Chapter 11: Ezekiel’s Call for Urgency
The Philadelphia Church of God has 170 acres of beautiful property at its headquarters campus. We started Herbert W. Armstrong College in 2001, building a multipurpose student center, dormitories, an administration building, a music center, a mail processing center and various other buildings. In 2010, we completed the campus’s crown jewel—Armstrong Auditorium, one of America’s finest performing arts venues. It is adorned with Baccarat crystal candelabra commissioned by the shah of Iran, Swarovski Strass® crystal-trimmed chandeliers, American cherrywood veneers, Spanish marble and Azerbaijani onyx. A soaring Swans in Flight bronze sculpture by the late sculptor Sir David Wynne greets visitors in front of the building. In 2014, we opened a sister campus in England. We also have staff stationed in Jerusalem, Israel, supporting our work there. In January 2017, God gave us the new stone of destiny and new throne of David (request my free book The New Throne of David to understand). I suspect God will continue to make this Work so dramatically different from any other that even those who are spiritually blind will have no excuse for not recognizing where He is working.
God is helping us to develop things quickly with the generous help of His people. When Nehemiah built the wall around Jerusalem, it took 52 days. It takes extremely committed workers to accomplish such a job that quickly. They didn’t let opposition stop them: They worked with one hand and held a weapon in the other (Nehemiah 4:17). That’s the way we need to approach our job as well.
Just before Judah went into captivity, Jeremiah bought a plot of land. He didn’t buy it to build on; he just bought it to let Judah know that there was hope in the future (Jeremiah 32:24-25; request our free booklet Jeremiah and the Greatest Vision in the Bible). God may be using us to do the same thing. The land God has given us is a symbol of hope. I don’t believe that’s all it is, but we must always try to have God’s view.
When you see the way world events are unfolding, you know an explosion is about to happen. It is only a matter of when. We live in a time “when the transgressors are come to the full” (Daniel 8:23). There has never been evil as there is today! And the Bible prophesies that it will all culminate in a nuclear World War iii.
Of course, God will use that earth-shattering episode to bring the whole world to finally know Him.
But God does not want us to focus on a date or on 170 acres. Not at all! Let me underscore that point in this chapter.
Do we have the urgency we need in these dangerous times? I want to help you get God’s perspective and make sure you are as urgent as the times demand.
Utter a Parable
Ezekiel 24 contains one of the Bible’s strongest, most astonishing messages addressed specifically to God’s people.
Before we see what that message is, let’s note how the chapter ends: “In that day shall thy mouth be opened to him which is escaped, and thou shalt speak, and be no more dumb: and thou shalt be a sign unto them; and they shall know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 24:27). Keep this in mind. This is the point of this chapter, and, again, a dominant theme of the book of Ezekiel.
Now, the beginning of the chapter: “Again in the ninth year, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, the word of the Lord come unto me, saying, Son of man, write thee the name of the day, even of this same day: the king of Babylon set himself against Jerusalem this same day” (verses 1-2). The day God gave this revelation to Ezekiel commemorated the day of the siege of Jerusalem. Some Jews still fast on this day annually. It was a terrible time in Judah when Jerusalem was besieged. In many ways, that time parallels the time we live in today. Just look at the tumult happening in the Middle East and the terrorism that has struck the U.S.!
“And utter a parable unto the rebellious house, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Set on a pot, set it on, and also pour water into it: Gather the pieces thereof into it, even every good piece, the thigh, and the shoulder; fill it with the choice bones. Take the choice of the flock, and burn also the bones under it, and make it boil well, and let them seethe the bones of it therein. Wherefore thus saith the Lord God; Woe to the bloody city, to the pot whose scum is therein, and whose scum is not gone out of it! bring it out piece by piece; let no lot fall upon it” (verses 3-6). Here is the parable: God says, take the fleshiest part of the meat and the strongest bones, and burn them all!
God is talking about all of Israel becoming bloody. Jerusalem’s fall was only a type. Even their bones will be burned in this nuclear catastrophe—if they don’t listen to God’s watchman when he warns them! The very framework of our society will be burned like a pile of dead wood. That is a sober message.
But that is not all. In verse 6 God says to empty the pot—because He is going to empty the people of Israel out of their own country!
