Watchtower review of the June 2020 article: Let Your Name Be Sanctified.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have been the most controversial sect of Christianity since J.F. Rutherford adopted the name of “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Even before that, the Bible Students promoted God’s name and rejected the well-worn lie that Jesus is God.
Back before the Watchtower produced the New World Translation the American Standard Bible, which was published around the turn of the 20th century, was valued for its use of the name Jehovah where it appears nearly 7,000 times in the Hebrew. However, The Watchtower Bible Society also published the King James Version, no doubt because it was the most popular English Bible— at least among non-Catholics. Although the name Jehovah only appeared in the KJV a paltry four times, it was enough to convince truth seekers that Jehovah is God’s name. No doubt because Jehovah’s Witnesses made good use of the old KJV modern publishers completely erased the name from the more recent revisions.
There is no doubt in my mind that Christ has used the Watchtower and Jehovah’s Witnesses to publish his Father’s name far and wide in hundreds of languages. But that is not the end of it. How will Jehovah sanctify his name? Preaching alone will not do it. On the contrary— far from sanctifying the name, while publishing the name Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves have brought reproach upon Jehovah. The leadership is especially culpable. For example, in the misguided counsel that God’s name had to be protected from reproach by keeping child abuse secret, the Watchtower and their lawyers have become the legal adversaries of thousands of victims of child abuse— a shocking situation that has become widely publicized. As a result, more and more people have a negative view and want nothing whatsoever to do with Jehovah’s Witnesses or the message they preach. Instead of protecting Jehovah’s reputation, it has been just the opposite. The organization has besmirched God’s name.
Even a growing number of Jehovah’s Witnesses are leaving in disgust and no longer wish to be involved with the Watchtower or be associated with the name of Jehovah in any way.
Jehovah, of course, foreknew this would happen— that the people whom he entrusted as the bearers of his name would bring reproach upon it. So, the question is really more relevant than ever: How will God sanctify his name?
The 13th paragraph in the article under review states that God will sanctify his name and it calls for Ezekiel 36:23 to be read aloud. That verse reads: “I will certainly sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the nations, which you profaned among them; and the nations will have to know that I am Jehovah,’ declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘when I am sanctified among you before their eyes.”
The Watchtower offers no commentary on the cited verse, so allow me to add some color.
Originally the Hebrews were Jehovah’s people. More specifically, Jehovah attached his name to the city of Jerusalem and the temple located there.
After putting up with their disrespect for many years Jehovah caused a terrible destruction to come upon Jerusalem and the Jews who survived were taken to Babylon. God would no longer allow his name to be profaned by the Jews. However, bringing punishment upon his people did not sanctify God’s name. That is because the people of the nations reproached God because it appeared as though God’s purpose in connection with his nation had come to naught. So, God was obliged to set matters straight. The preceding verses in context explain the situation. Speaking to Ezekiel Jehovah said: “I judged them according to their way and according to their dealings. But when they came to those nations, people profaned my holy name by saying about them, ‘These are the people of Jehovah, but they had to leave his land.’ So I will show concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel profaned among the nations where they have gone.” (Ez 36:19-21)
Keep in mind that the overall context of Ezekiel applies to God’s judgments at the second coming of Christ. That is evident from just a couple of chapters over that describe a restored “Israel” being attacked by Gog and all the nations, which precipitates what Revelation calls Armageddon.
If God’s word is true, which I believe it is, that means there is a day of reckoning for Christians, those whom the prophets and the apostles identify as “a people for his name.” It should be evident that the masses of churchgoers cannot profane God’s name because of their own failure for the simple reason they do not bear the name Jehovah.
The modern house of Israel is populated by those who have been drawn into the new covenant, whom Paul called “the Israel of God.” Not coincidently, Jesus founded his congregation of the firstborn upon the 12 apostles— mirroring the 12 sons of the original house of Israel.
It is the congregation of Christ made up of anointed Christians who have born the name of God in these last days of Christianity. Undeniably, it is Jehovah’s Witnesses who have profaned the name of Jehovah and must bear the consequences. It is that which is touted as Jehovah’s earthly organization that must endure the wrath. That is why we read in Amos: “Woe to those who are craving the day of Jehovah! What, then, will the day of Jehovah mean to you people? It will be darkness, and no light, just as when a man flees because of the lion, and the bear actually meets him; and [as when] he went into the house and supported his hand against the wall, and the serpent bit him. Will not the day of Jehovah be darkness, and not light; and will it not have gloom, and not brightness? I have hated, I have rejected your festivals, and I shall not enjoy the smell of your solemn assemblies.” — Amos 5:18-21
The day of Jehovah is the same as the day of the Lord. Just like in the first century Jesus is coming in the name of his Father. Jesus, in fact, spoke of the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem as taking place during the great tribulation that will come upon the world. Jerusalem, in that context, represents Christ’s congregation, since Jerusalem was where Christianity originated. And just as Solomon’s temple was where God placed his holy name, the Jerusalem that is due to be desolated and trampled upon by the nations is the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
For all the talk of being God’s special people the Watchtower will crash and burn— just like Jerusalem on more than one occasion. In that scenario, the people of the world will profane the name of Jehovah. Daniel and Revelation foretell that the post-tribulation beast will speak arrogant words against God and conquer the holy ones. Indeed, it will seem as if Jehovah has been defeated. That is the situation the prophecy of Ezekiel is addressing too.
