NEW REVELATION ABOUT WHEN AND HOW THE GREAT TRIBULATION BEGINS. A SURVEY OF THE FIRST FIVE CHAPTERS OF EZEKIEL.
By Gerald Flurry
Current events in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Libya and countries all over the world are building toward a super catastrophe. Already we are living in a new horrifying reality! Politicians, analysts and even regular news watchers can see that more plainly every day. What they don’t realize is that the Prophet Ezekiel forecasted this modern situation we face—and he accurately illustrated what is about to happen and how it is all going to end.
I want to survey the book of Ezekiel and give you the whole picture of what this prophetic book is about. Ezekiel of the Old Testament is somewhat of a counterpart to what the book of Revelation is to the New Testament. Ezekiel contains a story flow of prophecy as the book of Revelation does. Understanding what God revealed in this book will help us prepare for the prophetic events that are coming.
Ezekiel covered some territory that the other prophets usually did not, and on a rather large scale. He describes a lot of horrifying events that God prophesied. He also balances that terrible news with good news, such as one of the most beautiful chapters in the Bible about the Bride of Jesus Christ. But there’s no escaping the stark detail with which Ezekiel prophesies what is coming on the modern descendants of Israel and the world. Never in the history of man has Ezekiel had such a profound meaning as today! In this article, we will focus on the first five chapters of his book.
THE GOD OF EZEKIEL 1
We really need to understand the introduction to Ezekiel, especially the first three chapters. I know of no other biblical book’s introduction that is pointed directly at the Philadelphia Church of God (pcg) the way this one is. It helps us get the priority right: It describes the great God and what He is doing through His people.
Ezekiel 1:1 is about getting to know God: “Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.” Ezekiel saw this fiery spectacle and other visions like nobody else in the Old First, Ezekiel saw a vision of God! “And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire” (verse 4). Beginning in verse 5, he describes four cherubim shuttling God around on a resplendent vehicle wherever He wants to go. “And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning. … And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings” (verses 14, 24). Notice how Ezekiel describes God: “the Almighty.”
This has a parallel in the book of Revelation. In the first chapter of that book, the Apostle John describes a fiery vision of God he received—much like Ezekiel. Then he went on to use the name “Lord God Almighty” 10 times—more than any other book in the New Testament (aside from quotes of the Old Testament). Seeing that vision put John’s mind on the “Lord God Almighty,” and made John a different man! It helped him see God far more deeply than he ever had before. Ezekiel also talked about “the Almighty God” (Ezekiel 10:5). When you get visions like that, you begin to see things differently! The visions Ezekiel received really stirred and changed him, just like the visions John received.
Do you know God as these men did? We in God’s Church see God working all the time. The miracles that empower this Church are not from men— God is doing it. But we sometimes don’t see Him as He really is—the Lord God Almighty behind this Work who accomplishes everything we do!
Ezekiel 1:25-26 describe “the likeness of the throne,” “the appearance of a sapphire,” and “the appearance of a man above upon it.” In the midst of this spectacle of fire, lightning and power, Ezekiel saw a Being above it all who appeared like a man. This is God! And the only creation on Earth that has the features and likeness of God is man! That points to God’s plan: To re-create Himself in man!
“And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake” (verses 27-28).
When you read Ezekiel, you have to ask yourself, Who had visions greater than what God gave to Ezekiel? This is not the little Lord Jesus in a manger; this is not the same one who came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. This is the God who is the Head of this Church! We have to think deeply about that. This ought to cause us to just about faint every time we look into these wonderful scriptures.
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MESSAGE FOR THE PCG
After that fiery introduction of God to Ezekiel, God begins talking specifically to the pcg about the little book, a prophet, a message going to the Laodiceans, and a watchman message. This is all about what the pcg has been doing for years; some of it has already been accomplished. No man with a few people could even begin to bring all this about and do this great Work of God. We have magnificent power behind us! This is the Head of the PCG, and He talks specifically about the PCG.
