[italic added]. . . . while the unbelievers have mocked concerning it and spoken contemptuously of it, yet it stands there as a testimony to Jehovah’s name; and if and when the princes do return and some of them occupy the property, such will be a confirmation of the faith and hope that induced the building of Beth-Sarim.” This place was sold in 1942 after Rutherford’s death. Therefore, it appears that the faithful were misled since the house was to “be forever at the disposal of the aforementioned princes.” Is this really a testimony to Jehovah’s name as it said? How can it be if they sold the house?
CARM questions for Jehovah’s Witnesses
It is true, J.F. Rutherford had a penchant for Barnum & Bailey-type circus theatrics. Keep in mind too, the Watchtower once sponsored a campaign, complete with persons wearing sandwich signs entitled: Millions now living Will never die!
In 1935 Rutherford announced the identity of the great crowd depicted in the seventh chapter of Revelation, as those who will survive the great tribulation and form the nucleus of a new earthly society. And to this day this is the core message of Jehovah’s Witnesses; that a great multitude of persons is going to survive the end of the world.
Because people have been so steeped in the Catholic dogma that the only two destinies for mankind is heaven or hell, the Watchtower back then was very forceful in confronting people with the fact that God’s purpose is for people to live on the earth forever. I think the forcefulness of the delivery of that message was in proportion to the level of ignorance and blindness exhibited among the churchgoing masses back then.
Although J.F. Rutherford later humbly admitted that he had made an ass of himself over Beth-Sarim, the fact is, there is a fascinating underlying scriptural basis for his folly. Like many of the Psalms the 45th Psalm applies to the Messiah. For example in his letter to the Hebrews Paul quoted portions of this Psalm, namely: “Gird your sword upon your thigh, O mighty one, with your dignity and your splendor. And in your splendor go on to success; ride in the cause of truth and humility and righteousness, and your right hand will instruct you in fear-inspiring things. Your arrows are sharp—under you peoples keep falling— In the heart of the enemies of the king. God is your throne to time indefinite, even forever; the scepter of your kingship is a scepter of uprightness. You have loved righteousness and you hate wickedness. That is why God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of exultation more than your partners.”
The Psalm is foretelling Jesus triumph over all of God’s enemies when he becomes king. There is no valid basis to dispute it. The next span of verses in the Psalm are as follows:
“The king’s daughter is all glorious within the house;
Her clothing is with settings of gold.
In woven apparel she will be brought to the king.
The virgins in her train as her companions are being brought in to you.
They will be brought with rejoicing and joyfulness;
They will enter into the palace of the king.
In place of your forefathers there will come to be your sons,
Whom you will appoint as princes in all the earth.
I will make mention of your name throughout all generations to come.
That is why peoples themselves will laud you to time indefinite, even forever.”
The king’s daughter represents the bride of Christ and the scene is depicting the marriage of the Lamb, as described in Revelation. The palace of the king is, of course, heaven itself. But what about the forefathers of the king becoming his sons? What does that mean? Because Jesus was born of human parents he is said to have had forefathers. The Bible traces his genealogy, generation after generation all the way to Adam.
Specifically, though, because God made a covenant with David for kingdom, in order for the Christ to be a legitimate heir of the kingdom he had to be of the lineage of David. And, of course, he was; being called “the son of David.” But now that Jesus has been resurrected to heaven, after having secured the throne for himself, he is in a position to bring about the resurrection of the dead.
All of Jesus’ earthly forefathers are among them – among the dead that is. When Christianity was first instituted the newly anointed apostle Peter spoke to the Jews and explained to them that David’s Psalms pertained to Christ, and that David rested among the dead up to that very moment.
But when Jesus brings about the resurrection of the dead, he will then become mankind’s new father – taking the place of Adam. This is why Jesus will be called “Eternal Father” – not because he is Jehovah, the Father, but because he will impart everlasting life to the many he brings back to life in the recreation.
So, at that point Jesus’ forefathers will become his sons. But rather than being with him in heaven, having died before the heavenly call began, Jesus will appoint his “sons” as princes in the earth to come, who, apparently, will serve in some oversight capacity in the new world under the authority of the heavenly kingdom.
So it was, J.F. Rutherford was merely seeking to underscore the fact that the masses of humanity are not going to heaven, but instead will have the privilege of living under the rulership of the kingdom of God here upon this earth. Beth Sarim was Rutherford’s ill-conceived way of expressing his absolute confidence in the earthly resurrection. Having a home readied for them was his showman’s way of expressing it.
Although the millions who may have heard “Judge” Rutherford’s message back then have died without experiencing the realization of the promise, and the intended house of the princes was sold off long ago, still, the promise of God remains.
The question Jehovah’s Witnesses should pose to the masses of churchgoers who claim to believe the Bible is: Why doesn’t your church teach what the Bible says about God’s glorious purpose for the earth? Why don’t you know about the earthly resurrection?