The future will not unfold as Jehovah’s servants commonly believe. Unknown to most of them, Jehovah has put in place a brilliant plan – culminating in a “strange” chain of events which is soon to unfold.
For many years, Bethel has taught the brothers and sisters that only those associated with the "ark" of Jehovah’s Witnesses will survive God’s war of Armageddon. It is true that only those that call "on the name of Jehovah will get away safe" (Joel 2:32). However, this leaves open many questions about those not currently associated with our brotherhood, and those who have fallen away. For example, what about the countless brothers and sisters who have been stumbled out of our organization by congregational problems, false brothers, or disappointment (e.g. 1975)? Also, would a loving God incinerate over six billion people, despite the fact that most have not been reached by our preaching work? Is that how the God of Justice really operates? —Malachi 2:17
Jehovah is the God of Wisdom. Indeed, he is the wisest entity in all of existence. Our human thinking is truly pathetic compared to his. He is all-knowing, we are not. He is all-seeing, we are not. He is all-wise, we are certainly not! Additionally, Jehovah epitomizes love itself, for “God is love”. When he was about to destroy Sodom, then “God’s friend” Abraham asked him “Will you really sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” Yet in his asking, Abraham really answered his own question. Of course not! Jehovah is not unrighteous. “Perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice”. —Deuteronomy 32:4
Prophecy indicates that the future will not unfold as Jehovah’s servants commonly believe. Unknown to most of them, Jehovah has put in place a brilliant plan – culminating in a “strange” chain of events which is soon to unfold. Thanks to his brilliance, not one righteous person will be swept away with the wicked at Armageddon. Not a single false brother will survive into the new system, and not a single righteous person will lose out on the chance of eternal life because of being stumbled by past Watchtower mistakes, false brothers, or apostates.
Yet this plan is not simply a matter of looking in each individual’s heart. No, for this plan involves an actual test! In fact, it’s something that Jehovah first set in motion many decades ago.
An operation of error
To begin our investigation, we need to closely examine something Jehovah’s Holy Spirit said to the apostles back in the 1st century. We find it recorded in the 2nd letter to the Thessalonian congregation, chapter 2.
The apostle Paul wrote:
“However, brothers, respecting the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we request of you not to be quickly shaken from your reason nor to be excited either through an inspired expression or through a verbal message or through a letter as though from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here. —2 Thessalonians 2:1-2
Jehovah’s people should not be “quickly shaken” from their sound reasoning abilities, nor get “excited”, thinking that the day of Jehovah has arrived.
No doubt this had happened before in the 1st century. If it did not happen, the apostle Paul would have no reason to counsel the Thessalonian congregation in this matter. You see, even though Jesus presence was still a long way off, all the Christians back in the first century still kept ‘on the watch’. The apostle Paul said in Romans, “…for now our salvation is nearer than at the time when we became believers. The night is well along; the day has drawn near.” So, no doubt some did get excited prematurely from time to time. —Romans 13:11-12
We, as Jehovah’s Witnesses, have gone directly against this apostolic counsel. We have indeed been “quickly shaken from [our] reason” and become “excited” by world events, and have declared that Jesus presence has already begun. In doing so, we also ignored Christ’s own warning about this. When asked what the sign of the conclusion would be, he immediately said “Look out that nobody misleads you… 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.” —Matthew 24:4-6
The reason the Apostle Paul gives this warning becomes obvious. For what the prophets call a “whitewashed wall” of false prophecy is intertwined with the presence of what the Bible calls the “lawless one” among God’s people, directly prior to Jesus’ return.
The apostle continues:
Let no one seduce you in any manner, because it [the anointed being resurrected to heaven] will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed, the son of destruction. —2 Thessalonians 2:3
Our brothers interpret the “apostasy” to be what is commonly called the ‘Great Apostasy’, the slow infiltration of paganism into the Roman Church, which eventually blossomed into the Babylonian hodgepodge of contradiction and ungodliness that we see today. Additionally, our Watchtower Society has interpreted the “man of lawlessness” and “son of destruction” to be the clergy class of Christendom.
The apostles did, most certainly, warn of a huge falling away from the true faith in later times. 2 Timothy 4:3 says “there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will be turned aside to false stories”. This exact thing happened in ancient times.
However, while the foretold falling away did occur, what if the “apostasy” mentioned in Thessalonians 2:3 is actually talking about a different apostasy? What if it is talking about an apostasy within God’s household – Jehovah’s Witnesses – directly prior to “the day of Jehovah”?
Indeed, in Daniel’s prophecy, prior to the start of the “time of the end”, the prophecy states that “those who are acting wickedly against the covenant, he [the King of the North] will lead into apostasy”. The people who are “acting wickedly against the covenant” are logically those who are in the covenant, or agreement. These are the anointed sons of God.
Many prophecies in the Bible have a dual application. The apostle’s warning that the “apostasy comes first” seems to be of little use for us if its foretold apostasy occurred over 1,600 years ago.
So, we ask again: could the apostasy that is foretold to occur among God’s anointed ones be undergoing fulfilment today?
As we continue, we will see that this becomes a real possibility. The apostle last mentioned that a “man of lawlessness” must be revealed before the day of Jehovah arrives. He continues on this topic, saying…
He is set in opposition and lifts himself up over everyone who is called “god” or an object of reverence, so that he sits down in the temple of The God, publicly showing himself to be a god. Do you not remember that, while I was yet with you, I used to tell you these things? —2 Thessalonians 2:4-5
What is “the temple of The God”? Note that the context is talking about an apostasy from Jehovah’s worshippers, so the temple of The God is the temple of the true God, Jehovah.
But the temple is not the ruins of the ancient Jewish temple in Jerusalem. No, for the “temple” today is the spiritual temple, built from the anointed. For example, Jesus spoke of this spiritual temple and said to his anointed followers, “I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God …and I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem”. —Revelation 3:12
So the “man of lawlessness” will set himself up among Jesus brothers – the anointed – in the spiritual temple of the true God. Far from being the clergy of Christendom, the “man of lawlessness” is an insidious influence right among the anointed brothers who lead the Watchtower Society!
Interestingly, you will find this website teaches that the United Nations is the King of the North. It is the King of the North who leads Jah’s people into apostasy, according to Daniel. And it was with the United Nations that the Watchtower Society held a quiet political relationship for 10 years. Perhaps it is a portent of things to come? Could we have witnessed the first signs of the “apostasy”, caused by the presence of the “man of lawlessness”?
And so now you know the thing that acts as a restraint, with a view to his being revealed in his own due time. True, the mystery of this lawlessness is already at work; but only till he who is right now acting as a restraint gets to be out of the way. —2 Thessalonians 2:6-7
It has been speculated that the “thing that acts as a restraint” and “he who is right now acting as a restraint” could have been the Apostle John, in the 1st century fulfilment. Indeed he was the last apostle to die, and after he was gone the floodgates were opened and paganism poured in.
What about today? Well, perhaps, the modern “thing that acts as a restraint” toward open apostasy is the elderly brothers who have guided our organization for so many years. Now that they are dying off, others are taking their place.
Indeed, the attitude of the Society certainly has changed in recent decades. At one time, signing up as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to the United Nations would have been unthinkable. The very idea of publishing cover-issues to the Awake about United Nations issues, to abide by the rules of being an NGO, would be considered absolutely disgusting — and an outright apostasy!
Indeed, as the apostle said, “the mystery of this lawlessness is already at work”!
Then, indeed, the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of his mouth and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence. —2 Thessalonians 2:8
Yes, the lawless one will eventually be revealed, and done away with. When Jesus comes to clean out his household, he will throw his “wicked slaves” outside. “There is where [his] weeping and the gnashing of [his] teeth will be.” —Matthew 24:51
If the “lawless one” is the clergy of Christendom, as our brothers suppose, there is a contradiction here. It is said that once the thing “acting as a restraint” gets out of the way, “then, indeed, the lawless one will be revealed” whom Jesus will “do away with”. For, if the restraint is removed and the lawless one is then immediately identified and done away with, surely he should have been identified and removed nearly two millennia ago?
No, for the modern application is clear. As soon as the restraint is removed, it will become abundantly clear where the apostasy comes from, and Jesus Christ will later come to clean out his household, removing the “man of lawlessness” and all the wicked slaves.
