The condemnation of Rev. 3:14-18 against the Laodiceans, and the condemnation of Ezek. 2:1-7 and 3:4-7 against “the house of Israel,” being the same, each therefore is the complement of the other: the one being the Revelation of that of which the other is the prophecy.
Both vindicate the Spirit of Prophecy’s warning that no “greater deception can come upon human minds than a confidence that they are right, when they are all wrong! The message of the True Witness finds the people of God in a sad deception [instead of in an excellent condition], yet honest in that deception. They know not that their condition is deplorable in the sight of God. While those addressed are flattering themselves that they are in an exalted spiritual condition, the message of the True Witness breaks their security by the startling denunciation of their true condition of spiritual blindness, poverty, and wretchedness. The testimony, so cutting and severe, cannot be a mistake, for it is the True Witness who speaks, and His testimony must be correct. ” — Testimonies, Vol. 3, pp. 252, 253.
Since the Lord says that “all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted” (Ezek. 3 :7), then, certainly, will each one intent upon being saved, “determine to know the worst of” his “case” (Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 163), and
The Time Of The Church’s Low Ebb.
Were God’s people to continue self-deceived, “impudent and hardhearted,” and were the spirituality of the church to continue to dim away, then with such a church the Lord could never finish His work on earth, and probation must finally close upon a world in utter darkness, having no living saints to translate at the appearing of Christ.
“The Lord does not now work,” says the Spirit of Prophecy, “to bring many souls into the truth, because of the church-members who have never been converted, and those who were once converted but who have backslidden. What influence would these unconsecrated members have on new converts? Would they not make of no effect the God-given message which His people are to bear?” — Testimonies, Vol. 6, p. 371.
Having up till this time been holding back because of the unconverted and backslidden members in the church, what will He do now when, as He says, “all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted”? The very fact that He is holding back, is the most portentous evidence that He must do a special work for the church before it can finish His work upon earth.
Face to face with this solemn certainty, each one, therefore, who seeks “an inheritance on high,” will maintain the strictest integrity and openness of mind as he studies concerning the special work involved, lest for his Laodicean affliction, he never find
“…While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven,…there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth…. Then the church which our Lord at His coming is to receive to Himself will be ‘a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.’ Then she will look forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.’ ” “Clad in the armor of Christ’s righteousness, the church is to enter upon her final conflict….she is to go forth into all the world, conquering and to conquer.” — The Great Controversy, p. 425; Prophets and Kings, p. 725.
Mark the italicized words: “not having spot,” “her final conflict,” “going forth into all the world, conquering and to conquer.” These statements emphasize a pure and triumphant church, perfected by a “special work of purification” which must take place before the work of the gospel is finished in any part of the world.
Showing the church’s then fitness for the great work that is committed to her, Inspiration continues: “Mighty miracles were wrought the sick were healed, and signs and wonders followed the believers.” — Early Writings, p. 278.
As these mighty works are done in the time of the “Loud Cry of the Third Angel’s Message,” the purification, therefore, incontrovertibly takes place at the commencement of the “Loud Cry.” And from this it follows as a logical necessity that Ezekiel’s prophecy of marking and slaying must contain the announcement of the purification of the church.
Continuing to behold in vision the cherubim and the glory of God’s throne, the prophet saw the Lord come to the threshold of the house (church), and as He gave charge to His angel who was “clothed with linen” and who “had the writer’s inkhorn by his side,” Ezekiel heard Him command the man: “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
“And to the others He said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. And He said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth. And they went forth and slew in the city.
“And it came to pass, while they were slaying them, and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord God! Wilt Thou destroy all the residue of Israel inThy pouring out of Thy fury upon Jerusalem? Then said He unto me, The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceeding great, and the land is full of blood, and the city full of perverseness: for they say, The Lord hath forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not.” Ezek. 9:3-9.
Revealing a complete separation of the wicked from among the just, these verses, therefore, prophetically forewarn of the imminent purification of the church — her only salvation. And taking place in “the city,” “Jerusalem,” “Israel,” and “Judah, ”— terms by none of which the world can be called as they apply exclusively to the people of God the church, — this work of separation is, accordingly, confined strictly to the church.
