The Time for a Watchman like Ezekiel
1. (a) Since when has God had his “watchman” class sounding the warning, and for what purpose? (b) Rather than sounding the warning, what has Christendom done?
More than 30 years before atomic bombs were exploded in the Far East Jehovah had mercifully posted his watchman to sound the warning of what is evidently now near, inside this generation. Even before World War I broke out in 1914 he had his “watchman” class posted to sound out the warning. This was done not only to warn those who wanted to know how to survive but also to put Jehovah’s willful enemies on notice. Thus such enemies will know from what source the destruction comes. No faultfinders will have any basis for complaining that He gave them no advance warning. Christendom, which has the Holy Bible in more than a thousand languages, should have been the agency to sound the warning, because of what she claims to be. But she has not served as such. Instead, she has joined in the two world wars and other wars of this century, which have measurably ruined the earth. Who, then, is the composite “watchman”?
2, 3. (a) Whom did God choose to sound the warning of the coming global flood, and whom has he used to sound a similar warning today? (b) Why can Jehovah not be blamed for any loss of life?
2 In Noah’s day he not only preached but also built a huge ark in confirmation of his verbal message. So Noah was then Jehovah’s outstanding witness and watchman. His family of seven members joined Noah in duties of a watchman. Hebrews 11:1-7 tells us that Noah had witness borne to him that God was pleased with him. He was an approved witness of Jehovah God. He was “a preacher of righteousness.” (2 Pet. 2:5) Today we are faced with an “act of God” just as global as the flood of Noah’s day. Whom do the records show him as using to serve notice of this upon the whole world? Devoted Christians, everywhere known as “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Consequently, Jehovah’s slate is clean till now. He has not failed to sound the divine warning by millions of his witnesses!
3 So the responsibility for the loss of human life worldwide during the coming end of the system of things will not rest upon Jehovah. It will rest squarely upon all who have failed to act upon the divine notification. Christendom herself has failed to heed the warning sounded by witnesses of Jehovah. What if she had joined Jehovah’s Witnesses in sounding the God-given warning? What a difference this would have made in human affairs!
WATCHMAN TO ANCIENT ISRAEL
4. (a) Whom did Jehovah raise up to be a prophet to his own people Israel, and whom did this prophet prefigure? (b) What commission was Ezekiel given?
4 By his divine powers Jehovah knew beforehand that even Christendom would need to have his final warning served upon her. He knew what the history of his chosen people of pre-Christian times indicated, or foreshadowed. In the year 613 B.C.E., he raised up a Jew named Ezekiel to be a prophet to his own people. So even though he was then an exile in the land of Babylon, Ezekiel was Jehovah’s watchman to Israel. His prophesyings were carried southwest to Jerusalem in the land of Judah. What Jehovah said to Ezekiel back there is of interest to us today, for he pictured Jehovah’s anointed witnesses of today. This anointed class has acted on what Jehovah said to Ezekiel with these words: “Son of man, a watchman is what I have made you to the house of Israel, and you must hear from my mouth speech and you must warn them from me. When I say to someone wicked, ‘You will positively die,’ and you do not actually warn him and speak in order to warn the wicked one from his wicked way to preserve him alive, he being wicked, in his error he will die, but his blood I shall ask back from your own hand.”—Ezek. 3:17, 18.
5, 6. (a) In what time period was Ezekiel living? (b) Why could God not be accused of forcing a difficult commission on Ezekiel?
5 Why did Jehovah talk so seriously to this Jew Ezekiel? Because in that year 613 B.C.E. Ezekiel was living in the last days of the doomed kingdom of Judah with its capital at Jerusalem. His people down there in that kingdom had been brought into a national covenant with Jehovah by means of His mediator, the prophet Moses, and so as a member of that people Ezekiel was under lifelong obligation to Jehovah. He was also a priest, who should have been serving Jehovah in his temple at Jerusalem. So naturally he owed something to God. Hence, God could not be accused of improperly forcing a difficult mission upon Ezekiel, who had been born under the national covenant and under the duties of the Aaronic priesthood, then headed by high priest Seraiah.—2 Ki. 25:18.
6 Ezekiel’s people were the ones to whom Jehovah had earlier said by his prophet Isaiah: “‘You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even my servant whom I have chosen.’” (Isa. 43:10-12) So Ezekiel pictured the organized body of Jehovah’s spirit-anointed witnesses at the present time, the spiritual Israelites. These anointed witnesses live in a time far more meaningful than Ezekiel’s day.
7. (a) What government was in peril in Ezekiel’s day, but what about today? (b) How long did Ezekiel sound the warning before the foretold destruction came?
