Christendom’s Associates Turn upon Her!
1. To what extent is it that history repeats itself?
IT IS often said that history has the habit of repeating itself. Or, the future is only the past entered into a new case. As far as the general features are concerned, it is true that world events that form the subject matter of a history do repeat themselves. Similar causes would produce such repeating of events.
2, 3. From history how can we learn to avoid calamitous events such as occurred to others previously, and, in 1 Corinthians 10:6-12, how does Paul point to the benefits of studying Bible history?
2 If we study the calamitous events of human history, we can take them as warning examples and can learn their inducing causes. Thus we can know what to avoid in order not to have those calamitous events repeat themselves upon us. This is one of the benefits that we can get from studying Bible history, just as the Christian apostle Paul suggests. When writing about the calamitous happenings of the nation of Israel in their journey of forty years from Egypt to the Promised Land, he expressed it this way:
3 “Now these things became our examples, for us not to be persons desiring injurious things, even as they [the Israelites] desired them. . . . Now these things went on befalling them as examples, and they were written for a warning to us upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived. Consequently let him that thinks he is standing beware that he does not fall.”—1 Corinthians 10:6-12.
4. What did Jehovah say would happen to Jerusalem for not heeding the warning example of history in her own family relationship, and so what will Christendom experience for likewise being heedless?
4 The ancient city of Jerusalem was one that did not beware and so did not profit by the warning example of history, even in her own family relationship. What wonder, then, that her God, when telling of the calamity that would come upon her for her unfaithfulness to Him, went on to say: “And you will certainly be profaned within yourself before the eyes of the nations, and you will have to know that I am Jehovah.” (Ezekiel 22:16) Centuries-old Christendom has been just as heedless of the warning examples of Bible history. There is only one outcome to be expected. Just as surely as ancient Jerusalem was made to know, in a disastrous way, the God with whom she was dealing, so Christendom will have Jerusalem’s terrible experience repeat itself upon her, and that very soon.
5. Where did the symbolic Oholah and Oholibah begin to commit prostitution, but to whom did they come to belong, and what did they produce for that owner?
5 Keeping Christendom in mind as the modern-day antitype, let us now consider the deserved punishment that God foretold, years in advance, and that was to come upon ancient Jerusalem. Making a written record of this divine prophecy, the prophet Ezekiel in exile in Babylon says: “And the word of Jehovah proceeded to come to me, saying: ‘Son of man, two women, the daughters of one mother, there happened to be. And they began to prostitute themselves in Egypt. In their youth they committed prostitution. There their breasts were squeezed, and there they pressed the bosoms of their virginity. And their names were Oholah the older one and Oholibah her sister, and they came to be mine and began to give birth to sons and daughters. And as for their names, Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem.’”—Ezekiel 23:1-4.
6. As cities, what were Samaria and Jerusalem respectively, who was their “mother,” and how was it that in Egypt they practiced prostitution spiritually?
6 Up to the time of its destruction by the Assyrians in the year 740 B.C.E., Samaria was the capital city of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, composed out of ten of the twelve secular tribes of Israel. On the other hand, Jerusalem was the capital of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, composed of the remaining tribes of the Jewish people. So their two capital cities are used to represent or picture their respective kingdoms. They both came from one parent organization or “mother,” namely, the national organization that descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the twelve sons of Jacob. Symbolically they were spoken of as the “daughters” of that mother organization. Jacob and his sons and their families moved down from Palestine into Egypt in the year 1728 B.C.E., in the days when his son Joseph was the prime minister and food administrator of Egypt under Pharaoh. There the tribes that descended from Jacob’s twelve sons and that make up the two daughter organizations were influenced to practice spiritual prostitution. In what way?
7. How did the symbolic Oholah and Oholibah practice spiritual prostitution down in Egypt, and how could the symbolic Oholah be rightly spoken of as the older of the two sisters?
7 By defiling themselves with the idol worship that was then prevalent in Egypt. By doing this they were having unclean, immoral connection with the false gods and idols of pagan Egypt. In the prophecy of Ezekiel 20:4-8 Jehovah reminded certain exiled elders of Israel about such spiritual prostitution on the part of their forefathers in Egypt. Of course, away back there the Northern Kingdom of Israel with its capital at Samaria did not exist. (1 Kings 16:23-28) But the ten tribes that eventually rebelled to form that kingdom did exist, and thus the symbolic woman Oholah was in formation. She was composed of the most of the tribes of Israel, and these included the tribes that descended from the two oldest sons of Jacob, namely, Reuben and Simeon, and also the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim that descended from Joseph, Jacob’s firstborn son by his beloved wife Rachel. Rightly, then, the symbolic Oholah could be spoken of as the “older one” of the two symbolic daughters of the one mother.—Genesis 29:32-35; 30:22-24.
8. What does Oholah’s name mean, and how did it fit her?
8 The name given to her, Oholah, means “Her Tent,” that is, a tent for carrying on religious worship. When the Northern Kingdom of Israel was established in 997 B.C.E., it went over to the worship of the golden calf and later added to this idolatrous worship the worship of the false god Baal. In this way the symbolic Oholah forgot Jehovah and cast him behind her back and set up her own tent for idolatrous worship. Jehovah’s tent was not in her.
9. Why did the name Oholibah fit the younger “sister” even in Ezekiel’s day of prophesying about her?
9 The name of her symbolic sister was Oholibah. This name is understood to mean “My Tent Is in Her.” It being a God-given name, it signified that Jehovah’s tent of worship was in the symbolic Oholibah, the Southern Kingdom of Judah. This kingdom ruled over the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin and also had the support of the religious tribe of Levi. Levi was the third son of the patriarch Jacob, Judah was the fourth son, and Benjamin the twelfth and last son, so that the symbolic Oholibah was well pictured as the younger of the two daughters of the “one mother.” The tent containing Jehovah’s ark of the covenant was served by the qualified men of the tribe of Levi and came to be located at Jerusalem after King David captured that city in 1070 B.C.E. and made it his capital. In that city, also, David’s son Solomon built the gorgeous temple for Jehovah’s worship, and it was still standing in the day of Ezekiel’s prophecy about the symbolic Oholah and Oholibah. So the name Oholibah fitted the Southern Kingdom of Judah, for Jehovah’s tent or temple of worship was in her.—2 Samuel 5:1-9; 6:11 to 7:13.
