Hypocritical Religionists Stunned at the News
1. How will hypocritical religionists feel or what will they hope when the “great tribulation” strikes Christendom?
WITH stunning impact will the news of Christendom’s destruction strike hypocritical religionists who are related to her. They will feel it when the foretold “great tribulation” begins upon her. Yet they may hope that because of her former ability to endure she will survive the tribulation, contrary to Bible prophecy. They may hope desperately that the worst will not come to a thing that has been so sacred to them.
2. Why do such religionists not expect Christendom to be destroyed, but how will they be affected by her destruction, as pantomimed by the prophet Ezekiel before his fellow exiles?
2 Because they have religiously attached God’s name to it, they may feel that God and his Son Jesus Christ will never permit Christendom to be destroyed. But how stunned they will be when he does permit it in verification of his prophecy! Just how dumbfounded and stunned they will be the prophet Ezekiel was instructed to pantomime in the seventh century before our Common Era. About two years later, what Ezekiel had pantomimed his fellow exiles imitated in real life, this proving that he had been a true sign or portent. That fulfillment back there became in itself a prophetic event to foreshadow how the hypocritical religionists of our time would be stunned at the report of Christendom’s destruction.
3, 4. Was it by modern-day radio means of communication, or how did Ezekiel learn on the same day what happened to Jerusalem far away?
3 Lightning-speed reporting of events by means of radio and television broadcasting with the aid of man-made satellites that are used as deflectors of radio waves is a marvel of our twentieth century. Yet, without the aid of such modern devices, the Creator of the universe and of its natural forces transmitted highly important news to his prophet Ezekiel instantaneously, with lightning speed. By the ordinary means of communication during those days of the camel train and the horse chariot, Ezekiel could never have learned on the very same day of its occurrence what was happening at Jerusalem more than five hundred miles southwest from his city of exile in Babylon, Tel-abib. And yet he did so! By what means? It was not by means of any fire-signal system or by drumbeating, but was as he informs us in these dated words:
4 “And the word of Jehovah continued to occur to me in the ninth year, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, saying: ‘Son of man, write down for yourself the name of the day, this selfsame day. The king of Babylon has thrown himself against Jerusalem on this selfsame day.’”—Ezekiel 24:1, 2.
5. How was Jehovah able to notify Ezekiel instantaneously, and in what lunar month of what year?
5 Ezekiel did not see on any television screen, by means of direct telecasting, this beginning of the eighteen-month-long siege of Jerusalem by the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. But, unaided by television, Jehovah saw it directly and immediately reported it to Ezekiel. This was in the ninth year of Ezekiel’s exile in Babylon and at the same time the ninth year of the last king of Jerusalem, namely, Zedekiah, whom Nebuchadnezzar himself had installed on the throne. This means the year 609 B.C.E. The tenth month, as counted from the spring month of Nisan according to the Jewish calendar, came to be called Tebeth.
6. So at what season of the northern year did Nebuchadnezzar attack Jerusalem, and how is the date confirmed elsewhere in the Bible?
6 The tenth day of the month Tebeth would correspond with what would ordinarily be toward the end of our month December. Jehovah had already prophetically described to Ezekiel what King Nebuchadnezzar on the march would do to reach his decision to attack Jerusalem. (Ezekiel 21:18-23) Despite its being the time of the northern winter, King Nebuchadnezzar began his assault upon rebellious Jerusalem, as it were, throwing himself against it. This is the same date given for this in 2 Kings 24:20; 25:1 and Jeremiah 52:3, 4. So that day Ezekiel was told to depict what would happen.
7. According to Ezekiel 24:3-5, what was Ezekiel told to do with a widemouthed cooking pot?
7 Jehovah instructs Ezekiel how to do so, saying: “And compose a proverbial saying concerning the rebellious house, and you must say concerning them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: “Put the widemouthed cooking pot on; put it on, and also pour water into it. Gather pieces in it, every good piece, thigh and shoulder; fill it even with the choicest bones. Let there be a taking of the choicest sheep, and also stack the logs in a circle under it. Boil its pieces, also cook its bones in the midst of it.”’”—Ezekiel 24:3-5.
