This is a consideration of the study material for the congregation Bible study covering chapter two of God’s Kingdom Rules!
DO YOU ever wonder what it might have been like to live during some great turning point in history? Many do. But consider: If you had lived in such a momentous time, would you have personally witnessed the key events that brought about change? Perhaps not. Events that spell doom for old regimes and fill the pages of history books often take place out of the public eye. In a sense, much of history unfolds behind closed doors—in throne rooms, in private council chambers, or in government offices. Nonetheless, such changes affect millions of lives.
2 What about the greatest event ever to occur in the history of the world? That event has touched millions of lives. Yet, it took place out of human view. We refer, of course, to the birth in heaven of God’s Kingdom, the long-promised Messianic government that will soon bring this whole world system to its end. (Read Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45.) Since humans did not witness that momentous birth, should we conclude that Jehovah hid the event from mankind? Or, rather, did he prepare his loyal people for it beforehand? Let us see.
Let’s face it. It is easy for someone intent on deception to “prove” that something occurred in the invisible realm. How could anyone disprove it? The answer is, only by painstaking research and acquiring insight into the prophecies —something that the Watchtower discourages Jehovah’s Witnesses from doing independently. Is it not true that the Watchtower exercises a total monopoly over the Scriptures? No one outside of the inner sanctum of Bethel can understand the Bible. Isn’t that the state of mind with which Jehovah’s Witnesses have been inculcated? In time, though, I am confident that God’s people will recognize the Watchtower’s 1914 doctrine for what it is —one of the greatest hoaxes ever! And that realization will not come through mere study or research. It will come about when the powerful presence of Christ actually becomes a reality and shatters the Watchtower’s whitewashed wall!
The simple fact is, the Scriptures never speak of an invisible presence of Christ. As the very title of this blog post indicates, Christ is going to appear. Paul also wrote of the “second time he appears.” Whoever heard of an invisible appearance? It is nonsensical.
What is going on, is that, Jehovah has carefully hidden the greatest event in human history. He has done so by allowing Satan to put into operation a fake parousia —what Paul called “a deluding influence.” That deluding influence emanates from a man of lawlessness, also known as the son of destruction —an obvious reference to Judas, one of Jesus’ handpicked apostles. Thus, the man of lawlessness, who ultimately will sit down as an enthroned god in the temple of God, is not an outsider who has no influence over the people who serve God in his spiritual temple. (The Watchtower cleverly teaches that the man of lawlessness merely claims to sit down in the temple.)
Paul went on to say of him: “But the lawless one’s presence is by the operation of Satan with every powerful work and lying signs and wonders and every unrighteous deception for those who are perishing, as a retribution because they did not accept the love of the truth in order that they might be saved.”
By allowing his people to come under “the operation of Satan” by their believing his lying signs and every unrighteous deception, as though it were God’s special truth that only they are privy to, those who otherwise know the truth are befuddled and blinded to the reality of the future coming of Christ; thus, God controls the revelation of the sacred secret. Why does God hide these vital matters from truth-seekers? It is because they are idolators.
Keep in mind that idolatry may not necessarily take the form of revering some religious object like a statue or relic. Anything that detracts from God’s glory or that becomes an object of devotion, is an idol. A person may claim godlike status and be worshipped, which is exactly what the man of lawlessness ultimately does. And because God’s people are under his deluding influence, attributing to him special powers to divine the truth as God’s earthly mouthpiece, from God’s standpoint it is idolatry.
That is subject matter of the 48th chapter of Isaiah. Speaking at a future point in time to those who swear by the name of Jehovah, God states: “Because I knew how stubborn you are —That your neck is an iron sinew and your forehead is copper— I told you long ago. Before it came about, I caused you to hear it, so that you could not say, ‘My idol did this; my carved image and my metal image commanded this.’ You have heard and seen all of this. Will you not declare it? From now on I am announcing new things to you, guarded secrets that you have not known. Only now are they being created, and not long ago, things that you never heard before today, so that you cannot say, ‘Look! I already know them.’ No, you have not heard, you have not known, and in the past your ears were not opened. For I know that you are very treacherous, and you have been called a transgressor from birth.”
The Watchtower idol claims to know all things —or at least it intimates that it is the source of all truth. (Does the Light Get Brighter?) The Keepers of the Idol —the Governing Body and their “helpers” —demonstrate that they are exceedingly stubborn. The publication God’s Kingdom Rules! is a testament to their treachery and obstinate refusal to forsake the lie, even after a century of failure!
So, the stage is set. When the Kingdom comes none of the exalted Bethel crowd will have a clue, as the saying goes. They will no longer be able to brag of their deep insights into the hidden secrets of God’s word. Jehovah will humiliate their idol. And the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses will be put to the test.
