3:2. So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that roll. — "I never knew any one so willing to do the will of God," said the private secretary and traveling companion of Pastor Russell. He was eager to learn all he could about the Heavenly Father's will. It was not of himself that he learned and taught the Divine Plan; but God Himself caused him to learn, believe and teach.
3:3. And He said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. — No mere casual scanning of Present Truth, would suffice. The man of God was to be filled with the great Message. (Rev. 10:9,10.) "The sweetest story ever told" (Psa. 19:10; 119:103) brought inexpressible peace. It sweetened the experiences of a life of sacrifice. Whoever eats, assimilates Present Truth, finds every heart question answered, every doubt silenced. He learns "the peace of God that passeth understanding" (Phil. 4:7), and a sweetness as of honey in the promises, plans, and purposes of the Father of Love.
3:4. And He said unto me, Son of men, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with My words unto them. — From apostolic days to today all to whom the Spirit gives utterance begin to speak (Acts 2:1-18) because constrained to do so, because they "love to tell the story." To Ezekiel, and to the greatest preacher of modern times, came a readiness of speech, when Jehovah Himself gave them His Spirit, and commanded to "get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with My words unto them."
3:6. Not to many people of a strange speech and of a hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee. — If the Message of Present Truth had been sent to the heathen with its glad tidings for all, they would have turned from devil worship, to worship the true God. (Matt. 11:21, 23.) On two occasions the trumpet sound was heard by "people of a strange speech end of a hard language." Pastor Russell passed through Japan and India on a round-the-world tour. In Japan the people requested that he stay. It was the message they had longed for. In India the natives heard him gladly. In eastern and southern Africa a believer in Present Truth found his way from Nyassa to the Cape, and many thousands of natives embraced the Truth and were baptized.
3:7. But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted. — Christendom has never hearkened unto God. They hear and do not (Jas. 1:22.) They are forgetful hearers of the Word. (Jas. 1:25.) They know their Master's will and do it not. (Luke 12:47.) Because they hear not God, they heed not the Word of God when brought to them by His servants.
3:8. Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads. — Whatever situation Pastor Russell faced, God made him more than equal to it. This last and most illustrious of the reformers never asked for money; yet he had enough entrusted to him to carry on the work. Champions of Christendom met him on the debating platform; each encounter widened and strengthened the witness for Present Truth. He faced the modern enemies of Reformation with books by tens of millions, and they were unable to combat their power. "To read the Studies in the Scriptures," admonished a Southern preacher to his flock, "is to believe them." No argument could be devised to stem the flood of Truth, only a ban on the reading of the books. In innumerable places priestcraft caused the public burning of the books. Practically every home in America, England, Germany, Sweden, Australia, and other Protestant countries was reached by a deluge of free tracts. Such a tracting of the world with billions of pages, was never known. The enemies of Truth were wholly unable to
3:9. As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead; fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. — The forehead is symbolic of wisdom. A man of high forehead, as was Pastor Russell, is of a high type of intellect. Pastor Russell's mind was made strong against opponents of the Reform which is ushering in the everlasting Kingdom of Messiah. It is impossible for error to withstand truth. (Luke 21:15.) As in apostolic days, believers in Present Truth call themselves "in the Truth" (2 Pet 1:12), the teachings of the Word of God are termed "the Truth" (1 John 3:19), and those who believe them are known as "Truth people." (3 John 4.) The mind of Pastor Russell was filled with Truth. Crystal clear, with hard, irresistible logic, the Present Truth, which constituted his wisdom and understanding, was the hardest proposition ecclesiasticism ever encountered. (Isa. 50:7.) The mind of God's steward was as adamant. Adamant is literally, in Hebrew, "a diamond point." With diamond hardness (Rev. 4:3), the Present Truth cuts its way through all opposition, though the opposing thought be hard as flint. The diamond is the most crystal clear of stones, and represents the truth in irresistible form. It is futile to oppose the mind of any Present Truth believer, for truth is irrefutable. To those who have it, it imparts the mind of an intellectual giant — the mind of Christ, of God. (1 Cor. 2:16.) Their foreheads are made as diamond. In the light of the sun the diamond sparkles with indescribable beauty. It breaks the sunlight up into its component parts and reflects and refracts in prismatic flashes of rainbow colors. The sun is the Gospel of Divine Love and its embodiment, Jesus Christ. The component parts of Christian love are the
3:10. Moreover He said unto me, Son of man, all My words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears. — Like Ezekiel, Pastor Russell was to hold back, pervert, or wrest nothing.
3:11. And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto fits children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord God; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear. — It was to be a message for the Lord's people to captivity to the king of this world. Satan, bound in Mystic Babylon the Great, the governmental-ecclesiastical-commercial system of Christendom.
