The sanctification of God’s holy name and the vindication of his sovereignty are of the utmost universal importance. Jehovah’s personal interests are supreme. Human salvation is secondary in the outworking of God’s purpose. Jehovah’s Witnesses well know that to be true.
To that end the ancient prophetic book of Ezekiel contains the yet-to-be-revealed judgments of Jehovah that will settle, once and for all time, the issue of Jehovah’s right to rule and the righteousness of his ways and forever sanctify his great name.
It does not matter that the scholars schooled in Christendom have expunged the distinctive name of God from their Bibles. More than any other book of prophecy, Ezekiel emphasizes how the revelation of God’s judgments will serve up to the nations of our modern world a bitter potion; forcing them to know that he is Jehovah, even as it says in Ezekiel: “The nations will have to know that I am Jehovah.”
But as Ezekiel 9:6 establishes, God’s judgment starts first in the holy place, in the very sanctuary of God; beginning with the covenant-breaking priests and older men in Jerusalem and ultimately with the entire house of Israel, exiles and alien residents included.
Because Jehovah’s Witnesses bear God’s personal name before the world, as did the typical house of Judah that fell under God’s judgment two and a half millenniums ago, and because anointed Christians are in a covenanted relationship with Jehovah, as were the Jews in Ezekiel’s day, it is Jehovah’s Witnesses who must first be made to know that he is Jehovah – as opposed to the nations. That is why it says throughout the prophecy of Ezekiel in many places: “And you people will have to know that I am Jehovah” – “you people” meaning God’s people.
How will that come about and why is it necessary? The following is an interpretive consideration of Ezekiel, roughly chapters 14 through 16.
CATCHING THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL BY THEIR HEART
After denouncing the stupid prophets and eventually causing their whitewashed wall to fall to the earth, Jehovah next commands Ezekiel to say to the older men of the exiles: “Son of man, as regards these men, they have brought up their dungy idols upon their heart, and the stumbling block causing their error they have put in front of their faces. Shall I be inquired of at all by them?Therefore speak with them and you must say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said:Any man at all of the house of Israel that brings up his dungy idols upon his heart and that places the very stumbling block causing his error in front of his face and that actually comes to the prophet, I, Jehovah, I will let myself be brought to answer him in the matter according to the multitude of his dungy idols, for the purpose of catching the house of Israel by their heart, because they have withdrawn themselves from me through their dungy idols—all of them.”’
“These men” whom Ezekiel was commanded to address were of the exiles then in Babylon, where Ezekiel was also residing. They were geographically far removed from the Jewish religious center in Jerusalem and the corrupted temple filled with a multitude of disgusting idols and images. Yet, even though the exiles in Babylon were no longer dwelling in Judah, nor were they personally taking part in the idolatrous worship carried on there, they too would face God’s judgment. That is because they were still idolaters at heart – having “brought up their dungy idols upon their heart.” Though perhaps not outwardly apparent their having “withdrawn themselves” from Jehovah “through their dungy idols” meant that they were apostates at heart.
The Ten Commandments explicitly forbade idolatry and false worship of any kind. But nowhere in the law did it specify punishment for merely being an idolater at heart. The Law only forbade the making of and the overt veneration of an idol or image, or serving any other god but Jehovah. The Israelites were also forbidden to reverently mention the names of false gods. But nothing in the Law forbade thinking about forbidden forms of worship. Was it fair and just of God, then, to condemn the Jewish exiles for merely bringing up their filthy idols upon their hearts if they did not outwardly express their idolatry?
The answer is found in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Several times Jesus referred to the Jewish law, saying: “You heard that it was said…However, I say to you.”Jesus taught his followers that keeping the law did not necessarily make one righteous. To illustrate the point, Jesus went on to explain that the law forbade adultery but that a man could commit adultery in his heart merely by passionately looking at a woman with immoral desire.
The same principle obviously applies to idolatry. And the fact that Jehovah judged the Jewish exiles on the basis of the idolatrous desires of their hearts rather than the letter of the law indicates that the judgment found in Ezekiel’s prophecy applies primarily to the Christian house of Israel, which is under the law of Christ and not the Mosaic Law covenant.
How does Jehovah intend to ‘catch the house of Israel by their heart’? Justly, by using the secret object of their devotion against them.
In the antitypical fulfillment the object of idolatry for Jehovah’s Witnesses is the Watchtower Society itself – the so-called earthly, visible organization; with its revered faithful slave class and Governing Body.
As opposed to the older men and temple priests in Jerusalem, the exiles residing in Babylon well represent those who are not necessarily Bethel insiders; they may picture those who may even be estranged from the organization for whatever reason, but who still view it as the infallible mouthpiece of God.
