n 1: (psychology) an erroneous belief that is held in the face of evidence to the contrary 2: a mistaken or unfounded opinion or idea 3: the act of deluding; deception by creating illusory ideas
If you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses you no doubt believe that Jesus Christ arrived in the glory of his kingdom in 1914. You also believe that Jesus judged all religions in 1918 and bestowed his blessing upon the Watchtower Society; irrevocably appointing them “over all of his belongings.” Among other things, Jehovah’s Witnesses also believe that the organization is now a spiritual paradise – as foretold in prophecy.
There is no question that Jehovah’s Witnesses are thoroughly convinced that what they have been taught is the truth – in large measure because of the very authority the Watchtower has gained for itself through its teaching that Christ has already appointed them “over all his belongings.” (As of 2013 no longer taught) But is it possible that the Watchtower has deluded Jehovah’s Witnesses on these issues – similar to the way in which the typical churchgoer has been deluded on various vital doctrinal matters?
Having raised the question of the reliability of the Watchtower Society’s interpretations, rest assured that being mistaken or having erroneous opinions on prophetic matters does not necessarily nullify the faith and work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It does not mean that Jehovah does not exist; nor does it imply that his kingdom is not going to put an end to this system and usher in a righteous new world, even soon. However, it does mean that at some point all of Jehovah’s Witnesses will be squarely confronted with a massive dilemma that will require them to shake off the Watchtower-induced delusion that Christ became king in 1914; along with a whole range of other deeply entrenched false notions regarding the coming of Christ.
The situation now facing Jehovah’s Witnesses was foretold in the book of Ezekiel. In the 13th chapter of Ezekiel Jehovah issued his judicial decree concerning those whom he determined were false visionaries; notifying them through his prophet: “In the intimate group of my people they will not continue on, and in the register of the house of Israel they will not be written, and to the soil of Israel they will not come; and you people will have to know that I am the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, for the reason, yes, for the reason that they have led my people astray, saying, “There is peace!” when there is no peace, and there is one that is building a partition wall, but in vain there are those plastering it with whitewash.”
Since the prophecy locates the false visionaries “in the intimate group of my people,” and Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to be God’s people, it must be that they who are being led astray into believing “there is peace, when there is no peace” are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Up a few verses, in the 12th chapter, Jehovah commanded his prophet to speak to them these words: “The days have drawn near, and the matter of every vision.”
What days have drawn near? The days for Jehovah to put himself in judgment with his people and the world, as is revealed in virtually every prophetic vision recorded in the Sacred Scriptures – “the matter of every vision.”
Jehovah went on to state: “For there will no more prove to be any valueless vision nor double-faced divination in the midst of the house of Israel. For I myself, Jehovah, shall speak what word I shall speak, and it will be done. There will be no postponement anymore, for in your days, O rebellious house, I shall speak a word and certainly do it.”
The Watchtower’s 1914 doctrine has certainly proven to be a “valueless vision.” And there are countless examples in Watchtower literature that can be cited as instances of the practice of “double-faced divination.” A few examples will be presented here in order to demonstrate the fraud that has been perpetrated against Jehovah’s Witnesses by their institutional visionaries.
Consider what the Society teaches concerning Jesus’ illustration about the bridegroom and the wise and foolish virgins. In an article entitled “Keep on the Watch” in the January 15th, 2000, Watchtower, we read:
“In emphasizing the need to be watchful, Jesus compared his disciples to slaves awaiting their master’s return from his marriage. They knew that he would return on a certain night—but at what hour? During the first watch of the night? The second? The third? They did not know… What if the master arrived during the second watch of the night, which extended from about nine o’clock till midnight? Would all the slaves, including those who had worked hard since early morning, be poised to greet him, or would some be asleep? What if the master returned during the third watch of the night—the period from midnight till about three in the morning? Would some of the slaves have become discouraged, even disgruntled at their master’s seeming delay? Only those who were found watching when the master arrived would be pronounced happy.”
In the article from which the quote above was taken the Society was exhorting Jehovah’s Witnesses to stay on the watch for Christ’s return; that is why they appropriately cited Jesus’ illustration to make the point. So, the Watchtower is implying that the bridegroom has not yet arrived and the symbolic virgins have not yet gone out to meet him.
