Marking Foreheads of Those to Be Spared
1. What does Jehovah, while still at the temple, call out in Ezekiel’s hearing as a summons?
JEHOVAH and his prophet Ezekiel were still, in vision, at the defiled temple of Jerusalem when what Ezekiel next describes took place: “And he proceeded to call out in my ears with a loud voice, saying: ‘Have those giving their attention to the city come near, each one with his weapon in his hand for bringing ruin!’”—Ezekiel 9:1.
2. To whom did the expression “those giving their attention to the city” not apply, and what was their mission?
2 Here “those giving their attention to the city” were not members of the city government of Jerusalem. So those whom Jehovah called did not include King Zedekiah, who was then governing Jerusalem and all the Kingdom of Judah in that year 612 B.C.E. Certainly King Zedekiah and his princes did not try to destroy Jerusalem. In fact, they appealed to Pharaoh of Egypt to come and help to save the city. Those whom Jehovah called were those “giving their attention to the city,” not to preserve and govern it, but to destroy inhabitants of it with those weapons “for bringing ruin.” They were not Jews. Who, then, were they?
3. Whom did Ezekiel now see come in and stand beside the altar, and how were they distinguished?
3 Let us take a look at them with Ezekiel, as he goes on to say: “And, look! there were six men coming from the direction of the upper gate that faces to the north, each one with his weapon for smashing in his hand; and there was one man in among them clothed with linen, with a secretary’s inkhorn at his hips, and they proceeded to come in and stand beside the copper altar.”—Ezekiel 9:2.
4. Why was it foreboding that the seven men came from the north into the temple, and how was the one man singled out from the other six?
4 Forebodingly, they came in from the north, for that was the direction from which the mighty armies of Babylon came against Jerusalem three years later, in 609 B.C.E. By the northern inner gate of Jehovah’s temple they passed into its inner courtyard and stood beside the copper altar at its center, but not to offer sacrifice to Jehovah. There, at the north side of the altar, they might be seen by the twenty-five men who were between the altar and the temple porch and who were bowing down in worship to the sun to the east. (Ezekiel 8:16) Being seven in number, they were a complete team for united action. But the man “clothed with linen” was singled out from among the other six by his garment. He also got to be separated from them by being sent ahead of them.
5. Who evidently were those “six men,” and whom did they represent?
5 The “six men” in the vision were evidently supernatural persons, like materialized angels. It is not said that they were Babylonians, even though the Babylonians were used to destroy the literal Jerusalem. Since the “six men” had each one a “weapon for smashing” in the hand, they represent the heavenly executional forces of Jehovah who are subject to his command. They represent a heavenly army, soldiers, as it were. These could, in actuality, use Babylonian soldiers as earthly agents.
THE MARKER OF FOREHEADS
6. What kind of individual is the man “clothed with linen,” and what question arises as to his part?
6 The seventh individual, the man “clothed with linen,” was of a higher rank (not meaning hereby of a higher nature) in comparison with the “six men” armed with weapons. He is observed to have a “secretary’s inkhorn” at his waist, evidently held there by his girdle. But it is not said that he is the “secretary of the chief of the army” so as to be associated with military matters. (Jeremiah 52:25) He could be a peaceful governmental secretary. (2 Samuel 8:17; 20:25; 1 Kings 4:3) In the vision, on what kind of mission is this man in linen sent? This is made manifest by the commission that he receives from Jehovah, who rides on his celestial chariot. On this Ezekiel says:
7. From where does Jehovah call out to the man “clothed with linen,” and what does He tell the man to do?
7 “And as regards the glory of the God of Israel, it was taken up from over the cherubs over which it happened to be to the threshold of the house, and he began calling out to the man that was clothed with the linen, at whose hips there was the secretary’s inkhorn. And Jehovah went on to say to him: ‘Pass through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and you must put a mark on the foreheads of the men that are sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done in the midst of it.’”—Ezekiel 9:3, 4.
8. What was the “threshold of the house” to above which Jehovah’s glory moved, and on what kind of mission was the man “clothed with linen” sent?
