Chapter 3: The Ezekiel Watchman
The Prophet Ezekiel, though he wrote a lot about God’s watchman, was not a watchman. How could he have been? His warning message for Israel came over a hundred years after the ancient Israelites had gone into captivity. In fact, they were already moving out of Assyria into northwestern Europe and Britain! That’s how “out of date” his message was.
But Ezekiel did not write his book for his time. His message is for our people today. Israel, in all its history, has never suffered the way Ezekiel prophesied that it would. Great cities are to be left without inhabitants. Only a modern-day nuclear war could inflict such a dreadful outcome.
God has now revealed a deeper understanding of the book of Ezekiel.
In Ezekiel 3:17, God says, “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel ….” Again, looking at Ezekiel’s circumstances anciently, this must be an end-time commission. God has a watchman for the modern-day “house of Israel.”
Ezekiel 33 also talks about the watchman. The captivity of Judah was only a type of what is to happen to America and Britain (biblical Israel), as well as Judah (called Israel today). The watchman of Ezekiel has a special job to do. He is to watch world events and warn the nations of Israel—specifically America, Britain and the Jews in the Middle East. All these people will fall together (Hosea 5:5; this prophecy is explained in The United States and Britain in Prophecy). He also has a dreadful warning for God’s own lukewarm Church. His job is not to save them—only to warn them.
This watchman is prophesied to be present when Germany rises to power and destroys the modern nations of Israel. The watchman is on the scene when it all happens. Herbert Armstrong fulfilled the watchman role in a general way, but there is a more specific fulfillment today for the pcg.
“Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman” (Ezekiel 33:1-2). Ezekiel was in prison. He was a prophet—not a watchman. Many verses in Ezekiel tell us that this book is for our time today.
The Watchman Warns
Winston Churchill was a watchman before and during World War ii. Without a doubt, his efforts to warn the nations about Germany made a great impact on the outcome of the war.
Ezekiel 33:1-6 may be talking directly about what happened in World War ii: “Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman” (verses 1-2). God did bring the sword upon Israel to correct us, and a man named Winston Churchill came on the scene, and the people set him up as their watchman. God had a hand in it, but still, the people chose Churchill.
Mr. Churchill’s warning in the 1930s would fulfill those verses better than any example I know of in Israel’s history.
The only other modern leader outside of God’s Church who has delivered a watchman warning similar to Sir Winston Churchill would be Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
When U.S. President Barack Obama started negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran—the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism—only Mr. Netanyahu came to speak before the U.S. Congress, warning them of the catastrophic consequences of such a nuclear deal! This deal would open the way for the mullahs in Iran to develop nuclear weapons! Mr. Netanyahu warned Congress that this deal put the very survival of Israel and America at stake!
Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote this about Mr. Netanyahu’s speech in a May 5, 2015, article: “Netanyahu offered a different path in his clear, bold and often moving address, Churchillian in its appeal to resist appeasement. This was not Churchill of the 1940s, but Churchill of the 1930s, the wilderness prophet. Which is why for all its sonorous strength, Netanyahu’s speech had a terrible poignancy.”
Unlike during World War ii, however, the people are not going to choose a political watchman like Netanyahu or Churchill. God Himself has to appoint a watchman to warn the people!
If the people of Israel do not heed this warning message, they are going to die! (verse 11).
In verse 7, God is no longer talking about World War ii or a period like that. The setting dramatically shifts to this present time: “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.” This is not a watchman that the people chose, like the one referred to in verse 2. God says boldly and strongly, “I have set thee a watchman.” This watchman is set there and sustained by God.
Why is this important? Because God has now taken the situation to another level. This is not the same as the people choosing a Churchill to save America and Britain, or modern-day Israel. That will not happen this time around. Times have changed dramatically! This time, people will either hear God’s man or suffer nightmarish catastrophe!