Has the Watchtower subtly altered their previously-held view that the bridegroom arrived back in 1919? Not at all. Four years later the March 1st, 2004, Watchtower stated:
“Then in 1919 something unexpected happened. We read: “Right in the middle of the night there arose a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Be on your way out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and put their lamps in order.” Just when things seemed darkest, there was a call to get active! In 1918, Jesus, “the messenger of the covenant,” had come to Jehovah’s spiritual temple to inspect and cleanse God’s congregation.”
In view of this sort of contradiction, honest-reasoning Christians should ask which view is correct: Did the messianic bridegroom arrive in 1919 or is his arrival still in the future? Apparently, according to the Watchtower, both teachings are correct! The bridegroom came in 1919 and he is coming again!
Does that mean, then, that there is still another group of wise and foolish virgins that will part ways? No, in an article entitled “A Faithful Slave Passes the Test,” the Society stated that “it would not be reasonable” to believe that. Ever trying to support their “valueless vision,” the Watchtower asserts that Christ came in 1914 and again in 1918 and he is coming again. Hence, we read:
“In Matthew chapters 24 and 25, Jesus is said to “come” in different senses. He does not need to move physically in order to “come.” Rather, he “comes” in the sense of turning his attention to mankind or to his followers, often for judgment. Thus, in 1914 he “came” to begin his presence as enthroned King. In 1918 he “came” as messenger of the covenant and began judging those claiming to serve Jehovah. At Armageddon, he will “come” to execute judgment on Jehovah’s enemies. The coming (or, arriving) referred to a number of times at Matthew 24:29-44 and 25:31-46 is at “the great tribulation.” On the other hand, the coming referred to a number of times at Matthew 24:45 to 25:30 has to do with his judging professed disciples from 1918 onward. It would not be reasonable to say, for example, that the rewarding of the faithful slave, the judgment of the foolish virgins, and the judgment of the sluggish slave, who hid the Master’s talent, will take place when Jesus “comes” at the great tribulation. That would imply that many of the anointed will be found unfaithful at that time and will thus have to be replaced. However, Revelation 7:3 indicates that all of Christ’s anointed slaves will have been permanently “sealed” by that time.” – March 1st, 2004, Watchtower
In spite of what the Watchtower Society stated above, in reality it is reasonable to say that the rewarding of the faithful slaves and the judgment of the sluggish slaves takes place at Christ’s coming, during the tribulation. As has already been shown, Bethel itself even says so elsewhere in their literature. In an effort to motivate publishers in the ministry the Society has written many articles that apply the parable of the master’s talents to a future day of accounting for Jehovah’s Witnesses; even though, simultaneously, the Watchtower insists the master has already came and settled accounts. Obviously, though, both views cannot be correct. Either the master has already arrived – his reward being with him – or he has not.
The Watchtower’s teaching on the great tribulation opens up a whole other aspect of the Society’s insidious “double-faced divination,” in that, even though Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the great tribulation has not begun yet, the Watchtower Society actually interprets specific prophecies regarding the tribulation as if they have already been fulfilled. Confusing? Indeed, trying to resolve the Watchtower’s teachings regarding the coming of Christ can be excruciatingly difficult.
In the article above the Watchtower cites Revelation 7:3, which says in context: “After this I saw four angels standing upon the four corners of the earth, holding tight the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow upon the earth or upon the sea or upon any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the sunrising, having a seal of the living God; and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying: “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until after we have sealed the slaves of our God in their foreheads.”
“After this” is in reference to the opening of the sixth seal, which initiates a tremendous earthquake; the sun turning black; the moon turning to blood; the stars of heaven falling like figs blown from their stem, and every mountain and island being “removed from their places.” Certainly, the opening of the sixth seal signifies unique and awe-inspiring apocalyptic events initiating the collapse of the present system, during the great tribulation. But according to the Watchtower, the sixth seal has already been opened! And when was that?
Why, back in 1914, of course!
