“Until He Comes Who Has the Legal Right”
1. Regardless of man’s failure at government, what is God’s attitude toward his original purpose for the earth, and what is that purpose?
ALTHOUGH man has made a failure of human government, man’s Creator holds onto his marvelous purpose to have a successful government of righteousness ruling over all mankind on a paradisaic earth. Man’s Creator is not the kind of Person that a recent book author imagined him to be, when he wrote: “If I were God, I’d quit.”a The true God will not quit until he has realized the glorious purpose with which he started out when he put man on the earth. What was that purpose? The whole earth comfortably filled, with the human family enjoying peace and happiness in human perfection under God’s heavenly government.
2. It was sad to see the failure of what promising government of long ago, but it is comforting to have what assurance, as indicated in Ezekiel 21:27?
2 Sad it is, indeed, to see the failure of a government that starts out with bright prospects and good promise. In the face of such failure it is comforting for us to get the assurance that, in God’s due time, he will produce the longed-for ruler and put him in power so as to satisfy the righteous desire for every human heart. This is the hope that was given to the prophet Ezekiel at the time that God told him to declare the approaching ruin of the royal government of Jerusalem. Ezekiel’s message sounded a death knell for Jerusalem, but this was followed by the sounding forth of a life-giving hope, in these words: “A ruin, a ruin, a ruin I shall make it. As for this also, it will certainly become no one’s until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give it to him.”—Ezekiel 21:27.
3. When was Ezekiel given this prophetic message, and what had he been doing till then, with emphasis on what divine purpose?
3 At that time it was the seventh year of the exile of Ezekiel in the land of Babylon, or the year 611 B.C.E., likely in the fifth lunar month (named Ab) and on the tenth day of that month. (Ezekiel 20:1) Ever since Ezekiel had last seen the celestial chariot of Jehovah in vision the preceding year, he continued prophesying. In the course of the divine prophecies given to him during that time he had repeatedly declared God’s announced purpose, that the hearers of His prophecies “will have to know that I am Jehovah.” (Ezekiel 12:15, 16, 20; 13:9, 14, 21, 23; 14:8; 15:7; 16:62; 20:12, 20, 26, 38, 42, 44) The time had now moved one year closer to when Jehovah would make those words come true, so that the Israelites would have to know that Jehovah had spoken and that he had taken action in fulfillment of what he had spoken.—Ezekiel 5:13; 12:15; 21:5; 22:22; 37:14, 28.
4. If Ezekiel’s prophecies came true, then what about the news thereof, and what effect would this have upon the hearers of the prophecies, and why so before not very long?
4 As surely as Jehovah’s prophecies by means of Ezekiel were to come true, just so surely the news about the fulfillment of those prophecies would reach Ezekiel’s fellow Jewish exiles in Babylon. The news was bound to shake those exiles out of their unbelieving attitude toward Ezekiel and would vindicate the word of his God, Jehovah. That time was then not far off. Less than two and a half years from then the “battle in the day of Jehovah” would start against Jerusalem and the land of Judah. (Ezekiel 13:5) Quite properly, therefore, Jehovah the Warrior now used war phraseology in the prophecy that he gave to Ezekiel. Hence Ezekiel writes:
5. With what war phraseology does Jehovah give the prophecy of Ezekiel 21:1-5 against the “soil of Israel”?
5 “And the word of Jehovah continued to occur to me, saying: ‘Son of man, set your face toward Jerusalem and drip words toward the holy places, and prophesy against the soil of Israel. And you must say to the soil of Israel, “This is what Jehovah has said: ‘Here I am against you, and I will bring forth my sword out of its sheath and cut off from you righteous one and wicked one. In order that I may actually cut off from you righteous one and wicked one, therefore my sword will go forth from its sheath against all flesh from south to north. And all those of flesh will have to know that I myself, Jehovah, have brought forth my sword from its sheath. No more will it go back.’”’”—Ezekiel 21:1-5.
6. How is it determined from that prophecy whose war it is, and what is the instrument of warfare?
6 Jehovah speaks of it as His war. He is the One that draws from its sheath His sword, which is his instrument for the execution of his judicial decision against those upon whom he makes war. His “sword” signifies the earthly agency that he uses, but it could also include his unseen heavenly chariotlike organization.
7. Why did the unsheathing of that “sword” mean woe to all occupants of the “soil of Israel,” and was what the purpose of having the “sword” do its work from the south on to the north?
7 When this symbolic “sword” of Jehovah strikes, woe to all the occupiers of the “soil of Israel”! That sword will cut off “righteous” occupant as well as “wicked” occupant, just as when a forest fire devours the “still-moist” tree as well as the “dry tree.” (Ezekiel 20:47, 48) When Jehovah begins to wield that sword, it will not stop with cutting off those in the Kingdom of Judah, which lay southward from Babylon as a “southern quarter,” Judah being also a southern kingdom in contrast with the northern kingdom of the revolted ten tribes of Israel. (Ezekiel 20:45, 46) Jehovah’s “sword” would also continue its activity northward, going forth “from its sheath against all flesh from south to north.” What is the purpose of such extensive use of this “sword”? The heavenly Wielder of the “sword” explains, saying: “And all those of flesh will have to know that I myself, Jehovah, have brought forth my sword from its sheath. No more will it go back.”—Ezekiel 21:5.
