Christendom Will Know—at Her End
1. What is the Creator’s purpose concerning the earth, making the defiling of it something not enjoyable to Him?
THE Creator does not enjoy seeing this earth defiled, polluted. It is his creation and was meant to be a credit to him. It was his original purpose that this earth, as a home for mankind, should be everywhere a paradise such as would make this terrestrial globe a decoration in the gorgeous celestial Milky Way of which it is a tiny part.
2. How does the earth’s condition today compare with the possible condition that was set before man in his original paradise home, and so what questions come up as to the Creator’s pleasure or anger?
2 The first human couple were started off in a paradise that went beautifully with their human perfection. Before them and their offspring to be, there lay the opportunity to extend their original paradise home to the complete circumference of the earth. (Genesis 1:26 to 2:25) Today, after six thousand years of man’s existence on earth, look at it! Its condition is far from being the happy paradise of life, health and beauty that its Creator purposed it to be. This could hardly be any cause of pleasure to Him any more than it is to us humans. In fact, does He have any right to be angry about this? If He does not have a right to be angered over this, who else does?
3. What question arises as to the procedure of a Creator when creatures living on it defile it?
3 However, what does a Creator do when his creation has been defiled and its surface has been spoiled, ruined, by the creatures who were meant to take care of it? Does he destroy this whole creation, together with the living creatures upon it?
4. As to what was to be done, why does the land of Judah here come under consideration, and what happened to that land in 607 B.C.E.?
4 Any doing of such a thing would be a waste of his creative activity, a sign of defeat. What he should do, and what he purposes to do, he illustrated by what he did to the land of Judah and Jerusalem back there in the seventh century before our Common Era. Jehovah had brought his people into the Promised Land in the year 1473 B.C.E. It was then, as Jehovah said, “a land that I had spied out for them, one flowing with milk and honey. It was the decoration of all the lands.” (Ezekiel 20:6, 15) The generation of those Israelites that Jehovah brought into this beautiful land remained faithful to Him. But their descendants began to defile the land by adopting idolatry and unrighteously shedding innocent blood. Repeated religious purgings followed, but the Israelites would always fall back into idolatry. Finally, in 607 B.C.E., Jehovah cleared off all the Jewish idolaters and thus left the land of Judah utterly desolate.
5. How did Jehovah let the land of Judah undergo a purging, and how was it put to use again for the purpose for which it was given?
5 The land of Judah and Jerusalem did not then go out of existence. For seventy years it lay desolate, Jehovah not permitting even pagan, non-Israelite idolaters to move in and continue the defilement of it. Jehovah purposed for his pure worship to be reestablished in that land which was undergoing a purging. At the end of the seventy years of desolation Jehovah brought back to the land a repentant purified remnant of Israelites to reoccupy the land of Judah and Jerusalem and to restore the clean worship of their God there. Jehovah repeopled the land with his worshipers who would use it in harmony with the sacred purpose for which he had given them the land. By his prophet Ezekiel he foretold this.
6. First, what difficult task did Ezekiel have, and why did Jehovah have Ezekiel address the land itself?
6 Ezekiel first had the difficult task of prophesying against the inhabitants of the land of Judah and Jerusalem who were defiling their God-given possession. Jehovah used Ezekiel to make an address to the land itself to indicate what would befall it because of its idolatrous God-defying occupants. Ezekiel, still referring to the year 613 B.C.E., tells us of this in these words:
7, 8. What was Ezekiel told to say to Israel’s mountains, hills, stream beds and valleys regarding a purging, and so what would the land have to know?
7 “And the word of Jehovah continued to occur to me, saying: ‘Son of man, set your face toward the mountains of Israel and prophesy to them. And you must say, “O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah: This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said to the mountains and to the hills, to the stream beds and to the valleys:
8 “‘“‘Here I am! I am bringing upon you a sword, and I shall certainly destroy your high places. And your altars must be made desolate and your incense stands must be broken, and I will cause your slain ones to fall before your dungy idols. And I will put the carcasses of the sons of Israel before their dungy idols, and I will scatter your bones all around your altars. In all your dwelling places the very cities will become devastated and the high places themselves will become desolated, in order that they may lie devastated and your altars may lie desolated and be actually broken and your dungy idols may be actually made to cease and your incense stands cut down and your works wiped out. And the slain one will certainly fall in the midst of you, and you will have to know that I am Jehovah.’”’”—Ezekiel 6:1-7.*
IDOL WORSHIPERS WILL HAVE TO KNOW WHO HE IS
9. What had Jehovah meant for that beautiful land to be religiously, and what was now infringing upon exclusive worship at his temple?
9 Idolatrous high places, idolatrous altars, idolatrous incense stands, dungy idols—those are the vile things by means of which the unfaithful inhabitants of the mountains and hills and valleys and banks of the stream beds of the land of Judah are polluting their God-given possession. He had meant for that beautiful land to be sanctified as a place of his clean worship, but now, after 860 years of occupancy, look at it! Desecrated by those corrupt high places, altars, incense stands, dungy idols, whereas Jehovah’s temple was ignored as the only right place of worship with the help of his priesthood there!
10. Why was Jehovah bringing the sword of aggressive warfare upon that land?
10 Little wonder, therefore, that Jehovah determined to bring the “sword” of aggressive warfare upon those mountains, hills, stream beds and valleys of the land of Judah, to cause the slain bodies of the idolaters to fall around their idols that were filthy like the dung of animals. Their high places, incense stands and altars with which they carried on their idolatrous worship were to be wrecked by the highly militarized invaders whom Jehovah would bring against this land to purge it of its idolatrous inhabitants.
11. Why was such drastic action with the sword of war necessary, but thereby what would the land come to know?
11 It had to take such drastic action as that to rid those mountains, hills, stream beds and valleys of the land of Judah of those rebels against the pure worship of the one living and true God. They had chosen to leave Jehovah out of their minds, and they had caused the mountains, hills, stream beds and valleys of the God-given land to be identified with false worship and the names of false deities. Now, by his purging work, he would cause those mountains, hills, stream beds and valleys to know once again who is the true God: “You will have to know that I am Jehovah.”—Ezekiel 6:7.