8 Ah, the man in linen is sent on a peaceful, lifesaving mission. At this point the Divine Presence moved from above the awesome icelike platform that was above the four wheels and the heads of the four cherubs at the north entrance of the temple. To where? “To the threshold of the house.” (Ezekiel 8:3, 4; 9:3) This was not the porch of the temple, in front of which the twenty-five sun worshipers were standing. Appropriately it would be the threshold of the innermost compartment of the temple, the threshold of the Holy of Holies in which the Ark of the Covenant was located. On the golden lid of that gold-covered Ark there were the two golden cherubs, facing each other with upraised wings. Between or above the cherubs there appeared the miraculous Shekinah light as a symbol of God’s presence in the Most Holy. (Numbers 7:89) From this position above the inner threshold of the temple Jehovah issued his orders to the “man that was clothed with the linen.” He was to go through Jerusalem ahead of the “six men.” He was to use his pen and ink to do a marking work.
WHOSE FOREHEADS ARE MARKED, AND HOW
9. Who were in danger, and upon whom did Jehovah purpose to have compassion?
9 All the people in Jerusalem were in danger of their lives, because Jehovah was about to ‘act in his rage’ in executing his judicial decision against the city. Despite his justified “rage,” he would have compassion upon some of its inhabitants. Upon whom? Upon those who were not in sympathy with the detestable things that were being committed at Jehovah’s temple nor with the violence with which the unfaithful religionists were filling the land. (Ezekiel 8:17, 18) There were “men that are sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done” in Jerusalem.
10. As to those upon whom Jehovah was to have compassion, what was required of the man “clothed with linen” to carry out his mission toward them?
10 All these the man with the inkhorn at his waist was to mark in their foreheads, where the mark could be openly seen. For the man in linen to do this, it would require him to go from house to house, from home to home, in order to locate men who were grieved at the way that their God Jehovah was being offended. In order that these sighing and groaning men might be distinguished from the offenders against God, they needed to be marked in their foreheads. This would mark them as true worshipers of Jehovah.
11. Of what value to the bearer was the mark with ink in the forehead, according to Jehovah’s orders to the “six men”?
11 Of what value would that mark with ink on the foreheads of such pure worshipers of the one living and true God be? This becomes apparent from the official orders that Jehovah next gave to the “six men” armed with weapons for smashing. The prophet Ezekiel tells us what he heard: “And to these others he said in my ears: ‘Pass through the city after him and strike. Let not your eye feel sorry, and do not feel any compassion. Old man, young man and virgin and little child and women you should kill off—to a ruination. But to any man upon whom there is the mark do not go near, and from my sanctuary you should start.’”—Ezekiel 9:5, 6.
12. In view of the executional instruments of the “six men,” why was the mark in the forehead appropriate, and who became responsible for the killing of the unmarked minor children?
12 According to those divine instructions any Israelites having their foreheads marked would not be killed off by the “six men.” Since the instrument used for killing the unmarked Israelites was a “weapon for smashing,” it was likely used in smashing the skulls of those deserving to be executed. How fitting it was, then, that the foreheads of Jehovah’s worshipers were marked, for the “six men” would strike at the head! Seeing a mark on the forehead would hold them back from smashing that head. Age or sex was no reason for an offender against Jehovah to be spared, neither singleness nor marriage. Unmarked parents would not have their minor children marked in the forehead. Hence they would be the ones responsible for the killing of their little children, the Ten Commandments plainly stating that “punishment for the error of fathers” would be brought upon the “sons, upon the third generation and upon the fourth generation.” The failure of parents to bring up their children in the pure worship of Jehovah would make such delinquent parents responsible for the outworking of God’s righteous law against their minor children.—Exodus 20:5.
WHERE THE SMASHING OF HEADS BEGINS
13. Why did the idolatrous Israelites feel safe inside Jehovah’s nominal sanctuary, but what were Jehovah’s orders to the “six men” as to defiling the house?
