Stay in Jehovah’s Valley of Protection – Recap

– posted by meleti
We’re taking a break from our four-part review of the July 15, 2013 issue of The Watchtower to recap the study article for this week.  We already dealt with this article in depth in a November post. However, one of the key points of this new understanding is so egregious from this reviewer’s point of view that it merits special attention.
The article deals with our interpretation of a prophecy in chapter 14 of Zechariah.  The prophecy states:

(Zechariah 14:1,2) 14?“Look! There is a day coming, belonging to Jehovah, and the spoil of you will certainly be apportioned out in the midst of you. 2?And I shall certainly gather all the nations against Jerusalem for the war; and the city will actually be captured and the houses be pillaged, and the women themselves will be raped.

Paragraphs 5 of the article states: “’The city’ [Jerusalem] is symbolic of God’s Messianic Kingdom. It is represented on earth by its ‘citizens,’ the remnant of anointed Christians.”
So here is a suggestion for you should you want to comment on this article.  When the (a) question is asked for paragraphs 5 and 6, you could answer something like this:
“The article states that the city, Jerusalem, stands for the Messianic kingdom represented by Jehovah’s faithful servants, the anointed remnant.  Zechariah 14:2 says that Jehovah gathers all the nations to war against the anointed remnant to capture and pillage them and rape the women.”
No one can accuse you of introducing an apostate idea, because you are answering right in line with what the article and the Bible are saying.
As for the rest, the fact that:

    1. No reason is given as to why Jehovah would use the nations to war on his faithful servants;

    2. No historical fulfillment is provided to show how the women are symbolically raped;

    3. No proof is offered to support the contradictory statement that “a day belonging to Jehovah” isn’t Jehovah’s day [Armageddon], but the Lord’s day supposedly in 1914;

    4. No proof is given to explain the arbitrary switching from the Lord’s day in verse 1 to Jehovah’s day in verse 4, when clearly the same day is being referred to in both places;

    5. No historical proof is provided to show how the “half of the city goes into exile” was fulfilled.

Well, there really is only so much error you can point out in a study without risking eviction from the meeting or worse, so best to let all that go.
Now if all the above sounds a little harsh, a little judgmental, please consider this fact:  This isn’t just some silly, self-serving interpretation, intended apparently to shore up the flagging doctrine of 1914 as the start of Christ’s presence.  This interpretation paints Jehovah as a God who would war on his own faithful servants.  He is depicted as gathering our enemies against us, to apportion out our spoil, to capture and pillage, and to rape our women.  Doing this to a wicked and apostate nation like Jerusalem before the Babylonians or the First Century Jerusalem that killed his son and persecuted his servants is just and deserved; but to do it to those striving to serve him and obey his laws makes no sense.  It paints Jehovah as an unjust and vicious God.
Are we to accept such an interpretation lying down?  We criticize Christendom for promoting the “God-dishonoring doctrine of Hellfire”, but are we not doing the very same thing by promoting this God-dishonoring interpretation of Zechariah’s prophecy?

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  • Comment by Jude on 2013-04-15 20:56:19

    I am giving serious thought to answering the a) question on paragraphs 5 and 6 with the comment you suggest. Seriously. Maybe this is what it takes to get the organization to straighten up and fly right regarding the kinds of liberties it sometimes takes.

  • Comment by crazyguy on 2013-04-15 22:59:38

    Is it me, or are the articles getting crazier and crazier?? Wonder if it has anything to do with the anniversary of 1914 being just around the corner??

