This article has been updated, originally published in 2013.
The 31st chapter of Isaiah begins with a pronouncement of “woe” – the last in the series of woes upon the faithless and disobedient. In this instance, in the face of the onslaught of the terrible Assyrian juggernaut, God adversely judges those of his people who look to Egypt for assistance, saying: “Woe to those going down to Egypt for assistance, those who rely on mere horses, and who put their trust in war chariots, because they are numerous, and in steeds, because they are very mighty, but who have not looked to the Holy One of Israel and have not searched for Jehovah himself. And he is also wise and will bring in what is calamitous, and he has not called back his own words; and he will certainly rise up against the house of evildoers and against the assistance of those practicing what is hurtful.”
Egypt had been the major power in the region prior to the ascendancy of Assyria. And long before the children of Abraham had settled in the promised land they had relied on the Egyptians for support during a time of famine. It was God’s provision for them. But this time was different. Looking to the Egyptians for help during the calamity would indicate that the Israelites lacked faith in Jehovah. So, God determined to allow the calamity to come upon them in order to purge evildoers from among his people.
The present world is nearing a similar situation. Since the English pilgrims and other Europeans came to America to escape oppressive kings and popes it has proven to be a place of refuge, providing a certain level of prosperity and freedom unattainable in Europe. The freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights provided the perfect environment. No doubt that is why Jehovah began to anoint individuals and gather them around C.T. Russell in America back in the closing years of the 19th century. Even during the world wars that ravaged Europe, America was a safe haven. And Jehovah’s Witnesses have certainly benefited from the political stability and legal protections that are the foundation of the nation. But all that is going to change when the modern “Egypt” is overthrown.
Up until this moment, the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses has fostered the belief that the Watchtower is the earthly appendage of the very Kingdom of God, that it is a permanently placed institution that will never be destroyed. Since that is undeniably the case, how will they respond when the visible organization is threatened with extinction?
That question is all the more relevant given the Watchtower’s established pattern of compromise. For instance, back when Hitler and the Nazis came to power there was an extraordinary number of active Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany —about 20,000, which was about the same number of Bible Students worldwide a decade before, after the big shakeout during the First World War. But when Hitler banned the work and closed down the branch office J.F. Rutherford published a so-called Declaration of Facts, shamefully attempting to placate Hitler by asserting that Jehovah’s Witnesses shared the Nazis’ distrust of the Jews and the oppressive Anglo-American Empire, and he praised the high ideals of the Nazi party!
More recently the Watchtower Society entered into a political partnership with the United Nations and similarly used the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights to praise the high ideals of the United Nations Organization.
Even more disturbing, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been subtly conditioned to expect that the Watchtower will be the means by which God will provide life-saving instructions even during the coming tribulation. In proof of that, the April 15th, 2012 Watchtower stated in paragraph 16:
As events unfold during the great tribulation, Christians will need to heed instructions from God’s Word and organization. For example, Jesus’ command to “begin fleeing to the mountains” has a modern-day application. Just what form our flight will take remains to be seen. However, we can be sure that Jehovah will make clear the meaning of those instructions when the time comes for us to follow them.
To be sure, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not know what form their flight may take. Especially is that the case since the Watchtower maintains that Christendom is the holy place destined for desolation, of which Jehovah’s Witnesses are avowedly not part of anyway. But the Watchtower is very inconsistent in its interpretation of prophecy having to do with the desolation of the holy place.
To illustrate the point, when foretelling the trampling of the holy place by a disgusting thing Jesus advised the reader to have discernment as regards the book of Daniel. And as the discerning reader of Daniel will note the 8th chapter speaks of the holy place being trampled during the time of the end. However, the Watchtower claims that the prophecy was fulfilled during the Second World War when Jehovah’s Witnesses came under pressure in the Anglo-American nations.
The point is, the Governing Body has no insight into these matters. That being the case, what life-saving instructions could they possibly impart to Jehovah’s Witnesses when the time comes for the desolation?
According to the concluding verses of the 31st chapter of Isaiah, it is God himself who issues life-saving instructions, saying: “Return, you people, to the One against whom the sons of Israel have gone deep in their revolt. For in that day they will reject each one his worthless gods of silver and his valueless gods of gold, that your hands have made for yourselves as a sin.”
