FOCUS: Review principal themes of the book of Ezekiel and how they apply both today and in the future
1, 2. (a) What choice do we all face? (b) How did a faithful angel respond when offered worship?
EACH one of us must answer a crucial question: Whom will I worship? Many might say that this issue is complex and that the options are confusing. In reality, however, the choice is clear and simple. Either we worship Jehovah God or we worship Satan the Devil.
2 Satan craves worship. That became especially evident when he tempted Jesus. As discussed in Chapter 1 of this publication, Satan offered Jesus a remarkable prize—authority over all the kingdoms of the earth. What did the Devil want in return? “Do an act of worship to me,” he urged Jesus. (Matt. 4:9) By contrast, the angel who delivered the revelation to the apostle John refused to be venerated. (Read Revelation 22:8, 9.) When John offered to worship the angel, that humble spirit son of God responded: “Do not do that!” Instead of saying, ‘Worship me,’ the angel said, “Worship God.”
3. (a) What has been the goal of this publication? (b) What will we now consider?
3 The goal of this publication has been to strengthen our resolve to do as that angel commanded—worship Jehovah God exclusively. (Deut. 10:20; Matt. 4:10) Let us briefly review what we have learned about pure worship from Ezekiel’s prophecies and visions. Then, with the help of the Scriptures, we will peer into the future to the time when every person on earth will face a final test—a test that will determine who will live to see pure worship of Jehovah fully restored for all time.
Three Themes Emphasized in the Book of Ezekiel
4. What three themes are emphasized in the book of Ezekiel?
4 The book of Ezekiel teaches us that pure worship does not involve performing mere formal rituals. It requires that we (1) offer Jehovah exclusive devotion, (2) remain united in clean worship, and (3) demonstrate love for others. Consider how the prophecies and visions discussed in this publication highlight these three themes.
First theme: Offer Jehovah exclusive devotion
5-9. What have we learned about offering Jehovah exclusive devotion?
5 Chapter 3:a The stunning vision of Jehovah surrounded by a rainbow and riding above powerful spirit creatures impresses on us a fundamental fact—the Almighty alone is worthy of our worship.—Ezek. 1:4, 15-28.
6 Chapter 5: How shocking it was to see the vision of Jehovah’s temple being defiled! The vision demonstrates that nothing is hidden from Jehovah. He sees disloyal acts, such as when his people turn to worshipping idols, even when the acts are hidden from human eyes. He is hurt by such acts and punishes those who practice them.—Ezek. 8:1-18.
7 Chapter 7: The judgments pronounced against the surrounding nations that treated Israel with “utter scorn” prove that Jehovah holds accountable those who mistreat his people. (Ezek. 25:6) But we also learn another lesson from Israel’s dealings with those nations—we must put loyalty to Jehovah above all else. Never would we lower our standards to fit in with relatives who do not worship Jehovah; nor would we place our trust in wealth or compromise our neutrality by giving to human governments the allegiance that only Jehovah deserves.
8 Chapters 13 and 14: The vision of the temple on the lofty mountain teaches us that we must live up to Jehovah’s elevated standards, recognizing that he is above all other gods.—Ezek. 40:1–48:35.
9 Chapter 15: The prophetic descriptions of Israel and Judah as being like prostitutes remind us of just how repugnant spiritual adultery is to Jehovah.—Ezek., chaps. 16, 23.
Second theme: Remain united in clean worship
10-14. How has the need for us to remain united in clean worship been emphasized?
10 Chapter 8: The prophecies promising that Jehovah would raise up “one shepherd” to care for His people stress the need for us to work unitedly and peaceably under Jesus’ leadership.—Ezek. 34:23, 24; 37:24-28.
11 Chapter 9: Ezekiel’s prophecies about God’s people being released from Babylonian captivity and restored to their homeland contain a message for those who want to please Jehovah today. Clean worshippers of Jehovah must break free from and remain free from the contaminating influence of false religion. Despite coming from countless religious, economic, and ethnic backgrounds, we must maintain the unity that helps identify us as God’s people.—Ezek. 11:17, 18; 12:24; John 17:20-23.
12 Chapter 10: The theme of unity was highlighted by the vision of the dry bones coming to life. What a privilege we have to be among the restored group of cleansed worshippers who work together as an army!—Ezek. 37:1-14.
13 Chapter 12: Unity was especially emphasized by the prophecy of the two sticks becoming one. How faith-strengthening it is to see the anointed and the other sheep fulfill that prophecy! Despite living in a world divided by religious and political hatred, we remain bound together by love and loyalty.—Ezek. 37:15-23.