8. What did the boiling of water in the pot picture, and what did the pieces of the sheep put therein picture?
8 Years before, according to Ezekiel 11:6-11, the residents of Jerusalem had likened her to a widemouthed cooking pot with themselves safely ensconced within it. Jehovah now uses this same picture. Filling the metallic widemouthed cooking pot with water for boiling would therefore picture what was happening that selfsame day of Tebeth 10, 609 B.C.E., that is to say, the siege of Jerusalem by the king of Babylon. The stacking of the logs underneath and the setting of them afire would comport with this thought. The siege now begun would gradually make it hot like boiling water for those inside Jerusalem. The pieces of flesh put into the pot would picture those inside the city, including the refugees that fled to it from before the advancing armies of Babylon. The good pieces put in would picture those of the better social class of the city, especially the king and his princes. Since the bones make up the framework that supports the fleshly body, the “choicest bones” would picture those that held up the structure of the national organism, namely, the military commanders and their staff of officers. All were to “cook” during the siege.
9. Jerusalem was like what condition of a cooking pot, and how had she treated the blood that was shed in her?
9 Was Jerusalem as a symbolic cooking pot worth preserving? Listen! “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘Woe to the city of deeds of bloodshed, the widemouthed cooking pot, the rust of which is in it, and the very rust of which has not gone forth from it! Piece by piece of it, bring it out; no lot must be cast over it. For its very blood has come to be right in the midst of it. Upon the shining, bare surface of a crag she placed it. She did not pour it out upon the earth, in order to cover it over with dust. In order to bring up rage for the executing of vengeance, I have put her blood upon the shining, bare surface of a crag, in order that it may not be covered over.’”—Ezekiel 24:6-8.
10. To what was the scum on the sides of Jerusalem as a cooking pot due, and how would Jehovah treat her blood similarly to the way that she treated the blood violently shed by her?
10 Sometime earlier Jehovah had given a scathing denunciation of Jerusalem, addressing her as a “city that is shedding blood in her midst till her time comes,” and detailing the reasons why she has shed so much blood. (Ezekiel 22:3-12) The moral scum and filth within her could not be washed out but clung to her sides, causing a rust to the sides of her as a symbolic cooking pot. She had a low regard for human blood, the blood of her victims, not even pouring it out on the ground and covering it over with dust, as God’s law commanded to be done in the case of the blood of a hunted animal. (Leviticus 17:13, 14) No, but, shamelessly, Jerusalem poured out the violently shed blood upon the shining, bare surface of a crag for it to be openly exposed as a testimony to her criminality. This contempt for human blood stirred up Jehovah’s rage, inducing him to execute vengeance upon the wanton shedder of blood. As she had done, he would do. He would not let her bloodstained record be covered over, but would expose it to public gaze like blood on a dustless, shining, bare surface of a crag!
11. What was to be done to the gory criminals inside Jerusalem, and what was to be done with her herself?
11 The gory criminals in Jerusalem must be brought out to justice. Bring them out indiscriminately, without selective lots being cast over them, but, as it were, bring “piece by piece of it” out of the symbolic cooking pot, Jerusalem. Now that the siege of Jerusalem had begun, “woe” was in store for her that would not end until she was destroyed together with all her scum.
DRASTIC ACTION NEEDED TOWARD CHRISTENDOM
12. The exposing of Jerusalem’s bloodstained record reminds us of the bloodguilt of whom else, and in what will the “siege” of this latter one culminate?
12 The charge of bloodguilt on the part of ancient Jerusalem calls up vividly before our minds the tremendous amount of bloodshed of which her modern-day counterpart, Christendom, is guilty. We can plainly see it as if it too were drenching the shining, bare surface of a crag, unable to be covered from men and angels. When the siege of her begins with the start of the “great tribulation,” it will spell woe for her that will culminate in her destruction.—Matthew 24:15-22.
