Keep in expectation of it!
For the composite sign of Christ’s presence to serve its purpose, the fulfillment of it would have to be obvious enough to command the attention of those who have been obeying Jesus’ counsel to “keep on the watch.” And that has been the case since 1914. From that time onward, the features of the sign have been undergoing fulfillment. Clearly, we are now living in “the conclusion of the system of things”—a limited period of time leading up to and including the destruction of this wicked system. Why, then, should Christians today keep in expectation? Out of obedience to Jesus Christ, we remain in expectation. Also, we recognize the sign of his presence. Our expectations are based, not on a naive readiness to believe anything, but on solid Scriptural evidence that compels us to remain vigilant, awake, watchful and, yes, in expectation of this wicked system’s end.
There are numerous false statements and fallacies in this daily text. Let’s break it down and sort it out.
First, have the “features of the sign” been “undergoing fulfillment” from 1914 onward, as the Watchtower asserts? Well, what exactly are the various features to which the text alludes? War? Certainly —even world war. Food shortages, pestilence, great earthquakes here and there? Absolutely. The Watchtower has written exhaustively on how the First World War and the Spanish Influenza pandemic are features of the sign. And, of course, the preaching of the good news is considered a feature of the sign as well. But are there other features of the sign? There most certainly are. What are they? Well, at Matthew 24:9-12 Jesus said: “Then people will hand you over to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be hated by all the nations on account of my name. Then, too, many will be stumbled and will betray one another and will hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and mislead many; and because of the increasing of lawlessness, the love of the greater number will grow cold.” Has this aspect of the sign been undergoing fulfillment? Not really.
How about this? — “Therefore, when you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken about by Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place (let the reader use discernment), then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains.”
The Watchtower used to teach that the disgusting thing was standing in a holy place but they have long since dispensed with it. So, the answer is no, this feature of the sign is not undergoing fulfillment. God’s people once understood that the first phase of the great tribulation began in 1914 and that the final part would come at the battle of Armageddon. So we can understand why it was once thought that the latter-day “disgusting thing” must have stood in a holy place soon after World War I. – WT 5/1/99 page 16
God’s people once understood that the first phase of the great tribulation began in 1914 and that the final part would come at the battle of Armageddon. So we can understand why it was once thought that the latter-day “disgusting thing” must have stood in a holy place soon after World War I. – WT 5/1/99 page 16
Jesus went on to add some color to his comment, saying: “Also, there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation. People will become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
During the Cold War the Watchtower used to teach that the fear hanging over the world was the fulfillment of this feature of the sign. However, with the ending of the Cold War Bethel dropped that. Now they admit that this aspect of Jesus prophecy awaits a future fulfillment. For example, here is what was stated in the March 1st 1992 Watchtower on page 14:
In our 20th century, we have seen “on the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out . . . while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.” But Jesus tells us: “As these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.”
However, just two years later the April 15th Watchtower says the following:
This means that “the tribulation” of Matthew 24:29 lies before us. It will involve celestial phenomena that may be unimaginable. Verse 30 shows that people will then see a different sign—one proving that destruction is at hand. According to the parallel account at Luke 21:25-28, at that future time, ‘men will become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the earth.’ Luke’s account also says that Christians will then lift up their heads because their deliverance will be very near. – 4/15/94 Page 10
So, according to this Watchtower statement Christians have not yet seen the sign that would indicate that their deliverance is near. And indeed, Jesus specifically said, ‘when you see all these things occurring,’ not just some, or a few things — but all of them. Yet, in spite of that fact the day’s text implies that all the features of the sign have been fulfilled. But both statements cannot be true. What a tangled mess of contradictions the Watchtower has created!
A question thinking Christians ought to consider is this: What exactly are Christians supposed to expect as they stay in expectation? If we are merely to stay on the watch for the end of the world, what’s the point? Consider, though, the verses the day’s text cites, namely, Matthew 24:27 and 42, where Jesus exhorted his followers to stay in expectation of his presence and coming. For your convenience, here is what verse 27 says: “For just as the lightning comes out of the east and shines over to the west, so the presence of the Son of man will be.”
For all of the 1914 hoopla regarding the beginning of Jesus’ invisible parousia, Christ’s first mention of his parousia in the context of the unfolding of the features of the sign places his presence as occurring after nations and kingdoms rise up against each other in war; after famines and pestilences sweep the world; after the disgusting thing desolates a holy place.
The other cited verse similarly states: “Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”
As has been frequently pointed out on this site, in the 12th chapter of Luke Jesus spoke more extensively of the faithful slave and evil slaves. Stressing the need for them to be watchful the Lord said to those whom he had just designated to be his “little flock”: “Be dressed and ready and have your lamps burning, and you should be like men waiting for their master to return from the marriage, so when he comes and knocks, they may at once open to him. Happy are those slaves whom the master on coming finds watching! Truly I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at the table and will come alongside and minister to them. And if he comes in the second watch, even if in the third, and finds them ready, happy are they! But know this, if the householder had known at what hour the thief would come, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also, keep ready, because at an hour that you do not think likely, the Son of man is coming.”
