Monday, December 20, 2004

A ransom to satisfy the demands of love and justice

We may be familiar with what has been fittingly described as the greatest expression of love ever shown to sinful mankind, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who gave himself as a ransom for us. Both Jehovah and Jesus, who suffered together to prove conclusively their undying devotion and commitment, displayed this incredible love for us, that henceforth we can trust them explicitly. Along with such vital assurance for us though, they also showed an absolute commitment to a voluntarily adopted code of justice, that even Jesus had difficulty coming to terms with, when his hour came to fulfil it. Yes, their love for ‘doing the right thing’ is intimately connected with the love they have for us. It is heartening to realize that this extraordinary love is not just an emotion that may fade or change with time, but a deliberate, wilful, display of their very character – God is love, and so is his Son!

But could there be an even greater expression of love involving us than the one just described? Amazingly, yes! It happened when Jehovah used the Son of his love to bring you into existence, marvellously made in his image, and yet an invention so distinctive, as to require an eternity of reflection and experience to fully discover your unique character, and that of all others made equally special. To give you life as a self-conscious, intriguingly complex person is an act of pure, uncalled-for love, uninformed even by any commitment to do what is right, in short, there is no reason why you should come into being, except for God’s creative love as expressed through Jesus! Without being alive in the first place, the Father’s love and even the ransom would be of no use to you.

So you came into existence, and upon reaching consciousness, it probably didn’t take long for you to suspect that something was amiss with this world and your life in it. Something had gone wrong, but you are not quite sure just what or why. You try to escape from trouble around you, but soon become aware of disturbing flaws within yourself from which you can’t walk away. You trust in your own innocence but it soon lets you down. Are you to take the blame for being what you are when you don’t want to be that way? Hearing the truth that you were born in sin only increases the sense of betrayal and alienation you feel. Why should you suffer the consequences for someone else’s sin, and this not just now and then, but daily, minute by minute? This is profoundly unjust!

Such injustice casts grave doubt on God’s righteousness. Shifting the blame to Adam and Eve, or Satan, while seemingly done to defend him, does in fact add cowardice and irresponsibility to the charges against Jehovah’s character. How could he despise Adam for passing the buck and then do it himself, without incurring the additional charge of hypocrisy? Should God be above the law he gave to his creatures?

Job reprimanded those who felt they had to defend God with fallacious arguments, and Jehovah confirmed the truthfulness of Job’s charge against them: “Will you be treating him with partiality, or for the true God will you contend at law? He will positively reprove you if in secrecy you try to show partiality!” Jehovah was clearly not impressed with people who sycophantically were speaking unrighteousness for God himself, so much so that he got Job to intercede for them, that he might not commit disgraceful folly with them! Job had spoken the truth when he said: ‘Jehovah himself has given, Jehovah himself has taken away, let his name continue to be blessed!’ We had better not join those pious God-botherers and incur his displeasure. Jesus once said: “Stop judging from the outward appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

Jehovah courageously takes full responsibility for everything that happens on his earth. Being almighty, nothing happens without his express permission; the buck stops with him entirely. He himself inspired the principle: “If one knows how to do what is right and yet does not do it, it is a sin for him.” And yet he chose not to create us in perfect innocence like our first parents. How can we trust a God like that? How can he be righteous?

Righteousness is not an abstract and uniform standard, but the result of fair dealing and trust between the parties in a relationship. Thus righteousness is intrinsically individualistic, in an intimate interaction of faith and will between two parties that cannot be objectively judged by outsiders, unless there is a point of reference that all can relate to.

So apart from righteousness based on mutual trust, that is, by faith, it could alternatively be based on Law. Jehovah gave such a Law to the Israelites where justice basically means ‘An eye for an eye,’ and the moral obligation is summed up by “Thou shalt not sin!” But the Law is holy and righteous and just only, if the people placed under it acquired their sinful condition through their own wilful and deliberate action. If not, the One who judges people by Law is thereby transgressing it himself and deserving of its full condemnation, the penalty of death.

