Whenever they are saying “peace and security.”“Earthshaking events will soon occur,” states the opening words of the September 15, 2012, Watchtower study edition. The article enumerates several developments that Jehovah Witnesses expect to occur in the near future. What are they, exactly?
Number one, the beginning of the day of Jehovah, which, as Paul foretold, will arrive as unexpectedly as a sneaking thief in the night – “whenever it is they are saying ‘peace and security.’”
The Watchtower surmises, that, included among the “they” who will be saying “peace and security” are the clergy, and then “they” will experience the foretold “sudden destruction.” The reasoning behind that is the belief that the day of Jehovah begins with the great tribulation and the tribulation will begin when the United Nations will suddenly, violently, eradicate organized religion throughout the entire world. For many decades Jehovah’s Witnesses have been in a state of expectation of this event as the next major fulfillment of prophecy. The article continues:
What yet unseen event will take place next? Paul stated: “Whenever it is that they are saying: ‘Peace and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them.” The first phase of this “sudden destruction” is the attack against “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion, also known as “the harlot.” (Rev. 17:5, 6, 15) That attack against all forms of false religion, including Christendom, is the start of the “great tribulation.” (Matt. 24:21; 2 Thess. 2:8) For many, this event will come as a surprise. Why? Because up to that point, the harlot will confidently view herself as “a queen” who will “never see mourning.” But she will suddenly discover that she has miscalculated her chances of survival. She will be wiped out rather quickly, as if “in one day.”
In the sixth paragraph the Society says that a study of Revelation shows that the wild beast refers to the United Nations. Although that interpretation may ultimately prove to be true, Jehovah’s Witnesses ought to take note of the fact that there are some rather gaping holes in the Watchtower Society’s overall interpretation – irreconcilable contradictions even, which only go unquestioned by Jehovah’s Witnesses due to the ecclesiastical authority wielded over them by the Society.
The truth is, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses you are strongly discouraged from doing any sort of private examination of the Scriptures, much less holding the Watchtower’s teachings on prophecy up to close scrutiny or discussing apparent contradictions with fellow Christians. You well know that to call into question any utterance of the Watchtower Society is viewed as a lack of faith in “Jehovah’s spiritual provisions” – at least that is the prevailing assumption among Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Can anyone deny that it is considered an act of apostasy for any of Jehovah’s Witnesses to reject as untrue any of the Watchtower’s teachings?
And yet the apostle John exhorted all anointed Christians not to believe every inspired expression, but to test the expression to see if it really does originate with God. Who has more authority, the apostle of Christ or the Watchtower Society?
If we were to actually follow the apostle’s exhortation and test the inspired expressions what would it reveal? And let us be honest-minded and admit, that although the Watchtower does not explicitly claim to be inspired in the same sense as were the original Bible writers, the very fact that they have placed their interpretations before Jehovah’s Witnesses as if they are directly from Jehovah and above question implies that they are meant to be accepted as if “inspired expressions.”
That being the case, are we to suppose that the “inspired expressions” published by the Watchtower Society are exempted from testing?
But how may we test the Watchtower’s “inspired expressions” to determine if they are true, authentic and reliable – if they really do originate with God? Surely, it must be possible; otherwise the inspired apostle would not have exhorted us to make such a test.
We may test such interpretations by using our minds to reason upon God’s prophetic word – realizing foremost that interpretations belong to God and “that no prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation.” That being the case, all prophecy is harmonious, and therefore, if any “inspired expression” of interpretation violates the harmony of biblical prophecy and sound doctrine and does not fit with historical reality then it cannot be from God, the Source of all truth and harmony.
Some of Jehovah’s Witnesses will likely reason that no one can say with surety if the Watchtower’s teachings on prophecy are not true since they regard the future. ‘We will just have to wait and see how things turn out before we make any judgment,’ many may say. But consider this fact: The Watchtower insists that most prophecy has been fulfilled already, so it is not really necessary to wait and see how things unfold in the future. It is merely a matter of determining if the prophecies have actually been realized. That should not be deemed too difficult a task. And if it is determined that said prophecies have not been accomplished yet, then we have the basis for a new prophetic paradigm, which is, in fact, what e-watchman is all about.
Now consider the Apocalypse John conveyed to us from Jesus. In the 13th chapter of Revelation, the apostle saw a monstrous beast with seven heads. “ And I saw one of its heads as though slaughtered to death, but its death-stroke got healed, and all the earth followed the wild beast with admiration. And they worshiped the dragon because it gave the authority to the wild beast, and they worshiped the wild beast with the words: ‘Who is like the wild beast, and who can do battle with it?’ And a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies was given it, and authority to act forty-two months was given it. And it opened its mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name and his residence, even those residing in heaven. And there was granted it to wage war with the holy ones and conquer them, and authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation. And all those who dwell on the earth will worship it; the name of not one of them stands written in the scroll of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered, from the founding of the world.”