Continuing to talk about the lawless one, the apostle says:
But the lawless one’s presence is according to the operation of Satan with every powerful work and lying signs and portents and with every unrighteous deception for those who are perishing, as a retribution because they did not accept the love of the truth that they might be saved. —2 Thessalonians 2:9-10
The apostle previously said that the lawless one was “already at work”. Now he tells us how to spot his operation. He says he will produce “lying signs and portents”. Another word for ‘portent’ is an ‘omen’. These are not real signs or omens, no for they are lies. The Message translation renders that phrase as “All his power and signs and miracles are fake”! It also renders the “unrighteous deception” as “evil sleight of hand”.
Could it really be that some of the anointed – Christ’s brothers – have produced for us a series of fake omens, and used “sleight of hand” to convince us of their truthfulness?
The apostle continues…
So that is why God lets an operation of error go to them, that they may get to believing the lie, in order that they all may be judged because they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness. —2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
It has now become clear – Jehovah has allowed his followers to believe “a lie”! Why? For this purpose: that “they all may be judged”, because they take “pleasure in unrighteousness”.
Why else would Jehovah allow an evil “man of lawlessness” to reside right in among his household, if not for a purpose? He is allowing all his servants to believe a complete lie – something that will help “judge” them all. Whatever this “operation of error” is, it must be part of the “lying signs”, fake omens, and “sleight of hand” used by the lawless one. Obviously, signs and omens are associated with prophecy and foretelling the future.
Jehovah spoke through the prophet Ezekiel about this same problem with his people. Talking of false prophets, he said “my hand has come to be against the prophets that are visioning untruth and that are divining a lie. In the intimate group of my people they will not continue on” (Ezekiel 13:9). Notice that the false prophets are also intimately associated with us, much like the man of lawlessness who is among the spiritual temple. They are not outsiders, nor are they Christendom’s clergy. They are among the “intimate group” of Jah’s people.
So, what is this “operation of error” designed to test our love of the “truth”? What could be so extreme as to test the faith, love, and loyalty to Jehovah God of every single Jehovah’s Witness in the world? What “error” supported by fake signs and omens, could the entire brotherhood be seduced into believing?
Do you remember how the apostle started by warning us not to get “excited” and think the “day of Jehovah” is here? Well, could our false belief be linked to Armageddon and the Time of the End?
What our “error” is not
We are well aware that the end of Satan’s wicked system of things is approaching. God’s word is extremely clear regarding this fact. To quote just one example, the apostle Peter said that “the heavens being on fire will be dissolved and the elements being intensely hot will melt! But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” —2 Peter 3:12-13
Additionally, we can be confident that the “new heavens” and “new earth” will be here soon. Revelation 17:10 states: “there are seven kings: five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet arrived, but when he does arrive he must remain a short while.” The King that “is”, or is currently reigning, is the King who was reigning at the time Revelation was written. Back then the King was the mighty Roman Empire. That was the sixth King.
Today, we undoubtedly live during the reign of that final seventh King – the Anglo-American geographical, cultural, military, and financial world empire. It dominates the entire globe — even the United Nations headquarters is situated in the empire’s largest city. Yet, regardless of its strength and influence, this last world power shall only “remain a short while” according to the Bible.
These facts cannot be denied. Our belief in the coming battle of Armageddon is not our “operation of error”. The coming end of this system of things is a simple biblical fact. Anyone who denies that is blind. So then, what is our “operation of error”?
A past judgment
All of Jehovah’s Witnesses are well aware of certain events that took place during the 1914 to 1919 period. At that time we experienced much persecution, mainly due to our refusal to join the war effort. Additionally, there were problems at Bethel, the headquarters of the Watch Tower. Unscrupulous ‘brothers’ were refusing to preach the word, as the Bible commands. Others were opposing decisions of the new unanimously elected president of the Watch Tower Society — including instructions the late Russell gave him before his death! Some brothers even tried to wrestle control of the Society using legal means. Later, members of Christendom managed to get false charges of sedition put against the Governing Body. A corrupt judge found them guilty and sentenced them to long prison terms.
By this point the brothers were feeling very low. Brother Russell, who first started the Watch Tower magazine, was now dead. They had seen a large proportion of the brotherhood leave to form their own organization. Now, if that wasn’t enough, the brothers in charge had been put in prison, and some of the society’s property was confiscated. Things were at an all-time low. It looked like the small flame of truth was about to be extinguished.
Happily, at a later date, things suddenly started to get better. The brothers in charge were acquitted of all charges against them and released from prison in 1919. There soon followed a phenomenal growth of Jehovah’s worshippers, which eventually spread to every country on earth.
However, while the phenomenal growth of Jehovah’s people carried on, some new interpretations of prophecy were being developed. During the 1920’s while Brother Rutherford was president of the Watch Tower society, a whole new explanation of the events between 1914 and 1919 was offered in the pages of the Watch Tower magazine. It explained that those events fulfilled bible prophecy.
Intimately connected to all of this is the date 6th of October 1914. That is when the ‘times of the gentiles’ ended, according to the late Brother Russell. You see, originally it was understood that Jesus presence (or so-called second-coming) began in 1874; later this understanding was changed to 1914.
Now, according to Jesus, as soon as his presence begins he will judge the ‘household’ of his servants, or slaves. Jesus asks, “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings”. Yes, for when Jesus presence begins, he will judge his people throw out the wicked slaves and appoint the faithful ones.
During the 1920’s, the brothers looked back at recent events, and came to a realisation: the events seemed to fulfil a particular pattern.
They decided that the end of the ‘times of the gentiles’ (which they had calculated to end in October 1914) must be the foretold enthronement of Jesus Christ in heaven, which the Bible speaks of in Revelation. As World War One had begun shortly before in August 1914, and was followed by the Spanish Flu epidemic which killed millions, this seemed to confirm the words of Jesus that there would be “wars and reports of wars” and “pestilence” when his presence begins. You could call it a “sign”, or an “omen”.
Additionally, the troubles they experienced during the war, where the preaching work was almost stopped, seemed to fit the idea of Jehovah’s people being punished, or desolated, as various prophecies require (including Daniel). Finally, the brothers and sisters who left the Watch Tower during that time must have been the “wicked slave” that Jesus said he would “throw outside” of his household upon beginning his reign.
This ‘new light’ seemed amazing to the brothers. Could it really be that the events during 1914 and 1919 were fulfilling prophecy? Everything wrapped up so tightly, and seemed to apply so perfectly, that the above description continues to be the official teaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses down to this very day.
Indeed, the amount of prophecy that our brothers at the Watchtower have now applied to the 1914-1919 period is staggering. Almost every prophecy in the Bible has been either attributed to, or connected with, that time (including Daniel, Revelation, Matthew, Joel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, Obadiah, Habakkuk and Ezekiel). Meanwhile, many other prophecies are applied to Christendom’s ‘fall from God’s favour’ after 1919 and the subsequent world-wide preaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Needless to say, the events of 1914-1919 are very much central to Jehovah’s modern worshippers. Doubting this interpretation is regarded by many brothers as an act of apostasy. This is because any attack on the 1914-1919 events seems to attack the very foundation stone of all beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
However, do you remember earlier when I gave an example from Revelation? The verse showed that the 7th King would only remain a “short while”. This shows us that God’s Kingdom will soon take control of earth’s affairs, destroying all human government, as we have preached for decades. But did you notice that I didn’t even mention the date 1914? I really didn’t, because I didn’t need to. You see, it is my belief that the dates 1914 to 1919 are not the ‘foundation stone’ of our beliefs at all, but are actually completely unnecessary to our faith as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The apostle Paul earlier said that the “operation of error” is in place to test whether or not we “take pleasure in unrighteousness”. All real lovers of Jehovah and righteousness will not care about chronological interpretations like 1914. Their main priority is to serve and love their heavenly father – not to save their own skins.
The events of 1914-1919
A great irony of the Future Judgment View is that Jehovah’s Witnesses officially believe most of it already. The pages of the Watchtower have frequently talked of the many prophecies foretelling the destruction and disciplining of Jehovah’s modern people. Many of those prophecies they have, in my opinion, wrongly applied to Christendom. However, it is plain from the scriptures that God’s people – the Israel of God – will also experience a disciplining at some point. The problem is that our operation of error has placed that event in the past – between the years 1914 and 1919 – and not where it rightly belongs, in the future.
