Satan has corrupted and misled every people that God has ever recognized as his own—beginning with the first family in Eden. For example, so insidious is Satan’s influence, no sooner had God miraculously saved them from Egyptian bondage and organized the patriarchal tribes of Israel into a nation, then Satan induced their high priest, Aaron, to fabricate a golden calf to be worshipped in the name of Jehovah.
Sadly, much of the history of Israel and Judah is a chronicle of apostasy, idolatry and unfaithfulness on the part of the people of the covenants.
Even God-fearing King David was tragically over-reached by the Devil’s machinations and consequently his false step brought disaster upon God’s people. No, it was not David's secret immoral love affair with Bathsheba that brought God’s adverse judgment on the nation—it was something much more subtle. The 21st chapter of 1st Chronicles reports: “And Satan proceeded to stand up against Israel and to incite David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and the chiefs of the people: ‘Go, count Israel from Beersheba to Dan and bring it to me that I may know their number.’ But Joab said: ‘May Jehovah add to his people a hundred times as many as they are. Do they not, O my lord the king, all of them belong to my lord as servants? Why does my lord seek this? Why should he become a cause of guilt to Israel?’…. Now this thing was bad in the eyes of the true God, and so he struck down Israel.”
Outside the book of Job little else is mentioned about Satan in the Hebrew text (Other than the fact he appears in the prophetic vision of Zechariah standing next to Jehovah's newly-installed High priest), but it is obvious that the Tempter was behind the many lapses of Israel and Judah into apostasy and idolatry. The phony gods, Molech, Chemosh and the various baals, were simply idol fronts for the demons, as Moses indicated in the 32nd chapter of Deuteronomy, where he wrote: “They began inciting him to jealousy with strange gods; with detestable things they kept offending him. They went sacrificing to demons, not to God, gods whom they had not known, new ones who recently came in, with whom your forefathers were not acquainted.”
When the time came for the Messiah to come to Israel, the Devil spared no effort in his scheme to tempt Christ himself into worshipping someone other than Jehovah. When that proved unsuccessful, the Chief demon sought to insinuate himself into Jesus’ intimate company through the apostles. In this he was successful, as one of twelve apostles, Judas, became a mere pawn of the Devil.
The Devil's slithering methods have rightly earned him the title of the Serpent; and even though Christ was the head of the Christian congregation, no congregation was entirely insulated from the Devil's cunning influence. That is why many years after Christianity was established Paul expressed his deep concern that Satan might somehow corrupt the brothers. The apostle wrote the following in the 11th chapter of 2nd Corinthians: “But I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent seduced Eve by its cunning, your minds might be corrupted away from the sincerity and the chastity that are due the Christ. For, as it is, if someone comes and preaches a Jesus other than the one we preached, or you receive a spirit other than what you received, or good news other than what you accepted, you easily put up with him.”
How might the Corinthians be seduced by the cunning of the Devil? One way was by means of disguised satanic agents working from within the congregation! Cunning indeed!
“SATAN KEEPS TRANSFORMING HIMSELF INTO AN ANGEL OF LIGHT”
Paul went on to reveal the extent to which the Devil had already succeeded in infiltrating the virgin-like Christian congregation of Corinth by exposing the superfine apostles, whom he identified as covert agents of Satan the Devil that had cleverly insinuated themselves into the congregation. Paul wrote of them: “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself keeps transforming himself into an angel of light. It is therefore nothing great if his ministers also keep transforming themselves into ministers of righteousness. But their end shall be according to their works.”
That Paul referred to the transformers as false apostles would seem to indicate that those deceitful workers were the most prominent men among the Corinthians—vying with the apostles for authority and influence over the congregation. Apparently, though, the deception was so adroit, so clever, the Corinthian brothers and sisters were in danger of being taken in by the ruse. For a fact, Paul’s concern over his beloved Corinthian brothers and sisters was due to the fact that they kindly put up with such men.
