Questions From Readers
● Ezekiel 3:18 shows that if the watchman did not give the warning the wicked would die, but the blood would be required of the unfaithful watchman. Does this not conflict with Jesus’ words that if human preachers remained silent the stones would cry out?—R. J., Indonesia.
There is no conflict, because the two scriptures are referring to different things, and hence are not comparable. Ezekiel 3:18 shows the responsibility of Jehovah’s watchman class to sound the warning. If the warning was not sounded and the wicked perished, it would be no injustice, for the wicked would die in his own iniquity. Nevertheless, heavy responsibility would rest upon the silent watchmen. The prophecies show, however, that the good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth as a warning before Armageddon strikes. The watchman class will faithfully perform the work to the extent Jehovah considers necessary, and by Armageddon all will come under individual or family or community responsibility before God. Any individuals of the watchman class that refuse to sound the warning will be held responsible by God and will be executed for this failure that would allow others to die without a warning.
It was a different situation when Jesus entered Jerusalem and offered himself as King. Of this entry we read: “As soon as he got near the road down the Mount of Olives all the multitude of the disciples started to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice concerning all the powerful works they had seen, saying: ‘Blessed is the One coming as the King in Jehovah’s name! Peace in heaven, and glory in the heights above!’ However, some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to him: ‘Teacher, reprove your disciples.’ But in reply he said: ‘I tell you, If these remained silent, the stones would cry out.’” (Luke 19:37-40, NW) He was not here saying that if all the preachers he had taught and trained remained silent the stones would do the preaching work, but rather he was referring to the particular declaration his disciples were here making and to which the Pharisees objected. His disciples were voicing the words foretold for utterance on this very occasion, by Psalm 118:26. That prophetic psalm inspired by Jehovah would certainly be fulfilled for Jehovah’s words do not return to him void. (Isa. 55:11) If it was made necessary by a forced silence upon the disciples, the very stones would have cried out in fulfillment of Psalm 118:26.
Incidentally, it is understood that Jesus meant literal stones. God could make them cry out in fulfillment of prophecy more easily than we can play a phonograph record. Habakkuk 2:11 speaks of a stone crying out of the wall in testimony against the person who built it at a cost of robbing and oppressing and killing others. It would be incorrect to say the stones here meant were angels, which are spoken of as “stones of fire.” (Ezek. 28:14) Jesus was not here speaking in obscure or symbolic terms, but in simple, forceful, literal expression. Nor did Jesus here have in mind the science of archaeology, which in recent times has corroborated much Bible history and prophecy, sometimes by means of discovered monuments or other stone objects. There were specific words that had to be spoken on that occasion back there, and if Jesus’ disciples had not uttered them the very stones would have.
Hence that statement of Jesus about the stones applied back there and to the modern parallel of Jesus’ being offered as the Foundation Stone for Zion in 1918, whereas Ezekiel 3:18 applies at this time to giving the warning of Armageddon. The two texts, referring to different things, cannot be compared as if they were parallels. The warning must be given now. A watchman class will now give it, because faithful watchmen will, although unfaithful watchmen may fail to do so. The prophecies show that Jehovah’s faithful witnesses will accomplish it under the direction of Christ Jesus.—Matt. 24:14; Acts 1:8.