Disappointment in Store for Overconfident Ones
1. Whom, in vision, did Ezekiel now get to see in the eastern gate of the temple, and what were they saying?
IN HIS next vision, what does Ezekiel see happen? Listen: “And a spirit proceeded to lift me up and bring me to the eastern gate of the house of Jehovah that is facing eastward, and, look! in the entrance of the gate there were twenty-five men, and I got to see in the midst of them Jaazaniah the son of Azzur and Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, princes of the people. Then he [Jehovah] said to me: ‘Son of man, these are the men that are scheming hurtfulness and advising bad counsel against this city; that are saying, “Is not the building of houses close at hand? She is the widemouthed cooking pot, and we are the flesh.”’”—Ezekiel 11:1-3.
2. What do we note about the identity of these twenty-five men, and what political movement were they scheming?
2 Apparently these are not the twenty-five men whom Ezekiel saw earlier in the inner court of the temple, worshiping the sun to the east, before the slaughter work was ordered to begin upon the unmarked inhabitants of Jerusalem. (Ezekiel 8:16) Nor is this Jaazaniah the son of Azzur the same as the Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan whom Ezekiel saw engaged in idolatrous worship inside a temple building. (Ezekiel 8:11) These latter twenty-five men are said to be “princes of the people,” hence governmental princes and not religious princes of the temple. Evidently, in this year 612 B.C.E., more than three years before the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem began, King Zedekiah of Jerusalem had not yet rebelled against the king of Babylonia to whom he had pledged submission. (2 Chronicles 36:11-13; 2 Kings 24:18 to 25:1) But these twenty-five “princes of the people” were likely scheming in favor of such a rebellion, for they were “advising bad counsel against this city.” But they were confident that no harm would come.
3. To what did those twenty-five men liken Jerusalem’s walls and therefore themselves, how were they reasoning, and what did they now need?
3 Those schemers and bad counselors of the king of Jerusalem likened the city to a widemouthed cooking pot or caldron, one made of iron. The city walls were like the sides of that metallic pot, unbreachable. Inside those walls, like flesh that is to be cooked, those twenty-five princes would be safe. Safe inside, they would never be dispossessed, and so was it not the time to build houses for permanent occupancy? They could make sure of their permanent residence by appealing to Egypt against the king of Babylon. They did not believe the predictions of the prophet-priest Jeremiah concerning the coming destruction of Jerusalem. They needed to have a double warning of this from Jehovah. “Therefore,” said Jehovah to Ezekiel, “prophesy against them. Prophesy, O son of man.”—Ezekiel 11:4.
4. What now happened to Ezekiel proved the truth of what action of the spirit as mentioned in 2 Peter 1:21?
4 What now happened to Ezekiel proves how true were the later words of the Christian apostle Peter: “Prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21) Note what Ezekiel tells us:
5. In what Jehovah now told Ezekiel to say, how did he use the likeness drawn by the twenty-five men but show a reverse outcome for them themselves?
5 “Then the spirit of Jehovah fell upon me, and he went on to say to me: ‘Say, “This is what Jehovah has said: ‘You people said the right thing, O house of Israel; and as regards the things that come up in your spirit, I myself have known it. You have caused your slain ones in this city to be many, and you have filled her streets with the slain ones.’” “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘As regards your slain ones whom you people have put in the midst of her, they are the flesh, and she is the widemouthed cooking pot; and there will be a bringing forth of you yourselves out of the midst of her.’”’”—Ezekiel 11:5-7.
6. Why were so many slain by those princes, and who were to remain inside the symbolic cooking pot, the slain ones or the princes?
6 In order to try to make sure of their permanent position inside Jerusalem, those pro-Egyptian princes had killed off those who were in favor of continuing submissive to Babylon. If Jerusalem were to be likened to a cooking pot, then those slain ones were the ones to stay inside, on the site of the city, and not be dragged out of her by the Babylonians. They were to be like the flesh in the caldron. But the walls of Jerusalem would be no metallic cooking pot for the pro-Egyptian murderous princes. They were the ones who were to be brought out of her by the Babylonians. They would have to leave vacant the houses that they had built.