One of the prophecies said to have found fulfilment then is the well-known vision in Revelation of the “two witnesses”. In the vision, the two witnesses represent the anointed Christians. We know this because the text says so. Then, when Satan “the dragon” and his demons are thrown down to the earth, they persecute the anointed Christians. The persecution they endure is so bad they are said to prophesy in “sackcloth” for a period of time.
On the subject of sackcloth, the Insight volume makes these remarks: ‘The Hebrew prophets were occasionally wearers of sackcloth. They did this in harmony with the warning messages and calls to repentance they were commissioned to deliver, or when they prayed with expressions of repentance in behalf of the people.’
It seems their preaching in sackcloth can be both a symbol of mourning, and a symbol of repentance. The symbol of repentance would be fitting, for this time is spoken of as being a cleansing of Jehovah’s worshippers. A parallel prophecy that the Watchtower applies to 1919 in Malachi states: “suddenly there will come to His temple the true Lord … the messenger of the covenant in whom you are delighting.” This is Jesus Christ. The prophecy continues, “For he will be like the fire of a refiner and like the lye of laundrymen.”
The entire foretold period of desolation is for cleansing Jah’s name-sake people. This is what happens when Jesus arrives to clean out his household. The same prophecy continues saying Jesus “‘will come near to you people for the judgment, and I will become a speedy witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against those swearing falsely, and against those acting fraudulently with the wages of a wage worker, with the widow and with the fatherless boy, and those turning away the alien resident, while they have not feared me,’ Jehovah of armies has said.” —Malachi 3:1-5
Now if we were to apply the above verses as our brothers do, to the 1914-1919 period, we have a bit of a problem. The number of persons worshipping Jehovah back then was nothing compared to what it is now. The amount of sins of Jehovah’s worshippers back then was also nothing compared to what it is now.
If Jehovah was going to discipline his people for their sins, why would he do it when their sins were few-and-far-between, and then leave their later sins seemingly unpunished? If the judgment “starts first with us” as the apostle Peter stated, surely our punishment will come then, at the time of the judgment? —1 Peter 4:17
Today Jehovah’s Witnesses have undoubtedly committed many sins against God and his name. Simply through our own honest mistakes we have managed to heap much reproach on God’s precious name.
Let’s now try to apply the things listed by Malachi with modern-day problems among God’s people.
Jehovah says he will be a “speedy witness against the sorcerers”. No doubt Jehovah has in mind the modern-day false prophets who have misinterpreted prophecies and given false predictions, stumbling many out of his worship. The “adulterers” could easily be aligned with the tens of thousands of Witnesses who are disfellowshipped each year for immorality. Those “swearing falsely” could apply to any liars, but in this context could be brothers who are not whole souled in their worship of Jehovah, saying they will worship him with their whole hearts, but failing to live up to that commitment. The phrase “fatherless boys” can apply to all vulnerable children. While irrational sensationalist claims have greatly exaggerated the child abuse problem, the problem does exist, and could have been better dealt with. The ridiculous rule that two witnesses must have been present to see the child abused is absurd. Just as Jesus commented, we are sticklers to the letter of the law, like the Pharisees. We “give the tenth of the mint and the dill and the cumin”, but we then “have disregarded the weightier matters of the Law, namely, justice and mercy and faithfulness.” Jesus finishes up by saying, “Blind guides, who strain out the gnat but gulp down the camel!” —Matthew 23:23-24
It would be far more appropriate if the prophecy of Jesus coming to cleanse his worshippers occurred in the future – and not decades ago. In fact, the opposite would be grossly unjust.
Let’s get back to the two witnesses vision in Revelation. It says, “…when they have finished their witnessing, the wild beast that ascends out of the abyss [that is, the nations] will make war with them and conquer them and kill them”.
According to the 1914 doctrine, this verse was fulfilled symbolically in 1918 when a United States court imprisoned the Governing Body for a short time on false charges. No doubt the feeling through the entire organization was very bad at that time. Looking back it may seem trivial, but at the time it certainly wasn’t.
However, the point is that this was supposed to be the culmination of the prophecies concerning the disciplining and cleansing of Jah’s worshippers prior to Armageddon. So, what sins did the early Bible Students supposedly commit to warrant Jehovah’s discipline?
A June 1987 Watchtower study article tells us. It asks ‘Now, what evidence is there that this refinement took place from the closing days of World War I onward?’ The next paragraph answers: ‘When Jehovah accompanied his ‘messenger of the covenant’ to the spiritual temple, He found the remnant in need of refining and cleansing. For example, The Watch Tower had encouraged its readers to set aside May 30, 1918, as a day of prayer for victory for the democratic powers, as requested by the U.S. congress and by President Wilson. This amounted to a violation of Christian neutrality.’
The 1975 yearbook adds, ‘After their trialsome period of 1917-1919, Jehovah’s people subjected themselves to scrutiny. Realizing that they had acted in ways that did not meet with God’s approval, they sought forgiveness in prayer repenting of their former course. … One compromise had been the cutting of pages from The Finished Mystery, this to please those who had assumed the position of censor. Another occurred when The Watch Tower of June 1, 1918, stated: ‘In accordance with the resolution of Congress of April 2nd, and with the proclamation of the President of the United States of May 11, it is suggested that the Lord’s people everywhere make May 30th a day of prayer and supplication.’ Subsequent comments lauded the United States and did not harmonize with the Christian position of neutrality.’
Therefore, the stern warning of the prophets, describing Jah’s people as adulterers, liars, not doing justice for vulnerable children, and many more things, was supposedly all fulfilled in the removal of a few pages from a book, and supporting a ‘day of prayer’ on behalf of the allied troops fighting in Europe. These things are mere trivialities when compared to the damning words of the prophets!
Surely, the prophecy must have it’s fulfilment in the future!
Additionally, remember how the two witnesses of Revelation were killed? The prophecy continues to say how “their corpses will be on the broad way … and nations will look at their corpses … and they do not let their corpses be laid in a tomb”.
Now, during the time the Governing Body was in prison (the supposed fulfilment of these verses), amazingly the Watch Tower journal never missed an issue. Also the preaching work continued, albeit at a significantly slowed down pace. Even conventions were held! (See the Proclaimers book, chapter 7) The fact of the matter is, these things are not the activity of “corpses”. If the two witnesses of Revelation represent the anointed, which they surely do because Revelation tells us so plainly, then why were only some of the anointed ‘killed’, while others continued their work?
This is part of our “operation of error”. The fulfilment will really take place in the future.
A future judgment!
It is my conviction, and that of others, that the foretold disciplining of Jehovah’s people will certainly take place – in the near future.
Many prophecies describe Jah’s people being utterly destroyed, disciplined, refined, cleansed, and then miraculously regathered for an incredible preaching work. Yes – another preaching work – but this time we shall have the miraculous outpouring of Jehovah’s holy spirit, Pentecost-style. That preaching work will commence after the refining of his worshippers is complete. For when the tribulation of God’s people is over, something will happen immediately afterwards. Jesus said, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” —Matthew 24:29-30
The above verse is from Matthew 24, a chapter all of Jehovah’s Witnesses are intimately familiar with. In it, it describes the “conclusion of the system of things”, or what other prophecies call the “time of the end”. However, does it describe the “last days”?
The “last days” or the “time of the end”?
As part of our operation of error, we share a belief with many evangelical religions in Babylon the Great. We believe the “time of the end”, or “conclusion of the system of things” is the same thing as the “last days”.
However, as anyone who is familiar with the Future Judgment View is aware, the “time of the end” or “conclusion of the system of things” is a fixed period, lasting sometime under four years (see the Daniel’s Days essay for more info). The “last days”, however, are mentioned as something entirely different in the Bible.
The phrase “last days” appears in just four places in the scriptures.
At Acts 2:17, when the book of Joel is being quoted, the apostle Peter applies the book to the “last days”, presumably of the Jewish system, when the miraculous preaching work began at Pentecost.
At 2 Timothy 3:1, the apostle Paul lists the moral decay taking place during the last days. He mentions that men in the “last days” will be “lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power”. Now, it must be noted that all these things are attitudes in people – not events – and such broad social trends would take many decades to develop.