“In that day” faithful Christians will abandon the earthly organization as if it were an abhorrent, worthless idol! Keep in mind that an idol is anything that detracts from God’s glory. As regards the Watchtower Society it is looked to by Jehovah’s Witnesses as the source of all spiritual knowledge. That is why God purposes to demonstrate the worthlessness of idols —especially the organizational kind!
Speaking as if in a time capsule to a future day God addresses himself to “Jacob,” saying in the 48th chapter of Isaiah: “The first things I have told even from that time, and out of my own mouth they went forth, and I kept making them heard. Suddenly I acted, and the things proceeded to come in. Due to my knowing that you are hard and that your neck is an iron sinew and your forehead is copper, I also kept telling you from that time. Before it could come in, I caused you to hear it, that you might not say, ‘My own idol has done them, and my own carved image and my own molten image have commanded them.’ You have heard. Behold it all. As for you people, will you not tell it? I have made you hear new things from the present time, even things kept in reserve, that you have not known. At the present time they must be created, and not from that time, even things that before today you have not heard, that you may not say, ‘Look! I have already known them.’”
“The present time” from where God speaks is still future. The “new things kept in reserve, that you have not known” are the many things about which the Governing Body is tenaciously oblivious. They are simply too stubborn and hard-headed to really listen to God. So, the context of the 48th indicates “the present time” is when “Jacob” will find himself in captivity to the modern incarnation of Babylon.
AS RESPECTS PRINCES, WHO ARE THEY?
Turning now to the 32nd chapter of Isaiah, it places “that day” as the time Jesus begins his reign. Isaiah 32:1-2 states: “Look! A king will reign for righteousness itself; and as respects princes, they will rule as princes for justice itself. And each one must prove to be like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless country, like the shadow of a heavy crag in an exhausted land.”
While it is evident that the king destined to reign in righteousness is Jesus, who are the princes who will rule for justice? Here is what is stated in the Society’s commentary on Isaiah:
Right now in this time of worldwide distress, there is a need for “princes,” yes, elders who will “pay attention to . . . all the flock,” caring for Jehovah’s sheep and administering justice in harmony with Jehovah’s righteous principles. (Acts 20:28) Such “princes” must meet the qualifications set out in 1 Timothy 3:2-7 and Titus 1:6-9.
In his great prophecy describing the distressful “conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus said: “See that you are not terrified.” Why are Jesus’ followers not terrified by today’s dangerous world conditions? One reason is that the “princes”—whether they be anointed or “other sheep”—are loyally protecting the flock. They fearlessly care for their brothers and sisters, even in the face of such horrors as ethnic wars and genocide. In a spiritually exhausted world, they see to it that depressed souls are refreshed by the upbuilding truths of God’s Word, the Bible.
During the past 50 years, the “princes” have come clearly into view. “Princes” who are of the other sheep are being trained as a developing “chieftain” class so that after the great tribulation, qualified ones from among them will be ready for appointment to serve in an administrative capacity in the “new earth.” By providing spiritual guidance and refreshment as they take the lead in Kingdom service, they are proving themselves to be “like the shadow of a heavy crag,” bringing relief to the flock in its realm of worship.
Is the Watchtower’s view correct? Well, consider this: The same Isaiah commentary states that the appearance of the king and his princes is a result of God making all things new, which is surely the case. But what is “new” about the provision of Christian elders? Did not the original congregations have overseers who looked after the flock? Who would be so unreasonable to claim that the modern elder arrangement of Jehovah’s Witnesses is unique or novel? And if the Watchtower insists that the present elder arrangement exists because God has made all things new, then we might also ask what else is new besides?
And besides that, a small minority of elders have horribly abused the flock under their charge, through bullying and petty tyrannies. Some elders have even sexually abused innocent children within the congregation. Instead of being a refuge from adversity Jehovah’s sheep have sought refuge from them! How can it honestly be said that abusive elders rule for justice itself?
Once again the Governing Body and Writing Department at Bethel prove that they are the visionless visionaries, whose heads Jehovah has covered. They may as well be illiterate when it comes to reading the prophecy of Isaiah. Would-be-interpreters of prophecy must, at the very least, harmonize the various concepts portrayed.
