[From ws7/16 p. 7 for September 5-11]
“You do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”—Mt 24:42
Paternalism is often characteristic of any organization, religious or otherwise, that grows in power and scope. Slowly, control over even minor aspects of one’s life is exercised. To ensure compliance to even trivial rules, obedience is equated with survival. Disobedience means death.
For years, the Governing Body has asked Witnesses to take their seats when the 10-minute musical prelude begins. This allows everyone to be seated in time for the opening prayer. However, this is no longer sufficient. Now there is a countdown and all are supposed to be seated before the music starts and then quietly listen to the “beautiful music of the Watchtower orchestra”.
The question for paragraph 1 of this week’s study directs us to look at the opening picture (see above) while asking us to, “Illustrate why it is important to be aware of what time it is and what is happening around us.”
So why is this scenario important? It is, after all, only a musical prelude. The closing sentence of paragraph 1 explains:
“That scenario may help us appreciate the “countdown” for a much greater event, one that calls for us to be keenly aware of what is coming in the near future. And what event is that?” – par. 1
The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses is seriously telling us that being aware of their countdown for the musical prelude at conventions will help us to “keep on the watch” for the coming day of the Lord Jesus Christ in great power and glory!
This may well seem silly to some—not to mention, paternalistic—but let’s overlook that for the moment and notice that the opening paragraph starts with a countdown: “FIVE, four, three, two, one!” Then it links that countdown to another “’countdown’ for a much greater event.”
(I feel compelled to stop here to remark on this stunning example of overstatement. Calling the return of Christ a “much greater event” than a regional convention musical prelude is like calling a 100-megaton thermonuclear explosion a much greater event than a burp.)
Paragraph 2 explains that we do not know the day or hour that the Lord is coming, which would seem to conflict with the idea of a countdown. A countdown is used to coordinate the tasks of many teams working toward a single event. A rocket launch is likely the first example that comes to mind. Everybody knows about the countdown and has constant access to the timing, otherwise, it would serve no purpose. Jesus describes his coming as likened to that of a thief in the night. He never likens it to a countdown.
So by the end of only the second paragraph, the reader has two seemingly contradictory ideas implanted. No one knows when Jesus is coming, but there is a countdown and he’s “coming in the near future.”
At this point, some might counter that the article never states we know the timing of the countdown. Paragraph 4 states that only Jehovah, and likely Jesus, know when the countdown reaches zero. Fair enough. This countdown has been going on for at least the past two thousand years, so why is it being emphasized here? Why speak about a countdown if we are not privy to the time on the countdown clock?
The reason is that even though the WT admits that only Jehovah and Jesus know the precise time on the countdown clock, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been given special insight into where we are on the countdown sequence. We may not know where the second hand is exactly, but we sure do know where the hour hand is, and we’ve a pretty good idea where the minute hand is pointing as well.
That is why paragraph 1 can speak of a countdown which paragraph 4 says only God knows about while in the same breath stating with certainty that the zero hour is in “the near future”.
Paragraph 3 continues with the theme by saying:
“As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we take seriously Jesus’ warning. We know that we are living deep in “the time of the end” and that there cannot be much time left before the “great tribulation” begins!” – par. 3
This message echoes words spoken by Russell and Rutherford, and they were not even the first to use them. In fact, we can trace end-of-time predictions which have a direct theological lineage to Jehovah’s Witnesses of today back almost 200 years!
During my lifetime I’ve heard variations on the words cited above from paragraph 3 many times. Here’s one from 1950.
“Now is the time to live and work as Christians, especially now, for the final end is near.” (w50 2/15 p. 54 par. 19)
In my twenties, we were told the countdown would likely end around 1975.
“From our Bible study we have learned that we are living deep in the “time of the end.”” (w72 4/1 p. 216 par. 18)
Let’s be clear. No one is saying we shouldn’t be watchful. Jesus said we should be on the watch and that is the end of the matter. But the type of date-based watchfulness the Organization is pushing on us is not what Jesus had in mind. He knew that the disappointment it inevitably engenders can be harmful to one’s spirituality.
How can the Governing Body make the assertion that Jesus is returning in the near future? Signs! We have signs!