The word scum is sometimes translated rust. It really means green corrosion. If you want to know how God feels about the sin of Israel, listen to what He says in this parable! He says our sin is like rust or green corrosion—it clings to our people, and it seems you can’t get it off unless you burn it off! That is indeed what God will do if they don’t heed this message.
Burn the Pot
“For her blood is in the midst of her; she set it upon the top of a rock; she poured it not upon the ground, to cover it with dust” (Ezekiel 24:7). God is still talking about the sins of Israel. Its people just put their sins out on the top of a rock—on the Internet, on television—where the whole world can see how vile and depraved they are!
People can call their pollution freedom, but it is poisoning our nations as never before! God will show the people of Israel just how vile their deeds are! These are the only nations that have had a history with the God of Ezekiel 1, and He will not be silent over their wickedness! He is getting ready to deal with it, and burn out the scum! Of course, He does not relish the thought of such severe punishment. But the problems are so serious, God knows this is the only way He can get rid of them! That’s how bad this green corrosion is.
Here is what God will do. Because the people of Israel want to expose their sins to all the world, God will expose their blood to all the world! “That it might cause fury to come up to take vengeance; I have set her blood upon the top of a rock, that it should not be covered. Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Woe to the bloody city! I will even make the pile for fire great”! (verses 8-9). Israel takes the greatest imaginable evils and spews them into the mind and psyche of the world! God will punish it in the same way. God prophesies, You like to publicize your evil? Then I’ll publicize your bloody punishment! I’ll put it out where the whole world can see it!
God never says something like this without meaning it! It will certainly happen! And if we yawn our way through this Work, we will be right in the midst of it! We simply cannot allow ourselves to become Laodicean.
But God’s wrath won’t stop there. “Heap on wood, kindle the fire, consume the flesh, and spice it well, and let the bones be burned. Then set it [the pot] empty upon the coals thereof, that the brass of it may be hot, and may burn, and that the filthiness of it may be molten in it, that the scum of it may be consumed” (verses 10-11). After the people have been burned, God says, I want you to set the pot upon the fire and burn the pot!
If you think God doesn’t have an opinion about what is happening in Israel, listen to these words!
I don’t know how anyone who claims to follow God can read these words and not be afraid! He is talking about a despicable people and explaining why the Tribulation and Day of the Lord! God cannot lie. He prophesied this, and He will fulfill it. No one will stop Him. All Israel will crumble before Him when these prophecies are fulfilled.
No Stronger Message!
This world has so little to offer, and it will only get worse. What is the value of human life if you don’t give your life to God? You are not even safe unless you have God watching over you. Without God, there is no future for your children, your family; it will get to the point where there will be so much slaughter, human life will be worth no more than animal life!
There is so much more to life than that, and the nations of Israel should know it! But they don’t want to hear about it. They are so lost in sports and pleasures, you can’t even reach their minds with God’s message—or any message of value!
“She hath wearied herself with lies, and her great scum went not forth out of her: her scum shall be in the fire” (Ezekiel 24:12). This is not ordinary scum, but great scum! Lawlessness is intertwined into the very fabric and constitution of our being! It will take the crucible of a holocaust to burn it from our system!
God prophesies that the “great scum went not forth” when they were warned by God’s Work. They bring the evil upon themselves. But God must get the scum out before we can know Him!
There has never been a stronger message to be delivered than this one! And we are the only people with the courage to stand up for the God of Ezekiel 1. When God says, “Thus says the Lord God,” we must tell people what God has on His mind. We must not be afraid to tell the peoples of Israel that their filth is the worst on this planet! This is the job God says we must complete. This is what being 100 percent behind this Work is about!
God prophesied about our delivering this message: “In thy filthiness is lewdness: because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee” (verse 13). I have purged thee, God says. The people heard God’s message and weren’t corrected by it. God sent an end-time Elijah to preach the gospel around the world. Now He’s sending a prophet to warn people one last time. What kind of response are we getting? Comparatively, very little. (Of course, when you realize just what this little group will become, what we’ll be doing in the future, that makes us a good-size group of qualified headquarters personnel!)
In truth, Israel is not interested in being purged! But God says, You’re still going to be purged. I will purge you—this time through my fury! Even though you wouldn’t hear my end-time Elijah and watchman, before it is over, you will wish you had.