We are not told of the effect Paul’s courageous exposure of the superfine apostles may have had on the Corinthian congregation. However, Paul himself was well aware that the satanic influence of such men was only going to increase with time and would eventually extend over many more congregations than just the Corinthians. By inspiration the apostle told the elders of the Ephesian congregation: “I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.”
Paul was also inspired to foresee that the future presence of Jesus Christ and the day of Jehovah would not come until first an apostasy had enveloped the entire congregation of Christ on earth. At 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-3, Paul prophesied: “However, brothers, respecting the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we request of you not to be quickly shaken from your reason nor to be excited either through an inspired expression or through a verbal message or through a letter as though from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here. Let no one seduce you in any manner, because it will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed, the son of destruction.”
To be sure, the apostasy was already at work in the 1st Century, even as the apostles fought to keep it at bay—as Paul further related: “True, the mystery of this lawlessness is already at work; but only till he who is right now acting as a restraint gets to be out of the way. Then, indeed, the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of his mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence.”
History verifies that after the apostles gradually died off, the “oppressive wolves”did indeed take control of the flock of Christ’s remaining sheep. The restraint that the stalwart apostles had maintained was gone and the apostasy came to dominate the truth and pervert the worship of Jehovah. Nearly three centuries later the Roman emperor, Constantine, seduced the power-hungry, apostate bishops and Christendom was established. Little else needs to be said regarding the corrupt form of Christianity the churches of Christendom represent.
However, before Jesus would return to take up his rule over the earth, he first initiates a gradual reawakening of his congregation, similar in scope to the original establishment of Christianity. A restoration of primitive Christianity would naturally require overturning the centuries of accumulated false doctrines and practices of Christendom. Anointed Christians would have to do it. The facts indicate that Charles Taze Russell and the original International Bible Students undertook that work in the late 19th century.
Based upon such historical facts, Jehovah’s Witnesses have always believed that the man of lawlessness is the clergy class. For example, the May 1st, 1991, Watchtower stated on page 17:
“A great apostasy was foretold, and a ‘mystery of lawlessness’ was already at work in the first century C.E. In time, men who accepted—or seized—teaching positions in the congregation taught many false doctrines. Their language was far from pure. So there arose a composite "man of lawlessness," the clergy of Christendom, bound to false religious traditions, worldly philosophy, and unscriptural teachings.”
If that understanding is correct though, it means that the foretold apostasy that “comes first”— before the presence of Christ – has been in evidence for some 17 centuries now! But, is that reasonable? There is no question that Christendom is an apostate form of Christianity, none of Jehovah's Witnesses doubt that. But what sort of milestone would that serve to indicate the nearness of the day of Jehovah if the apostasy Paul foretold preceded the parousia by nearly two millennia?
What is more, if Jehovah’s Witnesses are correct it means that the man of lawlessness has already been revealed; since the Watchtower has for many decades revealed him to be the composite clergy class?
But is that really the end of it? Is the devious man of lawless really that easily exposed? One question to consider is this: If the clergy make up a composite man of lawlessness and the man of lawlessness has already been exposed through the publicizing efforts of the Watchtower Society – because the presence of Christ presumably began back in 1914 – then why has not Christ also already done away with the man of lawlessness “with the spirit of his mouth”?Why the delay of some 90 years – and counting?
Furthermore, the apostle Paul foretold that the apostate man of lawlessness would sit in the very temple of Jehovah. Specifically, 2 Thessalonians 2:4-5 reads: "He is set in opposition and lifts himself up over everyone who is called "god" or an object of reverence, so that he sits down in the temple of The God, publicly showing himself to be a god. Do you not remember that, while I was yet with you, I used to tell you these things?"
There is no doubt the clergy of Christendom are “bound to false religious traditions, worldly philosophy, and unscriptural teachings”—as the Watchtower quoted above states, but since Jehovah’s Witnesses boast of having been released from babylonish captivity and are now completely separate and distinct from Christendom, how is it possible that the man of lawlessness “sits down in the temple of The God” immediately before Christ destroys him? In view of the fact that the temple of “The God” is the spirit-anointed congregation, as the Christian Greek Scriptures indicate in many places, that means that the man of lawlessness exercises authority and influence over all of God’s true sons up until such time as Christ evicts him from the temple. After all, the prophet Paul specifically said that the man of lawlessness “is set in opposition and lifts himself up over everyone who is called “god” or an object of reverence.”