If a Churchill came on the scene today, he wouldn’t be telling us to repent. He might tell us some of our flaws and weaknesses, but he wouldn’t tell us to repent of our sins toward God. Only God’s watchman would do that. And that is what Israel, or America and Britain, needs.
Can we appreciate the significance of this end-time event? God takes a man and gives him words: Hear the word at my mouth, He says. The words from Ezekiel (and the rest of the Bible) are from the very mouth of God! God gives this man revelation. Then He sends him out to proclaim those words: You tell them this warning is from me. No matter what they say, unless they repent of their sins, they will go into captivity or die. This is not about a Winston Churchill; this is a direct message from God to the nations of Israel!
There is no solution in having a Churchill anymore. But God has a message that would save them if they would listen!
If you have your mind focused on God, you will know that in this “last end” for mankind, God Himself will have set a watchman in the midst of everything. Today, there is a watchman whom God Himself set, and to whom God gave words from His own mouth. How many people recognize that man? If you are tuned in to God, you won’t have any trouble discerning who he is.
Look around at the Laodiceans, and you can see that they don’t have a watchman work. They’re divided and confused. As we shall see, God also instructs this watchman to warn them about what is going to happen.
Commenting on Ezekiel 33:7, Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon says about the word watchman, “To look out … bending forward in order to view.” This watchman strains and stretches to make sure he sees what’s happening. New developments on the world scene are coming faster than ever, and he’s there to see it all. The word warn is used repeatedly in these verses. This is a message with an emphasis on warning.
Herbert Armstrong’s commission was to preach the gospel around the world (Matthew 24:14). His message emphasized the gospel and included a warning. Today, our commission is to “prophesy again” (Revelation 10:11). The pcg emphasizes the warning, which includes the gospel.
Mr. Armstrong fulfilled the watchman work in a general way. The pcg fulfills it specifically. I emphasize the warning, as the Ezekiel watchman was prophesied to do. Time is running out, and there has been a change in commission. Also, Israel’s sins have grown so much worse that only repentance toward God will save them.
Verse 11 of Ezekiel 33 states, “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” God is talking about the death of nations! Times are different from World War ii. God used Winston Churchill, a political watchman, to save America and Britain from destruction. Israel does not have a political watchman as World War iii approaches. No such man is on the world scene. That fact alone would frighten our people if they understood world conditions!
There is a much greater danger today than when Mr. Churchill warned us in the 1930s. Today our people are too degenerate to choose a Churchill to lead them. But there is no hope in such a political watchman anyhow. Our sins are much worse.
God, through His watchman today, pleads with America, Britain and modern Judah specifically to turn. A powerful message is being sent out to Israel and the world.
How could our message to them be more important?
After that happens, the rest of the world will receive the same warning from the two witnesses (Revelation 11:3).
Seeing the Sword
Mr. Armstrong saw prophecies about the sword and the direction world events were moving. But did he actually see the sword coming? The answer is no; only we can fully see that happening today.
“Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand” (Ezekiel 33:4-6). Mr. Armstrong thought the end of Israel would occur in his lifetime. He was exactly right about the prophecies, but his timing was off a few years. God did not reveal to him many of the specifics of Ezekiel’s book. For example, Mr. Armstrong didn’t understand about the Laodicean Church era in these prophecies. Most of that truth was to be revealed after his death.
The blood of the people is going to be on the head of the watchman if he doesn’t warn. This is repeated several times in the book of Ezekiel. This is a strong warning, repeated again and again. God does that because His people in the final era of His Church, the Laodiceans (Revelation 3:14-19), are failing to warn Israel. They are condemned for failing to do their job. So the Philadelphia remnant must deliver the warning message.
The word trumpet is mentioned in verses 3, 4, 5 and 6 of Ezekiel 33. In ancient Israel, the trumpet was used to sound the alarm of war! The monthly magazine of the Philadelphia Church of God is called the Philadelphia Trumpet. That name was derived from verses like these in Ezekiel and in Amos 3.
