“Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity. For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.” (Ezek. 4:4-6)
The prophet Ezekiel has to lay on his left side to bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. But what then is the iniquity of the house of Israel? Next, he has to turn on his right side and bear the iniquity of Judah. What is the iniquity of Judah? And what does the 390 years for Israel and the 40 years for Judah imply? (i.e., upon applying the day for a year principle)
To better understand what God meant by those time elements, we must know first the context of this prophecy – it is about the siege of Jerusalem.
If the siege of Jerusalem would be our starting point then upon careful consideration of the first time element which is the 390 years, we will have to include the last king of Judah that was dethroned (King Zedekiah). This constitutes the First Temple period when it was besieged by the Chaldeans. We then count 390 years backwards from that siege in 585 BC, and we will arrive at 975 BC in a period around the time of Rehoboam’s reign when the kingdom was split into two because Jeroboam seized for himself the ten tribes of Israel, which he eventually led into sin.
The iniquity of the house of Israel points us back to this one defining moment in ancient history that triggers the pre-determined 390 year time period prior to the siege of Jerusalem: Mr. Flurry explained in the Royal Vision:
Let’s return to the story in 1 Kings 12. Once the northern 10 tribes rebelled, Jeroboam wanted to MAKE SURE they never returned to the house of David. He hated that house, and was concerned that if the people continued to travel to Jerusalem to make sacrifices in the temple, they would go back to Rehoboam (verses 25-26). (July-August 2012 issue, p. 6)
Mr. Flurry further wrote:
JEROBOAM CAUSED ISRAEL TO SIN
1 Kings 14:15-16 contain a prophecy about Israel being smitten, rooted up and scattered. These verses say that God “shall give Israel up because of the sins of Jeroboam, WHO DID SIN, AND WHO MADE ISRAELTO SIN.” Jeroboam sinned, and he made Israel sin. Leaders can do that. This man turned Israel to turn away from the house of David and God. The same thing happened in the Laodicean Church in this end time. The leaders turned the people away from the house of David and God! (ibid., p. 7)
All throughout the chronicle of those northern 10 tribes, God made sure that we never forget who started it all who made Israel to sin – it’s Jeroboam. (Read 1 Kings 14:16; 15:30; 2 Kings 3:3; 10:29;13:2, 31; 14:24; 15:18)
From the accounts listed, it is very clear that it was indeed Jeroboam, the son of Nebat who made Israel to sin. But what has he done to make Israel sin? As Mr. Flurry noted, he caused the 10 tribes to rebel against the authority of the house of David (1 Kings 12:19). But that is not his sin because it was God who gave him those 10 tribes (read 1 Kings 11:29-31). This is what Jeroboam did – he introduced the idol worship (vv. 27-29) through which the other kings of Israel followed suit in his example.
In verses 30-31 we can know what has BECOME the sin of Israel: “And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.” Let’s read what Mr. Armstrong wrote about this history:
So immediately Jeroboam set up two great idols for his people to worship. He ordered the fall festivals to be observed in the eighth month, at a place of his choosing north of Palestine—instead of in the seventh month, and at Jerusalem as God ordered (1 Kings 12:28-32). Also Jeroboam changed the Sabbath day from the seventh to the eighth—that is, to the day following the seventh day, which, of course, was actually the first day of the week. Thus he set the day for worship to coincide with the pagan day of the sun, now called Sunday!
