This is indeed the understanding and teaching of the Church of the Eternal God and its corporate affiliates in Canada and Great Britain.
First, let us realize that the message, that God gave to the ancient prophet Ezekiel, was in fact a modern prophecy for a modern “Ezekiel”:
It is critical to understand that under Solomon’s son Rehoboam, the nation of Israel became divided. Two separate nations developed, known as the “house of Israel,” with Samaria as its capital, and the “house of Judah,” with Jerusalem as its capital. We read in 1 Kings 12:19-20 (AV): “So Israel [being reigned by King Rehoboam, son of King Solomon] rebelled against the house of David unto this day. And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam [a prominent officer] was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over all Israel: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only.”
King Rehoboam of Judah tried to unite the two kingdoms (of the house of Israel and the house of Judah) by force, but God prevented him from doing so. We read in 1 Kings 12:21, 24 (AV): “And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, a hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon… Thus saith the LORD, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is from me. They hearkened therefore to the word of the LORD, and returned to depart, according to the word of the LORD.”
The two houses or kingdoms did not unite again throughout their history. They remained separate as two kingdoms — the “house of Israel,” consisting of the ten northern tribes, and the “house of Judah,” consisting of the southern tribes of Judah (The house of Judah was later joined by the tribes of Benjamin and Levi, compare 1 Kings 12:21, 31). We even read in 1 Kings 16:5-8 about a war between Israel and Judah or the Jews. Later, the ten tribes, led by the descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh, the sons of Joseph, became “lost” from public view. Unbeknownst to most, they are today to be found in English-speaking nations around the world. Many people believe that the Jews are identical with the modern house of Israel, but this is simply not true. Christ spoke of the “LOST tribes of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6; 15:24). James referred to all of Israel and Judah as the “twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” (James 1:1; compare Revelation 7:4-8). We read that in the FUTURE, a unification of the houses of Israel and Judah will occur, under Christ’s rule, when they come out of a (future) captivity and return to the Promised Land (Jeremiah 30:3; 33:7).
In due time, the ancient house of Israel went into captivity, in 721-718 BC, by the hand of the Assyrians (2 Kings 17:5-6, 23). The house of Judah did not go into captivity until more than one hundred years later, by the hand of the Babylonians, under king Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 25:1-10).
This background is important to understand, if we want to comprehend the prophetic messages that God gave to the ancient prophet Ezekiel.
In a member letter, dated November 19, 1976, Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986) explained how he came to this vital understanding in the early years of his conversion and ministry:
“In those early days I was especially interested in the book of Ezekiel. A special reason was that I saw Ezekiel was first given God’s message in PROPHECY, while he was a Jewish slave, by the River Chebar in the land of Babylon. Now this was close to 120 years after the House of ISRAEL had been taken captive to ASSYRIA. My astonishment was aroused when I saw that his message was to be taken to the HOUSE OF ISRAEL. Now Ezekiel was a slave among the HOUSE OF JUDAH — not Israel. By this time many of the ‘lost sheep of the House of Israel’ had migrated north and west from Assyria. They were, by Ezekiel’s time, in Britain and Western Europe.
“… The first message, or instruction from God, comes, beginning the second chapter [of the book of Ezekiel]. ‘And He said unto me, son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation…[and they shall know] that there hath been a prophet among them’ (Ezek. 2:3,5…)… In chapter 3:1 God says, ‘… GO speak unto the House of Israel.’ Again in verse 4, ‘Son of man, GO, get thee unto the House of Israel, and speak with my words unto them.’ NOWHERE in the Bible are JEWS called ‘the House of Israel.’ This term applies ONLY to the TEN-tribe Kingdom of Israel taken into Assyrian captivity more than a hundred years before Ezekiel and the Jews of the House of JUDAH were taken to Babylon. Nowhere in the book does Ezekiel record his journey from where he was in Babylon to those of the House of Israel who were then in Britain and Western Europe. Nowhere does he record his giving of the message to them. He merely RECEIVED the message. He merely RECORDED IT IN WRITING. There is no reason to think his message was ever delivered to the House of Israel in Ezekiel’s time. The message in fact is for today — and contained a WARNING of things to happen to Britain, America and the Western European nations NOW in OUR DAY.”