12. How had the Israelites become guilty of spiritual immorality, and according to what rule was this punishable?
12 Bodily immorality is unclean. Spiritual immorality, or spiritual fornication, is still worse. Spiritual fornication—that is what those ancient Israelites were guilty of to a shocking degree. By means of the covenant that Jehovah had established by means of the prophet Moses in 1513 B.C.E., Jehovah had brought the nation of Israel into a marriage relationship with him. He was as a heavenly Husband to the nation. (Jeremiah 31:31, 32) But the nation did not appreciate its blessed relationship to him, but united itself to false gods in idolatrous worship. By this the nation committed spiritual immorality. Was physical fornication punishable according to the law of Jehovah? Yes. Likewise, spiritual fornication or immorality was punishable, for it meant unfaithfulness to the nation’s covenant with him. How the disloyal Israelites would be punished and would suffer for their spiritual immorality, Jehovah went on to say by Ezekiel:
13. By Ezekiel, what did Jehovah say regarding the scattered ones that escaped from the sword, and what would they have to know?
13 “And when it occurs I will let you have as a remnant the ones escaping from the sword among the nations, when you get scattered among the lands. And your escaped ones will certainly remember me among the nations to which they will have been taken captive, because I have been broken up at their fornicating heart that has turned aside from me and at their eyes that are going in fornication after their dungy idols; and they will certainly feel a loathing in their faces at the bad things that they have done in all their detestable things. And they will have to know that I am Jehovah; not in vain did I speak about doing to them this calamitous thing.”—Ezekiel 6:8-10.
14. Comparatively, what would the escapees of the idolatrous Israelites constitute, and for what feeling will they take up residence in exile, and what will they have to know?
14 The escapees of the sword of execution right there in the land of Judah will be but a remnant of these idolatrous spiritual fornicators. But into slavish captivity they will be led away from the mountains, hills, stream beds and valleys in which they committed the things detestable to Jehovah, the One to whom they had been married by their national covenant. But it will be only for shame of face that they will take up residence in the lands of their captors. Their false gods will prove to be no saviors to them. Since they abandoned Jehovah in order to pursue spiritual immorality, he abandons them to their enemies. Then this captive remnant of escaped ones will know that he is Jehovah, who cannot be tampered with in a disregard of their matrimonial covenant. By hard experiences in the distant lands of their captors they will know that, in the terms of his covenant with them, he did not speak in vain to warn them that he would bring upon them the terrible consequences of their forsaking his pure worship.
15. Similarly how has Christendom committed spiritual immorality, what will happen to her as to a place in the realm called Christian, and what will she have to know concerning her executioner?
15 Like the mountains, hills, stream beds and valleys of the land of Judah, the realm of Christendom has been polluted by the religious things that she adopted from the idolatrous pagans in order to carry on her spiritual immorality. She should have kept her realm clean of all false worship, because she paraded herself before all the nations as being Christian and so as being in the “new covenant” with God through the Mediator, Jesus Christ. But her standing as Christian before the eyes of the world she profaned by imitating the “heathen” in religious idolatry both in teaching and in practice. She is wrongly occupying any standing as Christian. She has no right to the name Christian. She must be removed from such a standing and name. At her destruction Jehovah will deprive her of such a standing and name. Any adherents who escape execution at her destruction have no prospect of a future free life. They will be taken over and brought under the control of the secular elements of this world. They will have to know that their executioner is really Jehovah and that he did not speak amiss in his holy written Word, the Sacred Bible.
DRASTIC MEANS BY WHICH TO MAKE THEM KNOW
16, 17. As in Israel’s case, Christendom must come to know that He is Jehovah in what way, and Ezekiel was told to describe this way with what details?
16 The knowledge that He is Jehovah will have to be forced upon the spiritual fornicators of Christendom, just as it had to be in the case of the polluters of the mountains, hills, stream beds and valleys of the land of Judah. To emphasize this fact still more, the Lord God went on to say to his prophet Ezekiel:
17 “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘Clap your hands and stamp with your foot, and say: “Alas!” on account of all the bad detestable things of the house of Israel, because by the sword, by the famine and by the pestilence they will fall. As for the one far away, by the pestilence he will die; and as for the one that is nearby, by the sword he will fall; and as for the one that has been left remaining and that has been safeguarded, by the famine he will die, and I will bring to its finish my rage against them. And you people will have to know that I am Jehovah, when their slain ones come to be in the midst of their dungy idols, all around their altars, upon every high hill, on all the tops of the mountains and under every luxuriant tree and under every branchy big tree, the place where they have offered a restful odor to all their dungy idols. And I will stretch out my hand against them and make the land a desolate waste, even a desolation worse than the wilderness toward Diblah, in all their dwelling places. And they will have to know that I am Jehovah.’”—Ezekiel 6:11-14.
18. Why was Ezekiel told to cry out, clap his hands and stamp with his foot, and for the spiritual fornicators why would no place at all be safe from execution of God’s judgment?
18 To think of all the destruction that was to come upon the inhabitants of the land of Judah by the famine, the pestilence and the sword of war was enough to make a person cry out, “Alas!” Yes, enough to move a person to make this exclamation emphatic by clapping the hands and stamping with the foot! There would be no escaping by the guilty ones from the execution of the judicial decisions of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. If a spiritual fornicator escaped one form of execution, another form was certain to strike him. Near or far, wherever a person happened to be physically located would not safeguard him. He is marked for annihilation. And famine and pestilence that would take their toll of victims would not be plagues that spread to the land of Judah from outside lands, but such disasters would arise within as the result of activity from the outside by the sword of the aggressive invader. Only by the execution of the divine judicial decision to the full will Jehovah’s rage against them come to a finish and subside.