7. What was to happen to the newly built houses of those princes, and what did they have reason to fear as to Egypt’s ability against Babylon?
7 The fiery destruction that was symbolized by the “coals of fire” that the linen-clad man tossed over the city was certain to reach their newly built houses and all the city of Jerusalem. (Ezekiel 10:2-7) If they put through their scheme to induce King Zedekiah to break his oath and rebel against Babylon, they had good reason to fear that the king of Babylon would come back against Jerusalem with the sword of punishment. Even militarized Egypt would not prove strong enough to hold back the king of Babylon. Hence Ezekiel must continue on to say to those scheming princes:
8. What instrument did Jehovah say he would bring against them, and in what region would he judge them?
8 “‘A sword you have feared, and a sword I shall bring upon you,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. ‘And I shall certainly bring you forth out of the midst of her and give you into the hand of strangers and execute upon you acts of judgment. By the sword you will fall. On the border of Israel I shall judge you people; and you will have to know that I am Jehovah. She [Jerusalem] herself will not prove to be for you a widemouthed cooking pot, and you yourselves will not prove to be flesh in the midst of her. On the border of Israel I shall judge you, and you will have to know that I am Jehovah, because in my regulations you did not walk and my judgments you did not do, but according to the judgments of the nations that are round about you, you have done.’”—Ezekiel 11:8-12.
9. In the execution of his judicial decisions, what would Jehovah use, and the use of it in execution would take place in what part of the land?
9 The high hopes of those overconfident schemers were to be disappointed. The judicial decision to be executed upon them was to be from Jehovah, but he would use the “sword” in the hands of those foreign “strangers” to do the executing. By this “sword” of punitive warfare many of them would fall in death. Those who survived would not remain safe inside Jerusalem’s walls. Her walls would not prove to be like the impenetrable side of an iron cooking pot, safely protecting the “flesh” inside her. Those rebellious scheming survivors would be brought out as captives from behind the breached walls of Jerusalem to suffer acts of judgment. These miserable survivors were to be dragged off the territory of the Kingdom of Judah, for Jehovah had said that “on the border of Israel” he would judge them. At the northern tip of the territory that had been conquered by King David, namely, at Riblah toward Hamath, Jehovah would have them executed by the Babylonian king wielding the “sword.” On this Jeremiah 52:24-27 informs us:
10. Concerning that execution, what does Jeremiah 52:24-27 say?
10 “Furthermore, the chief of the bodyguard took Seraiah the chief priest and Zephaniah the second priest and the three doorkeepers, and from the city he took one court official that happened to be commissioner over the men of war, and seven men of those having access to the king, who 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, who were found in the midst of the city. So these Nebuzaradan the chief of the bodyguard took and conducted them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. And these the king of Babylon proceeded to strike down and to put them to death in Riblah in the land of Hamath. Thus Judah went into exile from off its soil.”
11. What was Jehovah’s purpose in letting the Babylonians treat his people so harshly, and what connection did this purpose have with the Mosaic law covenant?
11 What was Jehovah’s purpose in letting the Babylonian “strangers” treat his chosen people in such a harsh, merciless way? “And you will have to know that I am Jehovah,” is His answer. Twice, in close succession, he here makes that declaration of his purpose. His chosen people were trying to ignore him, and he had to show them forcefully that he had not released them from their sacred covenant with him long ago through the prophet Moses. As a matter of fact, that Mosaic covenant was to continue in force for almost 639 years after the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E., or down till the spring of 33 C.E. He had to force them to know that he still held them to account for breaking their side of this two-way covenant. Invisible though he was because of being spirit, he was not to be treated as someone that did not exist. He was Jehovah, the very same God to whom their forefathers had repeatedly said at Mount Sinai in Arabia: “All that Jehovah has spoken we are willing to do.” (Exodus 19:1-8; 24:1-7) Jehovah would in this way demonstrate before all creation in heaven and in earth that he faithfully lives up to his side of any solemn contract or covenant.