13. What “proverbial saying” applies to Christendom, as set out in Ezekiel 24:9-12?
13 To Christendom applies the “proverbial saying” that was directed to Jerusalem her prototype: “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘Woe to the city of deeds of bloodshed! I myself also shall make the pile great. Make the logs many. Kindle the fire. Boil the flesh thoroughly. And empty out the broth, and let the bones themselves become piping hot. Stand it empty upon its coals in order that it may get hot; and its copper must become heated up, and its uncleanness must be liquefied in the midst of it. Let its rust get consumed. Troubles! It has made one tired, but the great amount of its rust does not go forth from it. Into the fire with its rust!’”—Ezekiel 24:9-12.
14. Since the scum-covered rust of the symbolic cooking pot, Jerusalem, could not be washed away, what did Jehovah see to be necessary for the city, and for whom else does that go?
14 Jehovah saw what the gory, scummy city deserved. It must be enveloped in a big blaze as from a great pile of logs. Due to the long-continued cooking at the boiling point her military commanders and officers must get unbearably hot with the increasing intensity of the Babylonian siege, and the other inhabitants, like overcooked flesh, must be reduced to a state like broth with no texture or stability. Out with all of them! Empty out the city completely when it falls to the Babylonian besiegers! Put it like an emptied cooking pot of copper upon the fire of destruction, because of the scum-covered rust that still clings to its sides. Since the filthy rust cannot be washed off, burn it off! Yes, melt down the whole symbolic cooking pot (Jerusalem), to separate the dross from it. Let the fire of the destruction of the bloodguilty city also completely destroy her moral filth, scum and rust. And that goes for her modern-day counterpart, Christendom, too!
15. What does Jehovah say directly to Jerusalem regarding the matter of cleansing, and according to what on her part will judgments be executed upon her?
15 Jehovah herewith addresses himself directly to Jerusalem to explain why he must take such drastic measures toward her: “‘There was loose conduct in your uncleanness. For that reason I had to cleanse you, but you did not become clean from your uncleanness. You will become clean no more until I cause my rage to come to its rest in your case. I myself, Jehovah, have spoken. It must come, and I will act. I shall not neglect, neither shall I feel sorry nor feel regret. According to your ways and according to your dealings they will certainly judge you,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.”—Ezekiel 24:13, 14.
16. What did the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem prove as to her past conduct, and when first would his rage be brought to rest?
16 On that recorded date, Tebeth 10, 609 B.C.E., the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem for the third and last time had begun. This fact proved that the Kingdom of Judah under Jerusalem had refused to be cleansed from her spiritually loose conduct. Her uncleanness was like the scum and filth that created rust on the sides of a copper pot and that could not be scoured away but that had to be destroyed by melting down the cooking pot itself. The symbolic cooking pot was now in the fire, now that this siege by the Babylonians had begun. The persisting uncleanness of Jerusalem would never be cleansed away until Jehovah was obliged to bring his rage to rest by having the bloodguilty Jerusalem destroyed.
17. Since Jehovah had spoken his mind, was regret on his part to be expected, or what?
17 Rage, not sympathetic sorrow, was to be expressed to the full, and Jehovah would feel no regret for his extreme measures taken against Jerusalem. He had spoken his mind, and it must not fail in coming true. He would not be negligent in bringing it to pass. His Babylonian executors of divine judgment would mete out to Jerusalem the judgment that she deserved for ungodly ways and deeds. She had to be destroyed, just as her imitator, Christendom, has to be.
18. What material things and human lives were involved with Jerusalem’s destruction, and how would violent taking away of such things affect the older survivors?