What is to be expected with the coming of the master? For those found watching Jesus said he would dress himself for service and have his disciples recline at the table, obviously for the last evening meal. And he will come alongside and minister to them. What is the meaning of the Greek word “parousia”? It literally means to come alongside. So, again, Christians are to keep in expectation of the coming of Christ and his presence alongside them.
Now, here is another question with far-reaching implications: Does the Watchtower’s teaching regarding the presence of Christ in 1914 encourage Christian watchfulness, or does it have the opposite affect? If the presence of Christ has not occurred, as it most assuredly has not, then obviously the Watchtower’s parousia is intended to mislead not enlighten.
But how can that be? How could Jehovah’s Witnesses be so wrong, after all, they are preaching the good news, as Jesus foretold would be done? Why and how could such a falsehood be the very cornerstone of the Watchtower’s message? Indeed, why would Jehovah allow such a grievous error to persist for so long, to the extent that the Watchtower has just celebrated a century of Kingdom rule? The answer is forthcoming in God’s word. Paul explains: “But the lawless one’s presence is by the operation of Satan with every powerful work and lying signs and wonders and every unrighteous deception for those who are perishing, as a retribution because they did not accept the love of the truth in order that they might be saved. That is why God lets a deluding influence mislead them so that they may come to believe the lie, in order that they all may be judged because they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness.”
But Jehovah’s Witnesses are sure to object: ‘No way. The man of lawlessness is the clergy.’ But consider the context. Paul specifically warned the brothers not to be alarmed or shaken from their reason by giving credence to authoritative announcements proclaiming that the presence of Christ has begun and the day of Jehovah is here.
Those announcements, both verbal and written, as if authored by the apostles themselves, evidently emanate from the man of lawlessness, whose presence itself is an operation of Satan, accompanied with all manner of lying signs (world wars, limited pestilence, jailing of Rutherford, etc., etc.). As Paul further noted, Satan’s machinations are intended to deceive the brothers, influencing and deluding them into accepting a false parousia. To that end Jehovah allows a powerful deluding influence to exist up until the manifestation of Christ in order to test our love of the truth. And that is exactly what exists – exhibited by the Watchtower’s persistent lying and jerry-rigging of the scriptures to support 1914.
No wonder the most prominent feature of the sign Jesus provided is that there would be many false prophets who would deceive many. The deluding influence would be so powerful that Christ forewarned that even the chosen ones could be deceived by it, if that were possible. Indeed, many will be stumbled and hate one another when the Watchtower’s 1914 delusion bursts.
“YOU ESTABLISHED THEM FOR PUNISHMENT”
Finally, consider the theme verse taken from Habakkuk. In context that verse reads: “At my guardpost I will keep standing, and I will station myself on the rampart. I will keep watch to see what he will speak by means of me and what I will reply when I am reproved. Jehovah then answered me: “Write down the vision, and inscribe it clearly on tablets, so that the one reading aloud from it may do so easily. For the vision is yet for its appointed time, and it is rushing toward its end, and it will not lie. Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it! For it will without fail come true. It will not be late!”
The entire prophecy of Habakkuk is the vision Jehovah commanded his watchman to write down. The vision concerns the rapacious Chaldean who dispossesses the world and who “is like death and cannot be satisfied. He keeps gathering all the nations and collecting for himself all the peoples.”
The Chaldean symbolizes the eighth king, which contrary to the Watchtower’s teaching, could not possibly have been the League of Nations since the rise of the last king initiates the hour of test upon all the world. The prophecy is detailing that overthrow of the present nation-state system and the imposition of a world government —probably communistic in nature. But the last king will merely be carrying out the judgments of God upon this wicked world, even as Habakkuk 1:12 relates: “O Jehovah, you appointed them to execute judgment; my Rock, you established them for punishment.”
It is only after the last kingdom comes to power, after he destroys God’s possession, that Christ intervenes, or as Habakkuk 2:17 states: “For the violence done to Lebanon will cover you, and the destruction that terrified the beasts will come upon you, because of your shedding men’s blood and your violence to the earth, to the cities and those living in them.” (For a more complete consideration of the fascinating prophecy of Habakkuk)
At the present moment in time the nations are feverishly preparing for war. Since the election of Donald Trump the United States has been plunged into an unrelenting campaign of Russophobic hysteria that is intended to overthrow the democratically elected government, a campaign that is being run by the very same people who were involved in the coup in Ukraine that brought a neo Nazi faction into power. (EIR PDF) Sober observers have warned that the effort to surround, sanction and provoke Russia will inevitably lead to nuclear war.
So, yes, there is every reason to keep in expectation, especially in view of the extent to which the Watchtower has gone to mislead Jehovah’s Witnesses from keeping in expectation of the future presence of Jesus Christ. No wonder the foolish virgins are going to find themselves in the dark and locked out of the wedding feast.