented by the apostle John, namely, the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses.
9. What did the roll that contained such mournful contents and that Ezekiel ate picture?
9 The roll that Ezekiel ate, with dirges and moaning and wailing written thereon, did not picture the prophetic book of Ezekiel. It pictured Jehovah’s message that was to be delivered by Ezekiel up to when he delivered his last message against the Gentile enemies of Jerusalem and the land of Judah.—Ezekiel 35:15.
10. In connection with the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s servants, what did that “roll of a book” picture, and how did the remnant eat it and with what effect?
10 Similarly in the year 1919 C.E., the “roll of a book” that the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s dedicated servants ate up did not picture the book of Ezekiel. It pictured all those parts of God’s Holy Bible that have to do with the spiritual plagues and the “great tribulation” that are to come upon Christendom and her religious and political associates during this “time of the end.” The anointed remnant of today ate up this “roll of a book” in that they accepted the commission and responsibility to deliver all these messages of God’s Word as He by his spirit made them plain and understandable to His witnesses. There was unspeakable joy and rejoicing on the part of the anointed remnant back there in 1919 C.E. as they ate up Jehovah’s message of the hour and resumed their public activities. It tasted sweet.
SENT, NOT TO FOREIGNERS, BUT TO HIS OWN PEOPLE
11, 12. After eating the roll, Ezekiel was told what about the kind of people to whom he was sent, and how was he to be adequate to face them?
11 After accepting his commission by eating the “roll of a book,” Ezekiel was ordered to go into action. He tells us:
12 “And he continued saying to me: ‘Son of man, go, enter in among the house of Israel, and you must speak with my words to them. For it is not to a people who are unintelligible in language or heavy of tongue that you are being sent—to the house of Israel, not to numerous peoples unintelligible in language or heavy in tongue, whose words you cannot hear understandingly. If it was to them that I had sent you, those very ones would listen to you. But as for the house of Israel, they will not want to listen to you, for they are not wanting to listen to me; because all those of the house of Israel are hardheaded and hardhearted. Look! I have made your face exactly as hard as their faces and your forehead exactly as hard as their foreheads. Like a diamond, harder than flint, I have made your forehead. You must not be afraid of them, and you must not be struck with terror at their faces, for they are a rebellious house.’”—Ezekiel 3:4-9.
13. Was Ezekiel to have a language problem with the people to whom he was sent, and why did he not need to have any trembling fear before them?
13 Ezekiel did not need to learn a new language in order to deliver his message. He was not sent to peoples whose language he did not understand and who would not understand the Hebrew that he spoke. If it were to such peoples that he was sent, they would listen to him, just as the Assyrian inhabitants of Nineveh listened to the Hebrew prophet Jonah and repented and were spared over two hundred years earlier, about the year 844 B.C.E. (Jonah 3:1 to 4:11) Ezekiel was sent to his own people, to speak to them in their holy Hebrew language. So it would not be because they did not understand what Ezekiel said that they would refrain from heeding what he said to them. Jehovah reminded Ezekiel that the house of Israel was hardheaded and hardhearted in their rebellious attitude. But Ezekiel did not need to have any trembling fear of men, that lays a snare for the frightened one. (Proverbs 29:25) Jehovah would make his forehead of a superior hardness, like that of a diamond, harder than flint, when compared with their foreheads. He could be just as determined of face as they were.
14. After World War I, to whom was the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses sent as far as religion is concerned?
14 After World War I ended in 1918 C.E., the revived remnant of Jehovah’s anointed witnesses were sent, not to the heathen or pagans who had their own religious language, but to Christendom, that had the Christian religious idiom. They could carry on their preaching of God’s kingdom well in Christendom. Why?
15. Due to what situation could the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses carry on well the Kingdom preaching in Christendom from 1919 C.E. onward?
15 Because they looked for the administration of their activities and for the supply of religious literature to the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, and already in 1919 C.E. this Society had branch offices in Great Britain, Continental Europe, Australia, South Africa and North America. The peoples in these lands of Christendom had the Holy Bible in the various languages, the same as Jehovah’s witnesses did. Although the hands of these peoples were dripping with the blood of World War I, they still professed to be Christian. They claimed to believe in God the Father and in his Son Jesus Christ and in the holy spirit and in the Christian church. Consequently, the modern-day Ezekiel class could talk the religious language of these professed Christians, who, in turn, should be able to understand the Biblical language of the Ezekiel class.