12. What did Jehovah do toward helping them to know that it was he who was taking the action and why he had to do so?
12 Because Jehovah by his prophets had forewarned them that he would bring upon the Israelites such consequences of their breaking of their covenant with him, they would know that it was the action of Jehovah himself when these foretold things actually came upon them. He was plain spoken when he pointed out to them just why he had to execute these acts of judgment upon them, saying: “On the border of Israel I shall judge you, and you will have to know that I am Jehovah.” Why? “Because in my regulations you did not walk and my judgments you did not do, but according to the judgments of the nations that are round about you, you have done.”—Ezekiel 11:11, 12.
WHY CHRISTENDOM ALSO WILL NOT ESCAPE FROM KNOWING
13. In what respects does Christendom claim to be like ancient Israel, and therefore, despite her hypocrisy, how should she expect to be treated?
13 Modern-day Christendom has let this warning example of history be lost on her. Regardless of how she feels about it today, she has claimed to be like ancient Israel, in a solemn compact or covenant with the God of the Holy Bible. The copies of the Bible that she has printed and circulated by the hundreds of millions in over a thousand languages establish his divine name as being Jehovah or Yahweh. Only she claims her mediator between this God and men to be Jesus Christ the Son of God, and her covenant with God to be the new covenant. (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Luke 22:20; 1 Timothy 2:5, 6) In all this, Christendom is hypocritical. Nevertheless, Jehovah God takes her according to her claims and pretensions, and he must deal with her accordingly. He is not going to let her misrepresent him shamefully before all the world and not be exposed finally as a hypocrite and be duly punished for it.
14. What will Christendom’s claimed Mediator not do for her in the judgment, and what will all mankind have to know on her account?
14 Christendom’s claimed Mediator, Jesus Christ, will not plead before God for mercy upon her. She will have to know painfully that he is Jehovah. In fact, all mankind will have to know that He is not the God that Christendom has represented Him to be.
15. How has Christendom ignored Isaiah 31:1 as regards alliances, and what will be her experience as regards the symbolic ironlike cooking pot?
15 Similar to ancient Israel, Christendom has preferred to make her own chosen alliances with this world. She has not put her trust in the God of the new covenant. In lack of faith, she has paid no attention to the divine warning, in Isaiah 31:1: “Woe to those going down to Egypt for assistance, those who rely on mere horses, and who put their trust in war chariots, because they are numerous, and in steeds, because they are very mighty, but who have not looked to the Holy One of Israel and have not searched for Jehovah himself.” Christendom’s religious leaders may have felt that they are the “flesh” in the midst of the widemouthed cooking pot, safe behind her walls of protection and defense. But will the secular elements of modern-day Egypt, this worldly system of things, be able to save her from the execution of Jehovah’s judicial decisions against her? No! Her symbolic walls of defense will fail under the assaults of Jehovah’s executional forces. Her overconfident leaders, who trust in man-made security within their ironlike “cooking pot,” will surely be taken out of her and destroyed by Jehovah’s executional “sword.”
16. Because of the dangerousness of connections with Christendom, what is it urgent for each church member or moral supporter of her to ask himself now?
16 Is it not therefore dangerous before God for religiously inclined persons to continue their membership in Christendom or their close association with her on a sort of “interfaith” basis? Each church member or moral supporter of Christendom is now under a growing urgency to ask himself, ‘When shortly God carries out his stated purpose, “You will have to know that I am Jehovah,” will the execution of his judicial decision bring about my own destruction along with Christendom?’ This is no academic, theoretical question; it is practical, realistic and now most timely!
17. What is the reason to which Jehovah can appeal for destroying Christendom just as in the case of destroying ancient Jerusalem?
