This is a continuation of the consideration of the July 2013, Watchtower.
In the fifth paragraph under the subheading of A Messenger Clears Up The Way, the concluding sentences state:
“Jesus was the second messenger. He cleansed the temple in Jerusalem twice—first at the start of his ministry and second toward the end. (Matt. 21:12, 13; John 2:14-17) Hence, Jesus’ cleansing work involved a period of time.”
The Watchtower is here implying that Jesus did a cleansing work of the Jewish temple for the whole duration of his ministry. This is simply not true. It is true that Jesus chased off the moneychangers and robbers on two separate occasions – both when he attended the festival of the Passover, but it was not an ongoing process. (Not coincidently, the prophetic time periods when God’s judgments are brought about during the time of the end are roughly equal to the duration of Jesus’ earthly ministry. See article: Regarding Times and Seasons)
The reason Bethel makes this claim is so to give credence to the notion that Jesus began an inspection of the spiritual temple in 1914 and that the inspection and harvest have been ongoing ever since. This, of course, dilutes and diminishes the importance of Jesus coming to judge his congregation.
Jesus himself explained that John the Baptist was the Elijah-like forerunner of the Messiah in the first century. And the modern application? The sixth paragraph continues, stating:
What is the larger fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy? During the decades leading up to 1914, C. T. Russell and his close associates did a work like that of John the Baptizer. That vital work involved restoring Bible truths. The Bible Students taught the true meaning of Christ’s ransom sacrifice, exposed the hellfire lie, and proclaimed the coming end of the Gentile Times. Still, there were numerous religious groups who claimed to be Christ’s followers. So a crucial question needed to be answered: Who among those groups were the wheat? To settle that question, Jesus began to inspect the spiritual temple in 1914. That inspection and cleansing work involved a period of time—from 1914 to the early part of 1919. * (The footnote states: “This is an adjustment in understanding. Previously, we thought that Jesus’ inspection took place in 1918.”)
The first Watchtower article went to some lengths to “clarify” what is meant by Jesus’ coming. The Society stated that the coming and arrival of Jesus would take place during the tribulation. And that is when the faithful slave will be appointed over all of the master’s belongings. That being the case, now consider the text cited for reading in the fifth paragraph from Malachi 3:1-4:
‘“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he must clear up a way before me. And suddenly there will come to His temple the true Lord, whom you people are seeking, and the messenger of the covenant in whom you are delighting. Look! He will certainly come,’ Jehovah of armies has said. But who will be putting up with the day of his coming, and who will be the one standing when he appears? For he will be like the fire of a refiner and like the lye of laundrymen. And he must sit as a refiner and cleanser of silver and must cleanse the sons of Levi; and he must clarify them like gold and like silver, and they will certainly become to Jehovah people presenting a gift offering in righteousness. And the gift offering of Judah and of Jerusalem will actually be gratifying to Jehovah, as in the days of long ago and as in the years of antiquity.”
Please take note of the fact that in the span of those three versus the word “come” appears twice and the word “coming” appears once. And yet the Society insists that this particular coming of Christ occurred in 1914. This can easily be demonstrated to be false.
The purpose of the coming of the messenger of the covenant is to refine and cleanse those who are to ultimately serve as priests in the kingdom of God, typified by the sons of Levi who ministered to God in the typical tabernacle and temple.
Now consider what Jesus said to several of the symbolic seven congregations that would be in existence during the day of the Lord. For example, to some in the Ephesian congregation who had lost the love they had at first, Jesus says: “Therefore remember from what you have fallen, and repent and do the former deeds. If you do not, I am coming to you, and I will remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”
Please take note of the phrase: “I am coming to you.” Has this “coming” of the Lord already occurred? No. For Jesus goes on to say “to him that conquers.” Not even the Governing Body boasts of having conquered yet. Jesus also speaks of his coming to the Pergamum congregation. And to those in Sardis Jesus says: “Certainly unless you wake up, I shall come as a thief, and you will not know at all at what hour I shall come upon you. Nevertheless, you do have a few names in Sardis that did not defile their outer garments, and they shall walk with me in white ones, because they are worthy. He that conquers will thus be arrayed in white outer garments; and I will by no means blot out his name from the book of life, but I will make acknowledgment of his name before my Father and before his angels.”
Here Jesus again speaks of his coming as a thief, which the July issue of the Watchtower under review states did not occur in 1914, but will occur in the future; which is surely true. That being the case, since Jesus indicates that only a few in the Sardis congregation have not defiled there outer garments, the implication is that Jesus is obliged to come with the lye of a laundryman.
