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Summary of Clarifications

Summary of Clarifications

Over the years, The Watchtower has adjusted our understanding of several aspects of Ezekiel’s prophecy. And this publication, Pure Worship of Jehovah​—Restored At Last!, contains a number of additional clarifications. See if you can answer the following questions.

What do the four faces of the living creatures represent?

Previous understanding: Each of the four faces of the living creatures, or cherubs, represents one of Jehovah’s four cardinal attributes.

Clarification: While each one of the four faces of the living creatures stands for one of the four cardinal attributes of Jehovah, when viewed together the four faces embrace all the attributes that he possesses. Also, the four faces impress on us the surpassing greatness of Jehovah’s might and glory.

Reasoning behind the change: In God’s Word, the number four is often used to denote that which is all-embracing, or complete. Hence, when the four faces are depicted together, they form more than four individual attributes​—they are the foundation of Jehovah’s awe-inspiring personality. Also, each face belongs to a creature that embodies majesty, strength, and mightiness. Even so, all four mighty representatives of creation, as depicted by the four faces of each cherub, are situated below the throne of Jehovah. That depiction highlights that Jehovah is the Supreme Ruler over all.

Whom does the man with the secretary’s inkhorn symbolize?

Previous understanding: The man with the inkhorn represents the anointed remnant. By means of the preaching and disciple-making work, the anointed are now putting a symbolic mark on the foreheads of those who become part of the “great crowd.”​—Rev. 7:9.

Clarification: The man with the secretary’s inkhorn pictures Jesus Christ. He will mark the great crowd when they are judged as sheep during the “great tribulation.”​—Matt. 24:21.

Reasoning behind the change: Jehovah has entrusted the judging to his Son. (John 5:22, 23) According to Matthew 25:31-33, Jesus will make the final judgment regarding who are “sheep” and who are “goats.”

Do the prostitute sisters, Oholah and Oholibah, prefigure Christendom with its division between the Catholic and Protestant faiths?

Previous understanding: Oholah (Samaria, capital of Israel), the older sister, pictures Catholicism; Oholibah (Jerusalem, capital of Judah), the younger sister, pictures Protestantism.

Clarification: These prostitute sisters are not prophetic types of any parts of Christendom. Rather, their existence serves to teach us about how Jehovah feels when those who were once his loyal people commit spiritual prostitution. His feelings regarding all false religion are similar.

Reasoning behind the change: There is no Scriptural indication that Oholah and Oholibah are prophetic types of Christendom. Israel and Judah were once like faithful wives to Jehovah, but Christendom has never had such a relationship with Jehovah. Further, the comparisons of God’s unfaithful people to prostitutes in chapters 16 and 23 of Ezekiel offer hope of reform and restoration. Christendom, as part of Babylon the Great, has no such hope.

Is Christendom the antitype of ancient apostate Jerusalem?

Previous understanding: Unfaithful Jerusalem is a prophetic type of Christendom. Hence, the destruction of Jerusalem prophetically foreshadowed that of Christendom.

Clarification: Conditions in unfaithful Jerusalem​—such as idolatry and widespread corruption—​remind us of Christendom, but we no longer refer to Christendom as the antitypical Jerusalem.

Reasoning behind the change: There is no clear Scriptural basis for such a type-antitype approach. Unlike ancient Jerusalem, Christendom has never practiced pure worship. And while Jerusalem did receive Jehovah’s forgiveness for a time, there is no such prospect ahead for Christendom.

How was the vision of the valley of dry bones fulfilled?

Previous understanding: In 1918 the persecuted anointed were brought into captivity to Babylon the Great, experiencing a deathlike condition of near inactivity. That short captivity ended in 1919 when Jehovah revived them as Kingdom proclaimers.

Clarification: The deathlike condition of spiritual captivity lasted a very long time and began much earlier than 1918. It started in the second century C.E. and ended in 1919 C.E. and basically parallels the long growing season in Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the weeds.

Reasoning behind the change: The captivity of ancient Israel lasted a long time, beginning in 740 B.C.E. and ending in 537 B.C.E. Ezekiel’s prophecy describes the bones as “dry” or “very dry,” suggesting that those represented by the bones had been dead for a very long time. And the restoration of the bones is described as a gradual process that would take time.

What is the meaning of the joining together of the two sticks?

Previous understanding: After a brief period of disunity during World War I, faithful members of the anointed remnant regained their unity in 1919.

Clarification: The prophecy highlights that Jehovah will cause his worshippers to become one. After 1919, as time progressed, members of the anointed remnant were joined by an increasing number of those with an earthly hope. Both groups are worshipping Jehovah together as one people.

Reasoning behind the change: The prophecy does not describe one stick that is first torn in two and then later brought together as one. Thus, the prophecy does not describe one group that would be divided and then later be reunited. Instead, it describes how two different groups would become united.

Who is Gog of Magog?

Previous understanding: Gog of Magog is a prophetic name that applies to Satan after he was ousted from the heavens.

Clarification: Gog of Magog refers to a coalition of earthly nations that will attack pure worshippers during the great tribulation.

Reasoning behind the change: The prophetic descriptions of Gog​—namely, that he is given as food to birds of prey and given a burial place on earth—​suggest that Gog is not a spirit creature. In addition, the attack by Gog parallels what the books of Daniel and Revelation say about the attack by earthly nations on God’s people.​—Dan. 11:40, 44, 45; Rev. 17:14; 19:19.

Did Ezekiel see and tour the great spiritual temple that the apostle Paul later explained?

Previous understanding: Ezekiel’s visionary temple is the same as the spiritual temple that the apostle Paul explained.

Clarification: Ezekiel saw, not the spiritual temple that came into existence in 29 C.E., but an idealized vision of how the pure worship outlined in the Mosaic Law would be restored after the exile. Paul’s inspired explanation of the spiritual temple focuses on the work that Jesus, as the Greater High Priest, accomplished from 29 to 33 C.E. Ezekiel’s temple vision, which never mentions the high priest, focuses on the spiritual restoration that began in 1919 C.E. We therefore do not look for antitypical meanings in all the detailed features and measurements of Ezekiel’s visionary temple. Rather, we ought to focus primarily on the lessons that Ezekiel’s vision teaches about Jehovah’s standards for pure worship.

Reasoning behind the change: Ezekiel’s visionary temple differs from the spiritual temple in important ways. For instance, Ezekiel’s temple featured many animal sacrifices; at the spiritual temple, only one sacrifice is offered, “once for all time.” (Heb. 9:11, 12) In the centuries before Christ came, it was not yet Jehovah’s time to reveal deep truths about the spiritual temple.