[From ws15/02 p. 24 for April 27-May 3]
“I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself,
the One guiding you in the way you should walk.”— Isa. 48:17
“He also subjected all things under his feet and made him head
over all things with regard to the congregation,” (Eph 1:22)
The theme text for this week’s study is Isaiah 48:11 (quoted above). The article is discussing the global preaching and teaching work of the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, yet we choose as a theme text a Scripture relating to the ancient nation of Israel which was not engaged in a preaching and teaching work ever—global or otherwise.
What is truly shocking about this study is that it makes no mention—not a single reference—to the actual head of the Christian Congregation. Does that seem appropriate to you? To put this into a familiar frame of reference, consider the case of a wife who is serving as a pioneer. Would it be appropriate for the local branch office to direct her to go into unassigned territory to preach and teach without consulting her husband? If they did, would he not be justified in feeling marginalized, disregarded, and disrespected?
Paul told the Ephesians that God has subjected all things under the feet of Jesus and that he is now head of “all things with regard to the congregation”. Therefore we, including the Governing Body, are subject to Jesus. As subjects, we bow before his authority. He is our Lord, our King, our husbandly head. We are told to kiss the son for his anger flares up easily. (Ps 2:12 NWT Reference Bible) Given this, why do we continually show disrespect for him by ignoring his position? Why do we fail to give him the honor which is his due? Jehovah’s name is sanctified through Jesus. If we disregard—even to the point of eliminating as we do this week—the name of Jesus, how can we claim to be sanctifying Jehovah’s name? (Acts 4:12; Phil. 2:9, 10)
The Last Days
Paragraph 3 refers to Daniel 12:4 and applies its fulfillment to the days of Charles Taze Russell. However, everything in that prophecy fits with a first century application. We think of our day as the time of the end, but Peter referred to the events then happening in Jerusalem as evidence they were in the last days. (Acts 2:16-21) True knowledge did become abundant as never before just as Daniel prophesied. It was certainly the time of the end for the Jewish system of things, and that is what Daniel was asking about when he said, “How long will it be to the end of these marvelous things?” (Da 12:6) While it is true that Russell and others rediscovered many Bible truths not commonly taught in the churches of Christendom, they were hardly the first to do so. And together with these truths a good deal of falsehood was mixed, such as the unscriptural idea of an invisible kingdom presence, the start of the great tribulation in 1914, and the use of pyramids to understand the ages of God—to name just a few. Rutherford added to this assortment of false teachings by teaching that millions then living would never die because he believed the end would come in the mid-1920s. He then preached a two-class system dividing Jehovah’s Witnesses into a clergy/laity structure, and denying the offer of adoption as sons by God to the millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses alive today. While this might be considered roving about in the Scriptures, it can hardly fulfill Daniel’s words that “the true knowledge will become abundant.”
How Bible Translation Has Helped Us
To read this article, one would think that we alone are using the Bible to spread the message of the Good News. If so, then what are all the other Bible Societies doing with the hundreds of millions of Bibles they are printing in over 1,000 languages? Are we to believe these are all sitting in a warehouse somewhere gathering dust?
We boast that only we are preaching the message door-to-door as if that were what Jesus commanded. He told us to make disciples, but he did not command us to employ only one method for doing that. Consider this fact: Our religion began as an offshoot of Adventist thought. William Miller came up with the Seven times of Daniel and the 2,520 prophetic years even before Russell was born. (Miller may have been influenced by the work of John Aquila Brown who wrote The Even-Tide in 1823. He predicted 1917 as the end, because he started at 604 B.C.E.) His work led to the formation of the Adventist religion which was founded about 15 years before the first Watchtower came off the press. Adventists do not go from house to house, yet they claim over 16 million members worldwide. How did this happen?