Returning to the 36th chapter God goes on to say: Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: “Not for your sakes am I acting, O house of Israel, but for my holy name, which you profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will certainly sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the nations, which you profaned among them; and the nations will have to know that I am Jehovah,’declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘when I am sanctified among you before their eyes.”
God goes on to explain how he will restore the house of Israel and it will become like the garden of Eden— in other words, a spiritual paradise. Jehovah makes it clear that he does so for his own name’s sake. If, however, Jehovah’s Witnesses have already experienced the blessings described that would mean that God has already set matters straight and sanctified his name from the profanation caused by his people. That is, in fact, what the Watchtower implies. It is simply not true though. Trusting in the permanence of the earthly organization is a deception. In reality, it is an expression of misplaced confidence that explicitly defies Jehovah’s warning— echoing the words in prophecy: “Do not put your trust in deceptive words and say, ‘This is the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah!’ For if you truly reform your ways and actions; if you truly uphold justice between a man and his neighbor; if you do not oppress foreign residents, orphans, and widows…” — Jeremiah 7:4-6
No, the coming of Christ to his Father’s temple has not taken place. And the Lord is coming with more than a whip of rope this time. Speaking if the judgment of the spiritual city and temple, it is written: “There is a sound of uproar from the city, a sound from the temple! It is the sound of Jehovah repaying his enemies what they deserve.” — Isaiah 66:6
Paragraph 16. Jehovah allows imperfect humans to have a share in sanctifying his name. In effect, you can do what Adam and Eve failed to do. Despite being in a world full of people who slander and blaspheme Jehovah’s name, you have the opportunity to stand up and speak the truth—that Jehovah is holy, righteous, good, and loving. (Isa. 29:23) You can support his rule. You can promote it as the only way of ruling that is truly righteous and that will bring peace and happiness to all creation.
It amazes me how blind the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses is. But this too is the fulfillment of God’s word. Take note of the scripture citation in the above paragraph. If you are inclined please read the entire 29th chapter of Isaiah. In my opinion, the 28th and 29th chapters of Isaiah are key to unlocking the understanding of all prophecy regarding the second coming of Christ.
As Jesus revealed in his discussion with his apostles on the Mount of Olives, the city of Jerusalem was/is destined to be besieged with a fence of pointed stakes. That literally happened in 70 C.E. when the Romans swooped in and swiftly surrounded the holy city with a palisade. But Isaiah is speaking of a different siege and a different “Jerusalem.” No doubt that is why the prophecy uses the cryptic term “Ariel” in reference to the “city where David encamped,” which was the Jebusite stronghold that became the city of David and eventually the city where Jehovah placed his name— Jerusalem. It is in reference to the spiritual city, the “Jerusalem” that will come under siege in the great tribulation, that these words apply: “But I will bring distress on Ariel, and there will be mourning and lamentation, and she will become to me like an altar hearth of God. I will encamp on all sides against you, and I will besiege you with a palisade and raise up siegeworks against you.”
Let the Watchtower explain how Jacob’s children will sanctify God’s name in that context. They cannot, of course, even as the prophecy goes on to reveal: “Be stunned and amazed; blind yourselves and be blinded. They are drunk, but not with wine; they are staggering, but not from alcohol. For Jehovah has poured a spirit of deep sleep on you; He has closed your eyes, the prophets, and he has covered your heads, the visionaries.”
Those who sit as the interpreters and explainers of God’s word, functioning as the self-proclaimed prophet-class, betray themselves as the stupefied and spiritually inebriated drunkards who are incapable of understanding God’s judgments. God most appropriately says to them: “How you twist things! Should the potter be regarded the same as the clay?”
It is Jehovah’s Witnesses who approach God with their mouths and honor him with their lips but whose hearts are far removed from him because they follow the commands of men. God’s determination is to correct that deplorable situation. (vs 13) It will require strong medicine— holy terror, as it were. Jehovah goes on to say: “In that day the deaf will hear the words of the book, and out of the gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. The meek will rejoice greatly in Jehovah, and the poor among men will be joyful in the Holy One of Israel. For the tyrant will be no more, the boaster will come to his finish, and all those keeping alert to do harm will be destroyed, those who with a false word make others guilty, who lay traps for the defender in the city gate, and who with empty arguments deny justice to the righteous one.”
“In that day” is in reference to the day Jesus is revealed— in the aftermath of the destruction of “Jerusalem.” The tyrants and boasters who rule as kings will be gone. Satan’s agents will have been duly searched out and uprooted like weeds— ultimately, destroyed. Only then— after the terrible judgment of Jehovah— will the children of God sanctify his name. By the execution of his righteous judgments by the hand of Jesus, Jehovah will become both the Destroyer and the Savior.
“They will sanctify my name; Yes, they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and they will stand in awe of the God of Israel. Those who are wayward in spirit will acquire understanding, and those who complain will accept instruction.” — Isaiah 29:23-24