7 Back there it was just the one government, the small kingdom of Judah, that was in peril. Today it is what that ancient kingdom pictured, namely, Christendom, that is imperiled, along with all her worldly associates. In fact, the entire system of things worldwide is on judgment, just as in Noah’s day it was the world that was doomed to destruction. There was more urgent need for God’s warning by Ezekiel, for Ezekiel began to sound the warning just four years before the Babylonian army invaded his homeland, or six years before they destroyed the besieged city of Jerusalem and its temple. Many inhabitants of beleaguered Jerusalem died of famine, pestilence and the sword of war. Many of the survivors were dragged off into exile to die in distant Babylon. So Ezekiel’s own generation was in danger of that calamity.
8. (a) What impending first-century destruction helps us to determine the timing of the coming world destruction by God? (b) Who sounded God’s warning then, and how important was their warning work?
8 How short a time we today may yet have, we can only infer from what has been happening on earth according to Bible prophecy. In Jesus’ prophecy, as recorded in Matthew, chapters 24 and 25, he warned those disciples of his who were to make up the first part of the “faithful and discreet slave” class about the destruction that was to befall Jerusalem inside their own generation. In that way he made his disciples aware of their responsibility toward the Jewish inhabitants of the province of Judea. They were in such grave danger due to the impending national calamity. If, at the critical time, the Christian “slave” class back there did not warn and urge the affected Jews to get out of the danger zone as fast as possible, then they would share in the responsibility for the loss of life and of liberty on the part of the unwarned Jews.
9. How was Ezekiel an excellent example for God’s anointed “slave” today?
9 What if Ezekiel long ago had failed to discharge his assigned task of warning from a distance his endangered countrymen? He would not have survived the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E., for Jehovah would have held him accountable for their blood. That Ezekiel faithfully discharged his divine commission as long as communication with doomed Jerusalem was possible is evident, for Jehovah was pleased to let him live on. Jehovah was pleased to use him to utter a prophecy in the 27th year of his exile in Babylon. That was 16 years after the horrible bloodbath at Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. (Ezek. 29:17; 40:1) In this respect he was an excellent example for the anointed “slave” class in our perilous times. True, if any individuals in the “slave” class withdraw from further sounding the warning and putting the wicked people on notice, such individuals will have to settle accounts with Jehovah. But, for the most part, the “slave” class will prove to be like Ezekiel. No bloodguilt will be able to be charged to them.
10. (a) How important is the position of watchman? (b) How does God show his concern for both those needing warning and his watchman?
10 Very plainly, the position of a watchman is a highly responsible one. In wartime, if a soldier goes to sleep at his sentry post he is put to death, because the lives of others were put at stake with also the risk of suffering defeat. (Judg. 7:19) So God is concerned, not only about the lives of those needing to be warned, but also about the life of his watchman. This is shown in his further words to Ezekiel: “But as for you, in case you have warned someone wicked and he does not actually turn back from his wickedness and from his wicked way, he himself for his error will die; but as for you, you will have delivered your own soul. And when someone righteous turns back from his righteousness and actually does injustice and I must put a stumbling block before him, he himself will die because you did not warn him. For his sin he will die, and his righteous acts that he did will not be remembered, but his blood I shall ask back from your own hand. And as for you, in case you have warned someone righteous that the righteous one should not sin, and he himself does not actually sin, he will without fail keep on living because he had been warned, and you yourself will have delivered your own soul.”—Ezek. 3:19-21; 33:2-9.
11. How is the work of the “faithful and discreet slave” like that of a watchman?
11 Psalm 127:1 says: “Unless Jehovah himself guards the city, it is to no avail that the guard has kept awake.” Still, a watchman on a wall of a city has entrusted to him the safeguarding of the lives of the people living in it. He is under obligation to warn the citizens of any endangerment to their lives and liberty. Rightly, he should not want their blood to be charged to him. For his keeping awake and watching he is to be credited with safeguarding the lives of other human souls. That is the situation of the “faithful and discreet slave” class in this time when the old system of things is about to end. Jehovah has appointed the “slave” class as his “watchman” to guard the eternal interests of all those who profess to be His people, as in Ezekiel’s case.
WARNINGS BY MODERN WATCHMAN
12, 13. (a) In having the warning sounded, what response does God desire to see? (b) What does sounding the warning make possible, but what about those who do not heed it?
12 However, is it only those who claim to be Christian who are facing the threat of destruction at the end of this system of things? No, but all other religionists are, also those who refuse to join any part of organized religion. Earth’s Creator, Jehovah God, knows this. He would rather not destroy the world of mankind. His prime desire is that as many of them as possible should be saved from eternal destruction and should prove worthy of life in his righteous new system of things. In that behalf he has had his warning sounded out far and wide.
13 Mercifully he notified first the “slave” class, as pictured by Ezekiel. Thus he made this class his composite “watchman.” This “watchman” class is especially charged with sounding the divine warning. Because of their timely warning more and more people are being enabled to hear and to act upon what they hear, with hope of being spared clear through the old world’s end. As for those refusing to heed the God-given warning, their blood will be upon their own heads.
14, 15. (a) Who have unsuccessfully tried to silence those sounding the warning, but who have listened and responded? (b) When the period of “goodwill on the part of Jehovah” ends, what will it mean?
