There is a snippet of an article appearing this week on the home page of JW dot org that poses the question: What is the Coming of Christ?
Long-time readers of e-Watchman likely realize this is my special field of interest and research. I have thoroughly examined the relevant scriptures on this fascinating topic, as well as the Watchtower’s teaching on the subject. So, let’s dive right in.
The Scriptures make dozens of references to the future time when Christ comes to judge the people of the earth. * For example, Matthew 25:31- 33 says:
Yes, the Scriptures make dozens of references to the future time when Christ comes to judge the people of the earth. In spite of those dozens of references, the Watchtower cites a single verse in the context of the so-called parable of the sheep and the goats, as if that was all there is to it.
The article on jw dot org does not even contain 600 words. That’s why I call it a snippet. It is just a mere fragment of what could and should be said. To be sure, it is not possible to even scratch the surface of a subject as deep and opaque as the revelation of Christ in such brevity. No doubt the intent of the publishers of these micro articles is to give the impression that no more needs to be said. A form of deception used by the Watchtower is saying something true while omitting something they do not wish you to consider.
There is a clickable asterisk after the first sentence. The connected info box states: “Although many people use the terms “second coming” or “second advent” to refer to Christ’s coming, those terms do not appear in the Bible.”
The above statement is also true. The Bible does not specifically use the term “second coming” or “second advent.” But so what? Nowhere in the Scriptures do we find the term “invisible presence” either; but obviously, the absence of any such expression in the Bible has not prevented the Watchtower from enshrining that phrase as unassailable truth and core doctrine.
Actually, though, the apostle Paul used an expression that implicitly suggests a second coming, and not only a second coming but an appearance—a visible presence.
The apostle went into considerable detail in his letter to the Hebrews explaining the special role Christ plays not only as the blood sacrifice offered to God, but the office he occupies as Jehovah’s appointed high priest. Paul also revealed that his role as the mediator of the covenant will at some point be concluded. When? Paul explains: “…so also the Christ was offered once for all time to bear the sins of many; and the second time that he appears it will be apart from sin, and he will be seen by those earnestly looking for him for their salvation.” — Hebrews 9:28
Did you catch that? > “The second time that he appears.”
We ministers are well aware of the mental blindness of those who have been indoctrinated with the Trinity, as an example. They might read a passage that reveals Christ to be the Firstborn of all creation and it has no impact on them. It is as if their eyes glaze over and they cannot grasp it. Well, is not the same dullness of mind on display when Jehovah’s Witnesses read a passage such as cited above? “The second time he appears” is pretty straightforward and easily understandable. So is the expression “he will be seen by those earnestly looking for him”—provided one has not had their thinking faculties blunted with clever indoctrination.
If there is a second time he will appear when was the first time he appeared? That is easy. Jesus appeared to the Jews on the day John the Baptizer immersed him in the Jordan River and for three and a half years thereafter Jesus walked the length and breadth of Israel appearing to the nation as Jehovah’s chosen one—the Messiah. He also made numerous appearances to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. Since his first appearance was very much visible, as were his post-resurrection manifestations, why is it that the Watchtower teaches the second time he appears will be invisible?
This time of judgment will be part of a “great tribulation” unlike anything in human history. That tribulation will culminate in the war of Armageddon. (Matthew 24:21; Revelation 16:16) Christ’s enemies, described in his illustration as goats, “will undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction.” (2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 19:11, 15) In contrast, his faithful servants, the sheep, will have the prospect of “everlasting life.”
If “the tribulation will culminate in the war of Armageddon” why will God intervene to cut it short? Is it cut short by Armageddon? No. That is not the case. To this day, after more than a century of Bible research, the Watchtower still does not have a clear view of the things revealed in prophecy.
What is the great tribulation? The Governing Body has never really satisfactorily explained it. They say the world’s greatest time of trouble will begin when the United Nations destroys all organized religions, worldwide. If that is true why would God intervene to cut it short? If the elimination of organized religion is all there is to it then why did Jesus say that unless God intervened no flesh would survive? Obviously, the great tribulation will pose an existential threat for all of humanity, not just false religion.
At this moment in history when the nations that possess stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction are being inexorably drawn into direct conflict, the Watchtower’s somnolence is inexcusable. No doubt that is why when speaking to his disciples Jesus said he was coming at an hour they do not think likely.
Jesus said: “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows.” (Matthew 24:36, 42; 25:13) However, he did describe a visible, composite “sign” that would identify the period leading up to his coming. —Matthew 24: 3, 7- 14; Luke 21:10, 11.
Sorting through the Watchtower’s contradictory statements can be a real task. True enough, Jesus said nobody knows the day and hour for the coming of the Son of man. The Watchtower claims the composite sign identifies the period leading up to his coming, except they also claim that Christ came back in 1914. Read the third chapter of Malachi. Referring to the messenger of the covenant and the true Lord, verses 1-2 state: “And suddenly the true Lord, whom you are seeking, will come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant will come, in whom you take delight. Look! He will certainly come,” says Jehovah of armies. “But who will endure the day of his coming, and who will be able to stand when he appears?”
Please note that in just two verses the words “come” and “coming” are used four times in reference to the coming of the true Lord whom we know to be Christ Jesus. Also, there is that word again—“appears.”