13 Since Jehovah said, “From my sanctuary you should start,” the armed “six men” did not have to shrink from the thought of smashing persons to death inside His temple. All the idolatrous Israelites may have felt safe inside the temple, because they thought that slain dead bodies defiled Jehovah’s sanctuary but their false worship with idols did not defile his sanctuary. However, Jehovah had moved far off from his nominal sanctuary, and in evidence of that he wanted it to be defiled by the slain bodies of those who were defiling the sanctuary with their idolatries. Accordingly Ezekiel tells us concerning the “six men” with their smashing weapons: “So they started with the old men that were before the house. And he said further to them: ‘Defile the house and fill the courtyards with the slain ones. Go forth!’ And they went forth and struck in the city.”—Ezekiel 9:6, 7.
14. Why was being in the temple premises no longer like a charm of protection against being killed, and upon whom did the “six men” start their executional work, going on to whom afterward?
14 Consequently, one’s being inside the premises of the temple sanctuary of Jehovah was not like having a “Saint Christopher’s medal” or amulet around one’s neck to protect one from being killed by Jehovah’s executioners. That polluted temple was no longer any sanctuary of refuge for hypocritical religionists. So, what about those seventy “elderly ones of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan,” who were burning incense to idolatrous carvings that were on the inside walls of the house that was before the sanctuary? (Ezekiel 8:7-11) They were the ones with whom the “six men” started their executional work. Then there were the women “sitting, weeping over the god Tammuz.” These also were brained to death with the smashing weapons. The “twenty-five men” who were between the porch and the altar and who were worshiping the sun are not called “old men” or “elderly ones,” but they also were killed by the “six men.” (Ezekiel 8:14-16) Thus the house and the courtyards of the temple were defiled with the slain ones. This left Ezekiel remaining alive alone there!
15. The sight of the slaughter in the temple premises may have raised what question in Ezekiel’s mind, and what did he cry out and say?
15 The gory sight inside the temple may have raised this question in Ezekiel’s mind: If no one in such a sacred place as the temple is spared alive, how will anybody outside in the secular city of Jerusalem have an opportunity to be spared alive? Ezekiel tells us how he reacted at the impression made upon him, saying: “And it came about that, while they were striking and I was left remaining, I proceeded to fall upon my face and cry out and say: ‘Alas, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah! Are you bringing to ruin all the remaining ones of Israel while you are pouring out your rage upon Jerusalem?’”—Ezekiel 9:8.
16. Why was it the “remaining ones of Israel” about whom Ezekiel asked while Jehovah was pouring out his rage upon Jerusalem?
16 Was the whole nation of Israel to be wiped out at that time? At the most there was just a remnant or “remaining ones of Israel,” seeing that the Assyrians had conquered the ten-tribe Kingdom of Israel to the north and had deported all survivors off to distant parts of the Assyrian Empire. Later, the Babylonians had come and besieged Jerusalem and had taken King Jehoiachin and his household and thousands of other Jews, including Ezekiel, into exile in Babylon. Remembering how the promises of Jehovah for the benefit of all mankind were tied in with the nation of Israel, Ezekiel became so frightened that he fell prostrate and cried out.
17. What did Jehovah say in response to Ezekiel?
17 Ezekiel informs us what Jehovah said in response: “So he said to me: ‘The error of the house of Israel and Judah is very, very great, and the land is filled with bloodshed and the city is full of crookedness; for they have said, “Jehovah has left the land, and Jehovah is not seeing.” And as for me also, my eye will not feel sorry, neither shall I show compassion. Their way I shall certainly bring upon their own head.’”—Ezekiel 9:9, 10.
18. What shall we say as to whether Jehovah was justified in now bringing his executional forces upon the house of Israel and Judah, and that without sorrow and compassion?
18 When we consider without sentimentalism the bad things that Jehovah here sets out, was he not justified in bringing his executional forces upon the offending “house of Israel and Judah”? He had long shown that he was looking with a sorrowful eye upon them and was feeling compassion for them by repeatedly sending his faithful prophets to warn them, but they had refrained from listening and had persecuted and killed his obedient spokesmen. So why should his eye feel sorry now and he show compassion now? It was at last the time for Him to let the punishment of “their way” fall where it belonged, upon their own responsible heads.
19. How did history work out in harmony with the vision to Ezekiel, and how also do the Lamentations written by Jeremiah bear out the indiscriminateness of the slaughter?