16, 17. As in Ezekiel’s case, did Jehovah’s witnesses expect to convert Christendom, and what words of Jesus did they remember about people of another speech or race?
16 The anointed remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses did not expect to convert Christendom from the error of her way, any more than Ezekiel had been given the hope of converting the rebellious house of Israel. Christendom really represented the foretold apostasy or rebellion against the pure religion, a rebellion that took form after the death of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ by the end of the first century C.E. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12) So Christendom also, like ancient Israel, was a “rebellious house.” The anointed remnant were not surprised at her indisposition to listen, for they remembered the words of Jesus that correspond with those of Jehovah to Ezekiel about hearing, when Jesus said to certain Israelite cities where he had witnessed:
17 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! because if the powerful works had taken place in Tyre and Sidon that took place in you, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. Consequently I say to you, It will be more endurable for Tyre and Sidon on Judgment Day than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you perhaps be exalted to heaven? Down to Hádes you will come; because if the powerful works that took place in you had taken place in Sodom, it would have remained until this very day. Consequently I say to you people, It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom on Judgment Day than for you.”—Matthew 11:20-24.
18. Also, what did Jesus say regarding the men of Nineveh and the queen of the south as regards Judgment Day?
18 Jesus Christ also said to the “wicked and adulterous generation” of his day: “Men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it; because they repented at what Jonah preached, but, look! something more than Jonah is here. The queen of the south will be raised up in the judgment with this generation and will condemn it; because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, but, look! something more than Solomon is here.”—Matthew 12:39-42.
19. To what accusation did Jehovah not lay himself open, and, to correspond with Ezekiel, to whom did He send the anointed remnant, and to say what?
19 Jehovah will not leave himself open to the accusation that he failed to give advance warning to the people who refrained from heeding his message of the hour. That is why he “went on to say to [Ezekiel]: ‘Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you, take into your heart and hear with your own ears. And go, enter in among the exiled people, among the sons of your people, and you must speak to them and say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said,” regardless of whether they hear or they refrain.’” (Ezekiel 3:10, 11) The anointed remnant that had survived World War I and that were familiar with the prophetic book of Ezekiel were reminded that they must take God’s Word into their hearts. They must then enter in among the modern-day “exiled people,” namely, the people of Christendom, which has really been taken into captivity and exile by Babylon the Great, the world empire of false Babylonish religion. To these the anointed remnant must say what Jehovah told them to say in his written Word, no matter whether they listened or refused to do so. By this course the anointed remnant would prove faithful to their God.
20. To whom and where did spirit from Jehovah bear Ezekiel along, and with what temperament did he go?
20 Now was the time for action. Ezekiel was still in the presence of the visionary chariot of Jehovah with the cherubs alongside its four wheels. Now the divine spirit that was in the wheels of that celestial chariot and that made them move in the right direction began to move Ezekiel. He writes: “And a spirit proceeded to bear me along and I began to hear behind me the sound of a great rushing: ‘Blessed be the glory of Jehovah from his place.’ And there was the sound of the wings of the living creatures that were closely touching each other, and the sound of the wheels close beside them, and the sound of a great rushing. And the spirit bore me along and proceeded to take me, so that I went bitterly in the rage of my spirit, and the hand of Jehovah upon me was strong. So I entered in among the exiled people at Tel-abib, who were dwelling by the river Chebar, and I began to dwell where they were dwelling; and I kept dwelling there for seven days, stunned in the midst of them.” (Ezekiel 3:12-15) Thus Ezekiel was irresistibly conducted to his destination.
21. In harmony with the parting words heard by Ezekiel, from what place should the “glory of Jehovah” be blessed?
21 Those parting words that Ezekiel had heard, “Blessed be the glory of Jehovah from his place,” were doubtless said by the four cherubic living creatures that accompanied the celestial chariot. Nominally, the temple far away in Jerusalem was “his place,” Jehovah’s place, but his glory was not being blessed from that now polluted, defiled religious building. Jehovah’s place is with His people whom he commissions for his service, like Ezekiel himself, and blessings upon the “glory of Jehovah” should arise from them. This should be the case with Ezekiel; it should also be the case with his modern antitype, the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses from 1919 C.E. onward.
GOING “BITTERLY IN THE RAGE OF MY SPIRIT”
22. In what sense did Ezekiel go “bitterly in the rage of my spirit,” and at what was he “stunned,” remaining so for seven days?