8. Thus, how were “all those of flesh” to know that Jehovah had brought forth His sword from its sheath, and what was the reason for this?
8 Those on the “soil of Israel” and in Jerusalem were not the only sinners against Jehovah. “All flesh,” all humanity, were then sinners against him, even though they were not directly in a covenant with him as was the nation of Israel. They deserved to be punished also. They were not to be left in the position where they could exult over Israel and boast that Israel’s God, Jehovah, had taken drastic action against his own people but that they themselves, not being of Israelite flesh, had escaped Jehovah’s attention. They were not to be left with the idea that they were more righteous than Israel. Hence all those nations who had ill-will against Jehovah’s chosen people were also to fall by the edge of Jehovah’s sword as sinners against Him as well as against his people. His unsheathed “sword” was not to go back to its resting-place until it had executed his judicial decision upon non-Israelite flesh also. In this way “all those of flesh” would be made to know that it is the God of Israel, Jehovah, that battles against them with his “sword.”
JEHOVAH’S “SWORD” AGAINST “ALL THOSE OF FLESH”
9. What today is pictured by the “soil of Israel,” and whom will Jehovah’s “sword” cut off from it?
9 Shortly, within our twentieth century, the “battle in the day of Jehovah” will begin against the modern antitype of Jerusalem, Christendom. The ancient “soil of Israel” pictures the realm in which Christendom has operated. It pictures the standing and relationship that Christendom has claimed to occupy with God by means of his “new covenant” of which Jesus Christ is the mediator. Now is no time for anyone in Christendom to rely on any righteousness on the basis of his own merits and to boast of his own self-righteousness. Jehovah’s “sword” of warfare will cut off from this position that Christendom’s clergy claim for her all religionists who depend upon her having an acceptable standing with God.
10. What religionists besides those of Christendom are foretold to be cut off by Jehovah’s “sword,” and why?
10 However, Jehovah’s “sword” will not be applied merely to those adhering to Christendom. It will also be brandished against “all flesh from south [Christendom] to north.” Religionists belonging to all the rest of the world empire of false religion will feel the cutting edge of Jehovah’s “sword.” Their being non-Christians will not cause them to be spared. They will not be left to gloat over the destruction of Christendom as a rival religious system.
11. True righteousness cannot be gained through what religious agencies, and whose way of gaining it is it now urgent for us to accept?
11 Righteousness before the one living and true God, Jehovah, is not to be gained through Christendom or through any other religious system of the world that offers the hope of self-merit by means of one’s own works of self-righteousness. As the “battle in the day of Jehovah” against all false religion gets closer, the urgency increases for us to accept His way of gaining true righteousness.
12. Why is it appropriate for Jehovah’s execution of his judicial decision to begin at Christendom, but why not stop there?
12 That way is through faith in the ransom sacrifice for sins as provided in His Son, Jesus Christ. Since Christendom claims to be the “house of God,” it is appropriate for the execution of His judicial decision to start with her. This is the thing to expect in line with these words of 1 Peter 4:17, 18: “It is the appointed time for the judgment to start with the house of God. Now if it starts first with us, what will the end be of those who are not obedient to the good news of God? ‘And if the righteous man is being saved with difficulty, where will the ungodly man and the sinner make a showing?’” They will make no showing in the “battle in the day of Jehovah.” His “sword” will not go back to its sheath until he makes “all those of flesh” know that He has taken action.
13. The anointed remnant’s being intensely active in trying to warn everybody portrays what in Ezekiel’s case, according to Ezekiel 21:6, 7?
13 Is it any wonder that the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses of today are moved to such intense activity in warning people everywhere about such a prospect? No, for in this way it is shown that they feel just the same as the prophet Ezekiel was told to express himself, in these words of Jehovah: “And as for you, O son of man, sigh with shaking hips. Even with bitterness you should sigh before their eyes. And it must occur that, in case they say to you, ‘On account of what are you sighing?’ you must say, ‘At a report.’ For it will certainly come, and every heart must melt and all hands must drop down and every spirit must become dejected and all knees themselves will drip with water. ‘Look! It will certainly come and be brought to occur,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.”—Ezekiel 21:6, 7.
14. When the “report” finally came to the Jewish exiles, what effects of it upon them were to be expected, and what effects upon religionists may be expected from the report of Christendom’s ruin?
14 After Jehovah’s “sword” did bring about the destruction of Jerusalem and the utter desolation of the “soil of Israel” in the year 607 B.C.E., the bitter “report” did come, even as far as to the Jewish exiles in Babylon. (Ezekiel 33:21, 22) Doubtless the “report” as delivered by an escapee from the destroyed Jerusalem did affect the hitherto unbelieving Jewish exiles in the very way that Jehovah foretold to Ezekiel. Doubtless their knees dripped with more than the mere sweat of horrified excitement. They were likely so weakened in spirit that their kidneys could not control themselves and their knees dripped with their own urine! They had to acknowledge that Jehovah’s word as spoken through Ezekiel had been vindicated. He was proved to be the truth-telling God. When, not before very long, the authentic report is published that Jehovah’s executional “sword” has actually brought about the utter ruin of Christendom, it will produce similar effects upon many religionists.
15. Does Jehovah really have such a symbolic “sword” today for his use, and, according to Ezekiel 21:8-10, what should Jehovah’s anointed remnant today do in that regard?