According to the 82nd Psalm Jehovah calls his own sons “gods.” Therefore, would they not logically be included among the those who are called “god,” over whom the man of lawlessness lifts himself? Especially since the man of lawlessness is in “opposition” to Christ, being an earthly agent of the original spirit opposer, Satan, the man of lawlessness is in opposition to Jehovah’s servants in particular.
So, is it correct to conclude that the temple in which the apostate man of lawlessness seats himself is the very congregation of Christ at this present time? Not according to the Watchtower.
The Insight Volume II, under the topic of “temple,” states the following under the subheading – AnImpostor:
“The apostle Paul, in warning of the apostasy to come, spoke of “the man of lawlessness” as setting himself up “so that he sits down in the temple of The God, publicly showing himself to be a god.” This “man of lawlessness” is an apostate, a false teacher, so he actually seats himself only in what he falsely claims to be that temple.”
Amazingly, the Watchtower says that the man of lawlessness does not really sit himself down in the actual spiritual temple of God, as Paul clearly states; but rather, according to the Watchtower, the man of lawlessness only falsely claims to occupy God’s temple. Why the obvious contradiction?
In view of the subtle discrepancies between what Jehovah’s Witnesses have been taught by the Watchtower regarding the man of lawlessness and what the Bible actually says about him, each of Jehovah’s Witnesses ought to soberly give thought to the possibility that you have already been victimized by a cunning deception perpetrated by the man of lawlessness. Yes, it is time to give serious consideration to the evidence that the apostasy that comes first – before the presence and manifestation of Christ – originates within the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves, from the Watchtower Society! After all, does not the Watchtower assume authority over all those who are God’s sons? And has not the Watchtower claimed to have been exalted above all other forms of worship, or “objects of worship,” as the prophecy words it?
Here is something to consider: Is there any reason to believe that Satan is any less effective today in transforming himself into an angel of light and empowering his pawns to transform themselves into ministers of righteousness?
The Watchtower has often pointed out that Satan and the demons operate much like underworld criminals, in that they seek to obscure their very existence and intentions. Paul once said that Christians are not ignorant of his designs. But are Jehovah’s Witnesses ignorant of the Devil’s designs? Of course, Jehovah’s Witnesses are well aware that Satan is the god of this world and that his malevolent influence extends permeates the entire system. But, is that all? Keep in mind that one aspect of the Devil’s clever machinations is to convince people that he does not even exist—or at least try and lull them into imagining that they cannot be personally overreached by him.
One of Jehovah’s Witnesses might reason. “That would never work on us. We know the Devil is real.” And that may well be true; however, the paradox is that Jehovah’s Witnesses are naïve to the fact that Satan is fully capable of influencing what is commonly called “Jehovah's organization.” Some might react to that with: “Oh no, that could never happen. The Watchtower has God’s protection. Anyway, the faithful and discreet slave has already passed the test and been appointed over all the master’s belongings; and besides, we are living in a spiritual paradise.”
Thus, by such false reasoning the very same Christian who may recognize Satan’s dark influence over the world may become blind to the reality that he is fully capable of exerting considerable influence over the Christian organization. Actually, Jehovah’s Witnesses recognize that it is possible to be victimized by false brothers who may sneak into the organization and become leaders. For a fact, the Watchtower well knows that during the heyday of the Soviet Union, KGB agents and other enemies posed as interested Bible students in order to win the trust of the unsuspecting brothers. They often succeeded. Some of them were even appointed as elders and circuit overseers. So, then, why is it unthinkable that Satan’s phony ministers of righteousness could not also rise to the very top of the organization?
No wonder Paul told the anointed Corinthians he was afraid they might be seduced by the Devil's cunning! Or are Jehovah’s Witnesses wiser than the anointed Corinthian congregation that naively put up with the transformed apostles of Satan?