17 Let every honest person compare what the Bible says about true Christianity and what Christendom has adopted as her religious regulations. Then he will see that Jehovah can appeal to the same reason for destroying Christendom as he did for destroying Jerusalem in the year 607 B.C.E. What reason? “Because,” as Jehovah said, “in my regulations you did not walk and my judgments you did not do, but according to the judgments of the nations that are round about you, you have done.” (Ezekiel 11:12) If we share with Christendom in that course, can we evade her destruction?
18. The fact that the destruction comes from Jehovah was illustrated in the sudden death of which prince, and of what did Ezekiel, according to his outcry, take this to be a sign?
18 The fact that the destruction comes from Jehovah enthroned on his celestial chariotlike organization was illustrated in the experience that the prophet Ezekiel had respecting the twenty-five men who schemed what proved to be disastrous for Jerusalem: “And it came about that as soon as I prophesied Pelatiah the son of Benaiah himself died, and I proceeded to fall upon my face and cry with a loud voice and say: ‘Alas, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah! Is it an extermination that you are executing with the remaining ones of Israel?’” (Ezekiel 11:13) In this vision, what caused Pelatiah the prince to drop dead after Ezekiel had prophesied and served notice upon the twenty-five “princes of the people”? The prophet Ezekiel according to what he cried out in fear took it to be a direct execution of judgment from Jehovah. He took it as a sign, not only of impending death for the other twenty-four princes, but also of a coming extermination of all the “remaining ones of Israel.” He did not, however, challenge God’s right to exterminate them all.
19. What fear of religiously inclined people today compares with Ezekiel’s outcry; and in view of the Communists’ attitude, what question arises as to the future of religion?
19 Just as Ezekiel feared the destruction of all of Jehovah’s covenant people during the threatening destruction of Jerusalem, so a fear might be excited in the hearts of religiously minded persons who do not appreciate the distinction between Christendom and true Christianity. Their frightened question might be, ‘If in the coming “great tribulation” upon the whole system of things Jehovah exterminates all of Christendom and her worldly allies, will this mean the destruction of true Christianity?’ Communist and other radical elements of this system of things who hate the Christianity of the Holy Bible would like to have it so and would like to have a part in making it so. They would like to have wiped out, not only the hypocritical Christianity of Christendom, but also the “pure religion,” the true Christian worship of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. (James 1:27, AV; NW) Will these irreligious radicals have the satisfaction of seeing such a thing realized, in substantiation of the fears of some religious people?
CHRISTENDOM’S DESTRUCTION NOT THAT OF CHRISTIANITY
20, 21. Who only could answer Ezekiel’s fearful question, and what did he promise to become to the exiled brothers of Ezekiel who had the right to a repurchase?
20 The fear-inspired question of Ezekiel could be answered only by Jehovah, whose covenant had been broken by the house of Israel. His answer to Ezekiel exemplified what would be the case with regard to true Christianity in this modern “time of the end.” Ezekiel gives us the divine answer as he now writes:
21 “And the word of Jehovah continued to occur to me, saying: ‘Son of man, as regards your brothers, your brothers, the men concerned with your right to repurchase, and all the house of Israel, all of it, are the ones to whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, “Get far away from Jehovah. To us it belongs; the land has been given us as a thing to possess”; therefore say, “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: ‘Although I have put them far away among the nations, and although I have scattered them among the lands, yet I shall become to them a sanctuary for a little while [or, in a little way] among the lands to which they have come.’”’”—Ezekiel 11:14-16, and marginal reading.
22. As regards the exiles, whom might the expression “all the house of Israel, all of it” include, and how did the matter of a repurchase enter into the case of these exiles?
