Part two of the Ezekiel series.
When God speaks it is wise to listen. After all, Jehovah God is the Commander of the universe. He speaks the word and things happen. “Let light come to be,” he said. And then there was light. ‘Let the earth blossom with vegetation’ —boom, done. God can command the birds of the heavens, as when ravens brought Elijah meat. God can cause a dumb animal to appear to speak, as when Balaam’s donkey spoke. Jesus said God could make the stones speak in witness to the truth. God can command the clouds to become a downpour or he can cause the heavens to dry up. Everything obeys God, even the planets and stars of the heavens.
Everything obeys God, except…his so-called “intelligent creation.” The reason is because, we do not have to obey God. God created us with free will. We can do whatever we want —for the time being anyway.
In obedience to God Ezekiel did some unusual things. In the fourth chapter the prophet laid on the ground and laid siege to a brick. The brick signified Jerusalem. In the fifth chapter, Ezekiel was commanded to shave his head and beard with a sword. Yikes! The shavings were to be divided into portions and dispatched in various ways to demonstrate how the citizens of Jerusalem would fall victim to the sword, famine and pestilence. It is most noteworthy that both Ezekiel and Jeremiah refer to the sword, pestilence and famine many times. Although that is lost upon Jehovah’s Witnesses presently, it is the exact same ordering of events that Jesus foretold would occur leading up to the tribulation and the desolation of Jerusalem and the temple. It is also the ordering of the horsemen of the Apocalypse.
The Jews, of all the peoples on earth, were specifically chosen by Jehovah to become his special property —his people. Through Moses, Jehovah gave his people laws and instructions. The Ten Commandments were given exclusively to the nation of Israel. Those commands were not legally binding on any other people.
Because the Jews were God’s people and bound in a law covenant they were more accountable than the nations whom God did not choose. The principle of accountability was expressed by God through his prophet Amos: “Hear this word that Jehovah has spoken concerning you, O people of Israel, concerning the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt: ‘You alone I have known out of all the families of the earth. That is why I will call you to account for all your errors.’” —Amos 3:1-2
By the time Ezekiel was commissioned by Jehovah to serve as a watchman to the house of Israel —roughly 1,000 years after the Law was given to them —God had become heartbroken and thoroughly disgusted with his people, saying to Ezekiel: “Son of man, I am sending you to the people of Israel, to rebellious nations that have rebelled against me. They and their forefathers have transgressed against me down to this very day. I am sending you to sons who are defiant and hardhearted, and you must say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says.’ As for them, whether they listen or refuse to listen—for they are a rebellious house—they will certainly know that a prophet was among them.” —Ezekiel 2:3-5
The Jews had a choice. They could listen or they could refuse to listen. Jesus used a very similar expression when relating his parables and also in his letters to the congregations in Revelation: ‘Let he who has an ear hear.’
Of course, we all have ears. Even those who are literally deaf can intelligibly receive information and act upon it, or not. The expression ‘let he who has ears’ underscores the fact that we may literally hear the words or read them and yet not act upon them, which would be the same as refusing to listen. Listening means not merely knowing what was said, but responding appropriately.
Ezekiel was a watchman to the house of Israel at a critical time when God was going to call them to account for all of their errors. There is a similar calling to an account that will take place at the end of the Christian era —when Christ comes. That is why it is called the conclusion of a system or the end of the age. It is when God, through Christ, will judge mankind —beginning with the house of God.
Jesus spoke of the conclusion, likening it to a harvest. During the harvest, he will send out his angels and they will uproot the weeds, bundling them and pitching them into the fire and afterward gather the wheat into the storehouse. The harvest concludes God’s purpose to bring into existence a new creation ultimately composed of 144,000 who are in union with Jesus. Leading up to that decisive separation Jesus allows for wicked men and imposters to intermingle with those who are true.
Because Satan is so effective in posing as an angel of light and his ministers imitate their master in disguising themselves as Christian ministers, it is virtually impossible for humans to distinguish the true sons from the false. That is why the angels have to be involved in the harvest. Jesus said his angels will collect out from his kingdom all persons practicing lawlessness and all the things that cause stumbling. Interestingly, Jesus concluded his harvest illustration by saying: “Let the one who has ears listen.”
Who is there among Jehovah’s Witnesses that can honestly claim that there are no practicers of lawlessness or various stumbling blocks within the organization? For example, there have been thousands of children who have been sexually abused by men who were or still are Jehovah’s Witnesses. You would be hard pressed to find a congregation that has not had some sort of immoral predator at one time or another. Is child sexual abuse an act of lawlessness? Absolutely! The question is, what has become of the many victims of pedophilia? Sadly, no doubt most have been stumbled. As adult survivors of abuse they want nothing to do with the Watchtower’s “pure worship.” Can you blame them?
Clearly, an organization where child predators lurk and prey upon innocent children can hardly be practicing the pure worship of the Creator. It is most unseemly for the Governing Body to boast so loudly over practicing pure worship. There can be no such condition until Christ dispatches his powerful angels to remove the Devil’s spawn from his kingdom —that is to say, from Christ’s congregation.
