This article has been slightly edited, originally posted in 2013
Jehovah’s Witnesses are resolutely under the authority of the Governing Body of the Watchtower Society. No one aware of the facts can deny the truth of that statement. Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves would readily agree that their standing and qualifications among their fellow Christians is weighed and judged foremost as to their loyalty and submission to the theocratic direction of “the slave.”
From 1985 until quite recently those desirous of becoming Jehovah’s Witnesses had to publicly declare that they recognize that their baptism brings them “into association with God’s spirit-directed organization.” Now such a confession of faith has been modified. Still, though, it is regarded as the gravest of sins to reject or even doubt as untrue anything the organization teaches, as doing so is considered tantamount to apostasy.
Because Jehovah’s Witnesses are absolutely convinced that Heaven’s guidance is exclusively channeled through the organization, it is naturally assumed that that will always be the case. Jehovah’s Witnesses have been led to expect that when the critical days of the great tribulation begin the Governing Body will stand as a beacon of light and issue special survival instructions for all faithful.
Is it not true that the Watchtower Society subtly promotes itself as the antitypical ark of salvation? And does that not imply that the Organization is regarded by Jehovah’s Witnesses as the sole source of salvation, or at least Jehovah’s sole provision for such?
But is it?
Rephrasing the question: Regardless of how the Watchtower Society may have been instrumental in accomplishing an important phase of God’s purpose over the past century and a half, the question is: Will the Organization play a role in directing Jehovah’s Witnesses in the future, during the finale? And if not, what will that mean for the millions of trusting souls who look to the Governing Body and the Watchtower Society as their guiding light?
Before considering the questions posed first let us situate ourselves in the great over-arching universal dispute that exists. In view of the ongoing controversy between God and Satan – the Devil being the “accuser of our brothers,” “who accuses them night and day before our God”— of what might these accusations consist?
Since the faith of all of Jehovah’s Witnesses is inextricably tied to their obedience to the Watchtower Society and there is no doubt that Jehovah has protected and blessed the Organization over the course of its existence so that the basic message of the truth has been published to the far corners of the earth, it does not take a great deal of imagination to perceive that the most vehement accusation issuing from the Accuser is that all of Jehovah’s Witnesses are merely followers of men – belongers to a mere sect.
We ought not to suppose that the Devil’s accusations are entirely without merit. The very fact that an increasing number of people who breathe deeply of Satan’s exhalations regard Jehovah’s Witnesses as Watchtowerites and pitiable brainwashed victims of an evil cult is surely an echo originating with “the ruler of the authority of the air”.
Long before Jesus revealed that Satan is the behind-the-scenes evil influence over the world the book of Job parted the curtain into Heaven to reveal that not-so-long-ago Satan once stood up in an assembly of angels and singled out a man named Job as being selfishly motivated to serve God – implying that all intelligent creatures in Heaven and on Earth are similarly motivated. That is why we refer to it as a universal issue.
In his wisdom, God determined that the only way the Accuser’s issue could be satisfactorily settled is if he removed his protection and blessing from Job and allowed the Devil to afflict him.
You likely know the result. Job lost everything and was reduced to a miserable state. Ultimately, though, God intervened and reversed Job’s plight and restored his blessing upon him twofold.
As Revelation indicates the Devil is particularly intent on accusing the brothers of Christ, obviously because they are destined to destroy Satan’s dominion and replace him and his demon angels as rulers. That is why on the night of his arrest Jesus warned Peter that Satan had demanded to have them to sift them as wheat, which, just as in the case of Job, Jehovah also permitted.
So, when the wicked one and all his angels are hurled out of Jehovah’s Heaven and confined to the earthly realm for the final confrontation, Revelation reveals that the dragon becomes wrathful and goes off to wage war against the remaining ones of Christ’s brothers who are obligated to do the work of bearing witness to Jesus.
Presently, though, Jehovah’s Witnesses whole-heartedly believe that the Devil and his demons have already been hurled down and have already brought unprecedented “woe” upon the world and unleashed a flood of persecution against the people of God.
But have they?
Of course, it is understood that Satan’s ouster from heaven is a result of the Kingdom of Christ coming to power. So, the question really is: Did Christ begin ruling the world in 1914? Is there any way to determine for certain?
Yes, there is. But it has nothing to do with calculating the number of years from the time Jerusalem was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar 25 centuries ago. All that is required is common sense and a willingness to honestly reason upon the facts at hand.