At James 5:3, the apostle uses the term to describe the time when the riches of various Christians will become worthless. He says, “your gold and silver are rusted away, and their rust will be as a witness against you and will eat your fleshy parts. Something like fire is what your have stored up in the last days”. No doubt he is describing the coming disaster when Christ’s presence begins and the ‘Time of the End’ really starts. That is when riches will become of little consequence.
At 2 Peter 3:3-4, the apostle says “in the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: ‘Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.’” Ridiculers have always been about, but apparently during the last days they will be especially so. Note that Jesus did not warn of ridiculers coming during the conclusion. Interestingly, ridiculers and ‘ex-JWs’ do indeed mock the idea that Jesus presence will ever begin.
So, the phrase “last days” seems to apply to the era prior to the period called the ‘Time of the End’. The last days can last decades – long enough for broad social trends to develop – and the time period overlaps into the ‘Time of the End’. Indeed, the phrase itself merely indicates the last periods of time before Satan’s system is destroyed. Unlike the ‘Time of the End’, the “last days” is not a fixed period, but a time when mankind will slowly sink into a low pit of debauchery, while ridiculers spurn the idea that Jesus presence will ever commence.
We are in the “last days” right now, but the “time of the end” is a fixed period which is yet future.
We can further demonstrate this by examining what Jesus Christ said about the conclusion of the system of things, or time of the end, (regarding earthquakes, wars, etc). A detailed examination is out of the scope of this essay, but needless to say, the 20th century has been the safest time period in which to live, in all of human history. Technology and medical advances have far outweighed the deaths caused by wars and famines.
For example, the Watchtower interprets the four horsemen of the Apocalypse going on the rampage back in 1914, and having done so ever since. In Revelation, they are instructed to kill a quarter of mankind.
While the quarter number is obviously symbolic, even the 20th century’s greatest wars did not kill anywhere near that many people. A quick estimation of war dead demonstrates this. In 1914 the world population was about 1.8 billion. The dead in the war was about 15 million. That’s a mere 0.8% of the world population. So too, do we find this during the Second World War. The world population was about 2.3 billion in 1940, and the war dead was about 55 million, or 2.4% of mankind. These percentages may even be a little too high, as it does not take into account the numbers of babies born during the conflicts.
Obviously, the war dead from lesser conflicts pales into insignificance compared to the two great wars. Additionally, when we take into account deaths from modern plagues (like heart disease and AIDS, as the Watchtower does), the number of deaths is inconsequential when compared to the amount of fatalities prevented by medical advancement and drugs like penicillin.
So too is there a problem with the “earthquakes in one place after another”. It is true that many of the world’s biggest cities are located on earthquake fault lines, therefore more people are affected by earthquakes than ever before. However, are the earthquakes we’ve seen in the 20th and early 21st centuries “in one place after another”? In fact, there is nothing unusual or unexpected about their severity or frequency. They are expected to occur in the usual places – and they usually do.
The 2004 Asian Tsunami showed what earthquakes are really capable of doing. Yet, such horrific events have been incredibly rare during the past 100 years. Surely we would expect to see that happen more often if we were experiencing an unusual outbreak of earthquakes – not simply see major disasters with the normal and expected frequency that seismologists expect.
Moral decay, however, is a different matter. Today we see divorce rates higher than ever, homosexuality openly practiced and celebrated, paedophiles talking of their ‘rights’, immoral and violent behaviour in popular entertainment, sex outside of marriage the norm, money-making taking top priority, and love of god becoming very rare indeed. We are certainly living in the “last days” – but not the “time of the end” or “conclusion of the system of things”, at least not yet anyway.
A “whitewashed wall”, a “divining lie”
Jehovah’s modern people have become so enamoured with the 1914 doctrine, that it would never be willingly abandoned. A huge amount of investment has been placed in the doctrine, and renouncing it would surely cause many brothers and sisters to fall away.
Almost all of our official prophetic interpretations now revolve around that date. Meanwhile, other prophecies are applied to Christendom’s condemnation by God and her future desolation.
However, as we have previously asked, what if those prophecies don’t apply to Christendom at all, but to the spiritual Israel of God, Jehovah’s modern people? In this section, we will look at several prophecies the Watchtower applies to Christendom. However, instead we will apply them to ourselves and to the foretold “operation of error”.
‘Surely’, you may ask, ‘the bible says more about Jah’s people believing a lie?’ We shall see that if the prophecies don’t apply to Christendom, then they most certainly speak of our situation in much detail!
In the intimate group of Jah’s people
Let’s re-examine something we covered earlier, said through Ezekiel. At that time, many of the Jews had already been taken away in exile to Babylon. However, so-called prophets of Jehovah were downplaying the idea that their land would soon be completely desolated as punishment from Jehovah, and almost all persons would either be killed or also taken into exile. Some prophets out rightly denied it.
What was Jehovah’s response?
Jehovah told Ezekiel to “prophesy concerning the prophets of Israel who are prophesying, and you must say to those prophesying out of their own heart, ‘Hear the word of Jehovah… “Woe to the stupid prophets, who are walking after their own spirit, when there is nothing that they have seen! ... They have visioned what is untrue and a lying divination, those who are saying, ‘The utterance of Jehovah is,’ when Jehovah himself has not sent them’””. —Ezekiel 13:2-7
Where were these ‘stupid prophets’? Were they standing on the public street, yelling out to passers-by, like modern fundamentalist street preachers? Were they on the fringes of Israelite society? No, not at all! Jehovah continued to say, “…my hand has come to be against the prophets that are visioning untruth and that are divining a lie. In the intimate group of my people they will not continue on”. Yes – the prophets “divining a lie” are in the very “intimate group” of Jehovah’s people! And indeed they were. The entire Jewish religious system denied their impending judgment by Jehovah – from the lowliest Levite, right up to the high priest himself.
The same situation exists with the “operation of error” in our day. As the apostle stated, the error and the man of lawlessness must be in the very spiritual temple of the true God. Our institutional prophets at the Watchtower Society, what one could call the “intimate group” of Jehovah’s modern people, have likewise divined for us a 1914-centred lie, also denying our impending judgment by Jehovah. Just as in the ancient application, the denial goes from the lowliest publisher to the president of the Society himself.
A whitewashed wall of false prophecy
Why will Jehovah bring this calamity against his “stupid prophets”? The same chapter of Ezekiel continues, telling us why: “for the reason, yes, for the reason that they have led my people astray, saying, ‘There is peace!’ when there is no peace”. The fictional “peace” is the peace between Jah’s people and himself. While the prophets are saying that Jehovah is nothing but pleased with the Israelites, “there is peace”, that is not really true.
For Jehovah says, “there is one that is building a partition wall, but in vain there are those plastering it with whitewash.” In ancient times, the “partition wall” separating the Israelites from the truth was the lie that Jehovah was not going to allow their nation to be destroyed. So too today, the operation of error has done precisely the same thing in denying our destruction.
In ancient times, it was the “stupid prophets” who painted the wall of lies with whitewash, saying “there is peace”. Today, our institutional prophets have done the same thing, producing a huge amount of “whitewash”. Some of this whitewash propping up the wall could be the constant ‘new coats’ of whitewashed paint to the 1914 doctrine. All of the largest changes to our doctrine over the years have been centred on that very subject. So-called ‘new light’ on matters such as the ‘generation’ of 1914, and other changes, puts a fresh new coat on our operation of error each time.
However, Jehovah has something in store for our beloved wall of whitewash.
Jah commands, “Say to those plastering with whitewash that it will fall. A flooding downpour will certainly occur, and you, O hailstones, will fall, and a blast of windstorms itself will cause a splitting. And, look! the wall must fall. Will it not be said to you men, ‘Where is the coating with which you did the plastering?’”
A sudden flood will send the wall crashing down! A flood of what, you may ask? In Isaiah, a similar expression is used to describe the flood of an oncoming enemy army, coming to destroy Israel. “Like a thunderous storm of hail, a destructive storm, like a thunderous storm of powerful, flooding waters, he will certainly do a casting down to the earth with force. With the feet the eminent crowns of the drunkards of Ephraim [i.e. Israel] will be trampled down”. —Isaiah 28:2-3
Numerous prophecies foretold the destruction of both Israel and Judah by an enemy from the north. Similarly, in Daniel’s prophecy, a king from the remotest parts of the north destroys Jehovah’s people during the Time of the End.