There is no valid reason to call into question the fundamentals of the Watchtower’s construal. The interpretation of the symbolism is sound. The timing is what is in question. The beast with seven heads symbolizes the succession of empires that have had dealings with Jehovah’s people dating back to ancient Egypt and Babylon, including Rome, the ruling head of the beast in the first century, up to the present Anglo-American dual world power. The question is, though, has the beast already suffered this “death stroke” and gotten healed?
The reason that is important to determine is because the healing of the death stroke initiates judgment day. In other words, the whole world will be judged based on whether or not they give their allegiance to the beast after it comes back to life. This is significant, because as all of Jehovah’s Witnesses surely recognize to be true, the dragon, Satan, has used the beast dating back to antiquity. And people of the earth have followed and admired his political system down through the ages. But as we know, God intends to bring virtually all of the dead back to life, no matter if they were demon-worshippers, idol worshippers, atheists, or whatever. They have not forfeited their future life’s prospects. But not so those who admire the revived beast, as is stated in the Apocalypse: “the name of not one of them stands written in the scroll of life.”
Not having your name written in the scroll of life should not need any explanation. It means that you forfeit life. Although Christ was slaughtered so that he might give life to a race condemned by sin to death, not one person who worships the beast after it revives from its death stroke will benefit from the ransom. They will die and remain dead forever and ever. They are forgotten.
Why such a harsh judgment? Because the death stroke administered to the head of the beast will coincide with the coming to power of the Kingdom of God and those who embrace the revived beast will be judged as incorrigible enemies of Christ for not accepting his rule.
How do we know that the death stroke coincides with the kingdom coming to power? Because in the 12th chapter of Revelation, when Christ takes up his authority as King of kings, a war erupts in heaven and the seven-headed dragon is hurled down to the earth – initiating unprecedented “woe for the earth and for the sea” because the enraged Devil will know his time is short. So, the death stroke on the head of the earthly beast is merely a reflection of Christ’s judgment against Satan in heaven. We may be sure of that due to the harmonious prophetic periods of 1,260 days and forty-two months (Revelation 11) that ensue after both the dragon is hurled down and the earthly beast gets whacked.
Of course, this connection is not new light for Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Watchtower teaches that Satan was hurled down from heaven in 1914 and that is also when the head of the beast suffered the mortal head wound. This is really the centerpiece of the Watchtower’s teaching. But is it true?
After the beast revives it commands that an image of itself be fabricated and that everyone must worship the image or they will not be able to buy or sell – those who refuse will even be put to death. But those who bow before the image will receive the mark of the beast and their names are blotted out of the book of life. Here is what the Watchtower says in connection with the pouring out of the bowls of God’s wrath upon those who receive the mark:
The contents of this bowl strongly emphasize the choice that lies before humans. They must suffer either the world’s disapproval or Jehovah’s indignation. Mankind has been put under compulsion to accept the mark of the wild beast, with the intent that “nobody might be able to buy or sell except a person having the mark, the name of the wild beast or the number of its name.” (Revelation 13:16, 17) But there is a price to pay for this! Jehovah regards those who accept the mark as being stricken with “a hurtful and malignant ulcer.” Since 1922 they have been marked in public as having rejected the living God. Their political schemes have no success, and they suffer anguish. Spiritually, they are unclean. Unless they repent, this “hurtful” illness will be terminal, for it is now Jehovah’s day of judgment. There is no neutral ground between being a part of the world’s system of things and serving Jehovah on the side of his Christ.
According to Revelation, the resurrected beast puts all people under compulsion to worship the image of the beast. But do any of Jehovah’s Witnesses have the spiritual wherewithal to inquire as to how all people of the world may have been put under compulsion to subject themselves to the League of Nations? The United States Senate refused to even join the League. How were Americans put under compulsion to obey it? If the League was so powerful so as to make all persons bow before it why could it not compel Americans to join? Russia and Germany were not allowed to join the League either.
Can any of Jehovah’s Witnesses offer a coherent explanation as to how the League of Nations may have disallowed persons from buying and selling?
The paragraph quoted above suggests that people who receive the mark ought to repent. However, as previously stated, those who receive the mark have their names blotted out of the Book of Life. What is the point of “Jehovah’s day of judgment” then? Is not the purpose of a day of judgment to determine each person’s eternal destiny? Are we to assume that a person can have the mark of the beast removed from their hand or forehead and have their name penciled back into the Book of Life? Apparently, this is what the Watchtower is implying and it is absurd.
Thinking persons ought to wonder why God has presumably already condemned successive post-WWI generations to everlasting death for supposedly worshipping an irrelevant institution that long ago ceased to exist.
And the same questions could be asked in reference to the United Nations now. For example, how has the United Nations prevented all people from buying and selling?
The truth is, the Watchtower’s “inspired expression” does not pass the test of authenticity. Simply put: It cannot be true. The Anglo-American duo did not suffer collapse as a result of the First World War, which is surely what is depicted by the death stroke. And the world was not judged by how it may or may not have received the now-non-existent League of Nations.
There is another aspect of the Watchtower’s “inspired expressions” that ought to be put to the test, that being the notion that the great tribulation begins with the destruction of Babylon the Great. The results of that test will be presented in the next article.