This article was prompted by a question from a reader. For more questions from readers see the Mailbag.
ANSWER: Although the Watchtower Society has convinced the millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses under its authority that virtually every aspect of the prophecy (And all other prophecies for that matter) has already been fulfilled, the prophecy regarding the king fierce in countenance is actually of the utmost relevance as regards the immediate future.
Although I have written a fair amount on this topic over the past ten years, in view of the imminent, catastrophic, collapse of the Euro Zone monetary and political system, and the even more destructive measures that are sure to be taken to prevent the inevitable, it seems timely to revisit this amazing piece of God’s prophetic puzzle in this, and a subsequent article.
As regards the identity of the hairy he-goat that tramples the two-horned ram, no interpretation is necessary. The angel that originally related the prophecy to Daniel also explained what the he-goat symbolized. Daniel 8:20-21 is a record of the angel’s words: “The ram that you saw possessing the two horns stands for the kings of Media and Persia. And the hairy he-goat stands for the king of Greece; and as for the great horn that was between its eyes, it stands for the first king. And that one having been broken, so that there were four that finally stood up instead of it, there are four kingdoms from his nation that will stand up, but not with his power.”
So, the two-horned ram stands for the kingdoms of Media and Persia, which at the time of Daniel’s writing this prophecy had not conquered Babylon. And the hairy he-goat is Greece, which during the time of the prophecy had not developed from a grouping of smaller city-states and kingdoms, like Macedonia, Sparta and Athens. The great horn represents Alexander the Great – who is considered one of the greatest military leaders in history, having never lost a single battle.
Daniel 11:1-3 provides some corroborative information from a spirit messenger who was directly involved in supporting the first Persian king back then. It reads: “And as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede I stood up as a strengthener and as a fortress to him. And now what is truth I shall tell to you: ‘Look! There will yet be three kings standing up for Persia, and the fourth one will amass greater riches than all others. And as soon as he has become strong in his riches, he will rouse up everything against the kingdom of Greece. And a mighty king will certainly stand up and rule with extensive dominion and do according to his will. And when he will have stood up, his kingdom will be broken and be divided toward the four winds of the heavens, but not to his posterity and not according to his dominion with which he had ruled; because his kingdom will be uprooted, even for others than these.”
Persia did indeed stand up against Greece with “everything.” In 480 BCE Xerxes I mounted a massive sea and land invasion, comparable in scale to the modern D-day invasion of Normandy. However, after first staging a heroic delaying action at Thermopylae, the greatly outnumbered Greeks went on to hand Xerxes a humiliating defeat. Persia then ended its campaign to conquer the Greeks.
But true to prophecy, the Grecian he-goat harbored “bitterness” towards the Persian ram. Some 150 years after Xerxes’ failed invasion of his homeland, Alexander, who had been groomed from infancy for greatness, swiftly conquered all of what is now known as the Middle East and South Asia – including Persia, the descendants of which are the modern Iranians. The swiftness of his conquest is apparently what is symbolized by the he-goat zooming over the earth, its hoofs not even touching the ground.
Also true to the angel’s word, Alexander, the “conspicuous horn” of the hairy he-goat, suddenly died in Babylon at the age of 33. (As soon as he had become powerful) He did not have a suitable heir to inherit his vast empire, (not to his posterity) which, at the time of his death stretched from the Mediterranean Sea clear to the forbidding Himalayas; hence, his kingdom was divided among four of his generals. (Variously symbolized as four horns and the four winds)
As regards the four horns, the Watchtower’s commentary on Daniel, although of questionable value when it comes to providing a true interpretation of the finale, does provide insight into the historical setting and an understanding of the symbolism involved and the relationship between Christians and the beast. Here is an excerpt from their commentary on Daniel:
Concerning the kingdom of Alexander the Great, the Bible foretold a breakup and a division “but not to his posterity.” (Daniel 11:3, 4) Accordingly, within 14 years after Alexander’s sudden death in 323 B.C.E., his legitimate son Alexander IV and his illegitimate son Heracles were assassinated.