10. When did the two symbolic women become Jehovah’s, how did they give to him sons and daughters, and why would unfaithfulness to him be adulterous?
10 “And they came to be mine,” said Jehovah concerning those two symbolic women. (Ezekiel 23:4) When was that? It was in the year 1513 B.C.E., when Jehovah delivered the “mother” organization, the twelve tribes of Israel, from bondage to Egypt on the night of the first celebration of the Passover, and more specifically so when Jehovah brought the twelve tribes formally into a covenant with him through the mediator Moses at Mount Sinai in Arabia. (Exodus 12:50 to 13:21; 19:3 to 24:8) Thereafter sons and daughters were brought forth in covenant relationship with Jehovah as their God. How? This was by reason of the action of their fathers in making this national covenant with Jehovah, the Deliverer of His people. They were all subject to Him because of being the children of the nation that was married to Him like a wife to a husband or husbandly owner. (Jeremiah 3:14; 31:32) Unfaithfulness to Him was adulterous.
11. In what year did those two symbolic “women” definitely take form, and in what way?
11 The symbolic “two women, the daughters of one mother,” definitely took form in the year 997 B.C.E., or 516 years after the rescue of the nation of Israel from the slave-driving Egypt. In that year ten of the tribes of Israel refused further allegiance to the royal house of David and set up their own kingdom, the final capital of which proved to be Samaria, some thirty-five miles to the north of Jerusalem. This Northern Kingdom, with capital at Samaria, was symbolized by Oholah. The Southern Kingdom, with capital at Jerusalem, was symbolized by Oholibah—Ezekiel 23:4
“OHOLAH” SETS A BAD HISTORICAL EXAMPLE
12. Did the cracking up of Israel dissolve Jehovah’s covenant toward the two resulting nations, and how did the symbolic Oholah refuse wifely subjection to her husbandly Owner?
12 This crackup of the twelve-tribe nation of Israel did not dissolve its covenant with Jehovah as entered into through the mediator Moses at Mount Sinai. Both of the new kingdoms were still in this covenant of the Mosaic Law and were therefore still subject to Jehovah as to a spiritual Husband. (1 Kings 11:29-39) But the Northern Kingdom, the symbolic Oholah, refused wifelike subjection to Jehovah and became idolatrous. She lost her trust in Him as her Protector and began to play politics with the pagan nations round about, especially imperial Assyria to the northeast. (2 Kings 15:17-22; Hosea 5:13; 12:1) Did this getting on friendly terms with the militarized political world power of Assyria work out well for the ten-tribe Kingdom of Israel? Did Assyria prove to be a staunch, true friend to this symbolic Oholah? Note what Jehovah goes on to say, in Ezekiel 23:5-10:
13. What do Jehovah’s words in Ezekiel 23:5-10 show as to whether Assyria proved to be a staunch, true friend to symbolic Oholah?
13 “And Oholah began to prostitute herself, while subject to me, and kept lusting after those passionately loving her, after the Assyrians, who were near, governors clothed with blue material, and their deputy rulers—desirable young men all of them, cavalrymen riding horses. And she continued giving forth her prostitutions upon them, the choicest sons of Assyria all of them; and with all those after whom she lusted—with their dungy idols—she defiled herself. And her prostitutions carried from Egypt she did not leave, for with her they had lain down in her youth, and they were the ones that pressed the bosoms of her virginity and they kept pouring out their immoral intercourse upon her. Therefore I gave her into the hand of those passionately loving her, into the hand of the sons of Assyria, toward whom she had lusted. They were the ones that uncovered her nakedness. Her sons and her daughters they took, and her they killed even with sword. And she came to be infamy to women, and acts of judgment were what they executed upon her.”
14. So the trusting of “Oholah” in Assyria caused Jehovah to do what to her?
14 Losing her faith in the invisible Jehovah and putting her trust in the impressive-looking military might of idolatrous Assyria did not save and preserve the spiritually adulterous Oholah, the ten-tribe Kingdom of Israel. Abandoning the One who had delivered her out of Egypt, she was abandoned by Him to the brutal Assyrians who had passionately loved to force a worldly alliance upon her.
15. As executioners of what did the Assyrians act toward symbolic Oholah, and how did they expose her nakedness?
15 Jehovah let “Oholah” fall into the violent hands of those with whom she had preferred to be in a covenant, the Assyrians. These acted as executioners of divine judgment upon her, giving her the treatment that an adulterous wife deserved. With the sword of war they punitively killed her as a political nation, destroying her national capital, Samaria. But first they took captive her sons and daughters, herding them away into slavery in another land. They made no allowance for her to be revived and restored as a people and kingdom. They “uncovered her nakedness” by stripping the land of her Israelite children, deporting them afar off; and then, to take their place on the land, Assyria imported pagan peoples from various parts of the Assyrian Empire.—2 Kings 18:8-12; 17:1-24.
16. How did “Oholah” come to be “infamy to women”?
16 Good reason this was for the criminally executed “Oholah” to become “infamy to women,” that is, to pagan kingdoms of that time. They looked down upon her as a nation that had gained shameful infamy for herself and they shuddered at her fate. Her kingdom ceased to exist permanently in 740 B.C.E. at the destruction of Samaria and the deportation of her surviving sons and daughters.