22 The eating of the written roll from Jehovah, that had produced sweetness like honey in the mouth of Ezekiel, worked otherwise inside him, producing a bitterness, a “rage of my spirit,” because of the “dirges and moaning and wailing” that were recorded on that scroll. So his going “bitterly in the rage of my spirit” did not mean his going against his will and in objection to his difficult mission. Also Jehovah’s applied power, his “hand,” was strong upon Ezekiel, strengthening him to express in his ministry the spirit of what was written down on the scroll that he had eaten. He needed to enter into the feel of that divine message of God’s rage in order to present it properly, zealously. The message that Ezekiel had to deliver to those Jewish exiles at the river Chebar was a stunning one, one that numbed one’s senses because of shocking features that it contained. Therefore he needed time to digest it, to make it his own. Seven days, a complete period of time, he dwelt “stunned” among those Jewish exiles at Tel-abib, not making a move, like one in a daze.
23, 24. What motivated the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses to go “bitterly in the rage of my spirit,” and how was the entering of the reviving spirit of God into them portrayed in Revelation 11:11-14?
23 As for modern times, the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses had suffered much persecution at the hands of Christendom during World War I, but it was not this that filled them with bitterness, a spirit of revenge. It was the message of Jehovah’s rage against the apostate, hypocritical Christendom that made them go in bitterness to the performance of their postwar commission. But the “hand of Jehovah” that was upon them was strong, moving them to their assigned work. It was his spirit that revived them in 1919 C.E. for their postwar public activities, especially in Christendom. This was just as it had been prophetically portrayed in Revelation 11:11-14, where we read about God’s “two witnesses” whose public preaching Christendom had killed during the first world war:
24 “And after the three and a half days [of lying dead in the broad way of Christendom] spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon those beholding them. And they heard a loud voice out of heaven say to them: ‘Come on up here.’ And they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them. And in that hour a great earthquake occurred, and a tenth of the city fell; and seven thousand persons were killed by the earthquake, and the rest became frightened and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past. Look! The third woe is coming quickly.”
25. At the start of the postwar period, in what way was the anointed remnant as in a “stunned” state, and what did the magazine The Golden Age make a start in doing regarding Christendom?
25 As in the case of Ezekiel, who remained “stunned” among the exiles at Tel-abib by the river Chebar, it took a period of time for the revived remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses to adjust themselves to the awe-inspiring postwar work. It was planned by their governing body at the headquarters of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society at Brooklyn, New York, to publish a new magazine that would especially expose the unchristian depredations that Christendom had committed against Jehovah’s people during World War I. This purpose of the new magazine, The Golden Age, the first issue of which appeared on October 1, 1919, was concentrated in the special issue, Number 27, under date of September 29, 1920. All thirty-two pages of this issue featured the theme article entitled “‘Distress of Nations’: Cause, Warning, Remedy.” Four million copies of this special issue were printed and were distributed free to the people of Christendom. This was like only a start of this magazine’s exposing of the flagrant misdeeds of Christendom in violation of God’s written Word, the Bible.
26. Of what other magazine was The Golden Age a companion in exposing Christendom’s ungodliness, and what did its issue of September 24, 1924, publish about Christendom, indicting her?
26 From then on particularly The Golden Age was used as a companion magazine to The Watch Tower in exposing the ungodliness of Christendom and pointing forward to her destruction. For instance, The Golden Age was used with The Watch Tower in reporting on the international convention of the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses held in Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A., on July 20-27, 1924. Thus in its issue of September 24, 1924, The Golden Age published that famous document that was given worldwide attention as a feature of the international convention, together with the public address that was given in support of it. This document was the resolution adopted on Friday afternoon, July 25, it being entitled “INDICTMENT.” To help us to appreciate how this resolution indicated Christendom as a hypocritical apostate religious system, we quote the following paragraphs of it:
We, the International Bible Students, in convention assembled, declare our unqualified allegiance to Christ, who is now present and setting up His kingdom, and to that kingdom.
We believe that every consecrated child of God is an ambassador for Christ and is duty-bound to give a faithful and true witness on behalf of his kingdom. As ambassadors for Christ, and without assuming any self-righteousness, we believe and hold that God has commissioned us to “proclaim the day of vengeance of our God and to comfort all that mourn.”—Isaiah 61:2.
. . .
We present and charge that Satan formed a conspiracy for the purpose of keeping the people in ignorance of God’s provision for blessing them with life, liberty and happiness; and that others, to wit, unfaithful preachers, conscienceless profiteers, and unscrupulous politicians, have entered into said conspiracy, either willingly or unwillingly.