God was traveling around on this marvelous vehicle—and He wanted to speak to a slave, of all things. “And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee” (Ezekiel 2:1). God took this son of man and made him His mouthpiece. God repeats the phrase “son of man” 87 times throughout this book. Some translators render it “you mortal man.” God was emphasizing that His servant was just a mortal human being, a lump of clay. That helped keep Ezekiel quite humble.
When you have a God like this leading you, you must have humility. We can do nothing apart from Him. We’re just lumps of clay! We ought to listen to God! “You mortal men!” That’s all we are—mortal men! We must keep God’s perspective of how helpless we are apart from Him! At the same time, we must not forget our potential to become born sons of God and to look like the God of Ezekiel 1! (1 John 3:2; Philippians 3:21; Psalm 17:15).
God reveals that He has a problem with His people: “And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation [nations, in the original Hebrew] that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. For they are impudent children and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear [or refuse], (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them” (Ezekiel 2:3-5).
The nations of Israel are going to know that God sent this Ezekiel message through His chosen prophet today! Note the story flow: Right after the fiery vision of God in Ezekiel 1, it launches into this message. Realize that this is specifically for the pcg and the people of God today. What is written here will happen to us in a specific way, just as it is described. “And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 2:6). Ezekiel mentions being afraid three times and being dismayed. Events are about to happen that could cause us great fear! We are in the nations of Israel—primarily referring to the birthright nations of America and Britain—and God says we are going to experience intense times, facing briers, thorns and scorpions. This is REALITY!
This might seem negative, but Ezekiel is full of good news. God’s people need to balance these prophecies by seeing the whole picture. Ezekiel was a slave and he received revelation about some dire things, but he wasn’t depressed. He was inspired and moved because he saw a vision of God and what He was doing. We are facing problems today that God’s Church under Herbert W. Armstrong never faced. The United States is terribly different than it was before he died in 1986. It is ready to collapse, and it will shortly. The radical left is attacking conservatives with all sorts of lies. What do you think they will do about our message? Once they focus on us, it will be much worse, at least for a short time. I don’t know when that will be, but I do know we must pay attention to what God revealed through Ezekiel because it is for us in the PCG!
We have to believe Ezekiel’s prophecy: A storm is coming. We must go through this storm and thrive in it! We have the God of Ezekiel 1 right here with us! That is why the book of Ezekiel begins in this order: God is first—the top priority! Everything flows from there. Even the persecution God’s Church members face will have a positive side because it will cause people to feel ashamed when the world continues to unravel just as God prophesied. This will help them repent and probably many of them will become part of the great multitude (Revelation 7:9).
“And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will [refuse]: for they are most rebellious” (Ezekiel 2:7). God commissions a man to speak for Him and deliver this serious message. “But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee” (verse 8).
THE LITTLE BOOK
The God of Ezekiel 1 gets very explicit, telling His servant to open up and digest what He gives him. And what does He give him first of all? This fiery God gives him a scroll—a message that He commands him to eat up completely (Ezekiel 2:9-3:3). Comparing this prophecy with that in Revelation 10 shows that this is the “little book,” which is revelation that came from God the Father Himself (Revelation 1:1). (You can learn how God revealed the message of the little book in this end time with our free booklet The Little Book.) Like the roll of Ezekiel 2 and 3, God told John to eat up that message. And like the roll of Ezekiel 2 and 3, the message of the little book concerns the inner court of God’s Church and the failure of God’s people in the outer court (Revelation 11:1-2). That is how tightly the messages of Revelation and Ezekiel are connected.
God’s message in Ezekiel really is a sweet message: Somebody is doing the Work of God, somebody publishes and distributes the little book—God’s Work goes on! It is sweet when you look at what God has built here on the PCG headquarters campus and around the world. We can reach practically anybody on Earth, if there are people being called there, and it’s all because of the Ezekiel 1 God.
