“Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.”
This Kingdom Bulletin is being distributed electronically to all members of the Governing Body as well as to several dozen Bethel elders and over 1,000 elders in the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, and to hundreds of kingdom halls in the United States. Please feel free to email it to a friend or print out the attached PDF.
The opening paragraphs of the article recount the situation 1st century Christians faced in Jerusalem and Judea when the Roman legions moved on the city in 66C.E., only to inexplicably withdraw. That development was, of course, the signal for those living in the doomed city to flee to the hills in obedience to Jesus’ instructions.
The 3rd paragraph states:
“Soon, very soon, each of us will face a similar situation. Jesus not only warned Christians about the destruction of Jerusalem but also used those first-century events to parallel what will occur when the “great tribulation” suddenly breaks out.”
So, the Watchtower is stating fairly emphatically that the great tribulation is about to begin – “soon, very soon.”
The next paragraph reiterates the long-held belief that Babylon the Great, the international religious system symbolized as a brazen prostitute, is what is also typified by the city of Jerusalem. And its destruction by the Romans in 70 C.E. parallels the attack on Babylon the Great by the eighth king of Revelation. Although not stated explicitly, it is certainly implied that the United Nations is going to initiate a worldwide attack on organized religion in the immediate future.
Of course, the adverb “soon” is rather elastic and can be stretched to cover as long a period of time as needed. Nevertheless, this is certainly a bold forecast given the fact that there is no indication at the present time that the United Nations is at all inclined to do such a thing, or that it even has the political power or mandate to do so. And not surprisingly the Watchtower article offers no details of any kind as to why the Governing Body feels that the UN is preparing to launch a global campaign to eradicate religion.
Keep in mind that in the first century the arrival of the Roman legions in Jerusalem in 66 C.E. and their undermining of the temple wall was the indication that the end of Jerusalem was coming soon, very soon. Is there anything comparable to that taking place anywhere in the world now? If so, what is it? By all means, ought it not be preached from the rooftops that the United Nations is preparing to bring Babylon the Great to ruin if there is even the slightest indication that such is the case?
Given the fact that in the Awake! journals – especially during the decade when the Watchtower was an associate-level NGO in partnership with the UN’s Department of Information – there can be found literally hundreds of references to various UN policy statements, projects, initiatives and projections; surely, if the United Nations were poised to utterly annihilate the world’s many religious institutions there would be some indication of it in their publicized statements.
Suppose one of Jehovah’s Witnesses were to repeat the Watchtower’s statement to unbelieving relatives or perhaps speak to a co-worker or someone in the field ministry. And suppose the person asked for real-world evidence as to why Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the United Nations is preparing to annihilate organized religion around the globe very soon. How would you respond? Citing a verse in the 17th chapter of Revelation probably isn’t going to satisfy them, especially since there isn’t even any scriptural proof there to justify the claim that the destruction of the symbolic harlot marks the beginning of the tribulation. Besides, people will rightly want to know what Jehovah’s Witnesses see happening in the world that convinces them that the UN is going to destroy all religions soon? Do you simply tell them to believe it because the Watchtower says so?
As Christians we are called upon by God to use our powers of reason. And we are cautioned against blindly accepting even “inspired statements” at face value. Paul pointedly warned the brothers in Thessalonica not to be quickly shaken from their reason or unduly alarmed as regards an “inspired statement or by a spoken message or by a letter appearing to be from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here.” And the apostle John similarly wrote to his anointed brothers, saying: “Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired statement, but test the inspired statements to see whether they originate with God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Since Jehovah’s Witnesses reverently accept the written and spoken word of the Watchtower as being virtually inspired – receiving it as coming through Jehovah’s exclusive earthly channel – ought it be exempt from being tested for authenticity? If so, wouldn’t that mean we are actually placing the word of the Watchtower above the Word of God? Why do two apostles of Christ tell us to question and test even that which we may perceive as an “inspired statement” if our doing so might be construed as a demonstration of lack of faith or appreciation for “the slave”?