14 Chapter 16: The vision of the man with the inkhorn and the men with smashing weapons contains a sobering warning—only those who enter the “great tribulation” as pure worshippers will be in a position to be marked for survival.—Matt. 24:21; Ezek. 9:1-11.
Third theme: Demonstrate love for others
15-18. Why must we continue to demonstrate love, and how can we do so?
15 Chapter 4: The vision of the four living creatures taught us about Jehovah’s qualities, the foremost being love. When we speak and act in a loving manner, we prove that Jehovah is our God.—Ezek. 1:5-14; 1 John 4:8.
16 Chapters 6 and 11: God’s love motivated him to commission watchmen, such as Ezekiel. Because God is love, he does not want any to be destroyed when he brings an end to Satan’s domination of the earth. (2 Pet. 3:9) We have the privilege of reflecting God’s love by fulfilling our responsibility to support the work of the modern-day watchman.—Ezek. 33:1-9.
17 Chapters 17 and 18: Jehovah knows that many will reject his mercy and will attempt to wipe out his loyal worshippers. Love will move Jehovah to defend his people when “Gog of the land of Magog” launches an attack on those who are loyal to Him. Love for others motivates us to warn as many as possible that Jehovah will destroy those who oppress his people.—Ezek. 38:1–39:20; 2 Thess. 1:6, 7.
18 Chapters 19, 20, and 21: Jehovah’s love for people is strikingly evident in the visions depicting the stream of life-giving water and the apportioning of the land. The visions describe the results of Jehovah’s greatest act of love, giving the life of his Son so that we might have our sins forgiven and enjoy perfect life as part of God’s family. One of the best ways to show our love for people is to tell them about the beautiful future Jehovah has prepared for those who put faith in his Son.—Ezek. 45:1-7; 47:1–48:35; Rev. 21:1-4; 22:17.
After the Millennial Reign, a Remarkable Act of Humility
19. What will Jesus do during the Thousand Year Reign? (See the box “Facing the Final Test.”)
19 During the Thousand Year Reign, Jesus will bring billions back to life and heal the pain caused by our “enemy, death.” (1 Cor. 15:26; Mark 5:38-42; Acts 24:15) The history of mankind has been like a heartbreaking story filled with sadness and loss. But as each generation is brought back to life, Jesus will be erasing the tragic story and giving the resurrected ones the opportunity to write a better story. On the basis of the ransom sacrifice, he will undo all the harm caused by sickness, war, disease, and famine. More than that, he will help us dig out and destroy the root cause of our sorrow—the sin we inherited from Adam. (Rom. 5:18, 19) Jesus will completely “break up the works of the Devil.” (1 John 3:8) What takes place then?
Resurrected ones will have the opportunity to write a better story
20. How will Jesus and the 144,000 display remarkable humility? Explain. (See opening picture.)
20 Read 1 Corinthians 15:24-28. When all mankind has perfect life, when the earth has finally been transformed into the Paradise that Jehovah originally intended, Jesus and his 144,000 corulers will display remarkable humility; they will hand over the Kingdom to Jehovah. Willingly, peacefully, they will give up the authority they exercised for the thousand years. All that the Kingdom accomplished will last forever.
The Final Test
21, 22. (a) What will the world be like at the end of the thousand years? (b) Why will Jehovah release Satan and the demons?
21 Jehovah will then do something extraordinary, something that expresses great confidence in his earthly subjects. He will direct that Satan and the demons be released from the abyss in which they have been confined for the thousand years. (Read Revelation 20:1-3.) The world that greets them will be vastly different from the one they knew. Before Armageddon, the majority of mankind was misled by Satan and the unity of the human race was fractured by hate and prejudice. (Rev. 12:9) But at the end of the thousand years, all mankind will be worshipping Jehovah as a united, loving family. The earth will be one harmonious Paradise.
22 Why will Jehovah release such criminals as Satan and the demons into this clean environment? Because the majority of those alive at the end of the thousand years will never have had their loyalty as faithful worshippers of Jehovah tested. Most died without knowing Jehovah and were then resurrected into Paradise. Jehovah not only gave them life but also provided for all their physical and spiritual needs. They will have experienced no negative influences, only positive peer pressure. They will have been surrounded by people who love and serve Jehovah. Satan could hurl at these resurrected ones the same accusation he leveled at Job—they serve God only because he protects and blesses them. (Job 1:9, 10) So before Jehovah writes our names permanently in the book of life, he will allow us a chance to prove beyond doubt that we are loyal to him as our Father and Sovereign.—Rev. 20:12, 15.