19. The sight of the dead bodies lying at the locations for idolatrous worship silently testifies to what fact, and it emphasizes what things about a covenant with God?
19 What a sight there is to behold! Dead bodies of the spiritual fornicators all around their idolatrous altars, by their incense stands upon which they offered incense emitting restful odors to their false gods, at their religious “high places” on the hilltops and mountaintops, and in the shade under the trees of luxuriant foliage and branchy big trees! A ghastly silent testimony to the mournful end to which the God who requires exclusive devotion to Him brings the spiritual fornicators! They have been made to know that the one living and true God is Jehovah. A covenant with Him is not a mere scrap of manuscript to be torn to pieces and canceled unilaterally by the unfaithful party to the covenant at any time that he likes! A covenanter should not think that Jehovah does not care about his covenants, that he forgets about them, or that he does not hold the covenanter as well as himself to the covenant as being a binding one. He is true to His covenant. Not only does he bless the covenanter who is true to the covenant, but he punishes the covenanter who is untrue to the covenant according to the punishments specified in the covenant.
20. Thus how were the mountains, hills, stream beds and valleys of Judah to be cleansed and rested up from all the misuse, and what were the covenant breakers to know?
20 Left behind are the putrefying corpses of all these slain ones when the remnant of survivors are led away by their captors into alien lands. The mountains, hills, stream beds and valleys of the land of Judah are cleansed of all the polluting idolatry and idolatrous spiritual fornicators by being left a desolation. Why, the desolate waste is worse than the wilderness that stretches “toward Diblah.” (Ezekiel 6:14, NW; LXX; Vg; Aramaic; Syriac; Arabic) By lying desolate for seventy years, without man or domestic animal, the land would be considered cleansed and rested up from its pollution, according to the decree of Jehovah. He was obliged to vindicate his unbreakable word. He had to uphold the reality of his own Godship. Said he, in connection with those covenant breakers, those spiritual fornicators: “And they will have to know that I am Jehovah.”
21. How will that ancient type have a modern fulfillment, all this resulting in what vital knowledge to whom?
21 That ancient type will not fail of fulfillment upon its modern, antitypical counterpart. Christendom will be uprooted from where she has been deeply entrenched for sixteen centuries. Her realm will be desolated, without her hypocritically Christian clergymen and church institutions. Men will look at the place where she used to exist and to flourish, and she will be no more. (Psalm 37:9, 10) Like her ancient type, she will have to feel the full force of the words of the God whom she has misrepresented: “And they will have to know that I am Jehovah.” (Ezekiel 6:14) His pure worship will survive Christendom’s destruction everlastingly from the earth.
THE END OF HER IS NEAR!
22. Should sorrow or pity be felt at the destruction of Christendom, and at what result thereof will lovers of truth and righteousness rejoice?
22 Should the destruction of an idolatrous system of false, hypocritical religion call for pity from the eyes of persons who love truth and righteousness, or even pity from the eyes of the God of true worship? The great oppression and the blinding and misguidance of the people that have resulted from such false religion keep the lovers of truth and righteousness from feeling sorry. To the contrary, they rejoice at the clearing of the way for the prevalence of pure and true worship throughout the whole earth. The approaching end of Christendom does not fill these with sorrow or dismay. The Sovereign Lord God himself will feel no more sorrow at this than he felt when he brought destruction upon her ancient type, the inhabitants of the land of Judah and Jerusalem. In evidence of this the prophet Ezekiel writes:
23. Though not feeling sorry or pitiful, Jehovah can bring what upon doers of detestable things and thus make them know what?
23 “And the word of Jehovah continued to occur to me, saying: ‘And as for you, O son of man, this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said to the soil of Israel, “An end, the end, has come upon the four extremities of the land. Now the end is upon you, and I must send my anger against you, and I will judge you according to your ways and bring upon you all your detestable things. And my eye will not feel sorry for you, neither will I feel compassion, for upon you I shall bring your own ways, and in the midst of you your own detestable things will come to be; and you people will have to know that I am Jehovah.”’”—Ezekiel 7:1-4.
24. Why was Jehovah precise in saying that “an end, the end,” had come upon the land, and what is it really that He brings to an end?
24 It is still the year 613 B.C.E. as Jehovah makes that statement. The destruction of the city of Jerusalem and its defiled temple was therefore just six years off, the closing six years of a period of forty years of bearing the “error” of the house of Judah. (Ezekiel 4:6) Quite precisely, then, Jehovah could say that “an end, the end” has come upon the four extremities of the land, “the soil of Israel.” He himself feels the urgency of the progress of events as he says: “Now the end is upon you.” It means that the time has come for him to take judicial action as respects the “soil of Israel” to its four corners. So he adds: “And I must send my anger against you, and I will judge you according to your ways and bring upon you all your detestable things.” It is not the “soil of Israel,” “the four extremities of the land,” that He brings to an end. The lifeless soil is not responsible to Him. Rightly, it is the unfaithful religious system that has for more than three centuries been operating upon this soil that Jehovah brings to an end in his righteous anger.
25. What divine law concerning consequences will Jehovah not change toward the detestable religious system, and what will its religious adherents be brought to know as regards their covenant?
25 He will not be held back by sorrow and compassion from putting an end to that religious system with its detestable things. He will not change his law that, as a person or nation sows, it must also reap. The consequences of its own unfaithful ways must be brought upon it, to make the religious system eat the fruitage of its own doings. In this way the religious adherents of that system must be made to know that he is Jehovah, that he is the same Jehovah who said to his covenant people by the mouth of the prophet Moses: “If you will not do this way, you will also certainly sin against Jehovah. In that case know that your sin will catch up with you [will find you out].”—Numbers 32:23, NW; AS.
26. As to discerning that one gets one’s deserts, what is indicated by the observation that Nebuzaradan made to Jeremiah concerning Jerusalem’s destruction?