“This chapter 10 [of Revelation] has been virtually overlooked,” Mr. Armstrong wrote in the February 1977 Plain Truth. “I did not comment on it in the earlier days, or expound it when I wrote this outline of the book of Revelation, or the full booklet on the Revelation.” Then he talked about the little book. He concluded: “The Apostle John in his vision is told to take the little book, which is open in the hand of the angel, and eat it up. How like Ezekiel’s prophecy!” It is very much like Ezekiel’s prophecy because both are talking about the same little book: Malachi’s Message. That book was revealed shortly after Mr. Armstrong died. This is a critical part of the Work in the end time because if you don’t understand the little book, you’re lost. The book of Revelation begins with God and then, in chapters 2 and 3, describes the seven eras of His Church. So the order of things is God first; then God’s Church eras, the firstfruits.
First is God; then comes the Church that does God’s Work! That really is a sweet message when you see what God is doing with this little remnant called the PCG. The book of Ezekiel begins with God. Chapter 1 describes His fiery vehicle that zips around in any direction He wants to go. Following this focus on the great God, Ezekiel 2 and 3 talk about only one era, the PCG—the Philadelphia remnant during the last era of God’s Church—and about the little book. Ezekiel talks about a prophetic message, a prophet and a watchman.
God gives this Church a lot of prominence here and makes us realize how important this responsibility is! We must see the importance of this message. Jesus Christ is the Head of this Church. The God of Ezekiel is the one who became Jesus Christ. The God of Ezekiel 1 introduces the PCG first, after Himself. That is the supreme honor given to us. That honor is given only to those who do this Work in the “last end.”
I am stunned by the way God introduces Ezekiel’s book. First there is God, and then there is the pcg with a terrific responsibility. Delivering the message of Ezekiel is a real responsibility. No one man or group of people can do it! But if we yield ourselves to God and let Him empower us, He will deliver that message through us! He has done it already and will continue to do so if we do our part.
Ezekiel was in the midst of the Jewish captivity. Yet Ezekiel 2 and 3 are about the “house of Israel.” As Mr. Armstrong wrote, nowhere in the Bible are the Jews called the house of Israel; that term applies only to the 10-tribe kingdom of Israel, which had been taken into Assyrian captivity some years before. But there is duality here: It is also really about spiritual Israel, the rebellious end-time Church of God.
Ezekiel 2 and 3 talk about going to God’s own people who are in captivity to the devil! “And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord God; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear” (Ezekiel 3:11). Ezekiel went to Jews in captivity, and we go to people who used to be spiritual Jews, but who only call themselves Jews today (Revelation 3:9). It says “the children of thy people,” but the Hebrew for children is sons. God is talking about His own sons, His spiritual Family!
“Then the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord from his place. I heard also the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels over against them, and a noise of a great rushing” Ezekiel 3:12-13). Ezekiel keeps bringing back into the picture God and His vehicle dashing around and delivering all this revelation to him. In vision, God personally visited this slave on the River Chebar in this vehicle. He was traveling around and giving Ezekiel all kinds of understanding!
Ezekiel had a mind-shattering experience. But it is an especially bitter experience spiritually for the PCG today. We are living through what Ezekiel prophesied! But we keep in mind that the message is also sweet as honey, which far outweighs the bitterness. “So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me” (verse 14). Ezekiel didn’t consider this a happy occasion. It’s not pleasant to think about God’s Family being in captivity to Satan and refusing to hear God’s message! It’s bitter to see so many people with this deceived, Laodicean attitude and to know that 50 percent of these people we have known will lose everything for all eternity (Matthew 25). But how sweet to know that 50 percent of them will repent. Although they lose their position at headquarters (Revelation 14:4), they will repent and still be part of the Bride of Christ.
“Then I came to them of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days” (Ezekiel 3:15). This is a prophecy that the PCG would take a message to the Laodiceans for seven years (a day for a year in prophecy fulfilled: Ezekiel 4:6; Numbers 14:34). Just as Ezekiel sat astonished among those captives, we delivered Malachi’s Message to the Laodiceans for seven years.