In fact, from 1925 all the way up until 1970, the Watchtower maintained the belief that the great tribulation actually began in 1914 and was “cut short” by divine intervention in 1918. Here is one of the more recently published examples:
“The days of tribulation commenced on Satan’s organization in 1914 and, with justification, could have continued without letup, culminating in the Biblical battle of Armageddon. But, as Jesus said, “those days will be cut short,” else “no flesh would be saved.” This precious interval of time, commencing in 1918 and ending with Armageddon, is still with us, continuing far longer than we had once expected.” – 8/15/65 WT
Although the Society has since adjusted their view of when the tribulation begins, they have retained the notion that the sixth seal was opened in 1914, for reasons that will become apparent.
In the “Revelation Climax” book the Society’s oracle reasons that all of the seven seals are unsealed in rapid succession. This is reasonable. In regards to the opening of the sixth seal it states:
“This must fall within the same time frame as the opening of the other seals. Just when in the Lord’s day does this earthquake occur, and what kind of quake is it?..from the mid-1870’s, Jehovah’s people had been anticipating that catastrophic events would start in 1914.”
Although claiming that the sixth seal was opened in 1914, the Society goes on to state that the events betokened by the climactic unsealing have not actually taken place yet. But how can that be? The Society teaches, absolutely, that the opening of the first five seals resulted in the sudden outbreak of war, famine and pestilence, and other events; but with regards to the sixth seal, after citing the disruption of the First World War and the Bolshevik revolution, the “Climax” book goes on to say:
“But such advance tremors are only preliminary to a climactic governmental upheaval.”
But if the unsealing of the other seals resulted in the immediate outbreak of war and pestilence, etc., why has the opening of the sixth seal not similarly initiated the beginning of the tribulation? Why has there been a period of nearly 100 years of relative calm since the “advance tremors” supposedly shook the world?
It is apparent that the reason the Watchtower insists the sixth seal was opened in 1914, even though the events that mark the unsealing have undeniably still not occurred, is because to teach otherwise would call into question whether any of the symbolic seals have been opened yet – including the first seal symbolizing the coming of Christ.
Another example of “double-faced divination” has to do with the Watchtower teaching regarding the organization being a spiritual paradise.
As is well known, the Watchtower teaches that Christ came in 1914 and that the foretold harvest began shortly thereafter – in 1919 – a harvest in fulfillment of Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the weeds. In connection with Jesus’ harvest illustration, the Watchtower teaches that the angels have already separated the wheat-like sons of the kingdom out from Christendom. Of necessity, then, that would mean that the angels have already been dispatched to “collect out from his kingdom all things that cause stumbling and persons who are doing lawlessness.” (See essay: The Harvest)
However, the Watchtower claims that the harvest involves gathering the wheat-like sons of the kingdom out of Christendom, meaning that Christendom is “his kingdom.” Does the Watchtower actually teach that Christendom is Christ’s kingdom? Incredibly, yes! Here is a rather large excerpt from the October 1st, 1975, Watchtower explaining their view:
It is plainly evident that Jesus Christ is implicated with the formation of Christendom, which has professed till now to be his true Church. Furthermore, Jehovah God takes Christendom at her word and according to her own claims. For this reason Jehovah calls upon her to live up to her claims and holds her responsible for failure to live up to his requirements. For this he will bring upon her a due punishment. In this “conclusion of the system of things” he judges her as unfaithful to her religious professions. She is the modern-day counterpart of unfaithful Israel of ancient times.
Adding to the Scriptural proof that Jesus Christ is implicated with the growth of Christendom, there is the parable of the wheat and the weeds (tares). True, Jesus Christ, “the Son of man,” did not sow those weeds in his own field. His enemy, Satan the Devil, did so. In the parable, the slaves of the Sower quickly discovered the presence of the weeds in the wheat field. They wanted to uproot the weed sprouts. But the Sower, the owner of the wheat field, would not let them do so. In his patience and long-suffering he ordered the slaves to let both the weeds and the wheat grow together until the harvest around Pentecost time. First then would he have the weeds, now fully grown, separated from the wheat.
In fulfillment of this feature of Jesus’ parable, he did not have Christendom destroyed as soon as it manifested itself. He permitted it to expand. In that sense he is involved with Christendom’s growth to its present proportions, the greatest in its history. Even up till this writing, Jesus Christ has not destroyed Christendom. She is still, by his permission, occupying space in the Sower’s field, “his field,” his religious “field under cultivation.”—Matt. 13:24-27; compare 1 Corinthians 3:9.