“We see distressing wars, increasing immorality and lawlessness, religious confusion, food shortages, pestilences, and earthquakes taking place around the world. We know that a phenomenal Kingdom-preaching work is being accomplished by Jehovah’s people everywhere.” – par. 3
Just last year The Watchtower had this to say:
“Today, world conditions keep getting worse.” (w15 11/15 p. 17 par. 5)
I’ve heard many friends parrot these words. Closing their minds to the reality surrounding us, they see a continually worsening world condition despite abundance evidence to the contrary.
Before going on, we should clarify something. We need to remove a premise all Witnesses accept as gospel, but which does not appear in the Bible. There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that we would be able to calculate how close to the end we are based on worsening world conditions. In fact, a case could be made for the exact opposite. Jesus said:
“On this account, you too prove yourselves ready, because the Son of man is coming at an hour that you do not think to be it.” (Mt 24:44)
If worsening world conditions have caused Christians throughout time to expect the arrival of Jesus, yet he comes when we do not think he is coming, it follows that worsening world conditions are an anti-sign.
I’m not suggesting for a minute we treat them that way. In fact, looking for a sign is a sign in itself—a sign of a wicked generation.
“. . .“Teacher, we want to see a sign from you.” 39 In reply he said to them: “A wicked and adulterous generation keeps on seeking for a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Joʹnah the prophet.” (Mt 12:38, 39)
Nevertheless, to demonstrate the lengths to which the Governing Body is willing to go in order to maintain the state of anxious expectation needed to compel unswerving obedience from the flock in their care, let us examine the “signs” indicating the end is near.
Let’s start with the “distressing wars” we are supposed to be seeing. These would have to be distinguishable from the wars we’ve seen for the last two thousand years. Remember, these are supposed to be indicative of “worsening world conditions”, so we’re looking for an increase here.
How odd then that the facts indicate we are currently experiencing one of the most war-free times of history.
What about earthquakes? Statistically, there has been no increase in earthquakes. What about pestilences. We saw the Black Death (Bubonic Plague) in the mid-1300s which is reportedly the worst pestilence of all times. The Spanish Influenza of 1918-1919 killed more people than World War I. But since then, we’ve made great strides in medicine and disease control. Malaria, Tuberculosis, Polio, SARS, ZIKA, these are contained and controlled. In short, what we have are pestilence non-starters. Such international cooperation hardly seems like a candidate sign of “worsening world conditions.”
I’m no scientist. I’m no scholar. I’m just a man with a computer and access to the internet, yet I’ve researched all this in a matter of minutes. So one wonders what is happening at JW.org world headquarters among the writing staff.
Of course, even if wars were getting worse, and we were seeing an increase in food shortages, pestilences, and earthquakes, that would not be a sign of the end. Quite the opposite. Jesus, knowing how easily humans get spooked, and how ready we are to read a sign into anything, told us not to be misled by such things.
“YOU are going to hear of wars and reports of wars; see that YOU are not terrified. For these things must take place, but the end is not yet.” (Mt 24:6)
It seems that with the bettering of world conditions, the Organization is getting desperate and is inventing new signs. The article suggests that “increasing immorality and lawlessness, as well as religious confusion” are signs the end is very near.
“Religious confusion” as sign the end is near? What exactly is that, and where does the Bible speak of it as a sign?
Perhaps the most interesting “sign” they advance as proof of the nearness of Jesus’ return is the “phenomenal Kingdom-preaching work…being accomplished by Jehovah’s [Witnesses] everywhere.” “Everywhere” is misleading as Witnesses do not preach to over half of the world’s population. Apparently, standing on the street silently beside a cart displaying literature (no Bibles), or going to doors where few are home and showing a video once or twice a morning, or exhibiting numerical growth that doesn’t even keep up with the world population growth rate is deemed as a phenomenal! (Yet another example of the writer’s capacity for gross overstatement.) Of course, Witnesses believe that no other Christian religion is preaching about the kingdom, a misconception that could be easily debunked if Witnesses were only willing to disregard the injunction of the Governing Body against using the internet for Bible research.