“And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me” (Ezekiel 3:16-17). After seven years, the PCG’s commission changed. We had to make the watchman work the top priority. (Notice that verse 17 says the son of man is made a watchman to the house of Israel. Not the house of Judah, but the house of Israel—specifically America and Britain.)
AFTER THE WATCHMAN WORK …
Ezekiel 3:18 describes a strong message and a life-saving work, physically and spiritually: “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.” God says, Get out there and save lives. Get out and do your job or you’re going to end up being guilty of blood! Their blood will be on our hands. Either we work to save the lives of others or we lose our own lives! If we fail, God will hold us responsible!
This is a deadly serious Work that God has chosen us to do! It is really why a lot of people turn away from God’s commission. They think it is too tough —but it is the greatest of honors to be chosen to do it. In late 1996, we knew we had to do a watchman work, so we had to print Mystery of the Ages. Nobody else really even wanted it. But Satan didn’t just allow us to have it. And God tested us.
After the Worldwide Church of God sued us, we had to battle them in court for years and, at one point, even temporarily cancel our television broadcasting. God was saying, I want to see how much you want to give this message to the world. I’m going to test you and see if you really are a soldier willing to fight! We had to show Him we were—and most of that proving happened in court. Keep your mind on the story flow in Ezekiel 3.
Remember, the book of Ezekiel has a story flow. So the context is a key to understanding this book. God began our work with the little book. It showed God’s Church that we were in the midst of a great rebellion. God’s people were confused, and the little book showed them what was happening and what God was doing. First we took the message to God’s lukewarm Laodiceans for seven years. The very elect saw that God was using them to do a mighty work. After that, God had us put the emphasis of our message on the watchman work to the whole world—we had to watch and warn.
When the watchman work is finished, we go to a place of safety (the story flow or context of verses 22-27 strongly indicates that scenario). God’s Work today is going to “save” lives, physically and spiritually. God is going to save 50 percent of the rebellious Laodiceans when they repent during the Great Tribulation. The other 50 percent will die eternally! Would the 50 percent who repent have done so without our warning message revolving around the little book? Surely most of them would not have known why and what to repent of without that message!
The great multitude repent in the Great Tribulation, and God saves them physically. Most of them will respond to our message, either directly or indirectly. How many more will be impacted by our message today, even up to the Second Coming of Christ?
Also, we must not forget we save our own lives physically and spiritually by doing God’s Work today. God is using us to do His magnificent, life-saving Work, both physically and spiritually. We haven’t finished that yet, but we are beginning to look more to the imminent and wonderful World Tomorrow. What happens after the watchman work?
“And the hand of the Lord was there upon me; and he said unto me, Arise, go forth into the plain, and I will there talk with thee. Then I arose, and went forth into the plain: and, behold, the glory of the Lord stood there, as the glory which I saw by the river of Chebar: and I fell on my face” (verses 22-23). If you look at the context, the watchman work ends and God’s Church goes to a place of safety. I speculate that’s what these verses are about.
“Then the spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thine house. But thou, O son of man, behold, they shall put bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them: And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house” (verses 24-26). Again, we must look at the context. The timing of the story flow indicates that this is the famine of the word during the Great Tribulation, mentioned in Amos 8:11.
“But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 3:27).
THEN, THE TRIBULATION
Ezekiel 4 describes the beginning of the Great Tribulation. This is new revelation from God given in the spring and summer of 2014. Ezekiel starts giving us numbers that correspond to part of the Tribulation. This siege actually begins the Great Tribulation. In the past, we believed the Tribulation began when Israel and Judah were attacked militarily. The Tribulation begins immediately after we conclude the watchman work and go to a place of safety. Chapter 4 begins the siege and the Tribulation. Notice the specifics about Ezekiel 4: It is describing a siege.