HISTORIC FORECAST FOR OUR DAY
17. In view of “Oholah” as a warning example, what questions arise as to the symbolic Oholibah?
17 Did symbolic Oholah come to be “infamy” to her sister Oholibah, the Southern Kingdom of Judah? Did Oholibah appreciate this warning example of history and profit by it? Did she therefore avoid the spiritually adulterous course of her sister in order that history might not repeat itself upon her and she might not have to drink the cup of judgment that her sister had been obliged to drink? What did Oholibah indicate that her modern-day counterpart Christendom would do in our times? Jehovah pointed to the course that Oholah’s sister kingdom was pursuing, saying, in Ezekiel 23:11-17:
18. In what words, in Ezekiel 23:11-17, did Jehovah point to the course that the symbolic Oholibah was then pursuing?
18 “When her sister Oholibah got to see it, then she exercised her sensual desire more ruinously than she, and her prostitution more than the fornication of her sister. For the sons of Assyria she lusted, governors and deputy rulers who were near, clothed with perfect taste, cavalrymen riding horses—desirable young men all of them. And I got to see that, because she had defiled herself, both of them had one way. And she kept adding to her acts of prostitution when she got to see the men in carvings upon the wall, images of Chaldeans carved in vermilion, girded with belts on their hips, with pendant turbans on their heads, having the appearance of warriors, all of them, the likeness of the sons of Babylon, Chaldeans as respects the land of their birth. And she began to lust after them at the sight of her eyes and proceeded to send messengers to them in Chaldea. And the sons of Babylon kept coming in to her, to the bed of expressions of love, and defiling her with their immoral intercourse; and she continued getting defiled by them, and her soul began to turn away disgusted from them.”
19. How did the symbolic Oholibah defy the warning example of her sister Oholah, and what outcome for Assyria posed a problem for Oholibah?
19 Oholibah defied the warning example in the history of her sister kingdom, Oholah. Jehovah got to see that both Oholibah and Oholah “had one way,” only that Oholibah pursued the way in a more extreme fashion. Forgetting Jehovah and her marriage-like covenant with Him, she went playing politics with that mighty military world power, Assyria. This was notoriously so in the days of King Ahaz of Jerusalem. Despite the counsel of Jehovah by the prophet Isaiah, King Ahaz called the Assyrian conqueror Tiglath-pileser to his aid against the allied kingdoms of Syria and Israel. (Isaiah 7:1-20; 2 Kings 16:5-10, 17, 18) King Hezekiah, successor to Ahaz, saw how disastrously Oholah’s courting the political favor of Assyria ended in the year 740 B.C.E., with the destruction of Samaria and its kingdom. Although King Hezekiah was delivered from the Assyrian king Sennacherib, he entertained the friendly advances made by the Babylonians. For this he was rebuked by Jehovah. (Isaiah 37:36 to 39:7; 2 Kings 19:35 to 20:18) After the Babylonians overthrew the Assyrian World Power by destroying its capital Nineveh about 632 B.C.E., this posed a serious problem for Jerusalem.
20. How did the king of Babylon undo the political action of the king of Egypt toward Jerusalem, how did the symbolic Oholibah court Babylon’s political favor, and how did she show her tiring of this?
20 Four years later, in 628 B.C.E., the conquering king of Egypt put King Jehoiakim upon the throne of Jerusalem in place of his brother Jehoahaz. But in the year 620 B.C.E. the king of Babylon subjected Jehoiakim as a king tributary to Babylon. In the year 617 B.C.E. the king of Babylon installed Jehoiakim’s brother Zedekiah as king on the throne of Jerusalem. (2 Kings 23:31 to 24:18) During the reigns of these two kings the symbolic Oholibah “exercised her sensual desire more ruinously” than did her sister Oholah by courting the political favor of the Babylonian World Power. This international intercourse kept up in both cases until at last Jerusalem tired of the domination of Babylon. So “her soul began to turn away disgusted” from the Babylonians by rebellion against the king of Babylon.—2 Kings 24:1, 18-20.
21. In Ezekiel 23:18-21, how did Jehovah say how he felt about the adulterous course of the symbolic Oholibah?
21 How, though, did Jehovah feel about this spiritually adulterous course on the part of the symbolic Oholibah? This is something that her modern-day counterpart Christendom should have considered long ago. In Ezekiel 23:18-21 Jehovah tells how he felt by saying: “And she went on uncovering her acts of prostitution and uncovering her nakedness, so that my soul turned away disgusted from company with her, just as my soul had turned away disgusted from company with her sister [Oholah]. And she kept multiplying her acts of prostitution to the point of calling to mind the days of her youth, when she prostituted herself in the land of Egypt. And she kept lusting in the style of concubines belonging to those whose fleshly member is as the fleshly member of male asses and whose genital organ is as the genital organ of male horses. And you continued calling attention to the loose conduct of your youth by the pressing of your bosoms from Egypt onward, for the sake of the breasts of your youth.”
22. How did Jehovah harmonize his course toward Oholibah with that toward Oholah?
22 Since Jehovah’s very being had turned away in disgust from company with her adulterous sister Oholah, why should not his soul turn away in disgust from company with Oholibah because of like loose conduct with the idolatrous Babylonians? Jehovah is consistent with himself and so harmonized his actions toward both sisters, Oholah and Oholibah.
23. How did Oholibah call to mind the days of her youth when she prostituted herself in Egypt, and her passion became like that of concubines belonging to whom?
23 How did Oholibah go “calling to mind the days of her youth, when she prostituted herself in the land of Egypt”? She did so by looking southward to Egypt for military aid when “her soul began to turn away disgusted” from the Babylonians by rebelling against the king of Babylon. (Ezekiel 17:7-10, 15-17) In the language Jehovah here uses, what contempt he expresses for her animalistically passionate course that was unbecoming to a wife but quite usual with a readily available concubine. He says: “And she kept lusting in the style of concubines belonging to those whose fleshly member is as the fleshly member of male asses and whose genital organ is as the genital organ of male horses.” Or, as the New English Bible of 1970 words it: “She was infatuated with their male prostitutes, whose members were like those of asses and whose seed came in floods like that of horses.”—Ezekiel 23:20, NW; NEB.
