Sunday, November 12
The heavens are my throne, and the earth is my footstool.
Besides referring to the earth, the term “footstool” is also employed figuratively in the Hebrew Scriptures to describe the ancient temple used by the Israelites. Located on the earth, the temple served as the center of true worship. For that reason, it was truly beautiful in Jehovah’s eyes and its very existence glorified the place for Jehovah’s feet. Today the center of true worship is no longer a literal temple on earth. There is, however, a spiritual temple, which glorifies Jehovah far more than any building. This is an arrangement that makes reconciliation with God possible by means of the priesthood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It came into existence in 29 C.E. at Jesus’ baptism when Jesus was anointed as High Priest of Jehovah’s great spiritual temple.
The Watchtower has literally written volumes of commentary on the Bible books of prophecy. In recent years —not so much, which is also noteworthy. But if you boil it all down, so-to-speak, there is one overriding theme, the message being: Christ has come. The Kingdom reigns and all is well in spiritual paradise. To that end the article from which the Daily Text is taken is entitled, Work to Enhance the Spiritual Paradise.
The unacquainted may wonder, what is spiritual paradise? Actually, that is a very good question. It is a question that Jehovah’s Witnesses ought to consider themselves. But here is what the Watchtower says in regards to spiritual paradise:
The expression “spiritual paradise” has become a part of our theocratic vocabulary. It describes our unique, spiritually rich environment, or condition, which allows us to enjoy peace with God and with our brothers. Of course, we should not conclude that the terms “spiritual paradise” and “spiritual temple” are the same. The spiritual temple is God’s arrangement for true worship. The spiritual paradise serves to identify clearly those who have God’s approval and who are today serving him at his spiritual temple.
What privilege do we have today in connection with the spiritual paradise? How exciting it is to know that since 1919, Jehovah has allowed imperfect humans to work with him in cultivating, strengthening, and expanding the spiritual paradise on earth! Do you see yourself playing a part in this marvelous work? Are you moved to continue working with Jehovah in glorifying ‘the place for his feet’?
According to the Watchtower the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses is the spiritual paradise and all of the ministry work done by Jehovah’s Witnesses may be thought of as cultivating and expanding the so-called paradise. And all those who are in the organization have God’s approval.
But where does the notion of a spiritual paradise come from? And is it modest or wise to assume that an entire religious body has God’s approval?
The exact phrase “spiritual paradise” is not found in the Bible. Like the paragraph above states, the expression has simply become part of the “theocratic language” of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But is there any scriptural basis for it?
Actually, there is.
The concept is conveyed in both the prophetic books of Isaiah and Ezekiel. For this article we will confine ourselves to Isaiah. Consider the 51st chapter of Isaiah, which contrasts a barren wilderness with the garden of Eden as the before and after conditions associated with the repatriation of the Jews to their homeland.
The 35th chapter of Isaiah enlarges upon that analogy, the opening words of the prophecy stating: “The wilderness and the parched land will exult, and the desert plain will be joyful and blossom as the saffron. Without fail it will blossom; it will rejoice and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and of Sharon. They will see the glory of Jehovah, the splendor of our God.”
The prophets of Bethel realize that the prophecy of Isaiah applies to the coming of Christ. That is what is alluded to in the verse above. The glory of Jehovah will be seen when Jesus comes in the glory of his Father.
But there are major problems with the Watchtower’s interpretation —an insurmountable problem really. The repurchase of the spiritual sons of Zion comes after they are conquered and sold into captivity. Here’s the problem, though: The Watchtower claims that the sons of Zion were set free from Babylon the Great in 1919, but the destruction of antitypical Jerusalem, which obviously precedes their captivity and subsequent restoration, will find fulfillment in the future when Christendom is destroyed, along with all religions. No wonder the 13th chapter of Ezekiel condemns the stupid prophets who preside over God’s people.
Here is why Jehovah’s Witnesses should thoughtfully reconsider what spiritual paradise actually is and how it will come about; the closing verses of the 35th chapter of Isaiah relate: “And a highway will be there, yes, a way called the Way of Holiness. The unclean one will not travel on it. It is reserved for the one walking on the way; no one foolish will stray onto it. No lion will be there, and no vicious wild beasts will come on it. They will not be found there; only the repurchased ones will walk there. Those redeemed by Jehovah will return and come to Zion with a joyful cry.”
Please notice that the conditions described could not possibly be brought about, or enhanced, by mere human efforts. In ancient times wild beasts, like lions and bears, or packs of wolves, were a constant danger to those traveling through remote, wilderness areas, such as the Jews undoubtedly encountered on the trek back to their desolate homeland. But God promised that those whom he repurchased from Babylon would walk on a highway of holiness, un-menaced by predators of any kind. That was the way it was in the garden of Eden originally, before Satan ruined it.
