[From ws11/16 p. 21 January 16-22]
If you are reading this for the second time, you will notice some changes. I realized I had mistakenly crossed two unrelated articles in this review and have now rectified that oversight. – Meleti Vivlon
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe they have already freed themselves from captivity to false religion and the false religious teachings of men in obedience to the command found at Revelation 18:4.
“And I heard another voice out of heaven say: “Get out of her, my people, if YOU do not want to share with her in her sins, and if YOU do not want to receive part of her plagues.” (Re 18:4)
A critical thinker is wise to ask why this command doesn’t include instruction to join another religion as part of the process of getting out of Babylon the Great. All it tells us to do is to get out. There is no command to go anywhere else.
Let us bear that in mind as we review this article and its follow-up next week, which together are intended to “adjust” our understanding of precisely when all this occurred.
This opening article explains a little of the history of Israel’s exile in Babylon so as to lay the groundwork for the reasoning that will follow in the next article. As always, we will alert you to any errors or inconsistencies in the reasoning or facts presented.
The Wrong Year
The first such is found in the very first paragraph of the study:
IN 607 B.C.E., a massive Babylonian army under the command of King Nebuchadnezzar II invaded the city of Jerusalem. – par. 1
There is no support in the Bible for the year 607 B.C.E. as the date for this invasion. While it may be that 607 is the year that Jeremiah 25:11 began its fulfillment, secular historians are in agreement by and large that 587 B.C.E. is the year that the land of Israel was desolated, and the remainder of its inhabitants either killed or brought to Babylon.
When a Suggestion is not a Suggestion
This slipped by my notice on the first go-round, but thanks to alert reader Lazarus’ comment, I can now give it the attention it so richly deserves.
In paragraph 6, we read that “For many years, this journal suggested that God’s modern-day servants entered into Babylonian captivity in 1918 and that they were released from Babylon in 1919”.
“For many years…” That’s something of an understatement. I remember being taught this as a boy when we studied the book, “Babylon The Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules. I am now almost 70! “For a lifetime” would be more accurate, and perhaps farther back than that. (I was unable to determine when this doctrine originated.) Why is the amount of time this teaching, which they now admit is false, persisted worthy of our criticism? Does it really matter how many years we had it wrong before getting it right? As we’ll see when we review next week’s study, Yes, it matters a very great deal.
“..this journal…” While we praise the candor of Bible writers such as King David and the Apostle Paul in admitting their sins publicly, our leadership is loathe to imitate those fine examples of faith. Here, the blame for this error is placed on a magazine, as if it were speaking for itself.
“…suggested…” Suggested!? The former teaching is being treated now as a mere suggestion, and not a doctrine which all were required for the sake of unity to agree with and preach and teach to others, including those studying to be baptized.
We will see in next week’s study that the information on which the Governing Body now bases the new understanding was around when the former one, the one they are now disavowing, was first promoted. Not only was the information contradicting that former teaching available to them, but some of those most responsible for promoting that false teaching had seen the evidence against it first hand—had lived through the very events they were misinterpreting.
When someone has misled you and yet is unwilling to accept full responsibility and tries to water down the wrong by minimizing its impact (‘it was only a suggestion’), would it be wise to blindly accept their next great interpretation?
Babylon the Great – Admission Criteria
Who comprise Babylon the Great? Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that all the world’s religions, Christian and Pagan, form the great harlot. The reason is that Babylon the Great is the world empire false religion.
Consider: Babylon the Great is the world empire of false religion. – par. 7
It follows, then, that to be considered a member of this entity, a religion must be false. What constitutes being false in the eyes of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Essentially, it is any religion that teaches falsehoods as doctrines of God.
It is important that we bear in mind that this criteria has been established by the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The Bible principle that should guide us here is found at Matthew 7:1, 2, “Stop judging that you may not be judged; for with what judgment you are judging, you will be judged; and with the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you.” So we are painted with the same brush we used to paint others. That’s only fair.
Those studying this Watchtower article will be working under the assumption that escape from Babylon the Great means admission into the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Thus, when paragraph seven speaks of “God’s anointed servants actually breaking free from Babylon the Great”, the reader will assume that it is referring to the early Bible students who became Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1931 breaking free from all the false religions on earth.
