Article originally appeared on e-Watchman in 2007
With the drumbeat of war growing more intense it seems particularly timely to consider the ill-fated Spanish Armada of the 16th century, at least the Watchtower Society’s perspective of it in relation to God’s prophetic Word.
While recent developments may cause some of Jehovah’s Witnesses to imagine that the ferocious Russian bear may now be emerging from hibernation to renew its supposed role as the prophetic king of the north, the truth is that the Watchtower’s entire interpretation of Daniel, as well as their interpretations of interrelated prophecies in Revelation, are fatally flawed and provide Jehovah’s Witnesses with no reliable foundation for understanding where we stand in relation to the events foretold in prophecy and the unfolding of future events.
Take for example the Society’s interpretation of the seventh chapter of Daniel regarding the last-ascending little horn of the eleven-horned wild-beast that humiliates three kingdoms that existed prior to it. In that regard the August, 2007, Awake has an article about the tragic misadventure of the Spanish Armada.
The article itself is succinct, informative and accurate. However, although the Awake does not delve into the prophetic significance of the event that the Society elsewhere attaches to the defeat of Spain’s naval forces more than four centuries ago, the concluding paragraph alludes to such, saying:
“Looking back, it is evident that what happened in the summer of 1588, when efforts at conquest by the Spanish Armada proved unsuccessful, is very significant. Nearly 200 years after the defeat of the Armada, Great Britain rose to world prominence and, in time, came to have a key position in fulfillment of Bible prophecy.”
To the unfamiliar it may seem that the article merely says that the tragedy that befell the Spanish Armada only paved the way for the ascension of the British Empire and that Bible prophecy was eventually fulfilled when Britain became the dominate power in the 19th century. While that appears to be what the article is saying, that is not what the Watchtower actually teaches. The Society officially teaches that the defeat of the Spanish Armada was one aspect of the fulfillment of the 7th chapter of Daniel regarding the three horns that are “plucked up.” Indeed, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been led to believe that the loss of a few dozen wooden ships with canvas sails was the fulfillment of a major prophecy connected to the coming of Christ.
Britain’s supremacy was confirmed by the crushing victory over Napoléon of France in 1815 C.E. The “three kings” that Britain thus ‘humiliated’ were Spain, the Netherlands, and France. (Daniel 7:24) As a result, Britain emerged as the world’s greatest colonial and commercial power. Yes, the “small” horn grew to become a world power! – Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy
In truth, it is not “evident” at all that the disaster that befell the Spanish Armada had anything whatsoever to do with the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. As the article correctly points out, it was not so much that the British navy defeated the Spanish Armada anyway. As fate would have it, many more men and ships were lost to the gales that frequently rage across the North Atlantic than were lost in actual battle. Call it divine providence if you will, but it was certainly not an overwhelming British victory. In fact, when informed of the disaster that befell his Armada, the king of Spain is reported to have bemoaned: “I sent the Armada against men, not God’s winds and waves.”
But more than that, though, there are several insurmountable difficulties with the Society’s interpretation.
Foremost, the prophecy specifically says that the eleventh horn comes up among the ten and causes three of the ten to be “plucked up” from before itself. Any reader who approaches this prophecy with his mind unfettered by the Watchtower’s interpretation ought to grasp the fact that the three uprooted horns are plucked up suddenly, decisively and simultaneously; not gradually, one at a time, over the course of more than two centuries.
Yet, according to the Watchtower the three horns represent Spain, France and the Netherlands, which all fought numerous battles and suffered naval defeats at the hands of the British navy over the span of more than two-hundred years. Actual history belies the importance the Society attaches to the battle though, in that, the loss of the Spanish Armada was merely one naval battle and it in no way brought about the downfall of Spain itself. In fact, Spain lost another even more decisive naval engagement more than two centuries later, in 1805, when the British navy, under Admiral Lord Nelson, defeated an alliance of the French and Spanish at the Battle of Trafalgar.
Britain’s victory at Trafalgar did indeed establish the supremacy of British naval power for the remainder of the 19th century. But to emphasize the point being made here: It was more than two centuries after the defeat of the Spanish Armada before Great Britain became the dominate European power. And supposedly that is when the British Empire emerged as the “little horn.” But how reasonable is it that beast’s three horns were “plucked up” before ever the little horn emerged?
There was more to the “small” horn than the British Empire. In 1783, Britain recognized the independence of its 13 American colonies. The United States of America eventually became Britain’s ally, emerging from World War II as the earth’s dominant nation. It still has strong ties with Britain. The resulting Anglo-American dual world power constitutes the ‘horn having eyes.’
What is even more absurd is that the Society claims the little horn not only represents the British Empire but also symbolizes the Anglo-American kingdom. But the British-American alliance, sometimes called the ‘special relationship,’ did not even come into existence until during the Second World War – almost four centuries after the Spanish “horn” was supposedly “plucked up” by the then non-existent little horn! Or are we to assume that the little horn has been growing and growing and growing for nearly half a millennia now?
It should be evident that the Watchtower’s interpretation of prophecy, while colorful and innovative, is wholly artificial. And worst of all, by assigning the fulfillment of such profound prophecies, which pertain ultimately to the political developments coinciding with the glorious coming of the kingdom of Christ, to comparatively inconsequential events of centuries past, the Watchtower has unwittingly degraded the All-Knowing Jehovah into a god who squanders his incomparable powers of foreknowledge with Nostradamic predictions of historical trivia.
