Has the King’s Secretary Called on You Recently?
“There was one man in among them clothed with linen, with a secretary’s inkhorn at his hips.”—Ezek. 9:2.
1. What questions might you raise with regard to a call by the King’s secretary, and are the answers to such questions of importance?
FOR a number of years now the King’s secretary has been making his calls at the homes of the people. Has he called on you recently? It may be that you are surprised at the question. You may say: ‘No one identifying himself as the King’s secretary called on me at any time.’ But it may be that, because of the fear of opening the door to an unexpected caller in these dangerous times, you kept your door shut and locked. Or, if you did open the door at his call, you did not recognize him as the King’s secretary. Your not identifying him does not rule out the likelihood that he called on you. His work is very urgent, and he was calling on you in your interest. ‘How was I to know?’ you may exclaim. ‘Tell me, just who is this King, and who is his secretary? And what is his business in calling?’ The answers to these questions of yours are very important in these days of uncertainty when some emergency or contingency is bound to happen.
2. What king is here involved, and why was the sending of his secretary forth to the people something to be looked for in our day?
2 Our unusual question can be understood in the light of the circumstances under which it is framed. The world situation of today is not altogether new. Long ago there was a situation like it, but on a miniature scale. It is therefore a warning example for us today, and that is why it was recorded in ancient history in order that its lesson might not be lost. We today need the lesson, and for our lasting good we need to take it to heart and heed it. Just like back there in the typical situation, the greatest King of all is implicated at the present time, yes, the very same King. The secretary whom he has now sent out corresponds with the one whom He commissioned to go forth long ago for the sake of the people in their need. How many kings on earth will do such a thing? At least this great King has done so. He foreshadowed that he would do so in our times by what he did long ago under like circumstances. For our enlightenment and guidance today, He took care that a genuine accurate record was made of it.
3. Two thousand five hundred and eighty-two years ago, what was the situation with respect to world power and a kingdom with a long line of kings in one family, and why did the event that befell that kingdom prove to be of world importance?
3 Let us now turn to the record and transport ourselves back 2,582 years to the year 612 before our Common Era. A new mighty world power (Babylon) had lately taken the dominant position in the realm of world politics. A kingdom that had ruled for 465 years in the one royal family since 1077 B.C.E. was about to be destroyed. It had but five years yet to go according to the way that history worked out. So, in actuality, its capital city—Jerusalem—was destroyed in 607 B.C.E., and along with it the temple of the kingdom’s God. This event was to affect the whole world of mankind, for then a period of 2,520 years was to begin during which the Babylonian World Power, the Medo-Persian World Power, the Grecian World Power, the Roman World Power, and the Anglo-American World Power were to dominate all mankind in succession.
4. In what way was that period of world domination to be an uninterrupted one, when did it end, and why is the year 612 B.C.E. of interest to us today?
4 The domination of the earth by those world powers was not to be interrupted by the Supreme Power of the Universe by means of any kingdom of His establishment. Historically, that long period of uninterrupted political world domination ended in the year 1914 C.E., when international war broke out that finally engulfed twenty-eight nations, including the dual world power of Britain and America, namely, the first world war of human history. Hence we can now appreciate that that year of long ago to which our attention is here directed—612 B.C.E.—was a crucial year for that time and foreshadowed a crucial time for now.
5. What was the location of ten thousand Jews in that year 612 B.C.E., and what experience did Ezekiel have in a vision in that year?
5 Already, in 612 B.C.E., there were ten thousand individuals from Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah who had been deported from there into exile in Babylon. (2 Ki. 24:14) These included men who became prophets of Jehovah God, namely, Daniel and Ezekiel a son of Buzi the priest. (Dan. 1:1-6; Ezek. 1:1-3) The year 612 B.C.E. was the sixth year of the exile of these two deportees. In that year the prophet Ezekiel had a vision. Bodily, he remained in a place called Tel-abib near the river Chebar in Babylonia, but in spirit or by inspiration he was transported back to Jerusalem. (Ezek. 3:15; 8:1-4) In this vision he was taken on a tour through the temple that had been built by King Solomon the son of David, for the worship of Jehovah as the God of the Kingdom of Israel. Jehovah forbids the use of any images or pictures in the worship of him as the invisible God; and yet here at the temple dedicated to the worship of this God of heaven and earth the prophet Ezekiel saw images and wall pictures being used in the worship of false gods. For instance, one of the sights Ezekiel saw was this:
6. In this temple tour, what did Ezekiel see seventy elders of Israel doing there?
6 “Look! there was every representation of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the dungy idols of the house of Israel, the carving being upon the wall all round about. And seventy men of the elderly ones of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing in among them, were standing before them, each one with his censer in his hand, and the perfume of the cloud of the incense was ascending. And he proceeded to say to me: ‘Have you seen, O son of man, what the elderly ones of the house of Israel are doing in the darkness, each one in the inner rooms of his showpiece? For they are saying, “Jehovah is not seeing us. Jehovah has left the land.”’”—Ezek. 8:10-12.