19 History actually worked out in harmony with this vision to Ezekiel. The city of Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed and the land of the Kingdom of Judah was laid desolate five years later, or in 607 B.C.E. Among those killed off during and after the siege of Jerusalem there were “old man, young man and virgin and little child and women.” Who it was that was slain did not matter with the Babylonian soldiers. They showed no pity. How the death-dealing conditions in the “city that was abundant with people” affected all without respect of age we can read for ourselves in the Book of Lamentations written by the prophet-priest Jeremiah, who survived the destruction of Jerusalem only under divine protection. His lamentations, despite their beautiful poetry, portray to us the heartrending conditions and events that beset the doomed city, mothers even boiling their own children and eating them to satisfy the gnawing pangs of starvation.—Lamentations 1:1, 4, 6, 15, 18; 2:10, 20, 21; 4:10, 4, 16; 5:11-14.
20, 21. From the historic record, how did the command to the executioners work out, “From my sanctuary you should start”?
20 Neither was high rank or sacred position respected. Jehovah’s command to the executioners was: “From my sanctuary you should start.” (Ezekiel 9:6) Even so, the topmost officials of Jehovah’s temple were destined for violent death because of failing to keep His sanctuary free from idolatrous worship. That they and other responsible men of eminence did not escape execution, the doleful record in 2 Kings 25:18-21 testifies, in these words:
21 “Furthermore, the chief of the bodyguard took Seraiah the chief priest and Zephaniah the second priest and three [temple] doorkeepers; and from the city he took one court official that had a command over the men of war, and five men from those having access to the king that were found in the city; and the secretary of the chief of the army, the one mustering the people of the land, and sixty men of the people of the land that were to be found in the city; and Nebuzaradan the chief of the bodyguard then took them and conducted them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. And the king of Babylon proceeded to strike them down and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath. Thus Judah went into exile from off its soil.”
22. Among the survivors of Jerusalem’s destruction, who were the ones that really had divine promise and protection, and the facts about these show the marking of foreheads to be what kind of work?
22 Away back there no inhabitant of Jerusalem bore a literal mark on his forehead to notify the executioners whom Jehovah used that he was to be spared from violent death. There is no record in the Bible to show that some commissioned servant of Jehovah went through the midst of Jerusalem and used pen and ink to mark the “foreheads of the men that are sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done in the midst of it.” (Ezekiel 9:4) The prophet-priest Jeremiah did not do it; the prophet Ezekiel himself did not do it, for he himself was an exile in Babylon during all the reign of Zedekiah, the last king of Jerusalem. According to divine promise and protection certain ones did escape execution, like Baruch the secretary of Jeremiah, and Ebed-melech the Ethiopian and the Rechabites. (Jeremiah 45:1-5; 39:15-18; 35:1-19) But these survivors bore no ink mark on their literal foreheads. Evidently, then, marking of foreheads as forevisioned by Ezekiel is a symbolic work.
23. What sort of figure is this linen-clad man with the secretary’s inkhorn, and where does the fulfillment of his lifesaving work take place in reality?
23 Also, the man “clothed with linen, with a secretary’s inkhorn at his hips,” is a prophetic figure, and he finds his fulfillment down here in this twentieth century in connection with the antitypical unfaithful Jerusalem, namely, Christendom. And amazingly enough, a work that closely corresponds with that of the linen-clad man with the secretary’s inkhorn at his waist began and is still in progress throughout Christendom during this “time of the end.” Who, then, fulfills the picture of this man who engages in this lifesaving work throughout antitypical Jerusalem? Let, now, the historic facts speak for themselves to identify him.
THE MODERN-DAY MARKER OF FOREHEADS
24. What book was published by the Watch Tower Society in 1931, and according to it whom did this man with the inkhorn picture?
24 Not too long ago, in the year 1931, a Biblical book was published entitled “Vindication.”a This book, which had a wide distribution throughout Christendom, was published by the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society. It was a commentary on the first twenty-four chapters of the prophecy of Ezekiel 1-24. It made clear that the prophecy of the man “clothed with linen” had not been fulfilled in any one man in contact with Christendom, say, for instance, in Charles Taze Russell, the first president of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, who died October 31, 1916, thereby finishing his earthly work as a Christian, in the midst of World War I. Concerning this, Vindication (Volume I) said, on pages 99, 100, under the subheading “Man with Inkhorn,” the following:
Aside from the Lord Jesus Christ, God has never since committed to any one individual on earth an exclusive work to be done by that individual. From the very beginning of his ministry Christ Jesus had a visible organization, and his apostles, acting collectively under his direction, formed the visible part thereof. There was unity of action by the faithful apostles; . . . ‘The man with the writer’s inkhorn by his side,’ therefore, clearly represented the anointed “servant” class of the Lord on earth, which class is a part of God’s organization.
