Completing the Work of the King’s Secretary
1, 2. (a) What questions arise as to the “mark” today, and what preliminary question must we ask ourselves as to worthiness and why? (b) Of what other detestable things about the land did Jehovah tell Ezekiel?
A VITAL question for today is, Have you been marked in your forehead by the modern-time “man clothed with the linen”? Do not look into the mirror to see whether you have a literal mark on your forehead. In Ezekiel’s vision it was a literal mark, but it is not such a thing today. What, then, is the mark, and how is it inscribed as it were on the foreheads of people? A preliminary question is, Do you deserve to be marked in your forehead? Back in Ezekiel’s day the ones marked were those who were worshipers of Jehovah. We know that, because those marked were loyal to Jehovah and believed in his pure worship and hence were “sighing and groaning” over all the detestable things being done in what ought to be the holy city of Jerusalem. Such detestable things included idolatry at the very temple of Jehovah. Besides that, Jehovah told Ezekiel of other detestable things, saying:
2 “The error of the house of Israel and Judah is very, very great, and the land is filled with bloodshed and the city is full of crookedness; for they have said, ‘Jehovah has left the land, and Jehovah is not seeing.”’—Ezek. 9:9.
3. What is that mark today, and what does putting it figuratively on the forehead indicate?
3 Since the marked ones back there were the loyal pure worshipers of Jehovah, you must ask yourself, ‘Am I a true, loyal worshiper of Jehovah?’ Then you can look for the identifying mark. Yes, the symbolic mark today is that which marks or identifies you as a worshiper of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. Figuratively it is put upon your forehead, not to picture that you have had Bible knowledge concerning Jehovah God put into your head and inscribed upon your brain. Many persons inside and outside of Christendom had read the Bible through from cover to cover a number of times, and despite the knowledge in their heads they have not been marked as Jehovah’s worshipers who are grieved to the heart over the Jehovah-defaming things being done throughout Christendom, such as her crookedness, her bloodshed, her religious error, her various forms of idolizing things apart from Jehovah.
4. So what more than mere head knowledge is required, and since when and by whom has the marking work been going on?
4 So more is required than mere knowledge in your head. It is not what you have in your head that counts, but what you really are as a personality. As if stamped in your very forehead, it becomes plainly visible and readable to all who look at you and study you. This personality, which does have Bible knowledge as a basis, has to be developed in you. And here is where the modern “man clothed with the linen” comes into the matter. Following the events of the aforementioned year 1931 this composite “man,” namely, the anointed remnant of the Christian witnesses of Jehovah, have been busy at the marking of the foreheads of the worthy ones.
5. In course of time the need to do what became appreciated by the anointed remnant, and by 1936 what did they begin to do and why?
5 True, this anointed remnant of dedicated, baptized Christians have gone from house to house, from door to door, from city and village to city and village, distributing Bible literature, as well as giving Bible lectures from public platforms with “seats free and no collection.” But more is required than just letting people read these pieces of literature as aids to Bible understanding. The readers need further personal help to understand what they read and how to apply the things they read. In course of time this need became more fully appreciated, and by the year 1936 return visits began to be made on receivers of literature. Then a course of home Bible study was established with the interested ones and was conducted by members of the anointed remnant, weekly or more frequent return visits being made on the interested for this purpose.
6. How were individuals helped to discern fully the things in Christendom that were “detestable,” and how did they get to be marked?
6 These newly interested persons may already have been disgusted at what they observed in Christendom. But when they got their eyes open to the Bible truths regarding pure worship of the one living and true God, they saw more discerningly the “detestable things” that were being carried on by religious hypocrites in Christendom. In view of this, they saw the need to withdraw and divorce themselves from all partnership with Christendom and from all moral support of her in committing her “detestable things.” The anointed remnant helped these persons loyal to Jehovah to grow in knowledge and understanding to the point where they made their personal decision and dedicated themselves to Jehovah God through Jesus Christ his Son and symbolized this dedication by being immersed in water. By thus becoming “disciples” of Jehovah’s Son, Jesus Christ, they got marked in their foreheads.—Matt. 28:19, 20.