18 “O, have a heart!” a person might be inclined to say to God at this point. Why? Because Jerusalem then contained the magnificent temple that had been built by King Solomon, and so the wrecking of Jerusalem meant the wrecking of the sacred temple that the Jews regarded as a charm against disaster. (Jeremiah 7:1-11) And another thing: The older Jews who had been carried off into exile in Babylon had left behind sons and daughters in Jerusalem and Judah, and, if Jerusalem were destroyed, it would mean death for those sons and daughters. Were not these things precious to these Jews who were involved? Would not the violent taking away of these things be a jarring shock to their sensibilities, stunning them? Would not a corresponding disaster today have the like effect upon those who are sympathetically involved with Christendom? That it would do so, the prophet Ezekiel was called upon to dramatize in a prophetic manner. How he did so he describes in these words:
19. Ezekiel was told to dramatize in what prophetic way the effect of the taking away of desirable things?
19 “And the word of Jehovah continued to occur to me, saying: ‘Son of man, here I am taking away from you the thing desirable to your eyes by a blow, and you should not beat your breast, neither should you weep nor should your tears come on. Sigh without words. For the dead ones no mourning should you make. Your headdress bind on yourself, and your sandals you should put upon your feet. And you should not cover over the mustache, and the bread of men you should not eat.’”—Ezekiel 24:15-17.
20. At Ezekiel’s having to act in that way, what question about him arises, and what would the strangeness of his acting thus indicate about some future blow?
20 Why act that way? What was about to happen? Was there to be a death that would affect Ezekiel? Evidently so, since it was something desirable to Ezekiel’s eyes that Jehovah would take away by a blow or stroke. Was it to be the wife of this thirty-four-year-old man? Events before midnight would reveal the victim of the blow or stroke. But after it occurred, Ezekiel was to offer no visible or audible sign of grief. He was to put on his headdress, all neatly tied up, and not letting any of it hang down over his face and cover his upper lip. He was not to go barefoot, as King David had long ago done in his grief. (2 Samuel 15:30) After the burial of the one taken away by the blow or stroke, Ezekiel was not to let his sympathizers prepare a consolation meal for him and thus give him something to eat. Why act in this strange, unusual way? It was in order to picture how stunned at a dire calamity a person could become, how expressionless. To produce such an effect the calamity would have to be specially severe, overwhelming.
21. Under the circumstances, why would Ezekiel have to exercise great self-control, and why did he offer no complaint?
21 In order to provide such a prophetic picture Ezekiel had to go through a hard, trying experience and exercise great self-control over his natural human emotions. But he was willing to have this take place if it meant for him to serve as Jehovah’s prophetic instrument, and he offered no complaint. How he obediently did what he was told to do and why, he tells us:
22. What happened to Ezekiel in the evening, how did he act, and what explanation from Jehovah did he give to the inquirers?
22 “And I proceeded to speak to the people in the morning, and my wife gradually died in the evening. So I did in the morning just as I had been commanded. And the people kept saying to me: ‘Will you not tell us what these things have to do with us, that you are doing?’ Then I said to them: ‘The very word of Jehovah has occurred to me, saying, “Say to the house of Israel: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, “Here I am profaning my sanctuary, the pride of your strength, the thing desirable to your eyes and the object of your soul’s compassion, and your sons and your daughters whom you people have left behind—by the sword they will fall. And you will have to do just as I have done. Mustaches you will not cover over, and the bread of men you will not eat. And your headdress will be on your heads, and your sandals be upon your feet. You will not beat yourselves nor will you weep, and you will have to rot away in your errors, and you will actually groan over one another. And Ezekiel has become for you a portent. In accord with all that he has done, you will do. When it comes, you will also have to know that I am the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.”’”’”—Ezekiel 24:18-24.
23. How, in 33 C.E., was Jesus Christ emotionally affected when foretelling and contemplating the destruction to come upon the then Jerusalem?
23 Years later, in 33 C.E. Jesus Christ foretold and contemplated the destruction that was to come upon the then Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E. with all its horrors. He “wept over it.” In tears he said: “If you, even you, had discerned in this day the things having to do with peace—but now they have been hid from your eyes. Because the days will come upon you when your enemies will build around you a fortification with pointed stakes and will encircle you and distress you from every side, and they will dash you and your children within you to the ground, and they will not leave a stone upon a stone in you, because you did not discern the time of your being inspected.” (Luke 19:41-44; 21:20-24) But Jesus Christ as an unmarried man was not called upon to enact a prophetic scene as Ezekiel was commanded to do.
24. How was the prophet Jeremiah affected and moved after experiencing the destruction of Jerusalem, and how would Ezekiel be affected when the news thereof reached him?