15 Skeptical as people may be about it today like those Jewish fellow exiles of Ezekiel, yet Jehovah really has a “sword” that He will use as his agency in executing her just deserts upon Christendom. The modern-day remnant of Jehovah’s anointed witnesses are calling attention to this notable “sword” that Jehovah will unsheath against the organization of hypocritical Christianity, as the prophet Ezekiel was told to do, when Jehovah said to him: “And the word of Jehovah continued to occur to me, saying: ‘Son of man, prophesy, and you must say, “This is what Jehovah has said: ‘Say, “A sword, a sword! It has been sharpened, and it is also polished. For the purpose of organizing a slaughter it has been sharpened; for the purpose of its getting a glitter it has been polished.”’”’”—Ezekiel 21:8-10.
NO BASIS FOR EXULTING OVER FALSE PREMISES
16. The interjection “Or shall we exult?” suggested what question on the part of religionists who assure themselves respecting God’s “sword”?
16 No religious basis exists for self-assuring persons to exult, using the argument: “We are God’s people. We have in our midst the house of God at which we worship. Jehovah’s executional sword will not come ‘organizing a slaughter’ among us!” Such an argument was suggested by the question that was interjected in the description of Jehovah’s sword to Ezekiel: “Or shall we exult?”—Ezekiel 21:10.
17. By those inclined to exult, why was the question raised as to whether the “sword” would reject the scepter of Jerusalem’s king?
17 Those Israelites who were inclined to exult would remember that their capital was the city of Jerusalem with its holy status because of its having the temple built by King Solomon. Also, its king was a descendant of King David, with whom Jehovah had made a covenant for an everlasting kingdom. Also, this Davidic king was anointed with oil into office and accordingly was called “the anointed one of Jehovah,” or “the Messiah” (Hebrew) or “the Christ” (Greek). And as a descendant of King David this anointed king was said to sit upon the throne of God, “to sit upon Jehovah’s throne as king in place of David his father.” (2 Samuel 7:4-16; Lamentations 4:20; 1 Chronicles 29:23) Would it be likely, then, that Jehovah’s “sword” would reject the scepter of such a king?
18. Was the “sword” of Jehovah going to reject “the scepter of my own son, as it does every tree,” and in view of the answer will Christendom’s political rulers receive exemption from execution by Jehovah’s “sword”?
18 Ah, but Jehovah’s sword was going to do just that, according to his own words concerning the sword: “Is it rejecting the scepter of my own son, as it does every tree?” (Ezekiel 21:10) For reasons that are stated soon afterward, Jehovah’s sword does not fail to reject that royal scepter of the Kingdom of Judah any more than it rejects every other scepter, every other “tree.” The fact that Jehovah said that the successors of David on the royal throne of Jerusalem would be like sons to him was not going to save them from the sword in case they were stubbornly disobedient. So, too, Christendom’s kings are not to be spared in the ‘battle in the day of Jehovah’ just because the religious clergy have anointed these kings to reign “By the Grace of God.” The claims of such rulers to exemption from execution by Jehovah’s “sword” will be rejected by the agency that Jehovah uses as his executional “sword.”—2 Samuel 7:14.
19. According to Ezekiel 21:11, who is it that gives the “sword” into the hand of the killer?
19 Back in Ezekiel’s day Jehovah is the One who gave his executional “sword” into the hand of the agency whom he used in bringing ruin upon Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah. Jehovah makes this fact very plain in telling Ezekiel to say: “And one gives it to be polished, in order to wield it with the hand. It—a sword has been sharpened, and it—it has been polished, in order to give it into the hand of a killer.”—Ezekiel 21:11.
20. What does Jehovah’s giving the “sword” into the hand of the “killer” constitute, against whom was it to be used under Jehovah’s supervision, and not even who were to be spared?
20 In this case the “killer” or slayer is the agency that directly acts as the executioner for Jehovah, but Jehovah’s giving the “sword” into the hand of the killer is Jehovah’s appointment and authorization of that agency to do the killing. The fact, too, that those who were to be “hurled to the sword” were found among those whom Jehovah calls “my people” proves further that this use of the sword “against my people” was by Jehovah’s permission, indeed, by His direction. Not even the “chieftains of Israel” were to be spared by the executional sword, not even the highest earthly chieftain of Israel, namely, King Zedekiah. His scepter would be rejected from being spared. The bare thought of such a thing was enough to make a man of Israel cry out and howl and to slap his right thigh instead of beating his bosom like a woman. This is why Jehovah said to Ezekiel as an illustration:
21. Consequently, Jehovah told Ezekiel to act in what way, giving what reasons for his doing so?
21 “‘Cry out and howl, O son of man, for it itself [the sword] has come to be against my people; it is against all the chieftains of Israel. The very ones hurled to the sword have come to be with my people. Therefore make a slap on the thigh. For an extermination has been made, and what of it if it is rejecting also the scepter? This will not continue existing,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.”—Ezekiel 21:12, 13.
THE THING THAT WAS NOT TO “CONTINUE EXISTING”
22. The failure of the thing mentioned to “continue existing” meant what as to rulerships world wide, but what did it not mean as to the royal line of King David?