26 Even those whom Jehovah uses as his executioners on earth might appreciate that the detestable religious system is getting nothing but its just deserts and deserves no pity. Listen in on the prophet Jeremiah as he tells us what a Babylonian army officer said to him after the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 607 B.C.E.: “The word that occurred to Jeremiah from Jehovah after Nebuzaradan the chief of the bodyguard sent him from Ramah, when he took him while he was bound with handcuffs in the midst of all the exiles of Jerusalem and of Judah, who were being taken into exile in Babylon. Then the chief of the bodyguard took Jeremiah and said to him: ‘Jehovah your God himself spoke this calamity against this place, that Jehovah might bring it true and do just as he has spoken, because you people have sinned against Jehovah and have not obeyed his voice. And this thing has happened to you.’”—Jeremiah 40:1-3.
27. How does Christendom’s existence compare with that of Israel upon the Promised Land down to Ezekiel’s appointment, and now what is about to come upon her?
27 Today Christendom has been longer in existence than the 860 years that the house of Israel was in the Promised Land by the time that Ezekiel was appointed as a prophet and a watchman over Israel. She has a longer record of committing detestable things in her religious realm. She has been a longer time in coming to her day of reckoning. But now at last her sin has found her out, has caught up with her. The end that Jehovah has decreed for her is about to come upon her, and she may expect no mercy from Him. She is past all possibility of repenting and converting to Him.
28. As foretold, what has been the religious course of Christendom, and does Jehovah do her any injustice by bringing her ways upon her?
28 Just as it was foretold concerning these last days, Christendom has had a “form of godliness,” a “form of godly devotion,” but she has all along been “denying the power thereof,” or “proving false to its power.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5, AV; NW) By not holding true to the Holy Bible, she ignored the God who is set forth in the Bible, Jehovah. He does her no injustice by bringing upon her the consequences of her ways and by showing her how detestable to Him her religious things are. At her end it is proper for her to know that there is indeed a God named Jehovah, who gives due rewards.
29, 30. A calamity must come because Jehovah brings what upon the inhabiter of the land, and the one doing the striking shall be known to be who?
29 Never can Christendom rightly scream out to Jehovah, “Calamity howler!” because he told Ezekiel to say, with her as well as the unfaithful house of Israel in mind:
30 “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘A calamity, a unique calamity, look! it is coming. An end itself must come. The end must come; it must awaken for you. Look! It is coming. The garland must come to you, O inhabiter of the land, the time must come, the day is near. There is confusion, and not the shouting of the mountains. Now shortly I shall pour out my rage upon you, and I will bring my anger against you to its finish, and I will judge you according to your ways and bring upon you all your detestable things. Neither will my eye feel sorry nor shall I feel compassion. According to your ways shall I do the bringing upon you yourself, and your own detestable things will come to be right in the midst of you; and you people will have to know that I am Jehovah doing the smiting.’”—Ezekiel 7:5-9.
31. What kind of garland will it be that will come upon the inhabiter of the land, and the shouting then will not be for what causes?
31 No, there was no mistake about what we heard when Jehovah spoke the first time. He meant what he said in the first place. So for the sake of emphasis he repeats himself in many respects, with some new details added, about the end. A “garland” will indeed come to the idolatrous inhabiter of the land, but it will encircle the inhabiter’s head with calamitous things, not with the nice-looking decoration of an idolater who is enjoying a festival. It will be a time, not of well-arranged ceremonies, but of confusion, false religion not being able to unite the people in any self-helpful measures, even against a common enemy. What shouting will then be heard will be that of wild confusion, not that of revelers at the religious “high places” on the mountains or the shouting of men treading the grapes gathered from the vineyards on the mountainsides. There will be the noise foretold for this time by the prophet Isaiah:
32. The noise then will be due to what, according to Isaiah 66:6?
32 “There is a sound of uproar out of the city [of Jerusalem], a sound out of the temple! It is the sound of Jehovah repaying what is deserved to his enemies.”—Isaiah 66:6.
33. Why will no pity then be deserved, and to whom will they then knowingly be able to attribute the calamitous end?
33 If, in their dire distress, people finally call to Jehovah as a last source of relief, he will not hear them. His eye will not feel sorry, nor will he feel compassion for these idolatrous worshipers who have continually refrained from listening to him. When he fails to answer their prayers, they will come to sense that he is against them. By his prophets and by his Bible instructors he has foretold this calamitous end upon the unfaithful religious system. Hence when it comes upon them, they will be able to attribute it to no one else but Him. Just as he said to the stubborn, heedless religionists: “You people will have to know that I am Jehovah doing the smiting.”
THE “ROD” FOR DIVINE USE ON THAT DAY
34. What executional forces did Jehovah have ready for his use back in Ezekiel’s day?
34 Back in Ezekiel’s day Jehovah had his executional forces ready, and He foretold who they would be, namely, the military forces of the Third World Power of Bible history, namely, Babylon, of whom the mighty Nebuchadnezzar was then king. Correspondingly, Jehovah has his visible executional forces ready now, poised to strike Christendom, the present-day counterpart of the land of Judah and Jerusalem. Jehovah refers to these in his next words:
35. To what time period does Jehovah now repeatedly call attention, and in view of it what should the buyer and the seller respectively not do for certain reasons?
35 “Look! The day! Look! It is coming. The garland has gone forth. The rod has blossomed. Presumptuousness has sprouted. Violence itself has risen up into a rod of wickedness. It is not from them, nor is it from their wealth; and it is not from their own selves, nor is there any eminency in them. The time must come, the day must arrive. As regards the buyer, let him not rejoice; and as regards the seller, let him not go into mourning, for there is hot feeling against all its crowd. For to what was sold the seller himself will not return, while their life is yet among the living ones; for the vision is for all its crowd. No one will return, and they will not possess themselves each one of his own life by his own error.”—Ezekiel 7:10-13.