23. What issue will each individual face?
23 For a brief period, Satan will be given an opportunity to lure mankind away from serving God. What will that test be? No doubt, each individual will face an issue similar to the one that confronted Adam and Eve—either accept Jehovah’s standards, support his rulership, and worship him or rebel against God and support Satan.
24. Why are those who rebel called Gog and Magog?
24 Read Revelation 20:7-10. Significantly, those who rebel at the end of the thousand years are called Gog and Magog. They exhibit traits similar to those shown by the rebels who Ezekiel prophesied would attack God’s people during the great tribulation. That earlier horde, “Gog of the land of Magog,” was divided into nations that opposed Jehovah’s rule. (Ezek. 38:2) Similarly, those who rebel at the end of Christ’s Millennial Rule are described as “nations.” This is a telling description. Why? Because during the Thousand Year Reign, all nationalistic divisions will have been removed; all people will be subjects of one government, God’s Kingdom. We will belong to one spiritual nation. By calling these rebels Gog and Magog and saying that they are “nations,” the prophecy indicates that Satan will be successful in fostering divisions among some of God’s people. None will be forced to take Satan’s side. Each perfect individual will make his or her own choice.
25, 26. How many will join Satan, and what will happen to them?
25 How many will join Satan? The number of those who rebel are “as the sand of the sea.” This expression does not necessarily mean that a large percentage of mankind will rebel. How do we know? Consider the promise made to Abraham. Jehovah said that Abraham’s offspring would become like “the grains of sand on the seashore.” (Gen. 22:17, 18) Yet, the number who made up his offspring ended up being 144,001 individuals. (Gal. 3:16, 29) That figure, while significant, is only a fraction of the total number of mankind. Similarly, the number who join Satan may be significant, but it will not be overwhelming. The rebels will pose no great threat to Jehovah’s loyal servants.
26 Those who join the rebellion will quickly be wiped out. Along with Satan and the demons, they will cease to exist—with no prospect of ever coming back to life. Only their bad decisions and the consequences of those decisions will be remembered for all time.—Rev. 20:10.
27-29. What awaits those who pass the final test?
27 On the other hand, those who pass the final test will have their names permanently inscribed in “the book of life.” (Rev. 20:15) Then, as a united family, all of Jehovah’s loyal sons and daughters will give him the worship he so rightly deserves.
28 Think of that future. Ahead of you is a life of rewarding work and enriching friendships. Never again will you or your loved ones need to suffer. On your own merit, you will stand before Jehovah completely without sin. Every person will have an unrestricted friendship with God. And most important of all, in heaven and on earth, pure worship will be carried out in perfection. That will be the ultimate restoration of pure worship!
29 Will you be there to see that great day? You can be if you continue to apply the three key lessons from the book of Ezekiel—offer Jehovah exclusive devotion, remain united in clean worship, and demonstrate love for others. The prophecies of Ezekiel offer one final, fundamental lesson. What is that?
“Know That I Am Jehovah”
30, 31. What will the declaration “they will have to know that I am Jehovah” mean (a) to God’s enemies? (b) to God’s people?
30 Throughout the book of Ezekiel, the declaration “they will have to know that I am Jehovah” recurs like a drum beat. (Ezek. 6:10; 39:28) For God’s enemies, that declaration will mean war and death. They will be compelled to do more than acknowledge that Jehovah exists. They will learn the hard way the meaning of his great name—“He Causes to Become.” “Jehovah of armies” will become “a powerful warrior” who will fight against them. (1 Sam. 17:45; Ex. 15:3) Too late, they will understand an essential truth about Jehovah: Nothing can stop him from fulfilling his purpose.
31 To God’s people, the declaration “they will have to know that I am Jehovah” will mean peace and life. Jehovah will cause us to become what he originally intended us to be—sons and daughters who perfectly reflect his qualities. (Gen. 1:26) Already, Jehovah has become to us a loving Father and a protective Shepherd. Soon he will become our conquering King. Before that day arrives, let us take to heart Ezekiel’s message. Let us prove by our words and actions each day that we know who Jehovah is and what he stands for. Then, when the destructive winds of the great tribulation are released, we will not be afraid. On the contrary, we will lift our heads up, for we will know that our deliverance is near. (Luke 21:28) In the meantime, may we help people everywhere to know and love the only God worthy of worship, the One with the greatest of all names—Jehovah.—Ezek. 28:26.
a The chapter numbers refer to chapters in this publication.