In the Bible times of walled cities, watchmen served a vital function as sentries assigned to keep on the lookout for any signs of approaching enemy armies, marauders, or any other dangers. The position of watchman was considered so important due to its responsibility for the lives of others that a negligent watchman could be put to death. Using that very analogy, Jehovah commissioned spiritual watchmen who were charged by him with announcing his judgments.
For example, Isaiah wrote:“Upon the watchtower, O Jehovah, I am standing constantly by day, and at my guardpost I am stationed all the nights…”– Isaiah 21
Habakkuk, another ancient prophetic watchman, explains his duty: “At my guard post I will keep standing, and I will keep myself stationed upon the bulwark; and I shall keep watch, to see what he will speak by me and what I shall reply at the reproof of me.” – Habakkuk 2:1
Ezekiel was likewise commissioned as a watchman to the house of Israel.
What is especially important is that the watchman calls out what he actually sees, not merely what he expects to see, and surely not what he is told by others to see. A faithful watchman cannot merely tell others what they want to hear. The true watchman has to have the courage to be the bearer of bad news, if duty calls for such.
Yet, the tendency of Jehovah’s Witnesses is quite similar to that described in prophecy; specifically, to what is recorded in the 30th chapter of Isaiah, where God’s watchman is told: ‘“You must not see,’ and to the ones having visions, ‘you must not envision for us any straightforward things. Speak to us smooth things; envision deceptive things. Turn aside from the way; deviate from the path. Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease just on account of us.’”
Just as the kings and priests refused to listen to God’s watchmen in ancient times, so too, the very same message contained in God’s prophetic word, much of which was originally transmitted by means of visions, is also rejected by the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses today. Instead, their desire is to hear and teach “smooth things…deceptive things.”
In what way does the Governing Body prefer smooth and deceptive things and how could it possibly be said that they wish the Holy One to cease on account of them? Well, much of the information on this site is devoted to overturning the Watchtower Society’s 1914 invisible parousia doctrine for the reason that it is indeed “a deceptive thing.” To be sure, it is not just that Jehovah’s Witnesses have been led to believe the fiction that Christ was given the kingdom in that year. In truth, the Watchtower has attached a vast range of prophetic interpretation to 1914, which has effectively hidden God’s future judgments; the most insidious aspect being that Christ judged the spiritual house of God back then and declared the Bethel leadership to be over all of the master’s belongings. In effect, the Watchtower has relegated God’s entire rebuke to decades past. That is an example of how the organization prefers to hear “smooth things.” They wish the Holy One to cease from correcting or rebuking them, or issuing his judicial decisions as contained in the Scriptures.
The Society has gone to great lengths to explain the prophecies to blunt God’s judgments. For example, a prominent feature of prophecy is the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. That theme is repeated in prophecy with regards to that in the Christian arrangement which corresponds to the Jewish temple; namely, the congregation of Christ. The Governing Body are well aware of this parallel and so have fabricated an elaborate mythos surrounding the turmoil that the Society was embroiled in during the First World War in order to convince Jehovah’s Witnesses that virtually all things have been fulfilled.
The Watchtower’s 1914 teaching is so arcane and convoluted that very few of Jehovah’s Witnesses have the spiritual wherewithal to unravel it. And to be sure, the elders swiftly deal with any witness who might express the slightest misgivings about the accuracy and reliability of Society’s prophetic interpretations.
But there are many inconsistencies and contradictions, which are considered in detail in numerous articles appearing on this site; but consider one such loose end that betrays the Watchtower’s self-serving sophistry.
As already stated, a major portion of prophecy centers around the destruction and restoration of God’s house of worship. The prophet Daniel envisioned what is to occur in the final part of the days when the kingdom is given to the holy ones. In the 8th chapter of Daniel the prophecy states concerning the antichrist-actions taken by a certain king fierce in countenance: “And it kept getting greater all the way to the army of the heavens, so that it caused some of the army and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it went trampling them down. And all the way to the Prince of the army it put on great airs, and from him the constant feature was taken away, and the established place of his sanctuary was thrown down. And an army itself was gradually given over, together with the constant feature, because of transgression; and it kept throwing truth to the earth, and it acted and had success.”
While providing valuable insight into the meaning of the “army” and the “stars” as well as the “constant feature” and the “sanctuary,” the Watchtower teaches that the king fierce in countenance is the Anglo-American dual world power and the prophecy was fulfilled during the Second World War. However, in contradiction to that teaching, the Watchtower simultaneously teaches that the throwing down of the holy ones was initiated by the Nazis and fascists and then spread to America, and that the American king trampled on the truth by not giving Jehovah’s Witnesses exemption from military service.