36. On whose head was the “garland” to be placed, what was the “rod” that had blossomed and so was ready to be applied, and against whom was presumptuous action to be taken?
36 Let the hypocritical religionists who claim to be in a relationship with the Sovereign Lord God by a covenant through his mediator not forget that this extraordinary day is coming. It must be a terrible day; otherwise, Jehovah would not so repeatedly call attention to it. From the description that he gives of it by Ezekiel, it does prove to be a most tragic day! On that day the “garland” is to be put as a circlet upon the head of the doomed people, to crown them with calamity. The symbolic “rod” for the applying of punishment is at hand, for Jehovah’s use, for it has blossomed. In Ezekiel’s day it was King Nebuchadnezzar together with his then invincible Babylonian military forces. Babylon, as represented by her king and his armies, was going to do the presumptuous thing against Jehovah’s chosen people and his temple.
37. By what term does Jehovah address Babylon, and what does its having “sprouted” mean for it?
37 On this account Jehovah addresses Babylon as Presumptuousness personified, saying: “‘Look! I am against you, O Presumptuousness,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord, Jehovah of armies, ‘for your day must come, the time that I must give you attention. And Presumptuousness will certainly stumble and fall, and it will have no one to cause it to rise up.’” (Jeremiah 50:31, 32) Since Babylonish PRESUMPTUOUSNESS had “sprouted,” it was in position to exert itself and was ready to do so.
38. What does the mention of violence remind us of that has set in since 1914 C.E., and how has “violence” resulted in being a “rod” for punishing wickedness?
38 The violence that marked the Jerusalem and Judah of Ezekiel’s day reminds us that, since the year 1914 C.E., we too have entered into an “age of violence,” especially so in Christendom. Has such violence “risen up into a rod of wickedness”? Most assuredly, Yes! A violent “wind” is what the violent religionists keep sowing, and “a stormwind is what they will reap.” (Hosea 8:7) Violence brings on its own punishment as by a “rod” for its own wickedness. In the case of these violent religionists the truth of Proverbs 13:21 must be demonstrated: “Sinners are the ones whom calamity pursues, but the righteous are the ones whom good rewards.” From the “rod” of punishment the violent religionists do not deserve to be shielded. There is no “eminency” to be found in them, no worthiness of being spared from the execution of Jehovah’s judicial decisions. There is no excusableness that proceeds from them, nor from their wealth, nor from their very own selves. they deserve to feel the “rod” for their wickedness.
39, 40. Why was the seller not to mourn, and the buyer not to rejoice, and was that “crowd” to expect that by committing error each one could possess himself of his own life?
39 Learn, now, the long-range effects of the coming of that day of deserved punishment. There is no reason for a buyer to rejoice because he has bought the hereditary land-property of a fellow Israelite and thus expects to reap the produce from that land down till the Jubilee year. Let not the indebted Israelite who is economically forced to sell his hereditary property mourn because of his loss till the next Jubilee year in the land of Judah. Why not? Because the feeling of Jehovah is hot against “all its crowd,” buyers and sellers alike. When the calamitous day arrives, either they will be killed off or else they will be taken off the land into distant exile. Even if the sellers were to survive until the next Jubilee year, even though “their life is yet among the living ones” when that year of liberation falls due, no seller will return to the hereditary possession that he sold to pay off his debt. Why is that to be so?
40 Because the exile of the violent religionist would extend beyond the time of the next Jubilee year. The exile would be longer than the Jubilee cycle of fifty years. (Leviticus 25:8-54) Jehovah would enforce his decree that the land of Judah should lie desolate, without man or domestic animal, for seventy years. (Jeremiah 25:11, 12; 29:10) Furthermore, after the long-desolated land would begin to be occupied again, the Jubilee system would not be put in operation again in the land of Judah. Each hereditary possession that was sold before that calamitous day would be gone for good. So why should the seller of it mourn? He would have to part with it anyhow when that day of recompense came. And so, too, would the buyer of it, for which reason he had no cause to rejoice at his purchase. The “vision” of coming catastrophe is meant “for all its crowd,” without distinction. They are not to expect that by the committing of some planned “error” they can or “will possess themselves each one of his own life.”
41. What does the seller’s permanent loss suggest as to adherents of Christendom, and to what extent will fear affect the defense of Christendom?
41 From such an outcome of things we can draw one conclusion for today: Any adherent of Christendom who suffers material loss by her destruction in the coming calamitous day will never recover his loss. According to the ancient prophetic model in Ezekiel’s day, Christendom is to be besieged by her desolators. It will be a time of great fear on the part of her members. They will be afraid to come to her defense or to do battle with those bent on her destruction. Let the military trumpet be blown to summon her defenders to their defensive posts. The response thereto will be like that foretold by Jehovah in further describing the events of that “day” to Ezekiel, saying:
42. How did Jehovah describe what responsiveness there would be to the call to defense, and also the effects of fear and grief?
42 “They have blown the trumpet and there has been a preparing of everybody, but there is no one going to the battle, because my hot feeling is against all its crowd. The sword is outside, and the pestilence and the famine are inside. Whoever is in the field, by the sword he will die, and whoever are in the city, famine and pestilence themselves will devour them. And their escapees will certainly make their escape and become on the mountains like the doves of the valleys, all of which are moaning, each one in his own error. As for all the hands, they keep dropping down; and as for all knees, they keep dripping with water. And they have girded on sackcloth, and shuddering has covered them; and on all faces there is shame and on all their heads there is baldness.”—Ezekiel 7:14-18.
43. Such disheartenment will be due to the refusal of whom to fight for them?
43 The refusal of Jehovah to fight for them against their besiegers will dishearten the religionists who are under attack. Those who manage to keep alive will have their hands drop from sheer faintness, as if paralyzed. Out of fear their limbs will perspire so heavily that their knees will drip from perspiration. It will be no day of glory for false religionists, but one of shame for them. At the overthrow of their cherished religious system they will, as it were, shave their heads bald in mourning.
