In the opening pages of the Bible (Genesis 3:15) we are introduced to an enigmatic woman who is destined to give birth to the serpent-stomping messianic seed of God. Later on in prophecy, the mystery woman is depicted as Jehovah’s figurative wife. In the concluding book of the Bible God’s heavenly “woman” ultimately gives birth to a male child who becomes the ruler of the world.
Naturally, we want to know the identity of this special woman who is a central figure in the unfolding sacred secret of God. The Watchtower has long taught that the “woman” represents God’s heavenly organization of angels—they being submissive and loyal to Jehovah like a faithful wife. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that God’s wifelike heavenly organization of angels gave birth to Christ when he came to the earth from among the angels, as the so-called primary seed of the woman. For example, page 14 of the March 15th, 1985,Watchtower magazine states:
To become the primary “seed” of the Greater Abraham, the only-begotten Son of God had emerged from Jehovah’s wifelike celestial organization. Thus she became like a “mother” to God’s Son.
There are, however, a number of difficulties with that particular view. The foremost problem is that the Bible clearly states that the “woman” represents a covenant. For instance, when contrasting the Jewish and Christian systems of worship in the 4th chapter of Galatians, Paul compared the law covenant to Hagar and the new covenant to Sarah, saying: “for these women mean two covenants.”Concerning the Watchtower’s teaching the question must be asked: In what way do the angels represent a covenant?
Not only that discrepancy, but another glaring defect with the Watchtower’s present teaching is that the “woman” gives birth to numerous other sons and daughters, besides Jesus Christ. In the same 4th chapter of Galatians the inspired apostle wrote: “But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written: ‘Be glad, you barren woman who does not give birth; break out and cry aloud, you woman who does not have childbirth pains; for the children of the desolate woman are more numerous than those of her who has the husband.’ Now we, brothers, are children belonging to the promise the same as Isaac was.”
While it is understandable that Jehovah’s Witnesses have come to view Jesus as having “emerged from Jehovah’s wife-like celestial organization,” since Jesus did have a pre-human existence as a spirit son, how, though, can it be rationalized that the angels have also given “birth” to the individual members of the Christian congregation? Indeed, how could the angels become “mother” to the anointed since they did not in any sense emerge from heaven—as did Christ? The Watchtower does not appear to offer any reasonable explanation to that question.
Another aspect of the Watchtower’s teaching that seems oddly incongruous with the biblical depiction of God’s symbolic woman is that the organizational woman of prophecy briefly incurs Jehovah’s disfavor. In fact, the prophecies indicate that Jehovah becomes indignant with his woman for her unfaithfulness.
Consider the 54th chapter of Isaiah, from which the apostle Paul directly quoted when he made reference to the “mother” of the sons of God. The verses following, Isaiah 54:5-8 read: ‘“For your Grand Maker is your husbandly owner, Jehovah of armies being his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Repurchaser. The God of the whole earth he will be called. For Jehovah called you as if you were a wife left entirely and hurt in spirit, and as a wife of the time of youth who was then rejected,’ your God has said. ‘For a little moment I left you entirely, but with great mercies I shall collect you together. With a flood of indignation I concealed my face from you for but a moment, but with loving-kindness to time indefinite I will have mercy upon you,’ your Repurchaser, Jehovah, has said.”
Here are a few questions thinking Bible students ought to ask: When did Jehovah ever abandon his heavenly angels—even “ for a little moment” —as the prophecy states? Secondly, since God’s heavenly angels have always been faithful to him, why would Jehovah conceal his face from such a faithful organization in “a flood of indignation”? Also, since God’s angelic sons have always faithfully stood by his side, why would Jehovah need to become their Repurchaser?
Of course, the Watchtower’s explanation is that God did not really become indignant with the “woman,” but rather, he simply becomes angry with the earthly sons of the woman, which Jehovah’s Witnesses have been led to believe took place back in 1918. But that is not exactly the way it is presented in prophecy.
Clearly, there are several unsatisfying aspects of the Watchtower’s present teaching concerning the identity of the “woman.”
Since the symbolic woman is an integral feature of prophecy, and as the apostle Peter was inspired to write: “No prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation,”it stands to reason that no man (or body of men) can privately interpret prophecy. Prophecy can only be interpreted by God himself. Or worded differently: God’s Word interprets itself and the only way God’s servants can comprehend the true meaning of it is by discovering the Bible’s own self-interpreting, internal harmony.
With that vital truth in mind, if the woman of prophecy symbolizes an angelic organization, then surely there must be some proof of it in Scripture—otherwise it is a“private interpretation” based on mere conjecture.