Jehovah illustrated this judicial decision in Exodus 21 verses 28 to 31. “If a bull was formerly in the habit of goring and warning was served on its owner but he would not keep it under guard, and it did put a man or a woman to death, the bull is to be stoned and also its owner is to be put to death.” Jehovah clearly knew the murderous intent of Satan, and actually invented the genetic mechanism for passing on sin and death to everyone. He didn’t keep his vicious ‘bull’ under guard and thus became liable for the death of everyone, deserving to be put to death himself!

“If a ransom should be imposed upon him, then he must give the redemption price for his soul according to all that may be imposed upon him.” Notice that the ransom price was to be calculated not according to the value of the person, or persons, to be redeemed, but according to the value of the very soul of the negligent owner of the bull, according to all that may be imposed upon him. And so Jehovah, condemned to death though being immortal, forfeited his claim to sovereignty over the earth. Who could qualify as redemption price for Jehovah’s very own soul? A kind and well-meaning sinless angel?

This is a matter of justice. What would happen in a court of law where a man is condemned to death, and a benevolent stranger walked into the courtroom to offer his live in exchange for the condemned, would the judge accept it? Not likely, since it would not satisfy the claims of justice.

What though if the exact representation of the very being of Jehovah, the one through whom all things and creatures came into existence offered his soul in exchange for Jehovah’s as a corresponding ransom price paid to fulfil the demands of the Law, would that be acceptable? Yes, this would satisfy justice and restore credibility and dignity to both the Law and Jehovah, and in time reconcile all those who through their faith in this ‘ransom price to justice’ declare him to be righteous. Jehovah in turn declares us righteous through our faith in Jesus.

The ransom that Jehovah paid for his soul to redeem mankind from sin establishes, as is written: “That you might be proved righteous in your words and might win when you are being judged.” Yes, he is on trial, and his righteousness is in question primarily, and it is our faith in the ‘substitute for his very own soul’ whom he sacrificed to undo the injustice done to us, that serves as the means to declare him righteous!

This is the point of reference that everybody can relate to, so as to decide for themselves whether God is righteous in dealing with them, that through the historic event of Jesus’ sacrificial death, he has offered his sincere apology for the hurt done, and to provide restitution to undo all injustice suffered, during an eternity of glorious life, to be received by all those willing to believe!

The ransom therefore, while being an expression of love, is also a legal requirement of justice. If Jehovah didn’t provide this sacrifice of his Son, he would be profoundly unrighteous! The Law demands love. Only love satisfies the righteous requirement of the Law, even transcending it. He who doesn’t love is unrighteous.

The Parousia

In the 19th century, second Adventists, in response to Jesus’ admonition to look out for his coming, propagated three types of errors, by predicting the year(s) of his coming, and that he would come in the flesh, and that only the small number of Adventists would be saved, while the whole of mankind gets to be wiped out. Russell set about preaching against those errors only to get caught up in similar misconceptions.

Why, down to this day we maintain that we predicted the appointed time of Christ’s coming in power and kingdom glory in 1914, basing our claim to be appointed over all his belongings on foreknowing this date, contrary to Jesus’ own word: “You do not know when the appointed time is,” and, ‘don’t get taken in by those who are saying,”The due time has approached!”’

Countering the Adventist view that Christ returned for the purpose of saving them and destroying everybody else, Russell unfortunately compounded two sequential aspects of his Parousia, if not reversing their order, namely, the blessing of mankind and the judging. But does the Parousia start with the blessing of the families of the earth through some invisible kingdom, or does Christ come first with striking observableness to destroy the wicked? Adding to the mix-up, the suddenness and unexpectedness of his Parousia, relating to time as it does, gets misinterpreted as ambiguity about his location - might the thief have already arrived in the wilderness? ‘Look, there he is’ – and as well he might be, if his Parousia was indeed to be invisible, secret.

But Jesus warned against such deception. Unexpected does not mean invisible, unnoticed. Constantly keeping on the watch was meant to enhance the expectation of, and readiness for his Parousia, but not to jump the gun on its commencement. Russell rightly realized that the objective of Christ’s Parousia was not to destroy the families of the earth, but to bless them, in fulfilment of the promise to Abraham and as elaborated upon by all the prophets.

