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THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET EZEKIEL





EXPLANATORY NOTE

This posthumous work of Pastor Russell (arranged for use as a textbook) is much condensed, including the extracts from the Pastor's pen, all of which are referred back to his works. The abbreviations used are:

A, B, C, D,E, FThe six preceding volumes of "STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES".
(Citations to E in italic figures refer to old editions, figures in ordinary type to later editions.)
B. S. M..........."THE BIBLE STUDENTS MONTHLY."
H....................."What Say the Scriptures ABOUT HELL?"
P-D................. "PHOTO-DRAMA OF CREATION" Scenario.
T....................."TABERNACLE SHADOWS."
S....................."SPIRITISM" Pamphlet.
Z......................"ZION'S WATCH TOWER," followed by year and page.

The citations to REVELATION and EZEKIEL refer to the comments herein, as well as to the Bible text.
Other abbreviations used are:

Barnes..........Barnes' "Revelation".
Brit................."Encyclopedia Britannica."
Buck..............Buck's "Theological Dictionary".
Coffin............Coffin's "Story of Liberty".
Cook.............Cook's "Revelation" ; a compendium of the presentations of seventy-two leading commentators on Revelation, in all languages and all ages of the Church.
Edgar............Edgar's "Pyramid Passages". Vol. II.
McC...............McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia.
Mosheim......Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History.
S. B. D...........Smith's Bible Dictionary.
Smith.............Smith's "Thoughts on Daniel and Revelation".
Weym............Weymouth's New Testament in Modern Speech.



EZEKIEL 20

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THE HYPOCRITICAL ECCLESIASTICS

