(This article was contributed by one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Edited by Robert King)
In the near future those who love and worship Jehovah God, and who desire to follow and obey his Son, will have a life and death decision to make. Their lives and the lives of their children and their families will hang in the balance – on the words of Jesus Christ – words that he gave to his true followers who would be living at the end of the Christian age.
The words he spoke were: “When you catch sight of the disgusting thing standing in the holy place (‘the abomination that causes desolation’ spoken of through Daniel the prophet) – let the reader understand – then let those in Judea flee to the mountains.”
Just prior to the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, the command was given to announce the end and the destruction of Jehovah’s earthly organization. (Jeremiah 4:3-10) “Announce it in Judah and proclaim it in Jerusalem, Sound the trumpet throughout the land! Raise the signal to go to Zion! Flee for safety without delay! For I am bringing disaster from the north even a terrible destruction.”
Most of Jehovah’s witnesses understand the similarities in the destruction of Jerusalem in the time of Jeremiah and the desolation of the holy place by the Roman armies in the first century. Both armies came from the “north” and warning was given to flee. Also in both cases, many did not heed the warning and lost their lives as a result.
So, life-and-death must be involved again by what is typified by the “holy place” and “Jerusalem”.
According to the Watchtower’s interpretation, the destruction of Jerusalem and the holy place by the Babylonians, and then in the first century by the Romans, represents the coming destruction of the churches of Christendom.
Although the Governing Body claims that the spiritual house of God has already been judged and was inspected by Christ in 1918. (Or is it 1914 now?) But is that really accurate and does it harmonize with the scriptures? Most importantly, is there any way to “test the inspired expressions” in the light of the Scriptures and take to heart the apostles admonitions to “make sure of all things”. (1 Thessalonians 5:20,21)
The leadership of the organization insists that the next prophecy on the horizon is the cry of “peace and security!” Then God’s wrath expressed through the nations on Babylon the Great.
But is it credible or reasonable to conclude that Jehovah’s organization will exist judgment free all the way to the onset of the great tribulation and the destruction of Babylon the Great and then the nations?
DO NOT BELIEVE EVERY INSPIRED EXPRESSION
We know prophecy has a minor and major fulfillment. So let us make a careful examination and see if and where our understanding needs revision.
The apostle John exhorted and strongly cautioned the anointed congregation and Jehovah’s servants living in the last days, writing: “Beloved ones, do not believe every expired expression, but test the inspired expression to see if it originates with God because many false prophets have gone forth into the world.”
John emphasized even expressions that would seem to be inspired should still be tested as to their authenticity – as originating from God. Without testing the inspired expression, we merely show we have become followers of men. (Psalms 146:3)
And as the apostle Peter warned in advance false teachers would exploit many from within Christ’s Congregation with counterfeit words (2 Peter 2:1-3)
Concerning judgement, the disciple James warned his fellow believers that not many should become teachers because they will receive a heavier judgment. We as Christians are interested in when this judgement occurs. Did it occur in 1918? How could that be possible since the modern elder arrangement did not even exist then? Besides, that would mean the present generation of appointed elders and ministerial servants, as well as publishers, have escaped the judgment.
The apostle Peter also spoke of the judgment to come. He wrote at 1 Peter 4:17 “for it is time to start judgement with God’s household and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the good news.”
Peter here was emphasizing that the judgment begins with the house of God and the anointed Congregation and those who associate it. The judgement is intended to purify God’s people and his spiritual temple.
The Society has recently made another revision of interpretation, stating that the appointment over “all the master’s belongings” occurs in the future when Jesus Christ “arrives”. Doesn’t this imply a future judgement to determine which slave has been faithful and which has been wicked?
Despite the suggestion that there is now no evil slave class, that is not what Jesus Christ indicated. He said there would be a faithful slave and an evil slave working together. (Luke 12:42-48) These two slaves coexist in the same house – Jehovah’s organization – up until the time Christ returns.
And as Jesus stated in Luke both slaves receive strokes, even the faithful slave, thus showing there will be a chastisement even for Christ’s faithful followers when he unexpectedly arrives like a thief in the night.
That Babylon the Great is next to be judged by Jehovah is an error in interpretation. Regardless of the organization’s erroneous teaching in this regard – the judgment must first begin with Jehovah’s people and his house.
The inescapable truth of the matter is that Jehovah’s people are going to be exiled and “cut off” from him when he conceals his face from them for the appointed 42 months, which represents the three and half year drought decreed by Elijah, after which he will have mercy on them and pour out his spirit in a never before seen way as described in the book of Joel. (Malachi 4:5-6, Joel 2:28-32)
This “concealing” is the beginning of the judgment. (1 Peter 4:17) Though it is true there is an ongoing judgment of anointed Christians that began in the first century, this testing and refining is part of the polishing and refining of those who will inhabit Jehovah’s spiritual house. (Hosea 6:5-7) Peter also alluded to the future and final judging that will coincide with the destruction of the entire present wicked system of things. In that the same way, Peter exhorted Christians to “maintain your conduct fine among the nations, that in the thing they are speaking against you as evildoers, they may as a result of your fine works glorify God in the day of his inspection.”