Further illustrating Jesus’ tie-in with Christendom is the parable of the dragnet. (Matt. 13:47-50) The fishermen who handle the dragnet picture the heavenly angels under the direction of the glorified Jesus Christ. But what does the dragnet itself picture? Because the parable says that “the kingdom of the heavens is like a dragnet,” does the dragnet picture the 144,001 members of the “kingdom of the heavens” class? No, it could not do so, when we take all the features of the parable together.”
Reasoning on the Watchtower’s interpretation of the parable, if Christendom is represented in the parable of the wheat and weeds and the parable of the dragnet as “his kingdom” then that means that God’s holy angels clear out from Christendom (“his kingdom”) the many stumbling blocks and multitudes of persons practicing lawlessness from those various institutions associated with Christendom. That, of course, is absurd, which is why elsewhere in their literature the Society teaches that the angels have removed all the stumbling blocks and lawless individuals from the Watchtower Society – in fulfillment of the parable. For example, here is what Bethel published in the August 1st, 1981,Watchtower:
“The “storehouse” into which they have been gathered since 1919 can be said to be “the kingdom of their Father,” inasmuch as the Christian congregation is a theocratic organization, recognizing Jehovah’s universal sovereignty. It is a clean organization, for out of it the angels collect “all things that cause stumbling and persons who are doing lawlessness.”
Did you catch the interpretive trickery the Watchtower employed? On the one hand the Watchtower claims that Christendom is “his kingdom.” But Jehovah’s Witnesses are also led to believe that the Watchtower Society is the “storehouse” for the harvested wheat. So, the wheat is presumably gathered out of his kingdom (Christendom) and into his storehouse (the Watchtower Society). But, please carefully note that Jesus’ parable does not say that the angels cleaned the “storehouse” of all things causing stumbling and lawless persons – as the article implies. No, Jesus’ illustration is very clear in saying that the angels remove such things from “his kingdom,” which the Watchtower claims is Christendom!
In any case, Bethel makes the outrageous claim that the Watchtower Society is free of any stumbling blocks and all lawlessness, shamelessly boasting –“it is a clean organization.”
But how can the Society make the claim that the angels have already removed all stumbling blocks from their “theocratic organization” when it is common knowledge that the Watchtower’s numerous doctrinal changes and false proclamations have stumbled literally hundreds of thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses and millions of interested persons?
For example, although Bethel takes no responsibility for it, in the late 1960’s the Watchtower began to foster the expectation that the system would come to an end in 1975. Many prominent circuit and district overseers publicly promoted that expectation. As a result of that debacle many thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses were up-ended – stumbled in the faith. That stumbling block came as a direct result of the chronology the Watchtower vigorously promoted. How can Bethel honestly claim that the angels have removed all such stumbling blocks from the “theocratic organization”?
Indeed, how can Bethel honestly claim “it is a clean organization” when tens of thousands of persons are reproved and disfellowshipped every year for engaging in all sorts of unclean and lawless behavior? On what grounds does the Watchtower Society claim to be holy and clean in view of the fact there are also thousands of pedophiles lurking within the organization that have never been disfellowshipped or marked?
In view of all of the foregoing, it is apparent that Jehovah’s Witnesses are laboring under a deeply entrenched delusion – a delusion that is soon to be shattered by the actual coming of Christ!
Contrary to the Watchtower’s “valueless vision,” supported by the practice of “double-faced divination,” the actual opening of the symbolic seven seals of the scroll containing the judgments of God will not stretch out over decades of time. Once the actual day of Jehovah commences events will move swiftly to a conclusion. In effect, the Society’s 1914 doctrine has caused the seeming postponement of Jehovah’s judgments. The time for that is coming to an end. That is why Jehovah commanded his prophet to tell his people: “‘For there will no more prove to be any valueless vision nor double-faced divination in the midst of the house of Israel. For I myself, Jehovah, shall speak what word I shall speak, and it will be done.There will be no postponement anymore, for in your days, O rebellious house, I shall speak a word and certainly do it,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.” Ezekiel 12:24-25