Someone sent me a PDF of your new book the other day— My Beloved Religion and the Governing Body. I am taking this opportunity to respond to one portion of it regarding the appointed times of the nations. Since you are basically expanding upon the Watchtower’s long-held explanation of the so-called Gentile times it is also a response to the Watchtower and Jehovah’s Witnesses in general.
I have already written a fair bit about the topic too, which I suspect you are familiar with to some degree since part of your presentation appears to be a refutation of something unique to my work and not a common objection that Jehovah’s Witnesses may encounter, which has to do with the obvious fact that Jesus was speaking about a future desolation and trampling of Jerusalem by the nations and not what took place when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem.
On page 51 at the subheading The Beginning of the Trampling you go to considerable lengths to dissect the phrase “Jerusalem will be trampled on” and assert Jesus was talking of an ongoing trampling that supposedly had begun centuries before. A “periphrastic future,” really?
Jesus’ comment on the desolation of Jerusalem was in response to the apostles’ specific question, which was prompted by what Jesus said a few days before regarding the temple being thrown down without a stone remaining upon a stone. Jesus’ statement evidently stunned the apostles. They were laboring under the delusion that Jerusalem was permanent. They imagined that Jesus was going to sit on a throne in the literal city. But, they believed Jesus and that is why privately they questioned him further, saying: “Tell us, when will these things be?”
Reasonably, the trampling of Jerusalem would follow its desolation. Surely the apostles did not imagine that Jerusalem was lying desolate at that point in time. After all, the apostles did not ask: When did these things happen? On the contrary, the holy city was thriving. Since it was rebuilt, the temple was once again the center of the worship of Jehovah. During the time of Christ Jews and proselytes made annual pilgrimages to the holy city from all the nations roundabout.
Although the Jews were under Roman occupation they were given considerable autonomy and had complete freedom to practice their beloved religion. As long as the Jews paid their taxes and did not rebel the Romans left them alone. The fact that the Romans permitted the Jews to worship in accordance with their customs would make it easy for Christians to recognize when the disgusting thing stood in the holy place.
So, the question is: In what sense was Jerusalem being trampled underfoot by the nations when Jesus spoke his “great prophecy”? Obviously, it was not being trampled in any sense. What does it mean to be trampled upon? The dictionary definition states that it means to tread heavily upon, roughly, crushingly.
It is not necessary to consult ancient manuscripts to discern the truth. Modern translations are perfectly fine. If we reference the usage of the word “trample” in the NWT it conveys the idea of complete and utter domination. That hardly describes the condition of the Jewish state during the time of Christ. The mere fact that the Jews had no king of David’s lineage does not equate to their being crushed underfoot by the nations.
Regarding the appointed times for the nations to trample Jerusalem, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the seven times of Daniel relate to the appointed times. However, careful Bible examiners will note that the 4th chapter of Daniel does not use the expression “appointed times”— only “seven times.” There really is no justification for making the connection.
The Watchtower routinely cites the 21st chapter of Ezekiel regarding the coming of the one who has the legal right to the throne vacated by Zedekiah. When did that one come? Did Jesus gain the legal right to the throne in 1914? No, Jesus acquired the legal right to the throne of David when he was baptized. Both Mary and Jesus’ adoptive father were of David’s lineage— so that qualification was met at birth. Then when Jesus was anointed by God’s holy spirit he became the legal heir to the throne. That is when the 2nd Psalm was fulfilled: “Let me proclaim the decree of Jehovah; He said to me: “You are my son; today I have become your father. Ask of me, and I will give nations as your inheritance and the ends of the earth as your possession.”
Jehovah verified His designation of Jesus as the king on the occasion when Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem and was hailed as the king of Israel. This was in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, which says: “Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem. Look! Your king is coming to you. He is righteous, bringing salvation, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a female donkey.” This was a significant event. Although the Jewish leaders did not recognize Jesus as the appointed king, Jehovah did. That is why Jesus said that if the people failed to hail him as king the stones would cry out.
Even Pilate, who was pressured by the Jews to condemn Jesus to death, ordered that a sign be placed upon the execution stake saying: “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.”
So, the Watchtower’s reasoning is faulty. Jesus became king in 33 C.E. And that is when God’s Kingdom came into existence— God’s Kingdom being the congregation of the firstborn. Does not the scripture say that God transferred persons into the kingdom of his beloved Son?
