This is the concluding segment of the upcoming brochure (Renamed: The Second Coming Of Christ – What Will It Mean for You?)
Sitting with his apostles upon the Mount of Olives a few days before the end of his earthly ministry, Jesus spoke of the things to come. He forewarned his disciples that Jerusalem was going to become a desolate waste. Not a stone would be left standing upon another stone. Her children were going to fall by the edge of the sword. Jesus proved to be a true prophet. Historians have verified that the Romans came and then mysteriously withdrew, then returned and utterly destroyed Jerusalem.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are thoroughly familiar with the various versions in Matthew, Mark and Luke and surely know the prophecy that Christ uttered has a dual application —that the fulfillment in the first century casts a shadow into the immediate future. It is not a matter of speculation. Jesus said very plainly that the great tribulation will come upon the entire world —not just Jerusalem.
The question then arises: What does the desolation of Jerusalem foreshadow? What will be involved in fleeing from it when the disgusting thing stands where it ought not? These are important questions to consider since Christians living prior to the second coming of Christ will be required to heed Christ’s warning to leave all behind and flee from “Jerusalem” without delay. (“Let the man on the housetop not come down to take the goods out of his house, and let the man in the field not return to pick up his outer garment”)
Up until quite recently, Jehovah’s Witnesses believed that Jerusalem foreshadows Christendom. There is now a very good reason to question that belief based upon the fact that the Watchtower has junked its long-held type/antitype approach to Bible understanding. As stated in chapter 16 of the Pure Worship publication, there is no basis for any longer supposing that unfaithful Jerusalem in the days of Jeremiah and Ezekiel is a type of modern Christendom.
Although it was casually presented in a so-called “teaching box” as one of several “adjustments” in understanding, it is a tectonic shift in biblical interpretation. The unanswered question hanging there, suspended: If not Christendom, then what does Jerusalem represent in prophecy?
On the one hand, the Governing Body has stated that they are no longer going to take any sort of type/antitype approach to prophecy “except where the Bible provides a clear basis for doing so,” and yet, Jesus clearly indicated that Jerusalem has a prophetic counterpart. The faithful and discreet slave ought to explain how it is that the “Jerusalem” throughout the Hebrew prophecies no longer pictures Christendom while the holy city over which Jesus prophesied does.
Besides this most glaringly obvious contradiction in the Watchtower’s new approach to prophecy, thinking Christians would do well to consider why —if Christendom is the holy place wherein the disgusting thing will stand —will it be necessary for Christians to flee out of it without delay? Have not Jehovah’s Witnesses already gotten out of Babylon the Great?
The Watchtower claims that in Jesus’ day God no longer considered the temple to be holy and for that reason, it must prefigure unholy Christendom. Is that true? Was the temple no longer holy in the first century?
Jesus revered his Father’s house. That is why he threw out the moneymen on two separate occasions –once at the beginning of his ministry and again at the end. The apostles also considered the temple to be holy. That is why after they were filled with the holy spirit they were in the temple night and day preaching and teaching about Jesus. Even the apostle Paul –who masterfully proved that the entire Jewish form of worship was merely a shadow of greater spiritual realities and had become obsolete –ceremonially cleansed himself and went to the temple to make a sacrifice in order to quell the rumors that he was teaching an apostasy from Moses. (Acts 21:21-26) Would the apostles have participated in any form of worship if they viewed it as unholy?
So, the question for the Governing Body to answer is this: At what point did Jehovah reject the city of Jerusalem and the temple?
The fact is, Jerusalem was the birthplace of Christianity. Christ was executed outside of the city. Furthermore, he ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives, just a Sabbath day’s journey from Jerusalem. The 120 original disciples were anointed while in an upper room in the holy city. For many years Jerusalem was the unofficial headquarters of the Christian governing body. That is why the apostle to the nations, Paul, wrote to the Hebrews regarding the earthly city –reminding them that earthly Jerusalem was not going to continue. (Hebrews 13:14) It is the heavenly city that we seek. Therefore, ancient Jerusalem is synonymous with both Christ’s congregation and his coming Kingdom
With this truth well in mind, consider the 29th chapter of Isaiah, the opening words being Jehovah’s judgment against Jerusalem: “Woe to Ariel, Ariel, the city where David encamped! Continue year after year; let the cycle of festivals continue. 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.”
