Hello, Eric Wilson here.
I’ve been surprised by the reaction my last video provoked from the Jehovah’s Witnesses community defending the JW doctrine that Jesus is Michael the Archangel. Initially, I didn’t think this doctrine was that critical to the theology of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but the response tells me I underestimated its value to them. When I produced videos showing that the 1914 doctrine was false, I got very little scriptural argumentation. Oh sure, there were the haters with their hate, but that is just impotent bluster. I got even less resistances to the revelation that the other sheep doctrine was bogus. The biggest concern was whether or not paradise would be on earth. (Short answer: Yes, it will be.) So why did the video on Jesus not being an angel strike such a nerve with Witnesses?
Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses defend this teaching so tenaciously?
There are two spirits at work in the world. There is the holy spirit at work in children of God, and the spirit of Satan, the God of this world. (2 Co 4:3, 4)
Satan hates Jesus and will do whatever he can to keep us from getting a relationship with him and through him with our heavenly Father. The children of God are his enemy, because they are the seed by which his complete defeat is assured; so, he’ll do anything to block the development of that seed. (Ge 3:15) Misrepresenting Jesus is one of his chief ways of achieving that. He’ll do anything to destroy or pervert our relationship with the Son of God, which is why I felt compelled to start this series on the nature of God’s Son.
On one extreme, you have the Trinity doctrine. The majority of Christendom believes the Trinity represents the nature of God and therefore, the nature of God’s Son, or as they refer to him: “God the Son”. This belief is so central to their belief that they do not consider anyone who does not accept the Trinity to be a true Christian. (In case you’re wondering, we will be looking into the Trinity in detail in a series of upcoming videos.)
On the other extreme, you have the anti-trinitarian or unitarian Jehovah’s Witnesses, along with a minority of Christian sects, who—in the case of the Witnesses at least—give lip-service to Jesus as God’s Son, and even recognize him as a god, still denying his divinity and marginalizing him. For any Witness out there who disagrees with me, I would ask that before you write me flaming comments, you engage in a little exercise of your own. When you are out in your next field service group, sitting at your mid-morning coffee break, refer to Jesus instead of Jehovah in your casual conversation. At any point in the conversation where you would normally invoke Jehovah’s name, substitute Jesus. And for fun, refer to him as our “Lord Jesus”, a phrase that appears in Scripture over 100 times. Just watch the result. Watch the conversation comes to an abrupt halt as if you’d just used a swear word. You see, you’re not speaking their language anymore.
In the NWT bible, “Jesus” appears 1,109 times, but in the 5,000+ manuscripts of the Christian Scriptures, Jehovah’s name does not appear at all. Even if you add the number of times the NWT translation committee saw fit to insert his name arbitrarily—because they thought it should go there—you still find a four-to-one ratio in favor of Jesus’ name. Even given the Organization’s best efforts to have us focus on Jehovah, the Christian writers have us looking to the Christ.
Now take a comparative look at The Watchtower to see which name is emphasized.
‘Nuf said? No? Still have doubts? You think I’m exaggerating? Well, have a look at this illustration from the April 15, 2013 issue of The Watchtower.
Where is Jesus? Don’t come back to me, as some have, saying that Jesus isn’t depicted because this only represents the earthly part of Jehovah’s Organization. Really? Then why is Jehovah here? If it is only the earthly part, then why show Jehovah on his so-called chariot. (I say so-called because nowhere in this vision of Ezekiel, nor in the rest of the Bible for that matter, is Jehovah ever depicted riding a chariot. If you want a picture of God in a chariot, you have to go to pagan mythology. Don’t believe me? Google it!)
But back to the matter at hand. The Christian congregation is referred to as the Bride of Christ.
So, what do we have here? If you read Ephesians 5:21-33, you’ll see that Jesus is pictured as a husband with his bride. So here we have a picture of the Bride and the Father of the Bride, but the Groom is missing? Ephesians also calls the congregation the Body of the Christ. Christ is the head of the congregation. So, what do we have here? A headless body?
One of the reasons this diminishment of the role of Jesus has been made possible is the demoting of our Lord to the status of angel.
Remember, humans are only a little lower than the angels.
“…what is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that You care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; You crowned him with glory and honor.” (Ps 8:4, 5 BSB)
So, if Jesus is just an angel, it means that you and I are just a little lower than Jesus. Does that seem silly, even blasphemous to you? It does to me.
Father tells us to, “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he become wise in his own eyes.” (Pr 26:5 BSB) Sometimes, the best way to show the absurdity of a line of reasoning is to carry it to its logical extreme. For instance: If Jesus is Michael, then Michael is a God, because John 1:1 says, paraphrasing, “In the beginning was Archangel Michael, and Archangel Michael was with God, and Archangel Michael was a god.” (John 1:1)
All things were made by, for, and through Archangel Michael according to John 1:3 and Col 1:16. Archangel Michael made the universe. We must put faith in Archangel Michael based on John 1:12. Archangel Michael is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through” Archangel Michael. (John 14:6) He is the “King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Re 19:16) Archangel Michael is the “eternal father”. (Isaiah 9:6)
But some, still desperately clinging to the belief, will cite Revelation 12:7-12 and argue that who else but Jesus could be the one to throw the Devil out of heaven? Let’s have a look, shall we?