22 This divine promise had reference to Ezekiel himself and to his fellow exiles in Babylon hundreds of miles away from Jerusalem. They were Ezekiel’s Israelite brothers. They were the ones who in the year 617 B.C.E. had been put far away among the nations and scattered among the lands because of Jehovah’s judicial decision. They had thus been obliged to leave their hereditary possessions in the land of Israel. Besides these ones, Jehovah’s expression “all the house of Israel, all of it” might include the Israelites who had been carried into exile by the Assyrians back in 740 B.C.E. (2 Kings 17:6-18; 18:9-12) According to God’s law as set out in Leviticus 25:13-38, hereditary land in Israel that was sold to an alien resident could be repurchased for the landless Israelite by a close Israelite relative before the Year of Jubilee arrived, and thereby the original landowner could be reinstated on his God-given property. But did the inhabitants of Jerusalem in Ezekiel’s day have that loving spirit of a redeemer or repurchaser toward their exiled brothers scattered throughout the Babylonian Empire?
23. Did Jerusalem’s inhabitants have the loving spirit of a redeemer toward their exiled brothers, and what is the evidence according to the way her inhabitants talked and planned?
23 Not according to the way in which Jehovah described those Jews still occupying Jerusalem and the land of Judah. They did not desire their unfortunate brothers to be restored from exile in Babylon and to reoccupy estates in the land of Israel. They were pleased to have their brothers unwillingly get as far away from Jehovah as possible, in order that they might have all the land for themselves in the land of Israel where Jehovah was understood to be. They felt that by His act of providence all the land had now been given to them to possess. Like Pelatiah the son of Benaiah, they felt that they were secure in the land and that it was the time to build houses therein for permanent occupancy. They felt snug and safe like flesh in a widemouthed cooking pot. (Ezekiel 11:1-3, 13) In a lack of brotherly affection they were unwilling to share the God-given land once again with any restored exiles.
24. How were Jehovah’s thoughts different from those of Jerusalem’s inhabitants, and what did he promise to be to those exiles?
24 However, Jehovah had other thoughts than theirs in mind. He was not disposed to favor those land-greedy inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah by letting them have continued occupancy of the land at the expense of their brothers in exile. The repentant ones among those exiles he was mercifully disposed to favor. During their exile he became for them a “sanctuary for a little while [or, in a little way] among the lands to which they have come.” (Ezekiel 11:16) For the “little while,” for the limited time of their being exiled, he would be a holy place in which they could take refuge and be safe and be preserved for his future good purposes.
25. Besides being a “sanctuary” to those exiles “for a little while,” how could he be such to them only “in a little way”?
25 Jehovah would be such a “sanctuary” to some extent, “in a little way,” inasmuch as he could not shield them from all the deserved consequences of their past bad conduct toward him. He had brought their exile upon them as a due recompense, and he was not going to shorten the time of exile in Babylon that he had decreed and foretold for them. His being a sanctuary to them was therefore limited. But greater mercy was to be shown them as he now told Ezekiel to explain to them, in these words:
26. What greater mercy was to be shown to those exiles as Jehovah now told Ezekiel to say to them?
26 “Therefore say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: “I will also collect you from the peoples and gather you from the lands among which you have been scattered, and I will give you the soil of Israel. And they will certainly come there and remove all its disgusting things and all its detestable things out of it. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I shall put inside them; and I shall certainly remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, in order that they may walk in my own statutes and keep my own judicial decisions and actually carry them out; and they may really become my people and I myself may become their God.”’”—Ezekiel 11:17-20.
27. What, though, did Jehovah say about those inhabitants of Jerusalem who did not want the exiles to get back on the land of Israel?
27 What, though, about those inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judah who were not desirous of having the exiles get back on the land of Israel? Concerning these selfish princes and people Jehovah went on to say by Ezekiel: “‘But as for those whose heart is walking in their disgusting things and their detestable things, upon their head I shall certainly bring their own way,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.”—Ezekiel 11:21.
28. How did Jehovah bring upon the loveless greedy ones the fruitage of their detestable ways, and how did he show mercy upon the repentant exiles?
