“At that time Daniel discreetly and cautiously spoke to Arioch the chief of the king’s bodyguard, who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon.”
Daniel and his Jewish companions had been brought from Jerusalem to Babylon to be trained in the knowledge of the Chaldeans and used in the king’s service. (Da. 1:3-7)
Babylonian culture being very superstitious, the king asked his circle of conjurers to explain to him the meaning of a dream he had without telling any of them what the dream itself was. (Da. 2:1-3)
Because this was impossible for them, the king ordered the death of all the “wise men,” including that of Daniel and his friends, who until then, ignored what was going on.
Daniel used discretion and caution when requesting information from the guard who had been sent to kill them.
Daniel set a good example of why God’s people should show respect toward government officials even when we are being treated unjustly. (1 Pe. 2:23)
As a result, Daniel was given Jehovah’s blessing and everyone’s life was spared. (Da. 2:47-49)
“[…] Set your heart and see with your eyes, and with your ears hear all that I am speaking with you regarding all the statutes of the house of Jehovah and regarding all its laws […].”
~Ezekiel 44:5, fn.
When Jehovah God asks us to ‘set our heart’ on his instructions, he is asking us to pay wholehearted attention.
We must listen to and obey God with the proper motivation- one born of our love toward him and a sincere desire to please him. (Matt. 22:37)
In Ezekiel’s day, the chieftains had been extorting the people of Israel through a feigned form of worship. (Eze. 45:9,10)
Through the prophetic vision God granted Ezekiel, we are given hope that it is plausible for a group of people to sincerely love God and carry out a united form of religious worship that is not hypocritical. (Eze. 43:9,27)
We must individually examine our own hearts to see if we meet God’s standards of pure worship. (Ps. 139:23,24)
“Like the flock of holy ones, like the flock of Jerusalem during her festivals, the cities that were in ruins will become full of flocks of people; and they will have to know that I am Jehovah.”
God prophesied that in the last days, the knowledge of his truth would become abundant. (Dan. 12:4)
Although the observation of holidays as mandated by Mosaic Law was ended with the institution of the Christian congregation, Christians still gather together in large cities to praise and learn about God, following a similar pattern to that in ancient Israel. (Gal. 3:24,25)
If you have not done so already, I invite you to attend one of the remaining free regional conventions programmed for this year nearest to where you live. The talks, videos and interviews given encourage us to never give up.
“I will take vengeance on Edom by the hand of my people Israel.”
Since most of Ezekiel’s prophecies were executed by Babylon’s army, how was this prophecy fulfilled?
Despite also being descendants of Abraham through Isaac, the people of Edom had demonstrated hatred toward the people of Israel throughout their history. (Ps. 137:7; Am. 1:11)
When Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and took the Jews captive, Edom was apparently an ally of Babylon. (Obad. 1, 7)
Some fifty years later, though, under the new Babylonian King Nabonidus, an army that included Jewish soldiers conquered Edom, thereby fulfilling the aforementioned prophecy. (Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. I. “Edom: Later History and Disappearance.”)
Edom did not survive as a nation. (Obad. 10)
How awe-inspiring it is to see Jehovah’s prophetic justice fulfilled.
“‘As surely as I am alive,’ declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘I will not respond to your inquiry.’”
Some people pray to God: “God, if you exist, please do [such and such]…”
But in the past, Jehovah has refused to answer the prayers of his own people because their form of worship has been offensive to him.
The Jews were prostrating themselves before stone and wooden idols and offering sacrifices to other gods. (Ez. 20:28-30)
By their actions, they were rejecting the laws that Jehovah had given them for their own benefit. (Ez. 20:13)
Jehovah refused to go along with their charade form of worship and his silence was the only answer their prayers received.
Today, God continues to try to teach us right from wrong for our own benefit. (Is. 48:17,18)
If we listen to his Word and act accordingly, praying in accordance with his will, we will be able to perceive how and when he answers our prayers. (Jas. 2:26; 1 John 5:14)
“This was the error of Sodom your sister: She and her daughters were proud and had an abundance of food and carefree tranquility; yet they did not support the afflicted and the poor.”