7. What was Jehovah justified in bringing upon those seventy idolatrous elders, and why so?
7 Time would tell, and that very soon, whether those seventy elders inside Jehovah’s temple were correct in saying such things and in expecting to go unpunished for degrading and polluting Jehovah’s house of worship in this way. In a detestable way they were breaking the first and second of the Ten Commandments. Jehovah is a “jealous God” in the sense of demanding exclusive devotion and not sharing His glory with false gods and His praise with idolatrous images. Upon all the practicers of false worship right in His own temple at Jerusalem, Jehovah was justified in bringing the punishment for their error and iniquity. (Ex. 20:1-6; Isa. 42:8) That he was unchangeably set to do so, he indicated to his prophet Ezekiel. After letting Ezekiel become an eyewitness to even the practice of sun worship in His temple, Jehovah said to him:
8. In what words did Jehovah indicate that he was set to bring due punishment?
8 “I myself also shall act in rage. My eye [which those seventy elders thought was blind] will not feel sorry, neither shall I feel compassion. And they will certainly call out in my ears with a loud voice, but I shall not hear them.”—Ezek. 8:13-18.
9. In this regard, what proves that Jehovah is not a God to be tampered with, and so what question do we ask about individuals?
9 What shall we, who live in a similar crucial time, say to this? Shall we ask, Is Jehovah a pitiless God? Will he show no mercy to anyone in the coming climax of our own critical situation? We cannot blame him in the least for leaving the hypocritical and false worshipers to the consequences of their own wrong practices. And because Jehovah has plainly told all of us that he does this very thing, we should appreciate that He is not a God to be tampered with. The people of the prophet Ezekiel found that out, this historical fact proving that he is a real, live God, that he is in truth the only living and true God in all existence. The present-day generation of mankind is going to find that out also! But what hope is there for divine pity toward any individuals of this generation? From what took place in the case of Jerusalem of Ezekiel’s day we can find out. So let us listen to what Ezekiel now has to tell us:
ATTENTION TO BE GIVEN TO THE CITY—HOW?
10, 11. (a) Who was the one that called out in Ezekiel’s hearing, and from where? (b) Why did he have the right to issue commands respecting the city?
10 “And he proceeded to call out in my ears with a loud voice, saying: ‘Have those giving their attention to the city come near, each one with his weapon in his hand for bringing ruin!”’
11 It is Jehovah who is issuing this command in Ezekiel’s hearing. (Ezek. 9:1) Where is He? There He is, seated on that glorious throne that rides on that chariot with fearfully high wheels, with a heavenly cherub alongside each of the four wheels. (Ezek. 8:2-4; 10:1, 2) He has the right to issue orders respecting the city of Jerusalem, for He is a King. He is “the King of eternity.” (1 Tim. 1:17, New World Translation; Moffatt; Rev. 15:3) He was really the invisible King of Ezekiel’s nation; and the anointed king that sat upon the throne of Jerusalem was said to sit upon “Jehovah’s throne,” as the visible representative of Jehovah the invisible King. (1 Chron. 29:23; Ezek. 20:33) Jesus Christ called the Jerusalem of his day “the city of the great King.” (Matt. 5:35) So he had the supreme royal right to give orders as to how the city of Jerusalem was to be disposed of. According to the next vision in this series of visions to Ezekiel, Jerusalem was to be burned down. (Ezek. 10:1-7; 2 Ki. 25:8, 9; 2 Chron. 36:17-19) But before the city was razed to the ground, what was to be done to its inhabitants?
12. What questions arise as to those weapons for bringing to ruin, and who are the ones not meant by the expression “those giving their attention to the city,” and why not?
12 As respects these inhabitants of Jerusalem, it sounded ominous when Jehovah the invisible King was heard to call out with a loud commanding voice: “Have those giving their attention to the city come near, each one with his weapon in his hand for bringing ruin!” (Ezek. 9:1) Upon whom were those weapons for a ruination to be used? Upon Jerusalem’s own inhabitants? Upon all of them? Those armed with such weapons for a ruination were spoken of as “those giving their attention to the city.” That description did not mean the then reigning king, Zedekiah, nor his governmental princes nor the military commanders nor the high priest and the second priest of the temple. These would not turn ruinous weapons upon their own people in Jerusalem. Who, then, were the armed men?
