Covering Chapter 5 Paragraphs 10-17 of God’s Kingdom Rules
From paragraph 10:
“Decades before 1914, true Christians already understood that 144,000 faithful followers of Christ would rule with him in heaven. Those Bible Students saw that the number was literal and that it began to be filled back in the first century C.E.”
Well, they were wrong.
Surely if it’s okay for the publishers to make unsubstantiated assertions, it’s okay for us to do the same. That being said, we will try to substantiate ours.
Revelation 1:1 says that the revelation to John was presented in signs, or symbols. So when in doubt, why assume a literal number? Revelation 7:4-8 speaks of 12,000 drawn from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Verse 8 speaks of the tribe of Joseph. Since there was no tribe of Joseph, this must be an example of one of the signs or symbols that are representative of something else. At this stage, it is not necessary for us to understand what is being represented, but only that a symbol is being used rather than something literal. Following on this reasoning, we are told that the number sealed from each tribe is 12,000. Can one seal a literal 12,000 people from a symbolic tribe? Is there reason to believe that literal things are being mixed here with symbolic things? Are we to assume that whatever these 12 tribes represent, exactly the same number of humans is found to be worthy from each tribe? That would seem to defy both the laws of probability and the nature of free will.
The Insight book states: “Twelve therefore seems to represent a complete, balanced, divinely constituted arrangement.” (it-2 p. 513)
Since the number 12, and multiples thereof, is used “to represent a complete, balanced, divinely constituted arrangement”, which is exactly what it depicted in Revelation 7:4-8, they assume different when it comes to the number 144,000? Does it seem consistent that 12 symbolic tribes X 12,000 symbolic sealed ones = 144,000 literal sealed ones?
From paragraph 11:
“What, though, were those prospective members of Christ’s bride assigned to do while they were yet on the earth? They saw that Jesus had emphasized the preaching work and had connected it to a period of harvest. (Matt. 9:37; John 4:35) As we noted in Chapter 2, for a time they held that the harvest period would last 40 years, climaxing with the gathering of the anointed to heaven. However, because the work continued after 40 years elapsed, more clarification was needed. Now we know that the harvest season—the season for separating wheat from weeds, faithful anointed Christians from imitation Christians—began in 1914. The time had come to focus attention on the gathering of the remaining number of that heavenly class!”
The writer admits we were wrong about the harvest starting in 1874 and ending in 1914, but now he states we “know”—not believe, but “know”—that the harvest began in 1914 and continues down to our day. Where does this accurate knowledge come from? Supposedly from the two scriptures that accompany this assertion.
“Then he said to his disciples: “Yes, the harvest is great, but the workers are few.” (Mt 9:37)
“Do you not say that there are yet four months before the harvest comes? Look! I say to you: Lift up your eyes and view the fields, that they are white for harvesting. Already” (Joh 4:35)
Jesus doesn’t say that the harvest will be great. He speaks in the present tense. Still in the present tense, he tells his disciples to view the fields that are then, in his day, “white for harvesting”. What mental gymnastics must we engage in to construe “are” as referring to conditions 19 centuries ahead? Sometimes it seems that the technique the publishers use to find a “proof text” is to do a search on a key word or phrase, like “harvest”, and then just plug those results into the body of an article and hope no one will notice that the Scriptures just don’t work for the point being made.
From paragraph 12:
“From 1919 onward, Christ kept guiding the faithful and discreet slave to emphasize the preaching work. He had made that assignment in the first century. (Matt. 28:19, 20)”
According to this, the assignment to preach was made in the first century, but it wasn’t made to the faithful and discreet slave, because our latest understanding is that there was no faithful and discreet slave until 1919. So the feeding program that the master put in place before leaving was not intended to sustain his domestics after he left in 33 CE, nor was feeding needed in the intervening centuries. Only in the 20th century were the domestics in want of spiritual provisions.
Forget about the fact that there is no proof for this new understanding. Ask yourself if it is even remotely logical.
Paragraphs 14 and 15
These paragraphs speak of the wrong understanding that “true Christians” had prior to and during the first years of Rutherford’s tenure as President. They believed in four hopes: two for heaven and two for earth. Admittedly, these wrong understandings were the result of human speculation and human interpretation involving made-up antitypes. What a mess we get ourselves into when we put human wisdom and Scriptural speculation on a par with the Word of God.
Did anything change in the 20s and 30s? Did we learn our lesson? Was the use of speculative antitypes abandoned? Did the new understanding concerning the resurrection hope rely solely upon what is actually said in Scripture?
We are now taught that types and antitypes which are not found in Scripture are wrong and go beyond what is written. They should not form the foundation of doctrine. (See Going Beyond What Is Written.) Given this, are we to expect that Witnesses under Rutherford in the 30s arrived at a true understanding of the resurrection hope – an understanding we continue to hold to this day – based not on types and antitypes and wild speculation, but on actual scriptural evidence? Read on.