This is particularly problematic for the Watchtower because their dogma claims the true Lord came to his temple in 1914 and cleaned things up. So, the Watchtower has rendered moot the question of who will be able to endure the day of his coming. According to Watchtower lore a few thousand Bible Students were able to stand when he invisibly appeared to them, and of course, those who endured the fiery day of his coming have all passed away since the climactic day of the Lord’s coming and invisible appearance.
Does Christ come in a body of spirit or of flesh? Jesus was resurrected with a spirit body, so he comes as a spirit creature, not in the flesh. (1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Peter 3: 18) For this reason, Jesus could tell his apostles on the day before his death: “In a little while the world will see me no more.” —John 14:19.
If the writers of these snippets were honest they would not quote half of a verse and neglect to use an ellipsis to indicate the omission. Reading John 14:19 in its entirety, Jesus said: “In a little while the world will see me no more, but you will see me, because I live and you will live.”
True to Jesus’ words the disciples saw Jesus after he was raised from the dead. It is worth noting that no one saw the resurrected Christ who had not been a believer before his death. So, in that sense, the world did not see him. Is that it though? By no means. In the opening verses of that same 14th chapter of John Jesus explained: “In the house of my Father are many dwelling places. Otherwise, I would have told you, for I am going my way to prepare a place for you. Also, if I go my way and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will receive you home to myself, so that where I am you also may be.”
After he appeared to the disciples over the course of 40 days the Lord ascended to heaven for the purpose of preparing a place for his adopted brothers. Jesus clearly said he was coming again (second coming) in order to receive all of the chosen ones to himself—both the dead and the living. And it is when he comes again that, as John later revealed “…we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)
Misconception: When the Bible says that people will see Jesus “coming on the clouds,” it means that Jesus will come visibly. —Matthew 24:30.
Fact: The Bible often associates clouds with something hidden from view. (Leviticus 16:2; Numbers 11:25; Deuteronomy 33:26) For example, God told Moses: “I am coming to you in a dark cloud.” (Exodus 19:9) Moses did not literally see God. Likewise, Christ ‘comes on the clouds’ in that people perceive his coming even though they cannot literally see him.
If you were to actually read the 19th chapter of Exodus you would get an entirely different picture than what the snippet is suggesting. Verse nine says: “Look! I am coming to you in a dark cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and so that they may always put faith in you as well.” Then Moses reported the words of the people to Jehovah.”
Moses was up on the top of a mountain with the entire assembly of Israel looking up from below. The mountain was indeed enveloped in a dark cloud, but there could have been no mistaking it for a typical cloud floating by. Jehovah manifested himself on the mountain and spoke directly to Moses (through an angel). That was not it though. Moses was instructed to go down and prepare the people to meet their God on the third day (not coincidently the duration of Jesus’ entombment). On the third day “Moses now brought the people out of the camp to meet the true God, and they took their place at the base of the mountain. Mount Sinai smoked all over, because Jehovah came down upon it in fire; and its smoke was rising like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain was trembling violently. As the sound of the horn grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and the voice of the true God answered him.” (16-19)
It is true, no man may see the face of God and survive the encounter. Even so, Jehovah revealed himself to Moses by figuratively shielding Moses in a crevice of the mountain and then walking by him so that Moses saw God’s back, as it were—not his face. As a result, when Moses came down from the mountain with the new set of stone tablets his face emitted rays. Did Moses see God? Absolutely! If you see someone from behind and you recognize them even though you did not see their face did you really see them? Yes, of course.
What is the significance of Moses’ appearance in the vision of the transfiguration? Just as Moses conversed with Jehovah face-to-face on Mount Sinai, Moses and Elijah were conversing with Jesus who was lit up as brightly as the sun when suddenly a cloud appeared and the voice of God emanated from the cloud saying: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved. Listen to him.” — Matthew 17:5b
Jehovah, speaking from the hovering cloud, was invisible; however, Jesus, with his face shining like the sun, was quite visible to Peter, James and John. And Peter later explained that the transfiguration was a foregleam of the parousia.
The remainder of the article tears into the straw man that every eye will see Jesus and the absurd suggestion that Jesus will return in the flesh.
It seems to me that the Watchtower is responding to the e-Watchman publication of the online brochure entitled: The Second Coming of Christ – What Will It Mean for You?
This public argument between myself and the Watchtower has been going on for quite a while now. It will only be settled when Christ actually comes as a thief in the night. Contrary to the implied suggestion that the judgment of the sheep and the goats will immediately occur, Jehovah’s Witnesses ought to know that judgment begins with the house of God. Up until then, Satan’s agents will prevail. So will the deluding influence they promote, such as the demon-inspired drivel that Christ’s coming again does not constitute a second coming or that he will appear invisibly to his brothers.
Until then there is no possibility that anyone will be judged as to whether they have done good to Christ’s brothers. As it stands, the Watchtower must first answer for their many errors, tyranny, and outright rebellion against God. Only after the evil slaves are dismissed to weep and gnash their teeth in the outer darkness will the true brothers of Christ be distinguished. That phenomenon is what Paul referred to as the “revealing of the sons of God.” The sons of God are brothers of the Son of God.