28 By the year 607 B.C.E. and through the destruction of Jerusalem and her temple and the desolating of the land of Judah, Jehovah brought upon those covenant-breaking idolatrous Jews the fruitage of their disgusting, detestable way. With his sword of judicial execution he cut them down by means of the Babylonian “strangers.” Thus they lost the “soil of Israel” that they hugged so greedily to themselves. But what about those far-off exiles in Babylon? In 537 B.C.E., after the full appointed time of seventy years of desolation of the land of Judah, the repentant remnant of those exiled Israelites were collected together and restored to the “soil of Israel.” There Jehovah did for them just as he had promised through his prophet Ezekiel. In this way he proved that they were his people and that he was their God. Jerusalem was rebuilt and another temple was built on the old site.
IS CHRISTENDOM TO BE RESTORED?
29. Does this prefigure that Christendom will be restored after Har–Magedon, and what misunderstanding as to what Christendom is here needs to be corrected?
29 What did this prefigure for our modern day? Could it really mean that Christendom, which is to be destroyed in the oncoming “great tribulation,” will be restored to earth sometime after the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon? (Matthew 24:21, 22; Revelation 16:14-16) No, this could not be meant! We need here to correct any wrong understanding of what Christendom is. Her church members may understand Christendom to mean Christ’s kingdom and to be the same as Christ’s kingdom. But this is not so, and hence there can be no true Christendom and counterfeit Christendom.
30, 31. Of what greater religious organization has Christendom always been a part, and what does Revelation 18:21 to 19:3 say about that greater organization?
30 There is only the one Christendom, and it is a false, hypocritical religious organization. Let us never forget that Christendom is and always has been a part of what the Bible calls Babylon the Great, which is the world empire of false Babylonish religion. She is the most populous and powerful part of Babylon the Great. Christendom will no more be restored to earth than will the rest of Babylon the Great. Concerning Babylon the Great, all of her, including Christendom, we read, in Revelation 18:21 to 19:3, these words:
31 “And a strong angel lifted up a stone like a great millstone and hurled it into the sea, saying: ‘Thus with a swift pitch will Babylon the great city be hurled down, and she will never be found again.’ . . . ‘Praise Jah, you people! And the smoke from her goes on ascending forever and ever.’”—Compare Jeremiah 51:58-64.
32. Will Christendom’s destruction leave Jehovah without his pure religion in the earth, and how is this matter affected by what has been flourishing on earth in a religious way since 1919?
32 The total destruction of Christendom along with the rest of Babylon the Great does not take away one iota from God’s true Christian religion in the earth; it does not leave Him without his pure, undefiled religion in the earth. The fact is, the annihilation of Christendom will leave a live, flourishing true Christianity, standing forth in glorious purity under God’s protection. This Christianity has been flourishing in the earth more and more since the year 1919 C.E. Among whom, if not in Christendom? Among the dedicated, baptized, anointed remnant of Jehovah’s worshipers. It is these who were prefigured by the exiled prophet Ezekiel himself.
33. In whom during this twentieth century has Jehovah fulfilled his prophecy by Ezekiel concerning the gathering of his people and restoring them to the “soil of Israel” and how, by what train of events?
33 Indeed, it is these in whom Jehovah has fulfilled his prophecy by Ezekiel about the collecting and gathering of his people from their scattered condition and giving them the “soil of Israel,” in this “time of the end.” (Ezekiel 11:17-20) These dedicated worshipers, anointed with Jehovah’s spirit, were brought into a Babylonish captivity and exile during the world war of 1914-1918 and underwent a severe disciplining then. Their spiritual condition and their prospects of being reactivated in God’s service were pictured and foretold in the vision that was given to Ezekiel about 606 B.C.E., after the destruction of Jerusalem, and in which vision he saw a valley plain full of dry bones and what happened to make them live again. (Ezekiel 37:1-28; 33:21, 22; 32:1) In the spring of the year 1919 C.E. the faithful anointed remnant of Jehovah’s Christian worshipers were delivered from this Babylonish bondage and shook off the shackles of Babylon, thus being restored to the symbolic “soil” of spiritual Israel. This repeopling of the desolated “soil” of spiritual Israel was also foretold after Jerusalem’s destruction, in chapter thirty-six of Ezekiel’s prophecy.
