You will be witnesses of me . . . to the most distant part of the earth.
From the start of his ministry, Jesus stressed the importance of proclaiming the good news of God’s Kingdom. He chose 12 disciples to share in laying the foundation for a global ministry; afterward, he trained a group of 70 disciples. These were prepared to take the good news to others, at first to the Jews. Then, a surprise! Jesus’ disciples were going to take it to uncircumcised ones of the nations. What a change that must have been for zealous Jewish disciples! The apostle Peter was sent to the home of Cornelius, an uncircumcised Gentile. Peter then recognized that God is impartial. Cornelius and his household were baptized. Christianity was now expanding into a vast new field; people in all nations could hear the truth and accept it. Now the field was the whole world.
The Watchtower asserts that the reason the preaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses is so successful is because the Kingdom began ruling the world in 1914. And, of course, Jesus said that the good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world and then the end will come. So, it certainly is justifiable that Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the worldwide work is fulfilling that aspect of the sign of the conclusion. But is it?
Please consider the fact that the first century Christians also accomplished a remarkable work, spearheading the spread of the truth throughout the vast realm of the Roman Empire. And they did so without any modern technology available to us today, such as printing presses, phones, radios, airplanes, autos and the Internet. So, we should not hastily conclude that the Kingdom has to be ruling over the world for Jesus to impel and direct his disciples to accomplish the work he assigned to them.
The problem is, Jehovah’s Witnesses imagine that they are fully enlightened. They cannot conceive of any scenario which would significantly alter their world view, which is ostensibly based upon the Bible —at least the Watchtower’s interpretation of the Bible, particularly prophecy.
But according to prophecy God’s people will be laboring in a state of ignorance —analogous to blindness and deafness —up until Jesus arrives, at which point the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped, at least metaphorically.
However, the Watchtower insists that Jesus accomplished this feat in 1918-1919, when he miraculously liberated a handful of Bible Students and opened their eyes and ears to all truth. If that were true, though, should we not expect the Watchtower to have a complete understanding of all that had been concealed prior to Jesus opening their eyes?
Take the parable of the wheat and the weeds. Without delving into the many absurdities of the Watchtower’s present interpretation, which has been explored at length elsewhere, take note of a recent “adjustment” regarding how it is that the righteous will shine as brightly as the sun in the Kingdom of God. Previously Jehovah’s Witnesses were taught that this phenomenon began in 1914 and the righteous were shining as illuminators by simply preaching the Watchtower’s message. Now, though, the Society says that the righteous will shine as the sun simply when they are resurrected into heaven.
Contradictorily though, the prophecy of Daniel says virtually the same thing, which the Watchtower has never revised to harmonize with their “adjusted understanding” of Jesus’ parable. Here is what 12:3 states as it appears in the Byington Translation, which incidentally is now available as an alternative translation in the JW Library: “And the enlighteners will have a brightness like the resplendence of the firmament, and those who make the many righteous like the stars forevermore.”
“The enlighteners” is a reference to the chosen ones at the time they are sealed, guaranteeing their admittance into the heavenly Kingdom.
But if God’s people are already enlightened before the end of this system, it does not make sense that the great crowd who survive the tribulation would need to be brought to righteousness after they had already figuratively washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.
Clearly, the “enlighteners” will shine like stars in the heavens prior to their departure into the spirit realm. And their enlightenment will not come about due to studying Watchtower literature or anything else. They will be enlightened by a direct encounter with the glorious Christ himself when he comes alongside them, as the apostle John wrote: “Dear friends, we are children of God’s now, and it is not yet made apparent what we shall be. We know that if he makes his appearance we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is; and everyone who has this hope rested on him purifies himself as he is pure.” —1 John 3:23 Byington
Needless to say, seeing Jesus Christ as he is will have a transformative effect upon the children of God. And in their transformed state they will become the enlighteners of the rest of God’s people. It is the phenomenon about which Paul wrote concerning the revealing of the sons of God.
But the point is, during that brief period the enlighteners will stand before governors and kings and give them a witness concerning the Kingdom. And then the end will come.