22 What was it that was not to “continue existing”? It was the scepter of the kings of Israel, the rod or wand that is the emblem of royal power and authority in an active sense. That meant that the Kingdom of Judah was to go down, to disappear. Jehovah’s throne in Jerusalem was to be overturned, to be left unoccupied by a royal descendant of King David. The typical or miniature kingdom of Jehovah God among the Israelites was to be suspended, to cease functioning. This would leave only kingdoms of this world, Gentile kingdoms, functioning on the earth. Nevertheless, this did not mean that every rightful descendant in the royal line of David would be cut off, so that David’s royal line would cease to exist. Although no surviving descendant of the royal house of David would ever again wield a material scepter on a material throne in earthly Jerusalem, someone of David’s royal line would yet come who would have the natural right to the kingdom of David over the twelve tribes of Israel. Ezekiel waited for God to assure him of this.
23. How could the “sword” be said to make an encirclement of the Israelites, and how was Ezekiel told to emphasize the notableness of this “sword”?
23 Jehovah’s “sword” was to be so active in its destructive movements that it would appear to encircle the doomed Israelites. This was enough to make an Israelite slap his hands together in astonishment, if not in fear. The highly polished and sharpened sword was to be a noteworthy one, one of international importance. For this reason Jehovah commanded Ezekiel to call further attention to it, saying: “And you, O son of man—prophesy, and strike palm against palm, and ‘A sword!’ should be repeated for three times. The sword  of the slain ones it is. It is the sword  of someone slain who is great, which is making an encirclement of them. In order for the heart to melt and in order to multiply those who are overthrown at all their gates, I will make a slaughter by the sword . Alas, it is made for a glittering, polished for a slaughter!”—Ezekiel 21:14, 15.
24. Responsibility for the slaughter is taken by whom, and at what strategic points will the slaughter therefore be multiplied?
24 Note that Jehovah himself takes the responsibility for the slaughter despite his using an executional agency. He says: “I will make a slaughter by the sword.” So when the besieged Jews in Jerusalem rush to her gates to defend their holy city, it will be in vain; they will be overthrown. The slain there at such strategic points Jehovah will multiply. As the polished sword against them continues to be brandished, it will produce a repeated glittering. Sharpened to a keen cutting edge, it will cause fearsome slaughter.
25. To what is Ezekiel told to turn and direct his speech in order to indicate what kind of a slaughter, and when will Jehovah bring his rage to its rest?
25 As if the sword were alive and able to take orders as to where to direct itself, Ezekiel is told to speak to it in an apostrophe: “Show yourself sharp; go to the right! Set your position; go to the left! To wherever your face is directed!” Thus, according to Jehovah’s will, it is a directed slaughter. He knows upon whom to use his executional sword. There will be no rest for his sword until he has carried out to the full his judicial sentence. Just as he says: “And I myself also shall strike my one palm against my other palm, and I will bring my rage to its rest. I myself, Jehovah, have spoken.”—Ezekiel 21:16, 17.
INTERFERENCE BY DEMONS TO BE THWARTED
26. What road indexes was Ezekiel told to set up, and what question respecting the directive power of the demons here comes up?
26 Are the spirit demons, under the control of their ruler, Satan the Devil, going to be permitted to turn Jehovah’s “sword” aside, to turn it in a different direction from where he wants it to go first and directly? Try to do so, the demons might, according to the appeals of spiritualists, astrologers, fortune-tellers and false prophets under demon influence. But this will never succeed, according to what Ezekiel now tells us: “And the word of Jehovah continued to occur to me, saying: ‘And as for you, O son of man, set for yourself two ways for the sword of the king of Babylon to enter. From the one land both of them should go forth, and an index hand should be cut out; at the head of the way to the city it should be cut out. A way you should set for the sword to enter against Rabbah of the sons of Ammon, and one against Judah, against Jerusalem fortified. For the king of Babylon stood still at the crossways, at the head of the two ways, in order to resort to divination.’”—Ezekiel 21:18-21.
27. Who is the “killer” here identified as being, and what kind of person was this “killer”?
27 Aha! Here we have identified for us the “killer” into whose hand Jehovah would give the executional sword to carry forward visibly the “battle in the day of Jehovah” against Jerusalem. It is the king of Babylon. Since Babylon was then a world power, the Third World Power in Bible history, no wonder that the “sword” of warfare that it wielded was such an internationally notable sword, well deserving of Ezekiel’s calling such attention to it! At the time of Ezekiel’s prophecy the king of Babylon was named Nebuchadnezzar. According to secular history, he was a very religious man, and much devoted to the demon god named Marduk. This meant that Nebuchadnezzar was very superstitious, relying for his official guidance upon demonistic practices, such as divination.
28. Of what does this remind us of the politicians of Christendom and resorting to forms of demonism?
28 This reminds us of how political rulers of even Christendom rely upon demonism for guidance in their political activities and decisions, the fortune-tellers and clairvoyants of Washington, D.C., for example, being heavily patronized by the national politicians who have their offices there. The Nazi dictator of the Third German Reich, Adolf Hitler, in his day was notorious for his dependence upon astrology, having a special official astrologer. They no more look to Jehovah for guidance than did Nebuchadnezzar.
29. As he marched down from the north, at what crossways was a decision forced upon Nebuchadnezzar, and how was he to decide?