7. In 1935 the anointed remnant saw that who were to be marked, and what were they to put on that would serve as a forehead mark?
7 In the year 1935 the anointed remnant saw, from Revelation, chapter seven, verses nine through seventeen, that a “great multitude,” a “great crowd” out of all nations, tribes, peoples and languages were to be marked in their foreheads as those who publicly stand before the throne of God and of his sacrificed Lamb, Jesus Christ, and say: “Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Symbolically speaking those of this “great crowd” are identified by “white robes,” for, as Revelation 7:14 says, “they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Not only do they have approved recognition “before the throne of God,” but they “are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple.” This requires them to obey the Scriptural command: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not be planning ahead for the desires of the flesh.” (Rom. 13:14) Is not the Christlike personality that they thus put on an approved mark that openly distinguishes them as if they were plainly marked in their foreheads? Yes, indeed!
8. How are those of this “great crowd” being actively helped to display their marked forehead openly, and what explains why the number of the “great crowd” keeps increasing from year to year?
8 These dedicated, baptized members of the “great crowd” are further helped to share in the house-to-house work, hunting out still others who are “sighing and groaning over all the detestable things” that are being practiced inside Christendom. In this way they have a share in the marking work under the supervision of the anointed remnant. By doing this they are openly displaying the symbolic “mark” on their foreheads to all the world, inside and outside of Christendom. As a result thousands on thousands of other seekers of the pure worship of Jehovah God are proving fit to receive the identifying “mark” on the easily visible forehead. For example, in the service year of 1970 alone 121,226,605 return visits were made on interested persons world wide and 164,193 were baptized in water to symbolize their dedication to Jehovah God. This explains why from year to year the number of the “great crowd” keeps increasing. But of what value is that identifying mark?
EXECUTIONAL WORK BY THE “SIX MEN” NEARS
9. We are helped to see that there is value in the “mark” by what words of command next uttered by Jehovah?
9 If we value our earthly lives we will be interested in the value that the “mark” carries with it. We learn to appreciate it as we hear what the King Jehovah says from his throne after he tells the “man clothed with the linen” what to do. The prophet Ezekiel tells us what Jehovah says next in the vision: “And to these others he said in my ears: ‘Pass through the city after him and strike. Let not your eye feel sorry, and do not feel any compassion. Old man, young man and virgin and little child and women you should kill off—to a ruination. But to any man upon whom there is the mark do not go near, and from my sanctuary you should start.”’—Ezek. 9:5, 6.
10. (a) Despite apparent cruelty, by what command is Jehovah’s mercy revealed? (b) This helps us to appreciate what about the “mark,” and whom therefore will we actively back up now in this work?
10 Does it sound cruel for Jehovah to say, “Old man, young man and virgin and little child and women you should kill off—to a ruination”? Yes, but think of the divine mercy revealed in Jehovah’s express command to the symbolic “six men” armed with weapons for smashing, “But to any man upon whom there is the mark do not go near”! Ah, now, we appreciate that there is protective value in that mark. If, in the coming “great tribulation” upon Christendom and all the rest of this detestable system of things, we desire to be spared by Jehovah’s angelic armies, we will make sincere efforts now to acquire the “mark” for our preservation. We will try to aid others in acquiring the “mark” also, that they may be part of that “great crowd” concerning whom it is prophetically written: “These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:14) If we appreciate that the marking work is nearing its end and that soon the symbolic “six men” are about to smash the unmarked heads, we will lovingly endeavor to back up the lifesaving work of the King’s secretary.
11. (a) What should unmarked persons not presume to think about the coming time of execution, and why not, according to history? (b) What question comes up as to our children who are not yet sufficiently intelligent?