As noted above, the context of the prophecy has to do with the toppling of the whitewashed wall, which symbolizes the protective institution built up by the stupid prophets; with its chimeral spiritual paradise. A whitewashed wall is a fitting analogy, seeing that the Watchtower has whitewashed its own history and built up an elaborate, but phony, interpretation of biblical prophecy to convince Jehovah’s Witnesses that God bestowed his irreversible blessing upon the organization in 1919.
So, it is in the aftermath of the toppling of the whitewashed wall that Jehovah purposes a test. What sort of test? The prophecy continues:
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: Come back and turn yourselves back from your dungy idols and turn your faces back even from all your detestable things; for any man at all from the house of Israel or from the alien residents that reside as aliens in Israel, that withdraws himself from following me and that brings up his dungy idols upon his heart and that sets the very stumbling block causing his error in front of his face and that actually comes to the prophet to make inquiry for himself by me, I, Jehovah, I am letting myself be brought to answer him by myself. And I must set my face against that man and place him for a sign and for proverbial sayings, and I must cut him off from the midst of my people; and you people will have to know that I am Jehovah.”’ Ezekiel 14:6-8
After the humiliation of the stupid prophets, in whose utterances God’s people were trusting, Jehovah then graciously exhorts his people to repent of their idolatry and return to him. But will they make the same mistake and blindly trust in the utterances of their organizational oracle? As a test of their repentance Jehovah allows the idolaters to inquire of him through their prophet. But things are not as they seem. Ezekiel’s prophecy continues, saying: “And as for the prophet, in case he gets fooled and actually speaks a word, I myself, Jehovah, have fooled that prophet; and I will stretch out my hand against him and annihilate him from the midst of my people Israel. And they will have to bear their error. The error of the inquirer will prove to be just the same as the error of the prophet, in order that those of the house of Israel may no more go wandering off from following me and may no more go defiling themselves with all their transgressions. And they must become my people and I myself shall become their God…”
Jehovah lays the blame for Israel wandering off from following him upon the erring prophet. And as the scripture above indicates, the prophet does not exist outside the camp of God’s people, but “from the midst of my people Israel.” So, as a test of their loyalty and repentance Jehovah fools the prophet; making his prophetic proclamations treacherous and unreliable. Because the prophet has a measure of credibility and authority in the eyes of his people, though, he appears to be a true prophet – but he is not. The prophet whom Jehovah fools is doomed to annihilation and anyone heeding his words will meet the same fate.
This is in harmony with Christ’s own explicit warning regarding the false prophets and false Christ’s that would appear during the critical last days of the conclusion of the system of things and the desolation of the holy place by a disgusting thing. Jesus warned that the false prophets would have such a convincing message and over-reaching influence that they could potentially deceive even the chosen ones, if that were possible.
In the Christian fulfillment the “prophet” whom Jehovah fools is the man of lawlessness – the son of destruction – who operates within the spiritual temple of God up until he is annihilated during the presence of Christ. Just as the original son of destruction, Judas, was one of the chosen 12 apostles, the man of lawlessness is intimately associated with Jesus’ faithful and discreet slaves in the household of God. The reason stated for his presence is to allow for an operation of error to go forth to those under his influence who have not genuinely accepted the love of the truth. Like their Jewish predecessors, they too are apostate at heart.
Even though God’s purpose to produce a messianic world government is tied up with a people who have strayed from God’s intended purpose for them, Jehovah, as the great Disciplinarian and Judge is perfectly capable of rectifying the situation. The solution to the problem of apostasy is the permanent removal of the unfaithful from the midst of God’s people and the cleansing of the rest of their defilements and transgressions so that “they must become my people and I myself shall become their God…”
Obviously, God’s purpose will not be accomplished by purging apostate Christendom of the multitudes of misled religionists. Nor did any such judgment take place in connection with the Watchtower Society in 1918-1919. It is a future judgment upon the spiritual house of God.
The means by which God intends to accomplish his purpose to purge the unfaithful from his organization is evident from what we read at Ezekiel 14:12-23, which speaks of Jehovah’s “four injurious acts of judgment—sword and famine and injurious wild beast and pestilence…”
Those “four injurious acts of judgment” correspond to the judgments unveiled at the opening of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th seals of Revelation and will also serve as the authentic sign of Christ’s presence, as outlined in Matthew, Mark and Luke. World War One and the Spanish Flu were not Jehovah’s “injurious acts of judgment” upon Christendom.