For a certainty Jehovah’s Witnesses were persecuted for their neutrality and were subjected to mob violence by patriotic and religious zealots. But the facts of history indicate that the government of the United States, its Supreme Court in particular, upheld the rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The American system actually served to protect Jehovah’s Witnesses and uphold the truth. How can it be true that the government of America simultaneously crushed Jehovah’s Witnesses while at the same time protected them from persecution? That is nonsensical.
Not only that, but the Watchtower contradictorily teaches that the “constant feature” was taken away on two different occasions in the 20th century! It is true. As stated above, both the Nazis and the Anglo-American duo supposedly both caused the constant feature of Jehovah’s worship to cease, even though neither political power actually brought the public ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses to a stop. (Apparently a dozen or so branch offices were shut down during the war.) However, the Watchtower also teaches that the so-called constant feature was removed during the First World War too! Commenting on the meaning of Daniel 12:11, the Society states:
So this first condition of the prophecy—the removing of “the constant feature”—was brought about in mid-1918 when the preaching work was virtually suspended. – Daniel’s Prophecy, page 297
As all of Jehovah’s Witnesses know, the Society has attached a great deal of importance to the arrest of Rutherford and a few other Bethel members back in 1918. What took place back then is believed to have been in fulfillment of numerous prophecies, as well as Revelation – such as the killing of God’s two witnesses. However, they did not come to that conclusion until many years later.
But now consider this: The Watchtower derives its name from Isaiah’s prophecy previously cited and claims to be Jehovah’s composite watchman. Yet, all of the persecution that came upon the Bible Students back then was completely unanticipated. The question is, if the Watchtower Society was serving as a watchman why did it not see beforehand what Jehovah’s judgments were? After all, that is what the ancient watchman did. They announced Jehovah’s judgments beforehand. In contrast, the Watchtower has only connected the events with prophecy long after they occurred. Certain men in the organization have even said that ‘prophecy cannot be understood until after it is fulfilled.’ This really betrays the fact that the Watchtower Society does not have insight into what is to occur in the future, which is the nature of the work of a true watchman.
Jesus charged all of his disciples to stay on the watch. But what were they to watch for? They were to keep on the watch for the return of the master. In the 12th chapter of Luke, Jesus spoke at some length on the need for his little flock to stay on the watch. Christ exhorted them, saying: “Let your loins be girded and your lamps be burning, and you yourselves be like men waiting for their master when he returns from the marriage, so that at his arriving and knocking they may at once open to him.”
Christ went on to explain that his arrival would be by stealth, like a thief in the night that comes at an hour his disciples “do not think likely.” However, for those whom he actually finds ready and waiting, after punishing them for their shortcomings, Jesus rewards them by appointing them over all of his belongings. But Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the master came in 1914 and appointed the Watchtower Society over all his belongings. If that were true, though, what need is there for any Christian to stay on the watch any longer? Clearly, that is another glaring contradiction.
The Society constantly declares the leadership of the organization to be faithful and discreet – men rich in faith and wisdom. In many ways they demonstrate that they consider themselves to be men of vision and discernment and above counsel or correction.
I have observed this attitude firsthand. About 15 years ago I spoke on the telephone to a brother at Bethel who is now a member of the Governing Body. A friend who personally knew him said that he was open-minded and reasonable. So, I respectfully tried to get him to reason upon the absurdity of the Watchtower’s interpretation of the Joel. In response he became indignant and reproved me for being so presumptuous to suppose that I knew better than the Governing Body. He went on to inform me that if Jehovah wants them to know anything he will communicate with them more directly from a Bethel insider – (not from some nobody publisher.) Yet, the reality is, any person who chooses to reason upon the book of Joel and compare it with what the Watchtower teaches can clearly see that the Society’s interpretation is nonsensical and ridiculous.
In that respect the self-proclaimed watchman class of Bethel fit the description of those anointed persons in Laodicea of whom Christ said: “Because you say: ‘I am rich and have acquired riches and do not need anything at all,’ but you do not know you are miserable and pitiable and poor and blind and naked.”
Strangely, as we draw closer and closer to the end, the Watchtower has had less and less to say regarding the deep things of prophecy. For example, since the collapse of the USSR the Society has declared its mystification over the identity of the king of the north and in the past 20 years has not had so much as one word to say on the topic. Ironically, with the global financial crisis wracking the world, threatening to bring down the whole economic and political system, the Society is mute. Apparently the watchmen of Bethel see no significance in the fact that the nations of Europe and the United States are being looted and pushed into fascism by London’s monetarist empire.
Truly, Jehovah’s words apply to them at this critical time: “His watchmen are blind. None of them have taken note. All of them are speechless dogs; they are unable to bark, panting, lying down, loving to slumber.” – Isaiah 56:10