11 Let us not egotistically presume that we, if with unmarked foreheads, shall be able somehow to go unnoticed by the armed “six men.” When ancient Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 607 B.C.E., then, according to the hard facts, little children as well as virgins, women, young men and old men were destroyed. If the little babies did not die from hunger or pestilence or at the hands of the cruel Babylonian soldiers, then they died at the pitiless hands of their own starving mothers, who ate them like cannibals. The prophet Jeremiah, who was a prisoner inside Jerusalem until it fell to the besiegers, tells us so. (Lam. 2:20, 21) What about your children who are too young today to make an intelligent dedication and get baptized in symbol of becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ? They may be too young to get the mark in the forehead personally.
12. (a) What questions should parents ask respecting both themselves and their children? (b) In what attitude should parents not be presumptuous as to the extending of mercy due to their own marked forehead?
12 But are you yourself marked with that mark of dedication and of Christian personality? Are you striving to do as the Christian apostle Paul admonishes a parent to do, namely, bring them up in the discipline and the mental-regulating of Jehovah, and are they obediently responding to your loving efforts? (Eph. 6:1-4) Only if this is the case can you trust that the merit of the “mark” in your own forehead will extend to your minor children and that they will be mercifully spared with you from execution or destruction in the oncoming “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” (Matt. 24:21) Now in the short time that remains is the time to do this, before the modern-day “man clothed with the linen” finishes his marking of all worthy foreheads and the symbolic “six men” start using their smashing weapons on all unmarked foreheads that they discover. You parents, do you want your little children to be considered, not “unclean,” but “holy,” because of your marked forehead in Jehovah’s day for executing vengeance? Naturally you should. But do not presume that your children who are intelligent enough to make a decision and personally dedicate themselves to Jehovah through Christ will come under the merit of your marked forehead.
13. In view of those upon whom the “six men” started using their smashing weapons, why are our religious connections another thing to be watched?
13 Another thing to watch now is our religious connections. Remember that the “six men” were ordered to start their shattering of heads from Jehovah’s sanctuary, where those who tried to mix Jehovah’s pure worship with unclean pagan worship were. The “six men” did not feel compassion or pity for the hypocritical religionists, for we next read: “So they started with the old men that were before the house. And he said further to them: ‘Defile the house and fill the courtyards with the slain ones. Go forth!’ And they went forth and struck in the city.” (Ezek. 9:6, 7; 8:10-12) Later the temple as well as the city was destroyed by the Babylonians. So, if we keep associating with that hypocritically religious crowd inside Christendom, can we reasonably expect to be marked by the King’s secretary in the forehead and be spared the disastrous end of those unrepentant false worshipers? Not at all!
14, 15. (a) How extensive will be the slaughter, and what fearful impression might be gained for this reason? (b) Whose viewpoint should we take, and how should we feel regarding the slaughtered?
14 So extensive will the snuffing out of lives in Christendom and in the whole worldwide system of things be that it will appear as if no one would be spared and escape. But we should not think that Jehovah is going too far with his execution of judgment, nor should we feel sorry for those executed by God’s means and agencies. Jehovah God is not unjust, and we should respect him by taking his viewpoint. To teach us this lesson, note what Ezekiel goes on to tell us, as he watched the slaughter work go on:
15 “And it came about that, while they were striking and I was left remaining, I proceeded to fall upon my face and cry out and say: ‘Alas, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah! Are you bringing to ruin all the remaining ones of Israel while you are pouring out your rage upon Jerusalem?’ So he said to me: ‘The error of the house of Israel and Judah is very, very great, and the land is filled with bloodshed and the city is full of crookedness; for they have said, “Jehovah has left the land, and Jehovah is not seeing.” And as for me also, my eye will not feel sorry, neither shall I show compassion. Their way I shall certainly bring upon their own head.”’—Ezek. 9:8-10.
16. (a) In this regard, what attitude do we take as respects charging cruelty and injustice to God? (b) What are those ignorers and defiers of God in effect saying, and why do they deserve to have their way brought upon their own heads?