As regards the first two paragraphs, how have events in 1914 “touched millions of lives”? Obviously, millions among the approximately one-billion souls who were on earth in 1914 were “touched” in varying degrees by the war in Europe. Many more millions were effected by the horrific Spanish Flu. But virtually all of those who lived then have passed away. No one living now was directly touched by the events of 1914-1918.
So, when the Watchtower claims that the birth of the Kingdom has “touched millions of lives,” a more truthful statement would be that the 1914 doctrine has touched millions of lives; namely, the millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses who are presently laboring under the delusion that the Kingdom began ruling the world in 1914!
“My Messenger . . . Will Clear Up a Way Before Me”
4 In the modern-day fulfillment, when did Jehovah, “the true Lord,” come to inspect those who were serving in the earthly courtyard of his spiritual temple? The prophecy explains that Jehovah would come with “the messenger of the covenant.” Who was that? None other than the Messianic King, Jesus Christ! (Luke 1:68-73) As the newly installed Ruler, he would inspect and refine God’s people on earth.—1 Pet. 4:17.
First, it must be appreciated that over the years, strand-by-strand, the Watchtower has tied a Gordian knot of intertwined prophecies that is virtually impossible for the average Jehovah’s Witness to untangle. Who has the time or the mental inclination to go through and sort out the knotted mess the Watchtower has made?
But, let’s take it thread-by-thread. The coming of the messenger of the covenant results in “the sons of Levi” being refined. That much is true. The sons of Levi are representative of those who are anointed priests via the new covenant, of which Jesus is the mediator (messenger). Again, the Watchtower is correct. The purpose of Christ coming is for judgment. That much is indicated in verse five, which states: “I will come near to you for judgment, and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who take false oaths, against those who defraud the hired worker, the widow, and the fatherless child, and against those who refuse to help the foreigner. These have not feared me…”
Now it ought to be a simple matter to determine if Christ has already come for said judgment. Can the Watchtower point to any evidence that Jesus has become a swift witness against against the various kinds of evildoers among his people? The answer is a resounding no! But as long as the Watchtower stands in judgment of itself and pronounces itself to be righteous, there is little possibility that any of Jehovah’s Witnesses might have space enough to reason things out for themselves.
Furthermore, when the messenger of the covenant comes “he will be like the fire of a refiner and like the lye of laundrymen. And he will sit as a refiner and cleanser of silver and will cleanse the sons of Levi; and he will clarify them like gold and like silver…”
The analogy of clarifying persons from their spiritual impurities like a refiner processes gold and silver is not unique to the prophecy of Malachi. The first chapter of Isaiah uses the same analogy in reference to the prospective heirs of the Kingdom, saying: “I will turn my hand against you, I will smelt away your dross as with lye, and I will remove all your impurities.”
When does this refining process take place? Speaking to his watchman, Ezekiel, Jehovah said: “Son of man, to me those of the house of Israel have become as scummy dross. All of them are copper and tin and iron and lead in the midst of a furnace. Much scummy dross, that of silver, they have become. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘For the reason that all of you have become as much scummy dross, therefore here I am collecting you together into the midst of Jerusalem. As in collecting silver and copper and iron and lead and tin into the midst of a furnace, in order to blow upon it with fire to cause a liquefying, so I shall collect them together in my anger and in my rage, and I will blow and cause you people to liquefy. And I will bring you together and blow upon you with the fire of my fury, and you must be liquefied in the midst of her. As in the liquefying of silver in the midst of a furnace, so you people will be liquefied in the midst of her; and you will have to know that I myself, Jehovah, have poured out my rage upon you.’”
The purpose of God in collecting and “liquifying” his people is in order to skim off the scummy dross —which in the literal refining process left behind pure gold or silver. Thus, although Jehovah intends to pour out his rage, it is not intended to destroy his people entirely, but to cleanse them of their error. But is this something that has already been accomplished? Well, did Jehovah pour out his rage in 1914 or any time since then? Of course not.
Furthermore, the prophecy of Zechariah, which was written after Jehovah had poured out his wrath on literal Jerusalem by means of the destruction Nebuchadnezzar wrought, points forward to an ultimate refining that immediately precedes the final confrontation. Zechariah 13:8-9 foretells: “And in all the land,” declares Jehovah, ‘Two parts in it will be cut off and perish; and the third part will be left remaining in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire; and I will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘Jehovah is our God.’”
The prophecy of Zechariah confirms that the refining foretold in Malachi is the end of the matter. The result of the cleansing is the complete accomplishment of Jehovah’s purpose to create a people for himself. Beyond that point there is no longer any teaching or disciple-making work.
5 Who, though, was the other “messenger,” the first one mentioned at Malachi 3:1? This prophetic figure would be on the scene well before the Messianic King’s presence. In the decades before 1914, did anyone “clear up a way” before the Messianic King?