24 Obediently, Ezekiel did not mourn over the death of his wife, “the thing desirable to your eyes.” (Ezekiel 24:16) In the year 607 B.C.E. the prophet Jeremiah did mourn and lament over the destruction of Jerusalem and her temple. (Lamentations 1:1 to 5:22) When that calamity actually occurred, Ezekiel himself was not commanded to refrain from doing as Jeremiah did. When the news of the destruction of Jerusalem and her temple reached Ezekiel in Babylon it did not stun and benumb him.
25. Was destruction of Jerusalem and the things therein needed for Ezekiel to know Jehovah, and how about his fellow exiles?
25 It did not require the destruction of Jerusalem, her precious temple and her sons and daughters for Ezekiel to know, as God said, “that I am the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.” But as for the people of Israel, who did not know the identity of their God, either in Judah or in Babylon, they did have to be made to know that fact by a stunning blow delivered in the form of the destruction of holy city, temple, children. Never did they bring themselves to believe that Jehovah would profane his own sanctuary by letting pagan, idolatrous Babylonians capture, loot and destroy Solomon’s temple that had stood for 420 years. Jehovah did not spare what he described to them as “the pride of your strength, the thing desirable to your eyes and the object of your soul’s compassion”—whether that were Jehovah’s sanctuary at Jerusalem or their sons and daughters there. In such a stunning way they would have to know that the One who said he would do such a thing and the One who actually did it were one and the same Person, Jehovah. He is!
26. In the coming “great tribulation” upon Christendom, what scriptures show whether it is the true “sanctuary” of His that Jehovah will “profane”?
26 In the approaching “great tribulation” upon Christendom Jehovah’s true sanctuary is not what he will profane. “The God that made the world and all the things in it, being, as this One is, Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in handmade temples [or, sanctuaries].” (Acts 17:24, NW; AS, margin) Jehovah will not profane the antitypical spiritual “temple” in which his High Priest, Jesus Christ, presented to Him the merit of a perfect, human sacrifice in the year 33 C.E., this one appearing in the heavens before the very person of God to do so. (Hebrews 9:24-26) Nor will he profane the temple or sanctuary that He is now building and which is made up of “living stones”; this is his congregation of faithful anointed followers of his Son Jesus Christ, the chief “living stone.” (1 Peter 2:4-6) The apostle Paul when writing to those of this sanctuary class says: “For we are a temple of a living God; just as God said: ‘I shall reside among them and walk among them, and I shall be their God, and they will be my people.’” (2 Corinthians 6:16) “In union with him you, too, are being built up together into a place for God to inhabit by spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22) The anointed remnant of this sanctuary class make up the modern-day Ezekiel class used by Jehovah.
27. What “temple” must it be, then, that Jehovah will profane?
27 In view of this it must be the imitation temple class that God will profane, that is, the hypocritical religionists who falsely claim to make up God’s spiritual sanctuary.
28. At the destruction of Christendom, who are the ones that will be stunned, the anointed Ezekiel class or the hypocritical religionists, and why?
28 For decades now since the year 1919 C.E. this anointed remnant of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses have been forewarning of the destruction of Christendom according to the prophecies of Ezekiel and other writers of the inspired Bible. More and more they appreciate what this annihilation of Christendom will mean in the way of destruction of human lives and material properties considered sacred by religionists. But this Ezekiel class of Christians does not mourn and lament because of what all this “great tribulation” upon Christendom will mean. They know that it will never mean the destruction of Jehovah’s true sanctuary, the spiritual temple in which Jesus Christ presented the merit of his ransom sacrifice back in 33 C.E. Nor will it mean the destruction of the temple of “living stones” that Jehovah is now building. So the actual occurrence of this predicted disaster to Christendom will not stun them. They do not need this to occur for them to “know that I am the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.” The hypocritical religionists who ignore Jehovah and trust in things sacred to them are the ones destined to be stunned. They will have to know who Jehovah is.
THE REPORT IN VERIFICATION SURE TO COME!