But was this Parousia of blessing to take place amongst this wicked, evil world, perhaps to spread slowly through a worldwide Bible educational campaign, to finally reform the whole world? To avoid this misunderstanding, and particularly to warn against the time of ‘freedom from care’ during the coming reign of Satan’s beast over all nations, who will worship it admiringly for blessing mankind in imitation of, and directly preceding Christ’s kingdom, Jesus sternly warned us against this very notion of his own kingdom rule and presence somehow having already begun invisibly. “Many will come on the basis of my name, saying, ‘The due time has approached.’” Similarly, Paul warned us against this concept of Christ’s Parousia being already here, invisibly, as it were, not to be seduced, ‘against our reason’ through an untested inspired expression, which certainly does not originate with God.

So, rather than warning us against his coming and subsequent presence as somehow happening unnoticed and prematurely, he stresses the exact opposite: ‘Do not be misled, do not be terrified, the end is not yet, this is only the beginning of distress’ etc., and that his coming on the clouds in power and glory, which starts off his presence will be like lightning, seen by all the tribes of the earth simultaneously. That way, it will be clearly seen, in a supernatural global display of glory, that it is Christ Jesus who destroys the wicked and then blesses all the survivors of the nations. This Presence will not take place invisibly, to the eye of faith, done in a corner, so to speak. The Greek word Parousia means ‘coming and consequent presence’, not ‘presence’ followed by coming. His arrival was to be unexpected, not his subsequent presence! By over focusing on the ‘ongoing presence’ inherent in the word Parousia, we have lost sight of how it was to begin, namely, with a glorious, miraculous display of Christ coming with power on the clouds of heaven as seen by Peter, James and John in the transfiguration. That, at any rate, is how Peter acquainted us with his coming Parousia, when ‘every eye’ will ‘become eye-witnesses of his magnificence.’ What can our ‘invisible presence-and-subsequent-arrival’ teaching be but artfully contrived false stories that we inherited from Adventists who, intent on covering up their failed prediction of the date of Christ’s return, turning it into an article of faith, declared it to be invisible, revealed only to those in the inner chambers of their superstition?!

And, that Nelson H. Barbour, who denied the ransom, believed in an invisible presence to uplift mankind before a time of judgment, and then succeeded in convincing Russell, against his previously expressed disgust with Adventist date-fixing, to adopt 1914 for Christ’s return, adds little credence to this peculiar, and, more importantly, unscriptural doctrine.

If Jesus’ presence started in 1914 and ‘Presence’ being based on the Greek ‘Parousia’, which according to one dictionary means “Arrival, someone’s coming in order to be present”, Jesus must have come then at the start of his presence, and being present still, and presence being the exact opposite of absence, in order for him to be “coming on the clouds of heaven” in the near future, he has yet to become absent again from his ‘Presence’ – when is that going to be? Or, rather, is there a third coming? Not according to Hebrews 9 verse 28: “And the second time that he appears…” – no third time! Similarly, John 14 verse 3 quotes Jesus himself as saying: “I am coming again…”- not, ‘again and again!’ Back to Hebrews 9 – his second coming to be present would be to those earnestly looking for him for their salvation. When might that be, if not at the end of the great tribulation as it gets cut short to save at least some of the chosen ones?

Similarly, Jesus says in Luke 17 about the great tribulation: “Days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, but you will not see it” – this will be the second and only time Jesus comes back to gather his chosen ones who then will be earnestly looking for him for their salvation. Since Christ’s future coming for the purpose of being present is to be with power and great glory, and remember, this is his second, one and only arrival and return warranted by scripture – how can that be invisible? Invisible magnificence? Invisible glory and splendour and celestial phenomena, beheld by the eye of faith? Since ‘all the tribes of the earth’ lack such spiritual discernment, just what triggers their beating themselves in grief at Christ’s return, unless Jesus means what he says: they literally see him coming in supernatural glory?