The emergence of the little horn is a future event. It signifies the appearance of the last king, otherwise known as the 8th king, which occurs during a time of unprecedented global tumult. The little horn will be different from all the kingdoms that have come before it because the last kingdom will be a world government. The humiliation of three kingdoms is also a future event — likely symbolizing the sudden downfall of the Anglo-American system, which presently dominates the world. (The exact details of the “three horns” remain to be seen.)
How does this relate to the prophecy of the king of the north and the king of the south? Both prophecies, as well as the 13th chapter of Revelation and the 8th chapter of Daniel as well, depict a singular political agency under Satan’s control that brings the mighty ones of this world to ruin; dominates all nations and speaks great and grandiose things against Jehovah himself.
ALL PROPHECY IS HARMONIOUS
“The holy ones” persecuted by the “small” horn—the Anglo-American World Power—are Jesus’ spirit-anointed followers on earth. For years before World War I, the remnant of these anointed ones publicly warned that 1914 would see the conclusion of “the appointed times of the nations.” When war broke out in that year, it was evident that the “small” horn had ignored this warning, for it persisted in harassing the anointed “holy ones.” The Anglo-American World Power even opposed their efforts to carry out Jehovah’s requirement (or, “law”) that the good news of the Kingdom be preached worldwide by his witnesses. Thus the “small” horn attempted “to change times and law.”
To illustrate: The little horn is said to be given a mouth speaking “grandiose things”; whereas, the victorious king of the north is said to “speak marvelous things” against “the God of gods.” The beast of Revelation is said to be given “a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies.” The significance of Revelation is that it reveals that the beast begins speaking great blasphemies after it recovers from a sword stroke. Evidently the plucking up of the three horns coincides with the death stroke upon the head of the beast.
It should be noted as well that the prophecy in the 8th chapter of Daniel foretells that a king fierce in countenance will “put on great airs” before Jehovah’s anointed prince and that he will throw truth to the earth and cause deception to succeed. Obviously all four prophecies depict the exact same development that will bring about the subjugation of all peoples and nations under a tyrannical world government, including God’s people. The last king will ultimately lead the nations into a world-ending confrontation with Jehovah’s then-ruling Christ.
Significantly, the 8th chapter of Daniel situates the emergence of the last king as taking place during the time of the end. Reasonably, that is also when the three horns are “plucked up” as well.
“IN THE TIME OF THE END…A PUSHING”
In harmony with that, the prophecy of the king of the north and south foretells a final decisive war will erupt at the beginning of “the time of the end,” commencing with a preliminary “pushing.” (Interestingly, the king of the north is destined to subjugate Egypt, Libya and the Ethiopians, which correlates with the three horns.)
Of course, the Watchtower teaches that “the time of the end” began in 1914. Supposedly the “pushing” between the two rival kings began then too and continued over the course of the 20th century. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been led to believe that the punitive measures of the Treaty of Versailles that were imposed upon the vanquished Germany, as well as the Cold War stand off between the West and the USSR, were the fulfillment of the prophecy. Presumably the collapse of the Soviet Union brought an end to the pushing match.
Has the king of the south ‘pushed’ the king of the north during “the time of the end”? (Daniel 12:4, 9) Yes, indeed. After the first world war, the punitive peace treaty imposed upon the then king of the north—Germany—was surely “a pushing,” an incitement to retaliation.
In reality, the sudden end of the giant Soviet bloc of nations signaled the beginning of London’s final push to establish a global empire after first destroying democracy and the nation-state system, once and for all. Since the end of the USSR Europe has been ensnared, not by the tentacles of dreaded communism, but in the sovereignty-relinquishing schemes known as Maastricht and now the Lisbon Treaty.
Because Russia is not under London’s influence to the extent of Europe and America, the imperial strategy is to encircle Russia by pushing Nato to Russia’s eastern borders and creating failed states and destabilization throughout vulnerable nations in South Asia — creating what the Anglo-American chess-masters call the Arc of Crisis.
The driving force pushing the nations towards nuclear catastrophe is the ongoing collapse of the global financial system. The financial monarchs, whose money system is now in a terminal death spiral, are urgently committed to destroying the nation-state system, America and Russia in particular, in order to prevent them from acting against private financial interests, and to lock up control of the world’s vital natural resources and energy corridors, so as to remain on top of the heap in the aftermath of the post crash world.
Of course, no sane person would seek to provoke a nuclear war in order to avoid losing their grip on power; however, the unseen power that is shoving the nations closer and closer to the precipice are not human. The real oligarchs are maddened demons who are intent on taking the world hostage at the coming of Christ.
With C.T. Russell as editor the Watchtower foresaw in advance what eventually became known as the First World War, which, admittedly, Russell also imagined would lead directly into the war of Armageddon. And in the lead-up to WWII, the Watchtower also braced Jehovah’s Witnesses for the persecution and hard times that eventually came upon them. Ironically, now though, on the eve of the worst and must horrible war that will ever occur, Jehovah’s Witnesses have no idea of what is about to happen. The Watchtower has taught them that it has already occurred. Irony of ironies: the present blindness is itself the fulfillment of prophecy.