Returning to Revelation, the only authentic chronology associated with the coming of the Kingdom measures an interval of time that begins with Satan’s ouster. In other words, Bible chronology marks the time from the beginning of Jesus coming to power and encompasses the “short period of time” that the Devil is allowed to remain on earth before he is locked away for one-thousand years. Revelation 12:6 & 14 reveals that the “short period of time” allotted the enraged demons to persecute Christ’s congregation amounts to 1,260 days, otherwise expressed as a “time, times and half a time” – or 3 ½ times.
The Watchtower makes no connection between the “short period of time” and the 1,260 day period. Worse, they have rendered the revealed chronology associated with the coming of the Kingdom into irrelevance by assigning it to the 1919 era. Presumably, Satan’s “short period of time” has lasted more than a century and is ongoing! And apparently, his wrath against the “woman” and her offspring has mellowed considerably over the ensuing decades.
But now, let us honestly reason upon the truth.
According to both the 7th and 12th chapters of Daniel the persecution of the holy ones by the beast takes place over a period of time, times and half a time – exactly as revealed in Revelation. Afterward, God intervenes and the Kingdom is given to the holy ones and the beast is destroyed. Daniel 12:7 indicates that the conclusion of the time appointed is the end of it all. It reads: “It will be for an appointed time, appointed times and a half. And as soon as there will have been a finishing of the dashing of the power of the holy people to pieces, all these things will come to their finish.”
Let the myth-masters at Bethel explain how all the things outlined in the prophecy of Daniel, which includes Michael standing up to vanquish the king of the north and the parallel prophecy regarding the fierce-looking king bringing the holy ones to ruin before he is crushed by the Prince of princes, have “come to their finish.”
Another glaring aspect of the Watchtower’s deception has to do with the mark of the beast. The 13th chapter of Revelation similarly reveals that the holy ones are conquered by the beast and that it wages war upon them for forty-two months – or 3 ½ times. The beast initiates war after one of its heads receives a sword stroke and then miraculously revives. Also, immediately following its recovery it breathes life into its image, which then comes alive and demands that everyone receive the mark of the beast upon their hand or forehead. No one who worships the beast has their names written in the book of life. In other words, they will be doomed to the punishment of the second death. The reason being: The beast and Christ will rule simultaneously, during the short period of time allotted. So, those who admire the beast will demonstrate that they are enemies of the Kingdom of God.
It is apparent that the ouster of the seven-headed dragon from Heaven results in the blow to the seven-headed earthly beast. Of course, the Watchtower claims that the beast suffered a mortal wound during WWI. This in spite of the fact that the Anglo-American combine was victorious and neither nation experienced any societal tumult as a result of the war!
To underscore the point, Babylon was once the dominant empire of Satan’s system. The city itself was regarded as an impregnable fortress. The Chaldeans had destroyed the city of Jehovah and had enslaved God’s people. Yet, an integral part of Hebrew prophecy foretold the sudden overthrow of Babylon by Cyrus and the Medo-Persians. The fall of Babylon shocked the nations.
In view of the fact that the slaying of the beast and its return from death is an important part of “the things that must shortly take place,” according to Revelation, ought we to suppose that the fulfillment of the Apocalypse is virtually a non-event, such as the supposed collapse of the Anglo-American power during the First World War? But why is it that the crash of the leading nations of the world does not begin to compare with the overthrow of Babylon, Assyria, Tyre or Egypt? And why is it historians have no knowledge that the political system died back during World War One?
Not only that, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been led to believe that the impotent League of Nations was the image of the beast. Consequently, Bethel teaches that people began receiving the mark of the beast in 1922. As an example of the sort of nonsense that Jehovah’s Witnesses are forced to accept, here is an excerpt from the Grand Climax commentary on Revelation:
Mankind has been put under compulsion to accept the mark of the wild beast, with the intent that “nobody might be able to buy or sell except a person having the mark, the name of the wild beast or the number of its name.” (Revelation 13:16, 17) But there is a price to pay for this! Jehovah regards those who accept the mark as being stricken with “a hurtful and malignant ulcer.” Since 1922 they have been marked in public as having rejected the living God. Their political schemes have no success, and they suffer anguish. Spiritually, they are unclean. Unless they repent, this “hurtful” illness will be terminal, for it is now Jehovah’s day of judgment. There is no neutral ground between being a part of the world’s system of things and serving Jehovah on the side of his Christ.
Just how it is that the League of Nations may have prevented people from buying and selling is anyone’s guess. But, it should not be too much of a sacrifice for people living in the 21st century to repent from giving undue homage to the non-existent League.
