QUESTION: I was reading one of the study articles called “Why Keep on the Watch,” and in paragraph 12, I found this interesting statement about what’s to come in the future. 12 Do not let the apathy of others discourage or dissuade you from keeping on the watch. You know better. Paul wrote to fellow believers: “You yourselves know very well that Jehovah’s day is coming,” and he added, “exactly as a thief in the night.” Jesus warned us: “Keep ready, because at an hour that you do not think likely, the Son of man is coming.” (Luke 12:39, 40) —Soon, Satan will deceive the masses into accepting a false sense of “peace and security.” He will mislead them into thinking that all is well on the world scene. What about us? That day of judgment does not have to “overtake [us] as it would thieves,” provided we “stay awake and keep our senses.” —-That is why we daily must read God’s written Word and meditate on what Jehovah is telling us.
Based on the line that I indicated, would this be the beginning of the great tribulation? Also, would you agree this false sense of peace and security is a unique event in the future and not the relative peace that exists in some parts of the world?
According to the Watchtower virtually everything in prophecy has already been fulfilled except for a couple of things. Those couple of things include what Paul foretold regarding “whenever it is that they are saying ‘peace and security,’” and the destruction of false religion by the United Nations.
For many years the Watchtower has taught that the annihilation of the iniquitous Babylon the Great will mark the beginning of the great tribulation; hence, presumably their saying “peace and security” will immediately precede the United Nations attacking and devouring organized religion around the world.
Jehovah’s Witnesses should take note, though, that there is nothing in Revelation that indicates that the great tribulation begins when the beast unexpectedly turns upon the harlot. And the Watchtower never cites any scriptural reference to support their assertion. The entire premise is based upon the untenable notion that the holy place that is destined to come to desolation during the world’s existential crisis that has never before occurred or will ever occur again, symbolizes the world-wide empire of false religion. There are numerous articles on e-Watchman that show the falsity of the Watchtower’s teaching regarding the symbolic meaning of “Jerusalem.”
If Jehovah’s Witnesses are studious and look up all the cited scriptures and read the surrounding context and meditate upon it, as the Watchtower exhorts, they may arrive at a startling conclusion. Here, let’s give it a try. Look up the cited verse in paragraph 12; namely, Luke 12:39-40. For your convenience those verses are the words of Jesus addressed to his “little flock,” where he said to them: “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.”
Why did the Watchtower cite Jesus? Because the connection to Paul’s prophecy of peace and security at 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5 is obvious. Both Jesus and Paul made reference to that day coming upon the world suddenly, like a thief in the night.
But here’s the thing. Jesus was referring to his coming as a thief at an hour his followers do not think likely in order to judge them! That is the whole point. That is why Jesus exhorted them to stay awake and be ready regardless of the seeming delay on his part.
That Christ is referring to his parousia is evident from what he stated in the preceding verses regarding his coming alongside and ministering to disciples, if they are found to be ready. “Coming alongside” is what parousia means. That is why Jesus assured his followers that he would be with them all the days until the conclusion of the system of things, because during the conclusion Jesus will come alongside them and minister to the sons of light in a very special way.
How does that harmonize with what Paul stated regarding the day of Jehovah coming as a thief in the night?
I support the Watchtower’s practice of inserting the name of Jehovah into certain New Testament passages where it is clear that there is a direct quotation or reference to Hebrew text where the YHWH appears, however 1 Thessalonians 5:2, which states: “For you yourselves know very well that Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night,” presents a problem. The problem is, since no Greek manuscripts use the YHWH anywhere, it is up to the translator to determine the appropriateness of using the name of God. But, again, here is the dilemma: It is true, the phrase “Jehovah’s day” and “day of Jehovah” appear in numerous places in the Hebrew prophecies, HOWEVER, Paul also used the expression “the day of the Lord” at 1 Corinthians 5:5 in reference to the day of Jesus Christ. And the apostle John referred to the return of Christ as “the Lord’s day.”
So, since the original text merely says “day of the Lord,” how do we know if Paul originally used the YHWH and that it was removed in later copies, or whether he actually intended to allude to the Lord’s day, as in the day of Jesus Christ?
The fact of the matter is, we don’t know. No one can say with authority that the verse in question ought to be translated as “Jehovah’s day”—including the translators of the New World Translation. But, obviously, because it has been used in the NWT for these past decades it is embedded into the consciousness of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But just think of the implications if Paul actually intended to refer to the “Lord’s day” —meaning the day of Jesus Christ. That would change everything.
As already noted, Jesus Christ referred to his coming as a thief in reference to the judgment of his household of slaves. Paul could well have been alluding to this, since he also used the analogy of the day of reckoning coming as a thief in night.
Furthermore, at Revelation 3:3 Jesus also spoke of his coming as a thief to judge his congregation. Reiterating his warning to the little flock, Jesus said: “Therefore, continue mindful of how you have received and how you heard, and go on keeping it, and repent. Certainly unless you wake up, I will come as a thief, and you will not know at all at what hour I will come upon you.”
SUDDEN DESTRUCTION – UPON WHOM?
All things considered, there is ample reason to believe that Paul intended to infer that it is the Lord’s day, that is to say, the coming of Jesus Christ to initiate the judgment of the house of God, that will come like a thief in the night —“whenever it is that they are saying ‘peace and security.”’
But in reality there does not appear to be any significant difference between the day of Jehovah and the day of the Lord; except in the minds of Jehovah’s Witnesses there is a big difference.
The Watchtower teaches that the Lord’s day began in 1914, but Jehovah’s day is in the future. However, if we reset the Lord’s day to the future, then everything comes into focus. Their saying “peace and security” immediately precedes nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom —in other words: world war three, which will destroy the present ordering of nations and bring down the Anglo-American duo – “sudden destruction.”
And because that catastrophe will also bring about the sudden end of the Watchtower-sponsored, world-wide work, effectively closing the door of salvation, even the survivors of the global war, famine and pestilence will not escape the ultimate destruction at Armageddon. That is why Jesus reiterated his warning one last time, placing his thief-like coming as an immediate prelude to Armageddon, since the beginning of the conclusion will segue into the end in short order.
“Look! I am coming as a thief. Happy is the one who stays awake and keeps his outer garments, so that he may not walk naked and people look upon his shamefulness.” And they gathered them together to the place that is called in Hebrew Armageddon.