“I the Lord have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent; according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord God” (verse 14). How has God “spoken it”? In person? No—through His human leader and God’s very elect! God speaks through a man, and that man speaks with the support of a body of people who follow and support him.
Nothing has ever been more serious than what we are talking about here. There have never been more heinous sins than what God sees today in Israel. The sins are extreme, and so our message is going to sound extreme. Unparalleled filth requires unparalleled punishment!
You can see anti-America and anti-Israel sentiment quickly building in the world today. Satan is stirring up tremendous hatred as never before! People the world over have a deep, deep hatred for you. Only God can protect you.
I say this with all the love of God, because it’s the truth of God, and it will happen.
Why is it important for us to know these prophecies? Yes, we must get this message out, but there is something deeper that God is getting at here.
Neither Mourn Nor Weep
God had to implant within Ezekiel a special sense of urgency. How did He do it? As we look at this, we may see His method as heartless, but again—we must get God’s view. Let’s realize what this is really about.
“Also the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down” (Ezekiel 24:15-16). “The desire of thine eyes” is Ezekiel’s wife. God took her away. Ezekiel’s wife died. Then God instructed Ezekiel not to mourn or cry. He wasn’t saying Ezekiel should have no emotion over his wife’s death. But He wanted him to keep his emotions in check for a very important reason.
God is trying to teach us a deep lesson here, deeper than we have understood before.
God continued, “Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind the tire of thine head upon thee [in other words, do the Work], and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men” (verse 17). Don’t act like normal men in those circumstances. Go right on and do the Work. Yes, you have lost a loved one, but put your shoes on those beautiful feet (Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15), get busy and continue the Work.
God is saying this to all His very elect. If one of us loses a loved one, and he or she was converted, we don’t really need to mourn a lot about that. God says the death of a saint is precious in His sight (Psalm 116:15). When someone dies in the faith, that adds one more member to the God Family. How can you calculate that blessing? In a very short time, that person will be brought right back up from the grave, and we’ll all be together again—this time, for eternity!
This command to Ezekiel gives us a view of God’s love. We must expand our love if we’re to understand this.
We know that 50 percent of the Laodiceans will lose their eternal lives. And that number would probably be much higher if you and I didn’t deliver this message to God’s Family! We have family members in Laodicean churches and in the world who are in danger of losing their eternal lives!
That is what God is concerned about. We must think the way He does, and keep our perspective. From time to time someone in the Church will die. Sometimes it shocks us severely, because we love them so deeply and dearly, and they were so dedicated to God. But God tells us not to lose our balance and our focus. We’re involved in something much bigger than that.
We must think like God, and love like God. God loves the whole world. Jesus Christ died for the whole world! He didn’t just die for the very elect. That’s what we need to keep in mind when some personal crisis occurs.
This episode with Ezekiel’s wife was really a chance for Ezekiel to set an example for us today. And that is just what Ezekiel did. “So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded” (Ezekiel 24:18). What an example!
Losing a loved one isn’t really a great crisis when you consider the scale of suffering that is about to occur. We’re talking about one life versus many millions, plus all the Laodiceans who will lose their eternal lives.
I must admit, looking through these scriptures makes me realize that I don’t love the people in God’s Family as God does. I don’t love the world as God does. I know I need to grow and think more like God. How easy it would be to get overwhelmed at the personal loss of a loved one. I’m not saying that it is wrong to mourn. Perhaps there is nothing more painful, in a family context—there is no getting away from that. Please understand: We should not be hard-hearted. We should simply believe Ezekiel. We need to keep our godly perspective in this end time. We cannot have “normal” emotions. We must keep in mind the scope of the disaster that is coming upon the whole world.
“And the people said unto me, Wilt thou not tell us what these things are to us, that thou doest so?” (verse 19). The people were puzzled. He was going on with the Work and acting like his wife didn’t even die! So Ezekiel had to explain it to them.
In responding, Ezekiel put the focus right where God’s focus is. “Then I answered them, The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Speak unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will profane my sanctuary [the Laodicean Church], the excellency of your strength, the desire of your eyes, and that which your soul pitieth; and your sons and your daughters [your own spiritual Family] whom ye have left shall fall by the sword” (Ezekiel 24:20-21). All of the Laodiceans are going to fall by the sword! There will be no escape for them!
