As regards the concluding portion of the leading article “Tell Us, When Will These Things Be?” the Society highlights another “clarification” that took place nearly 18-years ago regarding when it is that Jesus separates the sheep and the goats. (Wt. 10/15/95)
In order to keep the 1914 myth intact the Watchtower has since then promoted the notion that Jesus has two thrones. Supposedly, he sat down on his kingly throne in 1914, but he has not really commenced the work of a king in carrying out any sort of judgment within the earthly realm of his domain.
The reason the Watchtower is compelled to fabricate a secondary throne for Jesus is because in his parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31) emphasis is placed upon the Son of man arriving with all of his angels as he sits down upon his glorious throne. But if there is another throne and an occasion when Jesus sits down upon it prior to his arrival as the Judge of nations, why is there no mention of it in the context? (It should be noted that the passage does not make any distinction between thrones. It simply says that the Son of man will sit down upon his glorious throne – singular.)
Is the judgment throne somehow more glorious than the kingly throne? And if so, doesn’t this diminish Jesus having become king?
Besides, has not Jesus always been Lord and King over his congregation of believers? If his becoming king in 1914 had no relevance to the world over which he supposedly has become king, just what is the purpose of his kingship?
If we are to take the Watchtower’s teaching to its implied conclusion, it means that Jesus sat down on his kingly throne in 1914 and now he is going through another waiting period until such time as he must then get up and bring his angels with him in order to sit down upon his glorious judgment throne. And, apparently, just to further muddy the waters (Ezekiel 34:18-19), in paragraph 12 the Watchtower states:
“Jesus’ prophecy about the last days reveals that he will for the very first time act as Judge of all nations after the destruction of false religion.”
But if God (through Christ) judges the nations after the destruction of false religion, why are God’s people called upon to get out of Babylon the great beforehand in order to avoid being punished when God calls her acts of injustice to mind? Are we to believe that God’s judgment of the harlot is outside the purview of Jesus sitting down upon his throne to judge the nations?
Besides the illogic that Jesus has two different thrones upon which he sits at different times, the most glaring contradiction is that the Watchtower teaches that there are actually two different occasions when the angels separate the good from the bad.
The harvest of the wheat and weeds is considered in the second Watchtower article. But, first consider what the Watchtower teaches as regards the related parable of the dragnet.
In the July 15, 2008, Watchtower discussing the various parables of Jesus, the Society claims that the organization itself is the dragnet of the illustration in the 13th chapter of Matthew. That is where Jesus said: “Again the kingdom of the heavens is like a dragnet let down into the sea and gathering up fish of every kind. When it got full they hauled it up onto the beach and, sitting down, they collected the fine ones into vessels, but the unsuitable they threw away. That is how it will be in the conclusion of the system of things: the angels will go out and separate the wicked from among the righteous and will cast them into the fiery furnace. There is where their weeping and the gnashing of their teeth will be.”
In their commentary the Governing Body has explicitly stated that the separation of the wicked and righteous is not the same as the separation of the sheep and goats. Here’s what they said, exactly:
“Does this separating refer to the final judgment of the sheep and the goats that Jesus said would occur when he arrived in his glory? (Matt. 25:31-33) No. That final judgment will occur at Jesus’ coming during the great tribulation. By contrast, the separating referred to in the illustration of the dragnet occurs during “the conclusion of the system of things.” This is the time in which we are now living—the days leading up to the great tribulation. So how is a separating work taking place now?
Literally millions of symbolic fish from the sea of humanity have been attracted to Jehovah’s congregation in modern times. Some attend the Memorial, others come to our meetings, and still others are happy to study the Bible. But do all of these prove to be genuine Christians? They may be “hauled up onto the beach,” but Jesus tells us that only “the fine ones” are gathered into vessels, which represent Christian congregations. The unsuitable are thrown away, eventually to be cast into a symbolic fiery furnace, denoting future destruction.”
Not only is what the Watchtower teaches in this regard contradictory, it is patently blasphemous. Because of their fanatical attachment to 1914 the Watchtower is, again, compelled to concoct an incongruous explanation, for the obvious reason that Jesus clearly stated that the separation occurs during the conclusion of the system of things. And the Governing Body well knows that their 1914 doctrine would come completely unraveled if they were to admit that the conclusion of the system has not commenced yet.
As stated, the Watchtower teaches that the symbolic dragnet is the organization itself, which I do not think is in error – except, they insist the net was hauled up on the figurative beach in 1919 and that the angels have been removing the unsuitable symbolic fish ever since – the fishes being persons who may have been studying or indecisive, but who did not fully embrace “the truth,” or perhaps, those who might be considered as simply weak in the faith. Also, in recent years there have been hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, who have made a complete or partial exist from the Watchtower.