34. How has Jehovah purified still more the anointed spiritual Israelites since 1919 C.E.?
34 These anointed spiritual Israelites Jehovah has purified still more since their deliverance from Babylonish bondage in 1919 C.E. Under the guidance of his holy spirit these restored ones have done just as he foretold: “They will certainly come there and remove all its disgusting things and all its detestable things out of it.”
35. According to what promise has Jehovah given the restored ones a better heart condition spiritually, and they have been fulfilling the work of whom as seen in Ezekiel’s vision?
35 To that end Jehovah has given them a better heart condition spiritually just as he had foretold: “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I shall put inside them; and I shall certainly remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, in order that they may walk in my own statutes and keep my own judicial decisions and actually carry them out; and they may really become my people and I myself may become their God.” (Ezekiel 11:18-20) These purified anointed worshipers of Jehovah as God are the ones who, as a class, fulfill the prophetic picture of the man “clothed with the linen, at whose hips there was the secretary’s inkhorn.” In so serving they mark the foreheads of persons who will be spared alive when there comes upon Christendom fiery destruction from Jehovah enthroned on his celestial chariot.
36. Who are now enjoying Jehovah’s favor along with the restored remnant?
36 Those marked in the forehead for preservation through the coming “great tribulation” upon Christendom are now enjoying Jehovah’s favor along with the restored anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites on the symbolic “soil” of spiritual Israel.
37. Why and how has this required a change of heart on the part of the “great crowd” gathered since 1935 C.E., and in what lifesaving work have they been aiding the spiritual remnant?
37 Especially since the year 1935 C.E. has the constantly increasing “great crowd” of sheeplike persons been gathered there into association with the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses.a They also have had to leave behind the detestable and disgusting things of Christendom and the rest of Babylon the Great in order to take up the pure, undefiled worship of the one living and true God. This has required a change of heart on their part. More and more it has become clearly marked in their lives that they too are dedicated worshipers of Jehovah as their God. Until now they are greatly aiding the anointed spiritual remnant in the work of symbolically marking the foreheads of all who seek pure religion.
THE CHARIOT MOVES TO AN OBSERVATION POST
38. Against whom, at his time, does Jehovah’s executional force use their weapons, and as if from where can he observe the lifesaving work, as it goes on?
38 Not against these marked ones, but against all those remaining in active and sympathetic association with Christendom and all the remainder of Babylon the Great, will Jehovah’s angelic executional forces start using their weapons of destruction at His appointed time. He observes and directs the lifesaving work from a fine observation post. (2 Peter 3:9-14) It is as if his celestial chariotlike organization has moved to the top of the Mount of Olives that lies to the east of Jerusalem and overlooks it.
39. To what final location did Ezekiel see Jehovah’s celestial chariot move, and from that same location, when and by whom was destruction of a later Jerusalem foretold?
39 This is the significant location where the prophet Ezekiel finally saw the high-wheeled chariot of Jehovah, according to what he tells us at the close of this series of visions, saying: “And the cherubs now lifted up their wings, and the wheels were close by them, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them, from above. And the glory of Jehovah went ascending from over the midst of the city and began to stand over the mountain that is to the east of the city.” (Ezekiel 11:22, 23) It was from this same Mount of Olives that, 644 years later, Jesus Christ the Son of God foretold the fiery destruction that was to come upon the Jerusalem of that day in the year 70 C.E., a destruction that in itself was prophetic of the destruction that is coming upon Christendom as the antitypical unfaithful Jerusalem of modern times.—Matthew 24:1-22; Mark 13:1-20; Luke 21:5-24.
40. After that movement of Jehovah’s celestial chariot to the mountaintop, what was Ezekiel put in position to do, when did he see the chariot again, and how long did he prophesy?