20:1. And it came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth month, the tenth day of the month, that certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the Lord, and sat before me. — The elders of Israel came to confer with Ezekiel, but he would not be interviewed by them, because of their idolatrous tendencies. The Hebrews had always had such propensities. God had refrained from destroying them in order to preserve His own good name among the heathen peoples; but now He was about to punish them, until the appointed time should come when He would regather them. The destruction of Judaism is here pictured as a fire in a forest. This chapter introduces another group of prophecies against Christendom, ending with Chapter 24. Some of the prominent ecclesiastics will read up or consult Pastor Russell and his writings, and the "Truth people," ostensibly to learn what they can.
20:2, 3. Then came the Word of the Lord unto me, saying, Son of man, speak unto the elders of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Are ye come to inquire of Me? As I live, saith the Lord God, I will not be inquired of by you. — Present Truth will refuse any favorable answer to ecclesiasticism.
20:4. Wilt thou judge them, son of man, wilt thou judge them? cause them to know the abominations of their fathers. — Instead, it will pronounce judgment upon them. It will cause them to realize the abominations in doctrine and in life of professed Christians, as a result of the teachings of the Dark Ages.
20:5. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God: In the day when I chose Israel, and lifted up Mine hand unto the seed of the house of Jacob, and made Myself known unto them in the land of Egypt, when I lifted up Mine hand unto them, saying, I am the Lord your God. — First viewed as God's people "in the world," Egypt, God chose them, made Himself known to them, and lifted up for them the hand of His power. — Z.'94-357.
20:6. In the day that I lifted up Mine hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt into a land that I had espied for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands. — He promised to bring them in
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the resurrection, if faithful, into the "mansion" prepared for them — Heaven itself, the most glorious condition in God's Universe.
20:7. Then said I unto them, Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. — God had told them to cast away all filthiness of the flesh and the spirit (2 Cor. 7:1), to do away with the desire of things seen with the fleshly eyes (1 John 2:16), and no longer to defile themselves spiritually with cravings for earthly power. But while professing Christ's name, they rebelled in their heart against God, and would not listen to Him.
20:8. But they rebelled against Me, and would not hearken unto Me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt: then I said, I will pour out My fury upon them, to accomplish My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. — Over and over, throughout the Gospel Age, God was indignant enough to bring destruction upon them; hut He did not, in order that His name and reputation might not come into disrespect among the worldly people, who were taught by professing Christians that God was with them.
20:9,10. But I wrought for My name's sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, among whom they were, in whose sight I made Myself known unto them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt. Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness. — God's Word views professing Christians also as in the wilderness condition of separateness from and ostracism by the worldly — as "brought forth out of the land of Egypt"
20:11. And I gave them My statutes, and shewed them My judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them. — God took the Christians out of the world and its customs and laws of selfishness and gave them His "new commandment that they should love one another." (John 13:34.) He showed them that they were already in their period of judgment; and that if they "endured temptation" (James 1:12), trial, or testing, they should have life everlasting.
20:12. Moreover also I gave them My sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctifieth them. — He gave them the privilege of entering in advance of the world into His sabbath (Millennial) rest — the rest of peace with God by faith, of justification freely given through the blood of the
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Son of God. The Lord Himself set them apart for His holy service.
20:13. But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness: they walked not in My statutes, and they despised My judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and My sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out My fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them. — As a class, professed Christians have rebelled against being in the wilderness condition of separateness from and ostracism by the worldly. They have lived not according to the Law of Divine Love, but have despised the opportunities of the trial period. They have despised the Scriptural doctrine of the Millennium, and have made a common thing of the rest of faith by introducing all kinds of penances, masses, alms, and other deeds whereby to earn the peace with God, freely offered through faith in Jesus' atoning Sacrifice. Often was God indignant enough to destroy them.
20:14. But I wrought for My name's sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, in whose sight I brought them out. — But for His own name's sake, not theirs, God refrained from permitting the Time of Trouble to come before the appointed time, that the people of this world might not belittle Him and His protecting power.
20:15, 16. Yet also I lifted up My hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands; because they despised My judgments, and walked not in My statutes, but polluted My sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols. — Yet the Word of God has made it plain that those in the wilderness condition who have not given their whole heart to God shall not be changed to the spirit nature and brought to the Heavenly plane of being.
20:17-21. Nevertheless Mine eye spared them from destroying them, neither did I make an end of them in the wilderness. But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols: I am the Lord your God; walk in My statutes, and keep My judgments, and do them; and hallow My sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between Me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God. Notwithstanding, the children rebelled against Me; they walked not in My statutes, neither kept My judgments to do them, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted My sabbaths; then I said, I would pour out My fury upon them. to accomplish My anger against them in the wilderness. —
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God did not at once destroy those in the wilderness condition, but gave the same fatherly admonition to those who succeeded them, all in vain.
20:22-24. Nevertheless I withdrew Mine hand, and wrought for My name's sake, that it should not be polluted in the sight of the heathen, in whose sight I brought them forth. I lifted up Mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries; because they had not executed My judgments, but had despised My statutes, and had polluted My sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers' idols. — God repeated His forbearance, in not scattering them back into the world, nor destroying them.
20:25. Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live. — At last God gave them up "to their own heart's desires" (Psa. 81:12), to "worship the hosts of heaven," their own pulpit stars (Acts 7:42), who "changed the truth of God into a He," into "human traditions," and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator" (Rom. 1:25) — following evil statutes, "customs," and enduring worldly trials and temptations, bringing them, not life, but death.
20:26. And I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am the Lord. — God gave them up to doctrinal pollutions, in that they believed in and worshipped the eternal torment god, Moloch, the Devil, and singed, scorched spiritually, with the fear of "the hot place," all their children, those young in nominal Christianity. (Jer. 32:35.) This caused them to be desolate, deserted, abandoned by the true God, like the heathen without God — though not that God might ultimately destroy them; for in the Times of Restitution they will by contrast appreciate the true God.
20:27-28. Therefore, son of man, speak unto the house of Israel, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Yet in this your fathers have blasphemed Me, in that they have committed a trespass against Me. For when I had brought them into the land, for the which I lifted up Mine hand to give it to them, then they saw every high hill, and all the thick trees, and they offered there their sacrifices, and there they presented the provocation of their offering: there also they made their sweet savour, and poured out there their drink offerings. — The Christian's course was typed by the experience of the Hebrews in the land of Canaan (Isa. 57:5), in the blessedness of Divine favor and