Many Laodiceans scoff at us. They don’t believe God would send a prophet in our day. Their criticisms are worse than those from people in the world. The reason is that about the only way you can fight against the people who have God’s truth is to demonize them and their leader.
God says He will profane His sanctuary. He is going to profane His very own Bride! Can we see why God says, Don’t get too caught up in mourning if you lose your bride? What about God’s Bride? Half of them will die forever! What about Christ’s Bride—our Family? We must not lose sight of the big picture.
This is a huge job. I can’t do it myself. But when I see people responding the way God’s people do, I know we can do it. I know God will see our labors—our work of faith—and there will be nothing to stop us! If the effectual, fervent prayer of one righteous man avails much, what about the prayers of a whole Church of such people? If we are people who walk by faith, we can get the job done! I am weak; I know it will take the power of God to do what I need to do and what you need to do. But as we pray for each other and ask God for that power, we will confound this world. With the power of God, we can do it.
Give Yourself Wholly to God!
Never forget: Things could end suddenly. I don’t know exactly what God’s time schedule is. I don’t know how much time we have left. I just want to make sure we keep God’s perspective and never let some date or some land deter us from giving our all to God. We can never afford to let up in this Work.
This job is a test of how much we love the people in the world. Are we willing to put our lives on the line for them? Do you love them enough to give yourself as a sacrifice to the great God of Ezekiel 1? To give Him your all, with no restrictions—nothing holding you back from Him, not even the death of a loved one? We must examine ourselves for areas where we may be holding back God’s Work.
Some of God’s people, for example, still drink too much alcohol. Yes, God sanctions and encourages the right use of alcohol. But I know that some people would be better off without it. I haven’t had a drink of alcohol in many years. Why? Because I feel I can be more effective in the Work without it. Am I against alcohol? Of course not; I love to see people enjoy alcohol, as God instructs us. But if something is getting in your way, it is better to eliminate it. “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee …. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29-30). For some, that offense may be alcohol.
Look seriously at yourself and see those problems you need to overcome. If something is getting in the way of God’s Work, it is serious—even if you’re not aware of it.
God told the people of Israel, “And ye shall do as I have done: ye shall not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men” (Ezekiel 24:22). That is His message to us today. Don’t act like other men. Follow Ezekiel’s example. Nothing must get in the way of God’s Work—not even mourning the loss of a loved one. We must put in check any emotion or anything else that holds up God’s Work.
Remember the contract we made with God at baptism: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). We must be willing to give it all up if necessary. That is in the contract. We must pray to God that He will prepare us for whatever is coming, that we will be able to handle any trial or decision we may face.
This is not a small exercise God has called us to do. This is the most important Work on Earth—perhaps even the most important Work in history, because we get to introduce Christ to this world! We cannot push God into a corner of our lives. He must fill our lives.
God wants our best sacrifice. He wouldn’t let the Israelites bring their old, diseased animals to the sacrifice. He wanted the best they had (see Leviticus 1:3, 10; 3:1, 6). He wants your best time in prayer, when you are most alert and can really get through to God.
We don’t have to be a part of this. This is a difficult calling, and we don’t have to do it. The Laodiceans aren’t doing it. But how much do we know about God’s love? Do we see the whole picture of what the Work is supposed to achieve, as God sees it?
“And your tires shall be upon your heads [in other words, go on and let’s work], and your shoes upon your feet: ye shall not mourn nor weep; but ye shall pine away for your iniquities, and mourn one toward another” (Ezekiel 24:23). Be mourning about your sins. Try to help one another, God said. And all that Ezekiel did, we’re to do. That is a command to us! He is an example of what we must do to get this Work done.
This is an opportunity we will never, ever have again! I believe if you asked all God’s saints throughout history to choose a single time to have been called by God, they all would choose the time just before the return of Christ! We have the greatest opportunity God will ever give to anyone, coupled with the best time to be called.
Mr. Armstrong said that we grow spiritually in proportion to how much our hearts are in the Work. The pcg must demonstrate a real commitment to God’s Work!
As we continue to put our hearts into this Work, we’ll begin to know God much better, and we’ll begin to love the world and the Laodiceans as He does. Then we will mourn like God. We will become so giving that we’ll be wrapped up in serving the whole world. We will have a vision so great that nothing can slow us down. That is when we will be people who can help God accomplish His goal by educating the whole world to “know the Eternal God.” What a wonderful calling we have.
