JUDGMENT OF THE HOUSE OF GOD – WHEN DOES IT BEGIN?
TO THE ELDERS
You have probably heard the news that has come out of the Watchtower Society’s 2012 annual meeting by now, regarding the new understanding in connection with the faithful and discreet slave. If not, the highlights of the meeting have been published in a video along with supplementary printed information on the Watchtower’s new website. (jw.org)
There are several aspects of this new understanding. First, the Governing Body itself is now to be considered the faithful and discreet slave – instead of all the anointed. Secondly, the “domestics” are believed to include the prospective members of the great crowd. Admittedly, these two revisions are comparatively trifling and hardly warrant sounding the sentry’s trumpet. However, the Governing Body has also declared that the appointment of the slave over all of the master’s belongings has not occurred yet. This change has far-reaching implications and is the reason for this massive mailing campaign and Internet open letter.
The Governing Body rightly points out that there are two appointments of the slave. The first appointment takes place before the master arrives to inspect his slaves as to their faithfulness in attending to their assigned duties to feed the domestics. The second appointment takes place when the master unexpectedly arrives like a thief in the night.
As teachers in the congregation you are undoubtedly aware that for many decades Jehovah’s Witnesses were taught that “the slave” was originally appointed back in the 1st century, and that in 1919 the master arrived and appointed him over all of his belongings. And as you are also surely aware, there are numerous other features of God’s prophetic word that are inextricably tied in with the coming of Christ to judge the temple. Now, though, the Governing Body has shifted the original appointment to 1919 and the second appointment is yet to occur. Although there was little explanation or elaboration at the annual meeting, this new understanding is indeed profound, as shall be set forward in this letter.
To underscore the profundity of this change affecting the entire prophetic foundation, upon which the faith of millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses has been built, please consider an article published by the Watchtower less than a decade ago, entitled: “A Faithful Slave Passes the Test.” Here is a condensed excerpt from paragraphs 2-4 in the March, 1st 2004 Watchtower:
The expression “that evil slave” draws our attention to Jesus’ preceding words about the faithful and discreet slave. Yes, the “evil slave” came from the ranks of the faithful slave. How? Before 1914, many members of the faithful slave class had high hopes of meeting with the Bridegroom in heaven that year, but their hopes were not fulfilled. As a result of this and other developments, many were disappointed and a few became embittered. Some of these turned to ‘beating’ their former brothers verbally and consorting with “confirmed drunkards,” religious groups of Christendom. These former Christians came to be identified as the “evil slave,” and Jesus punished them with “the greatest severity.” How? He rejected them, and they lost out on their heavenly hope.”
As is evident from Jesus’ illustration, not all of the appointed slaves will prove to be faithful. There is an evil slave as well as a faithful slave, but they both dwell within the same “household” and share the same appointment to feed the domestics. According to the illustration the faithful and the unfaithful slaves will only be distinguished when the master finally comes, at an hour they do not think to be it. Jehovah’s Witnesses, of course, understand this. But since the Watchtower has now come to the realization that the master has not yet come, meaning the temple inspection has not occurred yet, what about the evil slave?
Obviously, if the faithful slave is yet to be distinguished, neither has the evil slave been judged and put out of the master’s house into the outer darkness. Do you brothers grasp the significance of this? (Has the Governing Body even grasped the implications of this revision?) Unavoidably, if sound reasoning is to prevail, it means that there is an evil slave faction ensconced within the highest level of the Society at this present moment – at least according to what is implied by a deeper consideration of the Watchtower’s “new light.”
But that is not all. In the same 2004 Watchtower Magazine article cited above the Society also interpreted Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish virgins as being fulfilled during that same time period. They explained that the anointed virgins all nodded off during the Great War, they having concluded that the bridegroom was delaying. The article goes on to state:
“Then in 1919 something unexpected happened. We read: “Right in the middle of the night there arose a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Be on your way out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and put their lamps in order.” Just when things seemed darkest, there was a call to get active! In 1918, Jesus, “the messenger of the covenant,” had come to Jehovah’s spiritual temple to inspect and cleanse God’s congregation…But wait! In the parable, some of the young women had a problem. Jesus continued: “The foolish said to the discreet, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are about to go out.’”
Since Jesus spoke the illustration of the faithful and unfaithful slave and the wise and the foolish virgins in nearly the same breath, it is apparent that the coming of the master and the arrival of the bridegroom are the same event. And the article certainly acknowledges that fact. But, by the same reasoning already presented, if the master of the house has not yet come to inspect his slaves – as is now the official teaching of the Watchtower Society – then surely the rousing proclamation that awakens the slumbering virgins –“here is the bridegroom!” – has not been heralded either.
Again, by implication this means there are those who are yet to be distinguished as the wise virgins – separated by the judgment of the coming of Christ from the foolish virgins, who neglect to acquire sufficient oil for their lamps. And if all of the chosen ones are within the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses at this present time – as we surely believe – well, I ask again: Do you grasp the significance of this newly presented truth?