29. How would the trueness of Ezekiel’s prophecy be confirmed, and how did Jehovah give to Ezekiel the reassurance of this?
29 ‘But what if it does not occur?’ someone not believing may exclaim. Never fear! The events of the future and the news reports that will come through will prove true the infallible prophecy uttered by Ezekiel. The reassurance was given that the trueness of the prophecy would be confirmed. It was given to Ezekiel, as Jehovah went on to say to him: “And as for you, O son of man, will it not be in the day of my taking away from them their fortress, the beautiful object of their exultation, the thing desirable to their eyes and the longing of their soul, their sons and their daughters, that in that day there will come to you the escaped one for making the ears hear? In that day your mouth will be opened to the escaped one, and you will speak and be mute no longer; and you will certainly become to them a portent, and they will have to know that I am Jehovah.”—Ezekiel 24:25-27.
30. Why was Ezekiel to be speechless from then on until the escaped one with the report arrived, and speechless to what extent?
30 Down to this point Ezekiel had said enough to his people. There was no need for him to add much more in order to make the divine prophecy sound more convincing, to make appear more imposing the certainty of his message. Jehovah had spoken it, and that in itself was enough. So now until the day of the coming of the authentic report of verification Ezekiel would be mute. Not speechless in the full sense, but only speechless as regards further prophesying about the disaster to befall Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah. The passing of the time until the coming of the escaped one with the report would be a time of testing.
31. So, was Jehovah going to notify Ezekiel directly at the time of Jerusalem’s downfall, and what were Ezekiel’s fellow exiles to be allowed to do?
31 Jehovah was not going to notify Ezekiel directly of the fall of Jerusalem on the day of this disaster as he had notified Ezekiel directly of the beginning of the Babylonian siege on the day that this occurred. Till the escaped one with the report finally arrived, let the Jewish exiles in Babylon think over what Ezekiel had prophesied to them. Let them keep on disbelieving, if they chose. Their unbelief would in due time be blasted to pieces by the arrival of an authentic eyewitness of Jerusalem’s downfall.
32. At the arrival of the news by the escapee, how would the hitherto doubters be affected, but what would happen to Ezekiel, and how would his position as prophet and witness be improved?
32 At that ear-tingling time the hitherto doubters and unbelievers would be stunned into silence, but Ezekiel’s muteness would end. He would then be in position to speak from a better background of events. He would have a new, fresh message. His authority as a true inspired prophet of Jehovah would have been established. As a “sign” man or as a “portent” of what was fast impending, he had not proved false. Like the words of Jehovah to him, “you will certainly become to them a portent,” Ezekiel will have no reason then to be ashamed of his God before his fellow exiles in Babylon. His role as a prophet and witness of Jehovah will be authenticated, and, as Ezekiel’s God said, “they will have to know that I am Jehovah.”—Ezekiel 24:27.
33. When will the Ezekiel class have said enough concerning the outcome of the “great tribulation,” and what about further opportunity for Christendom then?
33 Is this not something thrilling for us to contemplate, namely, the fulfillment of this prophetic drama within our generation? It will be definitely indicated when the “great tribulation,” like the siege against Jerusalem, begins upon her modern-time counterpart, Christendom. (Ezekiel 24:1-5) After that, the anointed Ezekiel class of today need say no more. What they will have already said concerning the outcome of that “great tribulation” will be enough. No hope can they hold out for the antitypical Jerusalem, Christendom. There is no further opportunity for her, nor for the hypocritical religionists related to her. The “great tribulation” must run its full course and take its full toll upon her.
34. What will then prove that the Ezekiel class was a timely portent to religionists, and what purpose of Jehovah will triumph?
34 Stunned will those incredulous religionists be when down goes “the beautiful object of their exultation, the thing desirable to their eyes and the longing of their soul, their sons and their daughters”! Reports that will come pouring in from all parts of the earth where Christendom now obtains will stamp as true that the anointed Ezekiel class was a timely “portent” from the Sovereign Lord of the universe. His stated purpose regarding the stunned religionists will then triumph, “They will have to know that I am Jehovah.”