  • Comment by J W on 2013-04-16 06:52:07

    Dear Meleti,
    zechariah 14:2 puts me in mind of Ezekiel 38 where it tells us in v4 that Jehovah puts hooks in the jaws of Gog to bring him forth with his military force, but verse 8 says that 'after MANY days you will be given attention' and that 'in the final part of the years you will come back to the land of people brought back from the sword.......onto the mountains of Israel.....'etc. Then in verse 16 it tells us that 'I (Jehovah) shall certainly bring you against my land (note next bit as to why Jehovah would do this) for the purpose that the nations may know me when I sanctify myself in you before their eyes, O Gog'(verse 17 is also very interesting)
    This piece of scripture has always been applied to what happens at the end of the Great Tribulation to spark off Armageddon, but verse 7 seems to indicate that there is to be a time period of preparation on Gog's part, then verse 8, 'after many days 'he (Gog) is to be given attention, when Gog is to come against Jehovah's seemingly unprotected, blessed people.
    (Chpt 33:21 of Ezekiel tells us an escapee from Jerusalem has arrived in Babylon, to say Jerusalem has been 'struck down' - an event that precedes the prophecy of Gog, so Gog's existence and attack is a prophecy that does not or cannot apply to the Jerusalem of Ezekiel's day.)
    Paragraph 7 of the Watchtower article makes the point that the attack is ongoing...and will continue until Armageddon, as para 14 onward explains.
    For me, the main point of the article, at least from it's title, is how Jehovah provides protection,- in fact, whilst we were all 'fleeing' out of Babylon the Great, and getting out of the symbolic Jerusalem to escape the coming Great Trib, where exactly we were going was a bit puzzling. Where is Jehovah's mountain that we could physically go to? Well of course there would never be a literal place to flee to, but now we see more clearly the 'Valley of Protection' that is as para 13 helps us see is our determination to be doggedly loyal to Jehovah's sovereignty and our Lord Jesus' Messianic Kingdom.
    The symbolic or literal raping of women during the attacks and the half going into exile is very descriptive of what happens ( at least in the days when it was written) when one national group warred against another. There will be casualties, whether spiritual ones or literal ones.
    As to the time being 'the Lord's day (Jesus day) or 'Jehovah's day', as in 'Armageddon' - satan began his attack on the Messianic kingdom at its birth, Rev 12:4,5, and has carried on trying to defeat, destroy 'the remaining ones of her seed, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.' right down to the present time. The Bible Students and subsequently Jehovah's Witnesses, have been under vicious attack from satan's supporters right from the start, and since the Lord Jesus Christ was as yet unknown in Zechariah's day, this day to which he refers in prophecy could at THAT time only be called 'Jehovah's day'. The fact that we now understand from Revelation 1:10 that there is also 'the Lord's Day,' for me only enhances the understanding of the prophecy. (incidentally, most of Christendom, from my little research on the topic, appear to think that John was actually saying he had the vision on a Sunday)
    I expect that most Watchtower study conductors will this weekend emphasise the urgency of the times we live in, and the necessity of 'standing firm in one spirit' and making sure their lambs know how to get into that valley of protection.

    • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2013-04-16 08:13:05

      I agree that Zechariah 14 should put one in mind of Ezequiel's prophecy regarding the attack of God of Magog. In the latter, Jehovah baits Satan much as he did Pharaoh at the Red Sea by leaving his people in an apparently vulnerable state. However, also like what happened at the Red Sea, none of Jehovah's people are harmed, for he acts to protect them by attacking and destroying Gog.
      The attack of Gog happens as the trigger to Armageddon, adding one more justification to Jehovah's holy war; i.e., it is fought in the defense of a helpless and innocent people.
      Zechariah however isn't speaking of Jehovah baiting the nations to fail, but rather he gathers them to carry out an attack that succeeds. He causes them to come against Jerusalem to despoil, pillage and rape. The city is captured. Half the inhabitants go off into exile. Some, however, remain and are not cut off from the city.
      To say this happens from 1914 onward is to make Jehovah responsible for the persecution we wrongly claim fulfills this prophecy. The fact is the events described in Zechariah never happened from 1914 to 1919. In fact, if the fulfillment of this prophecy represents the persecution we have suffered worldwide from 1914 onward, where are the "half of the people" taken into exile? History shows that when Jehovah's anointed have been persecuted, a tiny percent lose their integrity, not half. No where near half.
      Why are we looking to 1914 when the events described by Zechariah fit so perfectly with those described by John's vision of the attack on Babylon the Great. There Jehovah also gathers the nations against Jerusalem. He puts it into their minds to attack Christendom which is represented by apostate Jerusalem. The ancient city in 66 C.E. contained both true Christians and apostate Jews. All were threatened by the attack, but the Christians escaped. The Romans then captured, pillaged, despoiled and raped.
      The antitypical Jerusalem also contains true and false worshipers of God. The nations will see no more distinction them than the Romans would have. Jehovah causes the nations to attack religion. True Christians somehow escape. (Mt. 24:22; Ze. 14:2b) The rest are captured, pillaged, despoiled, and raped, just as both John and Zechariah describe.
      The problem with our current interpretation is that it doesn't fit with the events of history, and worse, it makes Jehovah out to be the bad guy, attacking his own people. This is unacceptable!
      Our interpretation hinges on the premise that the Lord's day began in 1914. There is no evidence historically nor Scripturally that such is the case.
      We all have been taught to blithely accept this belief as a given. We never stop to question it. We repeat this belief over and over to the point that everyone just assumes it is true and never looks for the supporting evidence in the Bible. To get to 1914 as the start of Christ's presence, we have made 11--count 'em--11 assumptions. By assumption, I mean a premise without proof. So the entire teaching is a theological structure, 11 stories high, constructed of Scriptures held together with the mortar of speculation. (For more details see the post, "1914 - A litany of Assumptions"
      Now look where it has lead us. To continue to support this belief, we have twisted the application of yet another prophecy to fit, and in the doing, we have arrived at an understanding that dishonors the God we love and worship.

