In Ezekiel’s vision, whom do the man with the secretary’s inkhorn and the six men with weapons for smashing represent?
They represent forces in heaven that were involved in the destruction of Jerusalem and that will also be involved in the destruction of Satan’s wicked world at Armageddon. This is an adjusted understanding. Why was it needed?
Before 607 B.C.E., Jehovah gave Ezekiel a vision of what would happen in Jerusalem before it was destroyed. In the vision, Ezekiel saw many wicked things happening there. Then he saw six men who each had a “weapon for smashing in his hand.” There was also a man with them who was “clothed in linen” and had “a secretary’s inkhorn.” (Ezekiel 8:6-12; 9:2, 3) This man was told to go through the city “and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who are sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done in the city.” Then the six men with the weapons were told to kill all those in the city who did not have the mark. (Ezekiel 9:4-7) What can we learn from this vision, and who is the man with the secretary’s inkhorn?
Ezekiel had this vision in 612 B.C.E. It was a prophecy that was first fulfilled five years later when Jehovah allowed the Babylonian army to destroy Jerusalem. In this way, Jehovah used the Babylonians to punish his disobedient people. (Jeremiah 25:9, 15-18) But what about the righteous Jews who did not agree with all the bad things that were happening in the city? Jehovah made sure that they were saved.
In the vision, Ezekiel did not literally mark anyone or take part in the destruction of the city. Instead, it was the angels who directed the destruction of Jerusalem. So this prophecy gives us the opportunity to see what happens in heaven. Jehovah told his angels to organize the destruction of the wicked and to make sure that the righteous ones would survive. *
This prophecy will also be fulfilled in the future. We used to say that the man with the secretary’s inkhorn represented the anointed who are still alive on the earth. We also said that people were being marked for survival when they listened to and accepted the good news that we preach. Recently, though, it became clear that we needed to change how we explain this prophecy. We have learned from Matthew 25:31-33 that Jesus is the one who judges people. He will do this in the future during the great tribulation. At that time, those who are judged as sheep will survive, and those who are judged as goats will be destroyed.
So, what do we learn from Ezekiel’s vision? Here are five lessons:
Before Jerusalem was destroyed, Ezekiel, as well as Jeremiah and Isaiah, warned the people about what was going to happen to the city. They were like watchmen. Today, Jehovah uses a small group of anointed ones to teach his people and warn others before the great tribulation starts. In fact, all of God’s people, that is, Christ’s domestics, have a share in this warning work.
Ezekiel did not mark those who would survive. Neither do God’s people today. They simply preach to others and warn them about what will happen in the future. This worldwide preaching work is done with the help of the angels.
Those who were saved in Ezekiel’s time did not have an actual mark on their foreheads. Today those who will be saved will also not have an actual mark. What must people do to survive the great tribulation? When they hear the warning, they must learn to imitate Christ, dedicate themselves to God, and support Christ’s brothers by preaching the good news. (Matthew 25:35-40) During the great tribulation, these ones will be given the mark, that is, they will be chosen to survive.
The man with the inkhorn represents Jesus. During the great tribulation, Jesus will mark the great crowd when he judges them as sheep. Then they will have the opportunity to live forever here on earth.
—Matthew 25:34, 46. *
Today the six men with the weapons for smashing represent the heavenly armies that are led by Jesus. They will soon destroy the nations and end all wickedness.
—Ezekiel 10:2, 6, 7; Revelation 19:11-21.
The lessons we learn from this vision help us to feel confident that Jehovah will not destroy righteous ones along with wicked ones. (2 Peter 2:9; 3:9) The lessons learned also remind us that the preaching work in our time is very important. Everyone needs to hear the warning before the end comes!
^ par. 6 Those who were saved, such as Baruch (Jeremiah’s secretary), Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, and the Rechabites, did not have an actual mark on their foreheads. (Jeremiah 35:1-19; 39:15-18; 45:1-5) The symbolic mark simply meant that they would survive.