This week in the Life and Ministry mid-week meeting all of the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world will be considering the span of chapters in Ezekiel, 6-10. No doubt the congregations will hear the brothers on the platform repeat the Watchtower’s well-worn expressions about how we must keep pace with Jehovah’s fast-moving celestial chariot and how Christendom’s fiery end is near —symbolized by the doomed city of Jerusalem —and how Jehovah’s Witnesses are being marked for survival.
The series of visions the prophet Ezekiel experienced do indeed convey something far more profound and far-reaching than the destruction of the ancient city of Jerusalem 2,500 centuries ago. To be sure, Ezekiel’s extensive prophecy has to do with the judgments of Jehovah to come, coinciding with the second coming of Christ in his Kingdom.
That is, in fact, what is represented by the immense, overawing chariot supported by the living creatures and cherubs. While Jehovah’s throne is envisioned in similar terms in Revelation, it is fixed in the highest heaven; whereas, the throne upon the wheels within wheels is movable and comes into proximity of the earth —bringing with it a roiling tempest. This can only symbolize the coming of the King of kings in heavenly glory to commence the judgment. (In ancient times it was the practice of kings to accompany their armies into battle in their royal chariots.)
It is true, Ezekiel indicated that the one seated upon the mobile throne possesses the glory of the Almighty. But that description must surely apply to the Son when he comes in the glory of his Father. After all, is not Jesus the exact image and representation of his Almighty Father? And is he not authorized to judge in the name of Jehovah?
Ominously, the towering chariot stealthily moves into position over Jerusalem. Then the command is given to the man dressed in linen: “Enter between the wheelwork, under the cherubs, and fill both your hands with burning coals from between the cherubs and toss them over the city.” Thus, the fiery execution of Jehovah’s denunciation begins.
Several centuries earlier Solomon built a magnificent temple in the city that his father, David, had captured from the Jebusites. Jerusalem thereafter became the city where Jehovah caused his sacred name to reside. At the inauguration of the temple Jehovah’s glory had filled the house —manifested by a glowing cloud that forced the priests in attendance to temporarily vacate the premises.
However, Ezekiel envisioned something different. In accord with the established pattern, judgment begins with the house of God. The prophecy of Ezekiel does not deviate from the pattern. Thus, after the man with the secretary’s inkhorn finishes his marking work, the six destroyers are commanded: “‘You should start from my sanctuary.’ So they started with the elders who were in front of the house. Then he said to them: ‘Defile the house and fill the courtyards with the slain. Go!’ So they went out and struck down people in the city.”
We should not lose sight of the fact that God declares the sanctuary as his and prior to its profanation God considered it to be a holy place. That is emphasized in the seventh chapter as well, where Jehovah states: “I will turn my face away from them, and they will profane my concealed place, and robbers will enter it and profane it.” —Ez 7:22
Of course, God did not literally dispatch six angels to administer punishment. In reality, Jerusalem was besieged by the Babylonian hordes and by means of the sword, famine and pestilence, God’s judgments were accomplished. (After devastating Jerusalem Nebuchadnezzar’s army conquered numerous other nations including Tyre, Egypt, Moab, Ammon and Edom. But the judgment started with Jerusalem.)
Ezekiel 7:15 states: “The sword is outside, and the pestilence and the famine are inside. Whoever is in the field will die by the sword, and famine and pestilence will consume those in the city.”
Numerous places in the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel God’s judgments are said to be expressed by means of the sword, famine and pestilence. Jehovah’s Witnesses ought to recognize a pattern here. Jesus foretold that during the conclusion the desolation of Jerusalem will be preceded by nations and kingdoms warring against each other, food shortages and pestilence. In other words, the sword, famine and pestilence.
The Watchtower insists that the things Christ foretold were fulfilled some 100 years ago with the First World War (sword) and the Spanish Influenza (pestilence) and numerous famines during the 20th century. However, after a century of sword, famine and pestilence Christendom is as viable as ever.
Another glaring incongruity is apparent in the Watchtower’s interpretation. According to the pattern found throughout prophecy first comes the desolation, then comes the repurchase, restoration and finally, the blessing. The Watchtower has the order reversed, in that, the Society teaches that Jehovah’s Witnesses have been gathered out of Christendom –restored to true theocracy and showered with God’s unreserved blessing in fulfillment of prophecy before the desolation of antitypical Jerusalem (Christendom) has occurred.
For example, at Ezekiel 6:8-9 Jehovah states: “But I will leave a remnant, for some of you will escape the sword among the nations when you are scattered throughout the lands. And those who escape will remember me among the nations where they are taken captive. They will realize that I was brokenhearted over their unfaithful heart that turned away from me and at their eyes that are lusting after their disgusting idols.”
Ought we to suppose that Jehovah is heartbroken over the unfaithfulness of the multitude churchgoers, of whom Christ will say in that day: “I never knew you. Get away from me you workers of lawlessness”? And does this mean that a surviving remnant from various denominations of Christendom will ultimately become God’s people?
Just as the Jews refused to believe God would ever destroy Jerusalem, much less the holy temple, Jehovah’s Witnesses are similarly deluded. They imagine that the Watchtower will be preserved through the end and serve as an unwavering beacon for them. The stage is set for mass confusion when the time of the end begins in the near future.
“This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: ‘Look! A calamity, a unique calamity, is coming. An end is coming; the end will come; it will rouse itself against you. Look! It is coming. Your turn has come, you who inhabit the land. The time is coming, the day is near. There is confusion and not joyful shouting on the mountains. Very soon I will pour out my rage on you, and I will fully unleash my anger against you, and I will judge you according to your ways and call you to account for all your detestable deeds.’”—Ez. 7:5-8
Among the “detestable deeds” to which God was referring was idolatry. While it is true that Christendom is steeped in idolatry, there are other more subtle forms.
For example, when Samuel rebuked wicked king Saul he said: “Does Jehovah take as much pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of Jehovah? Look! To obey is better than a sacrifice, and to pay attention than the fat of rams; for rebelliousness is the same as the sin of divination, and pushing ahead presumptuously the same as using magical power and idolatry.”
Samuel linked “pushing ahead presumptuously” with divination and idolatry. That is because Saul put his own ideas in place of God’s stated law. The Watchtower has acted similarly. It has presumptuously applied the restoration prophecies to itself and directed all of Jehovah’s denunciation to Christendom; thereby, conferring upon itself God’s holiness. Perhaps most presumptuously, it has declared that the Kingdom has come –that Christ is ruling the world, when such is not the case at all!
Cloaked in its mantle of righteousness the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses has declared itself to be the embodiment of the Kingdom of God on earth. Its every utterance is regarded as coming from the mouth of Jehovah; all the while the Watchtower has amassed great wealth, even while persecuting sexually abused children and anyone else who dares to speak against it. That is why Jehovah goes on to say: “Look, the day! Look, it is coming! Your turn has come; the rod has blossomed and presumptuousness has sprouted. Violence has grown into a rod of wickedness. Neither they nor their wealth nor their crowds nor their prominence will survive. The time will come, the day will arrive. ”