25. Where, to whom and when was this book released, and four days after the adoption of what identifying Resolution?
25 It was on the afternoon of July 30, 1931, that the above book was released, after the delivery of a talk on “Man with the Writer’s Inkhorn” to the many thousands attending the international convention of International Bible Students that was in session at Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A. Just the preceding Sunday afternoon, July 26, this international gathering had adopted unanimously the Resolution by which they embraced the Scriptural name for themselves of “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”—Isaiah 43:1, 10-12, AS.
26. Those adopting that Resolution thus identified themselves as being what, and at what prospect were they now elated, and from whom were they receiving a commission of work?
26 Thus these dedicated, anointed followers of Jesus recognized themselves as the Christian witnesses of Jehovah, whereas the prophet Ezekiel was a pre-Christian witness of Jehovah. They were very grateful that their God, Jehovah, had definitely revealed to them the work for them to do as indicated in the vision to Ezekiel concerning the man “clothed with linen, with a secretary’s inkhorn at his hips.” They were highly elated at the prospect of engaging in the work of marking the foreheads of those who were to be spared on the day when Jehovah executes his judicial decision against antitypical unfaithful Jerusalem, namely, Christendom. By doing so they, as an anointed class, were fulfilling the role of the envisioned man with the inkhorn. In fact, this visionary man with the inkhorn found his modern counterpart in this united class of Jehovah’s anointed, dedicated, baptized servants. It was as if Jehovah, from atop his chariotlike heavenly organization were saying thenceforth to this modern-day ‘man with the inkhorn’ the words of command: “Pass through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem [as typical of Christendom], and you must put a mark on the foreheads of the men that are sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done in the midst of it.”—Ezekiel 9:4.
THE ONES BEING MARKED IN THEIR FOREHEADS
27. Who, then, are the ones pictured by the men that sigh and groan over all the detestable things being done in Jerusalem, and what is their hope?
27 Who are those men who were sighing and groaning over all the detestable religious things that were being done in and by Christendom? They were not members of the modern-time Ezekiel class, a class of dedicated Christians anointed with God’s spirit. (Isaiah 61:1-3) They were not part of the ‘man with the inkhorn’ class, which is the same dedicated, baptized, anointed class of Jehovah’s united servants. So they were not expecting to die and have a spiritual resurrection into the heavenly realm as spiritual sons of God and as joint heirs with Jesus Christ in his heavenly kingdom. They were persons who were associated with Christendom but who had a sincere reverence for the things of God and who were sick at heart because of all the unchristian teachings and actions of Christendom, all of which brought reproach upon God’s holy name. As for their hope of eternal life, they were satisfied to live in a cleansed earth, restored to a Paradise state and under the heavenly kingdom of God. They desired to have the Son of God, Jesus Christ, over them as their “Fine Shepherd” and to follow in his footsteps as his disciples.
28. In his parable of the Fine Shepherd, how did Jesus refer to persons of that kind, and why do they now have to get their foreheads symbolically marked?
28 In Jesus’ parable on the Fine Shepherd he indicated that he would have such a flock of sheeplike persons on the earth. He spoke of them as his “other sheep,” for, after speaking about the “fold” containing those who will be joint heirs with him in the heavenly kingdom, he went on to say: “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16) The ‘man with the inkhorn’ class also speak of these as the “other sheep.” These “other sheep” who are living in this “time of the end” for Christendom are the ones that need to have their foreheads marked in order to be spared at the time when Jehovah’s executional “six men” go throughout Christendom to destroy all the unmarked ones.—Ezekiel 9:5, 6.
29. In accord with the ancient purpose of marking persons, why would such a mark be fitting for these symbolic “other sheep” of today?
