If you have been serving Jehovah for decades, you may have noticed a gradual shift in the way our literature explains many of the narratives recorded in the Bible. How so? In times past, it was more common for our literature to take what might be called a type-antitype approach to Scriptural accounts. The Bible narrative was considered the type, and any prophetic fulfillment of the story was the antitype. Why have things changed? As we might expect, over the years Jehovah has helped “the faithful and discreet slave” to become steadily more discreet. Discretion has led to greater caution when it comes to calling a Bible account a prophetic drama unless there is a clear Scriptural basis for doing so. Thus, we find that our literature today focuses more on the simple, practical lessons about faith, endurance, godly devotion, and other vital qualities that we learn about from Bible accounts.
While simplicity is good, especially when it comes to complex matters, over-simplification may not be so good when it comes to Bible prophecy.
Likely Jehovah’s Witnesses who have been associated for many years have noticed the trend. Bible prophecy has been emphasized less and less. In recent years weighty prophetic books like Jeremiah have been explained just as stated in the text, as containing “practical lessons about faith.” (God’s Word for Us Through Jeremiah 2010) In a publication called Jehovah’s Day (2006) all the prophetic books were similarly treated.
But are the prophecies really just intended to provide practical lessons?
Originally the prophets spoke God’s judgments against Israel and Judah. In many instances the inspired prophets who delivered those messages were persecuted by God’s own people. Jesus indicated that Jerusalem was the stoner and killer of the prophets sent to her. The point is, those Jews did not perceive that the messages of the prophets were merely nice stories that provide tips on successful living.
The day’s text asserts that this simplification process is a result of the faithful and discreet slave becoming even more discreet. But there is something else at work here. Amazingly, the Watchtower’s program to simplify seems to be fulfilling prophecy. Here is what is stated in the 28th chapter of Isaiah: “To whom will one impart knowledge, and to whom will one explain the message? To those who have just been weaned from milk, those just taken away from the breasts? For it is “command after command, command after command, line by line, line by line, a little here, a little there.”
There is no question that the Watchtower’s teaching program treats Jehovah’s Witnesses as if they were children, just weaned from milk. Their simplified formula of imparting knowledge is well described by Isaiah’s nursery rhyme: ‘command upon command, line by line, a little here a little there.’
The trend to render prophecy into kindergarten lessons really began in earnest at the turn of the new millennium, after the Isaiah series. Perhaps not coincidentally e-watchman came online in 2002 and began explaining prophecy in terms of Jehovah’s judgments to come upon the place where he has placed his name – on Bethel. As if to counteract that message the Watchtower began their efforts to nullify the message of the prophets by rendering them into practical lessons.
While the Governing Body may boast of being wise and discreet it is not wise to conceal Jehovah’s judgments. They cannot possibly succeed. That is why in the 29th chapter of Isaiah Jehovah goes on to say: “Therefore, I am the One who will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the understanding of their discreet men will be hidden. Woe to those who go to great lengths to conceal their plans from Jehovah.”
The wisdom of their wise and discreet men will surely become insignificant with the coming of Christ. What could the Watchtower possibly have to say during the revelation of Christ after having promoted a phony parousia since its inception?