Keep Pace With Jehovah’s Celestial Chariot
“You must speak my words to them, regardless of whether they hear or they refrain.”—EZEKIEL 2:7.
1, 2. What royal carriage did Ezekiel behold, and what was he told?
JEHOVAH’S celestial chariot now stands before his servants. With eyes of faith, they behold that regal conveyance of their Sovereign Lord. It is glorious, awesome, majestic.
2 The same royal carriage pulled up before God’s prophet Ezekiel in vision some 2,600 years ago. From this throne-bearing chariot—God’s heavenly organization of spirit creatures—Jehovah issued this dramatic command to Ezekiel: “The sons insolent of face and hard of heart—I am sending you to them, and you must say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said.’ And as for them, whether they will hear or will refrain—for they are a rebellious house—they will certainly know also that a prophet himself happened to be in the midst of them.”—Ezekiel 2:4, 5.
3. What modern-day counterpart does Ezekiel have?
3 Ezekiel resolutely carried out that commission, serving as a single instrument in the divine hand. Similarly, God now has a single organizational instrument in his control. The Ezekiel class, the anointed remnant, is at the forefront of the work of giving a final witness, with “a great crowd” of “other sheep” rallying around in support. (Revelation 7:9, 10; John 10:16) Together they are “one flock,” with the Fine Shepherd, Jesus Christ, leading them under the sovereignty of the grand Chariot Rider, Jehovah God.
4, 5. How did God’s visible organization come into existence, and what has it experienced in harmony with Isaiah 60:22?
4 Under Jehovah’s direction, this worldwide organization has grown from small beginnings to become a powerful agency for proclaiming the decree to “fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived.” (Revelation 14:7) As Ezekiel did not raise up or appoint himself as a prophet, so God’s visible organization did not create or appoint itself. It did not spring from human will or effort. The divine Chariot Rider caused this organization to come into existence. Empowered by God’s spirit and backed by holy angels, Jehovah’s people have experienced such dramatic expansion that ‘the small one has become a mighty nation.’—Isaiah 60:22.
5 Over 4,000,000 Witnesses of Jehovah are proclaiming the Kingdom message in 212 lands. They are grouped in more than 63,000 congregations organized into circuits and districts. Extensive branch office and printing facilities are operating under the direction of the Governing Body as the center of the headquarters organization. As though they were one person, all are moving forward, preaching the good news, educating those who respond, building meeting places. Yes, Jehovah’s visible organization is keeping pace with the celestial chariot and its Rider.
6. What is involved in keeping pace with Jehovah’s visible organization?
6 If you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, are you keeping pace with God’s visible organization? Doing so is not simply a matter of attending Christian meetings and spending time in the ministry. Primarily, pace has to do with progress and spiritual growth. It involves having a positive outlook, setting proper priorities, and being up-to-date. If we are keeping pace with Jehovah’s celestial chariot, our lives are consistent with the message we proclaim.
7. Why consider Ezekiel’s conduct as God’s prophet?
7 In the matter of keeping pace, Jehovah’s modern-day servants can learn much from Ezekiel’s example. Though specially appointed as a prophet by Jehovah, Ezekiel still had feelings, concerns, and needs. For instance, as a comparatively young married man, he suffered the grief of losing his wife in death. Yet, he never lost sight of his commission as Jehovah’s prophet. By considering how Ezekiel conducted himself in other respects too, we can strengthen ourselves to keep pace with God’s visible organization. This will enable us to keep pace with his invisible organization.
Commission Accepted and Fulfilled
8. With regard to his commission, what example did Ezekiel set?
8 Ezekiel set a fine example by accepting his commission and fulfilling it. However, obedience and courage were needed to carry it out, for we read: “O son of man, do not be afraid of them; and of their words do not be afraid, because there are obstinate ones and things pricking you and it is among scorpions that you are dwelling. Of their words do not you be afraid, and at their faces do not you be struck with terror, for they are a rebellious house. And you must speak my words to them, regardless of whether they hear or they refrain, for they are a case of rebellion. And you, O son of man, hear what I am speaking to you. Do not become rebellious like the rebellious house.”—Ezekiel 2:6-8.
9. Only by doing what would Ezekiel be free of bloodguilt?
9 Ezekiel was not to be apathetic or fearful, needing to be prodded constantly to fulfill his commission. He would be free of bloodguilt only if he willingly and boldly spoke Jehovah’s words. Ezekiel was told: “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.”—Ezekiel 3:19.