29 Coming into the land of Palestine from the north, Nebuchadnezzar at the head of his mighty army came to a fork in the line of march. This was a place for decision. Just as Ezekiel had been told to illustrate it before the Jewish exiles back in Babylon, one branch of this crossways led to Rabbah of the sons of Ammon, which lay to the east of the Jordan River. The other branch led to Jerusalem in the mountains west of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. The Ammonite capital city, Rabbah, was the less fortified city, easier to capture, and should Nebuchadnezzar direct his military campaign first against that city? On the other hand, the Judean capital was called “Jerusalem fortified.” It should be much harder to capture, requiring a longer siege that might discourage the Babylonian soldiers. Should Nebuchadnezzar postpone attacking it till after his troops were elated with a capture of Ammonite Rabbah? A tough choice! How was he to decide? By divination!
30. To how many forms of demonism did Nebuchadnezzar resort and why, and who now was to show superiority—the demons or Jehovah?
30 One method of divination was not enough for King Nebuchadnezzar. He must make sure by using three. By this means would the demons, of which Babylon was a superstitious worshiper, make the threefold divination result in such a way as to steer him contrary to Jehovah’s will—against Ammonite Rabbah first? Not when the Almighty God Jehovah had declared his purpose for his own executional “sword” to go first against Jerusalem. He outmaneuvered the demons, and hence Ezekiel was told to say of Nebuchadnezzar’s divination:
31. How does Jehovah describe to Ezekiel Nebuchadnezzar’s resort to divination, and what course would a drawing by his right hand favor?
31 “He  has shaken the arrows [one marked for Rabbah and the other for Jerusalem, to be drawn out of a vessel after being shaken]. He  has asked by means of the teraphim; he  has looked into the liver [of a slain animal victim]. In his right hand the divination proved to be for Jerusalem, to set battering-rams, to open one’s mouth for a slaying, to raise the sound in an alarm signal, to set battering-rams against gates, to throw up a siege rampart, to build a siege wall.”—Ezekiel 21:21, 22.
32. The drawing by the right hand directed Nebuchadnezzar against which city, and so what did this mean for him?
32 What King Nebuchadnezzar drew forth with his right hand was the favored choice, to indicate the most auspicious course. In agreement with Jehovah’s will it directed the king of Babylon against Jerusalem first. That meant bringing up against Jerusalem all the Babylonian heavy siege equipment and using all the devices for besieging a strongly fortified city.
33. According to Ezekiel 21:23, how would the foretelling of such an outcome to Nebuchadnezzar’s divination seem to the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem in an oath-bound relationship to him?
33 How, though, did the foretelling of such an outcome to King Nebuchadnezzar’s divination sound to the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem? Jehovah foresaw how it would seem to them, and so he said further to Ezekiel: “And it has become to them like an untrue divination in their eyes—those who are sworn with oaths to them; and he is calling error to remembrance, in order for them to be caught.”—Ezekiel 21:23.
34. Why did Nebuchadnezzar’s divination, as foretold, seem untrue to the inhabitants of the land of Judah, and what was their attitude toward the oaths that they had sworn to him?
34 The foretold divination of King Nebuchadnezzar seemed to these Jews in the land of Judah to be “untrue,” because they felt that the king of Babylon would not desire to come against such a strongly walled city as Jerusalem. They felt that he could never take it if he tried. Furthermore, they could call upon the powerful international rival of Babylon, namely, Pharaoh of Egypt, to come to their assistance and turn back the military hordes of Babylon. What did they care about the oaths that they had sworn to the king of Babylon to be subject to him as vassals? They disregarded the fact that they had taken these oaths of submission to King Nebuchadnezzar as their suzerain lord in the name of Jehovah their God. So, in their self-assurance, they favored breaking their oaths to the king of Babylon by rebelling against him and relying, not upon Jehovah, but upon the Pharaoh of Egypt. They would influence their king, Zedekiah, to take this perjured, rebellious course.
35. How did Jehovah foretell King Zedekiah’s oath-breaking rebellion, and what questions did Jehovah therefore ask?
35 Through Ezekiel, Jehovah foretold that this would occur. Speaking of how King Nebuchadnezzar had put Zedekiah on the throne of Jerusalem instead of his nephew Jehoiachin in 617 B.C.E., and foretelling how King Zedekiah would treat his oath, Jehovah said to Ezekiel: “Furthermore, he [Nebuchadnezzar] took one [Zedekiah] of the royal seed and concluded a covenant with him and brought him into an oath; and the foremost men of the land he [Nebuchadnezzar] took away, in order that the kingdom might become low, unable to lift itself up, that by keeping his covenant it might stand. But he [Zedekiah] finally rebelled against him in sending his messengers to Egypt, for it to give him horses and a multitudinous people. Will he [Zedekiah] have success? Will he escape, he who is doing these things, and who has broken a covenant? And will he actually escape?” These questions Jehovah at once answers by saying:
36. What answers to those questions did Jehovah give to Ezekiel as regards oath-breaking Zedekiah and the Pharaoh of Egypt?
36 “‘“As I am alive,” is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, “in the place of the king [Nebuchadnezzar] who put in as king the one [Zedekiah] that despised his oath and that broke his covenant, with him in the midst of Babylon he will die. And by a great military force and by a multitudinous congregation Pharaoh will not make him effective in the war, by throwing up a siege rampart and by building a siege wall, in order to cut off many souls. And he [Zedekiah] has despised an oath in breaking a covenant, and, look! he had given his hand [in a pledge of covenant keeping] and has done even all these things. He will not make his escape.”’ ‘“Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: ‘As I am alive, surely my oath that he has despised and my covenant that he has broken—I will even bring it upon his head.’”’”—Ezekiel 17:13-19; 2 Chronicles 36:11-13.