Counting Down the Time
“We know that every convention session has a precise time to start. However, try as hard as we might, we cannot pinpoint the exact year, much less day and hour, when the great tribulation will begin.” – par. 4
Given the history of the organization I’ve grown old serving, it would be more accurate had they rephrased this to read: “…we cannot pinpoint the exact century, nor decade, nor year…”
The resurrection of the 20th century generation doctrine fiasco into the current overlapping-generations doctrine has breathed new life into the apocalyptic expectations of Jehovah’s Witnesses. We are lead to believe that the current generation of Governing Body members will be around to see the end. (See the article: They’re Doing It Again.)
Turning a blind eye to all the organization’s failures of last century to predict the nearness of the end, the writer feels confident in saying “we cannot pinpoint the exact year”, inferring that the exact decade is another thing entirely. This is a new generation. The majority of Witnesses alive today did not see all the failures of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. History is ripe for the repeating.
The purpose of this subtitle is to reassure us that Jehovah hasn’t changed and that the end will come and will not be late. (Ha 2:1-3)
Why is such a reassurance necessary?
Likely for a reason not mentioned in the next section.
Beware of Being Distracted from Your Watchfulness
This subtitle lists three ways that we can become distracted from Christian watchfulness. It should list four. The fourth is the effect of false expectations and presumably the reason for the previous subtitle’s point about not doubting Jehovah will bring the end.
The Bible says:
“Expectation postponed is making the heart sick…” (Pr 13:12)
Knowledge of this Bible truth is why Jesus did not expect us to tie our watchfulness to date-based calculations and why he gave us no mechanism for doing so.
Could it be that the Organization is itself responsible for thousands of Christians losing their watchful state, even to the point of becoming agnostic or atheist? Are the Organization’s failed pronostications themselves the reason that so many active Jehovah’s Witnesses need to be reassured that the end will not be late?
“Satan blinds people’s minds through the world empire of false religion. What have you detected in your conversations with others? Has the Devil not already “blinded the minds of the unbelievers” about the coming end of this system of things and the fact that Christ is now ruling God’s Kingdom?” – par. 11
According to the Governing Body, it is Satan the Devil who has blinded the minds of unbelievers about “the fact that Christ is now ruling God’s Kingdom!”
If you care to click this link, then move to the “Categories” listing, click on “Jehovah’s Witnesses” and then select the 1914 subtitle, you’ll see many articles examining the 1914 doctrine from every direction. Check out 1914 – What’s the Problem?, 1914 – A Litany of Assumptions, and Was 1914 the Start of Christ’s Presence? as three examples of how false that doctrine proves to be.
Since the 1914 invisible presence is a false teaching, it makes no sense that the Devil would hide it from anyone. It plays right into his hand. Getting millions to believe in 1914, serves to establish that year as the start of the last days. With that in place, the idea that the length of the last days can be calculated using the generation of Matthew 24:34 follows as night does day. The decade-by-decade failure of that interpretation throughout most of the 20th century would inevitably lead to disillusionment and in the best case scenario—from Satan’s perspective—cause a great falling way from Christ.
Through every decade of my life, that doctrine was re-explained to allow for a recalculation that moved the end seven to ten years farther down the road. Decade after decade of failure until finally we saw the end of the doctrine in the mid-1990s. Most were confused, but some of us heaved a great sigh of relief. So it was with considerable dismay that we witnessed the resurrection of the doctrine toward the end of the first decade of the new century. This year, it has been officially used again to determine how long the generation is and approximately when it will end. The current members of the Governing Body are part of the second generation that overlaps the first. As such, most will still be alive when Christ returns, and will supposedly not even be that old nor decrepit. We’re back to a countdown. (See the article: They’re Doing It Again.)
A soldier on an ancient battlement was there to keep on the watch, even during times when there was no imminent threat. He might go through his whole tenure of military service and never once sound the alarm. This should be the state of Christians. It is a state of awareness that is sustainable throughout one’s lifetime.
However, what if the soldier is told the enemy is going to appear within the month, and it doesn’t? What if he’s then told it will appear within the next month, and again it doesn’t? What if this goes on and on? Inevitably, his spirit will tire out. The increased anxiety level resulting from the supposition that a threat is imminent is not psychologically sustainable. Either the soldier will eventually lose faith in his commanders and let down his guard when it really counts, or the ongoing stress of artificially heightened awareness will affect his mental and physical health.