So, does the Bible, anywhere, speak of the body of angels as being Jehovah’s composite organizational wife? The answer is no. Of the 145 places in the Bible where the word “angels” (plural) appear, and the 225 places where the word “angel” (singular) appears, there is no precedent whereby the angels are depicted as being Jehovah’s so-called wifelike organization. Therefore, there is no biblical justification for the Watchtower Society interpretation.
But, if the heavenly woman does not represent the family of angels, then what does she symbolize?
Galatians 4:24-26provides the answer. Paul wrote in reference to Hagar and Sarah: “These things stand as a symbolic drama; for these women mean two covenants, the one from Mount Sinai, which brings forth children for slavery, and which is Hagar. Now this Hagar means Sinai, a mountain in Arabia, and she corresponds with the Jerusalem today, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.”
In regards to the verse quoted above, the March 15th, 1985, Watchtower says this:
According to the apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians, that figurative “woman” was typical, but he does not say that she is a covenant, or compact. A covenant could not be comforted, consoled. Rather, Paul shows that the antitypical “woman” is something alive, like a “mother,” just as the “husbandly owner,” Jehovah, is alive as a Person having intelligence and ability to give comfort.
Oddly, the Watchtower article seems to directly contradict what the Bible says. The Watchtower says Paul “does not say that she is a covenant,” whereas, the apostle Paul plainly states: “these two women mean two covenants.”
However, the Watchtower’s reasoning is sound in one respect, in that, a covenant cannot be comforted or consoled—only something alive can be comforted. And as Paul went on to indicate, besides Hagar and Sarah typifying “two covenants,” they also “correspond” to two cities—or organizations. So, the symbolic “free” woman is an organization produced by the covenant.
The two covenants represented by Hagar and Sarah are the Law covenant and the Abrahamic covenant, respectively. The Law covenant produced the fleshly nation of Israel with its capital city of Jerusalem, as well as the man, Jesus; who by virtue of his human birth mother, came to be under Jewish Law. The Abrahamic covenant, on the other hand, which, as Paul argued, superceded the Law covenant, produced Jesus Christ—the born again Son of God. Being the child of a promise, as was Sarah’s son, Isaac, Jesus Christ was born from God when he was anointed by holy spirit. This occurred outside the bounds of the Law covenant.
Consequently, Jesus was born again as a spirit-begotten son of God in order to fulfill the covenant God had made with Abraham. In so doing, he became the seed of the woman at his baptism—not at his birth as a human. That being the case, it is evident that the angels are not the seed-birthing woman.
True enough, in the instance of Jesus’ human birth, God transferred the life of his firstborn heavenly son into the womb of Mary; taking him from among his family of angelic sons. But Jesus’ rebirth upon his anointing can only indirectly be attributed to his once having come forth from the angels. Since the covenant God made with Abraham resulted in Jesus becoming the Messiah, the covenant itself may be said to be the birth mother of Christ—hence, the woman.
But why did Paul refer to the mother of all anointed Christians as the “Jerusalem above”? As pointed out already, anointed Christians do not in any sense come from the heavenly angelic organization. The reason the Jerusalem above is said to be the mother of anointed Christians is because God intended from the very beginning to create a new creation in the heavens. Being the first new creation himself, after his anointing Jesus was entitled to live in the heavens. That is what it means to be spirit-begotten, or anointed. Moreover, the covenant that produced Christ is an arrangement of God to create an immortal, city-like heavenly organization using mortal earthly agents. Just like the Law covenant produced a nation—becoming a “mother” to numerous circumcised Jews, so too, the new covenant produces a spiritual nation composed of Christ’s anointed followers.
Upon their anointing, each born-again son of God becomes a naturalized citizen of the Jerusalem above—even though they still reside physically upon the earth. At Philippians 3:20 Paul wrote: “As for us, our citizenship exists in the heavens.” That is, in fact, why anointed Christians are also described as “alien residents” while they are in the flesh; because from God’s perspective they are actually residents of heaven merely residing in a foreign land (earth).
At Hebrews 12:22-24 the apostle described the anointed congregation as being “enrolled in the heavens”: “But you have approached a Mount Zion and a city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem, and myriads of angels, in general assembly, and the congregation of the firstborn who have been enrolled in the heavens, and God the Judge of all, and the spiritual lives of righteous ones who have been made perfect, and Jesus the mediator of a new covenant..”
Notice, please, that Hebrews does not say that Mount Zion and heavenly Jerusalem is an organization composed of the angels of God. The angels are merely attendant upon it. The Mount Zion and city of the living God is the heavenly organization that Jehovah created in order to produce the new creation.
As was the case with fleshly Israel, Jehovah’s covenant with the Jews established a national institution—an organization; which, in prophecy is called the symbolic mother of all the individual sons of the nation. God can therefore speak to the entire nation as to a woman—his wife. So too with spiritual Jews: All born-again individuals are part of a heavenly organization, which comes to symbolize the collective of all the sons born from it while they are on the earth.