It is the same king who desolates Jah’s people in the future, whose actions will flood up to our whitewashed wall. In one swift move, our 1914 doctrine – and the false sense of security that it provides – will crash down as Jah’s people realises that our judgment did not take place back in 1914-1919.
Notice also that the “whitewash” itself will be abandoned. The verse said that those who previously did the plastering will be asked “Where is the coating with which you did the plastering?”
Interestingly, Jehovah also adds that “its foundation must be exposed”. The ancient foundation was that the prophets did not speak in Jah’s name. Today, it will be exposed that the 1914 doctrine did not originate with the true God. Also, the “wall is no more, and those plastering it are no more.” —Ezekiel 13:15
The tables of vomit
Jehovah compares the Israelites spiritual blindness to drunkenness. “Priest and prophet—they have gone astray because of intoxicating liquor, they have become confused as a result of the wine, … they have gone astray in their seeing, they have reeled as to decision.” Because of this drunkenness, the priests and prophets do what people tend to do when extremely drunk – they vomit. “For the tables themselves have all become full of filthy vomit—there is no place without it.”
The priests and prophets were spiritually drunk, so they produced spiritual vomit. Originally the “vomit” was the religious teaching that “there is peace” between Jehovah and his wayward people. Today, it is no different. Whenever God’s people claim the same thing – Jehovah does not view it as nourishing spiritual food, but views it as nothing but disgusting sick.
Covenant with Death, a lie our refuge
Regarding the false teaching that Jah’s people will not be disciplined, Jehovah says “you men have said: ‘We have concluded a covenant with Death’”. We have, in effect, made a covenant (an agreement) with Death itself. What are the terms of this agreement? It is that “‘the overflowing flash flood, in case it should pass through, will not come to us”. Yes, their covenant with Death is the very same spiritual “vomit” that Jehovah will not discipline his people. The passage continues to say “‘for we have made a lie our refuge and in falsehood we have concealed ourselves’”. —Isaiah 28:14-15
Jehovah describes the effect that the “overflowing flash flood” will have on his servants. He says it will “take you men away, because morning by morning it will pass through, during the day and during the night”. The flood will literally clean out many of the men from among Jehovah’s servants, presumably the wicked and evil slaves. —Matthew 24:51
However, Jehovah also reveals another effect it will have. He says, “…it must become nothing but a reason for quaking to make others understand what has been heard”. Once the flood has crashed down the whitewashed wall of 1914, the entire brotherhood will – for the first time – be able to fully comprehend the prophecies speaking of that very event. They will be able to “understand” what they have repeatedly heard from the Biblical prophets, but previously misunderstood.
A couch too short
In the same chapter of Isaiah, Jehovah continues to describe the false prophets’ situation. He compares them to a man who lies down on a couch, or bed, but “the couch has proved too short for stretching oneself on, and the woven sheet itself is too narrow when wrapping oneself up”. The interpretations of the prophets just don’t seem to be comfortable; in fact, no one can be fully comfortable with them. No wonder a continuous re-plastering with new whitewash is necessary. However, Jehovah will crash down the wall. Jehovah will “do his deed—his deed is strange—and that he may work his work—his work is unusual”.
Allowing his name-sake people to be desolated – that is most certainly strange and unusual!
Prophets are in a deep sleep
Why, though, can Jehovah’s people not see their coming calamity? The reason the ancient Israelites could not see it is the same reason spiritual Israel cannot see it. “For upon you men Jehovah has poured a spirit of deep sleep; and he closes your eyes, the prophets, and he has covered even your heads, the visionaries.”
In ancient times, the Israelites knew what the true worship of Jehovah was. They knew how they should worship him properly, and not end up worshipping some false God. When they did so, they were blessed. So too today, we know how to worship the true God Jehovah, and not some pagan trinity fantasy. And when we do so, we too are blessed.
Yet, in ancient times the religious leaders of God’s people were in a “deep sleep” when it came to prophecy. So too today – our institutional prophets also have their eyes closed, failing to see our coming calamity, just as in ancient times.
Jehovah’s servant is blind
Continuing the theme of his prophets being blind, Jehovah makes a rather interesting remark in Isaiah 42. Talking to his people he says, “Hear, you deaf ones; and look forth to see, you blind ones. Who is blind, if not my servant, and who is deaf as my messenger whom I send? Who is blind as the one rewarded, or blind as the servant of Jehovah?”
Indeed – Jehovah’s people did show a complete blindness toward their coming calamity. That is what the context of the verse is talking about, the time when his worshippers are “a people plundered and pillaged, all of them being trapped in the holes, and in the houses of detention they have been kept hidden”. —Isaiah 42:18-22
You did not listen
Jeremiah’s commission was to preach of the coming calamity to Judah and Jerusalem. Unfortunately, “these twenty-three years the word of Jehovah has occurred to me, and I kept speaking to you people, rising up early and speaking, but you did not listen. And Jehovah sent to you all his servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, but you did not listen”.
Because they did not listen or change their ways, Jehovah says, “I am sending and I will take all the families of the north… even sending to Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land …and I will devote them to destruction”. Interestingly, numerous prophecies all say that the destruction will proceed from the “north”. Even Ezekiel, written during the time of the Babylonian exile, speaks of Jah’s people being desolated from the “north”, prior to Armageddon. So too does Daniel speak of us being attacked by the King of the North, during the time of the end.
Jeremiah continues to speak of Jah’s people, likening them to sheep. “Howl, you shepherds, and cry out! And wallow about, you majestic ones of the flock, because your days for slaughtering and for your scatterings have been fulfilled”. Interestingly, Joel also compares us to a lost fold of sheep during the time of the end.
“Listen! The outcry of the shepherds, and the howling of the majestic ones of the flock, for Jehovah is despoiling their pasturage. And the peaceful abiding places have been rendered lifeless because of the burning anger of Jehovah.” —Jeremiah chapter 25
The oft-overlooked prophet of Zechariah also has something to add. Before the prophet describes Jehovah destroying all his enemies and becoming “king over all the earth”, he describes Jah’s people being refined.
As part of this process, those prophesying falsely will be silenced. He says, “And it must occur in that day that the prophets will become ashamed, each one of his vision when he prophesies; … And he will certainly say, ‘I am no prophet. I am a man cultivating the soil”. If we tie this in with the other prophecies of the whitewashed wall, it becomes obvious why the prophets are silenced and then deny they had anything to do with it.
Jehovah then describes the refining process of his people. ““And it must occur in all the land,” is the utterance of Jehovah, “that two parts in it are what will be cut off and expire; and as for the third part, it will be left remaining in it.”” This statement also ties in with many other prophecies. Jehovah’s people will be put through a time of testing. Indeed, is that not what the operation of error is for? To test his people, to see whether they have a real love for God?
Speaking of the remaining third, Jah says he will bring them “through the fire; and I shall actually refine them as in the refining of silver ... I will say, ‘It is my people,’ and it, in its turn, will say, ‘Jehovah is my God.’” —Zechariah chapter 13
The true prophet Zephaniah said that the prophets of God’s people “were insolent, were men of treachery”. Jehovah then speaks of the day he will be “rising up” to “gather nations” and “collect together kingdoms, in order to pour out upon them my denunciation”. He continues to say that “by the fire of my zeal all the earth will be devoured”. And then what happens? “For then I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder.”
Fittingly, our own institutional prophets say that the change to a “pure language” is happening now, or more specifically, since 1919. However, this too is part of the operation of error. For Zephaniah clearly shows that such an event will only take place after Jehovah has poured out his “denunciation” on the nations, and the earth is metaphorically devoured by fire.
Also, “then I shall remove from the midst of you your haughtily exultant ones; and you will never again be haughty in my holy mountain. And I shall certainly let remain in the midst of you a people humble and lowly, and they will actually take refuge in the name of Jehovah”. —Zephaniah chapter 3
What do all these things really mean for us?
An odd requirement for the true religion
We have briefly considered what the Old Testament prophets said about the operation of error among God’s people, prior to their disciplining at the end of the world.