Further, if the Parousia of Christ was to be invisible, why liken it to lightning? Invisible lightning? Invisible revelation? Invisible glory? Stop and think about it! The notion of Christ returning ‘in the flesh’ is of course clearly unscriptural, but does that automatically prove that his coming, as the beginning of his Presence (Parousia), is invisible to those dwelling on the earth, as so dogmatically asserted by us? After his resurrection, when Christ appeared to his disciples, was he ‘in the flesh’? No, but nor was he invisible. At his transfiguration, which, by the way was a preview of his arriving for his presence in glory, was he ‘in the flesh’? No, he was transfigured in the spirit. This same glorious display will soon appear before the eyes of the whole world at the start of his Parousia, just as promised.

So, although ‘Invisible Presence’ was used to counter ‘Coming in the flesh’, both concepts are false and misleading. The revelation of Jesus is the public showing at the start of his ongoing presence, as the word Parousia properly signifies. Christ is invisibly present in the spirit prospering his congregation before his Parousia; but to show the uniqueness of the Parousia as being more than just a spiritual presence, it is to be introduced with the revealing of Christ and his Body in glory to the whole world. Christ’s two thousand year invisible, spiritual presence with his chosen ones has never accomplished a peaceful world, nor was it meant to, but his Parousia will soon do so.

Having thus established that every eye will see him at the start of his Parousia, could it be that the destruction of the wicked and subsequent blessing of the righteous would be taking place invisibly, discerned only by those who believe with their eye of faith? Obviously not! Seeing there will be nothing invisible about Christ’s Parousia, calling it ‘invisible presence’ is a lie, a tradition invalidating the word of God that will not go unpunished. Since Christ’s Parousia means unexpected spectacular return for the purpose of rescuing and glorifying his chosen ones to join him in destroying the wicked and blessing the survivors and all those to be resurrected, it becomes evident that the Parousia is the same as the coming millennial kingdom, for which we are hoping, and, yes, with the ‘eye of faith’, for when a man sees a thing, does he hope for it?

So we hope for the coming of the Parousia kingdom precisely because it is yet future, otherwise why pray for its coming? To hope for an already established Parousia is no faith at all, and can only be discerned with the eye of ignorance or superstition! So if Christ started to rule in the midst of his enemies some 90 years ago, how many kings did he break to pieces? How did he ‘execute judgment among the nations, causing a fullness of dead bodies, breaking to pieces the head one (i.e. little horn) over a populous land?’ (Ps. 110) If the last century of world history was a demonstration of Christ’s glorious world rulership of invisible, active presence, who could be blamed for rejecting it – what a misrepresentation of his Parousia!

Similarly, in Revelation 11 when the Parousia starts and ‘the nations become wrathful, his own wrath came to bring to ruin those ruining the earth’ – if this describes what happened in 1914, then the nations have held up splendidly under his wrath, perhaps missing out on their ruin because of not having the ‘eye of faith’ for beholding it?? Maybe this is Paradise and some ten thousands started to rule as kings without us in 1914?? Since Satan is ruling the whole world from the rebellion in Eden onward, who is ruling the world today? And who since 1914? Is Christ sharing rulership over the earth with Satan? Did Christ start ruling over his congregation only since 1914? Was that to be the object of his Parousia? Clearly not!

But didn’t Jesus indicate that his Kingdom-Parousia would start unnoticed, hence maybe ‘invisible’, by “not coming with striking observableness”? Yes, to the people in the first century, the kingdom in its pre-Parousia form, as proclaimed by Jesus and later on by his disciples, even down to our time, did not appear with striking observableness precisely because it was to be received by faith in its future realization at the coming and consequent presence of the ‘Parousia’. This pre-Parousia Kingdom existing in the faith of its believers, and transmitted through the preaching about its future fulfilment goes unnoticed to all outsiders or non-believers even down to our day, because it is in our midst as the word of promise seen only with the eye of faith, ‘invisible’, if you will.

