The May 1st, 2011, issue of the Watchtower Magazine for the public carries an article entitled Six Bible Prophecies You Are Seeing Fulfilled.
What are they? The six are: Earthquakes, famines, disease, lack of love, ruination of the earth and a global preaching work.
First, it must be pointed out that earthquakes, famines and disease are not separate, individual prophecies. They are simply different features that make up one complete sign – the sign of Christ’s presence and the conclusion of the system. Jehovah’s Witnesses are, of course, well aware of this fact, because that is what the Watchtower Society teaches. Evidently, though, the public version of the magazine is less straightforward.
But there is also a glaringly conspicuous omission. What is that? The most prominent feature of the sign Jesus gave is omitted from the article – War. And not just war, Jesus foretold that nation will arise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and the second horseman of the apocalypse is given a great sword, so that peace is taken from the earth and a great slaughter ensues. So, how many people have seen that aspect of the prophecy?
Although the two global wars of the 20th century certainly could be described as a taking of peace from the earth and a great slaughter, still, the question is: How many people today have personally witnessed those wars? Ironically, this very week the last surviving American veteran of the First World War passed away. And those who were alive to personally witness the Second World War are now senior citizens. The truth is, the vast majority of persons now living have not personally seen the most prominent aspect of the prophecy. As horrific as the death and destruction is in any war, the recent and ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan notwithstanding, these and numerous other wars cannot reasonably be considered as taking peace from the earth or as being a great slaughter. And obviously the Watchtower does not think that the wars today are a result of the fulfillment of prophecy either; hence, the omission.
But here is the primary question to consider: Is it reasonable that the sign of Christ’s presence should be witnessed over successive generations, unfolding in piecemeal fashion, with some features being in evidence while other essential aspects are not? No, it is not reasonable at all. Wars, food shortages, pestilence and great earthquakes are to occur concurrently, thus making up a composite sign.
The Watchtower is playing fast and loose with truth in other ways. Consider their number three prophecy – disease. The Watchtower quotes Luke 21:11 from the Contemporary English Version, which says “There will be great earthquakes, and in many places people will starve to death and suffer terrible diseases. All sorts of frightening things will be seen in the sky.”
Why does the Watchtower not use its own New World Translation? Because the NWT and most other translations of the Bible, use the words “pestilence” or “plague.” Obviously, there is a difference. A pestilence or plague is a swiftly spreading disease that may become an epidemic or even the feared pandemic. But as proof the “prophecy” is being fulfilled the article cites various diseases like pneumonia, diarrheal diseases, malaria, HIV, etc., none of which are pestilential in nature. The last plague of apocalyptic proportions was the Spanish Influenza in 1918-1919.
Finally, the ruining of the earth is not a Bible prophecy. Revelation 11:18 merely states that the time came for God to bring to ruin those ruining the earth. The nature of the ruination and the extent to which God will allow his earth to be ruined are not stated. The point is that those who are destroying the earth at the time God intervenes will be destroyed. The earth is being ruined, true, but it is still quite livable. It could be a lot worse.
The Watchtower’s dishonesty aside, none of this is to suggest that the day of Jehovah is not imminent. On the contrary. The nations of the world are being pushed into a third world war, one that will undoubtedly see the widespread use of nuclear weapons, coupled with all the other aspects of the sign of Christ’s presence, ruining the earth far beyond its present polluted state.
The irony is that the Watchtower Society’s predicament is itself part of prophecy. Imagine the pitiful situation of a man trying to find his repose on a bed that is too short and trying to cover himself with a sheet that is too narrow. In Isaiah that is the way Jehovah has described those who are the leading men of his people at the time Christ arrives for judgment. It perfectly describes the present spectacle of the Watchtower trying in vain to cover itself with its threadbare, 1914-invisible-parousia, blanket. It is a prophecy you are seeing being fulfilled!