29 What, then, is the symbolic “mark” that is penned upon their foreheads? In ancient time, the times of Ezekiel, it was the custom for worshipers of a certain god or goddess to identify themselves as such by putting the mark or name of such deity upon the brow of their face. Likewise, slaves had branded upon their foreheads, if not also in their hand, the name of their owner so as openly to indicate to whom they belonged. It would be just as fitting today for these symbolic “other sheep” to be marked in such a way as to show publicly whom they worshiped as God and to whom they belonged as spiritual slaves. Is the “mark,” then, the having of Bible knowledge in one’s head, and is the marking work that of putting Bible knowledge in the minds of people?
30. Why could merely having Biblical knowledge not be the symbolic “mark,” as illustrated in the case of the temple officials whom Nebuchadnezzar killed off at Riblah after Jerusalem was destroyed?
30 Not exactly, although that may be an important part of the matter. It is not what a religionist has in his head that counts, but what he proves himself to be. What about “Seraiah the chief priest and Zephaniah the second priest and the three doorkeepers,” all of whom the king of Babylon killed off at Riblah after the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple? (Jeremiah 52:24-27) All of these temple officials had in their heads the required knowledge of Jehovah’s written Word, but what were they personally? Despite all this head knowledge, they permitted all those detestable idolatrous things to be carried on by apostate Jews in the temple dedicated to the one living and true God, Jehovah. They had not been “sighing and groaning over all the detestable things” being done in Jerusalem. In the same way, all the knowledge that the religious clergy of Christendom have in their heads from their schooling in religious seminaries will not save them when Jehovah’s “six men” go through Christendom with their smashing weapons. It becomes manifest, therefore, that mere Biblical knowledge could not be the “mark.”
31. What in actuality is the symbolic “mark,” and what divine command about dissociating themselves have they obeyed?
31 In actuality, the symbolic mark is the evidence, as if it were displayed on a person’s uncovered forehead, that he is a dedicated, baptized disciple of Jesus Christ and has a Christlike personality that differentiates him from all hypocritical Christians. It is not a mere outwardly “having a form of godly devotion,” but is an inwardly and outwardly proving true to “its power,” a having of true faith accompanied by works in proof thereof. (2 Timothy 3:5; James 2:18-26) This visible or discernible “mark” makes it plain to Jehovah’s executional forces that the marked ones are not in sympathy with all the detestable religious things that are being said and done in the midst of Christendom, things that are untrue to the name of Christ that she bears. In fact, they have been “sighing and groaning” over all such God-dishonoring things, and in protest thereat they have come out of Christendom and have renounced all membership in her. They come to appreciate that she is an integral part of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, for which reason they must obey the divine command, “Get out of her my people.”—Revelation 18:4; Isaiah 52:11.
32, 33. So what really is this work of marking foreheads, and how was this work indicated by Jesus’ command after his resurrection from the dead?
32 Necessarily, then, the work of marking foreheads, as done by the anointed remnant of heirs to Jehovah’s heavenly kingdom, must do more than simply impart Bible knowledge to people by putting the Bible and Bible literature in their hands to read for themselves and get what they are mentally able to get out of reading it. It includes helping these persons to understand what they read and then to conform their lives to what they read in God’s Word. It means teaching such persons and building up in them a truly Christian personality, a personality built up on Jesus Christ as the Foundation and sticking to all the Bible rules and principles for Christlike conduct. Jesus’ instructions to his apostles and disciples after his resurrection from the dead were:
33 “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”—Matthew 28:16-20.
34. Since when have we been living in the “conclusion of the system of things,” and so what is it yet proper for those to do even though only an earthly prospect seems available to them?
34 All the proof necessary is available to establish that we have been living in the “conclusion of the system of things” since the end of the “appointed times of the [Gentile] nations” in early autumn of 1914 C.E. (Luke 21:24) Today many persons feel that the only reasonable thing open for them to do is to become one of the “other sheep” of the Fine Shepherd Jesus Christ. To that end what must they do? This: obey him as the Fine Shepherd and become one of his disciples. Sheep, whether of the royal “little flock” or of the “other” fold, must follow the one Shepherd, who died in surrender of his human soul for all of them. This means that in the present “conclusion of the system of things” those whom God assigns to be of the “other sheep” must become his disciples and get baptized in water and be taught all the things that he commanded his disciples to observe. (Luke 12:32; John 10:14-16) Inasmuch as he is their Model and got baptized in water, so they also must get baptized in symbol of their coming to God to do His will.—Hebrews 10:5-10; 1 Peter 2:21.