So, isn’t it ironic that in the first century believers were looking for Christ and his kingdom to come with great power, pomp and glory to take over the world – they got it wrong, and many missed out on life! Today, when according to his own word he is coming like lightning on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, strikingly observable indeed, many believers are following a Christ that came invisibly, unnoticed into the inner chambers of their pre-conceived ideas; how tragic their delusion will turn out to be, when this ‘Christ’ blesses mankind to the point of their following him with admiration all the way to “Peace and security”!

What about the days of Noah, then? Wasn’t his Parousia to be like them? Yes, ‘for as they were in those days before the “Parousia”, eating and drinking etc., until the day that the Son of man arrives in order to be present at his Parousia to sweep them all away!’ It ought to be obvious that it was the flood that swept them all away, not the ‘days of Noah’ preceding it. So too it will be the coming at the start of his presence (Parousia) that will destroy the wicked, not the days leading up to it. Jesus’ point wasn’t that the flood was invisibly present in the days of Noah, but that it came with striking observableness, with instant global force and effect, visually experienced simultaneously by everybody, and so the start of his Parousia will be –this being the point of analogy with the days of Noah! It wasn’t the invisible presence of the flood in the days of Noah that the people took no note of, but the preaching about its coming, its being on the way, approaching, moving towards them; that is what should have been of concern to them, not that it would result in an ongoing presence.

And, yes, there is an element of progression in Jesus’ additional statement: “Just as soon as its young branch grows tender and it puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near”, or, according to our twist: ‘…you know that summer has been invisibly present, and autumn is near’; quite a perversion of Jesus’ meaning; we shall see who is right – anyhow, Jesus continues: “Likewise also you, when you see all these things, i.e. ‘nation against nation’ etc. right up to seeing ‘the sign of the Son of man appearing in heaven’, know then, says Jesus, that he is NEAR, at the doors, yes, coming, on the way, moving toward, but not yet present; or, as Luke puts it: “Know that the kingdom of God is NEAR”, not ‘invisibly established some 9 decades ago’ – what a lie!

Thus, according to Jesus’ own words, immediately after the end of the great tribulation when we will see him coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, he will be near, approaching, arriving for his long promised subsequent and ongoing presence, as signified by the much misinterpreted Greek word Parousia.

Isaiah aptly prophesied about Jehovah’s modern Witnesses in chapter 30:

“… it is a rebellious people, untruthful sons, who have said to the ones seeing, ‘you must not see, you must not envision for us any straightforward things. Speak to us smooth things; envision deceptive things.” “Therefore”, says Jehovah, “since you trust in what is devious and you support yourselves on it, for you this ‘1914/invisible presence’ error will become like a broken section about to fall down, a swelling out in a highly raised wall, the breakdown of which may come suddenly, in an instant. And one will certainly break it as in the breaking of a large jar of the potters, crushed to pieces without one’s sparing it, so that there cannot be found among its crushed pieces a fragment of earthenware with which to rake fire from the fireplace or to skim water from a marshy place.”

Jesus’ disciples asked him for the sign of his Parousia, and he told them precisely and clearly that immediately after the end of the great tribulation the sign (v.30) of the start of his Parousia would appear in heaven. But how could all the tribes of the earth actually see Jesus coming on the clouds of heaven? Ever heard of miracles? Might it not be fitting to introduce Christ’s long awaited and much misrepresented Parousia with a spectacular, miraculous display of awe-inspiring power and glory, coming on the clouds of heaven with all his holy angels in a flaming fire, to glorify and reveal his brothers as Sons of God in connection with himself, just as all the scriptures so graphically describe? If at the giving of the Law ‘the display of a dark cloud and a tempest and the blare of a trumpet and the voice of words was unbearable and even Moses was fearful and trembling, how much more glorious Christ’s coming at the start of his Parousia will be!

Satan and his demons, of course, hate the coming public revelation of Jesus, preferring to have it swept under the carpet of invisibility, or disguised as some random, cosmic cataclysm brought on by aliens. No wonder, then, that Christ’s Parousia will be preceded by the unmistakable Sign of the Son of man, and will be recognized as such by all.