The day of inspection would therefore logically be the “day of inspection” by Christ. (1 Peter 2:12)
Jehovah has foretold and declared to his people through prophecy that they will temporarily have to leave “the city” and go “as far as Babylon”. Some bible translations have rendered that particular text “to Babylon,” instead of “as far as.” (Micah 4:10) It is true, many of Jehovah’s sheep have gone “as far as Babylon” – or back to Babylon.
Those who have been stumbled out of the truth by false dates, the over emphasis on works and less on love, and the creating of ranks within the organization that epitomize the “class distinctions” echoed by the disciple James in the first century.
One of the many things Jehovah God condemns in his law are those who set themselves above others and then gain riches at the expense of the poor and the withholding of tithes. Jehovah condemns those who oppress the poor, commit robbery and mistreat the foreigner. These are the characteristics of those who practice lawlessness. There are those who have been emotionally broken and ignored or silenced by the churning machine of literature production and self-seeking men, then the trampling of others for an exalted position within the organization.
The neglect of those in need and failure to seek and save those who have been lost to this system are certainly matters for Christ to judge.
May we all as fellow brothers and sisters and followers of Christ be reminded that we are required to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters as Christ laid down his life for us. (1 John 3:16,17).
Again, certainly there is a day of reckoning.
THE DISGUSTING THING THAT CAUSES DESOLATION
But the above-cited text in Micah has a grander and more significant fulfillment than applying to just those that have been stumbled out of the truth. It means Christ’s congregation as a whole will be scattered at the time God brings judgment on his earthly organization.
Jehovah goes on further to relate in Zechariah that he will scatter his people to “the four winds,” which are to be released at the great tribulation after the slaves of God are sealed. (Zechariah 2:6-13, Revelation 7:1-4)
This is the judgement of the house of God, when the abomination that causes desolation stands in the “holy place”.
It’s then the abomination that causes desolation – identified as the Assyrian (the eighth king who rises from the ashes of a fallen United States) – whose identity is revealed as the United Nations, rules for a predetermined “one-hour.” It is the eighth king that is destined to stand in the holy place.
At that time the judgement commences and true Christians are then scattered to the four winds. As a result of that brief but intense period of testing and discipline many will come back to their senses and return to Jehovah with a complete and undivided heart, after which, Jehovah will recollect them under Christ and then bring his judgement against Babylon and then against the Nations.
It is because of this exile that after the 42 months of antitypical Jerusalem being “trampled on by the nations” the 18th chapter of Revelation then will be relevant, speaking to his people, saying: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share with her in her sins. So that you will not receive part of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:4,5)
The command to “get out of her my people” comes immediately prior to the destruction of Babylon the great, implying that he has a people of special possession that he will collect back from Babylon en-mass, not in a slow trickle over decades as people leave the churches, but a mass exodus.
All these judgements occur in quick succession rather than spanning years and decades. Those who do not heed the warning will not survive.
It will be the most terrifying event that has ever been experienced and it all occurs when the four winds are released. Did not Jesus Christ say he would gather his chosen ones from the four winds? And does not a gathering together imply a scattering?
The Watchtower mistakenly interprets that the abomination causing desolation occurs with an attack on Christendom – reasoning that prior to both instances of its desolation Jerusalem had become apostate and rebelled against Jehovah, and therefore, Jerusalem cannot represent Jehovah’s organization today.
But if that is the case, why then the warning from James that not many should become teachers?
The truth is that the Psalmist cued us to what we are to understand regarding the holy place and the sanctuary and the scriptures reveal the meaning. In the 74th psalm the psalmist wrote “They burned your sanctuary to the ground; they defiled the dwelling place of your Name.” (Psalms 74:7)
The meaning of this scripture explains without leaving doubt that the sanctuary is where God’s name resides. Again, we can glean what is meant if we examine the words found in the book of Deuteronomy.
Deuteronomy 12:5: “But you are to seek the place that Jehovah your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his name there for his dwelling”.
Jehovah’s people will be forced to make a life and death decision on catching sight of the disgusting thing “standing where it ought not” – that being the place where his name resides.
“Therefore when you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken through Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place (let the reader use discernment) then let those in judea begin fleeing to the mountains.”
Christ directed his disciples to the book of Daniel, where in chapter 9 we read: “And upon the wing of disgusting things there will be the one causing desolation; and until an extermination, the very thing decided upon will go pouring out also upon the one lying desolate.”
Also, the 11th chapter of Daniel goes on to relate “And he will actually go back and hurl denunciations against the holy covenant and act effectively; and he will have to go back and will give consideration to those leaving the holy covenant. And there will proceed arms that will stand up from him and they will actually profane the sanctuary, the fortress, and remove the constant feature. And they will put in place the disgusting thing that is causing desolation.” (Daniel 11:30-31)
The sanctuary, the constant feature and the fortress are all aspects of worship that belong to Jehovah. The Watchtower understands this and that the constant feature pertains to the sacrifices of praise offered to God in his sanctuary, where his name resides.