37. What was the “error” that was to be remembered, and what caused the king of Babylon to remember it?
37 This rebellion against his Babylonian overlord would be an erroneous course on the part of King Zedekiah of Jerusalem. But the king of Babylon would not overlook this or forget about it. “He is calling error to remembrance, in order for them to be caught.” (Ezekiel 21:23) In this way the oath-breaking Zedekiah and his counselors were to be caught in the bitter results of their own erroneous action. Hence Jehovah goes on to say to those self-deceiving oath breakers: “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘By reason of your causing your error to be remembered by your transgressions being uncovered, in order that your sins may be seen according to all your dealings, by reason of your being called to remembrance you people will be seized even by the hand.’” (Ezekiel 21:24) Their transgressions against proper covenant-keeping came out into the open or were uncovered, and this caused the offended king of Babylon to remember their error.
38. The prophecy that the covenant breakers should be “seized even by the hand” meant what?
38 In due time the Jews deserved to be called to remembrance for the attention that covenant breakers deserve. So their rebellion would fail, the stout walls of Jerusalem would fail them, and they would be “seized even by the hand” and led captive to Babylon.
39. What would Zedekiah, “chieftain of Israel,” be obliged to do, according to the words Jehovah directed to him?
39 In view of this, what would King Zedekiah, as “chieftain of Israel,” be obliged to do? Through the prophet Ezekiel, Jehovah tells him straight to his face, saying: “And as for you, O deadly wounded, wicked chieftain of Israel, whose day has come in the time of the error of the end, this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘Remove the turban, and lift off the crown. This will not be the same. Put on high even what is low, and bring low even the high one. A ruin, a ruin, a ruin I shall make it. As for this also, it will certainly become no one’s until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give it to him.’”—Ezekiel 21:25-27.
DOWN WITH THE “HIGH ONE”!
40. Through what course was Zedekiah a “deadly wounded” chieftain, how did he show himself to be “wicked,” and how had his “day” come in regard to the “time of the error of the end”?
40 By his rebellious course King Zedekiah deadly wounded himself, thereby making certain his death, not in peace as king in Jerusalem under the suzerainty of the king of Babylon, but as a dethroned, childless, sightless, imprisoned exile in Babylon. By breaking his oath given in the name of Jehovah and by violating his covenant with the king of Babylon, he showed his wickedness. His day for eating the bitter fruitage of his badness as “chieftain of Israel” had come. It was now the “time of the error of the end,” not alone that “error” of King Zedekiah, but also the “error” of all the kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem. The time of this “end” began in the thirteenth year of Josiah as king of Jerusalem, which was also the year when the priest, “Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah,” began to prophesy. (Jeremiah 1:1, 2; 25:3-11) In order to illustrate those final forty years, the prophet Ezekiel had been instructed to lie publicly on his right side before a model of Jerusalem, that thus he might “carry the error of the house of Judah.” (Ezekiel 4:6, 7) Zedekiah shared in the “error of the end.”
41. In fulfillment of Jehovah’s command, how were the turban removed and the crown lifted off, and thereby what was brought to an end, this introducing what world situation?
41 King Zedekiah wore a royal turban, distinctive of his royal office, wearing also a crown. He did not voluntarily “remove the turban, and lift off the crown” from his head in obedience to the command of Jehovah through Ezekiel. This was done for him by the king of Babylon when he captured the fleeing Zedekiah and deposed him as king, destroying his royal throne and his royal city. (2 Kings 25:1-7; Ezekiel 17:19, 20) With that event the typical kingdom of God on earth, with a descendant of King David sitting on “Jehovah’s throne” in Jerusalem, came to an end. It had stood for 463 years, from 1070 to 607 B.C.E. This left the world stage in complete control of the non-Jewish or Gentile kingdoms, with no interference or restriction by a typical, miniature kingdom of Jehovah God on earth. What a world situation that introduced!
42. With what words did Jehovah indicate it was time for a change?
42 It was Jehovah’s due time for a change. This he indicated when he added: “This will not be the same. Put on high even what is low, and bring low even the high one.”—Ezekiel 21:26.
43. As to putting on high what is low and bringing low the high one, what must be said as regards Zedekiah’s family in contrast with Jehoiachin’s, and Solomon’s family in contrast with Nathan’s?
43 By this turning of things upside down things would not be the same for a long while. What was the “low” thing that was put on high by this destruction of the Kingdom of Judah, and what was the “high one” that was brought low? Not the family of King Zedekiah who was once high on the throne of Jerusalem in contrast with his nephew Jehoiachin’s family who were then exiles in Babylon, with Jehoiachin himself lying in prison. (2 Kings 24:8-16; 25:27-30) Nor was it the high family line of King Solomon the son of David in contrast with the low obscure family line of Nathan the son of King David. (Matthew 1:6-16; Luke 3:23-31) Both of these latter family lines became involved, genealogically, with the birth of Jesus Christ at Bethlehem-Judah, for the names of Shealtiel and Zerubbabel appear in the genealogies from both Solomon and Nathan. (Matthew 1:12; Luke 3:27) So there was no special abasement of one family in favor of the other as regards producing the Messiah.