Jesus wouldn’t do that to us. So why does the Organization feel obliged to? Simply put, it is a control mechanism.
During times of peace, with the population dwelling in security, people have time to examine things; things like their leaders. Generally speaking, leaders don’t like to be scrutinized. So maintaining a state of fear is optimal for controlling the population. It could be the Cold War, the Communist menace, global warming, international terrorism…or the imminent end of the world. Whatever the threat is, when in fear, people rally behind their leaders. People just want to feel safe and protected.
A few years back, the Governing Body did away with the Book Study arrangement. The reasons given didn’t make sense. (High fuel costs, additional travel time.) It has become evident that the reason was control. Small groups that are not under the watchful eye of the entire body of elders might begin to deviate from the doctrines of the Governing Body. Control! Recently, we were treated to a video extolling the “integrity” of a brother who put his family through many months of privation just so he wouldn’t miss the WT Study of his own congregation, even though he could have easily attended the Study at a neighboring congregation. Control! In this study article, we are expected to be in our seats before the start of musical prelude—which undermines the whole purpose of a musical prelude—so we can listen quietly to the music the Governing Body has prepared for us. We are told that learning to be obedient in this little thing will help us survive Armageddon. Control!
We may have doubts about the Governing Body, but if we are caused to believe that our salvation depends on them and the end is only a few short years away, we can swallow our doubts and wait. If we reason this way, we are acting out of fear, rather than being motivated by a love of truth and fellow man. Ultimately, being motivated by fear will affect our attitude, our conduct, our whole personality.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love throws fear outside, because fear exercises a restraint. Indeed, he that is under fear has not been made perfect in love.” (1Jo 4:18)
[…] 2016 Watchtower Study Edition, p. 7. You can find our review of that particular study article here. The theme of the article was “Why Must We ‘Keep on the […]
While sitting in the meeting a couple of thoughts occurred to me. Luke Chapter 21 (the parallel account to Matthew Chapter 24) also read in context on its own is also simply talking about the impending great tribulation of the destruction of Jerusalem. Nothing more, nothing less. No interpretation required. Luke 21:24 is talking about the Jerusalem of Jesus day, not Jeremiah and Daniel’s day. And the legs and feet of the statue in Daniels prophecy are both referring to Rome. Read it carefully. For it was when Rome was a world power that Jesus came to earth and he… Read more »
So you will appreciate like me, no basements! Generally in the southern hemisphere – NZ, Australia… what are we going to do? You’ve also already been to the Saturday aftrnoon meeting? I’m sure that we’ll get special instructions as some are worried about not having a basement like most northern Americans do. I feel so sorry for those unfortunate ones named Kevin. (however I will coninue on my greatest weakness – sarcasm….) mmm. I was wondering about the legs on th the statue in your previous comments. the 7 world powers in Revelation and the statue of Daniel etc. So… Read more »
When I gave you a reply on an earlier comment with a passage from the Parousia about the preaching of the gospel in the whole world, I hoped you would read the book. The Parousia has a chart comparing Matthew 24 & Luke 21, and makes this comment: “No argument is required to prove the strict and exclusive reference of this section to Jerusalem and Judea.” You are sort of reinventing the wheel. After years of thinking, you will be able to write books like Philip Desprez and James Stuart Russell did in the 1800’s. But you would save a… Read more »
I just wanted to say thank you william for mentioning those two books. That book called the Parousia. I cannot put it down. I just started reading it this morning and I cannot believe what I am reading. I am not sure how the book will end. But nonetheless it is totally changing my view of all of Christ’s words. In fact, because we are so familiar with the scriptures you instantly start connecting scriptures that you know, to what he is talking about. You do this early on in the book. You immediately begin to see where he is… Read more »
I’m glad you like the book. Somebody online has The Parousia in a .doc file, which is good for searching fast. The way I found out about the book is this: I wrote ideas similar to those in the Parousia to Carl Olof Jonsson about 15 or 20 years ago, as if I had discovered them. He wrote me back and told me that my idea was not original and to read the Parousia. In case you want read Desprez, you should know these things: He wrote mainly about Revelation (and one book about Daniel.) He became influenced by the… Read more »
While Russell may have been good at unbiased contextual reading early on in his research, later on in life, that no longer was the case. His many date-based interpretations and his emphasis on pyramidology undermined much of his earlier work and misled many for a significant period of time. In fact, Rutherford was able to build on his legacy and as a result, Jehovah’s Witnesses are still being misled.