      • Reply by J W on 2013-04-16 09:28:42

        dear Meleti,
        Coming at the point in time that it does, Zechariah's prophecy can only apply to one of three situations,
        1) literal Jews at 70 ad. OR
        2)spiritual Jews future to the prophecy OR
        3)symbolic Jews future to the prophecy (Christendom)
        As you rightly point out, it is unthinkable that Jehovah would deliberately subject his loyal subjects to such inhumane treatment, unless he intended to save them dramatically and completely, as he did in Moses time.
        Verse 3 does say, however, that Jehovah wars against those attacking nations, followed by verse 4 -5 which describes the provision of the valley of protection for his faithful ones.
        verse 6 and 7 are interesting, 'no precious light' ? verse 8 is reckoned to be the application of benefits of Christ's life-giving ransom to those who survive and those who are resurrected, and verse 9 says Jehovah becomes king over all the earth. Certainly verse 9 cannot be applied to our present time could it? (I ask, because I stand to be corrected)
        Parts of the rest of that chapter have in the past been said to apply to either the Great Tribulation or Armageddon. Pretty dramatic stuff.
        I have no idea how many Witnesses have been attacked for their faith since 1914, nor how many have lost their lives. I have personally been one that has been physically attacked, thankfully not badly, and I have met many others who either received physical persecution themselves or had friends, or relatives that did. (Mainly in other countries than my own.) This is not something any one brags about. Neither is it some thing that leaves any one trembling in fear, but the all-out attack coming in the future is not to be taken lightly, and even in the meantime... satan's most effective weapons are not the physical ones. If we live in a relatively law-abiding country we are still a target for his wrath. or mirth.
        1914 is definitely the elephant in the room that cannot be ignored! Thank you for giving the link to the appropriate site, I will visit immediately....
        One happy thing that always struck me about the new system is that the former things, no matter how horrific, will not be called to mind. Maybe memories will be there, but not the emotion that causes so much pain when we remember now what our loved ones went through?

        • Reply by Meleti Vivlon on 2013-04-16 10:12:10

          Thanks for making me look at this more deeply. I'd been confining my remarks to a rebuttal of our current interpretation, but with the Scriptures you highlight, it does appear that Zechariah is giving a synopsis of the events surrounding the great tribulation and Armageddon.
          Jehovah's day begins with the attack on false religion depicted in vs. 1 and 2. The ones who come out of the great tribulation are the "remaining ones of the people". (vs. 2b) The attack of Gog of Magog comes against those in Jehovah's valley, but He wars against the Kings of the earth and their armies, while protecting his people. (vs. 3-5) Verse 6 to 15 seems to be describing things relating to Armageddon. As for verses 16 onward, that appears to be describing events following Armageddon. We need to analyze that further as it opens the door to some interesting possibilities.

  • Comment by Hugo I. Matias on 2013-04-21 10:42:47

    I was reading the "Paradise Restored" book, of 1974 and one of the last chapters explains in detaile this prophecy just as this The Watchtower Issue does, but more detailed, so, I'm not sure if this article really contains a "new understanding" of Zachariah 14.
    I have a totally different pont of view regarding this prophecy, and if you let me explain in a few words, yesterday I was praying (in fact, during all the night and I coud not sleep even a few minutes because the hard-to-deal-with article argumentation -if is possible to say it in that way, as you remember, my english is my second language-)
    Well, my idea (without details) is: Anointed are the New Jerusalem of Revelation. I think that after the millenial reign of Jesus anointed will return to earth, according to Revelation 21:2. Probably they will serve as representatives of God and Christ here on earth (Rev. 22:3, 4).
    After Millenial Reign of Christ and the "Holy Ones" (as the Bible called them) Satan will attack God's people, but the prophecy states: "Now as soon as the thousand years have been ended, Satan will be let loose out of his prison, and he will go out to mislead those NATIONS in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Ma?gog, to gather them together for the war. The number of these is as the sand of the sea. And they advanced over the breadth of the earth and encircled the camp of the holy ones and THE BELOVED CITY. But fire came down out of heaven and devoured them." - Rev. 20:7.
    I was trying to fit all details of Zachariah's prophecy with some Bible prophecies of Armagedon and the end of this system of things, and I just could not, even considering that Jerusalem represents Christedom, but just couldn't.
    Zachariah's prophecy speaks about the river of water... the same of Revelation 22. We know that this river flows from Jehovah and his Christ through the "broad way" of what I understand, is the Holy City. For me is clear that this prophecy of Revelation 22 will be fulfilled after Christ's milenial reign, so, would not be possible that Zechariah's prophecy is also related with the last attack of Satan against the Holy Ones, taking note of the similar vocabulary of this prophecy and Revelation's? Of course, the one attacking is Satan, but this is a last test of ingrity for God's people and Jehovah knows that Satan will do this and despite this, he will release Satan to put in test to his perfect servants, so, it would be proper to say that this test comes from Jehovah.
    Of course, there are lots of details that are not still clear, but we can't expect to understand every detail of Jehovah's purpose. This is just my crazy idea, taking note that about this last attack to God's people is found in Revelation only, so, why not to consider the posibility that Jehovah predicts this attack through another prophet too?
    Well, you can call me crazy ;) Again, is just my idea and hope you to find it at least fun :)
    Greetings from Guatemala.

  • Comment by Lynn on 2013-04-27 00:34:48

    Pardon me, I'm an ex-JW and think it's possible I may be of the remnant class and years ago I was being raped by demons in one of my dreams.

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