Place of Safety
“Also, thou son of man, shall it not be in the day when I take from them their strength, the joy of their glory, the desire of their eyes, and that whereupon they set their minds, their sons and their daughters” (Ezekiel 24:25). This verse is very interesting: It is talking about the Laodiceans. God will “take from them their strength”—or, as the Soncino commentary reads, their stronghold. The International Critical Commentary states stronghold is also defined as, “to flee for safety.” We flee to God for safety all the time, even now. And one day, we will flee to God to take us to a place of safety from the Great Tribulation.
The Laodiceans have lost that stronghold. God is not going to protect them from the Great Tribulation.
These are our Family members. God wants us to love them and to express that love through this Work. Your dedication to this Work shows your degree of love for the Laodiceans and the world.
“That he that escapeth in that day shall come unto thee, to cause thee to hear it with thine ears?” (verse 26). If someone is going to escape, it will be because he or she came to the Philadelphians. Are we not important? God has put us in the inner court. He says the Laodiceans will have to come to the Philadelphians, or they will have no future! The same is true of every person on Earth. They must come to God’s royal sons and hear that message, or they will have no protection or salvation.
One day, God will cause all of them to do just that, if they choose not to do it before. “In that day shall thy mouth be opened to him which is escaped, and thou shalt speak, and be no more dumb: and thou shalt be a sign unto them; and they shall know that I am the Lord” (verse 27).
Day of Reckoning
There is a day of reckoning coming for the Laodiceans and the world. All those who speak arrogantly against God today will have to give account for every word.
As I mentioned earlier, one Laodicean evangelist said it was a mistake to think God directly guides His Church. Here is what Ezekiel wrote about that: “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” (Ezekiel 3:14). God’s hand was strong upon Ezekiel; it was strong upon Mr. Armstrong. Anyone who restored all things had to have God’s hand strong upon him! It is pure vanity and arrogance for someone to push all that work aside and deny that God directly guides His leader and Church!
God’s hand is directly guiding me today as well. It must be, for us to fulfill this job. “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” (verse 17). A man is doing that job. (For more information, request our free booklet Who Is ‘That Prophet’?)
All the people of Israel need to hear God’s judgment against them. This terrible message must be delivered! And yet there are people by the thousands failing to deliver it, arrogantly speaking against God’s revelation—the mighty God of Ezekiel 1 who will surely bring it to pass. There will be a day of reckoning!
Here is God’s message to those Laodicean evangelists who failed at their super-important commission: “Now will I shortly pour out my fury upon thee, and accomplish mine anger upon thee: and I will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense thee for all thine abominations. [A]nd ye shall know that I am the Lord that smiteth” (Ezekiel 7:8-9). They like to talk only about a God of love. They usually won’t even discuss the God who smites! They don’t want to know that God. Those Laodiceans and the world must hear this message! The arrogance will stop! “All hands shall be feeble, and all knees shall be weak as water” (verse 17). They will be so scared, they will have urine running down their legs.
Is God justified in these judgments? “And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations” (Ezekiel 6:9). Here is God’s evaluation of us: “I am broken with their whorish heart.” They have committed adultery, and God says He is broken! Look at how much damage adultery does just on a human level. Can we grasp the damage it does spiritually? Imagine how much it hurts God, who has given everything for His people!
The great God of Ezekiel 1 has every right to rebuke and chasten them for what they have done!
Set It in Majesty
Ezekiel 7:20 shows us just how specially God really treats His people. “As for the beauty of his ornament, he set it in majesty ….” We are part of God’s royal majesty. We are kings and priests. God isn’t just saying that. He has adorned His Bride—made us an ornament.
In verse 22, God refers to His “secret place”—His holy of holies. It is there spoken of as being polluted by God’s people. But when we are loyally serving God, that “secret place” is a refuge for God’s people. God loves us and wants to invite us into the most special place in His life. Imagine the most majestic people on this Earth and multiply it by thousands, and that’s where we are in God’s mind. We are His special possession.
Realize who you are! Do your utmost to understand what it means to be God’s very elect—to have that kind of majesty and royalty! Take on the urgency called for by the times and by the magnitude of the job God has given to His royal Bride!