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in the abundance of God's "gifts. When brought into this condition of favor, instead of being thankful and giving their whole hearts to God in devoted consecration, the great mass of professing Christians committed the same abominations that the heathen were guilty of — union of church with worldly power, making the high ones the heads of the church, as the King of England and the Czar of Russia; doing homage to all of earth's great ones (the thick trees); rendering service and obedience (sweet savor) to traditions of men; and preaching (pouring out) strong doctrines, intoxicating wine of their mixed teachings (drink offerings).
20:29. Then I said unto them, What is the high place whereunto ye go? And the name thereof is called Bamah unto this day. — In verse 29 Ezekiel speaks with contempt of the Hebrew apostasy. He uses a play upon words, not apparent in the English translation. He asks them, "Mah ba" (Where go?), and answers, "Ba-mah" (the high places) is the name to this day. Pastor Russell frequently spoke with contempt — deserved, from the Divine viewpoint — of the "high-place," nominal church, her clergy and her laity, always going to the "high ones."
20:30. Wherefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; Are ye polluted after the manner of your fathers? and commit ye whoredom after their abominations? — Again, in the phase of captivity in "Babylon," the Lord's people were guilty of doctrinal and moral pollution and of illicit union of church and earthly power.
20:31. For when ye offer your gifts, when ye make your sons to pass through the fire, ye pollute yourselves with all your idols, even unto this day: and shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, saith the Lord God, I will not be inquired of by you. — God will not even listen to the prayers of such professed Christians.
20:32. And that which cometh into your mind shall not be all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone. — Their heart's real desire to become good-fellows in the world's fellowship (Jer. 44:17) shall fail.
20:33. As I live, saith the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you. — God began at the appointed time, 1914, to punish the accumulated sins of Christendom "with a mighty hand (power) and with a stretched out arm (Christ present the Second time, Isa. 53:1), and with fury poured out ("a great Time of Trouble such as never was" (Dan. 12:1), and which the Lord declared would never require a repetition.
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20:34. And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. — But even this tribulation will be done in a Father's love and for the good of His erring children, to cleanse them. Through this trouble God will search out all professed Christians, make them manifestly separate from the openly worldly. — Z.'94-76.
20:35. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. — God will bring them into a wilderness condition of separateness from the world and of ostracism and persecution by the revolutionary and anarchistic masses, and face to face He will plead with the nominal church to forsake evil and idolatry.
20:36. Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord God. — As He did with the Hebrews in their trial time in the Wilderness of Sinai.
20:37. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. — God will cause His people, all those not utterly devoid of the Holy Spirit — "the Great Company" in the churches — to pass under the rod of correction and to resume their fidelity to their vow of consecration.
20:38. And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against Me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the Lord. — He will permit conditions of persecution by Socialists, revolutionists, syndicalists, nihilists and anarchists, against persons professing Christianity ("the religion that got the world into trouble"), such that every person not possessing, the Holy Spirit will renounce all pretense of being Christian and will get out of the deplorable condition (country) wherein the true Christians will be. This outcast class, being entirely "of the earth, earthy," shall not enter the spiritual phase of the Kingdom.
20:39. As for you, O house of Israel, thus saith the Lord God; Go ye, serve ye every one his idols, and hereafter also, if ye will not hearken unto Me: but pollute ye My holy name no more with your gifts, and with your idols. — Let who will then serve their idols; but they shall no longer associate themselves with God's children, nor falsely bear the name of Christ, nor pollute God's holy name nor His Church with their presence or their practices. "If the Lord be God, follow Him; if Baal, follow him."
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20:40. For in Mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord God, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve Me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the first fruits of your oblations, with all your holy things. — God wounds to heal. In the real "high places," the Kingdom of God now at hand, planned for man's blessed restitution, all who are truly God's shall serve Him, some in the spiritual phase of the Kingdom, some in the earthly phase. (Mal. 3:3, 4.) There God will accept all comers, "The Spirit and the Bride say, Come .... and whosoever will, let him take of the Water of Life freely" (Rev. 22:17.) There God will accept their offerings of themselves in heartfelt consecration, and the first and best of their offerings and all their possessions, then hallowed by the influences of the Kingdom of Love.
20:41. I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered, and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen. — God will accept their heart's best endeavors (incense), when He gathers His children — His spirit children and His earth children — out from the prison-house of death, and out from the dark shadows of a world-wide heathenism. Then, God will be seen to be holy, sanctified, in His children, in the sight of all the Satan-blinded idolaters of earth.
20:42. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for the which I lifted up Mine hand to give it to your fathers. — God's children, who have not known Him as He is, will know Him then as the God of infinite Justice, Wisdom, Love and Power, — when they shall be established in the Kingdom, in whatever phase they are fitted for — the Kingdom whose earthly phase God promised to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the Ancient Worthies (Psa. 45:16), and whose Heavenly phase He covenanted to give to the spirit class of the Gospel Age. — Heb. 11:40.
20:43. And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed. — Then those who have not loved the God of Love as they should shall remember their former ways and loathe themselves for the evil done against such Love Divine.
20:44. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have wrought with you for My name's sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O ye house of Israel, saith the Lord God. — They will hum-
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bly, thankfully and with fervent gratitude and love know that Jehovah, who is Love (1 John 4:8), dealt with them, for the carrying out of His all holy purposes, and not as Justice might have called for in connection with their ways.
20:45, 46. Moreover the Word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, set thy face toward the south, and drop thy word toward the south, and prophesy against the forest of the south field. — The words of Ezekiel return to the impending destruction of Jerusalem — of Christendom. Pastor Russell was to speak, as from the Divine viewpoint (the North) against the multitudes (trees in the forest) in the earthly phase (the south) of the Kingdom of God, already established in its counterfeit form. Jerusalem (ecclesiasticism) was in a southerly direction (belonging to the earth, earthy), from the Prophet's point of view.
20:47. And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the Lord" Thus saith the Lord God; Behold I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein. — God permitted in 1914 the kindling of the present unquenchable conflagration of war, and of revolution and anarchy to come. Righteous (green tree) and wicked (dry tree) alike are to suffer in the fiery trials of the trouble time. All who are of the earth, earthy (of the south, earthly phase of the Kingdom), but who pretend or claim to be of the spiritual phase, to have the Holy Spirit (look toward the north, the spiritual), are to be burned, as the tares are burned after the gathering of the wheat into the Heavenly garner. — Matt. 13:30.
20:48. And all flesh shall see that I the Lord have kindled it: it shall not be quenched. — All mankind will understand, before the Time of Trouble is over, that "the strange work" is of Jehovah.
20:49. Then said I, Ah Lord God! they say of me, Doth he not speak parables? — The people of ecclesiasticism, misled by the clergy, are unable to understand Pastor Russell's teachings regarding the trouble, or to get the Divine viewpoint.



"There are great truths that pitch their shining tents
Outside our walls, and though but dimly seen
In the gray dawn, they will be manifest
When the light widens into perfect day."

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