Such absurdities aside, the Watchtower contradicts itself by claiming that there is “no neutral ground” but that people can repent and get rid of the ulcer of affliction that Jehovah pours out upon the worshippers of the beast.
In effect, the Watchtower trivializes the significance of the mark of the beast and Jehovah’s judgment. But Revelation is explicit, revealing that no one who receives the mark will survive. And since that is the case, why preach to a world that has already been doomed to everlasting death and has no hope of repentance? And there is the obvious question of whether it is righteous and just on God’s part to eternally doom past generations who may have thought the long-defunct League of Nations was a good idea. Sadly, very few of Jehovah’s Witnesses seem capable of comprehending the blasphemy of the Watchtower’s teaching.
True, for now at least, the Governing Body enjoys the luxury of unquestioning obedience and suspended belief on the part of the rank and file and are not forced to answer to any earthling for the utter nonsense they publish. But the reality is, the Watchtower’s 1914 doctrine can only be maintained by the deviousness of Bethel’s writing staff and the tyranny of their authority. In other words, Bethel simply demands that all of Jehovah’s Witnesses believe their 1914 hoax or else.
Before considering the answers to the original questions posed consider, again, the account in the book of Job. Although Jehovah judged Job to be blameless and upright God nevertheless reproved Job for his declaring himself righteous. But God also sternly rebuked his accusers too.
Interestingly, Jehovah spoke from within a howling windstorm when he set matters straight. Following that pattern, Jehovah is destined to set matters straight in the final part of the days by means of a great tempest – the tempest of Jehovah, otherwise known as the great tribulation.
Now consider the prophecy of Isaiah.
In the previous installment of this series on Isaiah, the case was made that the leadership of the Watchtower Society fit the description of those who forbid others from presenting an accurate understanding of God’s prophetic message. In effect, they say to those who perceive the message of the biblical visionaries: ‘“You must not see,’ and to the ones having visions, ‘you must not envision for us any straightforward things. Speak to us smooth things; envision deceptive things. Turn aside from the way; deviate from the path. Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease just on account of us.’”
And just as Jehovah denounced the stupid prophets in the 13th chapter of Ezekiel – those who continually whitewash a makeshift wall – through Isaiah Jehovah makes a similar analogy of a wall maintained by the leaders of God’s people, saying to them: “Therefore this is what the Holy One of Israel has said: ‘In view of your rejecting of this word, and since you men trust in defrauding and in what is devious and you support yourselves on it, therefore for you this error will become like a broken section about to fall down, a swelling out in a highly raised wall, the breakdown of which may come suddenly, in an instant. And one will certainly break it as in the breaking of a large jar of the potters, crushed to pieces without one’s sparing it, so that there cannot be found among its crushed pieces a fragment of earthenware with which to rake the fire from the fireplace or to skim water from a marshy place.”’
Is there any doubt that the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses are the “stubborn sons” upon whom Jehovah pronounces “woe,” who support themselves by deviousness and defrauding in regards to their 1914 hoax? And how will their “highly raised wall” fall “suddenly, in an instant”? It will breakdown and collapse with the sudden, thief-like coming of Jesus Christ. Not even a “fragment” of their fictitious doctrinal wall will remain standing.
But even in the face of the calamity that Jehovah intends to inflict upon them, God states his heart’s desire to be merciful, saying: “And therefore Jehovah will keep in expectation of showing you favor, and therefore he will rise up to show you mercy. For Jehovah is a God of judgment. Happy are all those keeping in expectation of him.”
If God intends to have mercy upon those whom he afflicts, isn’t that a good thing, even for those who support themselves upon what is devious? But more specifically, how will Christ express God’s judgments? And under what circumstances will God show favor and mercy to those “keeping in expectation of him”?
The next verse in context reveals that the people of Zion will be blessed. It reads: “When the very people in Zion will dwell in Jerusalem, you will by no means weep. He will without fail show you favor at the sound of your outcry; as soon as he hears it he will actually answer you. And Jehovah will certainly give you people bread in the form of distress and water in the form of oppression; yet your Grand Instructor will no longer hide himself, and your eyes must become eyes seeing your Grand Instructor. And your own ears will hear a word behind you saying: ‘This is the way. Walk in it, you people,’ in case you people should go to the right or in case you should go to the left.”