By the year 301 B.C.E., four of Alexander’s generals established themselves in power over the vast empire their commander had built. General Cassander took control of Macedonia and Greece. General Lysimachus received Asia Minor and Thrace. To Seleucus I Nicator went Mesopotamia and Syria. And Ptolemy Lagus, or Ptolemy I, ruled Egypt and Palestine. From Alexander’s one great kingdom thus arose four Hellenistic, or Grecian, kingdoms.
Of the four Hellenistic kingdoms, Cassander’s rule proved to be of the shortest duration. A few years after Cassander came to power, his male lineage died out, and in 285 B.C.E., Lysimachus took possession of the European part of the Greek Empire. Four years later, Lysimachus fell in battle before Seleucus I Nicator, giving him control of the major portion of the Asiatic territories. Seleucus became the first of the line of Seleucid kings in Syria. He founded Antioch in Syria and made that his new capital. Seleucus was assassinated in 281 B.C.E., but the dynasty that he established continued in power until 64 B.C.E. when Roman General Pompey made Syria a province of Rome.
As the commentary goes on to explain, and as is common knowledge, extended European civilization developed from Greece, and via Rome, by the 18th century it became apparent that the British Empire had inherited the imperial mantle from its Greek and Roman predecessors.
But just as Greece had both republican and dictatorial tendencies, being known as the cradle of democracy, as well as the satanic capital of authority of a sprawling empire, so too, both impulses are present to this day, embodied in the London imperial system being yoked together with the supposed champion of republicanism – America.
Together these are symbolized in prophecy as the feet of iron fused with clay. But that is another topic.
But obviously the brief prophecy in the eighth chapter of Daniel is not intended to provide a detailed history lesson, but was provided simply to lay the historical foundation for the developments that would take place during the time of the end, because, after all, that is why the angel related the prophecy in the first place, as Gabriel said in verse 17: “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.”
It is sufficient to say that the four horns represent the remnants that have developed from the division of Alexander’s empire, which would exist up until the beginning of the time of the end when the small horn emerges and challenges Christ. The angel also let it be known that the prophecy is sealed until the time of the end. But the point is, that is why there is a massive gap in prophecy between the time of Christ and the time of the end.
Another thing that should be clarified, the prophecies only concern themselves with events that impact God’s holy ones. In the first century, obviously, Jesus was the original holy one, along with the apostles. But after the congregation was absorbed into the Roman system at the time of Constantine, there was left no detectable trace of any holy ones who were true advocates of the kingdom of God. Although there apparently were a few scattered about throughout the ages, it is only leading up to the harvest that another crop of holy ones have appeared on the scene; specifically, in the past century and a half, and these have been gathered under the authority of the Watchtower Society, along with a much larger grouping that has embraced the hope of surviving the tribulation.
The Watchtower organization has functioned as the dragnet of Jesus’ illustration in the 13th chapter of Matthew, which is to be hauled ashore and the fishes sorted by the angels during the conclusion, or the time of the end. So, that is why God’s angel provided this information, so that God’s holy ones may understand when the time comes. “Let him that has ears listen.”
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES & THE TIME OF THE END
However, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the time of the end began in 1914. As the decades have rolled by Jehovah’s Witnesses have taken to the expression “we are deep in the time of the end.” But there are numerous irreconcilable discrepancies with the Watchtower Society’s teaching. (Various articles have been presented over the years overturning the notion that the time of the end began in 1914, such as A Closer Look at 1914 and: When is the Final Part of the Days?)
Supposedly, the “little horn” emerged in 1914, not as the British Empire, but as the Anglo-American dual world power. Inexplicably, though, 1914 is generally recognized as the zenith of the formal, colonial, British Empire; at which point it went into a slow decline. The point being: The British Empire had already existed as the largest empire the world had ever known long before the time the little horn is believed to have emerged in 1914. And it should be noted as well; the Anglo-American alliance known as the “special relationship” did not come about until after the Second World War.
Another aspect of interpretation that is askew is that, according to the Watchtower, the small horn that emerges in the time of the end did not then go about trampling on God’s holy place in 1914. The prophecy was supposedly fulfilled later, immediately prior to and during the Second World War, evidenced by the worldwide persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses, primarily by the Nazis, but also due to the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses were beset by hysterical, flag-waving mobs and frenzied Catholic action groups in the United States and denied military exception on the grounds of being conscientious objectors.