No one here is suggesting that it is wrong to preach from door to door, even though the efficacy of this method has declined greatly. It is likely that other methods are equally, if not more, effective, yet under what we claim is Jehovah’s (not Christ’s) direction, we have avoided them all until very recently. Only now are we beginning to explore the other mediums that competing Christian denominations have been using for decades.
How Peace, Travel, Language, Laws, and Technology Have Helped Us
The bulk of the article discusses how peace in many countries has opened doors for the preaching work. How computer technology has improved printing, translation, and the means to distribute the word. How a growing international law code to defend and uphold human rights has served as a protection.
Then it concludes:
“Clearly, we have strong evidence of God’s blessing.” Par. 17
We seem to be increasingly materialistic in our viewpoint. We see all these things as evidence of God’s blessing, forgetting that they help all other faiths equally. Every Christian religion has made use of these things to spread the good news as they understand it. In fact, many have been using these tools long before we have. We are only now using the internet and TV broadcast, claiming that this is God’s direction. Is God playing catch up? And what of the fastest growing religion on earth today? Can Islam look at all these things we’ve just described and say as we do, “See what strong evidence we have of Allah’s blessing?”
God’s blessing is not evident by technological, humanitarian, nor cultural advances. Nor are huge numbers of converts evidence he is with us. In fact, quite the opposite, to go by Jesus warning at Matthew 7:13.
What sets us apart is our faith, meaning our obedience to the Christ and our loyalty to the truth. If our conduct imitates him and our words are as true as his, people will recognize that God is with us.
It is with great regret that I admit that less and less can this be said of the faith I grew up in.
It’s sad isn’t it when you grow up in the organisation believing everything it says and feeling that you belong and are a part of something special. Then the scales come off and it’s like discovering the Wizard of Oz. It took me 5 decades. I feel as if I have to rebuild my house on rock (Jesus Christ) after the sand I’d built it on had shifted. It takes time and your website is really helping! I sat at the meeting yesterday and all those same thoughts were going through my mind. What of the christians in centuries past… Read more »
@Dissapointed, same for me,I have for the last 7 years being building a new faith, one that doesn’t have the shifting sand of human opinions as a foundation, I can see why many are attracted to the JW faith because they don’t have to think, it’s all been boxed and packaged ready for consumption, Finding what is true is a real job,but the feeling of gods blessing doing so is a wonderful experience, now it feels like Ime walking with God. I could help but think of the promise at 1Pet 2:6 that no one who rests their faith in… Read more »
I totally can relate- real truth seekers will keep searching when they have realised falsehoods – where the carcass is the eagles will gather 🙂
Matt 28:20 “Look I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things” NWT
Christ has been present since his resurrection and placed into Kingdom power where all authority has been given him in heaven and on earth by the Father.
Yes thanx for clarification, since his ressurection
“Look I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things. Matt 28:20
I believe Christ has been present since his resurrection, and all authority has been given to him by the father.
Ive just read the article . Again its purpose is to give the impression that god is backing the organisation therefore building faith in the religion . I dont really want to be too critical anymore but what spiritual instruction is contained in it . .How is this going to help us gain accurate knowledge of god and christ . Could it help us put on a christlike personality . what about a study on loving our brothers . I ve just been on holiday for a week managed to read through about half of the entire NT . One… Read more »
I totally agree, Kev. Our WT studies are getting ridiculous. Everything is about praising the organization and nothing about building our faith in Christ. I walked out yesterday, for many reasons.
I watched a young minister on TV discussing the different Greek words for love, in half an hour I heard more truth from ” false religion” than the last 4 years in the organization
Same, I watched a minister discussing kindness and was very uplifted – very little articles on love in the wt. and “the love” according to the bible is what makes for a true Christian 🙂 billy
Dorcas i stopped going for a while and then started going along just for the public talk on sundays but leaving before the watchtower . with some of the comments i got i think there were those who would have prefered me not to have gone at all . The last time i did i was followed out of the hall and given a dressing down . That was enough for me . From that point on i wanted out all together . Kev
I’m sorry this happened to you. Years ago, an elder lamented to me: “we work so hard to get them here (to the meetings, K.H.) and TWICE as hard to drive them out.” Seems this is what happened to you. In retrospect, I think this is what’s happening to many of us.