I’m talking about James Stuart Russell (1816 – 1895), a Congregationalist minister, a Scotsman, not Charles Taze Russell (February 16, 1852 – October 31, 1916), the American Bible Student. You mentioned a few weeks ago that you would at some time write about prophecy, including preterism. The modern preterist movement began with a rediscovery of James Stuart Russell’s book. I haven’t carefully read The Parousia for a long time, but I assume that J. S. Russell was a trinitarian and believed other doctrines that I would argue disagree with him about. So nobody should be believed with total trust including… Read more »
I do find this book fascinating. In fact, it almost seems impossible to refute. And that is the issue. However, what I seem to be finding, is that 70 AD seems strained. I mean, 70 AD becomes the equivalent of 1914 to JW’s on all levels. Eventually you reach a point where you have to make 70 AD fit. Because once you jump on this train, there is no turning back. You are forced to reckon with 70 AD at everyturn. Because when does it become “logical” to say, “well it is time to change course here”? Not finished yet,… Read more »
It hardly becomes the equivalent of 1914 on all levels. Attached to that date is the claim that JW’s are the only ones who have the truth and are God’s only chosen people on earth, which is why there is a need to tenaciously cling to it and make it work no matter what. What is to be gained from believing that what Jesus prophesied came true back then? Not much at all really. There’s no hidden agenda here. It’s either true or it’s not. Did Jesus words about the generation did it come true or not? You have two… Read more »
Easy tiger. Easy.? I don’t have a problem with the generation that Jesus was talking about. In fact, it makes perfect sense that all of Jesus words apply to DOJ. I have always had a hard time believing the duel fulfillment of the generation. Deep down I believed it was Jesus contemporaries. They would see it in there lifetime. This is a new subject for me. I am seeing how Jesus words concerning the resurrection and other scriptures fit in with a “70 ADer” thinking. It would be so easy to accept this book, hook, line, and sinker. And I… Read more »
Hi Vinman, can you give me a link to the book. I would like to read for myself. If not, can I get it on Amazon? I don’t accept the dual fulfillment of Matthew 24. However, as I’ve explained in my articles on the generation, I don’t believe all of it was fulfilled in the first century either. I believe Jesus was inadvertently asked a question which the disciples supposed would all be fulfilled at the same time, but Jesus knew different. However, as he himself said, there were truths he had for them which he could not yet revealed… Read more »
Here is the link Meleti.
I agree with not being labeled.
Warning: This book is difficult to refute. Even if your sixth sense tells you differently. ?
But…this generation will no means pass away until all these things happen…ok, ok, I’ll leave it alone 😉 Everyone believes what they WANT to believe. Myself included. Who is actually right, God only knows. Sincerity of belief doesn’t equate to us being right. I’ve got the rest of my life to live, and it ain’t going to be studying Matthew chapter 24
Ha ha. Sorry vinman, didn’t mean to come across all preachy to you. You might also enjoy reading “The Seventy Weeks and The Great Tribulation” by Philip Mauro. I would recommend it. Also, “Which Version – Authorised or Revised” by the same author, in relation to Bible versions. A big eye opener for me after reading his book was realising the start of the 70 weeks prophecy to the Messiah should be counted from the declaration of Cyrus. But that’s a topic for another time 😉 There’s so many things I just assumed and took for granted, based on what… Read more »
It’s kind of like when you realise that the other sheep were just the Gentiles. The Greek scriptures just make sense after that
I agree with your last statement. I currently am obsessed with finding the “Theory of Everything.” That is where the Bible has a natural flow that makes sense of everything in context. The Watchtower’s explanations of the end of the Jewish system vs end of the world was a messy mumbo jumbo. It left you with questions you could not ask or find answers to. That is why I was drawn to “The Parousia”. It does make sense on so many levels. That is what is difficult. I can pretend I don’t agree, but my gut says differently. It is… Read more »
I don’t think you are going to find your “Theory of Everything.” I have a comment about things to keep in mind when interpreting Matthew 24. Sometimes commenters on this web site modify their interpretations with common sense based on what they think is compatible with God’s goodness and past actions. And I think that they are right. Moses Stuart wrote the following in Elements of Interpretation (1822): “The art of interpretation is the art of teaching what is the meaning of another’s language; or that faculty, which enables us to attach to another’s language, the same meaning as the… Read more »
My apologies. I saw “Russell” and just assumed Charles Taze. I do intend to write about preterism at some point very soon I hope. However I want to finish the series on salvation first.