10. How has the Ezekiel class proved to be like the prophet?
10 As in Ezekiel’s case, the anointed Ezekiel class have accepted their God-given commission and are fulfilling it. If we are Jehovah’s Witnesses, we should remember that our life and the lives of others depend upon our obedience. (1 Timothy 4:15, 16) Each Witness needs to keep pace with Jehovah’s organization. God will not tie us to his chariot and drag us along. Apathy and a divided heart demean the Chariot Rider. So Jehovah’s visible organization exhorts us to keep divine interests at the center of our lives. A consistent response to such exhortation keeps us in step with God’s organization and elevates our sacred ministry above the routine, the mechanical. Certainly, Jehovah’s people as a whole display remarkable devotion. Our individual part is to maintain the pace.
God’s Words Taken Into the Heart
11. What example did Ezekiel set as regards God’s words?
11 Ezekiel also set a fine example by taking God’s words into his heart. On command, he ate a God-given roll, or scroll. “It came to be in my mouth like honey for sweetness,” said Ezekiel. Though the roll was filled with “dirges and moaning and wailing,” it was sweet to Ezekiel because he appreciated the honor of representing Jehovah. It was a sweet experience to the prophet to fulfill his God-given assignment. God told him: “Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you, take into your heart and hear with your own ears.” (Ezekiel 2:9–3:3, Eze 3:10) Those visions made Ezekiel acutely aware of what God allowed him to participate in and strengthened his relationship with Jehovah.
12. What did Ezekiel do in more than two decades of prophetic service?
12 Ezekiel was given visions and messages for various purposes and audiences. He had to listen carefully and then speak and act as directed. New information and procedures were revealed to him progressively during some 22 years of prophetic service. Sometimes Ezekiel spoke a specially worded message. At other times, he resorted to pantomime, as in lying before a brick symbolizing Jerusalem. (Ezekiel 4:1-8) His example in personal matters, such as his reaction to his wife’s death, also carried a message. (Ezekiel 24:15-19) He had to be current, always presenting the right message and taking the right action at the right time. Ezekiel was bound in a very close, progressive working relationship with Jehovah.
13. How can we build a close relationship with Jehovah?
13 Similarly, to build and maintain a close relationship with Jehovah as his fellow workers, we must take God’s Word into our heart. (1 Corinthians 3:9) Keeping pace with God’s visible organization in this respect requires that we keep up with the flow of spiritual food as it is supplied at the proper time. (Matthew 24:45-47) The “pure language” is constantly expanding. (Zephaniah 3:9) Only if we are up-to-date will we really be able to respond obediently to the direction of the Chariot Rider.
14, 15. What routine is needed to keep the pace set by God’s organization?
14 To that end, we need a good routine of personal prayer, private study, and participation in the holy ministry of the good news. (Romans 15:16) Recall Ezekiel’s example in eating the roll containing God’s message. Ezekiel consumed the entire roll, not part of it. He did not pick and choose morsels that might have been more to his personal taste. Similarly, our personal study of the Bible and Christian publications should be regulated to keep pace with the flow of spiritual food, and we should partake of all that is put on the spiritual table, including deeper truths.
15 Do we make prayerful effort to get the sense of the solid food? Keeping pace requires that our knowledge and understanding progress beyond the elementary, for we read: “Everyone that partakes of milk is unacquainted with the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right and wrong.” (Hebrews 5:13, 14) Yes, making spiritual progress is a vital part of keeping the pace God’s organization sets.
Not Deterred by Indifference
16, 17. How did Ezekiel deal with indifference, ridicule, and lack of response?
16 Ezekiel also set a fine example by being obedient and not allowing himself to be deterred by indifference or ridicule. Similarly, by keeping up with the development of the pure language, we are attuned to the direction taken by the royal Chariot Rider. Thus we are equipped to respond to his commands, strengthened to be undeterred by the indifference or ridicule of those to whom we speak Jehovah’s judgment message. As with Ezekiel, God has forewarned us that some people would actively oppose, being hardheaded and hardhearted. Others would not hear because they do not want to listen to Jehovah. (Ezekiel 3:7-9) Still others would be hypocrites, as Ezekiel 33:31, 32 states: “They will come in to you, like the coming in of people, and sit before you as my people; and they will certainly hear your words but these they will not do, for with their mouth they are expressing lustful desires and after their unjust gain is where their heart is going. And, look! you are to them like a song of sensuous loves, like one with a pretty voice and playing a stringed instrument well. And they will certainly hear your words, but there are none doing them.”
17 What would be the outcome? Eze 33 Verse 33 adds: “And when it comes true—look! it must come true—they will also have to know that a prophet himself had proved to be in the midst of them.” Those words reveal that Ezekiel did not give up because of lack of response. The apathy of others did not make him apathetic. Whether people listened or not, he obeyed God and fulfilled his commission.