I don’t go anymore either as I feel a huge chill from the congregation it made me depressed 🙁
Bobcat, You say, “Dan 12:4 describes happenings future from Daniel during the ‘time of the end’, a phrase that can be applied to the entire Christian era (which in the NT is referred to as ‘the last days’).”
So then “the last days” began in the first century – agreed. How about the final stage of the last days being “the time of the end” or “the end of the age”, Dan 12:4.
If the last days began in first century – during this time span, conditions world wide would increasingly worsen, and as the last days draw to a close, there would be a climatic conclusion to “this present evil age” (“this generation” Matt 24:34, compare Mark 8:38). Therefore, that final stage, “the end of the age” will officially bring “the last days” to a close.
Skye, there are several points that make this subject difficult to converse about. As in the links I provided above, I take “the conclusion of the system of things” (NWT; or “the end of the age”; Mt 13:39, 40, 49; 24:3; 28:20) to be the same as when Jesus arrives for judgment i.e. “the great tribulation” of Rev 7:14 and the “great earthquake” of Rev 16:18-21). I take Mt 24:4-35 (which includes the “this generation” saying) to be Jesus’ answer to the first question of Mt 24:3 (“When will these things [i.e. the destruction of the temple referred to at… Read more »
Hi Bobcat, the way I understand it is, that which ever way you look at it, the final stage, “the end of the age” will officially bring “the last days” to a close. But can we do back to Matt 24 just now because I think it’s important. If we look at Matt 24 as one fulfilment, the last days beginning in the first century, v3 – Jesus gave signs of last days. Now if we follow the sequence: Matt 24:15,16,21,30,31. “When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel standing in the holy place, flee to the… Read more »
Self glorification seems to be the staple diet for us in our publications, while downplaying or denigrating the achievements of others in promoting christ is an all too familiar political tactic among opponents with opposing views. however, lets learn from the master, when his disciples told jesus they stopped a man from performing miracles in his name because “he was not with us”, the master said to leave the man alone, he that is not against us is for us.” Yes, advancement of the good news can happen from outside our “little circle”. Paul noted at Phil 1:15 “true, some… Read more »
Daniel 12 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise[a] will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. 4… Read more »
Alex, I do not believe in partial fulfillments. I do not think that this concept “partial fulfilment of prophecies” is a biblical concept. In my view, the concept of a partial fulfilment of a prophecy would be most confusing to believers and rather disappointing if one is living in the initial part of the partial fulfilment. I like to understand if there are more examples of partial fulfilment in the bible. Also, what would be a definition of a partial fulfilment. And how would one be able to recognize a “partial fulfilment of a prophecy”? Is a fulfilment not either… Read more »
If we have been living in the last days since the first century, then it would follow that as the time draws nearer to a close, all the signs Jesus gave would intensify, and that would mean there was no partial fulfilment in the first century. And therefore with regard to the great tribulation that is still to happen.
Menrov, from the forum I know you’ve recently discovered preterism and that you adopted some of it’s points. I can’t find myself in that framework of reasoning. The pieces of the puzzle don’t fit for me, I can’t see it. If the last days started in the first century then they have been going on for 2000 years. Jesus millennial reign cannot possibly have started yet, because if it did, I would consider it a big disappointment. There is no way he is present before coming either. So either Jesus has come yet, or he hasn’t. If he came back… Read more »
At first glance, only points 3 and 4 do not fit with the first century. However, was Daniel referring to a physical resurrection or a spiritual/metaphorical one? Ezekiel 37:1-14 uses similar language, but it is not relating to a physical resurrection. I think that the dead awakening in Daniel 12:2 refers to a spiritual awakening, not a physical one. Jesus used similar language when he spoke of the dead burying their dead. (Mt 8:22) Additionally, if we take it literally, then we have to move the time frame until after Armageddon when some will be resurrected who presumably will not… Read more »
Dan 12:1 “time of distress …..” (Matt 24:21 Great tribulation)
Dan 12:2 resurrection – “many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake”. This occurs after GT Dan 12:1 but before God’s day of wrath (going back to Matt 24) and this would fit with 1 Thes 4:13-18.