But the fact of the matter is: the federal government in America did not directly persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses. On the contrary, although small town sheriffs and local prosecutors may have jailed and prosecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses for various and sundry petty misdemeanors, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the constitutional rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses with many landmark decisions. The truth is: the American justice system protected Jehovah’s Witnesses, just as Jehovah caused the Persian king to protect his people back in Daniel’s day, which the angel revealed when he said: “And as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede I stood up as a strengthener and as a fortress to him.”
Being denied an exemption from military service can hardly be considered government-sponsored persecution specifically targeting Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Although that was likely the Devil’s intention) It is just that no other people in such large numbers took the no-compromising stand that Jehovah’s Witnesses took back then. Probably hundreds of Jehovah’s Witnesses in various countries around the world are in prisons right now for refusing military service. Is that in fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy too? (Wikipedia – Jehovah’s Witnesses and Governments)
And besides, the American-led Allied forces defeated the Nazis and freed millions from the concentration camps, including several thousand of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Consider, now, more closely the angel’s own explanation of the meaning of the small horn’s ascendancy.
“And in a wonderful way he will cause ruin, and he will certainly prove successful and do effectively. And he will actually bring mighty ones to ruin, also the people made up of the holy ones. And according to his insight he will also certainly cause deception to succeed in his hand. And in his heart he will put on great airs, and during a freedom from care he will bring many to ruin.”
Here are a few questions that thinking Jehovah’s Witnesses may want to consider: How did the Anglo-American duo cause ruin in a wonderful way during the Second World War? (Excluding the not-so-well-known fact that financiers within the Anglo-American establishment secretly financed Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, even during the war.)
Secondly, how did the Anglo-American dual world power cause deception to succeed back then? Third, how did London or America bring the “mighty ones” to ruin and the holy ones? Who were the “mighty ones”? Did the mere fact that Jehovah’s Witness males of draft age were denied a military exception bring all of the holy ones to ruin? Lastly, is it reasonable that the Anglo-American allies – who defeated the Nazi-Fascist Axis powers and liberated Western Europe – is the entity being described in the prophecy as a king that brought many to ruin during a time of freedom of care? After all, the world back then before the war was still reeling from the First World War and in the grip of the Great Depression and there was great uncertainty and fear. Was it really a time of unconcern? (Freedom from care)
Not surprisingly, in their commentary on the prophecy the Watchtower says absolutely nothing about this entire span of verses. Whether through artifice or sheer ineptitude, the result is the same: the prophets of Bethel have relegated a vital prophecy into complete irrelevancy, leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses with no inkling of any sort of future fulfillment. After all, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, when have you ever engaged in any sort of discussion about the exploits of the king fierce in countenance with fellow believers? When was the last time a public speaker at the kingdom hall attempted to explain the doings of the king fierce in countenance? The topic of the “king fierce in countenance” has only been considered once in a study article of the Watchtower, and that more than 40 years ago!
One of the most ludicrous interpretations of prophecy the Watchtower has ever put to print is that the holy place was put into its right condition by a few trifling adjustments to the wording of the charter of the Watchtower Bible and Tract corporation. Here is an excerpt from Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy:
For “the holy place” to be “brought,” or restored, to what it should be, the 2,300 days must have begun when it previously was in the “right condition” from God’s standpoint. At the earliest, this was on June 1, 1938, when TheWatchtower published part 1 of the article “Organization.” Part 2 appeared in the issue of June 15, 1938. Counting 2,300 days (6 years, 4 months, and 20 days on the Hebrew calendar) from June 1 or 15, 1938, brings us to October 8 or 22, 1944. On the first day of a special assembly held at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., on September 30 and October 1, 1944, the Watch Tower Society’s president spoke on the subject “The Theocratic Alignment Today.” At the annual corporate meeting on October 2, the Society’s charter was amended in an effort to bring it as close to a theocratic arrangement as the law would allow. With the publication of clarified Biblical requirements, theocratic organization was soon more fully installed in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
While the 2,300 days ran their course during World War II, which began in 1939, the offering of “the constant feature” at God’s sanctuary was severely restricted because of persecution. In 1938 the Watch Tower Society had 39 branches supervising the work of the Witnesses worldwide, but by 1943 there were only 21. Increases in the number of Kingdom proclaimers were also small during that period.
