[From ws4/17 p. 9 June 5-11]
“The world is passing away and so is its desire, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.” – 1 John 2:17
The Greek word translated here as “world” is kosmos from which we get English words like “cosmopolitan” and “cosmetic”. The word literally means “something ordered” or an “ordered system”. So when the Bible says “the world is passing away”, it means the ordered system that exists on earth in opposition to the will of God will pass away. It doesn’t mean that all humans will pass away, but that their organization or “ordered system”—their way of doing things—will cease to exist.
From this we can see that any “ordered system” or organization can be called a kosmos, a world. We have for instance the world of sports, or the world of religion. Even within these subgroups, there are subgroups. The “ordered system” or Organization, or World of Jehovah’s Witnesses for example.
What qualifies any world, like that of JW.org, as part of the larger world John says is passing away is whether or not it obeys the will of God. With that in mind, let us begin our review of this week’s Watchtower study article.
Paragraph 4 quotes 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 13 to make its point that in the world of mankind, wicked people and imposters are advancing from bad to worse. However, this is a misapplication of Paul’s words. The publications frequently quote the first five verses of 2 Timothy chapter 3, but ignore the remaining ones which clearly indicate that Paul isn’t talking about the world in general, but about the Christian congregation. Why are these words not applied properly?
One reason is that Witnesses try to maintain an artificial sense of urgency by continually telling themselves that things are getting progressively worse. They believe worsening world conditions to be a sign that the end is close. There is no basis for this belief in Scripture. Additionally, the world is better now than it was one hundred years ago, or even eighty years ago. We now have the fewest wars we’ve seen in the past 200 years. Additionally, human rights are now being enforced by law as never before. This is not to sing the praises of this system of things—this “ordered system” which is passing away—but only to have a balanced view of reality as it relates to Bible prophecy.
Perhaps another reason for the continual misapplication of 2 Timothy 3:1-5 is that it fosters the “Us vs. Them” mentality which is ubiquitous among Jehovah’s Witnesses. Of course, accepting that it applies to the Christian congregation might cause some thoughtful Witnesses to look around in their local congregation to see if Paul’s words apply. That is not something the publishers of The Watchtower would want to happen.
Paragraph 5 says that wicked people now have an opportunity to change, but that their final judgment comes at Armageddon. The leadership of JW.org has frequently got itself in trouble when it tries to impose a time frame on God’s activities. While there will be a time for final judgment and there will be a time when there will be no more wickedness on the earth, what is the basis for saying the final judgment is Armageddon and wickedness will cease after Armageddon is over? The Bible says that at the end of the thousand years, the wicked will surround the righteous in an attack that will end in their fiery extinction at the hands of God. (Re 20:7-9) So to say that Armageddon will end wickedness is to ignore Bible prophecy.
This paragraph also supports the idea Witnesses have that only they will survive Armageddon. However, for this to be true—again, according to the paragraph—first, everyone on earth will have to get an opportunity to change. (“Jehovah is giving wicked people an opportunity to change.” – par. 5)
How can this be true given that Witnesses are not preaching to huge populations of this world? Hundreds of millions have never even heard a Witness preach, so how can they be said to have had the opportunity to change?[i]
Paragraph 6 makes a statement that contradicts the Organization’s own teaching:
In today’s world, righteous people are greatly outnumbered by the wicked. But in the new world to come, the meek and the righteous will be neither a minority nor a majority; they will be the only people alive. Truly, a population of such people will make the earth a paradise! – par. 6
The Bible (and Witnesses) teach that there will be a resurrection of the unrighteous, so the foregoing statement cannot be true. The Witnesses teach that the unrighteous will be taught righteousness, but that some will not respond, so there will be unrighteous on earth during the 1,000 years who will die because of not abandoning their wicked course. This is what JWs teach. They also teach that the only ones to survive Armageddon will be Jehovah’s Witnesses, but that these will continue as sinners until they reach perfection at the end of the thousand years. So sinners survive Armageddon and sinners will be resurrected, yet despite this, the earth will be a paradise. Eventually, yes, but what we are being taught in paragraph 6, and elsewhere in the publications, is that ideal conditions will exist from the very start.
Under this subtitle we are taught that corrupt organizations will be gone. This must be true, because Daniel 2:44 speaks of the Kingdom of God annihilating all the kings of the earth. That means rulers and today many are ruled by corrupt organizations, which are just another form of human government. What makes an organization corrupt in God’s eyes? To put it succinctly, by not doing the will of God.
The first such organizations to go will be religious, because they have set up a rival rulership to that of Christ. Rather than let Christ govern the congregation, they have set up groups of men to govern and make rules. As a result, they teach false doctrines, affiliate themselves with the governments of the world—like the United Nations—and end up stained by the world, tolerating all manner of lawlessness, even to the extent of protecting child sexual abusers for the sake of guarding their reputation. (Mt 7:21-23)
Paragraph 9 speaks of a new organization on earth following Armageddon. It misapplies 1 Corinthians 14:33 to support this: “This Kingdom under Jesus Christ will perfectly reflect the personality of Jehovah God, who is a God of order. (1 Cor. 14:33) So the “new earth” will be organized.” That is quite a leap of logic, especially when the verse being quoted says nothing about Jehovah being a God of order. What it does say is that He is a God of peace.