What you say regarding Jerusalem representing God’s Kingdom is correct. However, your error is in supposing that the Kingdom is God’s government in every instance. As stated already, prior to the Second Coming the congregation of Christ is the Kingdom over which Jesus reigns as king. During the concluding harvest, the angels are dispatched to clear out of his Kingdom all persons practicing lawless and all the things that cause stumbling. Obviously, there will be no lawless persons or stumbling blocks within the government that will rule the world to come. But there are faithless and evil persons within Christ’s congregation prior to the conclusion of the system. That did not change in 1914 or any time since then.
What the Watchtower and you have failed to discern is that the Christian congregation is inseparably connected to the ancient city of Jerusalem.
Christ specifically ordered his disciples to stay in Jerusalem until the promised spirit was poured out upon them. The disciples obeyed the orders of their Lord and on Pentecost— 50 days after Jesus inaugurated the new covenant— 120 disciples were in an upper room in the heart of Jerusalem when the holy spirit made a miraculous demonstration that the congregation of the firstborn had come into existence. Thereafter, the apostles were in the temple day and night speaking about Jesus. Years later the apostles and older men were still headquartered in Jerusalem, even after a wave of persecution scattered all the rest.
Another flaw in the Watchtower’s teaching is the notion that God immediately rejected Judaism. Although the new nation came into existence in 33 C.E. the old system of worship was only gradually phased out. The Jews who accepted Jesus did not immediately stop practicing their beloved religion. That is why the apostles taught regularly in the temple. Paul taught in the synagogues throughout the Mediterranean region. He explained that to the Jews he became a Jew in order to appeal to them. That means he practiced Jewish customs. And amazingly, even though the apostle to the nations, as Paul referred to himself, fought ferociously against the Judaizers who tried to compel non-Jewish Christians to follow Jewish traditions, upon orders from the other apostles Paul went to the temple in Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice in order to quell the rumors that he was preaching an apostasy from Moses. Contrary to the Watchtower’s teaching, the apostles did not consider the Jewish form of worship to be apostate.
However, the Christians knew that at some point Jerusalem would be desolated and the temple wherein they taught would be thrown down. That is why Paul penned his letter to the Hebrews, as it turned out just a few years before the disgusting thing stood where it ought not. Paul’s intention was to help the Jewish Christians appreciate that the ancient form of worship centered in Jerusalem had served its purpose and had become obsolete. More to the point, Paul contrasted the city of Jerusalem with the heavenly city to come, concluding by saying: “Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach he bore, for we do not have here a city that remains, but we are earnestly seeking the one to come.” — Hebrews 13:13-14
Less than a decade after Paul wrote the letter of Hebrews the city of Jerusalem was trampled down by Roman invaders and completely desolated.
But that is history. What about the parallel during the time of the end?
The Watchtower has long claimed that the symbolic Jerusalem that will be desolated during the great tribulation is Christendom. Their reasoning being, the Jewish temple had become unholy and so typifies the churches. However, the case has been made above that the apostles did not consider the temple to be unholy and that Jerusalem was their city of origin and continued to be their base of operations up until the disgusting thing appeared.
The fact that the Christians in Jerusalem and all of Judea had been instructed by Christ to flee and not to re-enter the city when they saw the disgusting thing standing in the holy place means that Christians living during the time of the end would also have to take life-saving action— abandoning their beloved religion and place of worship. That being true, why does the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses consider it to be out of the question that the “Jerusalem” about which Jesus said would be desolated during the tribulation represents Christ’s congregation?
In your discussion on prophetic time periods during the conclusion you make the following statement:
“I have carefully studied the discussions of these time periods, and all of them seem to fit very well into the history of JW. However, we must always make the reservation that only half of the data—the time periods—occur in the Bible, and in finding the other half—the fulfillments—there is the possibility that we err.”
At least you acknowledge there is a possibility or error. That is a start. However, in that same section, you refer to the two witnesses and the 42 months and claim that after a thorough investigation, you conclude that the Watchtower’s interpretation is correct. Since you believe this, can you expound upon how the two symbolic witnesses may have been killed? What earthshaking message might they have preached that so tormented the nations?