The Philadelphia Trumpet name reveals that our work is a warning work. We warn because, as Ezekiel says, people are in danger of losing their blood—their physical lives! Some are even in danger of losing their eternal lives!
There is a group of Philadelphians who “sigh and … cry … for all the abominations” (Ezekiel 9:4) and warn the Laodiceans and Israel. And there is also a sanctuary (temple or church) of God that God has to punish for not doing its job as a watchman (Ezekiel 33:6). Both of God’s end-time churches will be on the scene when Israel falls apart. One group will be protected, and the other will be punished in the Great Tribulation. More on this later.
This warning to all Israel by the Philadelphians will be a very short work. The modern nations of Israel are collapsing extremely fast, and their enemies are rising equally fast.
Mr. Armstrong was the end-time Elijah who restored all things (see Matthew 17:10-11). He preached the gospel around the world (Matthew 24:14). He taught us how to build proper physical families. He also built the Church Family (Malachi 4:5-6). And he was a watchman in a general way, but he did not specifically fulfill this role in Ezekiel. That is because he died before these final end-time events were to occur. We are keeping his name and memory alive to help people remember the prophecies God taught through him (request our booklet He Was Right).
God’s watchman will be on the scene when it all happens—just as Ezekiel was!
“When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul” (Ezekiel 33:8-9). In verses 3 through 9, God tells us eight times to warn Israel!
The emphasis in Ezekiel is to warn. The emphasis is not on preaching the gospel to the world, or restoring all things, or building the Family. Mr. Armstrong often warned Israel while preaching the gospel. But his emphasis was on the gospel.
God personally set the watchman there to warn (verse 7). If people can’t detect what God has done and is doing, then they condemn their own relationship with God!
Some people fail to even recognize God’s own warning message. And what a terrible penalty they must pay!
Delivering Your Soul
“When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand” (Ezekiel 33:8). The watchman has the responsibility to watch and warn. That includes speaking out to those who are captive to the devil—whether it be a nation or a Church.
Much like the Laodiceans, modern-day Manasseh is in captivity—only on a carnal level. (For more on this, request my free booklet America Under Attack.)
That is explicit: If you don’t warn the wicked—and I mean speak out—then I will hold you accountable! His blood is on your head. That is good motivation to speak!
Would you rather face a mean person in the world? Or do you want to cave in and then have to face God? I’d rather face anything in the world than face an angry God! He makes it clear that we must deliver that watchman message!
This watchman is going to be there when the nations of Israel die! If he fails to warn them, he dies with them! If he warns them, God protects him. He sees the enemy rise and conquer. This is the prophetic work of the pcg today.
Why does God word this so strongly? Because He knows that, humanly, we won’t do it! It takes the power and courage of God to do it! Look at the Laodiceans: They are lost in their human reasoning. When you’re delivering a message like this in the end time, it is obviously difficult. You may think it’d be easier if you could somehow walk away from it, but it really isn’t. Delivering the message is the easy way. I don’t know what the future holds—you never really know the kind of trial God might bring upon you—but doing it God’s way is far better in the short run and the long run.
One of the reasons the watchman warns the Laodiceans and the world is to save his own life! The pcg delivers this warning message, and God takes it to a place of safety during the Tribulation (Revelation 12:14). We are not bashing people. The purpose of our work is to save physical and spiritual lives! And God says the only way we can do that is to warn! Israel’s last watchman doesn’t come on the scene until the enemy is rising and getting prepared to attack Israel!
“Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul” (Ezekiel 33:9). This warning that we give will save the lives of others. But it also saves our own lives.
You have “delivered thy soul” if you deliver this warning message! This is how you save your life! It’s your ticket to a place of safety! If you don’t support God’s warning to the Laodiceans and Israel, you will pay with your blood!
God says this watchman group will be there when the blood is spilled. That is why we must be protected by God.