That unfaithful preachers have formed themselves into ecclesiastical systems, consisting of councils, synods, presbyteries, associations, etc., and have designated themselves therein as popes, cardinals, bishops, doctors of divinity, pastors, shepherds, reverends, etc., and elected themselves to such offices, which aggregation is herein designated as “the clergy”; that these have willingly made commercial giants and professional politicians the principal of their flocks.
. . .
(7) That they deny the right of the Lord to establish his kingdom on earth, well knowing that Jesus taught that He would come again at the end of the world, and that the fact of that time would be made known by the nations of Christendom engaging in a world war, quickly followed by famine, pestilence, revolutions, . . .—Paragraphs 1, 2, 4, 5, 17, pages 820, 821 of The Golden Age.
27. What was the title of the public lecture given in support of that “Indictment” resolution, and what publicity was given to it next day?
27 The public address that was given at that international convention in support of the above “Indictment” on the following Sunday was entitled “Civilization Doomed.” It was delivered in the Ohio State University Stadium to a visible audience estimated at 35,000 persons. In the course of this address, and after quoting from seven prominent men who sensed the impending doom, the then president of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society presented in much detail “the reason for Christendom’s doom.” And, as The Golden Age reported, on page 813, column two: “The discourse was received with splendid attention; and while it is a pointed exposition of the fallacies of Christendom, it was received with enthusiasm and applause by the great audience. On the Monday following, the Ohio State Journal carried the lecture in full.”a
28. How was this “Indictment” adopted at that public meeting, what distribution of it in print was made thereafter, and in this how was the anointed remnant acting like Ezekiel?
28 After the public lecture the “Indictment,” as already adopted by the conventioners, was read to the public and was unanimously approved by a rising vote of this public audience. In order to inform and warn as many people of Christendom as possible, in the following October this resolution, “Indictment,” began to be distributed free in tract form, finally more than 50,000,000 copies of it being printed in English and foreign languages. Certainly, then, the prophetic work that was foreshadowed by the prophet Ezekiel long ago was being carried on by his modern-day counterpart toward the antitypical rebellious “house of Israel.”
HOW TO DELIVER ONE’S SOUL AS A WATCHMAN
29-31. What further words did Ezekiel receive regarding his accountability as a watchman, to warn the wicked and the righteous?
29 Ezekiel of old was no doubt waiting for further word from Jehovah in his new location at Tel-abib, Babylonia. It came, as Ezekiel reports to us: “And it came about at the end of seven days that the word of Jehovah proceeded to occur to me, saying:
30 “‘Son of man, a watchman is what I have made you to the house of Israel, and you must hear from my mouth speech and you must warn them from me. When I say to someone wicked, “You will positively die,” and you do not actually warn him and speak in order to warn the wicked one from his wicked way to preserve him alive, he being wicked, in his error he will die, but his blood I shall ask back from your own hand. But as for you, in case you have warned someone wicked and he does not actually turn back from his wickedness and from his wicked way, he himself for his error will die; but as for you, you will have delivered your own soul.
31 “‘And when someone righteous turns back from his righteousness and actually does injustice and I must put a stumbling block before him, he himself will die because you did not warn him. For his sin he will die, and his righteous acts that he did will not be remembered, but his blood I shall ask back from your own hand. And as for you, in case you have warned someone righteous that the righteous one should not sin, and he himself does not actually sin, he will without fail keep on living because he had been warned, and you yourself will have delivered your own soul.’”—Ezekiel 3:16-21.
32. Was Ezekiel to be a watchman in a literal watchtower, or how, and in connection with the observance of what covenant?
32 Ezekiel as a newly commissioned watchman to the house of Israel was not to climb up into some literal watchtower and be on the lookout for threatening dangers to them. Rather, he was to watch as to how the sons of Israel fulfilled their obligations to their God. We must remember that the house of Israel had entered into a national contract or covenant with Jehovah through his mediator Moses back in the year 1513 B.C.E. and they had agreed solemnly over sacrificial animals to keep the Ten Commandments and all the associated laws from the hand of Jehovah. (Exodus 19:3 to 24:8) In Ezekiel’s day this covenant had not been replaced by a new covenant, but Jehovah still held them bound to the covenant made through Moses at Mount Sinai. The prophet Ezekiel was appointed to watch and warn the breakers of the law of this covenant about the consequences of this. Just as a soldier on sentry duty at night, if he fell asleep and failed to guard his sleeping comrades, would be sentenced to death, so Ezekiel would lose his life if he failed to give warning from Jehovah.