More profoundly, since Moses and Elijah appeared in the Transfiguration having an intimate conversation with the glorified Christ, these two prophetic figures serving as witnesses for 42 months must relate to the parousia— specifically, to the chosen ones seeing Christ just as Peter was an eyewitness to the Transfiguration, which served as a portent of the parousia. But, since the Bible Students were under the delusion that the parousia began in 1874 it was not possible for them to bear witness that the parousia had begun in 1914. And of course, no Bible Student ever claimed to have seen Christ. How would it even be possible to see an invisible anything?
And where are the two witnesses now? According to Revelation their being put to death by the beast at the end of their 42-month special assignment is an immediate precursor to the Kingdom bringing to ruin those ruining the earth.
I realize the concept of a visible presence of Christ is such a foreign idea to Jehovah’s Witnesses that one who claims to have had a visitation from creatures from Mars would be given more credibility. Such is the power of indoctrination. Yet, I have made the case that the parousia not only has not begun but that it will not be invisible and the chosen ones will see Christ as he is. These matters have been presented in numerous essays and in the chapter called Parousia in Jehovah Himself Has Become King. No JW has ever or will ever be able to refute what I say. It can only be ignored.
Interestingly, the 11th chapter of Revelation also speaks of the holy city being trampled underfoot by the nations for 42 months— during the time the two witnesses call the world to account. It continually amazes me that persons like yourself who are closely examining the Scriptures fail to see any parallel. You delve deeply into the supposed linguistic connection between the appointed times for the nations to trample Jerusalem with the seven times of Daniel and yet fail to discern the glaringly obvious relationship between the appointed times for trampling Jerusalem about which Jesus spoke and the appointed time of 42 months for the nations to trample the holy city and temple during the campaign of the two witnesses.
Not to mention the blatant contradiction the Watchtower espouses, claiming that in 1914 the appointed times for the nations to trample the Kingdom ended and yet supposedly during World War One the nations trampled the symbolic holy city, again. I feel embarrassed for them.
You also refer to the prophecy of Daniel since the reader is exhorted to have discernment based upon what is written therein. True, there are specific references in Daniel to the disgusting thing, but is that where we should look to find answers as to what is trampled upon? Just as you fail to discern any relationship between the trampling of the holy city Jesus spoke of and the holy city that is trampled by the nations during the 42 months, you are also apparently oblivious to what is stated in the 8th chapter of Daniel concerning the trampling of the holy place. Specifically, Daniel 8:13 states: “How long will the vision of the constant feature and of the transgression causing desolation continue, to make both the holy place and the army things to trample on?”
Since you are in agreement with the Watchtower you evidently also embrace the ridiculous notion that the holy place was desolated by the Anglo-American duo during WW2 and that after a few adjustments in the Watchtower’s corporate charter, the holy place was brought into its right condition. Again, besides the absurdity that God would foretell such trivia, this directly contradicts what the Watchtower teaches regarding the appointed times for the nations to trample God’s holy place ended in 1914.
The fact is, the Watchtower has made a mess of God’s prophetic word. Nothing related to the Second Coming of Christ was fulfilled in 1914, unless, of course, we take into consideration the fact that Paul foretold Satan would put into operation a false proclamation that the presence has begun and the day of Jehovah is here.
The appointed times for the nations to trample Jerusalem have not been fulfilled. The appointed time is 1,260 days, with various other similar periods. Those appointed times will begin when Christ comes as a thief in the night and Satan is thrown down and goes off to make war against the holy ones.
During that chaotic time, that which presently serves as God’s earthly organization will be trampled upon until the appointed times for the nations are fulfilled. And when those appointed times are concluded the nations will no longer exist.
Just like the Jewish system, your beloved religion is going to be crushed. From that desolation, the angels will harvest the approved sons into the Kingdom and thereafter they will shine like the sun and give Satan’s world a final witness. The Watchtower will not have any part in that work. It will have become obsolete.
Immediately after Jesus was resurrected, which also is a portent of his visible presence, he began appearing to his disciples here and there. On one occasion he severely rebuked them as being senseless and slow to believe all the things the prophets spoke. I am certain Jehovah’s Witnesses, especially those who have been called, will receive a similar rebuke for their utter senselessness and refusal to believe the prophets once Christ becomes manifest among them.
Rolf Furuli has not responded to my email