16 Is that undue cruelty on God’s part? Is it unjust when he lets violators of the divine laws eat the fruitage of their own doings, suffer the terrible outcome of their own chosen course of action? In vindication of Jehovah God we say No! All those of mankind who do not now get their foreheads marked are in effect saying: ‘Jehovah has left the earth, and it is now our obligation to control the earth and rule it in the way that we choose. He is not seeing what we are doing; he is blind, yes, dead, as far as we are concerned, and therefore we can get away unpunished with whatever we do. So on with the false worship! On with the bloodshed! On with the error of our course! On with the crookedness of our dealings!’ Such ignorers and defiers of Jehovah God rightly deserve to have Him bring their own way upon their unmarked heads. The vision given to Ezekiel, as historically fulfilled upon ancient Jerusalem in 609-607 B.C.E., makes certain that He will do so. When His “man clothed with the linen” called they paid no attention.
REPORT MADE ON THE FINISHED WORK
17. (a) What is the sensible response to the call of the King’s secretary on one, now that he is recognizable? (b) How far will the secretary’s work be carried on, and what guarantee of this do we have from Ezekiel’s vision?
17 Has the modern “man clothed with the linen,” the secretary of the reigning King Jehovah, called on you recently? You can answer intelligently, for you now know how to identify him, how to recognize him. The more critical question is, How did you receive him? The sensible reception that leads to eternal life in God’s new system of things is to let this King’s secretary begin his marking work upon your forehead, Scripturally speaking. The lifesaving work of this composite “man clothed with the linen” is now nearing its end. Regardless of resistance to it by the hypocritical religionists, the work will be carried out to completion according to the divine will. What the prophet Ezekiel saw in vision guarantees this successful conclusion, for Ezekiel tells us at the close of this vision: “And, look! the man clothed with the linen, at whose hips there was the inkhorn, was bringing back word, saying: ‘I have done just as you have commanded me.”’—Ezek. 9:11.
18. (a) When this closing feature of Ezekiel’s vision is fulfilled, for what will those marked in the forehead have reason to be glad? (b) What will the final report as rendered by the King’s secretary cover and include?
18 That denotes that the modern “man clothed with the linen” will be faithful in carrying out his commission from the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. How glad mankind can be for this! Only after he has marked the last worthy forehead plainly and indelibly will he be able to report to the King: “I have done just as you have commanded me.” How glad all God-fearing persons marked in their foreheads will be that the King’s secretary called on them recently, or since that memorable year of 1935! How glad they will be that they could do good to this secretary of the King and thereby show their loyalty and devotion to the King himself! Glad they will be that they had the rare privilege of backing up the King’s secretary and helping out in the marking work that he was doing on such an extensive worldwide scale. The final report, when rendered by the King’s secretary, will cover and include what these whom he marked in the forehead did in assistance and support to him.
19. (a) When the goatlike ones with unmarked foreheads are smashed, where will the sheeplike ones find themselves, and what will it be sweet for them to hear? (b) Why will the linen-clad man rejoice to hear those words spoken to such ones?
19 When shortly the goatlike persons with the stubborn unmarked foreheads are smashed into destruction by the King’s executional force of the “six men,” the sheeplike ones with marked foreheads will find themselves at the right hand of Jehovah’s Messianic King, Jesus Christ. Sweet in their ears will be the words of the Lamb of God to them: “Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.” The man who is clothed with linen as the King’s secretary will also rejoice to hear such words spoken to those future inheritors of the paradisaic earthly realm of Christ’s kingdom, for thereby he will know that his work with the “secretary’s inkhorn” was a heart-satisfying success and was not in vain.—Matt. 25:31-46.
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Christian parents need to bring up their children in the discipline of Jehovah. Only if they are obediently responding can the merit of the parental “mark” extend to minor children
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Can any who keep on associating with Christendom’s hypocritically religious crowd really expect to be marked by the King’s secretary?