33. How would Jehovah say to the violators of the Law covenant, “You will positively die”? And how would they die?
33 Especially by the curses set out in the Law covenant, Jehovah would say to the wicked violator of the covenant, “You will positively die.” This did not mean one’s dying a natural death such as even the non-Jews die because they are descendants of our sinful first human father, Adam; rather, it means having one’s life cut short by the executional means that Jehovah will use.
34. What opportunities for life were held out to the wicked and the righteous respectively, and why was there then vital need of a watchman for Israel?
34 So the wicked one could have his life spared from such an executional death by turning completely away from his wicked life. The righteous one could have his life preserved by continuing to hold to Jehovah’s righteous law as laid down in His covenant. If a righteous Israelite turned to wickedness, then all his previous righteousness would not stand in credit for him; his final state as a bad man was what determined his case, and for this reason he must die the executional death. Was there vital need, then, for Jehovah to raise up a watchman? Yes! Because now Jerusalem and the land of Judah were already far along in their “time of the end.” Lives of the inhabitants were involved.
35. How were both Jehovah and Ezekiel involved with those Israelites in danger of death, and what was the wise and sensible thing for Ezekiel to do?
35 Indeed, although Ezekiel was far away from the scene of coming destruction by being an exile in the land of Babylon, his own life was involved. Why so? Because he could be held responsible for the deaths of the poor victims, inasmuch as Jehovah had appointed him to be a watchman to them. Since this was so, Ezekiel had all good reason to be concerned about giving the warning that he was appointed and commanded to give to those in peril. Ezekiel’s God was also involved, for he could be charged with having left his covenant people without due warning if Ezekiel, who spoke in the name of Jehovah, failed in his duty. Ezekiel must guard against letting any reproach come upon the name of his God. The wise and sensible thing for him to do was to deliver his own soul by obediently warning those Israelite souls who were in danger of death. Jehovah had provided a way of escape, and it was Ezekiel’s obligation to point people to it.
36. Despite their hope of divine protection, why should the anointed remnant not be unconcerned about those associated with Christendom, and also about God’s chargeableness?
36 Is there any less an obligation placed upon the modern-day remnant of anointed witnesses whom Jehovah has appointed as a watchman class to Christendom, which is now in its “time of the end”? No! By the Bible’s time schedule they know where this world of mankind is on the stream of time. By the fulfillment of Bible prophecies since the year 1914 C.E., they know that the celestial “chariot” of Jehovah is riding to the execution of His judicial decisions against the antitypical unfaithful Jerusalem and Judah. Because they expect to have the divine protection during the coming destruction of Christendom, they are not to feel unconcerned about the souls or lives who are religiously associated with Christendom. They know that the lives of these are in danger of annihilation. These need to be warned and be directed to God’s way of righteousness, that they may escape destruction with the willfully wicked. Jehovah would hold the anointed remnant responsible for the lives of those needlessly lost through the failure of his appointed watchman class. Jehovah must not be left chargeable with not having given merciful warning in advance.
THE CELESTIAL CHARIOT FOLLOWS THE PROPHET
37, 38. From whom and for what did Ezekiel then receive an empowering, and, as told to do, what did he do?
37 No time is to be lost! Within the sight of those “eyes” that filled the rims of the wheels of Jehovah’s celestial chariot, and within the hearing of those four cherubic “living creatures” that accompanied those wheels, Ezekiel was now commanded to go and discharge his duty. From the One than whom there is no one higher, yes, from Jehovah, who rides supreme above all his holy heavenly organization as on a chariot, Ezekiel received an empowering to carry out his courageous service as watchman. In Ezekiel 3:22, 23, the newly appointed prophet at Tel-abib tells us:
38 “And the hand of Jehovah came to be upon me there and he proceeded to say to me: ‘Get up, go forth to the valley plain, and there I shall speak with you.’ So I got up and went forth to the valley plain, and, look! the glory of Jehovah was standing there, like the glory that I had seen by the river Chebar, and I went falling upon my face.”
39. What assurance was Ezekiel given as far as the divine organization is concerned, and what was he not to expect as regards his ministry to the Israelites?