MATERIAL RICHES THEN OF NO AVAIL!
44. What questions arise as to the use of the material wealth that the system of false religion has amassed, in that day of calamity, and what must the answers be?
44 Wait, though! What about the tremendous wealth that the system of false hypocritical religion has amassed? Will not the religious controllers of all this material wealth be able to use these vast riches in buying their way out to safety or to buy food and drink to stave off starvation? Jehovah will not let silver or gold bribe him or his executional forces so as to spare religious systems that have trusted in material riches to save them in the day of reckoning. By His prophet Ezekiel he says:
45. What did Jehovah say as to the gaining of deliverance by means of silver and gold on the day of His fury, and what are the things that he will then let be profaned?
45 “Into the streets they will throw their very silver, and an abhorrent thing their own gold will become. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s fury. Their souls they will not satisfy, and their intestines they will not fill, for it has become a stumbling block causing their error. And the decoration of one’s ornament—one has set it as reason for pride; and their detestable images, their disgusting things, they have made with it. That is why I will make it to them an abhorrent thing. And I will give it into the hand of the strangers for plunder and to the wicked ones of the earth for spoil, and they will certainly profane it. And I shall have to turn away my face from them, and they will actually profane my concealed place, and into it robbers will really come and profane it.”—Ezekiel 7:19-22.
46. To the hypocritical religionists, what has become a “stumbling block causing their error,” and what shameful report did the prophet Micah make about such religionists of his day?
46 Imagine silver money being thrown into the streets of the city of Jerusalem! Imagine gold money becoming like a thing abhorred! And yet once these material riches were the things highly prized and hungrily sought after. But putting money ahead of spiritual interests and the craving of money became a stumbling block over which the hypocritical religionists stumbled and fell into committing “error” just to make unjust gain. How shameful it was for the prophet Micah to have to report: “Her own head ones judge merely for a bribe, and her own priests instruct just for a price, and her own prophets practice divination simply for money; yet upon Jehovah they keep supporting themselves, saying: ‘Is not Jehovah in the midst of us? There will come upon us no calamity.’ Therefore on account of you men Zion will be plowed up as a mere field, and Jerusalem herself will become mere heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the house [of Jehovah] will be as the high places of a forest”!—Micah 3:11, 12.
47. How have the religious leaders of Christendom charged for ecclesiastical services, and such materialism has proved to be a stumbling block to fall into what error?
47 As regards the religious leaders of Christendom, they also have charged money for their ecclesiastical services to the church members. They have charged for performing baptisms and marriages, for blessing homes and properties of church members, for saying masses in church and for praying in behalf of the “souls of the dead in Purgatory,” for granting indulgences, for admission into church or for seats therein, for education at religious schools, for serving as chaplains in the armies, for carrying of images of “saints” in processions, at the same time accepting money from the political State where there happens to be a union of Church and State or a State Church. Countless other ways have been devised to take in money from the people. And much of such money has been invested in the financial center of Wall Street, New York city, and in other commercial enterprises for the sake of money profits. Scandalously this greed for money and material riches has caused the religious leaders of Christendom to stumble into erroneous conduct before God.—1 Timothy 6:10.
48. How valueless will gold and silver, though coined, be in the day of Jehovah’s fury, and how will it become an “abhorrent thing” to the possessors?
48 But a human creature cannot eat gold or silver or paper stocks and bonds! In Jehovah’s day of accounting for them the hypocritical religionists will not be able to consume gold and silver to fill their intestines with needed food amid famine conditions. They will not be able to ransom their lives with gold and silver by bribing Jehovah and his executional agents in the earth. Did not the Christian apostle Peter tell Simon, the professional magician in the city of Samaria: “May your silver perish with you, because you thought through money to get possession of the free gift of God”? (Acts 8:9-20) Yes! And as respects those who think they will be able to buy their way out and satisfy the animalistic cravings of their souls, the Sovereign Lord God says: “Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s fury.” (Ezekiel 7:19) Such coined metal will be valueless. To its owners even gold will become an “abhorrent thing,” when they now at last reflect that their greed for it has brought on their destruction.
49. What “decoration of one’s ornament” have the religious leaders set as a “reason for pride” in comparison with whom?
49 The religious leaders of Christendom have adorned themselves with gold and silver crucifixes, rings, miters, crosiers, regalia, thrones, and other paraphernalia. They have made such costly things the “decoration of one’s ornament,” and they have set such as a reason for priding themselves, considering themselves as somebodies higher than the common, ordinary laity.
50. What else besides themselves have the religious leaders used gold, silver and jewels in decorating, and how will such things be profaned in the day of Jehovah’s fury?
50 They have also used such gold and silver and jewels for decorating the images and emblems used in their churches. “Detestable images,” “disgusting things,” Jehovah calls them, despite their artistic construction. As in the case of ancient Jerusalem in the day of Jehovah’s fury against her, those gold and silver and bejeweled articles of false worship will be plundered by the antireligious “strangers” and will be seized as “spoil” by the irreligious “wicked ones.” They will not consider as untouchable the things, even religious images, held sacred by Christendom. They will profane such reputedly holy things. What enormous accumulations of wealth in Christendom will fall to the greedy irreligious despoilers in the “day of Jehovah’s fury”!
51. How did shocking profanation of things considered most holy come in 607 B.C.E., and for that reason where did Jehovah have to turn his face?
51 Shocking profanation of things once regarded as most holy took place back there in the year 607 B.C.E., just six years after the giving of this prophecy. Those things had to do with Jehovah himself, a house, a temple, dedicated to Him, and a city where he had placed his holy name! No wonder he had to say regarding the religionists who formalistically worshiped there: “I shall have to turn away my face from them”! (Ezekiel 7:22) This reminds us of what Jesus Christ himself said to the Jews about their temple at Jerusalem, which was to be destroyed in the year 70 C.E.: “Look! Your house is abandoned to you.” (Matthew 23:38) Abandoned by Jehovah as a place of his pure worship!