I look forward to the future article. No need to apologize about confusing the two Russells. I misread things and jump to conclusions every day. I bet you are going to have over 100 comments on that preterism article.
Thanks Meleti, after reading the Wt study and your review, they could make a few adjustments. Eg, basic message of Jesus return has not changed in 2,000 years. Be prepared or awake, because you never know when it might happen! You wrote:Let’s be clear. No one is saying we shouldn’t be watchful. Jesus said we should be on the watch and that is the end of the matter. But the type of date-based watchfulness the Organization is pushing on us is not what Jesus had in mind. He knew that the disappointment it inevitably engenders can be harmful to one’s… Read more »
All I can say in response to this article is “Wow!” You hit it out of the park Meleti, nail on the head, spot on, ad infinitum. It’s going to be hard for me this Sunday to keep my mouth shut at the Watchtower study, thus avoiding a trip to the back room. Regarding your observation about the musical prelude at the convention. “Paternalistic” almost seems like an understatement. On the Friday of our convention, I arrived just before the afternoon session started (had to work that morning). When the invited Bethel speaker got up to do his talk, he… Read more »
I forgot to mention in my post an excellent link to a site showing just how much the world has improved over history. It is:
Admittedly, you can make arguments about what some of the charts really mean (and many do in the comments section) but none-the-less, it makes a powerful argument that things are getting better overall, not worse.
I’m going to have some fun sending this link out to friends.
Thanks for posting that link. I think I’ll be sharing that too. I did get a kick out of this quote:
“Being able to rapidly notice and pay attention to negative news (like a predator or a dangerous fire) was an evolutionary advantage to keep you alive on the savannas of Africa millions of years ago.”
Ok, so maybe science education is an exception to the ‘improvement’ rule.
“But it always occurred to me that phrases like that have meaning to everybody – perhaps different meanings to different people, but still, meaning. To one person “around the corner” may mean five years, to another, ten, and to a third, perhaps a year ” How true. This was illustrated recently when the speaker said ” we used to say Armageddon is just around the corner, but it’s much closer than that now isn’t it? Now, it’s just on the horizon!” I have to admit a snort escaped me in the shock of that comment. Thankfully there were enough murmurs… Read more »
“I have to admit a snort escaped me in the shock of that comment. Thankfully there were enough murmurs of appreciation and agreement to cover me.”
LOL, your story had me laughing so hard this morning! I can totally relate to it. Loved your comment on how the horizon continually recedes from us as well. How perfectly appropriate as an analogy for the organizations mis-steps on the GT.
What a great series of quotes. Thank you, Deo_ac_veritati. Now I wish I’d read 1984. I’ll have to put it on my reading list.
Ah yes, thoughtcrimes, doublespeak, the Ministry of Truth. Great stuff, you’ll like it
Highly recommend reading 1984 . It’s actually a fairly short read, but so deep at the same time. After you finish the book, I’d also recommend the following:
Fascinating comparison between the book and the current JW GB/organization.
