Wednesday, July 1
Keep perceiving what the will of Jehovah is. —Eph. 5:17.
We are living in “critical times” that are “hard to deal with,” and life is going to become even more difficult before a new day dawns and true peace is restored to this earth. (2 Tim. 3:1) So we do well to ask ourselves, ‘Where am I looking for help and direction?’ Centuries ago, a psalmist acknowledged the need for us to raise our eyes to Jehovah for help in times of need. (Ps. 123:1-4) He compared our looking to Jehovah with the way a servant looks to his master. What did the psalmist mean by that? Well, not only does a servant look to his master for food and protection but the servant needs constantly to watch his master to discern his wishes and then to carry them out. In a similar way, we daily need to search God’s Word to ascertain what Jehovah’s will is for us personally and then to follow that direction. Only then can we be sure that Jehovah will show us favor in our time of need. w18.07 12 ¶1-2
When we hear something repeated often in a matter-of-fact way over a long period, especially if we consider the source to be an authority, we simply accept what is said as true and do not question.
No doubt Jehovah’s Witnesses have frequently heard it said that we are living in the last days and of course the Bible says “that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God…”
If you are older, say in your 60s or even 70s, you have seen a gradual, yet profound change in people’s attitudes and values over the past half-century. And not a positive change either. Really, we have witnessed the gradual degradation of the moral fabric of society— the slow but steady corruption of Western, Christian, civilization. There is no doubt about it, people have become more and more like the apostle foretold they would be during the last days.
But please take note of the fact that the apostle did not say that people will become lovers of themselves, boastful, fierce, etc, during the last days, as if the last days were characterized by the process. No, the passage above only states that the last days will be difficult to deal with because people will be so godless. In other words, when the last days begin they will be difficult times because people will have become so godless leading up to the conclusion.
Obviously, the society that existed 70-80 years ago was not characterized by the evils Paul enumerated. That being true, how can it be said that say, in 1957— just to pick a year— that times were difficult to deal with because men were egotistical, loveless, betrayers, etc., etc?
As Jehovah’s Witnesses are aware, there are several synonymous expressions in the Scriptures besides “last days.” There is “the time of the end,” which appears exclusively in the prophetic book of Daniel. There is the final part of the days and the conclusion of the system, or end of the age as some translations phrase it. Each of these expressions, including the last days, refers to the same period of time when the world comes under divine judgment, beginning first with the house of God, otherwise known as the congregation of the Firstborn.
Reasonably, the judgment phase does not extend over successive generations. The very fact it is referred to as last days or final part of the days signifies that it covers a relatively limited number of days— certainly not decades or more than a century. The expression “day of the Lord” or “Lord’s day” expresses the same thing; namely, that the conclusion is a relatively short period of time.
The point is made all the more emphatic by the fact the last days are also called the hour of judgment. However, according to the Watchtower the hour of judgment began in 1914. That means that the “hour” has extended over several generations and has amounted to more than 38,000 days and counting! We might naturally wonder why God would designate the final days of Satan’s reign as a short period of time and as a symbolic hour when from a human standpoint there is no basis for it.
Most instructive, consider what Jesus had to say about the conclusion of the system of things in the 13th chapter of Matthew. Although Jesus likened the Christian ministry to a harvest work in a general way, noting that the field was ripe for harvest back in the first century, he also spoke of a concluding harvest when the angels would be dispatched to uproot the weeds and gather the wheat. Adding more details, Jesus said: “The Son of man will send his angels, and they will collect out from his Kingdom all things that cause stumbling and people who practice lawlessness, and they will pitch them into the fiery furnace. There is where their weeping and the gnashing of their teeth will be. At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Let the one who has ears listen.”
Now, according to the Watchtower, the conclusion began in 1914 and Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the angels uprooted the weeds that appeared in the form of the multitudes of churchgoers from dozens of denominations and sects known as Christendom.
The fraud of the Watchtower’s interpretation of Jesus’ parable ought to be apparent to anyone who dares to think. First, why would it have been necessary for the angels to make a separation between the International Bible Students and the aforementioned parishioners? Were not the Bible Students already a separate and distinct sect? Secondly, in what way were the churchgoers made to weep and gnash their teeth back in 1918 when they were supposedly uprooted? Indeed, let the Governing Body explain how the weed-like Christians were thrown into the fiery furnace. Since there are even more churchgoers today than a century ago, is the uprooting and burning an ongoing process?
Of course, none of Jehovah’s Witnesses can intelligently answer any of these questions. Nevertheless, here are a few more: If the weeds represent those false Christians who have never been associated with the Watchtower why would Jesus have them uprooted in the first place?
According to Jesus, the weeds are lawless individuals who are planted in his Kingdom. Otherwise, why would they be collected out of his Kingdom? And what is his Kingdom? It is Christ’s congregation. That is apparent from what Paul wrote to the Colossians, where he stated: “He rescued us from the authority of the darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, by means of whom we have our release by ransom, the forgiveness of our sins.”
In view of the above, have the multitudes of Catholics, Protestants, Lutherans, etc., ever been recognized as being members of the kingdom of his beloved Son? Furthermore, why would Christ remove all things that cause stumbling from Christendom? Or, dare we say that there are no stumbling blocks strewn on the Highway of Holiness Jehovah’s Witnesses are supposed to be traveling upon?
It should be obvious to anyone willing to reason on the facts that the concluding harvest has not begun. That means that these are not the last days. It means the hour of judgment is yet to begin. Indeed, Christ has not dispatched his angels to collect out of his Kingdom all persons who are lawless.
No wonder Jesus concluded his parable, saying “let the one who has ears listen.” Sadly, evidently no one among the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses has ears to listen.