6 Throughout this publication, we will find answers to such questions in the thrilling history of Jehovah’s modern-day people. This history shows that in the latter part of the 19th century, one small group of faithful people was emerging as the only body of genuine Christians in a vast field of imitations. That group came to be known as the Bible Students. Those taking the lead among them—Charles T. Russell and his close associates—did, indeed, act as the foretold “messenger,” giving spiritual direction to God’s people and preparing them for the events ahead. Let us consider four ways in which the “messenger” did so.
There is no “other messenger.” This is probably one of the most ridiculous and dishonest things the Watchtower has come up with in recent years, all for the purpose of sanctifying C.T. Russell as the special messenger sent from God. (In actuality, the notion that Russell was a special messenger is not new. The International Bible Students at first proclaimed Russell to be the faithful and wise servant. Then they settled on bestowing upon him the title of the Laodicean Messenger —that, because Laodicea was the last of the seven congregations to whom Christ sent his messenger, his angel. Ironically, it was in connection to the blind among the Laodicean congregation that Christ wrote the following: “Because you say, ‘I am rich and have acquired riches and do not need anything at all,’ but you do not know that you are miserable and pitiful and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may become dressed and that the shame of your nakedness may not be exposed, and eyesalve to rub in your eyes so that you may see.” How well that pitiable spiritual condition describes the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses today, who claim to “see” and who “have acquired riches and do not need anything at all.”)
In truth, the messenger whom Jehovah sends to clear up a way before him is the same messenger of the covenant who comes to the temple. That is evident from the prophecy of Isaiah that uses the very same symbolism. Isiah 40 reveals that the command to clear a way before Jehovah comes after the chastisement. And the immediate result of the clearing away of falsehood and error results in the glory of Jehovah being revealed. Needless to say no such revelation has taken place yet.
Worshipping in Truth
10 As its full title suggested, the journal Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence was deeply concerned with prophecies pertaining to Christ’s presence. The faithful anointed writers who contributed to that journal saw that Daniel’s prophecy regarding the “seven times” had a bearing on the timing of the fulfillment of God’s purposes regarding the Messianic Kingdom. As early as the 1870’s, they pointed to 1914 as the year when those seven times would end. (Dan. 4:25; Luke 21:24) Although our brothers of that era did not yet grasp the full significance of that marked year, they proclaimed what they knew far and wide, with long-lasting effects.
There is no question that the Bible Students were zealous. And there is no dispute that the overturning of Christendom’s false doctrines was an important and vital work to undertake. But earnestness and sincerity are not what determines what is true. After all, churchgoers may earnestly believe that Jesus is God, or that God tortures the souls of the damned in Hell.
As regards Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence the Governing Body would have Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that C.T. Russell was pointing forward to 1914 as the beginning of the parousia. That is simply not true, and Bethel knows it. Russell had convinced his followers that an invisible presence of Christ began in 1874. That is when the first group of Bible searchers got together and agreed on what was the truth. Apparently, Russell felt as if that Bible study group experienced Christ in their midst in some special way.
Although most of Jehovah’s Witnesses have no idea, the 1874 date for the beginning of the parousia remained the Watchtower’s official doctrine long after 1914. Although there is some confusion on the matter, it appears that the parousia was not officially reset to 1914 until about 1940! It is simply incredible that the most important event in the history of the world has been so hard for the Watchtower to definitively nail down!
It is most noteworthy that the Watchtower has never pointed forward to the coming of Christ to commence his presence among the sons of the Kingdom. From the very beginning the parousia has been presented as an ongoing phenomenon. Not coincidently, the man of lawlessness, through talks and official letters, proclaims that the presence has begun and the day of Jehovah is here.
What is more, the end of the appointed times for the Gentiles to trample Jerusalem was believed to be the end of the nations altogether —the end of the world. And amazingly, Russell was right! It has only been in the decades since the big disappointment of 1914 that the Watchtower concocted the notion that the end of the appointed times for the nations to trample Jerusalem was merely the beginning of an invisible presence of Christ in Kingdom power. (There is not enough space in this post to present the true scriptural meaning of the trampling of Jerusalem, but numerous articles have been published on this site and in the book that set the matter straight.)
13 Consider this: Would people have been prepared for the beginning of Christ’s presence if they were not able to distinguish Jesus from his Father, Jehovah? Surely not! Nor would they have been prepared if they thought that immortality was the automatic possession of all and not a precious gift bestowed on only relatively few of Christ’s footstep followers; nor if they thought that God tormented people in hellfire for all eternity with no hope of relief! Without doubt, the “messenger” prepared the way for the Messianic King!
As already pointed out, the Bible Students were not expecting the the beginning of Christ’s presence. The Watchtower is playing fast and loose with the facts. And ironically, because of the Watchtower’s doubling down on 1914, as in their recent proclamation that God’s Kingdom rules! – neither are Jehovah’s Witnesses now prepared for the beginning of Christ’s presence! That is why Malachi poses the unsettling question regarding the sudden arrival of the messenger: “But who will endure the day of his coming, and who will be able to stand when he appears?”