In the ‘Insight’ book we state under ‘Presence’: “While Jesus’ presence of necessity implies his arrival at the place where he is to be present, the translation of Parousia by ‘coming’ places all the emphasis on the arrival and obscures the subsequent presence that follows the arrival.” True enough. But doesn’t the translation as ‘presence’ obscure the necessary and prior meaning of coming, arrival? Further, isn’t it rather obvious that absolutely no one comes, or arrives, except for the purpose of being present, no matter how long such Parousia might be, or what it might accomplish?

Do we really think that the vast majority of Bible translators are ignorant of the fact that ‘Parousia denotes both an arrival and a consequent presence with’? Why, then, do they choose to use ‘coming’ instead of ‘presence’? Because that is precisely how any Parousia starts, whereas a presence cannot be followed by the arrival of the person so present unless first he becomes absent again, and his next presence, just as his first, is preceded by his arrival or coming. No person present, without becoming absent again from his presence, can become present again, unless he first ‘comes’ again. Only through Watchtower-doublethink can we comprehend the future coming of one being ‘actively present’! By using ‘presence’ and disregarding the coming that was to precede it, we have painted ourselves into this spiritual corner of having to explain away his future glorious coming, while searching for accomplishments of his century long invisible presence, which are embarrassingly thin on the ground.

We are walking not by faith, nor by sight, but backwards by means of our spiritual rear vision mirrors off into ‘cloud cuckoo land’, the invisible presence of a future reality; the invisible presence of active absence! The kingdom of God had overtaken the Pharisees of the first century; not wanting to be beaten this time, we started overtaking the kingdom of God!

Further, the ‘Insight’ book gives this useful description of the Parousia: “…Christ’s presence is the time for him to direct his full attention to the whole earth and its population, bringing the full force of his kingly power to bear so as to accomplish his father’s will for the earth and its inhabitants.” Right! If for the last century, since 1914, we have experienced the “Full force of his kingly power” over the “whole earth”, and the resulting mayhem has been the “father’s will for the earth and its inhabitants”, the kingdom of God is really a cruel joke. And if I were God, I would be furious at being so blasphemously misrepresented!

This intellectual dishonesty must of necessity be a reflection of the spiritual duplicity of a dominant section of the Watchtower leadership. Will they be able to resist joining the dawning global kingdom of world-improvers of the synagogue of Satan, as he hands over his power to this beast to have authority over every nation on earth who will follow it admiringly?

As alluded to above, Luke chapter 17 from verse 20 on is a much misunderstood and misquoted scripture, but one that is vital in understanding the Parousia. Notice that Jesus directly contradicts his statements from verses 20,21 in his next sentence, verses 22-24, namely: “…neither will people be saying, ‘See here!’ or, ‘There!’”

contradicted in verse 23 by: “…people will say to you, ‘See there!’ or, ‘See here!’”

Similarly, the saying of verse 20: “The kingdom of God is not coming with striking observableness” is contradicted in verse 24, where the kingdom-Parousia of the Son of man will be just “as the lightning, by its flashing, shines from one part under heaven to another part under heaven” -- Strikingly observable indeed! How can we account for this obvious contradiction by Jesus? True, one set of sayings were spoken to the Pharisees and the opposite was meant for his disciples, but this is only incidental to the real reason for Jesus’ contradiction, in that it would be his disciples who would be affected when those future “Days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of man but you will not see it.” These future days are obviously just before Jesus comes back for his Parousia to rescue them. By means of this obvious and deliberate contradiction Jesus contrasts the difference between his presence then and his future Parousia consisting of coming and subsequent presence!

So by saying the kingdom of God is not coming with striking observableness in our time, as we do, we have totally missed the point Jesus made about his future Parousia. His first coming was indeed to be quiet and to those willing to put faith in him, and to give a sample through his miracles of what would happen during his future Parousia. He also came to suffer and to start the kingdom over his brothers who would be called right up to his second coming. All this would happen unnoticed to the world, and could only be appropriated by faith – but not so with his second coming for his Parousia, which was to be the realization of faith, the thing hoped for!