The Watchtower contributes to the delusion by assuring the trusting flock that Jehovah’s Witnesses today will never fall victim to any large-scale apostasy. The July 15th, 1971, Watchtower says:
“It is not difficult to see how Christendom is composed largely of those who make a mere profession of being Christians. Jehovah’s witnesses, however, take their stand entirely separate from Christendom, a stand based solely on God’s Word and its principles of truth and righteousness. We are assured that in this harvesttime, referred to by Jesus, there will not again be a large-scale falling away into apostasy.”
We are not told exactly what assurances Jesus may have given that there would be no “large-scale falling away into apostasy.” On the contrary, Jesus actually foretold that during the conclusion “many false prophets will arise and mislead many; and because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off.”
To be sure, Jesus said that during the harvest the angels will be dispatched with orders to remove out from Christ’s kingdom all persons doing lawlessness and all things that cause stumbling. A simple question Jehovah’s Witnesses ought to consider is, if the harvest has already taken place, why is the organization still afflicted with persons doing lawlessness and countless stumbling blocks?
The article cited above continues:
“But we cannot afford to be indifferent. The same enemy, Satan, the dragon, is on the warpath, more wrathful than ever. The modern-day history of Jehovah’s witnesses shows that attempts have been made by some, making up an “evil slave” class, to assume control over Jehovah’s work and his people. This was especially seen during the World War I period. Jehovah, however, has cleansed his organization, and made it wholly theocratic. The credit is due to him, not to man. Individually, careful watch has still to be kept. The records show that, in our congregations, some need to be warned, others put on probation, and others have to be disfellowshiped. Why? Because, while claiming to be in the truth, they do not practice the truth. This often starts in a small way, but, if persisted in, it leads away from the light into the darkness outside."
The Watchtower recognizes that a lawless element once sought to get control over the organization back during WWI. But, perhaps the evil slave has since been much more successful than imagined. Would it not be a clever ruse by the Devil to promote the notion that the evil slaves were taken care of long ago and that the enemy is now powerless?
To determine if that is really the case consider the following question: Has Jehovah really cleansed his organization and made it wholly subject to himself in theocratic submission, as the Watchtower claims? If so, why are there those in the congregation who do not practice the truth, as the article correctly points out?
Again, would it not suit the Devil’s purpose to promote the lie that God had already cleansed his congregation if such were not the case? What could be more beguiling than to suppose that the organization is invulnerable to Satan’s corrupting influence and that God is in absolute control? Now ask yourself: Does merely believing that Jehovah’s Witnesses are living in a cleansed spiritual paradise – even if that is not the case – make one more or less vulnerable to the machinations of the Devil?
On the topic of spiritual paradise, as recently as the March 1st, 2004 issue, despite all evidence to the contrary, the Watchtower continues to insist that Jehovah’s Witnesses are living in the prophesied trouble-free spiritual paradise.
DO JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES DWELL IN SPIRITUAL PARADISE?
The 1st study article begins by saying:
“Jehovah’s Witnesses dwell in a spiritual paradise. In the midst of this troubled world, they share a unique spiritual environment with fellow Christians, who are at peace with Jehovah God and one another.”
Not to mimic Eden’s serpent, but just because an otherwise respected and credible authority says so, is it really so? Whatever happened to the apostle’s admonition: “Make sure of all things”?
So, are Jehovah’s Witnesses presently living the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy or not? What is the truth?
For one thing, it does not at all seem proper or modest for Jehovah’s Witnesses to boast of being at peace with God. There is an eerie similarity concerning a similar deception the Jewish leaders of Jeremiah’s day perpetrated against the Jews: “And they try to heal the breakdown of the daughter of my people lightly, saying: ‘There is peace! There is peace!’ when there is no peace.”
Although the Watchtower cites Isaiah 11:6-9 as a proof-text that Jehovah’s Witnesses are luxuriating in spiritual paradise, they offer nothing in the way of an explanation as to how it might apply. So, let us test the seemingly inspired expression to see if it really originates with God, even as the apostle John exhorts us to do.