44. Hence what was the high thing that was brought low, and what was the low thing that was put on high? And how?
44 Instead of the foregoing, it was the Kingdom of Judah that was the “high one” in being the miniature kingdom of Jehovah God on earth, so that it was the Kingdom of Judah that was made low by being destroyed in 607 B.C.E. It was the non-Jewish or Gentile kingdoms of this world that were the “low” thing that was “put on high” by the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah and leaving Gentile rule in complete control of all the earth, Jehovah’s chosen people of Israel being thenceforth subject to such Gentile rule.
45, 46. So what world power then dominated the earthly scene politically, and how had Jehovah foretold this reversal through Moses in Deuteronomy, chapter twenty-eight?
45 So, to begin with at this point, the Babylonian World Power, the Third World Power in Bible history, dominated the entire earthly scene of international politics. Long previously, in the year 1473 B.C.E., the prophet Moses had foretold this, saying under divine inspiration to the nation of Israel: “Jehovah will indeed put you at the head and not at the tail; and you must come to be only on top, and you will not come to be on the bottom, because you keep obeying the commandments of Jehovah your God, which I am commanding you today to observe and to do.
46 “And it must occur that if you will not listen to the voice of Jehovah your God by taking care to do all his commandments and his statutes that I am commanding you today, all these maledictions must also come upon you and overtake you: Jehovah will march you and your king whom you will set up over you to a nation whom you have not known, neither you nor your forefathers; and there you will have to serve other gods, of wood and of stone. The alien resident who is in your midst will keep ascending higher and higher above you, while you—you will keep descending lower and lower. He will be the one to lend to you, while you—you will not lend to him. He will become the head, while you—you will become the tail.”—Deuteronomy 28:13, 15, 36, 43, 44.
47. Thus in 607 B.C.E., what treading down or trampling began?
47 Being put on high in the year 607 B.C.E. when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and unseated the royal line of David, the Gentile nations began to tread down or trample upon Jerusalem as signifying a kingdom of Jehovah God with a royal descendant of David seated upon “Jehovah’s throne.”
48. Who caused those Gentile Times to begin, what had he also appointed for those Times, and how did Jesus speak of them in prophecy?
48 The Gentile Times for thus trampling upon the right of the royal line of David to the throne in a kingdom set up by Jehovah God were to last for only a measured period of time. Jehovah, who caused those Gentile Times to begin, had also appointed the time for them to end. In the year 33 of our Common Era Jesus Christ spoke prophetically about those Gentile Times that were still running in his day. Foretelling a destruction of the Jerusalem of his day, he said: “There will be great necessity upon the land and wrath on this people; and they will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:20-24) Hence the year would come when those Gentile Times would end.
49. With what words, in Ezekiel 21:27, did Jehovah foretell the event at which those Gentile Times would end?
49 When? In the year when a remarkable event should take place. Not for all time would the kingship of a rightful descendant of King David seated on “Jehovah’s throne” continue as a “ruin.” Jehovah said: “A ruin, a ruin, a ruin I shall make it. As for this also, it will certainly become no one’s until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give it to him.”—Ezekiel 21:27.
“HE COMES WHO HAS THE LEGAL RIGHT”
50. Why did Jesus Christ not seek any kingship during his days on earth?
50 The year when the descendant of King David with the legal right should come and when Jehovah should give the kingship to that one would be at the close of the Gentile Times, or at the end of the “appointed times of the nations.” Those Gentile Times did not end in the days of Jesus Christ when on earth in the first century of our Common Era. No; for Jesus said that Jerusalem must be destroyed a second time and thereafter the Gentile Times must continue on still farther until they are fulfilled. That is why Jesus Christ did not seek any kingship in his days on earth. (John 6:14, 15) This is why Jehovah did not give to Jesus Christ the Davidic kingship at his sacrificial death, resurrection and ascension to Jehovah’s right hand in heaven.—Acts 1:6, 7; 2:29-37.
51. After his ascension, how long was Jesus Christ due to wait on Jehovah’s right hand, and then what action was due to take place?
51 Jerusalem’s second destruction occurred in the year 70 C.E. at the hands of the Roman legions, and Jesus Christ foretold that the Gentile Times were to keep on running for a time after that. (Luke 21:24) So, after his ascension to heaven in 33 C.E., Jesus Christ must wait in heaven until those Gentile Times ended. Then was God’s appointed time for the Gentile nations to be brought low and for God’s Messianic kingdom of a descendant of King David to be put on high. Then was the due time for Jesus Christ to come with his legal right to the kingship and ask Jehovah and for Jehovah to give him the kingship. This is what the Hebrew Christians were told, in Hebrews 10:12, 13, concerning Jesus Christ: “This man offered one sacrifice for sins perpetually and sat down at the right hand of God, from then on awaiting until his enemies should be placed as a stool for his feet.” (Psalm 110:1, 2; 2:7-9; Acts 2:34-36) Knowing from Daniel’s prophecy (Da 4:16-27) the length of those “appointed times of the [Gentile] nations” enabled Jesus Christ to calculate when they would end, namely, in 1914 C.E.
52. What vision was Daniel given of the coming of David’s descendant to receive the kingship, and in whom did Jesus Christ look for that vision to be fulfilled, and when?