THE SLIGHTED POLITICAL LOVERS REACT
24, 25. Consistent with what happened to the symbolic Oholah for her spiritual adultery, what did Jehovah say, in Ezekiel 23:22-25a, he would do to her sister Oholibah?
24 In the light of what happened to the symbolic Oholah for her spiritually immoral course, what was her sister Oholibah consistently to receive at the hand of Jehovah in his disgust? It was yet some time, possibly two years, to the beginning of the final Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, when Jehovah answered the question by saying to that unfaithful city in which His “tent” was still standing:
25 “Therefore, O Oholibah, this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘Here I am rousing up your passionate lovers against you, those from whom your soul has turned away in disgust, and I will bring them in against you on all sides, the sons of Babylon and all the Chaldeans, Pekod and Shoa and Koa, all the sons of Assyria with them, desirable young men, governors and deputy rulers all of them, warriors and summoned ones, riding on horses, all of them. And they must come in against you with rattling of war chariots and wheels, and a congregation of peoples, with large shield and buckler and helmet. They will set themselves against you all around, and I will give judgment over to them, and they must judge you with their judgments. And I will express my ardor against you, and they must take action against you in rage.
26. According to Jehovah’s words in Ezekiel 23:25b-27, what would the Babylonians and their allies do to symbolic Oholibah?
26 “‘Your nose and your ears they will remove, and the remainder of you will fall even by the sword. Your sons and your daughters they themselves will take, and the remainder of you will be devoured by the fire. And they will certainly strip off you your garments and take away your beautiful articles. And I shall actually cause your loose conduct to cease from you, and your prostitution carried from the land of Egypt; and you will not raise your eyes to them, and Egypt you will remember no more.’”—Ezekiel 23:22-27.
27. Who is it that raises up against “Oholibah” those least expected, and how is escape barred for her, and are mere judicial decisions as handed down by men executed upon her?
27 What a horrible shock to have one’s passionate lovers turn suddenly upon one! How could such a change of sentiment occur so quickly? It is Jehovah who brings this about against the wifelike organization that has proved false to him. It is he who raises up and brings down upon her those whom we would hardly think he would use as his instrument in executing judgment upon her, her associates or allies who once passionately loved her as a vassal kingdom. They are not just the common rabble, but are governors, deputy rulers, professional warriors, summoned ones called in for counsel, men of equestrian rank. There will be no escaping for her, inasmuch as they will come in against her on all sides. The war chariots, the rattling of the wheels of which she hears, can dart like the lightning and overtake her. The congregation of well-protected military peoples can hem her in. Are they to execute the judgments judicially handed down by men? No, for they are mere instruments of execution!
28. Whose judicial decisions are executed, how are they applied, and with what emotions are they executed?
28 The judicial decisions are those of Jehovah, and he turns over the execution of these to his chosen human agencies. But they are allowed to apply these judicial decisions according to their own cruel way of execution judgment. Jehovah has jealous ardor against the symbolic Oholibah, and his executional forces on earth have rage; and when divine ardor and Assyro-Babylonian rage combine in one united action, it really means woe for Oholibah.
29. The cutting off of nose and ears was the penalty for what moral crime, and how was this punishment inflicted upon the symbolic Oholibah?
29 Is it ghastly cruel to cut off a woman’s nose and her ears, horribly disfiguring her? Yes, but that was the way those ancient world imperialists punished adulteresses. Oholibah had turned adulterously away from her husbandly owner, Jehovah. Like an outraged jealous husband, he set his mark upon the face of his unfaithful mate. Her beautiful national appearance was ruined. Her anointed king and other prominent officials, who were like the “very breath of our nostrils,” were taken away. (Lamentations 4:20) Her priests and judges and literary men, who were like ears to listen and give balance to the headship of the nation, were also violently removed. With so mutilated a national appearance, how could she “save face” before other nations? She could not!
30. What was to be done with what remained of her, human and inanimate, irremovable, leaving her in what appearance?
30 After she had thus been mutilated, what was remaining of adulterous Oholibah was to fall by the executional sword of the victorious Babylonians, her former passionate lovers. Alas, then, for her sons and daughters! Those of them surviving were to be taken captive and enslaved. The remainder of her, in the way of nonportable material properties, was to be “devoured by the fire.” She was to be exposed naked, stripped of her garments and beautiful articles with which she had practiced her allurements as a nation. Such spiritual adultery as hers must cease from the earth forever!
31. What indicates whether Oholibah’s tiring of the Babylonians meant her repenting for reconciliation with Jehovah or not?
31 Oholibah’s tiring of certain ones like the Babylonians with whom she had committed spiritual prostitution did not mean that she had turned in heartfelt repentance to Jehovah to become reconciled with him. She was still given over to committing spiritual immorality with idolatrous gods. She was still inclined to violate her covenant with Jehovah and adulterously enter alliances with a pagan nation if she felt that this would save her as a nation. Fully aware of this, Jehovah went on to say to symbolic Oholibah:
32. Into whose hand did Jehovah tell Oholibah, in Ezekiel 23:28-31, that he would give her, and what would then happen to her, and why?
32 “For this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘Here I am giving you into the hand of those whom you have hated, into the hand of those from whom your soul has turned away disgusted. And they must take action against you in hatred and take away all your product of toil and leave you naked and nude; and the nudeness of your acts of fornication and your loose conduct and your acts of prostitution must be uncovered. There will be a doing of these things to you because of your going like a prostitute after the nations, on account of the fact that you defiled yourself with their dungy idols. In the way of your sister [Oholah] you have walked; and I shall have to give her cup into your hand.’”—Ezekiel 23:28-31.
33. Could Oholibah escape consequences by taking one-sided action, and for what engagements till now was Jehovah disposed to let her make a settlement?