13. Who, then, were those armed men in the vision, and what, therefore, must be said about the Babylonian armed forces?
13 Being subject to Jehovah, who was about to “act in rage,” they were His executioners, who were to execute his judicial decisions upon Jerusalem’s inhabitants, in that way “giving their attention to the city.” Although in the vision they appeared as men, they were really holy angels of Jehovah to be used in executing His adverse judgments upon the city’s inhabitants. According to history, the armed forces of Babylon were used visibly in executing Jehovah’s judgments upon the rebellious city, but these were not the ones pictured in Ezekiel’s vision. These Babylonians were merely employed by the heavenly angels against Jerusalem.
14. How many armed men came at Jehovah’s call, and from what direction?
14 At Jehovah’s royal command, how many armed men put in appearance, and from what direction did they come? Ezekiel tells us, saying: “And, look! there were six men coming from the direction of the upper gate that faces to the north, each one with his weapon for smashing in his hand; and there was one man in among them clothed with linen, with a secretary’s inkhorn at his hips, and they proceeded to come in and stand beside the copper altar.”—Ezek. 9:2.
15. (a) Who really were those visionary “six men,” and what did the direction from which they came forebode? (b) How was triumph for Jehovah’s determination to “act in rage” over resistance shown?
15 There were six men with weapons for smashing in their hands. Not many, but, as they represented angels, they had superhuman powers that were more than a match for the thousands of inhabitants inside Jerusalem. So, their being six in number did not mean that there was anything imperfect about them or that they were inadequate for work as executioners. We notice that these six executioners come “from the direction of the upper gate that faces to the north.” This was a foreboding of the fact that the Babylonian armies would march against Jerusalem from the north, to serve as instruments on earth for Jehovah’s executional angels. From the south there came up the armies of Pharaoh of Egypt in response to the appeal of King Zedekiah of Jerusalem, but these allied forces were beaten back by the Babylonians. Jehovah’s determination to “act in rage” for the destruction of Jerusalem was not to be thwarted. The symbolic “six men” with weapons for smashing whom He had called to give “attention to the city” had divine support and were bound to triumph over all resistance.
16. In view of this circumstance, what are the nations really facing in the near future?
16 Let not the force of that prophetic circumstance be lost on us today. What this present worldwide system of things is facing up to in the near future is not mere human forces of destruction and demolition. What these radical, anarchistic, nihilistic, disorderly human elements may fail to break down and obliterate, Jehovah’s superhuman angelic armies for the executing of his “rage” against this wicked system of things will wipe out. Every vestige of this corrupt, polluted system of things must perish!
17. What reasons are there as to whether this includes Christendom or not, and why do the people of Christendom have reason to be alarmed?
17 Christendom also? Yes, for she is today the dominant section of this system of things. Moreover, she is the particular organization that is pictured by ancient unfaithful Jerusalem and its domain, the land of Judah. She is the religious organization that claims to worship the God of the Holy Bible, who is named Jehovah. She claims to recognize Jesus, the Son of Jehovah God, as being the Christ, and for that reason she has chosen to be called Christendom. But, like ancient Jerusalem, she has broken her religious covenant with Jehovah and has corrupted herself with the pagan religions of this world and hence does not practice true Christianity. Her religious name will not protect her. The solemn hour draws near when the prophetic “six men” will ‘give attention to Christendom’ with their weapons for smashing. You people of Christendom, this is indeed something for you to be alarmed about!
18. When is this smashing due, can it be avoided, and what question arises as to us individuals?
18 The shattering, the smashing to pieces, of this entire system of things, including Christendom, is a dead certainty that is due within this generation. There will be no avoiding this world catastrophe that comes from the hand of Jehovah, the universal King who rides on his celestial chariot to the full execution of his judgments. Is there anything that we can individually do about it—now, before those symbolic “six men” start smashing worldly things with their weapons for a ruination? In order to know, let us examine further the prophetic drama that the prophet Ezekiel saw in vision.
IDENTIFYING THE KING’S SECRETARY
19. How many men came from the north and stood beside the altar, and were they all armed?
19 Let us take note that there were not just “six men” that came from the north and entered the temple courtyard and stood beside the copper altar of sacrifice. There were seven. Also, the seventh man was not armed like the other six. Ezekiel says: “And there was one man in among them clothed with linen, with a secretary’s inkhorn at his hips.” (Ezek. 9:2) Who is he anyhow?