The example in the WTs 1st paragraph about everybody having to shut up and sit quiet during the prelude seems to be just about control indeed. The fact that many talk to friends during that time speaks of itself. Obviously they value much more talking to their friends, many of whom they meet only seldom, on conventions. The usual song-and-prayer tune in routine would work perfectly well on conventions too. It seems this silly prelude requirement has become harder to enforce by the GB than they expected. Apparently they view it as a sign of disobedience. So they cannot let… Read more »
Meleti, a point you brought out in this article scared me. In your honest opinion, do you believe that the Watchtower is raising a new generation of “Armageddon is just around the corner” , based on the “overlapping generations” garbage? I always thought that would be a “waking up” moment. But maybe I am wrong. Are younger people running with this? I sure hope not. I know I sound like a broken recond, but your articles are so well put together. The way you extract what is really being said is awesome. Oh, and that “countdown” thing, how embarassing! “How… Read more »
It certainly does seem to be the case that they are prepping the rank and file for this mentality. I think they’re smart enough not to nail down a year again, but tying the end of the generation to the current crop of GB members still sets an effective time limit on the “countdown”.
The generation Jesus was talking about was the wicked generation of his day. The great tribulation was fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem, and this fulfilled Daniels prophecy. There is no dual fulfilment of a great tribulation. Parallel dispensations and dual fulfillments are just silly. Why do people think that what they read applies to their lifetime? Now that we’ve cleared that up, we can all get on with life. If there’s one thing for certain, we are all going to die, and we are all going to get a resurrection that has been promised to us. Remain faithful to… Read more »
You spoke against dual fulfillments and got a lot of upvotes. I am surprised. I thought that nearly all of the people using this site were futurists. There must be a lot of preterists using this site.
There are three types of preterists. We try to not be defined by such terms, but prefer to take the Bible as it comes. Some prophecies have been fulfilled already. Others have yet to be fulfilled.
Exactly. I spoke specifically about dual fulfillments. There is no such thing. Unless you want to actually believe Jesus was speaking about our overlapping generation and a secondary great tribulation. Better get the basement prepared in that case…
But I don’t have a basement! Does that mean I’m lost. Oh wait. I forgot about the secret knock. Three, then two, then one. Or was it one, then two, then three? I guess our dyslexic brothers are going to have a rough time of it.
Thanks for your comments. Mileti, I think you were speaking on behalf of most of the regulars, when you wrote: “Some prophecies have been fulfilled already. Others have yet to be fulfilled.” I need to avoid the word “preterist” since, as you say, it is ambiguous. The predecessors of modern preterists James Stuart Russell and Philip S. Desprez don’t seem to have used the words “preterist” and “futurist.” They just used clauses, like commenter Anonymous did when he wrote: “Why do people think that what they read applies to their lifetime?”, thereby excluding an application to Matthew 24 to modern… Read more »
So, which part of Matthew 24 applies to modern times? I am interested. The thing is, a lot of descriptive language is used in the Bible. It sounds quite exaggerated sometimes. As an example, let’s look at Acts 2:17-21. Did all of those things Joel prophesied at Joel 2:28-32 happen then, or are some yet to be fulfilled? Did the sun turn to darkness and the moon actually turn to blood with the outpouring of the spirit? Peter said this was being fulfilled, so who am I to argue? I think we just don’t relate to the descriptive language used… Read more »
Anonymous, I am very open about things, even if it feels uncomfortable. I have studied this subject. And honestly, with all this exaggerated language, I was thinking to myself the other day that the language used and its application to 70AD seems a “much ado about nothing” no matter how bad that event was.(I know that sounds disrespectful). But if you were a Christian and not near Jerusalem at the time, your physical life was not even in danger. Much of Jesus’ words would not even apply to you. In addition, for many people in other nations, this was a… Read more »
Hi Vinman, I was specifically discussing the context of Matthew 24, on its own. I was not referring to discussing whether the new heavens or earth has happened yet, or Judgement Day, as these things have obviously not happened. Neither has a resurrection from the dead. These must be future. But we should ask ourselves when studying the Bible, how often do we do scriptural gymnastics, rather than reading things in context? It would clear up a lot of things. As to the supposed non-event of the destruction of Jerusalem, this is from a quick search on Wikipedia. According to… Read more »
Just another interesting thought that I forgot to add. Matt 24:30 talks about the son of man coming on the clouds of heaven. Again, very descriptive language. But is it literal, or does it represent something? Jesus used the same language in Matt 26:64 when on trial. The Jews would have know that this was a direct reference to Dan 7:13. Jesus was saying that he was the son of God and would be King of God’s Kingdom from that point on, which they saw as blasphemy. Did Jesus literally come on the clouds of heaven?