33 Oholibah, representing unfaithful Jerusalem, was not to think that by her coming to hate the Babylonians and turning away from them in soulful disgust she could escape the consequences of her past spiritually immoral connections with them. It was not as easy as all that. The hated Babylonians were not willing to forget her engagements with them. And what about her superior engagements to Jehovah, her husbandly owner? Repentance over her loose conduct with the Babylonians was not repentance toward Jehovah. So He was disposed to let Oholibah settle for the violation of both her obligations to the Babylonians and her obligations to Him by surrendering her into the hands of her estranged lovers, the Babylonians.
34. Oholibah’s being made naked caused the nations to reason how as to the cause therefor?
34 Her nakedness ought to be exposed to all nations by the laying bare of her record as a shameless “streetwalker,” a prostitute out hunting for suckers on a national scale. Her God, whose religious “tent” was in her, must be punishing her for something! If her infidelity and her crimes against him had not been so enormous, her punishment would not have been so great! That was the case with her sister Oholah. So now why not also with her herself?
35. What false reasoning was Oholibah not to indulge in as to there being an exception to the rule concerning consequences?
35 Oholibah was not to think that she was an exception to the rule. Irreversibly her sister Oholah had suffered for certain causes. What historical basis was there, then, for her to think that history would not repeat itself upon her for just the same causes, yes, aggravated causes? Like crimes, like punishment! Jehovah showed in advance that he would make no exception of Oholibah, even though she represented Jerusalem, by saying to her:
36. Because he would make no exception, what cup did Jehovah say Oholibah would drink, and to what extent?
36 “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘The cup of your sister you will drink, the deep and wide one. You will become an object of laughter and derision, the cup containing much. With drunkenness and grief you will be filled, with the cup of astonishment and of desolation, the cup of your sister Samaria. And you will have to drink it and drain it out, and its earthenware fragments you will gnaw, and your breasts you will tear out. “For I myself have spoken,” is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.’”—Ezekiel 23:32-34.
37. Jehovah’s description of the “cup” indicated what about the amount of the potion that Oholibah was to drink, and at what she had to drink why would she be astonished, made drunk, grieved?
37 Apparently for ninety-three years, from the time of Samaria’s destruction in 740 B.C.E. to the beginning of Jerusalem’s “time of the error of the end” in 647 B.C.E., the adulterous Oholibah had time to profit from the historical warning example of her sister Oholah. Unhappily, she did not do so. (Ezekiel 4:6, 7; 21:25) At the hand of her forsaken husbandly owner, Jehovah, she must drink the same kind of potion that her sister Oholah (Samaria) did in 740 B.C.E. Only the cupful thereof will be larger in quantity, “the cup containing much” because it is “the deep and wide one.” She will drink the potion of becoming an “object of laughter and derision” to all the maliciously minded nations round about. She will be astonished at the shame and desolation that will come upon her. Just to think that Jehovah would let this come upon her! The cupful of national destruction, deportation from her God-given homeland and the international disgrace will be enough to make her feel drunk. She will be filled with grief at her own undone condition, not at the reproach that she brought upon the name of her husbandly owner, Jehovah. However great the potion, it will not be more than her due.
38. How did Jehovah figuratively describe how the symbolic Oholibah would pay the full penalty for unfaithfulness to Him?
38 Not a drop of the potion must she fail to drink. Even the moisture that has soaked into the porous absorbent material of the cup she must imbibe by gnawing and crunching the “earthenware fragments” of the cup. To the full she must pay the divine penalty for her unfaithful, adulterous course toward the God of her covenant. What Jehovah spoke concerning her she must undergo. The warning example in the case of her sister was nothing to be flouted!
HOW THE RULE WORKS UPON CHRISTENDOM
39. In view of the experience of symbolic Oholibah and Oholah, what questions arise as to the future of Christendom, and what gives us certainty as to the answers to these questions?
39 Since this rule worked so unerringly with the symbolic Oholah and Oholibah, what now is to be expected with regard to Christendom, the present-day counterpart of these two symbolic sisters, Samaria and Jerusalem? Will Bible history fail to repeat itself upon Christendom? Whereas Oholibah (Jerusalem) drank the same cup as her sister Oholah (Samaria) did for imitating Oholah’s conduct toward Jehovah, will Christendom escape drinking the same cup even though she has imitated the conduct of both Oholah and Oholibah? If the religious clergy and church people of Christendom think so, they are terribly mistaken, forasmuch as the true God, Jehovah, is consistent in all his ways. What makes it more certain that Christendom will experience the repeating of history and drink the same cup as her ancient prototypes is that Jehovah has spoken it in his written Word, in the recorded prophecies of the last book of the Bible.
40. What was it that the symbolic Oholibah would experience by 607 B.C.E. at the hands of her alienated lovers, and to learn about any repeating of history to what must we turn?
40 What was it that Oholibah, like her sister Oholah, was to experience by 607 B.C.E.? For one thing, the turning of her passionate lovers upon her. Their action would result in her being stripped naked; she will be rendered childless, her children being led away captive or falling by the sword of punitive warfare; she will be burned with fire; her queenly dignity will be disgraced, as her royal position among the nations disintegrates. Is anything like that to be repeated in modern history? Listen now to what Jehovah has spoken through Jesus Christ as it booms forth more loudly than ever from the sound track of his written Word:
41 “The waters that you saw, where the harlot is sitting, mean peoples and crowds and nations and tongues. And the ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast [that bears the ten horns upon its seven heads], these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire. For God put it into their hearts to carry out his thought, even to carry out their one thought by giving their kingdom to the wild beast, until the words of God will have been accomplished. And the woman whom you saw means the great city that has a kingdom over the kings of the earth.”
42 “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues. For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind. Render to her even as she herself rendered, and do to her twice as much, yes, twice the number of the things she did; in the cup in which she put a mixture put twice as much of the mixture for her. To the extent that she glorified herself and lived in shameless luxury, to that extent give her torment and mourning. For in her heart she keeps saying, ‘I sit a queen, and I am no widow, and I shall never see mourning.’ That is why in one day her plagues will come, death and mourning and famine, and she will be completely burned with fire, because Jehovah God, who judged her, is strong.”
