Friday, June 11

You will be hated by all the nations on account of my name. —Matt. 24:9.

When persecuted, pray to Jehovah, “pour out your heart like water,” and tell your loving Father about all your fears and anxieties. (Lam. 2:19) The more you pray this way, the closer you will feel to Jehovah. (Rom. 8:38, 39) Be convinced that the blessings of God’s Kingdom will come true. (Num. 23:19) If your faith in such promises is weak, it will be easier for Satan and his agents to terrify you. (Prov. 24:10; Heb. 2:15) Make it a study project to examine God’s promises about his Kingdom and the reasons why you can be certain that they will come true. How will that help? Consider the example of Stanley Jones, who was imprisoned for seven years because of his faith. What helped him to endure faithfully? He said: “Being fortified with a knowledge of God’s kingdom, being sure of it, never doubting it for a moment, I couldn’t be moved.” If you have strong faith in God’s promises, you will not give in to fear. —Prov. 3:25, 26w19.07 2 ¶1; 3 ¶6-7

Something isn’t quite right. Jehovah’s Witnesses are persecuted, that’s true. Sometimes the state persecutes witnesses, like in Russia now. Sometimes it is more subtle. But are Jehovah’s Witnesses persecuted on account of the name of Jesus? Hardly. 

Quite a few people have been deluded into imagining that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not even Christian. Some evangelicals claim that Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the deity of Christ. Others think JW’s are a non-Christian sect because we don’t celebrate Christmas. So, how can it be that we are hated on account of Jesus’ name? 

Isn’t it closer to the truth to say that we are persecuted on account of the name of Jehovah? 

When examining scripture it is always wise to consider the context. In this instance of the Daily Text, the WT did not even quote the entire verse—just a fragment. In whole Matthew 24:9 states: “Then people will hand you over to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be hated by all the nations on account of my name.”

Being handed over to tribulation sounds pretty serious. So does being killed. Have you known or heard of any JW who has been killed because of their faith? I never have. The last time JW’s were persecuted like that was in Malawi in the 1970s. And before that in Nazi Germany. But those were isolated instances. In the verse under consideration, Jesus said his followers would be hated by all the nations, not just a few here and there. 

What is the problem? Was Jesus exaggerating? No.

The reason reality doesn’t seem to line up with the prophecy is because the time of the end, also known as the conclusion of the system of things, has not begun. That is a problem for Jehovah’s Witnesses because the Watchtower, speaking with the solemn authority of the earthly mouthpiece of Jehovah God, has staked its reputation to 1914. 

In the verses immediately preceding Jesus said: “For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress.”

The Watchtower has stated that the prophecy of the conclusion may be likened to a person’s fingerprint. Since no two fingerprints are the same, the reasoning goes, the things Christ foretold must have a unique fulfillment that cannot be duplicated. That is surely true. But here is the problem: Was the First World War the beginning of pangs of distress? When confronted with that question an indoctrinated JW will invariably default to the seven times chronology. But, alas, tagging 1914 as the end of the appointed times of the nations is not a valid interpretation. 

The question is: Might Jesus’ words be fulfilled in the future? The Watchtower has adamantly claimed that it is not possible. The telltale smudge of the fingerprint of prophecy has been found in 1914. It is beyond dispute! There can be no future fulfillment. There can be no third world war. The seers of Bethel have spoken! (A Closer Look @ 1914)

But what if? 

What if, hypothetically, say Russia, China, and Iran get into a hot shooting war with America, NATO, and Israel? Is such a thing farfetched? Obviously not. In fact, more and more people are in fear of a global war between the nations possessing weapons of mass destruction. Oddly, though, with war looming large on the horizon the Watchtower has nothing to say. 

But again, what if the nations start shooting at each other with the big guns? What if the monetary inflation that is now erupting becomes hyperinflation and the value of the world’s reserve currency goes to zero in a very short period of time? Food shortages? What if the empire releases another biological weapon? Pestilences? Are you sure that World War One was the beginning of the pangs of distress? Are the nations in distress now? Hardly. The billionaires shirting around the globe on their luxury yachts and private jets would find that laughable. 

The answer to the “what if?” is found in the very next verse in context: “Then, too, many will be stumbled and will betray one another and will hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and mislead many; and because of the increasing of lawlessness, the love of the greater number will grow cold.”

Because the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses is inextricably bound up with the Watchtower and every utterance of the Governing Body, it is inconceivable that the faithful and discreet slave could be so wrong about something so important as the return of Christ. But, they are wrong. Very, very wrong. When war erupts and the system collapses the Watchtower will be irreparably shattered. That is when many will be stumbled and betray one another. 

But there’s more. The false prophets will then arise, claiming Christ is here, in the inner chambers; there, in the wilderness! Their deception will be so convincing that if it were possible even the chosen ones would be misled. Why will it not be possible for the chosen ones to be misled regarding the location of Christ? As Jesus went on to say in verse 27: “For just as the lightning comes out of the east and shines over to the west, so the presence of the Son of man will be. Wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”

Satan’s operation of error, which up to this point has employed powerful works and lying signs and every unrighteous deception, filtered through a man of lawlessness who is honored as the great seer and knower of all sacred secrets, has convinced everyone that Christ returned in 1914 and commenced an invisible presence. Never mind the fact that there is no such thing as an invisible parousia, dogma rules—for now anyway. 

What did Jesus mean that the presence of the Son of man will be like lightning that lights up the sky from east to west? If the unicorn-like invisible parousia began in 1914 has the metaphoric lightning flashed across the heavens? If not, why not? 

After Jesus was resurrected he appeared to his disciples in various human guises. About 500 disciples saw Jesus after his resurrection. However, no unbelievers saw Christ. Only believers, who were also shortly afterward anointed. When Jesus was speaking to his apostles on the night of his arrest he explained to them that he was going away to prepare a place for them and then he said: “I will come again and will receive you home to myself, so that where I am you also may be.”

Has Jesus come again? The Watchtower says, yes, but, he is also coming again—multiple second comings or a third coming? Whatever.

In the 14th chapter of John Jesus went on to say to his disciples: “…whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will clearly show myself to him.”

Jesus clearly showed himself to them after his resurrection so that the disciples were absolutely convinced that God had resurrected Jesus from the tomb. They even saw Jesus visibly levitated into the heavens when he ascended to the Father to prepare a place for the chosen ones. But that is not the ultimate fulfillment. When Jesus comes again to receive his joint-heirs he will clearly show himself to those living—the so-called remaining ones. That is what the manifestation, the parousia, and the revelation of Christ is all about. In that way, no matter where a person is on earth, the presence of the Son of man will be like a flash of lightning. Undetectable by unbelievers, Jesus will be seen by the chosen. They will be gathered to him like eagles to carrion. That is why it will not be possible for the chosen to be deceived. 

Those who clearly see the Son of man will be infused with the spirit of Christ. Then will occur the revealing of the sons of God. As the sealed kings of the Kingdom, they will be made to stand before governors and kings and give witness that they have seen the Lord. Then we will be hated by all the nations on account of his name.

By the way, the two witnesses of Revelation are said to be symbolized by the two lampstands and olive trees—a reference to the prophecy of Zechariah. Interestingly, in Zechariah the angel explained the meaning, saying: “These are the two anointed ones who are standing alongside the Lord of the whole earth.” If the two anointed witnesses are standing alongside the Lord of the whole earth, then conversely, the Lord is also standing alongside them. And that is what the word “parousia” means—being alongside. But alas, according to Watchtower lore the two witnesses have already been killed—more than a hundred years ago!

As I said, something isn’t quite right. 

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