The prophecies go into far more detail than we have time to consider here. As we saw above, they even speak of “haughtily exultant ones” existing among God’s people. These same ones will be cleared out by Jehovah. No doubt these are the same individuals as the evil slaves and “man of lawlessness” that Jesus will remove during his presence.
We are left with a rather odd fact: those who are worshipping Jehovah – i.e. the ‘true religion’ – must have treacherous prophets, a whitewashed wall of false prophecy, “haughtily exultant ones”, and commit enough badness to warrant Jehovah’s discipline and complete destruction. Then, afterwards, a mere remnant will emerge.
Somehow, I think it’s unlikely that the Watchtower will add that as a requirement for the ‘true religion’, to the next printing of the Reasoning book!
Yet, that is the situation presented before us. If someone was to look for the true religion, based on the assumption that it would have no problems existing inside it, they would never find Jehovah’s true people. In fact, it is doubtful that any religion is free of problems and false interpretations of scripture.
More to the point, no one would ever find the true faith – never once throughout all of history. The Jews with their system worship, while being the ‘true religion’, sinned so badly against Jehovah that he destroyed them – twice!
As odd as it seems, the true religion must have – in fact, the scriptures demand – false prophecy and wicked or evil slaves working side-by-side with those who are faithful and discreet. And let’s not forget the “man of lawlessness” secretly hiding in among the anointed. Worshipping Jehovah, without pagan delusions, are not the sole requirements of being in the true faith. These foretold problems are the identifying marks of Jesus’ household prior to the time of the end.
Let’s now consider for a moment how the brotherhood itself will react when they see our institutional false prophets and the man of lawlessness exposed. Will the numbers who fall away be anything like the two thirds mentioned by Zechariah?
How will the brotherhood react?
Imagine: the entire 1914 doctrine comes crashing down! Jehovah’s Watchtower organization, which we believed had God’s backing, will be completely destroyed by the “wild beast” of Satan’s political system. Even the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ who was supposedly appointed by God, will be gone! Perhaps even those on the Governing Body have been killed! (Joel 1:19) The printing presses fall silent. The public preaching work stops. For the first time in over 120 years, the Watchtower is no longer in print. The Bethels are empty and the officially recognized ‘religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ no longer exists.
How will the brotherhood feel? Will they not feel completely disillusioned? Will they not feel completely lost? Indeed, talking of this time Joel compares Jehovah’s people to sheep, saying, “O how the domestic animal has sighed! How the droves of cattle have wandered in confusion! For there is no pasturage for them. Also, the droves of the sheep have been the ones made to bear guilt.” —Joel 1:18
Exactly how will the brotherhood react spiritually? How many will continue to worship Jehovah, and how many will abandon their faith altogether because the Watchtower has been destroyed? How many will go back to Babylon the Great?
Interestingly, there is a way we can find out. Today there are many people who know that 1914 is a false teaching, and they also know that the faithful slave was not appointed in 1919. A large chunk of these people are called Rayites.
Ray Franz was a member of the Governing Body until he became an apostate and was disfellowshipped. Today he has achieved an almost cult-like following of former Jehovah’s Witnesses who hold him in high regards, who I contemptuously refer to as ‘Rayites’. They wrongly believe God has nothing to do with the Watchtower or Jehovah’s Witnesses. They also believe it is okay to take blood transfusions, and that all good persons go to heaven. Most importantly, they deny that 1914 was the start of Christ’s presence.
You see, Ray Franz was one of the brothers whose job was to write the Bible encyclopaedia Aid to Bible Understanding (which preceded the Insight volumes we now use). As part of his research, he had to present proof that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 BCE.
The date of Jerusalem’s destruction is used to calculate the so-called ‘seven times prophecy’ in Daniel. Brother Russell believed that the seven times would last 2,520 years, starting from the time Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians. He thought this was the time that Jesus spoke of, where he said “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled”. —Luke 21:24
From the context, it is obvious that the time Jesus spoke of was in the future, but regardless of that, this interpretation is the basis of the 1914 doctrine. For if we count 2,520 years from the time Jerusalem was allegedly destroyed (607 BCE), we come to 1914 CE.
So, what would it mean to the 1914 doctrine, if Jerusalem was not destroyed in 607 BCE? It would mean that 1914 was not the start of the “time of the end”, nor was the faithful slave appointed over all his master’s belongings in 1919! The entire 1914-1919 interpretation of prophecy would fall flat on its face! Ray Franz published a book rubbishing the 1914 doctrine based on an abundance of archaeological evidence that Jerusalem could not have been destroyed in 607 BCE. Another book by a Scandinavian author has also added more evidence to the pile.
The truth is that no one can prove when Jerusalem was (or was not) destroyed. The bible does not provide the necessary chronology, so we must rely on fallible human records, dug up out of the earth on archaeological digs. Worst of all, many of the ancient records actually contradict one another.
To brothers and sisters who believe the Future Judgment View, this is of no consequence. We did not start worshipping Jehovah God because we want to save our own skins; no, we do so because we love Jehovah. More to the point, we don’t believe that the “time of the end” began in 1914 anyway, and we strongly believe that Jesus will soon come to clean out his “household” of the wicked slaves, and then he will appoint the faithful slave “over all his belongings”. We are also convinced that Jehovah has allowed the 1914 doctrine to take shape to test his servants’ loyalty to him.
However, to those with no real love of Jehovah or the truth, they see the fallacy of the 1914 doctrine as a reason and excuse to abandon their faith entirely. If you casually browse any apostate sites on the Internet (although I would not recommend it), you will find many, many former brothers and sisters recommend Ray Franz’s book as essential reading for all who dislike Jehovah’s Witnesses, or who would like an excuse to leave.
You will see that many ex-Witnesses admit that they now gamble, commit fornication, celebrate Christmas, celebrate Easter, celebrate Halloween, believe the Trinity, believe in the immortal soul, practise homosexuality and adultery, believe in microbes-to-man evolution, use the cross, take blood transfusions, smoke cigarettes, stop using Jehovah’s name, say we will all go to heaven (or hell), and do many other vile unchristian things.
A huge proportion of ‘ex-JWs’ have completely abandoned every facet of the true Christian faith (and even traditional Christian faith!), using the 1914 fallacy as an excuse to do so. The apostle Peter wrote of them, saying “it would have been better for them not to have accurately known the path of righteousness than after knowing it accurately to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. The saying of the true proverb has happened to them: “The dog has returned to its own vomit, and the sow that was bathed to rolling in the mire.”” —2 Peter 2:21-22
Interestingly, some apostates, including some Rayites, still claim to be ‘Christians’. While some may lead morally clean lives, it must be asked: just how many of those who read Franz books now lead totally unchristian lifestyles? How many are “using [this world] to the full” in pursuing worldly careers? How many have adopted pagan customs? How many obey Jesus words to “Go therefore and make disciples”? It is obvious to anyone who is not blind that a sizable proportion of apostate Witnesses, who left the worship of Jah due to Franz, are no longer clean, God-honouring Christians active in turning others to the Christian faith. As said earlier, many have abandoned everything and have become indistinguishable from the average man on the street that does nothing to worship Jehovah God. A quick look at apostate websites demonstrates this beyond all doubt!
Interestingly, one of Franz books is entitled In Search of Christian Freedom. The ‘freedom’, of course, is ‘freedom’ from the alleged tyranny of the Watchtower Society. However, in reality the ‘freedom’ he expresses is more like that which the apostle Peter talked about, when he said “While they are promising them freedom, they themselves are existing as slaves of corruption. For whoever is overcome by another is enslaved by this one. Certainly if, after having escaped from the defilements of the world by an accurate knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they get involved again with these very things and are overcome, the final conditions have become worse for them than the first”. How true the apostle’s words are! —2 Peter 2:19-20
While the 1914 fallacy does not effect brothers and sisters who believe in a future judgment, the writings of Ray Franz have literally destroyed the faith of (or ‘stumbled’) thousands upon thousands of Witnesses, sending them back out into the world. He has also hindered thousands more from coming to know and love Jehovah. Truly, Jesus Christ was speaking about such men when he said, “It is unavoidable that causes for stumbling should come. Nevertheless, woe to the one through whom they come! It would be of more advantage to him if a millstone were suspended from his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to stumble one of these little ones.” —Luke 17:1-2
So, we must ask ourselves the question: if that is how a large proportion of the brothers who read Franz’s book reacted, how will the entire brotherhood react when they see before their very eyes Jehovah’s organization being destroyed? When it becomes obvious that the “faithful slave” had not yet passed any test, how many brothers will abandon their entire worship of Jah? When the events of 1914 are dwarfed and completely eclipsed by new events, how many brothers will repudiate everything they learned from the Watchtower? How many will stand back, look at the collapse of our organization, and ask themselves ‘was it really the truth’?
