I will open my mouth with illustrations.
Some believe that Satan is “in charge” of hellfire. We could ask them: “Imagine that your child has become very rebellious and is doing many bad things. How would you react?” Likely, the parent would say that he would correct his child. But what would he do if the child rejected all efforts to help him? Most parents would say that eventually they would have no choice but to punish the child. We could then ask, “What if you found out that an evil person had influenced your child to become so rebellious?” No doubt, the parent would be angry with such a person. Driving home the point of the illustration, we might ask the parent, “Knowing that an evil individual had influenced your child, would you ask that person to punish your child for you?” The answer, of course, would be no. Clearly, then, God would not use Satan to punish the very same people who have been influenced by the Devil himself to do bad things!
Jesus was a masterful storyteller. His illustrations are timeless and true and always drove home a profound lesson – ultimately revealing some aspect of Jehovah’s future judgments. The Watchtower needs to work on it.
Of course there is no subterranean inferno where Satan tortures hapless souls in eternity for a few misspent years on earth. But, the underlying premise of Bethel’s illustration is definitely not valid. Jehovah does allow Satan to punish his people even though the Devil is responsible for misleading them in the first place. This is a fundamental, biblical principle.
Paul demonstrated this very thing when he commanded the Corinthians to put a brazen fornicator out of the congregation, saying: “hand such a man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” Being handed over to Satan meant that Jesus would no longer protect and watch over such a man.
Now, take God’s dealings with the Israelites. He gave them his law. But in time they rebelled. He tried to correct them by sending them his prophets. They refused to listen. God was obligated to punish them by a cruel tyrant. Consider a passage in the 30th chapter of Jeremiah: “‘For I am with you,’ declares Jehovah, ‘to save you. But I will make an extermination among all the nations to which I scattered you; however, you I will not exterminate. I will discipline you to the proper degree, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.’ For this is what Jehovah says: ‘There is no cure for your breakdown. Your wound is incurable. There is no one to plead your cause, no means of healing your ulcer. There is no cure for you. All your passionate lovers have forgotten you. They no longer seek you out. For with the stroke of an enemy I have struck you, with the punishment of someone cruel, because of your great guilt and your many sins.’”
Although God took responsibility for meting out the punishment, he personally did not administer it. As stated above, their punishment came in the form of “the stroke of an enemy,” from “someone cruel.” In reality the Jews were besieged by the merciless Babylonian hordes. Their cities were destroyed. Their homes ransacked and pillaged. Solomon’s magnificent temple was demolished. The survivors were dragged off in chains to Babylon, the then-capital of Satan’s earthly empire. God abandoned his people and allowed the Devil to mistreat them. Clearly, Jehovah does use Satan to administer discipline —completely counter to the premise of the Watchtower’s illustration.
But happily, Jehovah did not allow the enemy to exterminate the Jews —they were disciplined to the proper degree. In the ancient setting the discipline achieved the desired result. The Jews returned to Jerusalem and rebuilt Jehovah’s temple and never again took up the worship of Molech or Chemosh or any of the other demon Baals.
But in what way did God “make an extermination among all the nations” back then? Obviously he didn’t. Although Babylon did exterminate some nations outright, such as Moab, Ammon and Edom, and eventually Babylon itself was extinguished – the nations as a whole endured. The reason is because the prophecy really has a future application. That is verifiable in the concluding verses of the 30th chapter of Jeremiah, which says: “Look! A windstorm of Jehovah will burst out in fury, a sweeping tempest that whirls down on the head of the wicked. The burning anger of Jehovah will not turn back until he has carried out and accomplished the intentions of his heart. In the final part of the days you will understand this.”
The final part of the days is the same as the time of the end, the last days and the conclusion of the system. And the critical concluding phase has not began yet. That is why Jehovah’s Witnesses do not understand God’s judgments, because it is only “in the final part of the days that you will understand this.”
As with the wayward Jews whose spiritual breakdown was incurable by peaceful means, the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses is heading for a breakdown. The reason is because the leadership cannot be corrected by any means. They scoff at counsel or criticism and punish anyone who tries to correct them. Their condition is incurable. Therefore, their well-deserved discipline will come during the tribulation. That is when God will administer punishment to the proper degree. That is alluded to at Jeremiah 30:7, which states, simply: “Alas! For that day is a terrible one. There is none like it, a time of distress for Jacob. But he will be saved out of it.”
Jesus referred to the tribulation as being unlike any time if distress that has ever before occurred or will ever occur again. But, on account of the chosen ones God will cut it short. That is the time of Jacob’s trouble, as some translations word it. Nevertheless, “Jacob” will be saved out of it. Then is when Jehovah will cause an outright extermination of the nations so that they will no longer even exist.
To confirm that the punishment to the proper degree is scheduled for Christians in the future, Jeremiah 30:9 decrees: “They will serve Jehovah their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.”
“David” is, of course, Jesus Christ, who was a son of David and heir to the throne. Notice, please, God raises up “David” for his people during the terrible day, the “time of distress for Jacob.”
The Watchtower unreservedly proclaims that God gave “David” the Kingdom back in 1914. However, that cannot be the case, since as this prophecy and virtually all others besides, indicates that Christ’s Kingdom comes to power during the tribulation. That is also when he becomes the Savior of God’s people. The very fact that Bethel has perpetrated a fraud in the name of Jehovah for so long, upon a trusting people, even if out of ignorance, is cause for their being punished to the proper degree, with some individuals more deserving than others
To that very point in one of Jesus’ most important illustrations the Master foretold that even the slave who is ultimately judged to have been faithful and discreet will be beaten with a few strokes for having disobeyed out of ignorance. In the 12th chapter of Luke Jesus affirmed the principle of punishment to the proper degree, applying it to the evil and faithful slaves: “the master of that slave will come on a day that he is not expecting him and at an hour that he does not know, and he will punish him with the greatest severity and assign him a part with the unfaithful ones. Then that slave who understood the will of his master but did not get ready or do what he asked will be beaten with many strokes. But the one who did not understand and yet did things deserving of strokes will be beaten with few. Indeed, everyone to whom much was given, much will be demanded of him, and the one who was put in charge of much will have more than usual demanded of him.”
Unfortunately for them, the leadership of the Watchtower has a lot more to work on than merely the proper use of illustrations.