According to the 2004 Watchtower article the faithful slave and the wise virgins were distinguished because they passed the test. But since the second appointment has not occurred does this mean that a great test looms ahead? That is certainly what is implied, though perhaps inadvertently. Might we expect the Governing Body to provide some clarification on this issue? That is unlikely since it is the Society’s very teaching regarding the bridegroom having arrived long ago that is most assuredly the primary contributing factor in all the betrothed virgins nodding off before the bridegroom arrives in the near future and the lack of lamp oil on the part of the foolish virgins!
No wonder when Jesus spoke of his coming judgments he often concluded his remarks by saying: ‘Let he who has an ear hear what the spirit says.’ Well, do you have an ear? Or should we imagine that our only obligation to listen to the spirit of God is to unthinkingly accept without question everything that comes from the Governing Body? What about the apostolic exhortation to “make sure of all things”? Should not making “sure of all things” also include what is presented from Bethel as the truth?
And did not our spiritual grandfather, the apostle John, exhort the children of God not to believe every inspired expression, but to test the expressions to see if they originate with God? The Watchtower will be the first to admit that their expressions are not inspired. Is that not all the more reason to hold their teachings up to close scrutiny? After all, for many decades the Watchtower had taught that Christ’s judgment came in 1919. Any of Jehovah’s Witnesses who did not embrace that teaching unreservedly were likely considered to be spiritually weak. Now, though, Bethel has unceremoniously jettisoned that which was previously held as sacrosanct. But ought the truth be changed as casually as reshuffling and dealing a fresh hand of playing cards?
Be assured that as teachers in the congregation you will receive a heavier judgment. It is unavoidable. Is it not written in the letter of James? That being the case, like the noble-minded Bereans, is it not more especially your obligation to give this matter your utmost attention, to determine whether these things are so? This is not to suggest that the latest revision is an error; on the contrary, only that it calls into question many, many other things.
It is true the apostle advised Christians not to go beyond the things written, but in this case it is what has not been written that has to be considered. Why not pass this letter on to your fellow elders and discuss it among yourselves or with your circuit overseer upon his next visit? But there is more. According to the Society’s latest adjustment Jesus comes to judge his slaves during the great tribulation. Here is a direct quote copied from the jw.org website:
“Jesus said that the “master on arriving” (literally, “having come”) will appoint the slave “over all his belongings.” When does the Master, Jesus, arrive? The expression translated “on arriving” is a form of the Greek word er′kho·mai. Verses 42 and 44 of chapter 24 translate a form of er′kho·mai as “coming.” In those verses, Jesus is referring to his coming as Judge during the great tribulation. —Matthew 24:30; 25:31, 32. Jesus’ appointment of the “slave” over his “belongings,” then, must also be a future event. He will make that appointment during the great tribulation.”
For your convenience, below are the cited verses in Matthew:
“And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” – Matthew 24:30
“When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” – Matthew 25:31-32
“Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” – Matthew 24:42
“On this account you too prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming.” – Matthew 24:44
The first two instances of Christ “coming” pertain to his judging the nations. The latter two verses are in reference to Jesus “coming” as a thief to judge his appointed slaves. What the Society is now saying is that the “coming” of the Son of man to judge the nations is also when he will “come” to judge the slaves of his household – that there is virtually no distinction now. This is perhaps the most radical, unintended, aspect of the Society’s new teaching.
Up until now Jehovah’s Witnesses have believed that the judgment begins with the house of God prior to Christ’s coming to judge the nations. It is unquestionably a biblical precept. Although the Watchtower has not explicitly stated otherwise, certainly their latest revision implies that is no longer what Jehovah’s Witnesses are to believe.
But what about the prophecy in the third chapter of Malachi regarding the coming of the messenger of the covenant? In the 2004 Watchtower, quoted above, the Society tied in the prophecy of Malachi with the faithful slave passing the test. Is the coming of the messenger of the covenant now considered to be a future event too? And if so, does this not basically do away with 1914 altogether and reset the parousia for the future as well? Consider the wording of Malachi’s prophecy: Malachi 3:1-2 says this: “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he must clear up a way before me. And suddenly there will come to His temple the true Lord, whom you people are seeking, and the messenger of the covenant in whom you are delighting. Look! He will certainly come, Jehovah of armies has said. “But who will be putting up with the day of his coming, and who will be the one standing when he appears? For he will be like the fire of a refiner and like the lye of laundrymen.”
As is apparent, Malachi also uses the exact same word translated as “coming,” as in “the day of his coming” to God’s temple. Since it seems indisputable that the coming of the messenger to the temple is the same as Christ’s coming as a thief to judge the slaves assigned to the house of God, even as the Society has taught for these past decades, there is now an obvious and gaping discrepancy in the Watchtower’s parousia exegesis. Either the Society is wrong in the notion that the second appointment has not occurred yet, or the coming of the messenger of the covenant is also a future event. And if the latter, what is implied by a future coming of Christ with the “fire of a refiner” and “the lye of laundrymen?”
Now consider the 12th chapter of Luke, which is where Jesus spoke in more detail concerning his coming as a thief to judge his household and to appoint the ones found faithful over all of his belongings. At Luke 12:37 Jesus said: “Happy are those slaves whom the master on arriving finds watching! Truly I say to you, He will gird himself and make them recline at the table and will come alongside and minister to them.”