3:12. Then the Spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord from His place. — Through the begetting of the Holy Spirit we are raised up to walk in newness of life (Rom. 9:4), to sit with Christ in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6), in the Spirit-begotten condition. The Spirit raised Pastor Russell up to an understanding and appreciation of Heavenly things. (Matt 3:16.) At Pentecost the place where the Apostles were sitting was filled with a rushing sound as of a mighty wind and they received the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:2.) The mighty rushing sound represented Pastor Russell's receiving a rich endowment of the Spirit of God, to whose leadings he was fully consecrated and to whose influence and guidance be wholly devoted Ms life. The words of Christ and of God are contained in the Bible, written thousands of years ago, behind in the stream of time. It was in the Word of God, behind him in time (Isa, 30:21), that Pastor Russell perceived the rushing sound, the utterances of the Holy Spirit The message of the Bible has been perverted by Catholic and Protestant misunderstandings into anything but a glorious and blessed Gospel. It is a thing to be dreaded. if the glory of God is to eternally torment the vast majority of humans. But the Message of Truth sounded forth by Pastor Russell declares the grace of the Gospel which is to reach every man, woman and child (1 Tim. 2:6) with its blessed influence, power, wisdom and love, so that all creation in due time may join in a mighty paeon of praise, "Blessed be the glory of Jehovah from His place." — Psa. 106:48.
3:14. 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. — "God hath taken you out of the world" (John 17:16); raised "to sit with Christ in Heavenly places." (Eph. 2:6.) The Spirit took Pastor Russell away from earthly aims and raised him up to the plane of sacrificing priesthood. He turned from commercial pursuits to devote his life to the Heavenly Message. He tasted the bitter herbs of persecution, of suffering with Christ; and amid ostracism and persecution he lived the life of Christian service. He carried on his work in fervency of spirit; for the power of God was upon him, strengthening him with might in the inner man (Eph. 3:16), and with wisdom to deliver, in the face of the determined opposition of priestcraft, the trumpet message announcing the Presence of Christ — the sound of the Seventh Trumpet, the trump of God. — Rev. 10:7.
3:15. Then I came to them of the captivity at Tel-abib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days. — Future historians will record, as most remarkable, the mental, moral and spiritual bondage in which professing Christians were held during the Gospel Age, through the machinations of priestcraft, under the king of the age, Satan himself. Pastor Russell came with his message, in a day of supposed enlightenment, to a people
3:16. And it came to pass at the end of seven days, that the Word of the Lord came unto me, saying. — In a time prophecy a day in the prophecy usually signifies a year in fulfillment. For seven years after Christ's Return in 1874 — until 1881 — Pastor Russell, although he knew much of God's Plan, was in some degree in the same condition as other Christians in imperfect understanding of God's Word. In 1881 a former associate, Mr. Barbour, of Rochester, N. Y., who had been a faithful fellow-watcher, developed into the "Evil servant" of Matt. 24:48-51 and Zechariah 11:17, and produced a work on the Hebrew Tabernacle types in opposition to the fundamentals of true Christianity. Pastor Russell desired the truth on the subject. He gave himself up to prayer and study of this matter alone. For days he struggled with the problem and wrestled with God in supplication. At length the matter cleared up. He then wrote "Tabernacle Shadows of the Better Sacrifices." of which 1,500,000 copies have since aided Christians to understand the deeper things of the Word and to make complete consecration unto death. This was in 1881, at which time he also published "Food for Thinking Christians," a work embodying much afterwards expanded into the six volumes of "Studies in the Scriptures." The same year, 1881, is prophetically marked as the time for the final withdrawal of favor from the churches, a favor which had begun to be withdrawn in 1878 — the year in which the clergy were cast off as representatives of the Divine Word, and when Pastor Russell began his work by the publication of 50,000 copies of "0bject and Manner of the Lord's Return." In 1878 the stewardship of the things of God, the teaching of Bible truths, was taken from the clergy, unfaithful to their age-
3:17. 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. — The function of watchmanship was not given until 1881. (Jer. 6:17; Isa. 21:6-12.) Faithfulness in individual watching during a trial period of seven years was rewarded by the bestowal of the office of the greatest servant whom the Church of God has had since the Apostle Paul. "Whosoever will be chief among you let him be your servant." (Matt. 20:27.) Pastor Russell at all times served the Church in great things and small. No request was too insignificant to get his careful attention. Rich and poor alike were faithfully served in every possible way. This work prior to 1881 was a great work for any ordinary man, but insignificant compared with what was to follow. By 1884 the watchman's work had grown to such proportions as to cause the founding of The Watch Tower Bible And Tract Society. This is the agency through which God's appointed watchman has delivered his message to Christendom. Pastor Russell paid no attention to the words or opinions of man, however learned or pious, whether men of modern days or the "early fathers" of post-apostolic times. He listened to the word direct from the mouth of God, spoken by holy men of old as moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21.) Ezekiel was raised up shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem to warn the Hebrews of the impending calamity. Pastor Russell's warning to Christendom, coming direct from God, has been of the imminent collapse of the present "Christian" civilization in a welter of war, revolution and anarchy, to be succeeded by the early establishment of the Kingdom of God. In all his warnings he claimed no originality. He said that he could never have written his books himself. It all came from God, through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.