39 Thus the chariotlike organization of Jehovah had followed Ezekiel to this new location. This should have assured him that this divine organization would be with him in his ministry, and the further evidences show that this was so. It was no longer the time to remain merely awe-struck at the “glory of Jehovah” seen in the vision. Realizing the glorious source of his appointment to service, he must get on his feet and be on the move. But first a word of caution. He was not to expect that his service would be without opposition and outside efforts to restrain him. Concerning this God warned him, as Ezekiel himself also reports:
40. What restrictions was Ezekiel to expect to be put upon him as to movement and as to speech?
40 “Then spirit entered into me and made me stand up on my feet, and he began to speak with me and say to me: ‘Come, be shut up inside your house. And you, O son of man, look! they will certainly put cords upon you and bind you with them so that you cannot go forth into the midst of them. And your very tongue I will make stick to the roof of your mouth, and you will certainly become mute, and you will not become to them a man administering reproof, because they are a rebellious house. And when I speak with you I shall open your mouth, and you must say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said.” Let the one hearing hear, and let the one refraining refrain, because they are a rebellious house.’”—Ezekiel 3:24-27.
SPEAKING DESPITE ATTEMPTED RESTRAINTS
41. Who were the ones that would try to put the restraints upon Ezekiel as a reprover, and how would his mouth be opened or his tongue be made to stick to the roof of his mouth?
41 It was not the Babylonian captors of the Israelites who were to put the cords and bands upon Ezekiel. It was the Israelites themselves, Ezekiel’s own people, who would try to hinder and hamper him and try to restrain him from coming out of his house and restrain him from coming into the midst of them to declare what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah had said. All this would be in expression of their rebelliousness. They did not want Ezekiel to administer reproof to them. But Ezekiel was to trust in divine inspiration. When Jehovah had no message for him to deliver, then, in that regard, Jehovah would, as it were, make Ezekiel’s tongue stick to the roof of his mouth so that he would become mute. But when Jehovah had a message for him to deliver, then Jehovah would speak with him and open Ezekiel’s mouth to declare it, irrespective of what those rebellious Israelites did.
42. In view of what study was the modern Ezekiel class not surprised at Christendom’s treatment of them, and at their deepening discernment of what were they strengthened for their work and the right stand?
42 In this “time of the end” more than two thousand five hundred years later, Christendom has treated the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s servants similarly to the way in which the rebellious Israelites treated Ezekiel. But the modern-day Ezekiel class was not left without a forewarning of this. From their previous study of the prophecy of Ezekiel they knew what to expect from Christendom. True to prophecy, Christendom tried to impose restraints upon them, as the history of those postwar years all the way down into and through World War II shows. This did not surprise the courageous Ezekiel class. Their spiritual eyes were opened to see and deeply appreciate Jehovah’s chariotlike organization, his universal heavenly organization. At their discernment of this they were strengthened for their work. They realized that there were just two great organizations in existence, Jehovah’s organization and that of Satan the Devil. They chose to put their services at the disposal of Jehovah’s organization. They relied, not upon any divine inspiration resting upon them, but upon Jehovah’s holy spirit to aid them in speaking His message.
43. In what words of Jesus, in Mark 13:10-13, did the Ezekiel class trust?
43 They trusted in Jesus’ words to his disciples, as set out in his prophecy concerning the “conclusion of the system of things,” namely: “Also, in all the nations the good news has to be preached first. But when they are leading you along to deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand about what to speak; but whatever is given you in that hour, speak this, for you are not the ones speaking, but the holy spirit is. Furthermore, brother will deliver brother over to death, and a father a child, and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death; and you will be objects of hatred by all people on account of my name. But he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.”—Mark 13:10-13; Matthew 24:3-14.
44. Accordingly, despite what dictatorial regimes in Christendom have the Ezekiel class endured, and what is the motive behind their determination to endure till Christendom ends?
44 Here we are in the decade of the 1970’s, and, despite all that Christendom has attempted against them by her religious clergy and the dictators Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and others, the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s servants have endured down to this time as a watchman to Christendom. They are determined to endure to the end of their earthly ministry, and that will also be to the end of Christendom and to the end of this system of things of which Christendom has been a predominant part. They do not desire that Jehovah will have to hold them responsible for the tremendous loss of the lives of the adherents of Christendom at the time of her destruction. Their purpose is to prove themselves a faithful, obedient watchman class. This is what they purpose, not just in order to deliver their own souls, but that Jehovah might be vindicated as having given to Christendom full and fair warning by means of them. The faithful example of ancient Ezekiel in his watchman duty is an assurance that Jehovah will likewise have a faithful watchman class now until the execution of His foretold judgment upon Christendom.
a See, also, the Watch Tower issues of September 1, 1924, pages 262, 263, and of September 15, 1924, pages 275-281.