For example, the same analogy of wind and the rainstorm is used in the 28th chapter of Isaiah, depicting how God will flood-out and wash away the refuge of a lie where the drunken braggarts who are ruling over God’s people have concealed themselves. The context indicates that that thunderous downpour coincides with the coming of Christ. The storm is obviously symbolic of the coming tribulation. (See Isaiah commentary: The Coming of Christ and the Flash Flood)
So, then, who are the princes that will rule with Christ, the King? They are the chosen ones, both male and female— the very ones with whom Jesus has made a covenant for a kingdom. And their ruling does not necessarily begin after their resurrection either; but must coincide with the phenomenon of the revealing of the sons of God, resulting in their shining as brightly as the sun in the Kingdom, which is portrayed in the Transfiguration, which is intimated in the following verses in Isaiah.
UNTIL THE SPIRIT IS POURED OUT FROM ON HIGH
The beginning of the reign of the King and his princes will provide the remedy for the blindness that presently afflicts Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their eyes will be opened to the reality of Christ’s Kingdom in all its power. No longer will they be under the spell of the Watchtower’s artfully contrived false story regarding an invisible parousia beginning in 1914! Those who have hastily concluded that the Watchtower Society is the virtually, infallible mouthpiece of God will then thoughtfully reconsider.
Isaiah 32:3-4 states: “And the eyes of those seeing will not be pasted together, and the very ears of those hearing will pay attention. And the heart itself of those who are overhasty will consider knowledge, and even the tongue of the stammerers will be quick in speaking clear things.”
Concurrent with that eye-opening phenomenon those who have exploited Jehovah’s Witnesses with counterfeit words, and who have received lavish praise for doing so, will, themselves be found out. Isaiah goes on: “The senseless one will no longer be called generous; and as for the unprincipled man, he will not be said to be noble; because the senseless one himself will speak mere senselessness, and his very heart will work at what is hurtful, to work at apostasy and to speak against Jehovah what is wayward, to cause the soul of the hungry one to go empty, and he causes even the thirsty one to go without drink itself. As for the unprincipled man, his instruments are bad; he himself has given counsel for acts of loose conduct, to wreck the afflicted ones with false sayings, even when someone poor speaks what is right.”
To illustrate, as pointed out above, the Watchtower’s claim that Christian elders are the princes who rule for justice and their presence is a result of God having already made all things new is sheer nonsense. But that is merely one example. Everything the Watchtower teaches in connection with the supposed modern fulfillment of prophecy since 1914 is nonsensical. Nonetheless, Jehovah’s Witnesses are compelled to laud the faithful slave for providing them with a banquet of truth.
But as Paul foretold, the manifestation of Jesus will bring the apostate man of lawlessness to nothing. He will be exposed as the promoter of nonsense and apostasy.
The coming of the grand King will bring an end to the evangelical era. The preaching of the good news will then be concluded. The “field” Jehovah’s Witnesses have tirelessly worked year after year will be lost as if-then producing only thorns and thistles. And the exalted headquarters of Jehovah’s city-like organization, the heralded tower of the watchman, will be abandoned. Isaiah portrays it this way: “Beat your breasts in lamentation over the desirable fields and the fruitful vine. For the ground of my people will be covered with thorns and briars; they will cover all the houses of rejoicing, yes, the city of exultation. For the fortified tower has been forsaken; the noisy city has been abandoned. Ophel and the watchtower have become a permanent wasteland…”
But all will not be lost. Quite the contrary. The coming collapse of the Watchtower Society will be a result of Jehovah truly making all things new. What until now has only been a faux spiritual paradise will then become a reality and what has been lacking all along —the full measure of the spirit of Jehovah —will be poured out upon the faithful like never before. Isaiah continues: “…until upon us the spirit is poured out from on high, and the wilderness will have become an orchard, and the orchard itself is accounted as a real forest.”
The work of the reign of the King and his chosen princes will render the Watchtower obsolete and desolate. The evil slaves and man of lawlessness will be destroyed, along with those who faithlessly follow them. During the holocaust, the faithful will be provided refuge in the secret place of the Most High, guided to safe haven by the-then fully illuminated princes of Christ. The end result will be as described in the closing words of the 32nd chapter of Isaiah:
“And in the wilderness justice will certainly reside, and in the orchard righteousness itself will dwell. And the work of the true righteousness must become peace; and the service of the true righteousness, quietness and security to time indefinite. And my people must dwell in a peaceful abiding place and in residences of full confidence and in undisturbed resting-places. And it will certainly hail when the forest goes down and the city becomes low in an abased state.”