Learning the Hard Way
“For I will lay the land most desolate, and the pomp of her strength shall cease; and the mountains of Israel shall be desolate, that none shall pass through. Then shall they know that I am the Lord, when I have laid the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed” (Ezekiel 33:28-29). This is prophecy for the very end—just before Israel collapses. To their great shame, our people won’t come to know God until they have suffered through the complete desolation of their land!
“Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the Lord” (verse 30). The expression against thee should be about you. People are talking about the watchman message. They even know it’s a message from God!
Some people are urging others to come and hear God’s word. Perhaps that message is on radio, television or the Internet.
“And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness” (verse 31). They actually “sit before thee as my people.” This message is mainly to God’s people. It appears that many Laodiceans will hear God’s message from the Philadelphia Church but will refuse to apply it! They talk endlessly about love. However, it’s only “religious” talk. Their deeds are lacking.
Why are these people in verse 31 so eager to hear God’s word? It’s extremely hard to find people who are interested in God’s message during good times. These people would never be willing to heed God’s warning in prosperous times. They are eager to hear God’s prophecies only because Israel is collapsing! National problems are multiplying quickly. People will listen to our message mainly as a result of those problems.
“And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not” (verse 32). They love to hear his voice. Mr. Armstrong said the people of the Sardis era of God’s Church enjoyed his sermons but they would not apply the words! The same is true of many Laodiceans and worldly people today. They hear the words but won’t do them!
Then Shall They Know
“And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them” (Ezekiel 33:33). When the prophecies come to pass, then they will know! Then it will be too late physically! But many will repent of their rebellion against God. When the holocaust comes, they will immediately know that the prophetic message they heard was from God and that they should have repented when they heard the message.
When the Tribulation comes to pass, then they will know that a prophet was among them! Obviously, the prophet is on the scene when it comes to pass. The phrase “lo, it will come” is translated in the Soncino Commentary as, “Behold, it comes.” The Interlinear Bible reads, “Behold, it is coming.” Yes, it is coming. It is coming speedily! God warns us to either submit to His government now or learn a big part of that lesson by being conquered by the Holy Roman Empire.
Verse 33 reveals that there is a modern-day Ezekiel watchman on the scene who is a watchman and a prophet. He prophesies about the sword coming. He says, “Behold, it is coming!“ Even Mr. Armstrong, though he was a watchman in a general way, did not specifically fulfill Ezekiel 33 because he could not see the sword as this man can today. This individual comes at the “last end.” He is called a prophet in Ezekiel 33:33 and a watchman in verse 7. He is termed a prophet in Ezekiel 2:5 and a watchman in Ezekiel 3:17. He comes to watch and prophesy. He is not here to restore all things. That has been done by Mr. Armstrong. The watchman is on the scene to warn the Laodiceans and the world of what is coming—behold, it is coming!
Who is this watchman—this prophet? Haven’t I given you revelation about Ezekiel and all the prophetic books? Almost every book and booklet I have written is filled with revealed prophecy. Has anyone else done that? Is revealed prophecy present in any of the Laodicean churches? Do they even have a smattering of the new revelation which God has rained down on His people through me? They have no new revelation.
How many true prophets are there on Earth today? Only one. People may scoff at that, but soon they won’t. When the Tribulation comes, they’ll remember a man who was out there with a powerful message that probably got him into some measure of trouble internationally. Then they will know who he was—after it is too late physically! As Mr. Armstrong often said, most of the fruits of our work will come during the Tribulation, not today.
How could people possibly know that a prophet has been among them unless he had a powerful work? If we weren’t making much of an impact, once the Tribulation started, would people really remember what we did? Our responsibility is to make sure they know a prophet was in their midst!
Only a very few know there is a prophet in their midst today. But a great multitude is about to know! If you ask the Laodiceans today, they wouldn’t say they know it. These are great prophecies of God, and He will bring them to pass before it is all over.