“Thou also, son of man, take thee a tile, and lay it before thee, and pourtray [or engrave] upon it the city, even Jerusalem: And lay siege against it, and build a fort against it, and cast a mount against it; set the camp also against it, and set battering rams against it round about. Moreover take thou unto thee an iron pan, and set it for a wall of iron between thee and the city: and set thy face against it, and it shall be besieged, and thou shalt lay siege against it. This shall be a sign to the house of Israel” (verses 1-3). The “house of Israel” primarily refers not to the Jews, but to the modern descendants of Israel, specifically the United States and Britain.
Here is pictured a siege against the house of Israel. This is a sign that one third of Israel will be destroyed economically and socially by a siege. This siege will cause a financial cataclysm that will develop into terrible race wars and fighting for food and survival. Illegal aliens are now pouring over the southern border of America. They are comprised of women, children and teens.
Many of them have been abused and have contagious diseases. Already the U.S. president has asked for almost $4 billion to feed and provide for their health and educational needs. Every economic authority says this cost will grow by many more billions of dollars for the care of these same people. Tens of thousands more keep pouring over the border. Still our leaders refuse to stop the flow. Ninety of those aliens were reported to be from India.
The truth is, we don’t know who is crossing our border! Many gang members and America haters could easily cross as our border guards care for illegal minors. Already America is drowning in nearly $18 trillion of debt. The nation is ready to explode in a financial meltdown so horrendous it will lead to unparalleled social anarchy and chaos! At the same time, hostility from Latin America and the Hispanics within the U.S. intensifies! Only the book of Ezekiel explains the extent of this coming nightmare of all nightmares! We can see even from what is happening on the Mexican-American border that the siege storm is building up fast! Already, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has sent his national guard to Texas’s border with Mexico. He said he did it because “our citizens are under siege” emphasis mine).
This is all building toward the Great Tribulation siege that Ezekiel prophesied. It will usher in the crisis of crises—the worst ever on this Earth! Ezekiel 5:2 tells us how terrible this period will be: This prophecy says that one third of the people inside that siege against Israel will die! That equates to more than 100 million people in the U.S., and more than 21 million in Britain. This is talking about the house of Israel primarily, but as this prophecy goes on to show, Judah (the Jewish state of Israel today) also experiences a siege, though it is shorter.
Ezekiel is in Jerusalem acting out the siege. Under a siege that creates such horrific conditions and destroys so many people, how could God’s Church ever do a work—or even survive? Delivering a message about 100 million Americans dying is tough. Do you think delivering it might plunge God’s Church into a land of briers, thorns and scorpions? Ezekiel’s action is a sign of what is coming upon Israel—America and Britain. But the living God still has to reveal what that sign is in the end time and what it means. God also has to show who He is using to reveal it. This is only one third of the entire prophecy (verses 1-2). No man can reveal these prophecies.
Those who understand the siege also know that the worst is yet to come! So why is God giving us new revelation surrounding this sign now? Because it is so close to being fulfilled. We can already see the storm building. The people to be scattered around the world as slaves of the Gentiles will eat defiled bread. This happens after the siege and the military attack. However, the subject here is still about the siege. Chapter 4 is focused entirely on the siege. Notice what God commanded His prophet to do: “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” (Ezekiel 4:4-5). This long siege against Israel will last more than a year: 390 days.
God wants us to get into this subject because the groundwork for this siege is already being laid! People can scoff, but events happening right now are about to lead to the deaths of hundreds of millions! Ezekiel gives us a picture that is stark and brutally motivating! We need to help them see that reality! Verses 6-8 specifically address the house of Judah—the Jewish nation—not the house of Israel, or America and Britain: “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. Therefore thou shalt set thy face toward the siege of Jerusalem, and thine arm shall be uncovered, and thou shalt prophesy against it. And, behold, I will lay bands upon thee, and thou shalt not turn thee from one side to another, till thou hast ended the days of thy siege.” The main prophecy here is that the much longer siege happens against the United States and Britain. I’m sure the worst of the siege is against the U.S. because it is the superpower.