This is in harmony with the 8th chapter of Daniel, which describes the developments in the “time of the end” in connection to a king fierce in countenance – the eighth king – also causing desolation to “the holy place” and removing the “constant feature”.
The one using discernment should realize that the holy place that is destined to come to desolation and be trampled on by the nations is the sanctuary and the spiritual realm of the holy ones where God’s name resides, Christ’s true congregation.
This is what the Watchtower teaches, but instead of realizing this as the major fulfillment of God’s people, they mistakenly apply this to the king of the north during the Second World War. Also, the twelfth chapter of Daniel describes the putting in place the disgusting thing and the removal of the constant feature, which has been erroneously applied to 1918 and the creation of the League of Nations.
These confusing and convoluted interpretations have confused Jehovah’s Witnesses and caused them to have no expectation of any coming judgment of Jehovah.
As regards the major fulfillment of the desolation of the holy place it is obviously necessary to discard the entire notion that Christ was enthroned as king in 1914. The foundation for the organization’s teaching regarding the presence of Christ beginning in 1914 is based on the seven times chronology, which was long ago wrongly connected to the appointed times of the nations, which Christ mentioned in connection with the desolation of Jerusalem and the holy place.
In the context of what Jesus Christ said, it reads: “Woe to the pregnant women and those suckling a baby in those days! For there will be great necessity on the land and wrath on this people; and they will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled”. (Luke 21:23,24)
The entire 21st chapter in Luke was prompted by Jesus telling his disciples that “not a stone would be left upon a stone” with regard to the sacred temple. That prompted Jesus’ disciples to ask him what would be the sign of this future desolation. Simply examining the context should give us the clear understanding that Jesus warning applied not merely to the Jews, but especially to Christians.
Surely the disciples must have understood that Jesus was describing a future event and that Jerusalem was going to be destroyed and their fellow Jews were going to fall by the edge of the sword. In doing an honest examination, would Jesus’ disciples have understood him to be referring to the destruction of Solomon’s temple five centuries earlier by the Babylonians? Their question concerned about the future and that is what Jesus was addressing.
By extension the major fulfillment of that same prophecy regarding the trampling of Jerusalem must involve the “Israel of God” and the place where Jehovah has caused his name to reside in modern times.
For example, Jesus said, “in those days,” meaning in those days when the disgusting thing would bring desolation in the future, not the past. And the future desolation would last “until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled”.
There is no way to scripturally justify applying the appointed times of the nations to the original destruction of Jerusalem, and linking it to the seven times of Daniel. It is all stitched and cleverly woven together in an attempt to attach some significance to 1914.
A MAN OF LAWLESSNESS WITHIN
When we examine closely the inspired expression, though, we discern this is an operation of error. Paul foretold that a man of lawlessness will ultimately sit down in the temple of The God proclaiming himself to be a god.
Although the Watchtower claims the clergy is this man of lawlessness, that interpretation does not harmonize with Scripture.
2nd Thessalonians 2:4 informs us that the man of lawlessness seats himself in God’s temple – the temple being the anointed congregation of Christ. So in that light, the clergy cannot possibly be this man of lawlessness because that would mean they are among those in the new covenant.
It has obviously served Satan’s purpose to deceive not only the world, but more importantly – God’s chosen ones. Satan has – as it describes in Thessalonians – empowered this man of lawlessness with “every lying sign” and every “unrighteous deception.” Starting with the First World War the Devil fabricated a false parousia of Christ in order to deceive the chosen ones into believing that the parousia has begun and the day of Jehovah is here. The question is how would that serve Satan’s purpose?
It is interesting that in the ESV footnote reveals that the man of lawlessness who “sits down in the temple” also has a “parousia” that occurs before the arrival of Christ. It also brings out in the 8th verse of Thessalonians that Christ will destroy him by the “manifestation of his presence”.
The second chapter of Thessalonians likewise reveals that this man of lawlessness promotes a false parousia, claiming the day of Jehovah has begun as a preliminary of Christ’s actual arrival. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4)
The lawless one will eventually become the antichrist and as Satan works with powerful deceptions on his behalf through signs and wonders, lead people to believe the antichrist and this man of lawlessness are God. Those who believe this are “those who are perishing because they did not love the truth”.
So because they reject the truth, God sends them a strong delusion as part of his righteous judgement. Jehovah allows these to embrace the antichrist and the lawless one so that they advance to a whole new level of rebellion and are then condemned as allies of the antichrist at Christ’s parousia or presence – designed by Satan to deceive Jehovah’s chosen ones to stumble them and keep them from accepting the authentic parousia of Christ.
Satan has his agent fixed within Christ’s congregation until such a time that Christ exposes him and Christ followers are told to flee when they see the sign of his coming and of the disgusting thing causing desolation standing “in a holy place.”
Those who do not flee will be destroyed with the one “doomed to destruction.”
From examining these matters closely, there is no doubt that our lives and the lives of our brothers and sisters will hang in the balance. How important it is then – as our spiritual forefathers exhorted us: “do not quench the spirit, do not treat prophecy with contempt, but test them all; hold on to what is good reject every kind of evil”.