The kingdom of God is indeed coming with striking observableness, with power and great glory, yes, it is coming, on the way, moving toward us now before it becomes present; and this is the thrust of Jesus’ sayings and the object of our faith! It takes a lot of holy spirit to disambiguate Jesus’ sayings, which then turn into powerful weapons for overturning strongly entrenched things, reasonings and lofty things raised up against the knowledge of God.

In second Thessalonians Paul gives us an inspired insight into how he understood the Parousia and when it would start. Commenting on the very end of the great tribulation after which Jesus comes from heaven with his powerful angels at his revelation to save and glorify his holy ones, he then uses the word Parousia (ch.2: 1) for the event just described, thus equating the start of the Parousia with his revelation. Then he specifies the coming of the apostasy to be just prior to the start of his Parousia, and in connection with the revelation of the one “set in opposition” to Christ, i.e. the ‘anti-Christ’ or man of lawlessness. “The Parousia…will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed.”

So where are we today? Christ is indeed invisibly present in the spirit today and has been so for the past 2000years, but that has got nothing to do with his Parousia, for which we keep on hoping until it arrives. True Christians wait, not for the kingdom that will soon bring about a ‘righteous new world society’ as presently advertised by Jehovah’s Witnesses, but the one that comes afterwards to destroy it, led by Jesus Christ coming on the clouds of heaven with all his angels in power and glory in a flaming fire, as he brings vengeance upon those who did not accept the love of the truth, but believed the lie!

The last trumpet – When?

Looking at the text in first Thessalonians four, starting with verse fifteen, it is evident that the expression “survive to the presence of the Lord” means to reach its very beginning, descriptively termed the ‘coming’ or ‘arrival;’ hence, rendering the content of this expression as “survive to the coming of the Lord” as the starting point of the Parousia, is more meaningful and true to the original Greek, because a Parousia by definition is necessarily brought about by the coming of the person to be present.

Furthermore, it is clearly implied that a person who “survives to” the very point of coming of the one to be present, does not have to continue surviving during the ongoing presence that follows its start. All such hardships and trying conditions would cease having relevance for those who survived such up to and until the exact point of arrival of the one to be present. Since the coming of Jesus will be with “God’s trumpet” and for the express purpose of ‘catching away’ the survivors, it becomes evident that no holy ones will be on hand, after the momentary arrival of Jesus, to continue living on earth during his ongoing presence. Hence, the holy ones alive today have yet to “survive to the [coming and consequent] presence of the Lord” which, according to his very own word occurs “immediately after the [great] tribulation,” when he will be “coming on the clouds of heaven…with a great trumpet sound” to “gather his chosen ones together” to “meet the Lord in the air.”

What, though, about those who don’t survive to his coming, who have already fallen asleep in death, are they forgotten? Those who survive to his coming certainly seem to have an advantage by not even needing a resurrection! To address this seeming disadvantage, Paul explains that the living who survive to the coming of the Lord shall in no way precede ‘those who have fallen asleep in death.’ But precede them to what? Obviously to being caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air when he arrives on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Does that mean then, that ‘those who have fallen asleep in death’ will precede those who survive, by meeting the Lord in the air prior to them? They certainly will “rise first.” But “rise” to what? To meet the Lord in the air without us, the surviving ones? No, they have to “rise first” from the dead and join “the living” by means of resurrection before they can, “together with” those “who survive,” get “caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”

How long might this resurrection take? In first Corinthians 15 verse 51, Paul tells us that this resurrection takes only a split-second, at, or, during which, the last trumpet is blown. At this very moment something spectacular happens, in that along with those asleep in death, who are brought back to life, there occurs also the change into glorious spirit beings of those who are surviving, all together being glorified and revealed along with Jesus before the whole world of onlookers. Clearly, the interval between the ‘rising of the dead’ and the ‘changing’ of the survivors is the length of “the twinkling of an eye,” because those “who are surviving will, together with them, [Greek “at the same time with them”] be caught away to meet the Lord in the air.”

Evidently, no group will precede the other in reaching heaven first. Not all will fall asleep in death, not all will survive, but all shall be changed simultaneously, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet, when Jesus comes on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory!