43. With what portrayal of her, whom does Jehovah by his angel identify the harlot as being, in Revelation 17:1-6?
43 To whom do those words of Revelation 17:15-18 and 18:4-8 apply? Who is the “harlot” in this case? From that last book of the Bible Jehovah by his angel speaks in answer: “Come, I will show you the judgment upon the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, whereas those who inhabit the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” “And he carried me away in the power of the spirit into a wilderness. And I caught sight of a woman sitting upon a scarlet-colored wild beast that was full of blasphemous names and that had seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and was adorned with gold and precious stone and pearls and had in her hand a golden cup that was full of disgusting things and the unclean things of her fornication. And upon her forehead was written a name, a mystery: ‘Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.’ And I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the holy ones and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus.”—Revelation 17:1-6.
44. According to that, had the style of punishing women for adultery and fornication changed with the passing of years, and so punishment like that of whom is Babylon the Great to suffer?
44 Here indeed is foretold a repeating of history that reproduces the historical features of what befell the ancient prostitute, Oholibah. The Biblically described treatment of adulteresses and harlots is seen not to change from what it was in 607 B.C.E., when Oholibah (Jerusalem) was destroyed by the Babylonians, to what is prescribed for adulteresses and harlots in the year 96 C.E., about which time the Christian apostle John wrote the last book of the Bible, Revelation. More than seven hundred years of the passing of time and yet no change! And there is no change foreseen and foretold after the passing of more than eighteen centuries of time since then till now in our twentieth century; for Revelation, chapters seventeen and eighteen, forecasts the events of our present century. Regardless of whatever the symbolic harlot, Babylon the Great, may say in her heart, she must suffer the punishment of women of loose conduct, like ancient Oholah, like Oholibah, at the hands of Jehovah God, who judges her. His style of punishment has not changed!
45. Why is it wishful thinking for Christendom to say within herself that she will not suffer the fate of Babylon the Great of today?
45 Wishful thinking is it for Christendom to say in her heart that she will not suffer the fate of Babylon the Great of today. For years now she has been notified that Babylon the Great stands for the world empire of false Babylonish religion, and of this worldwide religious organization Christendom is the most populous and powerful part. As such she is one of those religious “harlots” of which Babylon the Great is the mother organization.—Revelation 17:5.
46. Consequently, how must Christendom fare at the hands of Jehovah, and since she has shared in the sins of Babylon the Great she must also receive part of what?
46 Consequently, as fares Babylon the Great at the hands of Jehovah God, so must Christendom fare. And inasmuch as Christendom was specifically typed or foreshadowed by the adulterous Oholibah (Jerusalem), this makes it certain that she will share in the disastrous finale of Babylon the Great, which finale closely parallels that of the prostitute Oholibah. Has Christendom shared in the sins of Babylon the Great which have massed together clear up to heaven? Since she has done so, then she must receive part of the plagues of Babylon the Great that are divinely decreed to come “in one day,” namely, death, mourning, famine, “and she will be completely burned with fire,” and this at the hand of her former associates.—Revelation 18:4-8; 17:16.
47, 48. In the words of Ezekiel 23:35, what did Jehovah tell the symbolic Oholibah to do, and so what will Christendom have to do?
47 We might well think of Christendom as Jehovah goes on to relate to his prophet Ezekiel the ungodly conduct of Oholibah (Jerusalem) toward Him, saying: “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘For the reason that you have forgotten me and you proceeded to cast me behind your back, then you yourself also bear your loose conduct and your acts of prostitution.’”
48 Ancient Oholibah did what she was told to do in these words of Ezekiel 23:35, that is to say, she had to bear the bitter consequences of her spiritually loose conduct and acts of prostitution. Christendom will have to do the same, without fail.
49. According to the historic record, how has Christendom since 1919 shown that she has forgotten Jehovah and cast him behind her back as regards world peace and security, and so what will she not get when her associates turn upon her?
49 We do not have to peer too deeply into the historic record that Christendom has made for herself in order to discern that she has forgotten Jehovah and has cast him behind her back. It is not with Him that she has allied herself and aligned herself in hope of protection and preservation. She has carried on spiritual immorality with the politicians of all the nations. Along with them she has promoted and endorsed that idolatrous “image” of the symbolic wild beast, namely, the United Nations, as the necessary organization for world peace and security. This political “image” is the scarlet-colored wild beast with seven heads and ten horns that Babylon the Great has been riding since it came into existence, originally as the League of Nations in 1919. Since she looks away from Jehovah, she will get no protection and deliverance from Him when her political and secular associates turn upon her in rage to destroy her.—Revelation 13:14, 15; 14:9-11; 17:3-7.
50-52. When will this drastic punishment come upon Christendom, and before then, what must the anointed Ezekiel class do, as indicated in Ezekiel 23:36-42?
50 This drastic punishment will strike Christendom, shortly now, in the approaching “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning.” (Matthew 24:15, 21, 22) But before then, the anointed Ezekiel class whom Jehovah is using today must declare abroad His judicial decisions against Christendom as if pronouncing divine judgment upon her. Indicative of this is what the ancient prophet Ezekiel next tells us, in his account in Ezekiel 23:36-42:
51 “And Jehovah went on to say to me: ‘Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah and tell them their detestable things? For they have committed adultery and there is blood on their hands, and with their dungy idols they have committed adultery. And, besides that, their sons whom they had borne to me they made pass through the fire to them as food. What is more, this is what they have done to me: They have defiled my sanctuary in that day, and my sabbaths they have profaned. And when they had slaughtered their sons to their dungy idols they even proceeded to come into my sanctuary on that day to profane it, and, look! that is what they have done in the midst of my house. And in addition to that, when they began to send to the men coming from far away, to whom there was sent a messenger, then, look! they came, for whom you had washed yourself, painted your eyes and decked yourself with ornaments. And you sat down upon a glorious couch, with a table set in order before it, and my incense and my oil you put upon it.