20. Who was that seventh man, and was he in the service of King Zedekiah of Jerusalem?
20 Why, that is the King’s secretary. His nonmilitary attire together with his inkhorn containing pen and ink identifies him as being a secretary. He too must give his attention to the city, and since he was summoned by the One seated enthroned upon the celestial chariot, he must be the secretary of Jehovah, whose earthly visible throne at Jerusalem was then occupied by King Zedekiah of the royal family of David. He is the secretary, not of rebellious King Zedekiah, but of the King of Eternity, Jehovah. Who was he back there in Ezekiel’s day, or who is he today?
21. What may be said as to whether the linen-clad man was an angel or not, and was an effect like that produced by him in the vision accomplished back in Ezekiel’s time?
21 Since he was in among the “six men” who represented angels of heaven for the execution of Jehovah’s judgments, does he also represent a heavenly angel or angelic band? If he were an unseen heavenly angel, how would you know whether he had called on you recently? But, according to the work that Jehovah assigns him to do, he apparently pictures something here visibly on earth used in a peaceful way. Well, then, he stands for a man, does he not? Well, looking back to Ezekiel’s time, we have no record in the Bible of any one man literally doing the work that this man “clothed with linen” was told to do. The prophet Jeremiah, who was back there in Jerusalem, did not do so. Ezekiel did not do so, for he got back to Jerusalem only in vision, by the spirit of inspiration from Jehovah. But though no literal man with a secretary’s inkhorn was then seen going through Jerusalem doing the work that Ezekiel saw in vision, the beneficial effect of such a secretary’s work showed up just as if a literal man had gone through the city and done the work assigned. So the man with the inkhorn was just a pictorial device to point to an accomplishment by God back there.
22. For whom or when was the primary fulfillment of this vision to be, and who, then, is the King’s secretary today?
22 How, though, about our day? It becomes clear that the vision of the man with the secretary’s inkhorn was meant to have application primarily for our day, for the benefit of us “upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived.” (1 Cor. 10:11) Back in Ezekiel’s day no single man was depicted, although an individual man could have done the job within ancient walled Jerusalem during the time that yet remained before the city was destroyed. But when we consider that the antitypical “city” of today is Christendom, with her worldwide dimensions, we can appreciate that it is no one man’s job. It must be the work of a group of men over years of time. Hence, for our day, the visionary man “clothed with linen, with a secretary’s inkhorn at his hips,” must picture a modern composite man, that is, a united group of men, all working together under one headship in the one same work, with the same one end in view, in the service of Jehovah, “the King of eternity.” Such is the King’s secretary of our day.
23, 24. (a) Why are the natural Jews not fulfilling the vision of the linen-clad man? (b) Are the clergy of Christendom doing the secretarial work for Jehovah, and what is the reason?
23 Just because this composite “secretary” is in Jehovah’s service, it does not today mean a Jewish group of people. Jehovah was the God of their forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and of Moses, but the circumcised natural Jews or Israelites of today are certainly not in Jehovah’s service today. Unfortunately they exclude themselves from this, because they do not accept the impaled and resurrected Jesus as being the Messiah or Christ, the Son of Jehovah God. Furthermore, they as Jews would not be doing throughout Christendom the Christian work that fulfills the work done by the man “clothed with linen” who was seen in Ezekiel’s vision. Neither are the clergymen of Christendom acting as a united body in doing the secretarial work of Jehovah God. Those clergymen see no need for such a work, for they do not believe that Christendom is shortly to be destroyed by Jehovah by the hands of his angels under his Son Jesus Christ. For example, what did the Roman Catholic pope of Vatican City say this past Easter Sunday, April 11, 1971?
24 Under date of the next day the New York Times published the special dispatch datelined “Rome, April 11,” and said: “Pope Paul VI in a hopeful Easter message said today, ‘The great ideas which are the guiding lights of the modern world shall not be put out.’ ‘The unity of the world shall be achieved,’ the Pope asserted. . . . In what he termed his ‘Message of Hope,’ the Pontiff said: ‘The dignity of the human person shall be recognized not only formally but effectively. The inviolability of life from that in the mother’s womb to that of old age shall have general and effective support. Unworthy social inequalities shall be overcome. Relationships between peoples shall be peaceful, reasonable and fraternal.”’
25. Why is the modern-day realization of the composite man with the secretary’s inkhorn not found in religious groups of Christendom, but what are available to identify such one?