As the Insight encyclopedia states, “Ariel” is a cryptic name for Jerusalem. The former Jebusite stronghold was conquered by David and was established as the royal capital of the Davidic Kingdom. Not to be overlooked, Jesus is the greater David.
According to the Watchtower’s new approach to prophecy, does this account of Jerusalem coming under siege function as a type —foreshadowing something other than the Babylonian siege? Obviously it does, at least inasmuch as Jesus alluded to this very prophecy in Isaiah when he foretold that Jerusalem would be distressed from every side and encircled by a fortification of pointed stakes, which is what a palisade is. In fact, it was this very statement by Jesus recorded in the 19th chapter of Luke that prompted the apostles to seek Jesus out privately a few days later to put the question to him: “Teacher, when will these things actually be, and what will be the sign when these things are to occur?”
But the 29th chapter of Isaiah only tangentially relates to the first-century siege of Jerusalem. It more especially has to do with the second coming of Christ. That is evident in the context of the prophecy. For one thing, God did not wage war against the nations who sought to overthrow Mount Zion —not in the first destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon, nor when the Romans overthrew the city.
Secondly, the prophecy goes on to foretell that in the aftermath of the siege against Ariel the deaf will hear the words of the book, meaning they will finally understand the prophecies that have until then been sealed up –misapplied and misunderstood. To illustrate the blindness that presently afflicts the teachers of Jehovah’s Witnesses the Watchtower’s commentary on this portion of Isaiah (Para. 25) states the following:
“Isaiah once again points forward to the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom and the restoration of true worship on earth by the Messiah’s rule. This has taken place in our time, and millions of sincere ones are allowing themselves to be corrected by Jehovah and are learning to praise him.”
According to the Governing Body, the siege of Ariel does have an antitypical aspect. It applies to the attack of Gog on “Israel.” That exposes yet other contradictions in the Watchtower’s exegesis. The prophecy clearly indicates that the deaf and blind come to their proper senses in the aftermath of the siege of Ariel. While Bethel admits the siege of Ariel is in the future they claim that the eyes and ears of the blind and deaf have already been opened.
Furthermore, if the prophecy of Ariel is a type of what is to befall God’s city in the future, as the Watchtower even admits, and Jesus connected it to the siege of Jerusalem, which also casts a far-reaching shadow, how is it the Watchtower still claims that the great tribulation begins with the destruction of Christendom, typified by Jerusalem?
When Jesus pronounced doom upon Jerusalem he said it was “because you did not discern the time of your being inspected.” —Luke 19:44
Without question, Jehovah’s Witnesses have also failed to discern the time of their being inspected. The reason being, the Watchtower claims that the Inspector has already come —the foretold messenger of the covenant came back in 1918 and gave the Watchtower his approval. That is the official teaching of the Watchtower. It may not be disputed. The Governing Body claims that the spiritually deaf and blind have been cured by studying the Society’s Bible-based publications. The third coming of Christ in the future is merely to bring judgment upon Christendom —which is supposedly the antitype of Jerusalem in Jesus’ day —but not the antitype of Jerusalem spoken of throughout prophecy. Isaiah 29:14 accurately describes the condition of the Governing Body when the Son of man arrives: “And the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the understanding of their discreet men will be hidden.”
The prophecy of Isaiah goes on to say: “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.”
Who is the boaster if it is not the one who proclaims that Christ has come and pure worship has been established at last? Who is the tyrant if it is not those who denounce and punish anyone who rejects the Watchtower’s artfully contrived false story of Christ’s invisible presence? Let them deny the orphan and widow. Let them make their empty arguments. Let them accuse and condemn the innocent. Let the trappers lay their traps. Let them pronounce that Christ is in their inner chambers now and in the future. Let them beat the true ones in their synagogues during that day. Let them deliver God’s sons into death. Come, Lord Jesus!