Isaiah 11:6-9 reads: “And the wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together; and a mere little boy will be leader over them. And the cow and the bear themselves will feed; together their young ones will lie down. And even the lion will eat straw just like the bull. And the sucking child will certainly play upon the hole of the cobra; and upon the light aperture of a poisonous snake will a weaned child actually put his own hand. They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”
The prophecy foretells that dangerous, venomous reptiles will not even harm a child. Interestingly, a seemingly harmless serpent was instrumental in Satan’s bringing great harm to the innocent inhabitants of the original paradise in Eden. So, the prophetic imagery of a tamed, but otherwise venom-spitting cobra would seem to suggest that Satan will have no influence or voice in the spiritual paradise of Jehovah’s making.
Isaiah the 11th chapter is recognized as a messianic prophecy. That is evident in the opening verses, which state:
“And there must go forth a twig out of the stump of Jesse; and out of his roots a sprout will be fruitful. And upon him the spirit of Jehovah must settle down, the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of mightiness, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah; and there will be enjoyment by him in the fear of Jehovah. And he will not judge by any mere appearance to his eyes, nor reprove simply according to the thing heard by his ears. And with righteousness he must judge the lowly ones, and with uprightness he must give reproof in behalf of the meek ones of the earth. And he must strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the spirit of his lips he will put the wicked one to death. And righteousness must prove to be the belt of his hips, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.”
The stump of Jesse is, of course, in reference to the Davidic kingdom—Jesse being David’s father. And Jesus inherited the right to David’s throne by virtue of his being of the genealogical line of David. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus has already sat down on his throne in 1914 and has since then been ruling the world. But, according to the context of the prophecy the foretold peaceful conditions of paradise come about as a direct result of Jesus giving a favorable judgment to the lowly and the meek and his putting the wicked one to death. Needless to say that has not happened yet—not even symbolically.
It should be apparent, too, that no such spiritual paradise existed in the original Christian congregations. That is evident from the many problems that afflicted them. For example, Paul said that he was occasionally in danger from false brothers, which is exactly what the superfine apostles were, too. He referred to other men as sneaking into the congregation to “spy on our freedom.” Paul also warned the Galatians that if they kept biting at one another they were liable to annihilate each other. Are those the conditions of a spiritual paradise? Hardly. The very existence of false brothers and faithless agents of the Devil within the congregations is the antithesis of a secure, trouble-free spiritual paradise. The closest Paul came to spiritual paradise was when he has gifted with a rapturous vision of what he called paradise and the “third heaven.”
The imagery of a lion lying down with a lamb is really depicting the peaceful relations between people who are blessed by Jehovah. Individuals with animalistic tendencies will be tamed so as not to harm others. Unquestionably, the truth can have a powerful transforming effect upon anyone who applies the principles of God’s Word in their lives. But, does that of itself make for a spiritual paradise? What if not all in the congregation are transformed?
For example, it is an undeniable fact that animalistic predators within the very congregations and families of Jehovah’s Witnesses have sexually abused many thousands of innocent children. That being the case, the Watchtower’s claims of spiritual paradise are unfounded.
Back in the 1960s when the moral breakdown of Western society began in earnest, perhaps there may have been some justification for believing that Jehovah’s Witnesses were somehow different from other people in that respect. But, in recent decades the organization has been overtaken by the very same moral decay common to Christendom. The Watchtower even freely admits that tens of thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses are disfellowshipped every year for all sorts of immorality. Many more live what is called a double life and are not found out. So, for the Watchtower to insist that the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses are sheltered in spiritual paradise—untroubled by the moral decay and animalistic spirit that afflicts others—is simply to deny reality.
The truth is, spiritual paradise is not characterized by mere organizational uniformity or even doctrinal purity, or anything like that. The real spiritual paradise of God’s making will resemble the original paradise in Eden before it was corrupted, in that, in spiritual paradise there will be no evil, hurtful, animalistic men—not so much as one! Surely in the real spiritual paradise not even one child will be raped or sexually molested by a trusted Christian.