52, 53. What was then Jehovah’s “concealed place,” and why did he allow even the profanation of it by the pagan “robbers” without punishment then?
52 For what did that abandoned state of Jerusalem’s temple open the way back there in Ezekiel’s day? Having in mind the Babylonian military forces, Jehovah said: “And they will actually profane my concealed place, and into it robbers will really come and profane it.”—Ezekiel 7:22.
53 Jehovah’s “concealed place” was the innermost chamber of the temple and was called “the Most Holy.” In the “day of Jehovah’s fury” the Babylonian invaders would be permitted to profane even this most sacred compartment. For then invading it in search of loot no pagan Babylonian would be struck down dead immediately by Jehovah or be smitten with leprosy. Those Babylonian or Chaldean “robbers” would be allowed, actually without divine punishment then, to profane the temple even to its most sacred compartment. It was because Jehovah’s presence was no longer there! The Chaldean “robbers” were permitted to make away with the sacred utensils and paraphernalia of Jerusalem’s temple and cart them off and display them in the temples of their pagan gods and goddesses in idolatrous Babylon. Behind them they left the smoldering ruins of the looted temple that they had burned down.—2 Kings 25:8-17; 2 Chronicles 36:17-19; Daniel 5:2, 3, 22, 23.
54. Of what was such ancient profanation of sacred things prophetic for the now not distant future?
54 Those shocking events of ancient history were prophetic and reflect the now not distant future. When Jehovah turns away his face from the hypocritical worshipers of Christendom, what can we expect, in the light of the past? The profanation, misuse and destruction of the things now rated as sacred by Christendom, even her most sacred things, be they the very heart and center of Christendom, such as Vatican City, or the palatial residences of the patriarchs of the various sister church systems, Greek Orthodox, Constantinopolitan, Armenian, Coptic, or palace of the Anglican archbishop. Nothing will be sacred to the looters!
THE DIVINE PURPOSE IN ALL THIS
55, 56. The consequences of what will Jehovah bring upon the false religionists, and what is Jehovah’s valid purpose in all of this?
55 In all this the Sovereign Lord God who thus executes his judicial decisions against false religion has a valid purpose. He leads up to the plain declaration of this purpose in what he next says to his prophet Ezekiel:
56 “Make the chain, for the land itself has become full of bloodstained judgment and the city itself has become full of violence. And I will bring in the worst ones of the nations, and they will certainly take possession of their houses, and I will cause the pride of the strong ones to cease, and their sanctuaries must be profaned. There will come anguish, and they will certainly seek peace but there will be none. There will come adversity upon adversity, and there will occur report upon report, and people will actually seek a vision from a prophet, and the law itself will perish from a priest and counsel from elderly men. The king himself will go into mourning; even a chieftain will clothe himself with desolation, and the very hands of the people of the land will get disturbed. According to their way I shall act toward them, and with their judgments I shall judge them; and they will have to know that I am Jehovah.”—Ezekiel 7:23-27.
57. Jehovah’s command to Ezekiel, “Make the chain,” was fulfilled how in actuality?
57 In the chains of captivity the survivors of the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. could well meditate on what had happened to their land and nation. They could painfully realize that there is indeed a God that intervenes in the affairs of men and that his name is Jehovah. “Make the chain,” Ezekiel was commanded by Jehovah, in order to indicate what Jehovah had in store for the survivors of the national catastrophe. Six years more, and those survivors did find themselves in chains, being dragged off into distant exile in a pagan land. Speaking for the survivors after the destruction of Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah said in lamentation: “He has blocked me up as with a stone wall, that I may not go forth. He has made my copper fetters heavy.” (Lamentations 3:7) Jeremiah also tells what the king of Babylon did to King Zedekiah, who had fled from the breached city and was nonetheless captured: “And the eyes of Zedekiah he blinded, after which the king of Babylon bound him with copper fetters and brought him to Babylon and put him in the house of custody until the day of his death.”—Jeremiah 52:11; 39:7.
58. For what reasons was the “chain” to be forged for the house of Judah?
58 Why was the “chain” of captives and exiles to be forged for the house of Judah? Jehovah explained to Ezekiel the reason for making this symbolic chain, saying: “For the land itself has become full of bloodstained judgment and the city itself has become full of violence.” Inhabitants who were guilty of such wicked things deserved to be chained and dragged off the land that they were defiling.
59. Why were those whom Jehovah used to forge the chain for Judah called “the worst ones of the nations”?
59 Whom, though, was Jehovah about to use to fasten the chain upon them? The answer makes one shudder, as Jehovah continues on to say: “And I will bring in the worst ones of the nations, and they will certainly take possession of their houses.” Aha! “the worst ones of the nations.” The Babylonian armies matched that description, for Babylon then held the position of the Third World Power of Bible history. Not even Egypt could hold them in check. Later, in prophesying against the king of Egypt, Ezekiel speaks of the aggressive Babylonians as “the tyrants of the nations.” (Ezekiel 30:11) In prophesying against the “leader” of ancient Tyre, Ezekiel says: “Here I am bringing upon you strangers, the tyrants of the nations, and they will certainly draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom and profane your beaming splendor.”—Ezekiel 28:1, 2, 7.
60. How did Jehovah “cause the pride of the strong ones to cease” and fulfill his determination that “their sanctuaries must be profaned”?
60 For about eighteen lunar months the city of Jerusalem held out against the siege by the “worst ones of the nations,” and then the city was breached. (2 Kings 25:1-4) Then, in fact, Jehovah did “cause the pride of the strong ones to cease.” Their anointed King Zedekiah, of the royal house of David, was captured while in flight. (2 Kings 25:4-7) The chief ones of their priesthood of the family of Moses’ brother Aaron were slaughtered. (2 Kings 25:18-21) In addition to that, as Jehovah said, “their sanctuaries must be profaned” by the “worst ones of the nations,” and that did not exclude the gorgeous temple that had been built by wise King Solomon at Jerusalem.—Ezekiel 7:24; 2 Kings 25:8-17.
