If Jesus’ presence did not occur in 1914 how is it that one of the most prominent signs of his presence —the world wide preaching of God’s Kingdom —is being fulfilled?
The last thing Jesus said before he ascended to heaven was: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”
Those original followers of Christ obeyed his command to make disciples and teach the truth. As a result Christianity quickly spread around the Mediterranean region. It became so widespread that even the enemies of the truth decried the fact that Christians had overturned the inhabited earth with their message.
Those first century Christians were expecting Jesus to return during that immediate time period in the first century —an expectation that undoubtedly spurred them on to expend themselves in the preaching work. Although Jesus did not return as they had hoped those Christians still accomplished God’s will in preaching the truth and making disciples far and wide. The point is: Christians can accomplish a great deal without the Kingdom ruling the world or Jesus being present in their midst.
The fact that Jesus assured his followers that he would be with them all the days insures the success of those who obey his command to make disciples. But a question that seems to be overlooked is this: If Jesus is with his followers up until the conclusion, what happens during the conclusion?
Jehovah’s Witnesses are thoroughly convinced that the conclusion and the parousia commenced in 1914, but if that is true, in what way did Jesus’ relationship with his followers change?
That question is likely to illicit a blank stare from most of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And that is because there is a fundamental and profound ignorance regarding the nature and purpose of the presence of Christ. First and foremost, there is no such thing as an invisible presence. The apostle Peter, who had been on the mountain with Jesus when he was transfigured in resplendent glory, later explained that he had not acquainted Christians with the power and parousia of Jesus by artfully contrived false stories. No, but it was by his having been an eyewitness to Christ’s glory.
Get it? The three apostles were eyewitnesses to an event that was a prophetic enactment of the parousia. That is why Peter went on to write: “So we have the prophetic word made more sure, and you are doing well in paying attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place (until day dawns and a daystar rises) in your hearts.”
So, the prophetic word —made more sure by the transfiguration of Christ —is like a lamp shining in a dark place intended to lead us to the dawn of Christ in his parousia.
In view of the fact that the Watchtower has uninterruptedly proclaimed an invisible presence of Christ since 1874 —updated to 1914 in 1930 —it must be concluded that Jehovah’s Witnesses have been deluded with an artfully contrived false story.
But what about the preaching work?
As previously mentioned, the Watchtower claims that the conclusion of the system —also known as the time of the end —began in 1914. And yet none of the things the prophecies foretell have occurred over the past century and counting. True, the Watchtower claims that all things have been fulfilled, and for Jehovah’s Witnesses to even question the WT’s teachings is considered blasphemous, but their facts and figures simply don’t add up when given a careful audit.
Take, for example, the eighth chapter of Daniel. The reason that portion of Daniel is relevant is because it specifically states that the things foretold are to occur during the time of the end. What are the things foretold? Among other things a fierce-looking king is going to arise and “he will bring mighty ones to ruin, also the people made up of the holy ones. And by his cunning he will use deception to succeed; and in his heart he will exalt himself; and during a time of security he will bring many to ruin.”
The Watchtower claims this is history. That being the case, who were the mighty ones whom the fierce king brought to ruin? The Watchtower doesn’t even venture a guess. They simply have no comment, as if it is an insignificant detail. How were the holy ones brought to ruin? Supposedly that happened during World War Two. But besides draft age men being briefly imprisoned for objecting to military service, there is no evidence that Christians were brought to ruin by the Anglo-American kings. Supposedly the holy place was trampled and the constant feature was taken away too. But, again, there is nothing the Watchtower can point to. The preaching work actually prospered during the war and certainly afterward. Bethel was unscathed by the war. As for Christ bringing the holy place into a right condition, the Watchtower claims that came about during the 1940’s when the Watchtower Society’s board of directors made some trifling changes to corporation’s bylaws to bring the organization more in line with theocracy.
If that is true, though, we would have to seriously question why Jehovah dispatched an angel to explain to Daniel the things that must occur in our age, if those things are so inconsequential that Jehovah’s Witnesses are not even aware of them. Why should God clutter up his holy book foretelling irrelevant trivia? It makes no sense. That is because it is nonsense!
That is just one example of the absurdity of the Watchtower’s interpretation of Daniel’s prophecy. But, the point is, the time of the end brings about the end of the preaching work. That is what is signified by the desolation and trampling of the holy place the fierce-looking king is destined to bring about. Jesus foretold the very same thing when he spoke of a disgusting thing standing in a holy place. Christ even advised the reader to use discernment and consult the prophecy of Daniel. That is how the holy ones are brought to ruin.
We may expect the mighty ones of this world to be brought to ruin in the immediate days ahead as the global financial system implodes and wipes out the wealth of this world’s billionaires and millionaires, including sovereign, debt-gorged nations, including the Watchtower’s recent billion-dollar windfall. No doubt the collapse will coincide with the outbreak of war, as nations and kingdoms rise up to fight each other. The reign of the last king will span the period of the time of the end.
So, let us consider a very familiar scripture in context: “And this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. 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.”
Notice, please, that Jesus connected the end with the the disgusting thing that causes desolation. So, “the end” is not the end of Satan’s wicked world, as Jehovah’s Witnesses likely assume. It is the end of the preaching and disciple-making work. It is the end of Christianity as we know it. It is the end of meeting together to encourage each other as the day draws near; because the desolation of the holy place will mean that the day is finally here —that Christ is here, that his promised presence with holy ones is here.
His being with them comes about after they are brought to ruin. Thus, that is why in the illustration of the sheep and the goats Jesus said, if you do it to these, my brothers, you do it to me —because they will have seen Christ, just as Peter, James and John saw him on the mountain —just as Paul saw him on the road to Damascus. It is be as though Christ is naked, hungry, homeless and in prison.
It is in their downcast state when the chosen ones will be made to stand before governors and kings for a witness (not in order to make disciples).
And the reason no one will be able to dispute them is because Christ will be with them. Not with them in the sense that he had been all during the days up to the conclusion —but in a very special way, to the extent that the chosen ones become Christ, as John said: “Beloved ones, we are now children of God, but it has not yet been made manifest what we will be. We do know that when he is made manifest we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is.” This was foreshadowed by Stephen, when he saw Christ in heaven and his face took on the countenance of an angel’s face and no Jew could hold their own in disputing him. And so they murdered him.
The gospel of Mark phrases things a little differently. In Mark’s account Jesus said: “As for you, look out for yourselves. People will hand you over to local courts, and you will be beaten in synagogues and be put on the stand before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them. Also, in all the nations, the good news has to be preached first.”
This account really verifies for us that the preaching of the good news precedes the outbreak of war, food shortages and persecution. It stands to reason that a time of tyranny and genocide like nothing in history will not be conducive for the peaceful, public preaching and Bible study work with which Jehovah’s Witnesses are presently engaged. The time of the end is a whole other deal.