18. What questions might you ask yourself?
18 Jehovah’s visible organization is now intensifying the proclamation that all should fear God and give him glory. Do you persevere when criticized for taking a bold stand in giving the Kingdom witness, for being moral in your life-style? Are you standing firm when you are the target of pressure because of not accepting blood, not worshiping national emblems, not celebrating worldly holidays?—Matthew 5:11, 12; 1 Peter 4:4, 5.
19. As to direction, what will we do if we are keeping pace with Jehovah’s celestial chariot?
19 This course is not an easy one, but those who endure to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:13) With Jehovah’s help, we will not let people of the world make us like them and thus get us out of pace with Jehovah’s celestial chariot. (Ezekiel 2:8; Romans 12:21) If we are keeping pace with the chariotlike angelic organization, we will promptly comply with direction and instructions received through God’s visible organization. Jehovah provides what we need to meet attacks on our faith, to maintain our grip on the Word of life, and to keep our eyes fixed on the spiritual realities that center on the Royal Rider of the celestial chariot.
Motivated to Keep Pace
20. What are some things recorded by Ezekiel that should motivate us to keep pace?
20 Ezekiel’s visions should motivate us to keep pace. He not only declared God’s judgments on Israel but also recorded prophecies of restoration. Ezekiel pointed to the One who would have the legal right to rule on Jehovah’s throne at the appointed time. (Ezekiel 21:27) That Royal Servant, “David,” would regather God’s people and shepherd them. (Ezekiel 34:23, 24) Though they would be attacked by Gog of Magog, God would deliver them, and His foes would be forced to ‘know Jehovah’ even as they went into destruction. (Ezekiel 38:8-12; 39:4, 7) Then God’s servants would enjoy endless life in a system of pure worship involving a spiritual temple. Waters of life flowing from the sanctuary would be a source of nourishment and healing, and a land inheritance would be apportioned for their blessing.—Ezekiel 40:2; 47:9, 12, 21.
21. Why is the role of Jehovah’s modern-day Witnesses greater than that of Ezekiel?
21 How thrilled Ezekiel must have been to record those prophecies! Yet, the role of Jehovah’s modern-day Witnesses is greater. We are living when some of those prophecies are being fulfilled. In fact, we are active participants in certain fulfillments. By the way we live, do we individually show our conviction that Jesus now rules as the One having the legal right? Are we personally convinced that Jehovah will soon sanctify himself and deliver into his new world those who keep pace with his organization? (2 Peter 3:13) Such conviction, accompanied by works of faith, demonstrates that we are indeed keeping pace with Jehovah’s celestial chariot.
Continue to Keep Pace
22. What can be done to avoid distractions so as to maintain a clear spiritual outlook?
22 Having ‘put our hand to the plow,’ we must not look back longingly to anything the world has to offer. (Luke 9:62; 17:32; Titus 2:11-13) So let us curb any inclination to store up treasures on earth, and let us keep our eye simple, focused on the Kingdom. (Matthew 6:19-22, 33) Simplifying our lives, shedding mundane weights wherever possible, will help us to keep pace with Jehovah’s organization. (Hebrews 12:1-3) Distractions can blur our vision of the celestial chariot and its Rider. But with his help, we can maintain a clear spiritual outlook, as did Ezekiel.
23. What do faithful Witnesses need to do in behalf of new ones?
23 Part of our responsibility as Jehovah’s Witnesses involves helping the many new ones to keep pace with God’s celestial chariot. In 1990 nearly 10,000,000 attended the Memorial of Jesus Christ’s death. While many of these individuals may be attending a few Christian meetings, they need to see the importance of progressing with Jehovah’s visible organization. As faithful Witnesses, we can help them by the spirit we show and the encouragement we give.
24. We should do what in these climactic times?
24 These are climactic times. With eyes of faith, we have seen the celestial chariot pull up before us. The regal Chariot Rider has given his visible organization a commission to preach to the nations so that, in the finale, they will know who Jehovah is. (Ezekiel 39:7) Make the most of this grand opportunity to share in the vindication of God’s sovereignty and the sanctification of his holy name by keeping pace with Jehovah’s celestial chariot.
How Would You Answer?
□ Ezekiel set what example as far as his commission was concerned?
□ What does it mean to keep pace with God’s organization?
□ How did Ezekiel view Jehovah’s words?
□ How can we follow Ezekiel’s example in dealing with indifference?
□ What should motivate Jehovah’s servants to keep pace with his celestial chariot?
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What is required to keep pace with Jehovah’s celestial chariot?
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Ezekiel appreciated his God-given privileges. Do you?