According to the apostles it is our responsibility to not thoughtlessly accept as true anything, especially if it comes from a trusted source, even an inspired mouthpiece of God.
Many receiving this Newsletter are elders and no doubt some will be conducting the Watchtower Study when the July, 2015, Watchtower article is considered in early September. In keeping with the principle that teachers will receive a heavier judgment, you are especially accountable before God to “make sure of all things.” And, you may be sure that some in your congregation will be closely scrutinizing your teaching in light of what is presented in this Newsletter on the World Wide Web. So, in accord with the apostolic exhortation let us scrutinize the Watchtower’s “inspired statement” by means of the touchstone – the Bible itself.
“AS SPOKEN ABOUT BY DANIEL THE PROPHET”
In order to put the Watchtower’s statements to the test it is best to consider the context. In the 24th chapter of Matthew Jesus said: “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. …for then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.”
If we are to understand the words of Jesus as to the meaning of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as well as the holy place that it tramples upon, it is imperative that we consult the prophecy of Daniel (as opposed to Revelation, which had not even been written when Jesus was on earth). And in doing so, what do we discern? Besides the 9th chapter of Daniel, which we understand was fulfilled in the first century, there are numerous references in the prophecy regarding the disgusting thing and various aspects of the holy place that is violated. However, even though Jesus specially directed us to the book of Daniel, in the Watchtower’s Pay Attention commentary on Daniel the various depictions of the holy place that is trampled is never ascribed to the domain of Babylon the Great – but, rather, to that which is associated with true Christianity.
For example, Daniel chapter eight foretells that a small horn will appear during the time of the end and it will grow great and violate the very sanctuary of the Prince of princes and remove the constant feature. The angel went on to explain: “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?”
If we, the reader, use discernment as Jesus advised we ought to at least discern the similarity of language found in this passage of prophecy and what Jesus foretold regarding the holy place being trampled upon by the nations until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.
Presently, though, the Watchtower teaches that the little horn is the British Empire, along with the USA. But the British Empire had been in existence for several centuries before 1914 and, in fact, had gone into decline in the 20th century – at least the formal, Victorian Empire. Yet, Gabriel pointedly told Daniel: “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.” Included in the vision earmarked for fulfillment in the time of the end is the ascension of the little horn – not merely its campaign against the holy ones.
But, unfortunately, that is not the only incongruity in the Watchtower’s interpretation.
Again, according to the Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy publication the “constant feature” and the holy place were trampled on by the Anglo-American powers back during the Second World War. But doesn’t that contradict the fact that the Watchtower teaches that the allotted time for the nations to trample the holy place ended in 1914? If that is true, then how is it that the fierce-looking king is allowed to cause desolation after the appointed times for the trampling have supposedly ended?
Furthermore, the prophecy says that the last king “will bring mighty ones to ruin, also the people made up of the holy ones.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot really be called upon to expound upon the application of this aspect of prophecy,as regards who these mighty ones may have been whom the fierce-looking king brought to ruin, since the Watchtower has said virtually nothing about it. Oddly, the Nazis and Communists brought millions of innocents to ruin during the Second World War and it was the USA and the so-called Allies that were the liberators. As another oddity, the mighty ones are brought to ruin during a time of security. But how could WWII or the years preceding it reasonably be described as a time of security? In reality the lead-up to the last world war was a time of great insecurity, with Fascism on the rise and America and Europe suffering from the Great Depression.
Furthermore, were the holy ones really brought to ruin during World War Two? True, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany suffered greatly at the hands of Hitler’s Nazis. But Nazi Germany is not the fierce-looking king. In fact, the Allied armies liberated Jehovah’s Witnesses from captivity. And while Jehovah’s Witnesses may have been persecuted in small town America during the 30’s and 40’s it was the Supreme Court of the United States that came to our defense. That being the case, how can it possibly be true that the holy ones were brought to ruin by the very government that protected and defended our rights? Does the mere fact that young men were denied military exemption constitute the entire body of holy ones being brought to ruin?
