QUESTION: Given the current and developing situation for the brothers and sisters in Russia, when can we expect the Watchtower organization’s leadership to admonish and encourage the friends in Russia to follow Jesus’ advice at Matthew 10:23?
“When they persecute you in one city, flee to another; for truly I say to you, you will by no means complete the circuit of the cities of Israel until the Son of man arrives.” —Matthew 10:23
After the 12 apostles had been with Jesus for a short while he commissioned them to go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel with the message that ‘the Kingdom of heavens has drawn near.’ However, Jesus specifically instructed them not to go to Samaria or the nations. Yet, he warned them they would be hated by all peoples. Clearly, Jesus’ commission of the apostles applies to those whom he would send forth to all the nations as a prelude to the actual coming of the Kingdom.
As for the situation in Russia, the Watchtower still has some time to appeal the ruling, so there is still a slight possibility that the liquidation order might be overturned. If not, though, I am confident that the long-suffering witnesses in Russia will carry on underground as they had before the communist system collapsed.
But Jesus’ words apply to all Christians, not just those in Russia. What did Jesus mean that they would not complete the circuit of of the cities of Israel until the Son of man arrives?
When Jesus said those words the apostles probably assumed that the Son of man’s arrival would be when he personally followed up on their circuit of the cites of Israel. They were imagining the Kingdom was going to instantly display itself. At the time they had no inkling that Jesus was going to leave the earth and return at a much later date.
We, know, though, the arrival of the Son of man relates to the second coming of Christ. That being the case, and since Jesus later commissioned all of his disciples to preach to all the nations, the “circuit of the cities of Israel” really takes on global proportions. What Jesus meant, then, is that the worldwide preaching will be interrupted by the unexpected arrival of the Son of man.
Presently, though, Jehovah’s Witnesses are laboring under the delusion that the arrival of the Son of man will immediately result in Armageddon. That is not the case. The Son of man arrives when he is given the Kingdom and commences the judgment. That truth is born out in the book of Daniel, the seventh chapter relating: “I kept watching in the visions of the night, and look! with the clouds of the heavens, someone like a son of man was coming; and he gained access to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him up close before that One. And to him there were given rulership, honor, and a kingdom, that the peoples, nations, and language groups should all serve him. His rulership is an everlasting rulership that will not pass away, and his kingdom will not be destroyed.”
According to the same prophecy of Daniel, the coronation of the Son of man results in the beast humiliating three rival kings and waging war against the holy ones of the Supreme One for a time, times and half time.
The Watchtower’s interpretation is entirely fraudulent. The notion that the three horns that are plucked up by the 11th horn took place over a span of two centuries, beginning with the wreckage of the Spanish Armada in 1588, is absurd.
The emergence of the little horn coincides with the kingship being given to the Son of man. That is the point of the prophecy. It harmonizes with Revelation depicting the head of the beast receiving a fatal blow only to miraculously recover. The revival of the beast commences the judgment of the world, as humanity is faced with the ultimatum to accept the mark of the beast or be killed by the beast. However, receiving the mark of the beast means that the recipient is doomed to everlasting death. It is an irrevocable sentence. It is as though their names are blotted out of the book of life. That is what judgment day is all about.
Since it is also patently absurd that people began receiving the mark in 1922, as the Watchtower embarrassingly claims, it is demonstrably not true that the beast has received the fatal head wound; hence, the three horns have not been plucked out; nor has the Son of man received his kingdom. That being true, the harassing of the holy ones by the little horn has not begun either.
When the Son of man arrives the preaching of the good news abruptly ends. That is what Jesus meant by their not completing the circuit of the cities. What follows is a period of global persecution. That is why leading up to his remark about the arrival of the Son of man, Jesus said: “Look! I am sending you out as sheep among wolves; so prove yourselves cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves. Be on your guard against men, for they will hand you over to local courts and they will scourge you in their synagogues. And you will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and the nations. However, when they hand you over, do not become anxious about how or what you are to speak, for what you are to speak will be given you in that hour; for the ones speaking are not just you, but it is the spirit of your Father that speaks by you. Further, brother will hand brother over to death, and a father his child, and children will rise up against parents and will have them put to death. And you will be hated by all people on account of my name, but the one who has endured to the end will be saved.”
Jesus had earlier spoke of the more familiar witnessing work, when he said: “When you enter the house, greet the household. If the house is deserving, let the peace you wish it come upon it; but if it is not deserving, let the peace from you return upon you. Wherever anyone does not receive you or listen to your words, on going out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for that city.”
It is a popular notion among exJW’s that Jesus did not command his disciples to go door-to-door. Obviously that is not true. Otherwise, how would it be possible for the preachers to “greet the householder” or “enter the house” if they did not first go from house to house? But going from village-to-village, door-to-door, is contrasted with what follows; namely, being hauled before governors and kings and having brothers and family members handing Jesus’ disciples over to death. So, first comes the peaceful preaching of the good news. Then comes the persecution and the final witness.
Whereas, the preaching sponsored by the Watchtower in modern times has largely been undertaken under peaceful conditions, only periodically interrupted by war, revolutions and persecution, for the most part Jehovah’s Witnesses have enjoyed the legal protections offered by democratic governments —especially America, which prides itself on protecting freedom and liberty. As a result Jehovah’s Witnesses have thrived in America.
But that is all about to change. The United States is going to crash. Along with Great Britain, the United States of America is most assuredly the head of the beast that is going to get whacked. When it arises from the abyss it will no longer be the innocent lamb that protects the downtrodden. It will begin speaking as a dragon. In other words, Jehovah will no longer restrain the Devil. It will be the hour of the authority of darkness.
Consequently, when the Son of man arrives the freedom that the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society has enjoyed under the present democratic system will be over. Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States and Europe and around the world, will find themselves under ban and persecuted as never before. And most assuredly, when the chosen ones are made to stand before the governors and kings, they will not be represented by Watchtower lawyers. That is when the holy spirit will speak through them to the rulers of Satan’s doomed world.