52 “‘And the sound of a crowd at ease was in her, and to the men out of the mass of mankind there were drunkards being brought in from the wilderness, and they proceeded to put bracelets on the hands of the women and beautiful crowns upon their heads.’”
FORMAL ACCUSATION AS PRESENTED AGAINST CHRISTENDOM
53, 54. Those words of judgment against Oholah and Oholibah are an indictment also against whom today, and how has the latter been guilty of what is denounced in James 4:4?
53 What an indictment this is of Christendom, as reflected from the ancient prototype of her! This indictment has been presented by the Ezekiel class of today, the anointed Christian witnesses of Ezekiel’s God, Jehovah. Like ancient Oholah and Oholibah, Christendom has committed spiritual adultery against the God whom she professes to worship, the God of the Bible. Deserving of her consideration, therefore, is the Bible question raised in James 4:4, which reads: “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.”
54 Christendom’s perpetual friendliness with the politicians, and military forces and the big business profiteers of this world is a public scandal. As the dominant member of the “great harlot,” Babylon the Great, Christendom has been a religious organization “with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, whereas those who inhabit the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” Christendom dominates in the symbolic “city that has a kingdom over the kings of the earth.”—Revelation 17:1, 2, 18.
55. What outstanding modern instance is there of the committing of spiritual adultery with idols by the sects of Christendom?
55 The religious sects of Christendom have committed spiritual adultery also “with their dungy idols.” One of the latest and biggest things to be idolized by her is the “image” of the symbolic wild beast of world politics, namely, the United Nations, to which most of the professedly Christian nations belong.—Ezekiel 23:37; Revelation 13:14, 15; 14:9-11; 16:2.
56. How is it true of the sects of Christendom in a sacrificial way that “there is blood on their hands”?
56 And of the religious sects of Christendom can it be said that “there is blood on their hands”? As the ancient Oholah and Oholibah made their sons pass through the sacrificial fire to the dungy idol image of the false god Molech, so the sects of Christendom have caused their sons to shed their blood in sacrifice to the bloodthirsty god Mars, the Roman god of war. All this in the name of what they call Christianity! Christendom’s bloodstained hands testify to the sacrifice of her religious sons by the fanatical savage crusades against the Mohammedans of the Middle East, yes, by wars within her own ranks between Catholics and Protestants, by religious inquisitions with fiendish tortures of those viewed as heretics, by wars between the nations of Christendom that pitted Catholic against Catholic and Protestant against Protestant, by two world wars both of which began right inside Christendom!
57. How have they misrepresented what God’s sanctuary stands for by how they have proceeded to do despite being defiled with blood?
57 Worse still, with utter disrespect for the Bible God, they have, on the day of committing such atrocities, come with blood-drenched hands into what they call God’s sanctuary, even on what they called their sabbath day. In this way they have, in effect, defiled and profaned God’s sanctuary, thus grossly misrepresenting what the true house of God stands for. In disapproval of all this, what a blood account there is for Him to settle with Christendom!
58. How does Oholibah portray Christendom as trying to entice immoral customers, and who are not excluded from the mass of mankind that flocks to her?
58 As portrayed by Oholibah (Jerusalem), we can picture Christendom acting like a professional harlot. She has sought customers, sending out for them to come into alliance with her for unchristian intercourse. See her washing herself to remove any offensive smells! See her making her eyes appear larger and more lustrous by painting them! See her decking herself with ornaments to make herself look irresistibly enticing! See her putting herself in a reclining position upon a glorious couch with a table put in front of it! The incense burning upon it and the perfumed oil put upon it for rubbing purposes she took away from what really belongs to God. In response to the messenger she sent out, her enticed customers were to come from all the secular parts of this world that is at enmity with Jehovah God. Her brothel becomes the location from which, despite closed doors and windows, issues the sound of a crowd at ease and yielding themselves to sensual pleasures. A mass of mankind have flocked to her as for sexual satisfaction. Have drunkards been added to that indiscriminate mass as welcome? Yes, even though they come from such a low class as is to be found in the wilderness.
59. Because Christendom has made religion an easy thing, what elements of human society have been herded to her, and in what sense have they put bracelets on her wrists and crowns on her head?
59 Because Christendom’s sects made religion easy for such worldlings, and because they could join her as church members and at the same time continue to be a part of this selfish, idolatrous, bloodstained world, all these elements of human society let themselves be herded into harlot-like Christendom. As payment for whatever religious favors that brought them sensual pleasure, they glorified her. As it were, to beautify her blood-reddened hands they put bracelets on her wrists, and they set beautiful crowns upon the heads of her sects, thereby giving the clergy some religious headship over their lives. This has become an old custom.
60. What are the indications as to whether Christendom will stop her spiritual immorality, and to what end must “righteous men” be used, these executing the judgments applied to what sort of women?
60 Yet, is this to go on forever, or will it go beyond this generation of ours? Not according to what Jehovah now tells Ezekiel in these words: “Then I said respecting her who was worn out with adultery, ‘Now she will keep on committing her prostitution, even she herself.’ And they kept on coming in to her, just as one comes in to a woman that is a prostitute; in that manner they came in to Oholah and to Oholibah as women of loose conduct. But as regards righteous men, they are the ones that will judge her with the judgment for adulteresses and with the judgment for female shedders of blood; for adulteresses are what they are, and there is blood on their hands.” (Ezekiel 23:43-45) Accordingly, since Christendom will not stop “committing her prostitution, even she herself,” then a stop must be put to her committing spiritual prostitution by having others execute upon her the judgment for adulteresses and the judgment for women guilty of shedding blood willfully.