But if what the Society teaches is true, not only would this necessitate multiple occasions when the angels drag up a fresh net full of “fishes,” as each successive generation dies off, to be replaced by a new haul of good and unsuitable fishes; but besides that obvious absurdity, the Society is obstinately oblivious to the fact that millions of people whom they deem to be the “unsuitable” have actually been stumbled by their doings, which have been widely advertised by ex-JW’s and religious opposers alike in recent years.
But think about it, are we to believe God’s angels have been involved in tossing these “unsuitable” millions away, whose only apparent sin is that they cannot surmount the stumbling blocks placed before them?
Seemingly, their unsuitableness is that they cannot commit themselves to becoming members of an organization whose leaders they do not trust.
Some ministers of Jehovah have studied with householders for years (contrary to the Society’s instructions to cut them off at 6 months) – spoon-feeding them nibblets of the truth, week after week. Have the angels of Jehovah actually been working against them all this time? How cruel!
Furthermore, Jesus said “that is where their weeping and gnashing of their teeth will be,” which the Watchtower says will occur when Jesus sits down upon his judgment throne in the future. But if the poor unsuitables who have been separated out by the angels over the ensuing decades have perhaps already passed away before Armageddon, how is it they have wept and gnashed their teeth in anguish over the judgment against them?
Ironically, but appropriately, it is the princes of Bethel themselves who will eventually have to answer to Christ for dishing up this warmed-over, blasphemous tripe.
WHEN ARE THE LAST DAYS?
The Watchtower issue under consideration makes mention of the last days several times. Jehovah’s Witnesses bandy the phrase about quite freely and it is always assumed that the period began in 1914. But did you know that Jesus never used the expression “last days”? As a matter of fact, the phrase only appears in the New World Translation in four places.
In the previous blog entry it was put before the reader that the variously expressed prophetic time periods in Daniel and Revelation reveal the interval from the time that Satan is initially ousted from heaven until the new covenant is concluded and afterwards Satan is locked in the abyss. That being the case, ask yourself: Is it even reasonable that the so-called last days should last for decades or even a century or more? If that is genuinely what God intended to convey, why not just call it the last decades?
For that matter, ought not the “conclusion of the system of things” bring about some sort of a perceivable conclusion? That is to say, it is true that since 1914 there have been two terrible world wars and many other wars and hardships. But at the same time great scientific and medical advances have also been made and there has been a relatively long period of prosperity, so that the world’s population has grown nearly 7-fold over the past century. What evidence can Jehovah’s Witnesses point to as convincing proof that this system has been in a state of conclusion since 1914?
The Watchtower has already been forced to redefine what Jesus meant by the generation that would not pass away. But are words used in the Bible really so hard to understand? Since the Bible also expresses the 3 ½ years in an equivalent of days – as in 1,260 days etc., is it not more sensible that this period of time is the actual duration of the last days and the conclusion of the system of things?
Now consider the usage of “the last days” in context.
The apostle Peter first used the expression on the day that Christianity was inaugurated. To explain the astonishing tongue-speaking phenomenon that had just begun, the spirit-filled apostle spoke to the Pentecost crowd and explained to them that the Hebrew prophet Joel had foretold that God would pour out his spirit in the last days. But the book of Joel does not actually refer to the last days, or use any other similar expression. However, the prophecy of Joel makes several references to the fear-inspiring day of Jehovah; which, needless to say, did not occur in the first century, nor has it come about any time since then.
The Watchtower’s embarrassingly absurd interpretation of Joel aside, a reasoned consideration of the prophecy reveals to our mind that the pestiferous locust, caterpillar and cockroach onslaught symbolizes the tumultuous overthrow of the present world order and also the desolation of the holy place. (See related articles: The Great Day of Jehovah is Near and Joel) That a place holy to God is trampled is apparent from the third chapter of Joel, which depicts God’s intervention to set things straight, and specifically, God states that strangers shall no more pass through Jerusalem, also known as the holy city.
In Joel Jehovah describes the military force he will acquisition this way: “There is a people numerous and mighty; one like it has not been made to exist from the indefinite past, and after it there will be none again to the years of generation after generation.”
Let the reader take note of the fact that God describes the army that is destined to devastate the earth in terms very similar to how the great tribulation itself is described in the book of Daniel and by Jesus Christ himself. That being the case, we may say with certainty that what is conveyed in Joel has not been fulfilled yet. Just like the tribulation, it will be a unique, never-to-be-repeated, global catastrophe.