Indeed, how many brothers and sisters will still love and worship Jehovah God, despite the collapse of the Watchtower society? That will be the greatest test of loyalty ever faced by all of Jehovah’s modern worshippers! We cannot even guess how many from among our brotherhood will rely on Jehovah during that time, instead of leaving him.
Truly, this will initiate the greatest cleansing of God’s people ever experienced. Speaking of that time, Malachi prophetically stated, “But who will be putting up with the day of his coming, and who will be the one standing when he appears? For he will be like the fire of a refiner and like the lye of laundrymen. And he must sit as a refiner and cleanser of silver and must cleanse the [spiritual] sons of Levi; and he must clarify them like gold and like silver, and they will certainly become to Jehovah people presenting a gift offering in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:2-3) Those whose hearts are not with Jehovah, who perhaps only served as Witnesses to save their own skins, will be gone. The righteous will keep Jehovah as their confidence. “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.” —Proverbs 18:10
Franz and all other apostates will be judged in the future. However, in the meantime his wide-eyed admirers allow us to see how the brotherhood might react upon seeing the 1914 ‘whitewashed wall’ crash down. As Jesus Christ said regarding the time of his presence, “many will be stumbled”! —Matthew 24:10
However, we are overlooking something very important. Do you remember what I said at the beginning of this essay, when I asked about those who have been stumbled by the Watchtower? What about those people? And what of the general public, who may have been prevented from learning God’s requirements because of the reproach put upon Jehovah’s name (either by ourselves unintentionally, or by followers of apostates like Franz)? How will these people react at the news of the Watchtower’s demise?
The Watchtower’s Destruction
Christendom and the world’s joy
Many will be happy to see Jehovah’s Witnesses destroyed. Let’s examine just one prophetic example. Speaking of that time, Jehovah made a statement to Christendom through Obadiah, “you ought not to watch the sight in the day of your brother, in the day of his misfortune”. The “brother” of Christendom is Jehovah’s people. How so? Because in Obadiah Christendom is represented by Edom, the genuine brother of the nation of Israel. Spiritual Israel too came from a common heritage, and our pagan brother is Christendom. —See ‘The lost prophecy of Obadiah’ for more information
Jehovah continues speaking to Christendom, “and you ought not to rejoice at the sons of Judah in the day of their perishing; and you ought not to maintain a big mouth in the day of their distress. You ought not to come into the gate of my people in the day of their disaster. You, even you, ought not to peer at his calamity in the day of his disaster; and you ought not to thrust out a hand upon his wealth in the day of his disaster.”
It seems many people will “rejoice”, brag, peer at us, and plunder us during the calamity we are soon to suffer. Additionally, there are those who “ought not to … cut off his escapees; and you ought not to hand over his survivors in the day of distress.” For it seems that our opposers will be so pleased to see our destruction, that they will actually help it to be accomplished!
That is not difficult to imagine. For example, suppose the authorities wanted to know the ins-and-outs of the organization, in order to track down and arrest every brother in charge. The number of former brothers on the internet willing to help in that matter would be immense. Many would be only too pleased, in conjunction with Christendom, to help the authorities hunt us down – even if it meant our deaths. We know this because it has happened before. In both Africa and communist Europe, apostates have helped track down their former associates. Even though they knew it would mean the deportation, rape, torture, and even death of the men, women and children they helped the authorities locate. Truly, “by their fruits you will recognize those men.” —Matthew 7:20
However, Jehovah says to such ones, “the day of Jehovah against all the nations is near. In the way that you have done, it will be done to you. Your sort of treatment will return upon your own head”! —Obadiah 12-15
Apart from Christendom and the apostates, there are a surprising number of individuals who have been stumbled out of the worship of Jehovah. Some have been offended due to petty personal differences, while others have left from disgust due to some event or failure to act on the part of elders, while still others have been disfellowshipped without actually deserving it.
How will they feel at hearing the news of the sudden demise of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Some may have allowed their hearts to turn wicked, and will feel a perverted pleasure from seeing the organization go down – seeing all their former associates suffer. However, others may view things in a more balanced way. If they are really concerned with honouring Jehovah’s name, they will start to ask searching questions, and be more concerned for what it means for the truth and the true worship of God.
Anointed will prophesy
During the time of the end, the anointed on earth with prophesy “dressed in sackcloth” according to Revelation 11:3. As previously covered, sackcloth is a sign of mourning and repentance. No doubt much mourning and repenting will take place then. It is my conviction that at that time the anointed will perform an Elijah-like work.
Allow me to explain what I mean by that. Revelation describes the anointed at that time performing miracles like Elijah and Moses (Revelation 11:6), and the prophet Malachi foretold that “before the coming of the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah” our God says “I am sending to you people Elijah the prophet” (Malachi 4:5). At one time, we as Jehovah’s Witnesses thought this verse meant that the real-life Elijah would be resurrected to Earth, prior to Armageddon (we even built a house for him to live in!). Nowadays, we have abandoned such ideas, as it is obvious that “Elijah” is metaphorical. Why? Because at Matthew 11:14 Jesus confirms that John the Baptist was the foretold Elijah.
However, there is a second modern application of the prophecy. As previously covered, Revelation tells us of the anointed performing Elijah-like works during the devastation of Jah’s people, “before the coming of the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah”. The work of these Elijahs will be to “turn the heart of fathers back toward sons, and the heart of sons back toward fathers”. —Malachi 4:6
Notice that this work of theirs is the opposite of what Jesus said would inevitably happen during his presence. He said “many will be stumbled and will betray one another and will hate one another.” (Matthew 24:10) It seems as though the anointed will undergo a unique work during the time of the end, trying to reconcile the brothers to each other, and keep the brotherhood worshipping Jehovah God.
However, eventually, “when they [the anointed] have finished their witnessing, the wild beast that ascends out of the abyss will make war with them and conquer them and kill them”. Yes, Satan’s agents will eventually kill off all of the anointed ones.
The world is only too pleased at this. The passage says, “the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their corpses … [and] rejoice over them and enjoy themselves, and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those dwelling on the earth.”
Satan’s world is only too pleased to see the two prophets, who represent the anointed who “have the work of bearing witness to Jesus”, killed. However, their rejoicing is short-lived.
The passage continues, saying, “…after the three and a half days spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon those beholding them.” The anointed ones are resurrected to life, much in the same manner as Jesus was, dying in flesh, but being raised as a spirit. For “they heard a loud voice out of heaven say to them: ‘Come on up here.’ And they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them.”
Via some miraculous means, those who killed them – “their enemies” – will see and know that they have been raised to the heavens. The rest “became frightened and gave glory to the God of heaven.”
Despite being killed, their prophesying was not ultimately in vain, for Jehovah resurrected them and has something further in store for his now cleansed people, who are left remaining on Earth.
The restoration – and a final preaching work
Some persons have been stumbled out of the organization – some even stumbled by the policies and mistakes of the Watchtower Society itself! Now, however, the “oppressive wolves” and ‘evil slaves’ have been cleaned out of Jehovah’s household. In fact, the ‘Watchtower’ does not exist any longer. His anointed ones, who were preaching to the whole world, have recently been killed – yet, via some miraculous means – the entire globe sees them resurrected to heaven!
Now, Jehovah’s worshippers with an earthly hope experience the biggest outpouring of his Holy Spirit – ever!
The holy sprit
The verses and passages that the Watchtower (and our “operation of error”) has attributed to the post-1919 period will really be fulfilled then. Take, for example, Joel’s prophecy of the restoration of God’s people. These events take place after a foretold desolation of Jah’s worshippers takes place, and directly before he gathers all the Kings of the Earth to a great battle.
It says, “Jehovah will be zealous for his land and will show compassion upon his people… I shall not make you anymore a reproach among the nations. And the northerner I shall put far away from upon you”. It has been brought out several times in this essay that Jehovah’s Witnesses will be destroyed by the King of the North during the time of the end. That is the same “northerner” mentioned here.