Before we get into questioning the validity of such an assumption, we should point out one mistake in this paragraph. The claim made is that these early Bible students were persecuted during the First World War prior to 1918, but this persecution did not qualify as captivity to Babylon the Great because it originated with the secular authorities principally. Based on eyewitness testimony from members of the governing body at the time, this is not true as the following quote proves:
Be it noted here that from 1874 to 1918 there was little, if any, persecution of those of Zion; that beginning with the Jewish year 1918, to wit, the latter part of 1917 our time, the great suffering came upon the anointed ones, Zion (March 1, 1925 issue p. 68 par. 19)
(No 1900-Year Slave: On something of a side issue, it should be noted that the historical evidence provided in this study, as well as that provided in the current JW broadcast, flies in the face of the reasoning given us just a few months ago by David Splane when he claimed that for 1900 years there was no faithful slave providing food for Christians.)
Let us re-examine what paragraph 7 claims about ‘God’s anointed servants actually breaking free from Babylon the Great’. This indicates that the Organization recognizes that God’s servants were anointed while still in Babylon the Great. Their membership within any religious organization did not constitute a rejection of their faith in Christ, nor their anointed status before God. God had chosen and anointed individuals while members of churches that taught falsehoods. According to the article, these ones were like the wheat described in Matthew chapter 13. The article continues to acknowledge this fact when it says:
The truth is that by that time an apostate form of Christianity had joined the pagan religious organizations of the Roman Empire as members of Babylon the Great. Even so, a small number of anointed wheatlike Christians were doing their best to worship God, but their voices were being drowned out. (Read Matthew 13:24, 25, 37-39.) They truly were in Babylonian captivity! – par. 9
Something not mentioned in the article—probably because it needs no mention among Jehovah’s Witnesses—is that getting out of Babylon the Great is achieved only by becoming a Jehovah’s Witness. If God chose and anointed Christians while still in Babylon the Great in the 19th century who subsequently got out of the Great Harlot by become Bible Students (now Jehovah’s Witnesses), then does it not follow that he continues to do so?
The Bible urges Christians this way: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins…” (Re 18:4) They are considered his people while still in Babylon the Great. So the Witness idea that one can only be anointed after one has been baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness must be false. Additionally, this idea contradicts what this article states when it says that anointed ones left Babylon and joined the early Bible Students.
Returning to the definition of what makes a religion part of Babylon the Great, let us turn that brush on ourselves.
As anyone who has done an in-depth study of the teachings that are unique to JW.org can attest, it too teaches falsehoods. Not a single one of the uniquely JW.org teachings can be supported from Scripture. If you are coming to this website for the first time, we do not ask you to accept this statement at face value. Instead, go to the Bereoan Pickets Archive Site and under the Categories List on the homepage, open up the Jehovah’s Witnesses topic. There you will find extensive research delving into all the doctrines that are unique to JW.org. Please take the time to examine scripturally the doctrines which you may have taken as absolute truth for much of your life.
Perhaps, after many years of being taught that you belong to the one true Christian religion on earth, you find it hard to think of JW.org being part of Babylon the Great. If so, consider this characteristic of Babylon the Great as described in this week’s study:
Still, for the first few centuries of our Common Era, many people could read the Bible in either Greek or Latin. They were thus in a position to compare the teachings of God’s Word with the dogmas of the church. On the basis of what they read in the Bible, some among them rejected the unscriptural creeds of the church, but it was dangerous—even fatal—to express such opinions openly. – par. 10
Many of us on the site have done exactly what this paragraph describes. We have compared the teachings of God’s word with the dogmas of JW.org, and just as the paragraph states, we have found it dangerous to express our opinions openly. Doing so results in disfellowshipping (excommunication). We are shunned by everyone we have come to love, both family and friends. This is what happens when we speak the truth openly.
If getting out of Babylon the Great does not mean becoming a Jehovah’s Witness, we are left asking, “What does it mean?”
We shall address that next week. However, one thing to bear in mind is testimony from this week’s Watchtower.
Faithful anointed servants of God had to meet together in discreet groups. – par. 11
Rather than think as we have been taught to think—that salvation requires us to belong to an organization—let us realize that salvation is something achieved individually. The purpose of meeting together is not to achieve salvation, but to encourage one another to love and good works. (He 10:24, 25) We do not have to be organized to be saved. Indeed the first century Christians met in small groups. We can do likewise.
That is what being “called out of darkness” really means. The light does not come from an organization. We are the light.
“You are the light of the world. A city cannot be hid when located on a mountain. 15 People light a lamp and set it, not under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it shines on all those in the house. 16 Likewise, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heavens.” (Mt 5:14-16)