Nothing can prevent the execution of God’s judicial decisions. To emphasis that point the prophecy goes on to say that even if righteous Noah, Job or Ezekiel’s contemporary, Daniel, were residing in the city of Jerusalem, their presence could not spare the condemned inhabitants. In four places Jehovah reiterates: “Were these three men in the midst of it, as I am alive,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘neither sons nor daughters would they deliver; they, only they themselves, would be delivered and the land itself would become a desolate waste.’”
Similarly, even those judged to be faithful and discreet slaves cannot save anyone but themselves, and that with difficulty. Indeed, that is why the Christian apostle posed the rhetorical questions: “For it is the appointed time for the judgment to start with the house of God. Now if it starts first with us, what will the end be of those who are not obedient to the good news of God? And if the righteous man is being saved with difficulty, where will the ungodly man and the sinner make a showing?”
Only those judged to be righteous individuals will be delivered from the future judgment destined to start with the house of God. As Jesus correspondingly said: “Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken along and the other be abandoned; two women will be grinding at the hand mill: one will be taken along and the other be abandoned.” – Matthew 24:40-41
“MAKE KNOWN TO JERUSALEM HER DETESTABLE THINGS”
At the very beginning of his commission to serve as a watchman Jehovah cautioned Ezekiel not to become rebellious himself, like the house of Israel. He was not to allow organizational loyalty or fear of man to cause him to hold back from exposing their error. No, he was to judge Jehovah’s people and expose their corrupt dealings, not as a personal judgment or vendetta, but in announcing Jehovah’s forthcoming judgments against them.
In the opening verse of the 16th chapter of Ezekiel Jehovah commands his watchman to expose Jerusalem’s sinful condition, saying to him: “Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her detestable things.”
Twice thereafter Jehovah ordered Ezekiel to judge the house of Israel by exposing their detestable things, saying to him at Ezekiel 20:4 and 22:2: “Will you judge them? Will you judge them, O son of man? Cause them to know the detestable things of their forefathers.”
Jehovah went on to recount the inglorious beginnings of the iniquitous city: “Your origin and your birth were from the land of the Canaanite. Your father was the Amorite, and your mother was a Hittite. And as regards your birth, on the day of your being born your navel string had not been cut, and in water you had not been washed for cleansing, and with salt you had not at all been rubbed, and by no means had you been swaddled. No eye felt sorry for you to do for you one of these things in compassion upon you, but you were thrown upon the surface of the field because there was an abhorring of your soul in the day of your being born.”
The city of Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities on earth. It existed in the days of Abraham as Salem. At the time of the Israelite conquest Jerusalem was controlled by the notoriously wicked Canaanite nations of the Amorites and Hittites. However, the conquering Israelites did not immediately take up residence in Jerusalem. The Jebusites re-inhabited the city and possessed it up until the time that King David captured it and made it his capital city.
In the Law Jehovah intimated that he would designate a specific place among the tribes of Israel where he would cause his holy name to reside, as it says at Deuteronomy 12:5: “To the place that Jehovah your God will choose out of all your tribes to place his name there, to have it reside, you will seek, and there you must come.”
So, after David made the former Jebusite stronghold his royal residence, which was about 500 years after the Israelites had entered into the Promised Land, Jehovah placed his own name upon the city of Jerusalem when he instructed David’s Son, Solomon, to build a temple on Jerusalem’s highest pinnacle. Thereafter, every Israelite man was required to come to worship there and offer sacrifice to Jehovah God. Consequently as a result of Jehovah’s blessing upon it, Jerusalem came to be known throughout the ancient world as a city of great splendor, wisdom and wealth. During the days of Solomon the Queen of Sheba traveled a great distance to behold the famed city where Jehovah had placed his name and she was astounded at what she saw and heard. It was, after all, Jehovah’s city – a holy place to God and men.
With the ancient city’s storied history in mind we can better appreciate why God went on to elaborate to Ezekiel how he made the once pagan-held Jerusalem a thing of beauty, saying further to his prophet: ‘“And I went on to clothe you with an embroidered garment and to shoe you with sealskin and to wrap you in fine linen and to cover you with costly material. And I went on to deck you with ornaments and to put bracelets upon your hands and a necklace about your throat. Furthermore, I put a nose ring in your nostril and earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. And you kept decking yourself with gold and silver, and your attire was fine linen and costly material and an embroidered garment. Fine flour and honey and oil were what you ate, and you grew to be very, very pretty, and gradually you became fit for royal position. And for you a name began to go forth among the nations because of your prettiness, for it was perfect because of my splendor that I placed upon you,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.”
Tragically, though, Jerusalem began trusting in her prettiness and began prostituting herself to the surrounding nations, as the 15th verse goes on to say: “But you began to trust in your prettiness and become a prostitute on account of your name and to pour out your acts of prostitution on every passerby; his it came to be.”