There are several aspects of the prophecy that do not fit with the actual pre-Christian history of Israel. For one thing, if the collapse of the “highly-raised wall” is in reference to the crash of the literal city of Jerusalem at the hands of the Chaldeans, as the Watchtower contends, in what way were the people dwelling in Zion shown favor? Did not God use Jeremiah to instruct the Jews living in Jerusalem to give up and surrender to Nebuchadnezzar or be destroyed?
Another puzzling feature is that the prophecy concludes with the execution of God’s fiery judgments against Assyria. Yet, the attempted Assyrian assault on Jerusalem occurred before Babylon actually razed the city, obviously. Not only that, the prophecy states that Jehovah will descend in raging flames of fire, thunderous cloudbursts of hail and that the Assyrian will be completely destroyed. That hardly describes how in one night God’s angel snuffed out the Assyrian army while they slept.
The truth is, although the prophecy is set in the context of the ancient world it is intended to reveal God’s judgments at the revelation of Christ. In that sense God has hidden himself and will reveal himself and his judgments through the manifestation of Jesus Christ. Does not Isaiah foretell that Jesus will be called the “Wonderful Counselor”? In that way, through Christ, the Grand Instructor will correct his wayward people.
Those who will dwell in Zion and Jerusalem are the sons of the Kingdom who are said to have approached a heavenly Mount Zion and city of the living God and who are to be the kings of new Jerusalem. So, the prophecy pertains to the establishment of the Kingdom and the completion of God’s purpose in connection with the new creation.
The Watchtower’s explanation of this portion of Isaiah is, in itself, a demonstration of how they support themselves by deception. Here is what they state in their Isaiah commentary:
Today, when faithful worshipers read the Bible, it is as if God’s fatherly voice is telling them the way to go and urging them to readjust their course of conduct so as to walk in it. Each Christian should listen carefully as Jehovah speaks through the pages of the Bible and through Bible-based publications provided by “the faithful and discreet slave.” Let each one apply himself to Bible reading, for ‘it means his life.’
According to the prophecy God hides himself until such time as he reveals himself immediately before executing judgment against the earthly agency that threatens to annihilate his people. If, though, God’s revelation of himself is merely expressed through the Bible, how is it that God has been hidden? Hasn’t the Bible been freely available? Besides, Jehovah’s instruction comes about simultaneous to his feeding his people bread and water in the form of distress and oppression. But do not Jehovah’s Witnesses believe they are living in a spiritual paradise. Where is the distress and oppression that accompanies the revelation of the Grand Instructor?
The prophecy has nothing to do with God speaking through the pages of the Bible, and certainly not through the Watchtower’s publications. Jehovah’s speaking a word from behind, as it were, will be outside the realm of what we are familiar with presently.
As regards the Assyrian, as Jehovah’s Witnesses know, Satan has operated through various empires dating back to Egypt. Revelation portrays the system as a seven-headed beast. So, God’s judgments against Babylon and Assyria foreshadow his dealings with the beast at the coming of Christ. But first God intends to use the beast to cause distress and oppression. For what purpose? In order to allow a test of faith to answer the Accuser.
By revealing himself outside the authority of the Watchtower Society Jehovah’s Witnesses will be forced to demonstrate their own faith. In fact, the test God intends to conduct will require Jehovah’s Witnesses to completely discard the Watchtower. By doing so they will reject the idolatry of JW.org that has been subtly promoted by the Devil. That is what the following verses of Isaiah relate to, after all, idolatry is idolatry, whether it is a literal “molten statue of gold” or an institution that publishes “Bible-based publications” : “And you people must defile the overlaying of your graven images of silver and the close-fitting covering of your molten statue of gold. You will scatter them. Like a menstruating woman, you will say to it: ‘Mere dirt!”’
During the world’s darkest hour, when men will be faint with fear, the light of the world – Jesus – will reveal himself to those who pass the test of the Watchtower’s collapse.
“And he will certainly give the rain for your seed with which you sow the ground, and as the produce of the ground bread, which must become fat and oily. Your livestock will graze in that day in a spacious pasture. And the cattle and the full-grown asses cultivating the ground will eat fodder seasoned with sorrel, which was winnowed with the shovel and with the fork. And upon every high mountain and upon every elevated hill there must come to be streams, water ditches, in the day of the big slaughter when the towers fall. And the light of the full moon must become as the light of the glowing sun; and the very light of the glowing sun will become seven times as much, like the light of seven days, in the day that Jehovah binds up the breakdown of his people and heals even the severe wound resulting from the stroke by him.”