3:18. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. — Pastor Russell saw and revived the teaching of the Word of God that death is death. "All have sinned." (Rom. 3:23.) "Death passed upon all."
3:19. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. — Pastor Russell faithfully warned the wicked. He published a complete exposition of the Bible statements regarding the Adamic death — 3,000,000 copies of a pamphlet, "What Say the Scriptures About Hell," quoting all Bible passages mentioning Sheol and Hades, the death state. He scarcely ever spoke in public without dwelling on this, cardinal tenet, that the dead are dead. To the very best of his ability he taught Christendom the truth. By faithful testimony he delivered himself from liability.
3:20, 21. Again, When a righteous man doth turn front his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul. — Another cardinal teaching of God's Word, clearly taught by Pastor Russell, is the nature of the eternal punishment to be visited upon the incorrigible backslider. Clergy, bishops and popes have taught for centuries on this subject an irrational combination of extreme symbolism with gross literalism, as suited their ambition to exercise worldly power and hold the masses in subjection — minds, bodies and pocketbooks. They have interpreted one symbolism symbolically and the next literally. They have said that the "Lake of Fire" and the "torment" are literal, but that the "beast" and the "false prophet" are symbolic (Rev. 19:20), even though it involved the absurdity of a symbolic beast going into a literal lake of fire! Blind and deaf to
An important feature of Pastor Russell's teaching is that the Scriptural punishment of the incorrigibly wicked is not life in torment but oblivion, annihilation, the "second death" (Rev. 21:8); that every one is, either in this life or after the resurrection, to be brought to a full knowledge of the Truth (1 Tim. 2:4); to receive some measure of the Holy Spirit; that those who incur the extreme penalty for sin will be only those who backslide beyond recovery. In full conformity with Ezekiel's prophecy Pastor Russell taught that "when a righteous man doth commit iniquity, he shall die" — the Second Death.
3:22. And the hand of the Lord was there upon me; and He said unto me, Arise, go forth into the plain, and I will there talk with thee. — Ezekiel was impelled by the Holy Spirit to depart from the river Chebar with its teeming activities. Pastor Russell's consecration led him to separate himself from commercial activities and to give his life to the service of God. The hand of the Lord was upon him to do this. The Lord's people, the Hebrews, mingled with the Chaldeans, living in the plain — literally "vale" or "valley." Pastor Russell turned from ordinary avocations to all the people dwelling in the Valley of the Shadow of Death (Psa. 23:4); and in that condition God communed with His true Watchman. Pastor Russell has been known to pass entire nights in prayer, and go about his work the next day as though nothing unusual had taken place. — Rev. 3:14.
3:23. Then I arose, and went forth into the plain; and, behold, the glory of the Lord stood there, as the glory which I saw by the river of Chebar: and I fell on my face. — Continually the vision was before Pastor Russell of the character, plan and work of the Almighty. Daily he renewed his covenant of consecration and daily sought to carry it out.
3:24. Then the Spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thine house. — A thought possesses propulsive power, and must result in action unless hindered by an opposing thought The Spirit, thoughts, words of
3:25. But thou, O son of man, behold, they shall put bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them. — Each forward step in any branch of knowledge renders institutions based on past partial knowledge functionless; and consequently the adherents and beneficiaries of such institutions oppose the inarch of events. The clergy, trying to stem the tide of Truth, to uphold an effete ecclesiasticism tottering to its fall, put every restraint upon the influence of Pastor Russell; but the bands upon him served also to bind the tares more tightly into the organization bundles. (Matt. 13:30.) In fulfillment of the prophetic parable the bundles are to be destroyed in the anarchy about to ensue. Church members have been urged to get rid of every scrap of paper bearing the Message of Present Truth; the Truth has been preached against in practically every church in the English, German and Swedish speaking world; people have been warned against reading the Truth; Truth people have been discharged or refused employment; in Europe they have been imprisoned at hard labor; some have been done to death by firing squads; they have been forbidden to hold meetings. Neither Pastor Russell nor his fellow-believers were permitted to utter the Bible Truth before the congregations of ecclesiasticism. It was not to go out among "them," and his greatest work was the deepening of the spirit of consecration among those of the "House of Sons."
3:26. And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover; for they are a rebellious house. — It is impossible to witness spiritual things to the carnally-minded (1 Cor. 3:1; John 16:12). But Pastor Russell never refrained from speaking or publishing the Word of God. The Bible teaches that the service of God must be of a willing heart. It is a privilege which may be accepted or rejected, as the hearer desires. Yet to the worldly, Pastor Russell was as "dumb", for they would not hear.