Keep on the watch.
That admonition in itself is a good reason to remain in expectation—Jesus told us to do so! In this regard, Jehovah’s organization has set an example. Its publications have consistently exhorted us to “await and keep close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah” and to fix our hope on God’s promised new world. Although keeping in expectation was appropriate for Christians living centuries ago, it is particularly important for us. Why? Because we are living during Christ’s presence. The sign of his presence has been in evidence since 1914. And the multifeatured sign, which includes worsening world conditions and global Kingdom preaching, means that we are living in “the conclusion of the system of things.” Since Jesus did not say how long that period of time would go on before the end arrived, we need to be especially vigilant, watchful.
Keeping on the watch is good. But having wrong expectations is potentially lethal. And Jehovah’s Witnesses certainly have an erroneous outlook. In that respect they are not unlike the apostles.
Consider the last days of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was hailed as the coming king when he rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The apostles were imagining that the Kingdom was going to display itself instantly. However, Jesus explained to them at the evening meal that he was going away, but that he would return. They could not understand what he was saying. After the meal they walked out to the garden of Gethsemane. There, Jesus exhorted them to keep on the watch with him and pray. Instead, they all fell asleep. And then it happened. Judas led the mob to the garden and Jesus was arrested. All the apostles were scattered and stumbled. Peter was so off balance he three times denied that he knew Jesus. It was only after Jesus was resurrected and appeared to them in various guises that their minds were opened to understand the true nature of the coming Kingdom.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are like the Jews who hailed Jesus as king prematurely. For more than a century the Watchtower has built anticipation for the Kingdom to instantly display itself in dramatic fashion. As it stands, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been led to expect the great tribulation to begin at any moment, marked by the sudden destruction of organized religion around the world. Over and over, as in today’s daily text, the Watchtower proclaims that all of the features of the sign of Christ’s presence have been on display since 1914 —even though, obviously, the events associated with the tribulation are not in evidence.
But according to Jesus it is only “when you see all these things” that we may know for certain that he is near at the doors.
As regards “all these things,” Jesus said: “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. Let the man on the housetop not come down to take the goods out of his house, and let the man in the field not return to pick up his outer garment. Woe to the pregnant women and those nursing a baby in those days! Keep praying that your flight may not occur in wintertime nor on the Sabbath day; for then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again. In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.”
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look! Here is the Christ,’ or, ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will perform great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones. Look! I have forewarned you. Therefore, if people say to you, ‘Look! He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out; ‘Look! He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For just as the lightning comes out of the east and shines over to the west, so the presence* of the Son of man will be. Wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.”
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity.”
“Now learn this illustration from the fig tree: Just as soon as its young branch grows tender and sprouts its leaves, you know that summer is near. Likewise also you, when you see all these things, know that he is near at the doors. Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things happen. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.”
Indeed, war, food shortages and pandemics are only part of the multifaceted sign that Jesus gave. The Watchtower’s claim that “the sign of his presence has been in evidence since 1914” is simply not true. It is a lie.
What ought we expect in the future? World war, global financial collapse resulting in food shortages and pandemics. Then the nations will go ballistic, literally. The use of fearsome nuclear weapons is undoubtedly what is implied by what Jesus said, that: “Also, there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation. People will become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
It will be a dark time for Jehovah’s Witnesses too, because there is a heavy price to pay for promulgating lies in the name of Jehovah. Those who claim to be the watchman class, a prophet class, will be silenced, even as Jehovah foretold in Micah. “This is what Jehovah says against the prophets who are leading my people astray, who proclaim ‘Peace!’ while they bite with their teeth but who declare war against him who puts nothing into their mouths: ‘You will have night; there will be no vision; there will only be darkness for you, no divination. The sun will set on the prophets, and the day will turn dark for them. The visionaries will be put to shame, and the diviners will be disappointed. All of them will have to cover over the mustache, for there is no answer from God.’” —Micah 3:5-7
As Jehovah’s Witnesses know, the focus of Jesus’ prophecy regarding his second coming has to do with the destruction of Jerusalem. It would be imperative for Christians living in Jerusalem and Judea to be watchful in order to flee the city without delay when the disgusting thing violated the holy place. Even those living far away would be impacted if they were to ill-advisedly sojourn to Jerusalem for a festival when the siege began, which is exactly what happened when the Romans laid siege to the city on the Passover, when it was packed with worshippers. [pullquote]
Today, once a person has identified Christendom’s religious systems as part of “Babylon the Great” and recognizes that the “disgusting thing” is about to stand in her “holy place,” he should act on the command found at Revelation 18:4: “Get out of her…” – Watchtower 1975 12/15
[/pullquote]But the fall of Jerusalem and its future fulfillment in the great tribulation has nothing to do with Christianity —at least according to Bethel’s diviners. Ancient Jerusalem, the place where Jehovah had placed his holy name, where Christ was hailed as king, where Christianity began in an upper room, where the apostles’ unofficial headquarters was located, along with the temple where they preached daily, is said to symbolize Christendom and even Babylon the Great.
But if the holy place that is to be desolated represents Christendom or even Babylon the Great, why would it be imperative for true Christians to flee? Why would it be vital to stay on the watch for Christendom’s demise?
Those questions are all the more pertinent since the Watchtower assumes that Bethel functions as the virtual capital of Jehovah’s earthly organization. And it is a core doctrine that Christ has already come and bestowed his blessing on them —that there is peace within, and peace with God.
The building up of the organization, as if it were the very Kingdom of God on earth, might be likened to a plastered wall that is meant to look imposing and permanent. And 1914 is the centerpiece. As demonstrated in today’s text, and countless articles and talks, the visionaries of Bethel are constantly splashing coat after coat of whitewash on their revered doctrinal wall to create an impression that they are true prophets.
The impending global war and great tribulation, however, will serve as the tempest of Jehovah to knock down the Watchtower’s wall. Here is what Jehovah has said: “‘I will cause powerful windstorms to burst forth in my wrath, and a torrential downpour in my anger, and hailstones in destructive fury. I will tear down the wall that you plastered with whitewash and bring it down to the earth, and its foundation will be exposed. When the city falls, you will perish within her; and you will have to know that I am Jehovah. When I fully unleash my wrath upon the wall and upon those who plastered it with whitewash, I will say to you: ‘The wall is no more, and those plastering it are no more. The prophets of Israel are gone, those who prophesy to Jerusalem and who see visions of peace for her, when there is no peace,’ declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.”
It is well to keep on the watch. But it is better to know what to watch for.