35. By reason of what disclosure in The Watchtower in 1934 could the work of marking foreheads begin in effect, and why up till that time was no organized effort made to gather “other sheep”?
35 Consistently, then, in 1934, or three years after the release of the book Vindication (Volume I), the magazine The Watchtower published in its issue of August 15, 1934, the article entitled “His Kindness.” In this it clearly set forth, on pages 249, 250, that even the “other sheep” of the present time must be made up of those who have dedicated themselves to God through Christ and who have symbolized that unconditional dedication by being immersed in water, like Jesus. This, at the earliest, marks the point where the work of the anointed remnant began in marking the foreheads of those whom God would choose to spare alive during the “great tribulation” upon antitypical unfaithful Jerusalem, Christendom. Why? Because prior to that the work toward these consisted merely of imparting Biblical knowledge to them. (Matthew 24:15-22; Mark 13:14-20) But even at that time the “other sheep” of the present time were not identified as being the same ones as those who make up the “great multitude” or “great crowd” as foretold in Revelation 7:9-17. Hence up till that time no organized effort was made to gather the “other sheep.”
36. In the year 1935, what was it that definitely marked out that the work of the man with the inkhorn had at last begun, and so who presented themselves to enter a dedicated relationship with God through Christ?
36 In the following spring, however, there came an event that definitely marked out that the work of the modern-day man “clothed with linen, with a secretary’s inkhorn at his hips,” had at last begun. Where was this? At a general convention of Jehovah’s witnesses at Washington, D.C. There hundreds of persons who did not feel entitled to a heavenly inheritance with Christ presented themselves for water baptism to symbolize that they had decided to enter into a dedicated relationship with Jehovah through Christ. What was it that powerfully moved them to do this in a mass baptism? This: On Friday afternoon, May 31, 1935, the then president of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society gave to the conventioners an address on “The Great Multitude,” and in this he explained Revelation 7:9-17 (AV). He showed that the ones making up that “great multitude” would not be a spiritual class with a heavenly hope under the 144,000 joint heirs of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 7:1-8) Instead, they would be an earthly class, with an earthly Paradise hope, namely, the “other sheep” of the Fine Shepherd Jesus Christ. Next day came the baptism.
37. What occurred next day at the Washington convention to show that there need be no further hesitation about making and symbolizing a full dedication to God through Christ?
37 Now, indeed, there needed to be no hesitation on the part of anyone to make a full dedication of himself to Jehovah through the Fine Shepherd Jesus Christ and undergo water baptism as a symbol of that unconditional dedication. It was not surprising, then, that the next day, Saturday, June 1, 1935, there were 840 that were immersed at this Washington (D.C.) convention. (See The Golden Age, as of July 17, 1935, page 655, column 2.)
38. As being what were all those 840 candidates baptized, and there has since been a large participation in what event at the various assemblies of Jehovah’s witnesses?
38 They were baptized by total submersion of the body in water as dedicated disciples of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, in obedience to Matthew 28:19, 20. This was regardless of whether Jehovah would later reveal to them that he had assigned them to be of the “little flock” of Christ’s joint heirs or had assigned them to be “other sheep” who make up the present-day “great multitude” or “great crowd.” The Lamb’s shepherding of this “great crowd” of the “other sheep” is beautifully described in Revelation 7:16, 17. Baptismal services with a notably large participation by newly dedicated persons have since taken place at the circuit, district, national and international assemblies of Jehovah’s witnesses down till now.
39. Since World War II, how many have thus been baptized, and in what work are these now taking part and under whose supervision?