Of course, in a spiritual sense we understand that the lions and vicious wild beasts are pictorial of dangerous people. That being true, God is indicating that the Way of Holiness will be devoid of wicked people. Now, is the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses really a spiritual paradise?
The Watchtower says yes, claiming that wicked persons either reform their ways or they are expelled from the congregation; thus, spiritual paradise is maintained by a continual process of disfellowshipping tens of thousands Jehovah’s Witnesses who do not conform to the standard.
But, honestly, is that really what spiritual paradise is —at least what is described in the Bible? Please note the prophetic description again. It doesn’t say that unclean and foolish persons are removed from the roadway. It says none will be found there. Period. In other words, God will debar them from accompanying his approved people. In the paradise described in prophecy it will not be necessary for men to continually expel unsuitable persons from their company because there will not be any there to remove.
Besides that, the 11th chapter of Isaiah goes into even more detail on the conditions of spiritual paradise, describing peace between the wolf and the lamb –the goat and the leopard –the calf and the lion, saying: “They will not cause any harm or any ruin in all my holy mountain, because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters cover the sea.”
Think of it: in the spiritually blessed condition under the reign of Christ there will be no one causing harm or ruin to others. That certainly doesn’t apply to Jehovah’s Witnesses, does it? After all, disfellowshipping someone after they harm another does not undo the harm they have done, does it?
Mind you, this is a condition that comes about before the end of this wicked world. That is evident in the context.
Now consider the actual conditions among the congregations. If you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses can you honestly say that persons have not been harmed by others in the congregations? Just consider this: At this present moment the Watchtower is paying a daily fine of $4,000 —day in and day out. Why? Because a court in San Diego has fined the Watchtower for their refusal to turn over records detailing the crimes of a sexual predator.
The reason the Watchtower refuses to be cooperative with the superior authorities whom Jehovah has placed in charge prior to the coming of Christ is because the Society’s lawyers do not want to set a legal precedent. They know that Bethel maintains a database of over 20,000 known sexual predators and releasing the files of one would open the flood gates and out would spill a flood of dirty secrets and the names of thousands of pedophiles who have preyed upon the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Sadly, of the 20,000+ sexual predators who have preyed upon the children of Jehovah’s Witnesses some of them have undoubtedly abused multiple victims. Can you get your mind around that? We could be talking 30,000, 40,000 victims –maybe many more considering that 20,000+ are only the known predators. No doubt the crimes of many other pedophiles have never come to the attention of the elders.
Now, consider the ruined lives those numbers represent. How many abused children have destroyed themselves with drugs and alcohol to numb the pain? How many have become promiscuous or turned to prostitution? How many have committed suicide? Do you even care? More importantly, do you think God does?
It is no secret that child sex abuse results in lasting harm. It permanently damages a person in varying degrees, depending upon the severity of the abuse. But God says no one will be allowed to cause any harm or ruin in his holy domain. Is that just hyperbole? Or is it God’s honest promise?
If we believe what is stated, we have to ask: Is God really honored for creating a spiritual paradise where the lambs are devoured by cunning wolves?
Please be honest. You owe it to yourself. There is no spiritual paradise among Jehovah’s Witnesses. Far from it. But that is not to imply there will never be such a thing. First, though, comes the desolation —then the repurchase. These are the things I have written about in considerable detail over the years.
To demonstrate the careless way in which the Watchtower has explained prophecy, Isaiah 11:4 states regarding the reign of the twig of Jesse: “He will judge the lowly with fairness, and with uprightness he will give reproof in behalf of the meek ones of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth and put the wicked to death with the breath of his lips.”
If you read the 11th chapter of Isaiah it should be apparent that the conditions of spiritual paradise are brought about as a result of the judgment of Christ. In other words, those who are lowly and meek are allowed entry onto the Way of Holiness. The wicked are disbarred from entry —sentenced to eventual death outside the Kingdom. And make no mistake, Christ striking the earth with the rod of his mouth commences with the judgment of the house of God. That is why Jesus told those in the Pergamum congregation to repent or else “If you do not, I am coming to you quickly, and I will war with them with the long sword of my mouth.”
While Jehovah’s Witnesses certainly enjoy a remarkable brotherhood in many respects, they are not in spiritual paradise —at least not the wonderful condition foretold in prophecy. It is most immodest to suppose that God has bestowed his approval upon the organization. No indeed. The congregational unity and fellowship that Jehovah’s Witnesses enjoy presently is not going to last. It is going to be shattered —soon. Only in the aftermath of the disaster will the eyes of the blind be opened, even as Isaiah foretells: “Say to those who are anxious at heart: ‘Be strong. Do not be afraid. Look! Your own God will come with vengeance, God will come with retribution. He will come and save you.’ At that time the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. At that time the lame will leap like the deer, and the tongue of the speechless will shout for joy. For waters will burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert plain.” —Isaiah 35:4-6