40 After Jehovah’s celestial chariot took its position over the Mount of Olives Ezekiel himself was put in position to declare the prophetic visions concerning the Jerusalem of his day. Not till eighteen and a half years later, which was thirteen and a half years after Jerusalem’s destruction, did Ezekiel see Jehovah’s symbolic “chariot” again. (Ezekiel 40:1-6; 43:1-17) At this latter time he received a prophetic message of another kind from the Divine Rider of the celestial chariot. Ezekiel continued to be Jehovah’s prophet up till the beginning of the twenty-seventh year of his exile in Babylon. (Ezekiel 29:17-21) So for twenty-one years and nine months he served as a prophetic witness of Jehovah.—Ezekiel 1:1-3.
TELLING TO OTHERS THE SERIES OF VISIONS
41. By being given this series of visions, for what was Ezekiel being equipped, and when, now, did he begin doing this and toward whom?
41 It is one thing to see inspired visions; it is another thing to be obedient to Jehovah’s command to tell forth to others what one saw and heard in such visions. By being privileged to see the visions Ezekiel was not just being entertained; he was being equipped for the work of preaching and teaching that he was commissioned to do. With that purpose in view he is at length released from the power of inspiration and brought back to the realm of reality where he must do his work. Hence, after describing his then final view of Jehovah’s celestial chariot, he tells us: “And a spirit itself lifted me up and finally brought me to Chaldea to the exiled people, in the vision by the spirit of God; and the vision that I had seen went ascending from upon me. And I began to speak to the exiled people all the things of Jehovah that he had caused me to see.”—Ezekiel 11:24, 25.
42. During this series of visions where had Ezekiel been, but where had he remained physically, and who were sitting before him?
42 All through this series of visions Ezekiel had been “sitting in [his] house and the older men of Judah were sitting before [him].” He did not leave the company of those older men of Judah in his house, but the hand of Jehovah, with inspirational power, came upon Ezekiel and caused him to see such remarkable visions. How long those older men were obliged to wait until Ezekiel came out from under this visualizing spirit of God is not stated. In vision he became transported hundreds of miles away from the Chebar River in Chaldea (Babylonia), but now by the same inspirational spirit he was brought back to his real location in his house of exile. So when the final part of the vision “went ascending” from him, he became conscious again of where he actually was.
43. By what means was Ezekiel caused to see those visions, how did he take his commission to tell out those visions, and to whom did he tell them?
43 It was no fanciful dream that Ezekiel had seen. It was nothing that Ezekiel had conjured up in his own mind. It was not by means of any modern-day hallucinogenic drug that he went mentally traveling and seeing what he did. The visions given to him were from Jehovah, the God of true prophecy. That the visions were no idle imaginations is proved by the fact that what the visions presented symbolically came true in actual human history. Consequently Ezekiel took the visions seriously; he took his commission to reveal and tell them seriously. Immediately upon coming out from under the visualizing power of inspiration he began telling those older men of Judah sitting in his house what he had seen and been commanded to say. He did not confine his revealing of the divine prophecies to those older men in his house, but went out telling it to still others. All the exiled people there in Chaldea were concerned. This was potent reason for him to do as he reports of himself: “I began to speak to the exiled people all the things of Jehovah that he had caused me to see.”—Ezekiel 11:25.
44. What obligation is laid upon us by the giving to us of the understanding of Ezekiel’s visions, and why is it urgent for us now to carry out that obligation?
44 By the enlightening power of Jehovah’s spirit we today have been given an understanding of what those prophetic visions of Ezekiel mean. The giving of such understanding of those prophetic revelations is not for our personal self-enjoyment. Rather, it lays upon us the obligation to imitate Ezekiel and tell out to everybody who is involved what Jehovah through his chariotlike heavenly organization has made known to our understanding. For our own sakes, for others’ sakes, it is now more urgent than ever before that we do this. The time for Christendom’s fiery destruction from Jehovah enthroned on his celestial chariot was never nearer!
a See The Watchtower under the dates of August 1 and 15, 1935, containing Parts One and Two of the article entitled “The Great Multitude.”