The fact, furthermore, that the wicked are taken from among the righteous, also shows that the separation cannot be in the world. Were it there, it would have to be done in the opposite way — the righteous be taken from among the wicked.
Remember that the Lord said to Ezekiel: “Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against Me.” “For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel” (Ezek. 2:3; 3:5) — a mission which is to result in
The Sealing of the 144,000 — The First Fruits.
“This mightiest of angels,” says the Spirit of Prophecy, “has in his hand the seal of the living God, or of Him who alone can give life, who can inscribe upon the foreheads the mark….”
“This sealing of the servants of God is the same that was shown to Ezekiel in vision. John also had been a witness of this most startling revelation.” — Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 444, 445.
The sealing (Rev. 7) being the same as the marking (Ezek. 9), — the “purification,”— we thus are given a twofold view of the “closing work for the church,…the sealing time of the one hundred and forty-four thousand who are to stand without fault before the throne of God…. They feel most deeply the wrongs of God’s professed people. This is forcibly set forth by the prophet’s illustration of the last work under the figure of the men each having a slaughter weapon in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side.” — Testimonies, Vol. 3, p. 266.
Since the purification, or the sealing, came at the commencement of the “Loud Cry,” as we have already seen, the 144,000 are therefore the “first-fruits” — the first to be sealed; whereas those who are sealed after the purification of the church, are the second fruits, of whom John (after having seen the 144,000 sealed) says: “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.” Rev. 7:9.
The fact therefore that there is an ingathering of two fruits, shows that the marking or sealing is in two sections — two periods — and that there are
Two Sealing Reports.
“And behold,” says Ezekiel, “the man clothed with linen, which had the inkhorn by his side, reported the matter [while on earth] saying, I have done as Thou hast commanded me.” Ezek. 9:11. Here is the first report, made at the completion of the sealing in the church — the sealing of the firstfruits, the 144,000.
“I saw,” says the servant of the Lord, “…an angel with a writer’s inkhorn by his side returned from the earth, and reported to Jesus that his work was done, and the saints were numbered and sealed.” — Early Writings, p. 279. Here is his second report, made at the completion of the sealing in the world — the sealing of the second fruits, the great multitude.
Comparing both reports, each is seen to be of a different event: At the first report, the Lord was on “the threshold of the house” on earth (Ezek. 9:3); at the second, He was in the heavenly sanctuary.
After the angel had made his first report, the Lord commanded him: “Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill thine hand with coals of fire from between the cherubims, and scatter them over the city. And he went in my sight.” Ezek. 10:2.
But following his second report, “…all the angelic host laid off their crowns as Jesus made the solemn declaration, ‘He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.’ ” — Early Writings, pp. 279, 280.
Were probation to close at the time of the first report (Ezek. 9:11), the Lord must, according to the foregoing statement, be in heaven, then descend to earth to receive His saints, instead of being already on earth, then mounting up in His throne, as He actually does, without His saints (Ezek. 10:19).
Again: the prophet’s being left behind when the Lord went up, figuratively shows that at this particular descent and ascent, the saints are not to be taken to heaven, but only to be set free from sin and sinners — fitted for the final work.
At the angel’s second report, however, Jesus being in heaven, “moved out of the most holy place” (Early Writings, p. 280) to descend to earth.
This brief comparison brings into primary focus the twofold fact that at the time of the first report, Jesus went into the temple, whereas at the time of the second report, He went out.
Beyond the angel’s reporting the matter of the marking and slaying in the church Ezekiel was not given to see. But Isaiah was. He saw
The Escaped Ones Go To All Nations.
“For by fire and by His sword,” declares the gospel prophet, “will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many…. And I will send those that escape of them unto the nations,…to the isles afar off, that have not heard My fame, neither have seen My glory; and they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles. And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations…to My holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord,…in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord.” Isa. 66:16, 19, 20.
Since “those that escape” the slaughter (the 144,000) shall “bring all your brethren [all those who shall be saved in the time of the ‘Loud Cry’]…into the house of the Lord,” then it follows that those who escape are the ones who finish the work — the reason they are called “the servants of God.” Rev. 7:3.
Tract 1 by V.T. Houteff