Of course, the Watchtower’s “prophets” claim the harvest is history. They have deluded Jehovah’s Witnesses into believing that Christ sent his angels into the field back in 1918 and ripped the weeds out —the false Christians of Christendom; since then the Bible Students have been gathered into the storehouse and are shining as brightly as the sun in heaven. Amazingly, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe this hokum without questioning. Who has ears to listen? Apparently very few.
Back to Ezekiel.
I HAVE SET HER IN THE MIDDLE OF NATIONS
“This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: ‘This is Jerusalem. I have set her in the middle of the nations, with lands all around her. But she has rebelled against my judicial decisions and my statutes, acting more wickedly than the nations and the lands all around her. For they have rejected my judicial decisions, and they did not walk in my statutes.’” —Ezekiel 5:5
Geographically Israel could be considered as situated in the “middle of nations.” It occupied an important trade route that connected Assyria and Babylon with Egypt and Ethiopia. More importantly, Israel was in the “middle of nations” because it was the only nation whose God was Jehovah. And the people of the nations were well aware of that fact. Jesus said the Queen of Sheba traveled from the most distant part of the earth to marvel at the things Jehovah had given Solomon —his wisdom, riches and knowledge.
The Watchtower is in a similar position relative to the nations. From the earliest days, C.T. Russell traveled all over the world giving lectures. His sermons were published in hundreds of newspapers. Bible Students distributed his books and pamphlets by the millions.
The Watchtower certainly was the center of controversy during the First World War when J.F. Rutherford and seven associates were railroaded off to prison under a cloud of charges of espionage. After release from the Atlanta penitentiary, Rutherford became an international figure known by millions. His voice crackled over the airwaves as one of the first radio evangelists. Others heard his recorded sermons booming over the landscape via loudspeakers mounted on trucks and automobiles and played from portable, crank-up phonographs. Because of mounting persecution, Jehovah’s Witnesses were at the center of numerous legal issues. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled favorably on their behalf in several landmark, precedent-setting decisions that are studied by law students to this day.
Yes, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been placed “in the middle of nations,” as it were, by publicly preaching on street corners, doorsteps and wherever people may be found. Jehovah’s Witnesses missionaries have penetrated the deepest jungles in the Amazon, the far-flung islands of the seven seas, the frigid Arctic regions in Alaska, Canada and Scandinavia. They have preached to fellow prisoners in the gulags of Siberia; in the ghettos of New York, São Paulo, Lagos and Warsaw. They have stood on the footsteps of great cathedrals and handed out tracts denouncing the clergy to their parishioners. Indeed, the clerics of Christendom are most assuredly familiar with Jehovah’s Witnesses, as they have boldly exposed the blatant falsehoods of the great churches in virtually all the nations of Christendom. Jehovah’s Witnesses have adhered to their faith in the face of withering persecution from the Catholic Church, the Nazis and Soviets. The Holocaust Museum recognizes Jehovah’s Witnesses as having won out over Hitler.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have been placed on center stage over issues such as our unflinching refusal to be unscripted into the military and our stand on blood. Above all, the Watchtower has become inseparably connected with the name of God and its hundreds of iterations in the many languages of the nations.
In more recent years the Watchtower has been at the center of other less honorable issues, though. Most notably, the deplorable way in which the leadership has dealt with the aforementioned pedophile problem. As an example, in 2015 an official inquiry was launched in Australia into the way the Watchtower has responded —or failed to respond —to the more than 1,000 known cases of child abuse, of which not a single case was referred to law enforcement. The Australian Royal Commission found that the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses was stubbornly negligent. In the inquiry, Governing Body member, Geoffry Jackson, perjured himself before God by denying that the Governing Body considers itself to be the exclusive channel of communication, the faithful and discreet spokesman for God.
The leaders of Israel who served as priests, kings and judges were bound by God’s word to protect the legal interests of the disadvantaged; namely orphans and widows. The same principle is embedded in Christian law. For example, James 1:27 states: “The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world.”
The letter of James defines pure worship. Looking after orphans and widows is foremost. It is most informative to note that it does not mention preaching or teaching. True, Christ commanded his disciples to go make more disciples, but the very foundation of pure worship involves protecting the most vulnerable.
In this regard, the Watchtower has failed miserably. They have foolishly reasoned that the crimes committed against the children under their watch must not be made public in order not to bring reproach upon the name of Jehovah. Hence, even though Bethel repeats like a mantra “we abhor child abuse,” they have protected pedophiles from exposure and prosecution, all under the guise of protecting God’s reputation. Zealot elders have even gone so far as to persecute and disfellowship child abuse victims who had the temerity to speak about the crimes committed against them. And any of Jehovah’s Witnesses who speak out against the Watchtower’s wicked policies —who become advocates for children who have been sexually assaulted —are summarily executed via the judicial apparatus —effectively making the leadership of the organization bloodguilty before heaven.