The sieges against Israel and Judah begin at different times, but both end at the same time. Now notice what begins to happen: “Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentiles, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof” (verse 9). This 390-day siege points back to the prophecy against the house of Israel. Again, the emphasis is on the siege of the house of Israel mostly.
Remember, Mr. Armstrong said we would have to reduce our standard of living. They are really reducing it here. “And thy meat which thou shalt eat shall be by weight, twenty shekels a day: from time to time shalt thou eat it. Thou shalt drink also water by measure, the sixth part of an hin: from time to time shalt thou drink. And thou shalt eat it as barley cakes, and thou shalt bake it with dung that cometh out of man, in their sight. And the Lord said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them” (verses 10-13). This prophecy ties the siege in with the fact that the nation will then be attacked—and that the survivors of the siege will be scattered around the world as slaves. What God has done here is tie the siege to the other two thirds discussed in Ezekiel 5:2, which I will explain later in this article. This implies that all three thirds comprise the Great Tribulation. The siege is only the first third. Ezekiel 4:14-16 emphasize the difficulty of conditions during that siege. “That they may want bread and water, and be astonied one with another, and consume away for their iniquity” (verse 17). People are going to die by the millions!
THE SIEGE, THE ATTACK, THE SLAVERY
The story flow continues into Ezekiel 5 (there should be no chapter break). Here is where Ezekiel discusses the three successive parts of Israel’s destruction: “And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber’s razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard: then take thee balances to weigh, and divide the hair. Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled …” (verses 1-2). When God says, “Thou shalt burn with fire a third part,” that concludes the siege. The siege will keep intensifying until the cities burn with fire. It concludes with the economy being absolutely destroyed and with a lot of burning, race wars and other forms of societal meltdown. This first third—including 100 million people in the U.S.—will experience atrocious deaths. This has to be part of the Great Tribulation.
A lot of mind-splitting terror faces this land! This is building even now—you can see it! America is weak and bitterly divided; it will be easy for a foreign power to lay siege to it. With the threat of terrorism and racial hatred, it is easy to see how the siege will lead to a third of Americans dying. One third of Britain will die at the same time. The siege of Judah will end at the same time, but it begins later and is much shorter. Still, one third of the Jewish nation will also die.
Verse 2 shows when the siege ends. And it shows what follows for the remaining two thirds of our peoples: a military attack and then captivity. “[A]nd thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them” (verse 2) When the siege ends, then comes the attack, so the situation gets a lot worse. Again, the emphasis is on the house of Israel—390 days versus 40 days for Judah. The siege for both of them leads to that attack that leaves cities without inhabitant! Hosea 5:5 says that America, Britain and Judah will fall together—which refers to the military attack, the second third of Ezekiel 5:2.
Again, if a third of the house of Israel dies, we must be into the Great Tribulation. And that is before the attack! The three thirds of Ezekiel 5 have to be about the Tribulation. After the siege is fulfilled, then comes the attack: “[A]nd thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife”—this third will be conquered militarily. “[A]nd a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them” (verse 2). Those in this final third, who go into captivity, will have to come mostly from rural areas and smaller cities because by that point many of the larger cities will be left without a single inhabitant! There isn’t necessarily an equal amount of time among the thirds that are burned with fire, struck by the sword and scattered abroad. The point God is making in Ezekiel 5 is about the intensity of the destruction.
Do God’s very elect have the courage to face Ezekiel 5:2 emotionally? We must! We are the ones who have to deliver this warning! We have to face this reality. The greater reality is that we are going to be Christ’s Bride forever. This is the greatest opportunity God’s firstfruits will ever have for all eternity!