We might reason that the opposite of disorder is order, but that is not the point Paul is making. He is showing that the disorderly way the Christians are conducting their meetings results in disrupting the peaceful spirit that should characterize Christian gatherings. He is not saying that they need an organization. He is certainly not laying the foundation for a doctrine that supports some New World earth-wide organization run by men.
Content that they have proven that Christ will need some earthly organization to govern the entire planet, the article continues this theme saying: “There will be good men to care for matters. (Ps. 45:16) They will be directed by Christ and his 144,000 corulers. Imagine a time when all corrupt organizations will be replaced by a single, unified, and incorruptible organization!”
Presumably, this single, unified, and incorruptible organization will be JW.org 2.0. You will notice that no Bible proof is given. Psalm 45:16 is yet another example of a misapplied Scripture:
“Your sons will take the place of your forefathers. You will appoint them as princes in all the earth.” (Ps 45:16)
There is a cross reference in the NWT to Isaiah 32:1 which reads:
“Look! A king will reign for righteousness, And princes will rule for justice.” (Isa 32:1)
Both Scriptures are talking about Jesus. Whom did Jesus appoint as princes to rule with him? (Luke 22:29) Are these not the Children of God that Revelation 20:4-6 says will be kings and priests? According to Revelation 5:10, these ones rule “on the earth.”[ii] There is nothing in the Bible supporting the idea that Jesus will use unrighteous sinners to rule over some worldwide earthly organization.[iii]
Paragraph 11 compares the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to the destruction that will come at Armageddon. However, we know that those of Sodom and Gomorrah were redeemable. In fact, they will be resurrected. (Mt 10:15; 11:23, 24) Witnesses do not believe that those killed at Armageddon will be resurrected. As demonstrated in paragraph 11 and in other publications of JW.org, they believe that just as Jehovah destroyed everyone in the region of Sodom and Gomorrah and eradicated an ancient world by the Flood of Noah’s day, so he will destroy almost the entire population of earth, leaving only a few million Jehovah’s Witnesses as survivors.
This ignores one major difference between those events and Armageddon: Armageddon opens the way for the Kingdom of God to rule. The fact that a divinely constituted government will be in place to take over changes everything.[iv]
Paragraph 12 gets into the Witness vision of a fairy-tale New World where everyone lives happily ever after. If the world is first populated with millions of sinners, albeit JW sinners, then how can there be no problems? Are there problems in the congregations now due to sin? Why would these abruptly cease after Armageddon? Yet Witnesses ignore this reality and seem gleefully oblivious to the fact that billions of sinners will be added to the mix when the resurrection of the unrighteous starts. Somehow, that won’t change the balance of things. “Wrong activities” will magically vanish, and sinners will be sinners in name only.
Paragraph 14 sums up Organization’s position on this subject:
What will Jehovah do about distressful conditions? Consider warfare. Jehovah promises to put an end to it for all time. (Read Psalm 46:8, 9.) What about sickness? He will wipe it out. (Isa. 33:24) And death? Jehovah will swallow it up forever! (Isa. 25:8) He will end poverty. (Ps. 72:12-16) He will do the same for all the other distressful conditions that make life miserable today. He will even drive away the bad “air” of this world system, for the bad spirit of Satan and his demons will be gone at last.—Eph. 2:2. – par. 14
As is often the case, the problem is one of timing. The Watchtower would have us believe that all these things will end when Armageddon is over. They will end eventually, yes, but returning again to the prophetic account at Re 20:7-10, there is global war in our future. True, that comes only after the thousand year Messianic reign has ended. During Christ’s reign, we’ll know a time of peace such as has never existed, but will it be completely free from “wrong activities” and “distressful condition”? That’s hard to imagine given that Jesus will allow everyone the free will choice to accept or reject God’s Kingdom.
We all want an end to suffering of Mankind. We want to be freed from sickness, sin, and death. We want to live in ideal conditions where love governs our lives. We want this and we want it now, or at least very soon. However, selling such a vision means turning the attention away from the true reward being offered today. Jesus is calling us to be part of the solution. We are being called to be Children of God. That is the message that should be preached. It is the Children of God under the leadership of Jesus Christ who will eventually produce the paradise Witnesses expect to pop up at any moment. It will take time and hard work, but by the end of the thousand years, it will be achieved.
Unfortunately, that is not the message that the world, or “ordered system”, of Jehovah’s Witnesses is willing to preach.
[i] Witnesses believe that only they are preaching the good news of the Kingdom, so only if a person responds to the message Witnesses preach can he be saved.
[iii] Witnesses teach that faithful Other Sheep will either survive Armageddon, or be resurrected first as the earthly part of the resurrection of the righteous. Yet, these ones will continue to be sinners, therefore still unrighteous.