“And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God! And they conquered him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their witnessing, and they did not love their souls even in the face of death. On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing that he has a short period of time.”” (Re 12:7-12)
Witnesses allege that this happened in October of 1914 and that Michael is really Jesus.
Modern-day anointed Christians pointed in advance to October 1914 as a significant date. (w14 7/15 pp. 30-31 par. 10)
Apparently, from the context, this battle took place because according to verse 10, “now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ”. Since Witnesses put the enthronement and authority of the Christ at October, 1914, the battle must have taken place then or shortly thereafter.
But what about the ensuing “woe to the earth and the sea”?
For Witnesses, the woe starts with the First World War, then continues with more wars, pestilences, famines and earthquakes. In short, because the devil was angry, he caused much of the bloodshed of the 20th century.
Additionally, the phrase “they conquered him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their witness” must apply to Jehovah’s Witnesses from 1914 forward.
The problems start right away with this interpretation. First, according to Witnesses, the devil could not have been thrown down before October of 1914, but the war (the woe) he was supposedly responsible for due to his great rage, was already underway by that point. It had started in July of that year, and the nations had been preparing for it in one of the greatest arms races in history for the preceding ten years. Was the Devil planning to get angry?
Further, Christians had been ‘conquering Satan by the word of their witnessing since the time of Christ’. There is nothing unique about the faith and integrity of the Bible Students to distinguish them from faithful Christians down through the centuries.
Moreover, the authority of the Christ did not just come to pass in 1914, but had been in place since his resurrection. Did he not say, “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth”? (Mt 28:18) He got that in 33 C.E., and it would be hard to envision that more authority was given him later. Doesn’t “all authority” mean “all authority”?
But I think the real kicker is the following:
Think about this. Jesus leaves earth to return to heaven to receive the kingdom he has earned for his faithful course on earth. Jesus illustrated this in a parable that begins, “A man of noble birth traveled to a distant land to secure kingly power for himself and to return.” (Lu 19:12) When he arrived in heaven, in 33 C.E., this prophetic Psalm was fulfilled:
Jehovah declared to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
Until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.”
Jehovah tells Jesus, the newly crowned King, to sit tight while He (Jehovah) places the enemies of Jesus at his feet. Notice, God doesn’t destroy his enemies, but he puts them at his feet. Jehovah’s footstool is the earth. (Isaiah 66:1) It follows that Jesus’ enemies would be confined to the earth. That fits perfectly with what is described happening to Satan and his demons in Revelation chapter 12.
Nevertheless, Jesus does not do this. He is commanded to sit while Jehovah does it. Like any king, Jehovah God has armies that do his bidding. He is called “Jehovah of Armies” hundreds of times in the Bible and his armies are angelic. So, to make this Psalm come true, Michael, not Jesus, acts on God’s command and being one of the foremost angelic princes leads his army of angels to do battle with the Devil. In this way, Jehovah puts the enemies of Jesus at his feet.
When did this happen?
Well, when did the salvation, power, kingdom of God and authority of Christ come about? Certainly not in 1914. We just saw that Jesus claimed all authority was already his following his death and resurrection. The Kingdom of God and his Christ began then, but Jesus was told to sit patiently until his enemies were subdued as a stool for his feet.
There is therefore reason to believe the ousting of Satan happened in the first century, just after Jesus’ ascension to heaven. What about the rest of the vision described in Revelation chapter 12? That will be the topic of a future series of videos, God willing. As we look at the rest of the vision can we find consistency with the understanding that it happened in the first century? I am not a preterist, one who believes everything in the Christian Scriptures happened in the first century. I believe that we have to take the Scriptures as they come and follow the truth wherever it leads. I am not saying dogmatically that this prophecy was fulfilled at the time of Christ’s ascension, only that it is a distinct possibility and currently seems to fit with the Bible narrative.
It is a rule of logic that while we may not always know exactly what something is, we can very often rule out what it is not.
The evidence is that this prophecy was definitely not fulfilled in 1914. I believe the weight of evidence points to the first century, but if evidence comes forward to lend credibility to another date, we should all be open to consider it.
Did you notice how, by freeing ourselves from the preconceptions that force us to impose religious dogma onto our study of Scripture, we were able to come to an easier, scripturally consistent understanding than that which we held under our old beliefs? Isn’t that satisfying?
This is the result of looking at things exegetically rather than eisegetically. Do you remember what those two terms mean? We have discussed them in previous videos.
To put it another way, it is far more satisfying to let the Bible lead us to truth rather than try to force it to support our own truth.
Actually, the reason Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Michael the Archangel is Jesus is a direct result of eisegesis, of trying to force Scripture to support their own truth. The prophecies of the kings of the north and south as well as the 1,290 days and 1,335 days of Daniel have all been affected by their need to support 1914.
This all makes for an excellent object lesson on the dangers of this study method. In our next video, we’ll use this as a means to learn how not to study the Bible and then we’ll redo our research utilizing the proper method for arriving at Bible truth. We will put the power of discovery into your hands, into the hands of the individual Christian, where it belongs. Not in the hands of some ecclesiastical authority, some Pope, some Cardinal, some Archbishop, or some Governing Body.
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