As we have noted, during the closing months of World War II, Jehovah’s Witnesses reaffirmed their determination to magnify God’s rulership by serving him as a theocratic organization. It was with this objective that the rearrangement of their work and governing structure was initiated in 1944. In fact, The Watchtower of October 15, 1944, contained an article entitled “Organized for Final Work.” It and other service-oriented articles of the same period indicated that the 2,300 days had ended and that “the holy place” was again in its “right condition.”
The enemy’s vicious attempts to desolate and destroy “the holy place” had failed completely. Indeed, the remaining “holy ones” on earth, along with their companions of the “great crowd,” had come off victorious. And the sanctuary, in its rightful theocratic state, now continues to render sacred service to Jehovah.
The amended charter that supposedly brought the holy place into its right condition stated that any board member now had to be a devoted Christian involved in some aspect of the full-time work. Board members were no longer merely financial contributors.
First, it should be noted that the prophecy does not indicate that the king fierce in countenance will fail completely. Quite the opposite, in fact. The king will cause deception to succeed and he will also succeed in bringing ruin to the mighty ones and the holy ones of God. (A discerning reader ought to take note of the fact that that the desolation of the holy place was the central feature of Jesus’ prophecy of the conclusion of the system, or time of the end, as it is alternatively expressed in Daniel. Jesus even cued the reader to consider the prophecy of Daniel.)
Secondly, according to Jesus himself, the holy place, also known as the kingdom, comes into its right condition when Christ dispatches his powerful angels to remove wicked persons from his kingdom. That is what is to be accomplished during the conclusion, or time of the end.
In a further demonstration of the artificiality of the Society’s interpretation, the 7th chapter of Daniel presents a similar prophecy, which likewise depicts the holy ones being trampled by the beast. But Bethel’s watchman insists that the holy ones were trampled during the First World War, not during WWII. The reason that is offered as a reliable interpretation is because it relates how the holy ones are thrown down for the prophetic period of “a time, times and half a time,” which has been tied to the First World War. So basically, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been led to believe that two complimentary prophecies have two totally different interpretations.
But the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation are essentially a series of complimentary snapshots of things that must shortly take place. The three horns that are plucked out of the unusually fierce beast by an emergent little horn is the same as the small horn that springs up from the hairy he-goat, which is the same event portrayed in the 13th chapter of Revelation depicting a seven-headed beast that receives a sword stroke upon one of its heads.
How may we be certain that these prophecies have not been fulfilled yet? Because, the Apocalypse is very clear on this, that the death-stroke upon the ruling head of the beast initiates judgment day. Because once the head of the political beast is slaughtered, signifying the utter collapse of the present system, the system will be resuscitated and give rise to the last king, also known as the image of the beast. The last king will be a rival of Christ himself. So, those who pledge their allegiance to the last king will have their names blotted out of the book of life. In other words, those who receive the mark of the beast unequivocally forfeit their lives. The mark of the beast is permanent and irreversible. It will mean that a person has rejected Christ and chosen Satan as their king.
The Watchtower has unblushingly claimed that people have already received the mark, since 1919 even, with the advent of the League of Nations. But if the past few generations have been condemned to everlasting death already, why do Jehovah’s Witnesses expend their efforts trying to evangelize the doomed? Indeed, how is it possible for a person to even come into an approved relationship with God, as Jehovah’s Witnesses assume they have, if before their conversion they had worshipped the beast and gotten the mark?
Of course, none of Jehovah’s Witnesses can provide a rational answer to these questions. And the Watchtower has the luxury of simply ignoring these glaring contradictions and pretending they do not exist, for now anyway. They know that Jehovah’s Witnesses have been conditioned to the extent of rejecting any suggestion that what they have been taught by the faithful slave is anything but God’s sterling truth. Any who might suggest otherwise are inevitably condemned as apostates.
But, the prevailing culture of blindness among Jehovah’s Witnesses notwithstanding, what is the true significance of these prophecies and what do they portend for the future?
That topic will be considered in the next article – The Crash of the Euro