Thanks for your response. I guess I have been reading about extreme preterists. That’s when it gets weird. But the concept that Jesus was talking about 70 AD makes sense. What is your feeling about Matt. 24:29-31?
I think I preempted your question vinman 🙂 (see above) Obviously that only explains vs 30. Vs 29 could refer to Satan being cast out of heaven (compare Luke 10:18, Rev 9:1) I’m speculating with that one, but I assume it would have been the first thing Jesus did when he got back to heaven. Vs 31 is interesting, as the chosen ones are gathered from the extremity of the heavens. But no one has ascended to heaven yet except Jesus. So is this a gathering of loyal angels? Compare this with Jude 14,15 where the Lord delivers judgement with… Read more »
Anonymous, here is an answer to the question about whether Matthew 24:14 was fulfilled in the first century, from page 61 of the 1878 edition of The Parousia (anonymous in the first edition, but actually by James Stuart Russell): Is there anything which did not actually happen in their own day? ‘Yes,’ it will be said; ‘the gospel of the kingdom has not yet been preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.’ But we have this very fact vouched for by St. Paul (Col. i. 5, 6) – ‘The word of the truth of the gospel,… Read more »
Thanks for sharing that William 🙂
Hello William, I voted an “up vote” not because I agree with everything anonymous said, but because I agree with the general idea of dual fulfilments being a dubious concept unless we have direct evidence to the contrary in scripture. I find it difficult to understand why Jesus would describe the GT as one that is greater than anything before or again if there was to be another. On the other hand, the description of the sign of the son of man appearing does not seem to have been fulfilled already. I have come to the conclusion that it’s not… Read more »
Thanks for the long answer. I read it carefully.
Good points raised Martha. We are not Daniels who can correctly interpret dreams of a king. And since we are not prophets, who are we to boldly explain a prophecy, or even attempt to enlighten and convince others we have the right interpretation?
Unless the Governing Body admits officially it is a prophet (in modern times), it should cease to interpret Jesus prophetic words, adding additional details that have no scriptural basis.
Amen 🙂 Indeed, increasingly, I find the secret prayerful musings & thoughts we have all had for many years are being congealed into some very fine articles by Meleti and others. I’m sure we would run a mile before we would constitute our collective scriptural realizations as dogma but I firmly believe that the application of sound reasoning on scripture is bearing some truly wonderful understandings. Jesus did say that “you will know the truth” and by reason of that knowledge it would set us free. The teachings of JW’s have long been labelled as “The Truth” as we all… Read more »
Thanks, Mr Noodle (and someday you’ve got to explain the origin of this alias 🙂 )
If you’re comfortable sharing, we would love to hear the results of your meeting with the brothers.
Another fantastic article Meleti. The two previous reviews were outstanding too. I wanted to comment at the time but I was locked in a big email ding dong with my brother in law (who is still a JW) and I couldn’t believe, as I was reading your articles, all the cliched responses he was coming back with, just as you were covering them (actually, I could believe his responses because I expected nothing less, although the extent of the cliches surprised me a little, but the timing of your articles was almost prescient!) I put him in the picture about… Read more »
I appreciate your words of encouragement and thank you for sharing your experience. It helps all of us to see how faithful ones must endure persecution to stay loyal. In line with that, we were reading from John yesterday and came across this: “. . .If they have persecuted me, they will persecute YOU also;. . .” (Joh 15:20) To this point, Jesus had not experienced any physical persecution. But he had experienced threats, and verbal abuse, probing questions intended to trap him so that they could find cause to denounce him and expel him from the synagogue. He’d experienced constant opposition by haters.… Read more »
Meleti, have you seen the movie “The Village”? If you haven’t, I urge you to watch it. It is the Watchtower! You will never look at that movie the same again. Very creepy.
In fact, if someone came to me now, and asked why I left, I would tell them to watch that movie. Then I would say, that is the reality.
Not Shyamalan’s best movie, but I see your point.