Through the rule of 19 kings and seven successive dynasties, the 10-tribed house of Israel continued in the basic twin sins of Jeroboam: idolatry and Sabbath-breaking. Several of the kings added other evil and sinful practices. (The United States and Britain in Prophecy, p. 146)
Jeroboam took the role of a high priest, and he led the people to idolatry through his very own priesthood. He also changed the time and the season of the observance of the feast from the seventh month to the eighth month (vv. 32-33). He basically invented his own brand of religion to prevent Israel from going to Jerusalem to worship the true God. Has this not what exactly happened in this end time spiritually to the Laodiceans? Actually, we are just witnessing a duality of what had happened anciently to the 10 tribes of Israel and what has happened to their spiritual counterpart in this end time – both have lost their identity (the Worldwide Church of God is now called the Grace Communion International). And both have changed the time and the season by which they observe the Sabbaths and the feasts. The Sabbath is to be a sign between God and His people (Exo. 31:13,16-17). Here is what Mr. Armstrong wrote:
God commanded His people to keep His Sabbath as a sign. It is a sign between God’s people and God – “…a sign between me and you,” the commandment says. It is a badge or token of IDENTITY. It advertises, or announces, or proclaims certain identifying knowledge. But WHAT KNOWLEDGE? God answers: “…that you may KNOW that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.” (Which Day is the Christian Sabbath?, p. 38)
Mr. Armstrong in another article continues:
It is an historic fact that any nation which ever profaned God’s holy Sabbath (weekly), has lost contact with and knowledge of the true God, and gone into the idolatry. The only nation which ever did keep God’s Sabbath is the only one that kept the true memory and worship of the true God – and only when they kept the Sabbath. When ancient Israel began to profane God’s Sabbath, it began to worship idols! (Pagan Holidays – or God’s Holy Days – Which?, p. 6)
Now we go to the next act of Ezekiel when he laid on his right side: 40 years were determined for the second time element (This is connected to the 70 weeks prophecy in Daniel 9. You can read it here). This refers to the Second Temple period. Counting 40 years backward from the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD, we will arrive at 30 AD.
What then could have been the specific event that would most probably be associated with this time period which will point us directly to the iniquity of Judah?
If we shall compare the two time elements, God extended His mercy for 390 years with the iniquity of Israel before the punishment came. But as for the iniquity of Judah, only a 40 year span was given unto them. What could have been the specific sin of Judah that would make it greater than that of Israel as to meet such a swift retribution? And how do we even know that Judah’s sin indeed exceeded Israel’s?
In the Bible, it is a common knowledge which side is more significant– well, it is the right side. The right arm usually represents blessing, strength and greatness (Gen. 48:13-20; Exo. 15:6-7; Job 40:14; Psa. 16:7; Psa. 48:10; Psa. 118:15). For the iniquity of Israel, the prophet Ezekiel was commanded to lie on his left side, whereas for the iniquity of Judah, he was to lie on his right side. This then indicates which sin is greater in God’s eyes – it is imputed on Judah (PCG).
Even God emphatically coursed through the prophet Jeremiah His thoughts about Judah: “And the LORD said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah.” (Jer. 3:11)
Now we shall move to that specific event in 30 AD which determines the iniquity of Judah (this same year and the event that happened therein are important to note for the 70 weeks prophecy in chapter 12). Notice John 11:55, determines the time setting – “And the Jews’ passover was nigh at hand,” while in John 12:1, “Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany”; which means it is not yet 31 AD:
- John 11:47-53 – “Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest THAT SAME YEAR, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest THAT YEAR, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.”
The chief priests and the Pharisees plotted to kill the heir to the throne from the house of King David, the King of kings, Jesus Christ – THAT SAME YEAR! Again, what year? 30 AD! Notice that from this point in time, God the Father remembers the iniquity of Judah and DETERMINED a punishment 40 years after – the siege and destruction of Jerusalem on 70 AD. (More on this subject on chapter 12)
While it is true that Israel had rejected the kings whom God had appointed over them, much more so, Judah had flatly rejected the King of kings. And while Israel turned away from God to worship idols, Judah turned away from God to worship the authority of men and their tradition with so much pride and full of hypocrisy. Whereas Israel neglected to follow God, Judah plotted to murder his own Creator!