As the Watchtower has taught us, the Greek word “parousia” literally means a coming alongside. In the verse quoted, Jesus said that if he finds his slaves to be watchful at the time of his return he “will come alongside and minister to them.” What does this “coming alongside” signify if not the intimate parousia of the Lord concurrent with the second appointment? So, if the second appointment of the slave is in the future, and by the words of Christ himself his appointment of his watchful slaves over all of his belongings takes place when he comes alongside them, then the parousia is also future. (It is also noteworthy, that, in the same 12th chapter of Luke, Christ indicated that even the slave who is judged to be “faithful” will be beaten with a few strokes in punishment of his disobedience caused by his ignorance. In view of the Governing Body’s “new light” might we anticipate what aspect of the Lord’s will they are in a state of ignorance?)
It is, of course, unthinkable for Jehovah’s Witnesses to conceive of a future parousia of Christ. Indoctrination is a powerful thing. But ask yourself, when Jesus was on the Mount of Olives answering his disciples’ questions as to when these things would be regarding his previous pronouncement concerning the coming destruction of the temple, would the apostles ever have imagined that when Jesus spoke of Jerusalem being trampled upon by the Gentiles for an appointed time that he was referring to the destruction that had already been wrought by Nebuchadnezzar five centuries before? Of course not. Yet, Jehovah’s Witnesses do!
Consider, too, the fact that the 11th chapter of Revelation, which, of course, was written long after Jerusalem was crushed by the Romans in 70 C.E., foretells that the “holy city” will be trampled on by the nations for an appointed time of 42 months. Reasonably, that 42-month period is the appointed time Jesus had in mind. The Watchtower has long taught that the 1,260-day interval was fulfilled during the First World War in connection with the hardships that came upon Rutherford and company. Yet, the persecution of the two witnesses has always been tied to the appointment of the faithful slave over all of the Lord’s belongings. Are you beginning to get an inkling of the significance of the Society’s recent “adjustment”?
In truth, though, the Governing Body’s new understanding is not new for many of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, this “new light” did not even originate with Bethel. In 2005 I published a book entitled: Jehovah Himself Has Become King. In the 4th chapter called, The Judgment, these matters concerning the future appointment of the faithful slave and the coming of the messenger of the covenant were presented. The material has been available online in various formats, including audio, for the past seven years. (A second edition was published in 2010) I also personally mailed the 500-plus-page hard copy to all members of the Governing Body and various departmental heads, branch offices and select congregations in the New York City area, as well as to dozens of kingdom halls in my own Detroit area. Tens of thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses and interested persons have read it online.
The fact of the matter is the Society’s change, of itself, may not seem so earthshaking. But taken in the context of prophecy, wherein the Society once recognized it belonged, it is significant. The upshot is, the entire 1914 invisible parousia doctrine is nothing but an artfully contrived false story, to quote the apostle; and in fact, it serves as the foretold “operation of error” that God allows to emanate from a man of lawlessness (evil slave) who resides within the temple of The God – the very temple to where the messenger of the covenant is “coming.”
Although the Watchtower has assured Jehovah’s Witnesses that the sign of Christ’s presence cannot be duplicated in the future, and that there cannot be another world war because it would involve nuclear weapons, that reasoning is not sound. Even at this moment the nations are choosing up sides for global war – a war that is certain to dwarf both world wars. Did not Jesus intimate that the world will be confronted with extinction, and if God did not cut short the tribulation no flesh would survive? What can account for that if not nuclear war? And in the face of global financial collapse, food shortages and pandemics are inevitable.
Surely, this message will offend many elders and confuse Jehovah’s Witnesses, who consider the Governing Body to be an infallible mouthpiece of Jehovah. But were not the apostles originally appointed over all in the congregation of Christ? And yet after his resurrection Jesus sternly rebuked them as being ‘senseless and slow to believe all the things the prophets spoke’! Is the Governing Body more exalted than the apostles of Christ?
Rest assured that the reality of a future parousia does not call into question the main body of truth we hold dear, nor God’s promise of a new world. It simply means that a great test of faith lies ahead for all of Jehovah’s Witnesses when the judgment begins with the house of God. No wonder Malachi poses the somewhat unsettling question: “But who will be putting up with the day of his coming, and who will be the one standing when he appears?”
This letter is being distributed to hundreds of congregations in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as to those in Australia and New Zealand. It has also been translated into French for distribution in France and other French-speaking lands. Other translations may be forthcoming. Due to the constraints of postage this letter is limited to three pages. For more information go to: The Watchman’s Post. https://e-watchman.com
To online readers: Please feel free to distribute this message to your online contacts. Also, since recent mailing campaigns targeted kingdom halls in the eastern and southern US, I am primarily focusing this particular bulletin on the Western United States. So, if you feel inclined to assist me in distributing this message please consider congregations east of the Mississippi River. Also, if anyone is capable and duly inclined to translate this message into other languages, other than French, that would be much appreciated too.If you are not inclined to help in the distribution but would like to get this information before your elders, please just email your congregation name and address to me and I will mail them a copy.