Jehovah thus illustrates his own relationship to Jerusalem by likening the city to an unfaithful prostitute. As if taking pity upon an unwanted, helpless babe, and providing for its care and upbringing, even lavishing her with luxuries as an adult, Jehovah provides a vivid illustration of his care for the city that he chose. It was as if God entered into a marriage covenant with the Jews, as it says in the 8th verse, Jehovah made a “sworn statement” and entered into a covenant: “And so you became mine.”
Shockingly, though, the woman of the illustration – once lifted from her wretched state – began to trust in her prettiness and turned against her benefactor and became a brazen prostitute. From Jehovah’s standpoint Jerusalem spiritually prostituted herself by making political alliances and compromises with Egypt and the Canaanites and with the Assyrians and with the Chaldeans. Ezekiel’s prophecy also goes on to indict Jerusalem for idolatry and for the detestable practice of child sacrifice.
In modern times the Watchtower Society with her Bethel headquarters fills the role of a city for God’s name. Just as ancient Jerusalem was once the possession of the powerful Amorite and the Jebusite tribes, in like manner the Watchtower Society originated in Christendom but gradually developed its own identity separate and distinct from the Canaanite-like religions of Christendom. With Jehovah’s backing Jehovah’s Witnesses have established their own city-like stronghold that is spiritually unassailable from religious enemies.
But like ancient Jerusalem, the Watchtower Society began trusting in its own prettiness, so-to-speak. Forgetting her humble beginnings and her reliance on Jehovah in times past, Bethel has made many compromises. For example, unbeknownst to Jehovah’s Witnesses, in the 1990’s the Society’s lawyers cut a deal with the government of Bulgaria by promising not to threaten Bulgarian Witnesses with disfellowshipping in return for legal recognition and other concessions.
No doubt, though, foremost among Bethel’s compromises was the spiritually adulterous affair the Watchtower Society had with the United Nations for 10 years, when it served as an Associate level NGO.
Following the pattern of Ezekiel in making known Jerusalem’s “detestable things,” in 2004, e-watchman widely publicized the Watchtower’s secret NGO affair with the UN on the Internet and directly to over 6,000 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States, Canada and Great Britain, as well as to 100 branch offices around the globe.
E-watchman has also vigorously exposed the organizational idolatry practiced by Jehovah’s Witnesses as well as the modern form of child sacrifice promoted by the Society in their refusal to protect and support sexually abused children.
It does not bode well for the modern counterpart of the ancient city for God’s name that the Mosaic Law covenant stipulated that both idolaters and prostitutes alike should be stoned to death. In keeping with the terms of the covenant God decreed that the idolatrous, prostitute-like city should be destroyed – as if pelted to death with stones. Ezekiel 16:38-40 reads: “And I will judge you with the judgments of adulteresses and women shedding blood, and I will give you the blood of rage and jealousy. And I will give you into their hand, and they will certainly tear down your mound and your heights will certainly be pulled down, and they must strip you of your garments and take your beautiful articles and leave you behind naked and nude. And they must bring up against you a congregation and pelt you with stones and slaughter you with their swords.”
“AND YOU WILL HAVE TO KNOW THAT I AM JEHOVAH”
But Jerusalem’s fiery end was not the end of Jehovah’s purpose in connection with the city. Quite the contrary, Jerusalem’s best days were still ahead of her. Although the Jews were covenant-breakers Jehovah’s dealings with them and the earthly city of Jerusalem would not be concluded until his purpose had been realized with the coming of the Messiah. Jerusalem was to be rebuilt in order to receive the prophesied King of Israel.
In the concluding verses of the 16th chapter Jehovah reaffirms his commitment to the covenant, saying: “And I, I myself, will establish my covenant with you; and you will have to know that I am Jehovah, in order that you may remember and actually be ashamed and you may no more come to have any reason to open your mouth because of your humiliation, when I make an atonement for you for all that you have done…”
The Watchtower Society interprets the prophecy of Ezekiel to apply to Christendom. However, in all their prophetic commentary they have never commented specifically on the verses above; obviously, for the reason that it simply does not fit their preferred interpretation that the house of Israel typifies Christendom. Are Jehovah’s Witnesses to suppose that God will establish a covenant with the parishioners of Christendom after he destroys it?
Just as was the case with the Jews and their holy city dedicated to Jehovah, first must come the destruction of God’s earthly organization and purging of it of the wicked from among God’s people; then, God makes atonement for the sins of those to whom he shows mercy. The city of Jerusalem will be rebuilt in the form of the New Jerusalem – the heavenly city of God. In that way the New covenant will be concluded.