Alas, it seems the Governing Body is willing to ignore its own directive to reject human fabricated antitypes when it comes to its own most cherished teachings. Thus, they claim that the new understandings revealed from 1923 onward were brilliant “flashes of light” revealed by Jesus Christ through holy spirit.
“How did holy spirit guide Christ’s followers to the understanding that we cherish today? It happened progressively, through a series of flashes of spiritual light. As early as 1923, The Watch Tower drew attention to a group with no heavenly aspirations who would live on earth under Christ’s reign. In 1932, The Watchtower discussed Jonadab (Jehonadab), who attached himself to God’s anointed Israelite King Jehu to support him in the war against false worship. (2 Ki. 10:15-17) The article said that there was a class of people in modern times who were like Jonadab, adding that Jehovah would take this class “through the Armageddon trouble” to live here on the earth.” – par. 16
So the antitypical Jonadab class that prefigured a non-anointed class of Christian, who are not God’s children, was a “flash of spiritual light” from Jesus Christ? Apparently, Jesus also flashed forth the light that the six cities of refuge prefigured the salvation of this secondary class of Christian known as the Other Sheep. And the proof of this is that the Watchtower says so.
So we must reject antitypes not found in Scripture except when told not to. In short, it is the Watchtower, not the Bible, that tells us what is true and what is false.
Paragraph 17 and the Box “A Great Sign of Relief”
Given that there is no Scriptural proof to support this teaching, the Governing Body must try to conjure up evidence using other means. One of their favorite tactics is anecdotes. In this case, the audience enthusiastically accepted Rutherford’s talk, so what he said must be true. If the number of people who accept a teaching is proof that it must be true, then we should all believe in the Trinity, or perhaps evolution, or both.
I have a good friend who would normally never accept anecdotal evidence, yet on this topic, he does. He tells me of his grandmother who was one of these people who were relieved at being told she didn’t have the heavenly hope. This, for him, constitutes proof.
The reason, I firmly believe, that there is so much resistance to a single hope for Christians is that most just don’t want it. They want to live forever as young, perfect humans. Who wouldn’t want that? But when offered the chance at the “better resurrection”, for them it is all, “Thanks Jehovah, but no thanks.” (He 11:35) I don’t think they have anything to worry about, personally—though this is just an opinion. There is, after all, the resurrection of the unrighteous. So these ones will not lose out. They may be disillusioned by realizing that they’re in the same group as everybody else, even those without faith, but they’ll get over it.
Nevertheless, we should realize that Rutherford’s audience had been primed. First you have the confusion created by the previous four-hopes teaching of salvation. Then you had a serious of articles 1923 onward. Finally, came the landmark two-part article in 1934 that introduced the other sheep doctrine. Given all this preparation, is it any wonder that an emotion-packed delivery from the convention platform would have the effect described in the box, “A Great Sign of Relief”? All Rutherford did was bring it all together.
A Word about the 1934 Landmark Article
This study makes no mention of the 1934 two-part Watchtower study article published in the August 1 and 15 issues of that year. This is remarkable because this two-part series, titled “His Kindness”, is the linchpin of the Other Sheep doctrine. It is the article that first introduced this “brilliant flash of spiritual light” to the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yet, in this week’s study, the reader is led to believe that it wasn’t until 1935 that Jehovah’s Witnesses learned of this “new truth”. The historical fact is that they knew about it a full year before. Rutherford wasn’t explaining anything new, but just reiterating what was already known.
What is even more noteworthy is that a search of articles and publications explaining the introduction of this doctrine to Jehovah’s Witnesses always names 1935 as the landmark year and never makes mention of these two articles from the previous year. Going to the 1930-1985 WT Reference Index doesn’t help either. Under Other Sheep -> Discussion, it is not to be found. Even under the subheading Other Sheep -> Jehonadab, it is not referenced. Likewise, under Other Sheep -> City of Refuge, no mention is made to any article in 1934. Yet these are the main talking points of the article; the key antitypes upon which the doctrine is based. In fact, the doctrine is only based on antitypes. There is no scriptural link between John 10:16 or Revelation 7:9 and any Scripture speaking of an earthly resurrection. If there were, it would be repeated over and over in any article discussing the so-called earthly hope.
The apparent systematic avoidance of any reference to these two Watchtowers is very odd. It is like talking about the laws that are based in the U.S. Constitution, yet never making mention of the constitution itself.
Why is the article that started it all being virtually eradicated from the memory of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Could it be that anyone reading it would see there is no basis whatsoever in the Bible for this doctrine? I do recommend that all should look it up on the internet. Here is the link: Download 1934 Watchtower Volume. The first part of the study is found on page 228. The continuation is on page 244. I encourage you to take the time to read it for yourself. Make up your own mind about this teaching.
Remember, this is the hope we preach. This is the message of the good news we are told witnesses are spreading to the four corners of the earth. If it is a forlorn hope, there will be an accounting. (Ga 1:8, 9)