“I will make compensation to you for… my great military force that I have sent among you” says Jehovah.
Then, “after that it must occur that I shall pour out my spirit on every sort of flesh, and your sons and your daughters will certainly prophesy. As for your old men, dreams they will dream. As for your young men, visions they will see. And even on the menservants and on the maidservants in those days I shall pour out my spirit.”
This very verse was initially fulfilled in the first century, when those in the upper room experienced Jehovah’s outpouring of his spirit. The apostle Peter even quoted it as proof. —Acts 2:16
However, there is a fulfilment for this during the time of the end also, after our restoration. We shall receive these very same spiritual gifts to assist in the new warning work.
Little one becomes a thousand
There are many other passages and verses that speak of a miraculous restoration, after a period of desolation and disciplining. After Israel’s restoration, Isaiah says, “No more will violence be heard in your land … Jehovah must become to you an indefinitely lasting light, and your God your beauty… And as for your people, all of them will be righteous; to time indefinite they will hold possession of the land ... The little one himself will become a thousand, and the small one a mighty nation. I myself, Jehovah, shall speed it up in its own time.”
A remnant collected together
Jehovah said through Jeremiah, “I myself shall collect together the remnant of my sheep out of all the lands to which I had dispersed them, and I will bring them back to their pasture ground, and they will certainly be fruitful and become many. And I will raise up over them shepherds who will actually shepherd them; and they will be afraid no more, neither will they be struck with any terror, and none will be missing,” is the utterance of Jehovah.”
Some may think that simply applies to the restoration of Israel after their Babylonian exile. They would be wrong. ““Look! There are days coming,” is the utterance of Jehovah, “and I will raise up to David a righteous sprout. And a king will certainly reign … In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel itself will reside in security. And this is his name with which he will be called, Jehovah Is Our Righteousness.”” This king, of course, is the Messiah Jesus Christ.
Knowledge of Jehovah fills the earth
Isaiah said “the wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb … and a mere little boy will be leader over them… They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”
And during that time, “in that day”, “there will be the root of Jesse [Jesus Christ] that will be standing up as a signal for the peoples. To him even the nations will turn inquiringly, and his resting-place must become glorious… And he will certainly raise up a signal for the nations and gather the dispersed ones of Israel; and the scattered ones of Judah he will collect together from the four extremities of the earth.”
Nations stream to mountain of Jah
Additionally, during what Jehovah calls “the final part of the days”, he says “the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will certainly be lifted up above the hills; and to it all the nations must stream.”
This is undoubtedly a result of the massive infusion of Jah’s holy spirit into his newly cleansed and restored people. For “many peoples will certainly go and say: “Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.””
This event is the forming of the Great Crowd who will come out of the tribulation. Speaking of these peoples, Isaiah says “he [Jehovah] will certainly render judgment among the nations and set matters straight respecting many peoples. And they will have to beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”
Good news preached
Yes, all of Jehovah’s worshippers will preach that “the end of all things has drawn close” (1 Peter 4:7). Complete with literal miracles, just as in the first century, this work will be the biggest preaching campaign the world has ever seen! Jesus will say at that time, “You must prophesy again with regard to peoples and nations and tongues and many kings” (Revelation 10:11). That is why when Jesus was asked for signs of his presence he said, “…this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come”. For that particular verse will only be fulfilled during his presence, which has not yet commenced. —Matthew 24:14
Angel flies in midheaven
At that time, an “angel flying in midheaven” will have “everlasting good news to declare as glad tidings to those who dwell on the earth”. Under the angelic direction, Jehovah’s revived people will preach to “every nation and tribe and tongue and people”. The message delivered by the Angel is “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived, and so worship the One who made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.” —Revelation 14:6-7
Since the “hour of the judgment by him has arrived” when the angel makes this proclamation, it would be unreasonable to believe that the angel started declaring this back in 1919, as the judgment did not begin 80 years ago. Do not allow the operation of error to fool you, this verse also finds it’s fulfilment in the future!
A chance for all mankind
Those who stopped worshipping Jehovah because of the Watchtower’s errors, or because of personal offence (perhaps even having a ‘chip on your shoulder’ against the organization), or due to gullibly believing lies spread by apostates, or because of any other reason, will have no excuse to not worship the true God Jehovah once again. Indeed, if they do not wish to worship him at this time, it will show the true motivations of their heart. Blaming the Watchtower for supposedly being in the wrong will no longer be an excuse for their inaction.
The miracles performed will present the entire globe with a stark choice: support God’s Kingdom, or support the demonic World Government with the demons in their rebellion against Jehovah. There will be no middle ground. “He that is not on my side is against me, and he that does not gather with me scatters”. —Luke 11:23
During such turbulent times, people’s irrational fear of joining a supposed religious sect, or simple disbelief in God, will not prevent them from taking Jehovah’s side, if they have the right heart condition. Just as the first century miracles performed by the Apostles left all those who disbelieved inexcusable, it will be the same way in the future. For a fact, the world will even witness the resurrection of the anointed to heavenly glory!
The Jews of Jesus day were similarly condemned for their disbelief. They not only saw the Messiah, but they saw him perform amazing miracles, yet they chose to reject him anyway. Because of this, Jesus said they had sinned “against the holy spirit”, which “has no forgiveness forever”. —Mark 3:29
As Jesus said, these ones who will not side with Jehovah and Christ, despite seeing all the miraculous proof of the coming judgment, and hearing the warning from his invigorated preachers, “will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.” —Matthew 25:46
No one will be able to say that isn’t a fair test. ‘DECIDE NOW’ will be the message declared throughout the earth. Are you with Jehovah, or are you not? Those who choose to side with Satan and his disgusting counterfeit world government will truly be without excuse, sinning against the holy spirit of Almighty God.
Now let us take a step back, and consider for a moment exactly what this means.
None of those stumbled by the wicked slaves during the reign of the Watchtower will be killed, simply because they are not active Witnesses. They will be given the opportunity to choose where they stand, along with everyone else.
In fact, the Watchtower Society will be gone – there will be no such thing as an active publisher! Jehovah’s relationship with each individual will count – and none of the false shepherds or wolves in sheep’s clothing will be shown favour, no, for Jesus Christ will have already rejected them (no matter how high up they were in the organization)!
Every human on earth will be given the choice to stand for either Jehovah and his Christ, or for Satan and his world government. No one will be destroyed in mere ignorance. No, for a fact a great crowd of persons will come out of the tribulation: “…look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, … ‘These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’” —Revelation 7:9-10, 14
This crowd will not merely be of persons who were formerly associated with the Watchtower Society, prior to its destruction. No, for it will be just as it was the Israelites came out of Egypt, when “a vast mixed company also went up with them”! —Exodus 12:38
Compare the above plan with the idea that many of our brothers and sisters presently have, that only those associated with the Watchtower Society will triumphantly march into the New World. They imagine we shall be simply sitting on the sidelines while the rest of humanity is incinerated (with Christendom going down first, of course)!
Thankfully, Jehovah’s plan is no where near so simple, or so horribly unfair and unloving to mankind. Everyone who has a right heart condition will survive. The world will be preached to again, everyone will be warned, and everyone will be presented with a stark choice! ‘Are you in, or not?’ Being baptised into the Watchtower Society will not be the sole saving grace for mankind. Spiritual direction will then come directly from Jesus Christ and the 144,000 anointed “kings and priests”. For the Watchtower will have served its purpose in Jehovah’s plan, and will then take its place in the history books.
What an amazing piece of wisdom Jehovah’s plan for the future ‘Time of the End’ really is! The brilliance of it is astounding!
The conclusion of the matter…
Do you remember what God’s friend Abraham asked? We mentioned it at the start of this essay. He asked Jehovah, “Will you really sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” The answer is most certainly NO. Many decades ago, Jehovah, in his infinite wisdom, set in motion a great test for all his servants, an “operation of error”. This plan of his is proceeding exactly as he foresaw. Through it, not one undeserving person will survive into the new world, and the opportunity of everlasting life will be presented to all mankind – including those formerly stumbled out of his worship.
Truly, the words of the psalmist are correct, that Jehovah is not unrighteous. “Perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; Righteous and upright is he.” —Deuteronomy 32:4