What we should notice very carefully from the foregoing is that Ezekiel was in captivity, when he received messages to be delivered to the house of Israel and other nations, including the Ammonites (Ezekiel 25:2), Moab (Ezekiel 25:8), Edom (Ezekiel 25:12), the Philistines (Ezekiel 25:15), Tyre (Ezekiel 26:2-3) and Egypt (Ezekiel 29:2) — all a great distance from his location in Babylon. We need to note, too, that Ezekiel saw visions of impending destruction upon Israel “in the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity” (Ezekiel 1:2-3). Jehoiachin went into captivity in 596 B.C. The fifth year brings us to about 592 B.C. — over 125 years AFTER the removal of the house of Israel in 718-721 B.C.! Ezekiel, a young captive Jew in Babylon, was given a future prophetic message for the house of ISRAEL, including a message about future punishment and slavery, over 120 years AFTER the ancient house of ISRAEL had already been punished and gone into captivity. Ancient Ezekiel never reached the ancient house of Israel with God’s prophetic message.
As we have explained in our booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord,” the modern house of Israel consists of English-speaking nations, including the United States of America, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. And God has given His end-time Church the charge to proclaim the “Ezekiel warning message” to those peoples.
The Ezekiel warning message (Ezekiel 3:16-21) is something that we have to take seriously. It is part of the gospel message of the Kingdom of God, that has to be preached (Matthew 24:14). Before the wonderful world tomorrow can be ushered in, the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord have to be fulfilled, which will be a time of terrible trouble for the modern nations of the houses of Israel and Judah, as well as the entire world.
We find this commission from God to Ezekiel: “‘…Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day. For they are impudent and stubborn children. I am sending you to them and you shall say to them, “Thus says the Lord God.” As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse–for they are a rebellious house–yet they will know that a prophet has been among them'” (Ezekiel 2:3-5).
Ezekiel’s message has become a part of God’s Word. This warning from God is for our day, and it MUST BE PROCLAIMED–along with many other prophecies preserved in the Bible for us! That responsibility has passed along to the Church of God!
In the book of Ezekiel, the prophet is compared with, and even called a “watchman.” But the book of Ezekiel is for our time today — and it is therefore God’s end-time Church, which is to function as “a watchman” or “watchmen.” Notice these Biblical examples:
“So you, son of man: I have made you a WATCHMAN for the HOUSE OF ISRAEL; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them of Me” (Ezekiel 33:7).
“I have set WATCHMEN on your walls, O Jerusalem; THEY shall never hold THEIR peace day or night. You [plural in the Hebrew] who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent” (Isaiah 62:6).
“Yes, proclaim against Jerusalem, That WATCHERS come from a far country And raise THEIR voice against the cities of Judah” (Jeremiah 4:16).
“Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, “We will not walk in it.” Also, I set WATCHMEN over you, saying, “Listen to the sound of the trumpet!” But they said, “We will not listen.” Therefore hear, you NATIONS, And know, O congregation, what is among them. Hear, O EARTH! Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people–The fruit of their thoughts, Because they have not heeded My words Nor My law, but rejected it'” (Jeremiah 6:16-19).
We are to WATCH the events around us (Matthew 24:42), discerning the times, so that we can be effective WATCHMEN in God’s service (compare Amos 3:7), warning others of what will surely come to pass. Notice Hosea 5:9: “Ephraim [modern Great Britain] shall be DESOLATE in the day of rebuke; among the TRIBES OF ISRAEL I make known what is sure. Hosea 7:12 adds: “I will CHASTISE THEM [Ephraim] According to what their congregation HAS HEARD.”
Ezekiel 33:2-6 explains to us WHY God’s Church is to proclaim God’s warning message:
“When I bring the sword upon the land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their WATCHMAN, when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet… [and] takes the warning will save his life. But if the WATCHMAN sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the WATCHMAN’S hands.”
God wants His Church to preach the establishment of God’s Kingdom here on earth. This includes, blowing the trumpet and warning of impending disaster. Some will listen and change their ways so that they, too, may enter the Kingdom. Many others, though, will not heed the message. Still, if His Church shrinks back from its God-given responsibility, He will have no pleasure in it (Hebrews 10:37-39).