HAS CHRIST ALREADY COME?
Jehovah’s Witnesses are also victimized by another deception – that Christ has already come and appointed his faithful slave over all of his belongings. The March 1st, 2004, Watchtower study article entitled: “The Faithful Slave Passes the Test!” reinforces the lie with false reasoning. For example, the box on page 16 says that it is unreasonable that the judgment of the faithful and unfaithful slaves “will take place when Jesus comes at the great tribulation.” Their reasoning? The article continues, saying:
“That would imply that many of the anointed will be found unfaithful at that time and will thus have to be replaced. However, Revelation 7:3 indicates that all of Christ’s anointed slaves will have been permanently sealed by that time.”
But does Revelation 7:3 indicate that all of Christ’s anointed slaves will be sealed before the tribulation? Most assuredly it does not! On the contrary, the preceding span of verse in the 6th chapter of Revelation describes the tribulation and then Revelation 7:1 begins with the words: “After this,” obviously indicating that there is a succession of events in a particular order. And, so, what did John envision “after this”? The apostle goes on to relate: “I saw four angels standing upon the four corners of the earth, holding tight the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow upon the earth or upon the sea or upon any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the sunrising, having a seal of the living God; and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying: ‘Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until after we have sealed the slaves of our God in their foreheads.’"
The “four winds of the earth” are not the destructive winds of the tribulation. The angels are holding back the symbolic winds of Jehovah’s final judgment that culminates in the war of Armageddon. That means that the sealing takes place during the tribulation, perhaps after the tribulation is “cut short,” but before Armageddon.
The teaching that Christ has already given his faithful and discreet slave his irreversible approval defies all common sense. In the context of Christ’s illustration of the faithful slave Jesus warned: “But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief would come, he would have kept watching and not have let his house be broken into. You also, keep ready, because at an hour that you do not think likely the Son of man is coming.”
The same issue of the Watchtower previously cited says that the early Bible Students “calculated” 1914 as the exact year of the master’s arrival. But how can that possibly be reconciled with Jesus’ own sobering warning that his coming would be like a thief—“at an hour you do not think likely”? It defies explanation. And the Watchtower presently enjoys the luxury of not having to offer one to those trusting in it. But one thing is certain: The stage is now set, by the near-universal acceptance of the erroneous teaching that Christ came in 1914, that it is virtually assured that Christ's future coming as the master of the house will be as unexpected as a thief in the night.
But some may reason: “So what if the Watchtower has the timing wrong?”
The danger is the teaching that Christ has already come and appointed his faithful slave over all of his belongings provides the perfect cover for the man of lawlessness to operate. After all, if Jehovah’s Witnesses are already living in a spiritual paradise and the faithful slave associated with the Watchtower already has Christ’s complete blessing, then in effect the Watchtower has a blank check to spend as it sees fit. It can do no wrong. It is as near to the doctrine of papal infallibility as can be.
As an example of how the Watchtower is able to exploit its respectability with Jehovah’s Witnesses, one need look no further than the way the organization’s leadership has shamelessly deceived Jehovah’s Witnesses in regards to the nature of its NGO partnership with the United Nations. Even when presented with the indisputable facts indicating that the Watchtower eagerly supported the United Nations as an NGO, the majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses who have been made aware of the facts seem to have been so conditioned by organizational loyalty that they see nothing wrong with the Watchtower’s brazen hypocrisy and deceit. Reality and truth have been turned upside down. What is undoubtedly an apostasy in Jehovah’s eyes is casually dismissed by the Governing Body as being mere allegations by opposers of the Watchtower.
It does not matter what the Governing Body or anyone else says in their defense, by the Watchtower’s own reckoning, their friendship with the world and their secretly engaging in partnership with the United Nations and using Jehovah’s Witnesses as unwitting couriers of slyly written political propaganda, was a treacherous act of apostasy. What is the significance of it? It means the apostasy that comes first has come.
Can Christ’s stealthily coming as a thief in the night be far behind?