39 Since the end of World War II in 1945 more than a million newly dedicated persons have thus been baptized world wide as disciples of Jesus Christ the Fine Shepherd. During the 1970 service year alone of Jehovah’s witnesses, 164,193 were thus baptized in symbol of their dedication to Jehovah regardless of where he chooses to place them within his theocratic organization. This increasing “great crowd” of baptized disciples of Christ are now aiding the modern-day ‘man with the inkhorn,’ the small remnant yet on earth of the 144,000 joint heirs of Jesus Christ. Under the supervision of this anointed remnant they are sharing in the work of marking the foreheads of those who are “sighing and groaning over all the detestable things” that take place in the midst of Christendom. Even in lands outside Christendom the marking goes on.
40. How extensively active are Jehovah’s witnesses at present, and who besides those of Christendom are now getting marked in their foreheads symbolically?
40 Indeed, in 206 lands and island groups around the globe Jehovah’s witnesses are active. Many adherents of non-Christian religions are hearing and taking heed to the good news of God’s kingdom and are forsaking such non-Christian religions in response to Jehovah’s call for those who desire to be his people to get out of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. By accepting Christ’s teachings and by dedication and water baptism these also are qualifying to be marked in their foreheads as being true disciples of Jesus Christ.
41. When, and why, will such ones from outside Christendom need that symbolic mark in their foreheads?
41 They will need this symbolic mark then when Babylon the Great, of which Christendom has been the dominant part, is destroyed in the approaching “great tribulation” so that their lives may be spared by Jehovah’s executional forces. (Revelation 17:1 to 19:2) Reasonably, if false hypocritical religionists inside Christendom who are not marked in the forehead as true Christians are not to be spared, all unmarked persons outside Christendom will not be spared alive, for they are no more true disciples of Christ than are the religious hypocrites of Christendom.
ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE WORK REPORTED ON
42. What indicates whether the marking work inside and outside Christendom will be fully accomplished, and for what would the man with the inkhorn have been held accountable had he failed to carry out his commission?
42 In the vision given to the prophet Ezekiel the lifesaving work of marking foreheads in doomed Jerusalem was brought to an end. Just as surely, then, although the marking work has been going on now for more than thirty-five years, it will come to its end throughout the earth, inside and outside of Christendom. The certainty of this is forevisioned by what the prophet Ezekiel says as to whether the man charged with the marking work carried out his commission or not: “And, look! the man clothed with the linen, at whose hips there was the inkhorn, was bringing back word, saying: ‘I have done just as you have commanded me.’” (Ezekiel 9:11) If the man had failed to carry out his commission he would have been held responsible for the slaughter of those “sighing and groaning” men whose foreheads he had not marked. He would have been like Ezekiel, who would have been held accountable for the blood of the executed Israelites if he had failed to give them warning from Jehovah as a watchman.—Ezekiel 3:17-21.
43. What are the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s servants determined to carry on doing, and to that end what do they continue doing?
43 The anointed remnant of Jehovah’s servants today are determined to be just as faithful as was the linen-clad man in the vision. With that end in view they continue, despite opposition and persecution, to go from house to house, presenting the good news of God’s kingdom, to get in touch with all persons who are “sighing and groaning over all the detestable things” that are being done within and without Christendom and that are detestable to Jehovah the one living and true God. Jesus Christ prophesied: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) When that “end” does come and the marking work is completed, the anointed remnant desire to be able to bring back word to their Commissioner, Jehovah, and to say: “I have done just as you have commanded me.”
44. What are the “other sheep” now desirous of doing, and why must they keep the “mark” upon their foreheads, and how?
44 The “other sheep” who are cooperating with them in the work of marking foreheads are no less desirous of proving faithful at the side of the anointed remnant, the present-day man “clothed with linen, with a secretary’s inkhorn at his hips.” For these “other sheep” to be spared by Jehovah’s executional “six men” in the approaching “great tribulation” they must keep this symbolic “mark” in their foreheads, that the “six men” may never come near them to use their smashing weapons upon their heads. They can retain this lifesaving “mark” on their foreheads by loyally and obediently sharing in the marking work with the anointed remnant who are clothed with the symbolic linen of God’s righteousness. This will ensure that the “great crowd” of these marked “other sheep” will “come out of the great tribulation” and enter into Jehovah’s further service in His new system of things under the Lamb Jesus Christ.—Revelation 7:17.
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