THE SIEGE OF JUDAH
Think again about the 390 days of siege against Israel—and 40 days of siege against Judah. What will happen before those 40 days for Judah? I don’t know. Maybe God will make things a little easier on them. After all, the Jews have endured a lot. They experienced many horrors in the Holocaust of World War II. Maybe God plans to limit the amount of suffering they have to endure. I don’t know how this all is going to play out or how God will do it, but I know that a lot of suffering is coming. Nations are already talking about sanctioning the Jewish nation. They have removed the sanctions from Iran the world’s number one state sponsor of terrorism, which is on the cusp of becoming a nuclear power—and want to apply them to Judah! The Eurozone has discussed an economic boycott against Israel, and some products have already been banned from sale in the European Union. It is because of dangerous ignorance or anti-Semitic cruelty.
American and British leaders support the boycott as a means of pressuring the Jewish nation to engage in the peace process! They are doing this to the only country in the Middle East with a government like ours that really wants peace! Lt. Col. Oliver North said, “What that means ultimately is that if Israel [Judah] doesn’t acquiesce, [it] will be boycotted all across the globe, and we will start cutting back on our support for joint projects with the military.” It’s infuriating when you look at what is happening! Is that a siege? It is the threat of one, and it is certain to grow a lot worse.
SIEGE PROPHESIED IN DEUTERONOMY
In Ezekiel 5:2, the first third is burned with fire in the midst of the city, which is under siege. The burning is related to a siege. This siege is also prophesied in the book of Deuteronomy. And this prophecy also indicates that the siege is part of the Tribulation. Deuteronomy 28 is the “blessings and curses” chapter. In it, God promises many wonderful blessings if our nation would obey Him. “[T]he Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth,” it says, “and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow” (verses 1, 12). Is America experiencing this blessing today? This nation is more than $17 trillion in debt! That figure keeps soaring, and the government is not even trying to control it! Where will it end? In massive destruction.
The nations of Israel were once married to God! He is going to hold them accountable for that! We and our ancestors should have taught God’s way to the Gentiles, who never had a history with God. But we rebelled and disobeyed. The curses that God promised for that disobedience begin in verse 15. In verse 20, God prophesied “cursing, vexation, and rebuke” in everything we set our hand to do. “[T]hou shalt not prosper,” He says in verse 29. When you look at this list of curses, you can relate them to what Ezekiel 5 describes.
By the time you get to verse 34—“So that thou shalt be mad for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see”—this is talking about the effects of the siege! And He says that seeing this happen will make you mad—it will drive you crazy! “The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low” (verse 43). Is that happening before our eyes?
For many years, Mr. Armstrong said the siege prophesied in verse 52 symbolized America’s economy being battered by foreign competition. “And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates ….” The target here has to be the nations of Israel—not Judah. Who has those gates? America and Britain have or had the gates, and we are going to be besieged in all of them. We have already virtually lost control of all of them. This is a prophecy for this end time.
The Holy Roman Empire is going to really cause economic problems and bring on destruction in many ways “until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee” (verse 52). The real pressure is coming from without. “In all thy gates” refers to a trade war. Why do these nations even have all this prosperity? God gave these gates, cities, power and wealth to the modern house of Israel! Not to the Gentiles, but to Israel! But now He is taking it back because of our ingratitude and rebellion!
Look at the conditions that this siege will cause: “And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body …” (verse 53). Verse 55 adds that “thine enemies shall distress thee in all thy gates.” Verse 57 describes the horrible cannibalism people who are suffering inside this siege will commit. This is the same siege that Ezekiel 4 and 5 describe. Notice Deuteronomy 29:14-15: “Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; But with him that standeth here with us this day before the Lord our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day.” That means us—the modern descendants of the nation that covenanted with God! It especially applies to those of us living in the latter days. Moses also warned, “For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands” (Deuteronomy 31:29).