25 In disbelief of the Bible prophecies for our time, the religious clergy and groups of Christendom work, hope and pray for her perpetuation with all of her detestable things. The modern realization of the prophetic man with the secretary’s inkhorn is not to be found in such religious groups of Christendom. Who, then, has been doing the work of the modern-day composite man “clothed with linen”? The historic facts as published throughout the earth are at hand to identify who that composite “man” is.
26. Who, then, is the King’s secretary, as became manifest in the year 1931 and thereafter?
26 It is that small body of dedicated, baptized Christians who, in the year 1931, recognized the impending destruction of Christendom and therefore the need for the work of the “man clothed with the linen” to be done in its modern application. On July 30, 1931, at the general convention of these anointed Christians in Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A., at 3:00 p.m., the lecture “The Man with the Writer’s Inkhorn” began to be delivered and immediately after the close of this lecture the book Vindication explaining Ezekiel, chapters 1 through 24, was released to the thousands there gathered in convention. Just four days prior to this, or on Sunday, July 26, 1931, this convention of spirit-anointed Christians embraced as a distinguishing name for themselves as Christians the designation “Jehovah’s witnesses.” Not just the name, but the work carried out by them since then proves that this anointed remnant of Christian witnesses of the Most High God are unmistakably the twentieth-century fulfillment of the man “clothed with linen, with a secretary’s inkhorn.” So this is the modern “King’s secretary.” Has he called on you recently?
27, 28. (a) In Ezekiel’s vision, what shows whether the linen-clad man received orders from men in some men’s scheme? (b) Of the group of seven, who was to act first, and orders were issued to do what?
27 That the work of this anointed remnant is not some man’s scheme but originates with Jehovah God is well pictured in the vision seen by Ezekiel. Showing from where the “man clothed with the linen” received his instructions, Ezekiel tells what he saw and heard, saying: “And as regards the glory of the God of Israel, it was taken up from over the cherubs over which it happened to be to the threshold of the house [the temple sanctuary], and he began calling out to the man that was clothed with the linen, at whose hips there was the secretary’s inkhorn.”—Ezek. 9:3; 10:2.
28 Thus Jehovah’s glory moved from the platform that was above the wheels alongside of which the four cherubs were located and it took its position over the threshold of the Most Holy compartment of the temple of Jerusalem. Jehovah was now indeed in his holy temple, and it was from Him there that the “man clothed with the linen” was told what to do. It was not from the unfaithful priests of the polluted temple. This man was to move into action first, before the “six men” armed with weapons for smashing did. What was he to do ahead of those six executioners? Jehovah says: “Pass through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and you must put a mark on the foreheads of the men that are sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done in the midst of it.”—Ezek. 9:4.
29. Why was the linen-clad man not told to do marking work in the temple, and why was he sent through the midst of Jerusalem?
29 Jehovah did not tell this man to pass through the temple and do the marking. There were no foreheads to mark there, for the prophet Ezekiel during his inspection tour had been shown that the worshipers there in the temple were practicing false worship, with some women weeping over the false god Tammuz and not over the detestable things that were being done in the temple and in the midst of Jerusalem. (Ezek. 8:13, 14) Hence the “man clothed with the linen” was ordered to go outside the temple and “through the midst of Jerusalem.” Jehovah saw that throughout unfaithful Jerusalem there were persons “sighing and groaning over all the detestable things” being done in the midst of it.
30. How would the linen-clad man locate the individuals of the right kind, and for what reason were they marked in the place designated?
30 How would the “man clothed with the linen” locate such individuals who were thus “sighing and groaning”? Not just by going to the public square or to the marketplace, but to the homes of the people, going from house to house. In that way he would be able to hear their heartfelt expressions and decide whether they should be marked on the forehead or not. This was no speedy operation, by any means, but called for patiently and conscientiously going from house to house or from door to door and making an honest inspection, showing no partiality but marking only those who sincerely grieved at all the detestable things that others were doing inside the royal city. The “man clothed with the linen” did not ask these to bare their bosom and then pen a mark over their hearts. No, but he put the distinguishing mark upon their foreheads where it could be publicly seen by friend or foe. This mark, and not the kind of clothing that they wore along with hypocritical religious speech, would indicate them to be Jehovah’s worshipers.
[Picture on page 43]
Ezekiel saw in vision seventy elders who were polluting Jehovah’s house of worship and saying, “Jehovah is not seeing us”
[Picture on page 45]
Six armed men accompanied the King’s secretary. They represent God’s angelic forces who will soon wipe out this corrupt system, including Christendom