But who are these chief priests and the Pharisees? Can we be sure that we know? Let us have some brief historical background:
In the years before the rise of Rome, the Jews, after centuries of captivity, finally won their freedom from a tyrannical (Greek) king named Antiochus Epiphanes, one of the greatest despots of the ancient world… The belief among the Jews was that God had punished Israel by delivering it into the hands of occupying nations for its failure to follow the Law of Moses. Now, with their freedom finally won, some key leaders of the Jews resolved that they would never again come under bondage from their rebellion, and so they determined they would follow God and honor His commandments so that Israel would know His blessings rather than His curses and punishments. In its zeal to observe the commandments, the nation gave birth to several fanatical groups dedicated to promoting holiness. At the forefront of this movement was a group that came to be known to us as the Pharisees. (Source: http://www.centralcal.com/crist2.htm)
Let’s consider the Jewish Encyclopedia for more information about the Pharisees:
PHARISEES (Aramaic, “Perishaya”; Hebr. “Perushim”):
“Perisha” (the singular of “Perishaya”) denotes “one who separates himself,” or keeps away from persons or things impure, in order to attain the degree of holiness and righteousness required in those who would commune with God…
(T)he Sadducean priesthood prided itself upon its aristocracy of blood, …the Pharisees created an aristocracy of learning instead, declaring a bastard who is a student of the Law to be higher in rank than an ignorant high priest (Hor. 13a), and glorying in the fact that their most prominent leaders were descendants of proselytes (or new converts) …For the decision of their Scribes, or “Soferim”, consisting originally of Aaronites, Levites, and common Israelites, they claimed the same authority as for the Biblical law, even in case of error; they endowed them with the power to abrogate the Law at times (see Abrogation of Laws), and they went so far as to say that he who transgressed their words deserved death. By dint of this authority, claimed to be divine, they put the entire calendric system upon a new basis, independent of the priesthood…
On the whole, however, they added new restrictions to the Biblical law in order to keep the people at a safe distance from forbidden ground; as they termed it, “THEY MADE A FENCE AROUND THE LAW.” (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12087-pharisees)
Did you see that? The Pharisees during Christ’s earthly ministry “MADE A FENCE AROUND THE LAW!” Is this not the specific fulfillment of the prophesied IRON WALL of Ezekiel 4? Let’s continue from the previous source to see one of the characteristics of that IRON WALL:
The Pharisees also favored the rich over the poor because of the prevailing attitude that poverty was a sign of the curse of God, while prosperity was believed to show the approval of God on one’s life…
The attitude sometimes carried over into the Sanhedrin’s legislative abilities, and so the Pharisees were known on occasion to abuse the right given them under the Law of Moses to enact laws clarifying points that the greater Law did not directly address. This had the effect, in some cases, of subverting the principles of the Law to favor those of wealth and power, something Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for. (op. cit.)
Can we find a similar situation in this last end which portrays a scenario wherein the ministers in God’s Church favor the rich over the poor and even brand those in poverty as under a curse from God? So many poor people in the Philadelphia Church of God around the world could relate to that and have so many stories to tell of their own experiences in the hands of these spiritual Pharisees. Some members on occasion have seen and even suffered an abuse of the minister’s authority over them – using God’s government in vain. For emphasis: “This had the effect, in some cases, of subverting the principles of the Law to favor those of wealth and power.”
Now, let us include the group of the Sadducees because this group as it appears were the same chief priests who influenced Judas to betray Jesus Christ. Let’s consider the Jewish Enclopedia again and you will be utterly shocked:
Name from High Priest Zadok.
Name given to the party representing views and practises of the Law and interests of Temple and priesthood directly opposite to those of the Pharisees. The singular form, “Ẓadduḳi”, is an adjective denoting “an adherent of the Bene Ẓadoḳ,” the descendants of Zadok, the high priests who, tracing their pedigree back to Zadok, the chief of the priesthood in the days of David and Solomon, formed the Temple hierarchy all through the time of the First and Second Temples down to the days of Ben Sira but who degenerated under the influence of Hellenism, especially during the rule of the Seleucidæ, when to be a follower of the priestly aristocracy was tantamount to being a worldly-minded Epicurean
From another source we could read:
The Sadducees take their name from the priest Zadok who supported Solomon against Adonijah when he attempted to appoint himself King of Israel. (See the 1st chapter of 1st Chronicles.) …While the Sadducees were few in number, their control of the Temple, along with their wealth, gave them an important position of authority within… the Sanhedrin.
The word Sanhedrin refers to a religious court. In the time of Christ, there were two Sanhedrins operating in Jerusalem, the first of which was a 23-member court run by the Sadducees that handled local affairs. Acts 5:25 shows this group and the Great Sanhedrin coming together to discuss the problem of the Christians…
At the trial of Jesus before the elders of Israel … (t)he outcome was inevitable, especially because of the threat Jesus posed to the Sadducees.
In their view, this man was an unparalleled danger standing in direct contradiction to their theology across the board. …Thus, in their own self-interest, the Sadducees, more so than the Pharisees (some of whom certainly did want Jesus dead), forced the issue of trying and slaying Jesus.