Therefore, we may expect the ultimate outpouring of God’s spirit upon the sons and daughters who have already been begotten by the spirit, coincident with their coming to shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their father; and upon the menservants and maidservants, identifiable as the great crowd, during the oncoming interval of unprecedented tumult, which the inspired apostle termed “the last days.”
The next appearance of the term is at 2 Timothy 3:1, which is frequently cited by Jehovah’s Witnesses as proof that we are presently living during the last days. In context it reads: “But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power; and from these turn away.”
It is undeniable that over the past few decades Western civilization has gone into moral decline. Some sociologists point back to the 1960s as the turning point, when there was a rapid indoctrination of the younger generation into the so-called drugs-sex-rock & roll counter-culture. Then came the “me generation” – the degenerate offspring of the rock & roll generation.
Looking back over the past half century the downward trend is apparent. People are now completely absorbed in pleasures and pornography and are lovers of money and are becoming more and more violent, godless, egotistical and hedonistic. But please reread the verse. Paul did not say that this condition would come about as a result of the last days or that people would become such during the last days. No, the apostle stated that the last days would bring critical times hard to deal with because men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money and so on.
It has taken several generations for the degeneration to become so pervasive that now some observers, who have no intention to relate society’s sick condition to Bible prophecy, recognize that the cultural degeneracy may already be irreversible and that civilization may come completely unraveled and sink into a dog-eat-dog fight for survival in the event of any sort of major global crisis, such as war or financial collapse – the very things looming large on the horizon.
In other words, because the present society has already lost the moral fitness to survive,“critical times hard to deal with” will be here once the last days actually commence. Of interest to some, a few verses on in that context the apostle Paul referred to two characters; namely, Jannes and Jambres – who resisted Moses. Interestingly, this is another instance of an inspired apostle relating information that is not in the Hebrew Scriptures – as Peter did with Joel.
Paul likened them to apostates and imposters – implying that during the last days wicked men from within will resist Christ. Paul went on to say, though, that they would make no further progress because their madness would become plain to all.
But, the point is, they do make some progress up to a point. Presumably, the apostle is foretelling that evil men will infiltrate the Christian congregation, similar to the superfine apostles who exalted themselves among the Corinthian congregation, and were undetected by the brothers then, but whom Paul also revealed to be imposters. In his saying that these men would make no further progress and that their madness would become apparent to all, this must coincide with the judgment of Christ and the bringing to light the hidden things during the last days. Will not the manifestation of Jesus also bring the man of lawlessness to nothing and expose an evil slave? It is marvelous the way the Scriptures may be harmonized!
The next appearance of the term under consideration is in the fifth chapter of the letter of James. In context, it reads: “Come, now, you rich men, weep, howling over your miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted, and your outer garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are rusted away, and their rust will be as a witness against you and will eat your fleshy parts.Something like fire is what you have stored up in the last days. Look! The wages due the workers who harvested your fields but which are held up by you, keep crying out, and the calls for help on the part of the reapers have entered into the ears of Jehovah of armies. You have lived in luxury upon the earth and have gone in for sensual pleasure. You have fattened your hearts on the day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the righteous one. Is he not opposing you?”
According to the passage from James, the last days are when the actual judgments of God are carried out. It is when money will become useless. Is it coincidental that there are growing fears that the US Dollar, Euro and Japan’s Yen are on a trajectory to shortly hyperinflate into absolute worthlessness?
The last days are also called “the day of slaughter.” Surely, no one is so unreasonable so as to suppose that we are presently living during that time?
Of note, the next passage urges Christians to exercise patience “because the presence(parousia) of the Lord has drawn close.” Here, the last days are connected with the parousia, and of course, Jehovah’s Witnesses agree that to be true, supposing that both began in 1914. But since none of the passages cited already can be used as proof that the last days began in 1914, it is also evident that neither has the parousia begun.
Finally, 2 Peter 3:3-4 is the fourth place in Scripture where the phrase appears. It reads: “For you know this first, that in the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: ‘Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.’”
Ridiculers and scoffers have always existed. The Jews mocked and ridiculed Jehovah’s prophets and scoffed at their judgment messages. The Jews ridiculed Jesus and the apostles too. The Proverbs urge the stupid ones and the ridiculers to wise up before it is too late, posing to them the rhetorical question: “How long will you inexperienced ones keep loving inexperience, and how long must you ridiculers desire for yourselves outright ridicule, and how long will you stupid ones keep hating knowledge?”
We should not suppose, though, that rejecting the Watchtower’s artfully contrived story regarding Jesus’ supposed invisible parousia is the same as ridiculing the reality of the judgment of God. In actual matter of fact, it is the Watchtower Society itself which ridicules the very notion that God will ever bring it into judgment!