14 Jehovah’s “watchman” class has become known worldwide. Their enemies would like to silence their voice of warning. They view the warning as subversive to their system of things. But all in vain! The warning has been dinned into their ears, especially since 1919, the year when the world began trying to recover from the wounds inflicted upon it by World War I. The period of time from then on has been part of what Isaiah 61:2 calls “the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah.” This means that his wrath has not yet been poured out upon the God-defying system of things. What purpose has this served? It has allowed for Jesus’ prophecy to be carried out till now: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matt. 24:14) In consequence of this, many today who make up part of the remnant of heirs of that kingdom have responded to the Kingdom message. Thus they have taken advantage of the “goodwill on the part of Jehovah.” They have been made part of the “watchman” class. They have joined in sounding the divine warning.
15 The symbolic “year” that is allotted for “goodwill on the part of Jehovah” is a limited time. All present-day indications are that it is about to end. Its ending will mean not a “Happy New Year!” but the time for a change from Jehovah’s “goodwill” to his wrath. That means the arrival of “the day of vengeance on the part of our God.” (Isa. 61:1, 2) It will be the darkest day that this world of mankind will ever have experienced.
16. What is accomplished by the “watchman” class in sounding the warning?
16 This makes it urgent for the “watchman” class to sound the warning that the “year” of Jehovah’s goodwill is about to end and his “day of vengeance” is about to break. Their obediently sounding the divine warning will not save this patched-up old system of things and its devoted supporters from being destroyed in the coming “great tribulation.” But this fact is not disheartening to the “watchman” class. They are assured that if they turn back wicked persons from their wicked way to righteousness these will be saved from annihilation with this old world. Thus the “watchman” class will be spared from bloodguilt in the case of those who have been warned away from their deadly wickedness. The “watchman” class also has the assurance that by persistently keeping up their warning they will dissuade many righteous persons from going bad and joining the wicked world and thus dooming themselves to perishing with it in the “great tribulation.” This is something most gratifying to the “watchman” class. Their service is not to be in vain!
17. (a) What reward has the “watchman” class realized? (b) Who have now joined in sounding the warning?
17 Not yet has the “watchman” class worn out its voice in crying out the warning about the “day of vengeance on the part of our God.” Nor has it lowered its voice, and it is determined not to do so. In reward, what a spectacle glorifying to Jehovah greets their peering eyes! An unnumbered “great crowd” of responsive hearers of the warning looms up before the “watchman” class. (Rev. 7:9) The eyes of that “great crowd” have been opened to see the “sword” of Jehovah’s executional officer that is about to slash down the wicked opposers of his Messianic kingdom. Four years before World War II broke out this “great crowd” began to take definite form and to align itself with the “watchman” class. Mercifully World War II did not culminate in the “day of vengeance on the part of our God.” Nor did World War II and its aftermath stop or slow down the thronging of those of the “great crowd” to the side of the “watchman” class amid worldwide persecution. By this they have come under the obligation to join in with the “watchman” class in blaring out the divine warning fearlessly. They have not shunned to undertake this responsibility. In this way they want not only to express their loving obedience to Jehovah God but also to express their love for their neighbor, their fellowman.
18, 19. (a) For what activity now is there the greatest need, in keeping with the words of Isaiah 52:8? (b) What should motivate us to share in sounding the divine warning?
18 At this late date, in the closing days of Christendom and all the rest of this doomed system of things, there is the greatest need for united action. Long ago the prophet Ezekiel and the contemporary prophet Jeremiah, though many hundreds of miles apart, united their voices in warning their wayward nation of the “day of vengeance” that was about to break upon them. Now, in our century, since the end of World War I, the words of Isaiah 52:8 have applied to Jehovah’s dedicated people: “Listen! Your own watchmen have raised their voice. In unison they keep crying out joyfully; for it will be eye into eye that they will see when Jehovah gathers back Zion.” All of those who were regathered under the ‘heavenly Zion’ saw the same vision in the light of then fulfilling Bible prophecy; together they saw Jehovah’s hand in action in their favor. They raised up a united message to the whole world. Today, more than 60 years later, they must keep up their united witness, only now including the urgent warning about Jehovah’s “day of vengeance.” The “great crowd” from many nations and from many languages must blend their voices with those of the “watchman.”
19 Forward, then, unitedly with the warning of “the day of vengeance on the part of our God”! Let us keep ourselves free from bloodguilt. This is because we want to be spared during that “day of vengeance.” Many of our neighbors would like to enjoy the same salvation. May our supreme love for Jehovah and Christ and our humane love for our neighbor, our fellowman, move us irresistibly to sound the lifesaving warning. Tremendous joy will result to us! Best of all, Jehovah will be vindicated as having lovingly cared!
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As Ezekiel had warned, the Babylonian army destroyed Jerusalem and carried off many of the survivors into exile
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Like Ezekiel, the modern-day “watchman” class sounds the warning—assisted now by the “great crowd” of fellow workers