Evidence of this can be seen in the fact that the Sadducees, and not the Pharisees…
- Arranged with Judas to betray Christ (Matt. 26)
- Set a guard at the tomb (Matt. 27)
- Arrested the apostles (Acts 5)
- Gave letters to Paul authorizing the persecution of the church in Damascus (Acts 9)
Upon reading the name Pharisee which means, in Strong’s, “AN EXCLUSIVELY RELIGIOUS SEPARATIST”; it’s very much like the description in Ezekiel 4 of the IRON WALL between God and His people which was described by the prophet Ezekiel as a STRONG WALL OF SEPARATION. While as for the Sadducees, they have derived their name from ZADOK THE PRIEST.
Do the descriptions for the Pharisees, as RELIGIOUS SEPARATISTS, and the Sadducees, as SONS OF ZADOK THE PRIEST ring a bell in this last end?
Pharisaism shaped the character of Judaism and the life and thought of the Jew for all the future. True it gave the Jewish religion a legalistic tendency and made “separatism” its chief characteristic (op. cit.)
Now, in this last end, which Church of God group does have the legalistic tendency and has made a doctrine of “SEPARATISM” its chief characteristic? And which group claims to be the SONS OF ZADOK?
Sons of Zadok is just another way of saying the Philadelphians today. Like Zadok, these individuals stay with the key of David. They hold on to the understanding about David’s throne. (The Key of David, p. 57)
Could those descriptions referring to the Pharisees and the Sadducees be branded to the ministers of the Philadelphia Church of God? Well, consider these undeniable facts: the PCG ministry has implemented the NO CONTACT POLICY among its membership, and it has been said frequently, that we, as members of the PCG are the SONS OF ZADOK. Do these descriptions squarely and perfectly fit with that of the Pharisees who “MADE A FENCE AROUND THE LAW,” and the Sadducees who claimed to be the descendants of ZADOK THE PRIEST?
It does send some chills to the bones seeing the striking similarity to the Pharisees and Sadducees in Christ’s time. What do you think? Well, most likely, it only applies to those 25 men of Ezekiel 8.
If that would be the case then, some ministers of the PCG in this last end could be fulfilling the duality of a prophecy of plotting or entrapping to spiritually murder their Creator again – Christ coming in the flesh through That Prophet, (even through His little ones. In Matthew 18:5-6, the word “offend” also means “entrap” in Strong’s.)
Now moving on, God remembers and DETERMINED 40 years from that moment in 30 AD and then He allowed the punishment to come immediately on 70 AD (connected to Daniel 9’s seventy weeks prophecy in chapter 12). Jerusalem was besieged again. There came a famine again. The walls crumbled again. And the temple ended in destruction and ruins again – To which the second part of Ezekiel’s prophecy was fulfilled.
Notice the parallels between the two parts of this Ezekiel 4 prophecy – the 390 years for the iniquity of Israel and the 40 years for the iniquity of Judah. Israel and Judah both rejected God. Their sins are pretty much the same. The fulfillment of the prophecy is the same. In both cases, the temple along with the city of Jerusalem was destroyed.
In the 390 year time period, Jeroboam as the king of the ten tribes of Israel also took the role of a high priest to himself and set up his own priesthood which he used to prevent Israel from having an access to the true God by introducing a new doctrinal wall:
“And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.”(1 Kings 12:26-29)
While in the 40 year time period it was ALSO the priesthood – the chief priests and the Pharisees that prevented Judah from also having an access to the true God: “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” (Matt. 23:13)
The priesthood in Jeroboam’s time and in Christ’s time has BOTH prevented the people from having an access to the true God – their doctrines was comparable to a WALL OF SEPARATION between God and His people.
The Apostle Paul even likens the “high priest” to a “whitewashed wall” (Acts 23:2-3). The prophet Jeremiah also pictures the “altar” as a “wall” (Lam. 2:7-8). So going back to the IRON WALL that was set up by the prophet Ezekiel in chapter 4, it does clearly refer to the PRIESTHOOD or the MINISTRY and their doctrine of SEPARATISM!
So the prophesied Ezekiel 4 siege clearly revolves around the IRON WALL that was set up in the PCG, and that WALL prevented God’s people from having an access to the true God just like what the Pharisees had done before. The “NO CONTACT POLICY” that was implemented inside the Philadelphia Church of God is a big part of that strong impregnable IRON WALL separation between God and His people! Can we see those spiritual Pharisees in our midst? We can know them by their fruits. Everything is already written in the wall. Can anyone refute God’s truth and prophecy being laid before our eyes?
Now here’s the question: Could there also be a counterpart to the Sadducees in this last end who will arrange with the last end Judas to betray Christ coming in the flesh through His prophet?
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