Why was Jerusalem, the Holy City, compared to Sodom?
Sodom had been notorious not only for its immoral practices, which Judeans now surpassed, but also for its hardheartedness. (Eze. 16:47,48,50)
Over a hundred years before Ezekiel, the prophet Isaiah had also compared the inhabitants of Jerusalem to Sodom and Gomorrah, which led to his execution (Isa. 1:10; Isaiah’s Prophecy I: “Let Us Set Matters Straight; footnote)
Jesus, referring to the inhabitants of his day who ignored the signs that he was the messiah, stated: “It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for that city.” (Matt. 10:11-15)
What about ourselves?
Do we respond to the Bible’s message with pride and hardheartedness?
As Christians, does our moral lifestyle include giving more of ourselves toward those who are spiritually, emotionally and physically in need? (Jas. 1:27)
“Although I have removed them far away among the nations […], for a little while I will become a sanctuary for them in the lands to which they have gone.”
Even when Jehovah God decides to discipline someone, he does not abandon them.
Jehovah wants those he disciplines to learn to rely on him.
The Jews in Ezekiel’s time were being taken captive to Babylon. (2 Ki. 24:14,15)
Those remaining ended up fleeing to other nations. (2 Ki. 25:26)
Regardless of where they ended up, Jehovah was still reaching out individually to those who wanted to worship him.
Nowadays, for whatever reason, someone might find him or herself separated from the congregation.
Jehovah wants to comfort any of those who call out to him in prayer, as he will never desert those who actively seek him. (Neh. 9:31)
“[…] Do not let your eye feel sorry, and do not feel any compassion.”
Is it cruel on God’s part to destroy the wicked?
Jesus said God executes justice “speedily.” (Luke 18:7,8)
But when Ezekiel prophesied about Jerusalem’s destruction, five years had yet to pass before its fulfillment.
Since the days of Moses, Jehovah had sent one prophet after another to warn his people of what would happen should they stray from true worship. (Jer. 7:25)
Still, the people as a whole were not destroyed.
Jehovah examined them individually and figuratively marked those who would survive Babylon’s invasion.
Furthermore, the religious leaders most responsible for corrupting Jehovah’s worship would be the first to be executed. (Eze. 9:6)
This teaches us that being a nominal Christian or getting baptized is not enough to receive the “mark” of salvation.
Jehovah and Jesus will closely examine who among us truly has faith by our acts of worship. (Jas. 2:24)
“‘[…] They will sleep a lasting sleep,
From which they will not wake up,’ declares Jehovah.”
The Bible explains that there are at least two different types of deaths.
One is the death of someone whom God will resurrect in Paradise, a death Jesus likened to sleep. (Luke 23:39-43; John 11:11-13)
The other death the Bible refers to is that which results in nothingness, nonexistence, simply dust and ashes. (Gen. 3:17,19; Isa. 66:24; Luke 12:4,5; Rev. 20:15)
God foretold through his prophet Jeremiah that Babylon’s leaders would receive permanent punishment for the war crimes they committed, reiterating in verse fifty-seven that they would not benefit from the resurrection hope. (Jer. 51:6, 9, 24, 25, 35, 47, 49, 56)
This prophecy was fulfilled in the year 539 b.C.E., when the city fell in one night to the Mede and Persian armies while the empire’s leaders celebrated a banquet. (Daniel 5:1-3, 30)
Because Jehovah God has appointed his son Jesus as judge, it is unwise for us to speculate whether someone who does not serve God today will not benefit from the resurrection in Paradise. (Acts 10:36,42)
“’In those days and at that time,’ declares Jehovah,
‘Israel’s guilt will be searched for,
But there will be none,
And the sins of Judah will not be found,
For I will forgive those whom I let remain.'”
God allowed his people to be disciplined for not heeding his commandments and straying from true worship. (Jer. 44:10,11)
But God also foretold that his people would return to the Promised Land after a set period and they would then be at peace with him. (Isa. 44:22; Jer. 31:34, 33:7)
Jehovah God is willing to forgive once he has set matters straight, leaving the past in the past.
Shouldn’t we be willing to do the same?