OVERTHROWN BY STRANGERS
Notice what God prophesies in Isaiah: “… I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. … [T]hey have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger …. [T]he whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint” (Isaiah 1:2-5). This end-time prophecy is about to be fulfilled as far as the destruction is concerned. “Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers [Gentiles] devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers” (verse 7). This is happening right now! America and Britain are being devoured and overthrown by strangers, or Gentiles, because they are under a curse. God is using the Gentiles to punish them—from within as well as without.
Like it or not, much of this has already happened from within under the present U.S. administration! It is amazing how much destruction is going on in America! The dollar is already plummeting in value; we are just awaiting total meltdown. Is there anything this present radical administration has done that has built America up and made it stronger? We are “a few in number,” but look at what we are doing. God rewards us for that. We escape all of those nightmares because we remain loyal to our Husband.
It is all about destruction! The Gentiles “devour it in your presence”! Two nations of Israel are becoming totally “desolate.” IT IS HAPPENING NOW BEFORE OUR EYES! According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, the primary meaning of the word translated “devour” means to consume—“of oppressors consuming their victims; drought, fire, war and other plagues devour them. First it is found in association with the expression of God’s anger and wrath on unrepentant Sodom and Gomorrah.” It also says “overthrown” is an expression “in connection with Sodom and Gomorrah,” and that usually it is a divine judgment. This is an extremely violent, mind-shattering destruction. It evokes “a sense of horror and shock,” implying that “Israel becomes an object of horror to those who behold it.” This entry also discusses reproach, a curse and an object of hissing: “The emphasis is on the spectacle of the desolation and the reaction it causes.” People are going to look and be horrified by what they see!
This is the conclusion to the siege. The American superpower is afflicted most of all. Beware! This is the imminent end to the mighty nations of America and Britain! God’s curse is on these nations. This really is heavy prophecy, and it is not an easy message to deliver, but it is our responsibility! The living God has spoken! However, amid all the bad news in Ezekiel 5, there is some extremely good news.
“Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts” (Ezekiel 5:3). Here is a little group of people that is bound “in thy skirts,” where God protects them in a place of safety from the siege, the attack and the scattering mentioned in verse 2. This is Christ’s Bride who delivered this prophecy and did His Work! Only God can protect His people from all that horror! And you can stake your life on the fact that He will do it!
We are “a few in number,” but look at what we are doing! God rewards us for that! We escape all of those nightmares because we remain loyal to our Husband. If God’s own Church doesn’t support this Work, what happens? “Then take of them again, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; for thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house of Israel” (verse 4). If you don’t send out the message, you are going to get caught in the midst of the city and be incinerated or become irradiated ashes! That is the truth! The Laodiceans, those who rebelled, will be put right in the midst of the fire—the worst part of it! This is God talking!
He is upset because of the magnitude of their sin! Can you come to grips with that? This is a powerful message from God, and we have to deliver it. We must use the Spirit of God to keep the right perspective. If we look at this carnally, we will want to run away. But remember, God says three times in Ezekiel 2:6, Be not afraid! Don’t be afraid! Be not afraid! There are reasons why people fear to deliver that message, but God commands us to do it! He promises to give us all the power we need—and to reward us for obeying Him no matter what happens!
Ezekiel had a difficult job—but he wasn’t depressed. He had a work to do and was happy God gave him—a slave—that job! He knew what God was doing. All this prophesied destruction is what it will take for God to reach this world! After this, people will be ashamed—and they will get to know God! Ezekiel talked about that over and over and over: They’re going to get to know God (e.g. Ezekiel 6:7; 7:4; 11:10; 12:20; 13:9; 23:48-49, etc.). That’s not bad news—it’s just bad news about events that it takes to get them there. But ultimately, it is spectacularly good news!
If we deliver this message, we will be Christ’s Bride forever. Ezekiel 16 is about our marriage to Christ. That is the best good news there is in the Bible! If you take your mind off that vision, you become lukewarm and ineffective spiritually. The Laodiceans said “No” to facing the horrors of Ezekiel 5:2 because they no longer see the spectacular ending—an ending that is going to illuminate the entire universe forever!
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