And then there is the untenable interpretation of how the holy place was supposedly brought into its right condition. While it is not my intention to heap ridicule upon the Watchtower’s interpretation, honestly, how could the amending of obscure articles of the charter of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society possibly have brought about the fulfillment of such a thing? And why would the All-seeing God of prophecy even foretell such trivia over 2,000 years in advance? It is absurd.
WHAT ABOUT WORLD WAR THREE?
Some observers of the current state of world affairs are declaring the return of the Cold War, while a few world leaders and political commentators have expressed alarm over the growing threat of yet another world war – a war between the nuclear powers. There is certainly no denying that a shooting war between NATO and Russia would be an unparalleled disaster for the world and would inevitably escalate to at least a limited, if not all-out nuclear exchange.
It appears as if certain men (and women) in positions of power are determined to provoke a war. In evidence of that fact, hostilities in the recent civil war in Ukraine seem to have abated as a result of the so-called Minsk agreement. Evidently, though, that is not the preferred outcome. Although President Putin has made it clear that any Western military aid to Kiev would be viewed by them as an act of war against Russia on March 24th the U.S. Congress voted overwhelmingly to do just that.
Surely it is recognized that prosecuting war against hapless nations like Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya is one thing, but recklessly provoking a clash with a nuclear power like Russia is an act of madness.
In spite of the reality with which we are now confronted, the Watchtower has assured Jehovah’s Witnesses that there cannot be another world war, since in all likelihood it would be a nuclear war. And an all-out nuclear war would bring total annihilation on mankind.
While this is surely true, Bible students are also aware of the fact that when Jesus foretold that the world will experience a great tribulation unlike anything that has ever occurred or ever will occur again, he also stated: “Unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved.”
So, according to no less an authority than Jesus Christ mankind will be brought to the brink of extinction and only because of divine intervention on account of the chosen ones will extermination be avoided.
The motivating force behind the Anglo-American war-drive is the certain knowledge that the London/ Wall Street financial system is in a state of terminal collapse. No one knows the day or hour, but its end is certain. Already a powerful coalition of nations has emerged, centered around Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – the so-called BRICS. Earlier in April China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank went into operation. AIIB is a direct challenge to the IMF and the World Bank, which are organizations the Anglo-American duo have used to dominate the nations since WWII. And most interesting, the AIIB does not impose nation-crushing conditionalities and austerity on the borrowers.
As regards prophecy, we know from Daniel that the imperial power that originated with Alexander will ultimately go to war with the Prince of princes. History allows us to trace that empire through Rome to the modern Anglo-American duo. So, we may be certain that power is not going to pass to Russia or China. But how can it be prevented? It appears that the answer is – war!
However, we should no longer go on imagining that the little horn of ferocity has already emerged. Because we stand on the brink of a great turning point we should look to the future as the time of the true fulfillment. What can we expect?
In order to prevent global power from slipping from London and Washington we may expect them to pull the plug on the global financial system and launch war against Russia and China. By those means the mighty ones will be brought to ruin. Who are the mighty ones? The 1% who control the world’s wealth, most of which is stored as mere digits on computer chips anyway. The coming crash will result in the world’s wealth being concentrated into even fewer hands – symbolized by the single king. More than likely the world’s massive and unpayable debt will be foreclosed upon resulting in entire nations becoming satrapies of a supranational, collectivist government, probably administered by the United Nations.
And what about the holy ones? We may expect the Watchtower to cease to function as a publishing society. And in the face of martial law, which is certain to be imposed upon many nations during this time of security, the ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses will come to a sudden, jarring halt. Thus, the “constant feature” will be removed. (These matters are presented in the symbolisms of the prophecy of Joel.) This will mark the beginning of the judgment of the house of God!
As regards the sudden demise of Babylon the Great, that development will not come about until all the kings of the earth give their kingdoms to the wild beast for the prophesied one-hour. Until the nations are forced to relinquish their sovereignty it is simply out of the question that Babylon the Great is going to be judged.
But from all appearances, the coming of Christ is imminent. Soon, very soon, the nations will be plunged into chaos and Christ will commence his judging work, beginning with the sanctuary and the holy place.