Clearly, the leadership of Jehovah’s people has rebelled against his judicial decisions and statutes. And being in the “middle of the nations” everyone is aware that the Watchtower has a huge pedophile problem. What reproach the Governing Body has brought upon the name of God! We can only imagine how offended Jehovah has become over the Watchtower’s vain boasting of practicing pure worship. It is surely detestable in his eyes!
Like the Watchtower, the wickedness inside the Catholic Church has been exposed and it is well known that a sizable number of priests are pedophiles. Those predators had the perfect setup —preying upon the altar boys and children entrusted to them.
Back in 2002 when the media began to publicize the Watchtower’s unseemly doings the late J.R. Brown, the head of the Society’s public relations department, issued a statement decrying child abuse as “a scourge of our times.” He went on to admit that child abuse is quite common throughout society and it is no worse among Jehovah’s Witnesses than in other institutions. That is an odd admission for an overseer of pure worship to make. What he was really saying, is that when it comes to the disgusting epidemic of child sexual abuse Jehovah’s Witnesses are no different.
From Jehovah’s standpoint though, there is a difference. God expects more from the people who bear his name, whom he has placed “in the middle of nations”; whom he has revealed his statutes and judicial decisions. No, just as the Jews before them, Jehovah’s Witnesses have acted more wickedly than the nations of Satan’s corrupt world!
To be sure, the Watchtower cannot prevent wicked men from cunningly infiltrating congregations. However, the rulers of the organization can certainly deal with pedophiles more effectively; employing police investigation techniques; exposing such men before the congregations, and forcefully warning parents not to entrust their children to anyone, not elders, not even relatives in the congregations. Of course, if the Watchtower were to emphasize the dangers that lurk within it might call into question why the Governing Body claims the organization is the foretold spiritual paradise, where lions lay down with lambs and wolves are as tame as lap dogs.
The next verse in the fifth chapter of Ezekiel states: “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: ‘Because you were more troublesome than the nations all around you and you did not walk in my statutes or carry out my judicial decisions but, instead, you followed the judicial decisions of the nations all around you, this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: “Here I am against you, O city, and I myself will execute judgment in your midst before the eyes of the nations. I will do in you what I have never done before, and the likes of which I will not do again, because of all your detestable practices.” —Ezekiel 5:7-9
At the risk of repeating myself, the city that Jehovah speaks against is the famed city of Jerusalem, where Jehovah had placed his name. He did that when David made the captured Jebusite stronghold his capital. He also brought the ark to Zion. Later David’s son, Solomon, built a fabulous temple on the highest pinnacle of Mount Zion, dedicated to Jehovah, the God of Israel. Again, hoping not to annoy the reader with repetition, the rebuilt city of Jerusalem was where Jesus worshipped. He taught in the temple. He was executed at Jerusalem. And the holy spirit anointed the first Christians in Jerusalem. The city was the unofficial headquarters of the apostles, whom the Watchtower likes to call the first-century governing body. Jerusalem, therefore, is a fitting symbolic reference to Christ’s congregation.
It is understandable why the “prophets” of Bethel have dropped the type/antitype approach to interpretation. The connection is clear. The Watchtower of the modern age is the antitypical “city” where Jehovah has caused his name to reside. And the judgments leveled against the typical city of Jerusalem apply to the antitypical “city” as well.
When the Watchtower deploys its lawyers to suppress the truth, even using hired-gun, worldly lawyers to discredit victims of child abuse and defend their abusers; when the Society’s lawyers resort to using the legal restraint known as gag-orders to prevent plaintiffs from speaking about the crimes committed against them or disclosing the money paid to them to buy their silence, is not the Watchtower ‘following the judicial decisions of the nations all around’? Can we imagine the first-century governing body molly-coddling sexual predators or bribing victims of abuse to not speak about their anguish? It is inconceivable that the apostles and older men of the first century would do such a thing. But it is a fact that the Watchtower has —all the while boasting of its righteousness and purity. How detestable!
Just as Jehovah brought a horrible punishment upon the city where he had placed his name, God is obligated to execute his judgments upon the “city” before the eyes of the nations. As cited above, God will “do in you what I have never done before, and the likes of which I will not do again, because of all your detestable practices.”
Discerning readers will likely note the similarity of Jesus’ reference to the great tribulation, which he described as a time of trouble the likes of which has never occurred before, nor will ever occur again. And make no mistake, the tribulation of which Jesus spoke had to do with the desolation of the city of Jerusalem during the conclusion of the system of things.
Ever since Christ founded his congregation in Jerusalem the Lord has never acted judicially against the wrongdoers. That will change during the conclusion. Jehovah goes on to say: “I will make you a devastated place and an object of reproach among the surrounding nations and in the eyes of everyone passing by. You will become an object of reproach and scorn, a warning example and a horror to the nations around you, when I execute judgment on you in anger and in wrath and with furious punishments. I, Jehovah, have spoken.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses who have been placed in the “middle of the nations” will become a horrifying spectacle when Jehovah’s furious punishments come upon them. They will be made to suffer the scorn and contempt of the world due to falsely claiming to be the pure worshipers.
Jehovah has spoken!