61. Why was it that, among the besieged inhabitants, they would not find peace although they sought it?
61 What, though, about the situation inside Jerusalem during the siege by the “worst ones of the nations”? With the sword of punitive warfare outside and with famine and pestilence taking their toll inside, there must have been anguish inside the besieged city, just as Jehovah had foretold. Why was it that He said: “They will certainly seek peace and there will be none”? It was because they did not seek peace in the way that Jehovah had instructed through the prophet Jeremiah, namely, go out in unconditional surrender to the Babylonians. (Jeremiah 21:7-9; 38:1-3, 9-23) Consequently, what followed?
62. What would be the case as to getting information or an effective law or practical advice and knowing how to use one’s hands?
62 There was to “come adversity upon adversity,” and there was to “occur report upon report,” but no good news from any quarter. It was of no use to “seek a vision from a prophet,” aside from Jehovah’s true prophet Jeremiah, who was held in custody. The law as given by the priest, who was against priest Jeremiah, was of no avail; it was to perish. The counsel as given by the elderly men of experience was impractical; it also was to perish. Stubborn King Zedekiah, who was in fear of his own princes, had no other course to take but “go into mourning.” Each chieftain could not do anything but rip his garments apart in expression of inward despair and grief and thus “clothe himself with desolation.” With their leaders in such a mental, spiritual and nervous state, what could the common “people of the land” do but get disturbed as to using their hands, not knowing how and with what to employ them? (Ezekiel 7:25-27) They had only themselves to blame!
63. Why did the besieged inhabitants have only themselves to blame in the light of their judgments and conduct, and what questions arise as to Jehovah’s obligations in this regard?
63 Continually those beleaguered inhabitants of the land of Judah and Jerusalem had ignored the counsel of the God of Israel. They had persecuted his prophets, including Jeremiah the priest. The judgments that their courts handed down and executed caused the shedding of innocent blood, or because of the wickedness of the people those courts had to handle capital crimes involving blood. “Bloodstained judgment,” indeed, resulted! The capital city itself, Jerusalem, was “full of violence,” despite its being the center of religious worship at the temple of Jehovah. Under such circumstances was Jehovah obliged to deal lightly with those religious rebels by condoning and overlooking their terrible “error”? Was he to act as if he did not exist? Was he to deal with them as if he were some god different from the Sovereign Lord Jehovah with whom their forefathers had made a solemn covenant through the mediator Moses? What must we say in all fairness?
64. What was Jehovah, as party to a covenant with Israel, obliged to do, in order to leave no misimpression about himself in their minds?
64 Jehovah was obliged to fulfill His part of the solemn covenant and act toward them “according to their way.” Also, “with their judgments.” That is to say, with the judgments that apply to them according to the law of His covenant, Jehovah was obliged to “judge them,” to give to them according to their deserts. It was fair and equitable for Him to do so. He must be true to Himself. He must leave no misimpressions in their minds about Him. He is the same Jehovah as the One with whom their forefathers entered into their solemn obligations under the law given through Moses. They needed to be forced to know that He is Jehovah. The righteous way that He chose was the way to bring this about.
WHAT ABOUT CHRISTENDOM?
65. What questions therefore arise with regard to Christendom as to the treatment that she merits?
65 Is Christendom of today to be treated in any different way? Is not her realm likewise “full of bloodstained judgment”? Is she not, even in her religious centers and strongholds, “full of violence”? Why, then, should any different treatment be expected for her?
66. As in ancient Jerusalem’s case, when Christendom’s siege sets in at the “great tribulation” she will be carrying on in what way, and what will be the outcome with her?
66 When in the coming “great tribulation” the siege takes place that results in her destruction at the hands of the “worst ones of the nations,” she will continue to do just as she is already doing. She will persist in seeking peace and making terms according to her ways, but “there will be none” in that way. There will be more extreme anguish than what she feels already. Further visions of her false prophets will perish in failure. The law of her priesthood and clergy will perish, disregarded; likewise, the counsel of her worldly-wise elders. Ecclesiastical rulers will mourn. Religious chieftains will lose confidence in their own leadership and take on an appearance of desolation as regards their hopes. Their hosts of laymen will have nervous hands, uncertain as to how to apply their powers to save their religious institutions. The outcome will be the same with Christendom as it was with typical Jerusalem.
67. Since Christendom has all along claimed to represent God, in what, then, will his taking her at her word result?
67 The ways of Christendom are written down on the pages of history from her beginning in the fourth century down till now. Since she has given all the world to understand that she represents the Sovereign Lord God, Jehovah must take her at her word and act toward her according to her ways. His judgments that apply to her are written in his sacred Word, the Bible; and in full accord with these He must judge her. Those judgments are unchangeable. By His executing them upon her and thus bringing about her end, Christendom will learn that He has not changed. He is still the same God in this twentieth century. She will have to know that He is Jehovah.
Here begins the series of sixty-two occurrences in the book of Ezekiel where Jehovah declares that others will “have to know that I am Jehovah,” as follows: Ezekiel 6:7, 10, 13, 14; Eze 7:4, 9, 27; Eze 11:10, 12; Eze 12:15, 16, 20; Eze 13:9, 14, 21, 23; Eze 14:8; Eze 15:7; Eze 16:62; Eze 20:12, 20, 26, 38, 42, 44; Eze 22:16; Eze 23:49; Eze 24:24, 27; Eze 25:5, 7, 11, 17; Eze 26:6; Eze 28:22, 23, 24, 26; Eze 29:6, 9, 16, 21; Eze 30:8, 19, 25, 26; Eze 32:15; Eze 33:29; Eze 34:27; Eze 35:4, 9, 15; Eze 36:11, 23, 38; Eze 37:6, 13; Eze 38:23; Eze 39:6, 7, 22, 28.