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May 1, 1949
he was thirty years of age. He continued to prophesy for at least twenty-two years, or until 591 B.C. (Ezek. 29: 17) The prophecies he was inspired to speak he was also inspired to write down for a permanent record; and it is in that record that Ezekiel stresses over and over again Jehovah's vindication. This is true regardless of which of the three sections of his prophecy is considered: the first, which concentrates on the fall and desolation of Jerusalem; the second, which pronounces woes upon foreign nations; or the third, which thrills to the glorious restoration that is to come to Israel.
The first section is comprised of chapters 1 to 24. At the outset Ezekiel has a glorious vision of Jehovah's chariot-like organization, attended by cherubim, and out from the throne of which comes a voice commissioning Ezekiel as prophet and watchman unto the house of Israel.* He is to hear the words from Jehovah's mouth, repeat them to Israel as a warning from God, and this whether the peoples hear or forbear to hear. In many pictorial ways, by symbolic parables and pantomime, the "prophet portrayed the siege and fall of Jerusalem and the toll of sword and famine and pestilence that would ravage it. But the justness of the destruction is clear when visions disclose the flagrant practices of demon-worship carried on at the temple in Jerusalem, to the defamation of God's name. Mercy, too, is evidenced by a man in linen preceding the men with slaughter weapons, marking those of good-will that are saddened by the abominations committed against Jehovah's name. And Ezekiel took pains to show that the king and princes and prophets and people that broke covenant with Babylon and looked to Egypt for help did wrong, that those who sought to save their skin and nation at the cost of breaking covenant with God would be brought low.
But the part in this first section that puts the important matter in so many words is Ezekiel's review of the history of Israel, showing it to be one of rebellions against God, yet at the same time showing why Jehovah continually wrought salvation for them: "They rebelled against me, and would not hearken unto me; ... Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. But I wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, among which they were, in whose sight I made myself known unto them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt.... But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: ... Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them in the wilderness, to consume them. But I wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I brought them out.... The children rebelled against me; ... Nevertheless I withdrew my hand, and wrought for my name's sake, ... And ye shall know that I am Jehovah, when I have dealt with you for my name's sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O ye house of Israel, saith the Lord Jehovah." -Ezek. 20: 8-44, Am. Stan. Ver.
The second section, chapters 25 to 32, was delivered during the time of the siege and fall of Jerusalem, and directed against several heathen nations, such as Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyrus, Zidon and Egypt. Some of these nations were particularly rebuked for rejoicing and
• See front cover page of The Watchtower.
clapping their hands at the fall of Jerusalem, for reproaching the Israelites upon whom Jehovah had seen fit to put his name. Their self-exaltation and their railing against Jehovah's name-people were slurs against the Almighty One, and destruction of the blasphemers would contribute to the vindication of the name of the Most High.
Chapter 33 reviews Ezekiel's duties as a watchman, making clear his obligation to warn the wicked that they might turn from their evil or die in their inequity. It is during this review of duty that a messenger arrives from Jerusalem, telling Ezekiel and the captives in Babylon of the fall of the city. (Ezek. 33: 21, An Amer. Trans.) Ezekiel's prophecies of desolation were fulfilled, but he wastes no time with taunts of "I told you so". Rather, in this closing section of sixteen chapters, he continues to look to the future as he paints a series of glorious pictures of restoration. False shepherds that fed and clothed themselves at the expense and to the neglect of the flock are cast from favorable consideration, and in contrast Jehovah the Great Shepherd is pictured as gathering his people like a flock and herding them into lush pastures of peace and safety. The faithful Jewish displaced persons Jehovah will resettle in their homeland, breaking the oppressor's yoke and the enslaver's chains, making possible the rebuilding of the waste places and repopulating of desolated cities. Why, even a heart of flesh will he give to replace the stony hearts of one-time rebels! And for what purpose is all this glorious restoration of Israel? Read it for yourself, just as Ezekiel wrote it:
"Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I do not this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for my holy name, which ye have profaned among the nations, whither ye went. And I will sanctify my great name, which hath been profaned among the nations, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the nations shall know that I am Jehovah, saith the Lord Jehovah, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited. Then the nations that are left round about you shall know that I, Jehovah, have builded the ruined places, and planted that which was desolate: I, Jehovah, have spoken it, and I will do it.... And they shall know that I am Jehovah." -Ezek. 36: 22-24, 35, 36,38, Am. Stan. Ver.
By additional parables and pictures Jehovah through Ezekiel sounds a message of courage to the captives in Babylon, greatly increased now by the thousands brought in after Jerusalem's fall in 607 B.C. Outstanding is the account of Gog's malicious assault on restored, peaceful Israel and the final defeat inflicted on that wicked tool of Satan, and the cleansing activities of the remnant of Israel after that furious fight. The closing chapters relate Ezekiel's vision of Jehovah's restored temple in the Holy Land, wherein true worship will be practiced in praise of God and further vindication of his name.
"Ezekiel is unto you a sign." (Ezek. 24: 24) His words and visions, parables and pantomimes were a sign to the people. They were both warning and instruction. They did not point to nations as sources of salvation; they did not