By claiming that Jesus has already come as the refiner the Governing Body and the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses claim an exalted position for themselves. They, in effect, claim to have already been cleansed and refined and are made of the finest spiritual gold. They boast of having great insights into the hidden things of prophecy and of having the full measure of spiritual riches. In this they reveal themselves to be those lukewarm Christians whom Jesus addresses in Laodicea, saying to them: “Because you say: ‘I am rich and have acquired riches and do not need anything at all,’ but you do not know you are miserable and pitiable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire that you may become rich, and white outer garments that you may become dressed and that the shame of your nakedness may not become manifested, and eyesalve to rub in your eyes that you may see.”
The apostle Paul indicated that the day of refinement would be like a fire, as Malachi said too. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Now if anyone builds on the foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood materials, hay, stubble, each one’s work will become manifest, for the day will show it up, because it will be revealed by means of fire; and the fire itself will prove what sort of work each one’s is. If anyone’s work that he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward; if anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved; yet, if so, it will be as through fire.”
What is the “day” of fire about which Paul wrote? Obviously, it is the day of Jesus’ coming, which will burn up all that is not righteous and true. We may be certain that the Watchtower’s 1914 doctrine will be incinerated like so much hay and stubble. “The day” will show it up to be nothing more than an artfully contrived false story.
To be sure, the day of Christ’s coming and inspection is not drawn out over decades. Like his coming to the Jewish temple, his coming will be swift and sudden and accomplish its intended purpose in a relatively short period of time. As 1Peter 2:12 states: “…in the day for his inspection.”
“WEEPING AND THE GNASHING OF THEIR TEETH”
In paragraph 14 the Watchtower states:
During the great tribulation, after all organized false religion has been destroyed, former adherents will run for cover but will find no secure place to hide. (Luke 23:30; Rev. 6:15-17) Then, realizing that there is no escape from destruction, they will weep in desperation and ‘gnash their teeth’ in anger. As Jesus foretells in his prophecy about the great tribulation, at that dark moment, they “will beat themselves in lamentation.” *—Matt. 24:30; Rev. 1:7.
The footnote makes mention of yet another slight adjustment. Formerly the Watchtower had taught that the churchgoers of Christendom have been weeping and gnashing their teeth for the past century because of their supposedly having been “exposed” by the sons of the kingdom. Apparently someone at Bethel finally realized just how idiotic that is and thought an “adjustment” was in order. Still, in sleight-of-hand fashion, as the modern adepts of Balaam, Bethel adjusted Jehovah’s judgment to apply to the world at large – to those who “will beat themselves in lamentation” when they will be confronted by the sign of Christ. This, of course, is a lie.
On every occasion Jesus used the expression “weeping and the gnashing of teeth,” without exception, he used it in connection with persons who were in a covenanted relationship with God, but who prove themselves to be unfaithful. In every case, those who weep and gnash their teeth do so because they are thrown out of the company of God’s people. Besides the weeds that are uprooted out of Christ’s kingdom and the unsuitable fishes, here are all the relevant verses:
“When the king came in to inspect the guests he caught sight there of a man not clothed with a marriage garment. So he said to him, ‘Fellow, how did you get in here not having on a marriage garment?’ He was rendered speechless. Then the king said to his servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the darkness outside. There is where his weeping and the gnashing of his teeth will be. For there are many invited, but few chosen.”
“But if ever that evil slave should say in his heart, ‘My master is delaying,’ and should start to beat his fellow slaves and should eat and drink with the confirmed drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day that he does not expect and in an hour that he does not know, and will punish him with the greatest severity and will assign him his part with the hypocrites. There is where his weeping and the gnashing of his teeth will be.” – Matt. 24:48-51
“‘Therefore take away the talent from him and give it to him that has the ten talents. For to everyone that has, more will be given and he will have abundance; but as for him that does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. And throw the good-for-nothing slave out into the darkness outside. There is where his weeping and the gnashing of his teeth will be.’” – Matt. 25: 28-30
In the lead article of this very same Watchtower the Society stated that Jesus’ coming is in the future, during the tribulation, and that is when the slaves will be given their reward. But in a glaring omission they neglect to point out that there will also be an evil slave who is thrown out to weep and gnash his teeth and a good-for-nothing slave who will receive the same judgment. Instead, they claim that those who will weep and gnash their teeth are simply the people of the world.
If anything demonstrates that there is an evil and good-for-nothing slave today and that a thorough housecleaning is in order, it is this sort of con-man, flimflam contained in this issue of the Watchtower.
Indeed, it underscores the need for Christ to come and throw out those evil slaves and to punish those with the greatest severity who play the prince over Jehovah’s Witnesses today, and who are ensconced as gods within the Watchtower Society and who speak falsely in the name of Jehovah.
“Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!”