52 The prophet Daniel was a fellow exile of Ezekiel, and very appropriately, then, Jehovah as the “Ancient of Days” gave Daniel a vision of the coming of the Messiah to him at the end of the Gentile Times to receive the kingship as the Permanent Heir of King David. Daniel writes: “But as for the rest of the [Gentile] beasts, their rulerships were taken away, . . . I kept on beholding in the visions of the night, and, see there! with the clouds of the heavens someone like a son of man happened to be coming; and to the Ancient of Days he gained access, and they brought him up close even before that One. And to him there were given rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him. His rulership is an indefinitely lasting rulership that will not pass away, and his kingdom one that will not be brought to ruin.” (Daniel 7:12-14) Jesus Christ looked forward to the fulfillment of that prophetic vision in himself in heaven when the Gentile Times ended in 1914.
53. At the end of the Gentile Times, how did Jehovah put an end to the trampling carried on by the Gentile nations, despite their occupying the site of earthly Jerusalem?
53 With the end of the Gentile Times in 1914, in the lunar month of Tishri (September-October), the appointed time arrived for Jehovah to put a stop to the Gentile nations (including Christendom) in their trampling upon what ancient Jerusalem symbolized, namely, the kingdom in the hands of the anointed descendant of King David reigning on “Jehovah’s throne.” Jehovah did this by then giving the active Davidic kingship to the one “who has the legal right,” that is to say, to His anointed Son, Jesus Christ. Thereafter the Gentile Nations could tread down and trample upon the Middle Eastern site of ancient Jerusalem all they wanted to in a literal sense, but they would no longer be trampling upon the real kingdom of the anointed descendant of King David, who has the legal right to it. He sits on “Jehovah’s throne” in the heavens, and the heavily armed nations of today can never overturn and destroy that heavenly throne or the “city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem.”—Hebrews 12:22.
54. What will happen shortly to the modern-day antitypical unfaithful Jerusalem, and how will this affect the Messianic kingdom of God as set up at the end of the Gentile Times?
54 How refreshing it is to the spirits of true lovers of God’s Messianic kingdom to know these wonderful facts! Shortly the modern antitype of ancient unfaithful Jerusalem will be brought to her perpetual ruin as pictured by the ruin of Jerusalem in the year 607 B.C.E. But that will not signify the ruin and destruction of the Messianic kingdom of God, inasmuch as Christendom’s claim to be Christ’s kingdom is false and has greatly misrepresented the Biblical facts. The hypocritical Christ’s kingdom on earth must go! The true heavenly kingdom of Christ must remain in heavenly power for the blessing of all mankind for whom Jesus Christ died as a ransom sacrifice. The Gentile nations, as well as Christendom, will not be able to interfere with this blessing. Their “appointed times” having run out in 1914 C.E., they will be brought to eternal ruin in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at the now-shaping-up world situation called Har–Magedon.—Revelation 16:14-16.
AFTER THE DESTRUCTION OF CHRISTENDOM, WHAT?
55. Destruction on whom follows that of Christendom, and how was a parallel of this given in Ezekiel’s day?
55 Destruction of the political Gentile nations follows that of Christendom. In an ancient parallel to this, destruction of the Ammonite capital of Rabbah followed that of ancient Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. It was Jehovah’s will that Jerusalem should fall first. That is why he took care that King Nebuchadnezzar’s divination should send him first against Jerusalem, down the right-hand branch of the crossroads. (Ezekiel 21:19-22; Jeremiah 25:17-29) In a warning for Rabbah of the sons of Ammon not to gloat over the ruin of Jerusalem, Jehovah told Ezekiel what to say:
56. In order that Rabbah of Ammon might not gloat over ruined Jerusalem, what did Jehovah tell Ezekiel to say to Ammon in warning?
56 “And you, O son of man, prophesy, and you must say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said concerning the sons of Ammon and concerning the reproach from them.’ And you must say, ‘A sword, a sword drawn for a slaughter, polished to cause it to devour, in order to glitter, because of their beholding for you an unreality, because of their divining for you a lie, in order to put you on the necks of the slain ones, the wicked men whose day has come in the time of the error of the end. Return it to its sheath. In the place that you were created, in the land of your origin, I shall judge you. And I will pour out upon you my denunciation. With the fire of my fury I shall blow upon you, and I will give you into the hand of men who are unreasoning, the craftsmen of ruination. For the fire you will become fuel. Your own blood will prove to be in the midst of the land. You will not be remembered, for I myself, Jehovah, have spoken.’”—Ezekiel 21:28-32.
57. From that prophecy as historically fulfilled, what warning should all reproachers of Jehovah take, and why will the prophecy not fail of fulfillment upon them?
57 In due time the king of Babylon was used to bring ruin upon the land of the sons of Ammon. This occurred because the prophets of Ammon were “beholding” an escape for Rabbah from the “sword” of King Nebuchadnezzar, and this had to be proved “an unreality.” The diviners of Ammon were predicting that Rabbah would be spared, and this needed to be proved “a lie.” The purpose of this was to “put” the slain ones of Ammon, as it were, “on the necks” of the slain wicked Israelites, as if in one pile of dead ones. From this historic example, let all reproachers of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah take warning. The “sword” of the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” will reach them in their own land. In the land of their origin their blood will be poured out. The death that they divined and desired for Jehovah’s true people will come upon their own selves as a denunciation from Jehovah. Let them imagine no unreality about this; let them make no mistake about this. It is Jehovah who has spoken it. It will therefore not fail to come true, to His vindication.
a See the book entitled “Rock 2000,” by Hiley H. Ward, 1970 edition.