With regard to second part of Dan 12:2 “others to shame and everlasting contempt” – could this not be similar to our understanding of the resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous which do not occur at the same time?
The description of the resurrection in Dan 12:2 resembles Jesus’ description of the resurrection in John 5:28, 29. Although the wording is different, the essential points in both passages are the same. Several commentaries that I have on Daniel and John also recognize the similarity of these two passages. Also, the language of Dan 12:3 is strongly reflected in Jesus’ explanation of the wheat & weeds at Mt 13:43. In the context of Jesus’ explanation (Mt 13:40-43), the “righteous ones shine” after Jesus has sent forth his angels to remove from his kingdom and destroy ‘those doing lawlessness and stumbling… Read more »
I think Daniel is talking about the first resurrection because he is talking about shining like the expanse of the heavens. To me, that is about the glorified Church, which would be resurrected at the 7th trumpet upon Christ’s return.
I could be wrong but who’s to say that the resurrection hasn’t been happening since the first century? We like to think of it as a big one time event. What if it’s not?
Well it does say that it would be during his presence
1 Cor 15:23
“23 But each one in his own proper order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who belong to the Christ during his presence.”
Not just at the end.
That brings up the question of when his presence began or is to begin. What are your thoughts on that?
I believe 1874. There’s a lot of reasoning and chronology for this including the Jubilee cycles.
It depends if you are still in the mindset of two “comings”, an invisible then visible. In Matthew 28:18 Jesus says all authority HAS been given to me in heaven and on earth. At that time already in the first century Jesus had become Sovereign ruler and King.
I don’t believe he took reign in 1914. But there is ample evidence that his parousia is invisible.
Ime with you on this one,my conclusion is that Jesus has been present ever since his ascension to heaven, he promised that at Matt 28:20,I can’t find a bible text that says otherwise, the GB interpretation of the presence of Jesus has, after many revisions and deletions, shown to be guess work , never did Jesus say he wouldn’t be present then become present again, thankfully he’s been there for us the whole time, the GB just taught what they did to deflect us all away from real kingdom promises and blessings.
Just want to make a correction to the article. Russell did not use “pyramids.” He used the Great Pyramid. He believed that it was a fulfillment of Isaiah 19:19,20. It’s fits perfectly. He never developed doctrine based on it. He believed that it backed up what he already taught. Never did it drive doctrines from it.
Thanks for that clarification, Chris.
I found this study very narrow for the reasons already mentioned, I believe the King James Trust is going to release the KJV in 2500 languages this year ,the work started about 8 years ago on translation , 2015 was the target to finish.Our dear brothers in the printerys of bethel haven’t yet come near to that many languages for the RNWT, they have however printed plenty of watchtower literature in 200 languages but not bibles?
That’s fascinating, Wild Olive. Where would I find out more about that? I’d love to share it with friends.
Wycliffe.com is one site that is dedicated to bible translation, they say that as of 2014 , 500 languages have a complete translation and about another 2100 are partially done, they it seems have fallen behind and have pushed it out to 2025 to have all languages on their list complete.
Dear Meleti, thanks for another nice review. You comment at the end: “It is with great regret that I admit that less and less can this be said of the faith I grew up in.” is something that must feel as a rather painful conclusion for you. It does make me feel sad. Not because you have come to that conclusion, but because it is a conclusion you’d never expected to come to. I did not grow up in the organisation but spent some 17 years in it. But I experience the same type of sentiments, albeit probably not as… Read more »