Interestingly, in the large print edition of the New World Translation the publishers cross referenced the phrase:“Where is this promised presence of his?” The cross-referenced verses are Luke 12:45 and Matthew 24:48, where the evil slave says in his heart: “my master is delaying.” This connection was made quite a number of years ago when the NWT was first published, when the Watchtower Society claimed that Jesus had long ago rewarded the faithful slave and dismissed the evil slave.
But as of the publishing of the July, 2013 Watchtower, the official teaching now is that the faithful slave has not been appointed over all of his master’s belongings yet, which means neither has the evil slave been exposed and punished.
“THE FUTURE TIME OF JUDGMENT”
In the concluding paragraphs of the first article Bethel unceremoniously re-sets a whole series of parables that for decades had been tied to 1914-1919. In paragraph 17, they write:
“In the past, we have stated in our publications that these last four references apply to Jesus’ arriving, or coming, in 1918. As an example, take Jesus’ statement about “the faithful and discreet slave. We understood that the “arriving” mentioned in verse 46 was linked to the time when Jesus came to inspect the spiritual condition of the anointed in 1918 and that the appointment of the slave over all the Master’s belongings occurred in 1919. However, a further consideration of Jesus’ prophecy indicates that an adjustment in our understanding of the timing of certain aspects of Jesus’ prophecy is needed. Why so?”
The next paragraph continues:
In the verses that lead up to Matthew 24:46, the word “coming” refers consistently to the time when Jesus comes to pronounce and execute judgment during the great tribulation. (Matt. 24:30, 42, 44) Also, as we considered in paragraph 12, Jesus’ ‘arriving’ mentioned at Matthew 25:31 refers to that same future time of judgment. So it is reasonable to conclude that Jesus’ arrival to appoint the faithful slave over all his belongings, mentioned at Matthew 24:46, 47, also applies to his future coming, during the great tribulation. Indeed, a consideration of Jesus’ prophecy in its entirety makes it clear that each of these eight references to his coming applies to the future time of judgment during the great tribulation.
Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world may be shocked to learn that this latest adjustment did not originate with Bethel. I don’t know what is going on behind closed doors, but perhaps after many hours of boardroom wrangling a hardline faction within the Governing Body or maybe upon the Society’s board of directors, has now reluctantly given into the moderates, at least partially, and accepted the view originally expounded on this website and through direct correspondence with numerous individuals and department heads at Bethel going back to the late 90’s. The fact of the matter is, for the past decade the future judgment of the house of God, which is really what this article is implying although it does not explicitly say so, has been the primary focus of e-Watchman. How else can the expression “the future time of judgment” be understood?
It is astonishing to me, though, that the Watchtower can make such a profound change in such a casual manner and neglect to expound upon the implications of their latest and perhaps most far-reaching “adjustment.”
But whether they admit it or not, the fact of the matter is, they have completely repudiated their long-held notion that Jesus came to the spiritual temple and judged the house of God in 1918. They have repudiated their teaching that the bridegroom arrived in the dead of the night back then and the wise and foolish virgins have long since parted ways. They have repudiated their teaching that Jesus came and called his slaves to account as regards the talents that the master had entrusted to them.
Regardless of the comparatively trivial point of distinction as to whether Jesus’ coming and arrival initiates the parousia or the tribulation, whether intentional or not, in the span of a couple of paragraphs the Watchtower has casually telegraphed to Jehovah’s Witnesses that Christ has not come to inspect his congregation yet, nor have the people of God been made to pass under the rod of Jehovah’s judgment. “Let he that has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregation.”
Of course, as only the Watchtower can do, they then proceed to contradict the very thing they have implied, as will be shown in the next article.
But as regards whether Jesus’ coming to effect the separation of the righteous and the wicked occurs at the tribulation or with the beginning of his presence, consider the following span of versus spoken by Jesus himself: “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father. For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken along and the other be abandoned; two women will be grinding at the hand mill: one will be taken along and the other be abandoned. Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”
In his reference to the “days of Noah” we should not necessarily suppose that Jesus was referring to the century prior to the deluge, when Noah and his sons were constructing the ark and preaching about the coming judgment of Jehovah.
Nor was Jesus comparing the actual Deluge with the tribulation. Jesus is comparing the preoccupation of the people living before the Flood to the fact that the world will be oblivious to Jesus coming as a thief and the beginning of his presence. Emphasis is on the day “Noah entered into the ark” and the hand of Jehovah sealed the door shut. That was when the separation of the wicked and the righteous took place. “So the presence of the Son of man will be.”