Bible Study (bh 215 para 3 – 216)

Paragraph 1 states “Decades in advance, Bible students proclaimed that there would be significant developments in 1914. What were these…?”

Yes, indeed what were these developments they proclaimed?

1879: “According to the parables of the “two Dispensations,” Christ was due to enter or come into the office of king in the spring of 1878, the parallel of his riding into Jerusalem in fulfillment of “behold thy king cometh; [1]

1880: “we believe the seventh trumpet will continue to sound until the year 1914, which includes, between now and then, the day of wrath and of angry nations, which is the period, not only of the restoration of the earthly Jerusalem, but of reward to the church, or the upbuilding and glorification of the heavenly Jerusalem.”[2]

1882: “We would like to correct this misapprehension once for all, by stating that we do not expect Jesus to come this year, nor any other year, for we believe that all time prophecies (bearing upon Jesus’ coming) ended at and before the fall of 1874, and that He came there, and the second advent is now in progress and will continue during the entire Millennial age. We believe that his presence will be revealed to the eyes of men’s understandings gradually, during this “Day of the Lord,” (forty years, from 1874 to 1914) as it now is to ours;”

1916-1918 “The thought that the Church would all be gathered to glory before October, 1914, certainly did have a very stimulating and sanctifying effect upon thousands”[3]

 As claimed however, they did also make the claim that the Gentile Times would end in 1914.

This claim was based on the Gentile Times starting in 607 BCE and lasting 2520 years. However, an examination of Luke 21:24 reveals something else:

(1) The Greek words translated “Jerusalem will be” are in the future indicative tense, (not the perfect tense which indicates ongoing action or result) and hence was yet to come. The start of the gentile times came in 70 CE, over 30 years after Jesus’ uttered his prophecy.

(2) The phrase ”until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled”, indicates that this period of time would end, but with what event?  The Bible doesn’t say.  In fact, the phrase, “appointed times of the nations (or gentiles)”  does not turn up anywhere else in Scripture.   So it is left informed conjecture as to when they end.  Obviously, they cannot continue after Daniel 2:44 has been fulfilled, but that event is still in our future, so it seems safe to say that we continue to live in the time period that began with the destruction of the Jewish system of things.

(3) There is nothing in the Bible to link Luke 21:24 with the prophesy of 7-times of madness that befell Nebuchadnezzar.

The final paragraph correctly states that the ‘one who has the legal right to the Davidic crown is Christ Jesus’. When did Jesus become King? As there is no clear connection between the end of the Gentile Times and Jesus becoming King, the answer is immaterial to this discussion. The evidence is that Jesus was appointed Lord and King in 33 CE, but told to wait until his enemies were subdued.  (Acts 2:34, 35; Col 1:13) So the exercise of kingly power to subdue his enemies would come later, but the kingdom was already in place. (Re 11:15)

Gods Kingdom Rules (kr chap 15 para 18-28) – Fighting for Freedom to Worship

The main area covered in this week’s section is that of medical treatment, the largest area of problems being that related to blood transfusions.

There are two main issues covered in the paragraphs this week. (1) The right to determine the kind of medical treatment one receives, and (2) the claim that any transfusion involving blood is against God’s law.

Paragraphs 18-24 deal with two examples about issue 1.

As an individual, we would want to decide for ourselves what medical treatment we receive. None of us would want some treatment we find objectionable to be forced on us. From the doctor’s point of view, they want to save lives, and some, no doubt with good intentions, become a little forceful in their efforts to apply treatment that in their view would save your life.

Issue 2 is the more important of the two.  If this is a wrong understanding then most of the problems raised by issue 1 would disappear.

The answers to the following questions are important in enabling us to decide for our own conscience whether Jehovah’s direction is behind this understanding.

When did having a blood transfusion become a disfellowshipping offence? In the late 1800’s under C.T. Russell? No, in 1961. Surely, if it was so important it would have become clear before the so-called cleansing and choosing of Gods organization in 1919?

Was not abstaining from blood in Christian times a disfellowshipping offence? No. No scripture indicates that. Even Acts 15:28,29 is written in the way of a recommendation for a prospering life as a Christian, not as a prohibition as it is often portrayed. Paul’s discussion of eating things sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians 8:1-13, offers an interesting perspective in this scripture in Acts 15. It wasn’t that eating flesh sacrificed to idols was wrong, Acts 15:4 shows that this means nothing to those with true knowledge of God, but as Acts 15:13 says the aim of abstaining was so as not to stumble others. Many Jewish Christians had a hard time adjusting fully to Christian freedom, governed by conscience rather than laws and Pharisaical pronouncements. Therefore to minimize any potential conflicts and upset between Christians from Jewish or Gentile backgrounds, these recommendations were made.

How do Orthodox Jews today handle this issue? They abstain from foods with added blood, and insist on properly bled meat. Do they however refuse blood transfusions? No. There is no prohibition on blood transfusions, in fact the opposite. Why is this? Practicing Jews have a high respect for life.  Jesus example in Matthew 12:1-13 makes for thought provoking reading. Jesus was there reminding the Jews that mercy was even more important than obeying the Sabbath law, especially if it meant saving a life. A principle with which they were familiar. (For more on this line of Scriptural reasoning, see this article.)

So what about today? The Jewish Virtual Library says in part: “In Judaism, human life is essential and so pikuach nefesh, the obligation to save a life in jeopardy, is considered a major value to uphold. This obligation applies to both an immediate threat and a less grave danger that has the potential of becoming serious. Pikuach nefesh is derived from the biblical verse, “Neither shall you stand by the blood of your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:16). According to pikuach nefesh a person must do everything in their power to save the life of another, even donate bodily organs. Ovaday Yosef, the former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, ruled that one may donate an organ to a person in critical need, so long as it does not put the donor’s life at risk.[4]

So why do Orthodox Jews today accept blood transfusions and organ transplants?  As the above quote shows, it is because of that high regard for the value of life found in Scripture.

The last few paragraphs of the section this week deal with obtaining the freedom to raise children according to Jehovah’s standards. Sadly, the main reason these court fights occur is because of the tussle for child custody following the breakup of marriages. As with many things, religion is just another weapon used to try to gain custody. There has been no concerted effort on the part of any authorities to continually rule against Witness parents and in favor of non-witness parents.

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[1] Zions Watchtower 1879 page 148 (pdf version)

[2] Zions Watchtower 1880 page 81 (pdf version)

[3] Studies in the Scriptures 1916-1918 editions page 297 (pdf version)

[4] http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/pikuach-nefesh