THE “RIGHTEOUS MEN” FOR JUDGING CHRISTENDOM
61. Who, then, are the “righteous men” that execute judgment upon the symbolic Oholibah?
61 Who, though, are those “righteous men” that will execute judgment upon her? Not Ezekiel and his fellow exiles Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, nor the prophet Jeremiah at Jerusalem and his secretary Baruch and his friends Ebed-melech the Ethiopian and the household of the Rechabites. (Ezekiel 14:14, 20; Daniel 1:1-7; Jeremiah 35:1-19; 36:4-32; 45:1-5) These approved men had no part whatsoever in executing the judgment of Jehovah upon Oholibah (Jerusalem) in the years 609-607 B.C.E. Rather, it was the Assyrians who destroyed Oholah (Samaria) in 740 B.C.E., and Babylonians who destroyed Oholibah (Jerusalem) in 607 B.C.E.
62. Since Jehovah’s executioners back there were pagans, in what way could they be called “righteous men,” and, similarly who are the “righteous men” used as executioners in our day?
62 Consequently, the “righteous men” here meant are the former passionate lovers of Oholibah (Jerusalem) from whom her soul finally turns away in disgust and who therefore turn upon her and bring her to ruin. But how could such ones, the Babylonian executioners of judgment, be called “righteous men” inasmuch as they were pagans? It was in a comparative sense. So great was the wickedness of Oholibah (Jerusalem) in Jehovah’s sight, that the Babylonians whom He used as his executioners were comparatively “righteous” in His sight. Because of so flagrantly violating her sacred covenant with Jehovah as her God, Oholibah (Jerusalem) was far more reprehensible than the pagan Babylonians. Furthermore, they were executing the “righteous” judgment of Jehovah upon Oholibah (Jerusalem), the judgment that is deserving for adulteresses and female shedders of blood. (Ezekiel 23:22-27) Similarly, in our day the “righteous men” are not Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, but are Christendom’s onetime worldly associates who get to hating her and who turn upon her to execute God’s sentence upon her.
63. How is the identity of those “righteous men” confirmed in Jehovah’s final words concerning Oholibah?
63 That this is the correct understanding of who those “righteous men” are is confirmed by Jehovah’s final words concerning Oholibah: “For this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘There will be the bringing up of a congregation against them and a making of them a frightful object and something to plunder. And the congregation must pelt them with stones, and there will be a cutting of them down with their swords. Their sons and their daughters they will kill, and with fire their houses they will burn. And I shall certainly cause loose conduct to cease out of the land, and all the women will have to let themselves be corrected, so that they will not do according to your loose conduct. And they must bring your loose conduct upon you, and the sins of your dungy idols you will bear; and you people will have to know that I am the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.’”—Ezekiel 23:46-49.
64. How did Jehovah bring up against Oholibah a “congregation” of plunderers, wielders of swords, stoners, desolaters and burners, and cleansers of immoral conduct, and to whom did she become a frightful, corrective warning example?
64 The congregation of Babylonian soldiers that Jehovah brought up against Oholibah (Jerusalem) did make her a frightful object in 607 B.C.E., breaching her sturdy walls, invading her, looting her, carrying away the plunder, and burning her with fire. (2 Kings 25:1-17; 2 Chronicles 36:17-19; Jeremiah 52:6-23) Doubtless the stones that the Babylonians hurled into the city during the long siege were of considerable size, doing much damage and causing many deaths. Besides that, many of Jerusalem’s sons and daughters were dispatched by Babylonian swords upon the breakthrough into the city and thereafter. The firing of all the combustible houses that remained completed the desolation. Thus spiritually loose conduct and idolatry were made to cease out of the land of Judah by the destruction of Oholibah (Jerusalem). Terrible were the consequences that came upon her for committing such detestable things in Jehovah’s sight. What befell her should have been a warning to other “women,” that is, nations, not to follow her example.
65. In view of the warning example of Oholibah, what question arises as to Christendom, and whom will Jehovah bring up against her because of her course?
65 Has Christendom let herself be corrected by the warning example of Oholibah (Jerusalem) so as not to imitate her spiritually loose conduct and worship of dungy idols? In answer it must be said that Oholibah did not take heed to the warning example of her sister Oholah (Samaria), and neither will Christendom take heed to the warning example of the heedless Oholibah (Jerusalem). She is doomed to be plundered and made a frightful object mass of ruins. Not for long will her present friendship and sharing of her bed of immoral love with the worldly elements of this system of things continue. Her political, military, and other secular lovers will see reason to hate this worn-out old harlot and will turn upon her in rage. Jehovah will bring them up against her as an army of executioners of his righteous judgment, and false hypocritical Christianity will be burned out of the earth. Frightful will be the ruin of this symbolic woman, Christendom, that did not let herself be corrected by the warning examples recorded in Jehovah’s Word. No one can ignore those warning examples and get by with it!
66. What is the purpose behind having all this take place, what will Christendom experience according to Jehovah’s warning examples, and who today should take note respecting this?
66 There is a purpose behind having all this take place. What is it? It is the divine purpose: “And you people will have to know that I am the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.” (Ezekiel 23:49) Those words should be taken to heart by us. It was the name of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah that was involved with the terrible events of divine judgment in the year 607 B.C.E. In his own name Jehovah had foretold those events by his prophets. In vindication of his own name He as Sovereign Lord irresistibly caused them to occur as the execution of His judicial decisions. Let all ignorers of Jehovah today take note. Relish it or not, the approaching destruction of Christendom will be according to His warning examples, his prophecies and his irreversible decrees. Thereby people will have to know that He, the Fulfiller of his unchangeable Word, is Jehovah.
67. What will then be the effect of this upon those of us who already have a knowledge of the Sovereign Lord God?
67 All those of us who have already come peacefully to a knowledge of this Sovereign Lord will thereby have that divine purpose mightily confirmed to us. More convinced than ever before, we shall know in an awe-inspiring way that He is Jehovah indeed and thus we will reverence him more fully than ever before.