This sacred secret has thus far been hidden from the organization who has Jesus coming in 1914 for the second time, and then again in 1919 for the third time to resurrect approximately 40000 anointed ones to heaven to start ruling without the rest, followed by a whole century during which another 80000 or so get changed at their natural death, followed by his fourth coming some time soon, to change the remaining 8000 odd anointed, unless, of course, they also live out their natural live-span during the millennial reign - all this makes Jehovah look very disorganized indeed! What if he decides to turn the reproach we have heaped on him back on us? The truth is so simple and beautiful, until those wanting to read their preconceived ideas into it, set about turning it into a tangled mess.

The story of Jonah

Over the decades we have come to know Jonah as a character that does not quite fit the picture of a courageous and loyal prophet of Jehovah, zealously and joyfully pursuing his assignment. He seems to be a bit of a loser that picks up his bat and walks off if things don’t turn out his way. What a ‘warning example for us’ of someone who doesn’t appreciate his privilege of preaching the life-saving message, and then, to make matters worse, seemingly indulges himself in a holiday cruise, in total disregard for Jehovah’s orders.

Was he just spiritually weak, not trusting in Jehovah to back him up? Was he afraid of what the fierce Assyrians might do to him? But if he really was such a fearful, reluctant, selfish coward that didn’t know his God and rebelled against serving him, why then does Jesus use him as a sign against his own generation? What is the sign of Jonah? After years of Jonah-bashing by the Watchtower, lets see how well we really know him, and what we can learn from him.

First of all, was he really a coward, afraid of death at the hand of the Assyrians? Why then did he volunteer to be thrown overboard? When hardened sailors cried for help, scared for their lives, how can Jonah take a nap? Why did he offer to die at Jehovah’s hand rather than see the survival of the Assyrians? Why did he not pack up and go home after his successful preaching campaign instead of sitting in the sun outside the city, suffering for days in the sweltering heat? Clearly, he was scared of neither suffering nor death! Was he just spiritually weak, not knowing Jehovah very well? Why did he run away?

If Jehovah sent you on a missionary trip to a distant country, and on the first day you succeed in starting 120000 bible studies with repentant householders, would you start arguing with Jehovah, even to the point of your own death? What is going on here? Jonah’s intimate and detailed knowledge of Jehovah’s character in showing mercy and forgiveness is at the very heart of his quite deliberate and calculated disobedience to his commission. How so?

He profoundly disagrees with how Jehovah proposes to use his mercy and toward whom he plans to exercise it. There is also an issue of justice involved here, and Jonah had yet to see the bigger picture of its application. Is it just, to give special treatment to a small minority if it works to the detriment of the majority? Is God’s mercy to be limited to his people that are arbitrarily chosen to the exclusion of all others? Jonah apparently thought so, as do many people today. Jonah must have been familiar with the history of Sodom, Gomorrah and other pagan cities that Jehovah destroyed without first dispatching one of his prophets to warn them.

This must have struck Jonah as odd; his own rebellious people were in need of mercy and forgiveness, and Jehovah, being in a good mood, sends him to minister to his enemies, the Assyrians! Being fiercely patriotic and nationalistic, Jonah perceived a clash of loyalties between Israel and Jehovah in his mission to the Assyrians, and promptly and boldly took a stand for his people and against Jehovah. He must have reasoned: ‘If Jehovah wants to take a hard line against the Ninevites, he would not send me to warn them first, hence he must be wanting to use me as an accomplice in his relenting and showing mercy to them; but only over my dead body! I’m off! I will not have Jehovah squander his mercy and blessing on his enemies, that pagan mob of Assyrians, while millions of his own people are in need of revival and forgiveness, and to have their hearts turned back to him, even though I have been unable to accomplish this.’

This is Jonah’s worst nightmare, and his God was determined to bring it about. Jehovah was in a covenant relationship with Israel, not the Assyrians! Jonah correctly foresaw the outcome of his preaching trip, though he may have been surprised at the speed and extent of his success. Hot with anger, and in prayer to Jehovah, he informs us about his reason for refusing his assignment: “Ah, now, O Jehovah, was not this an affair of mine, while I happened to be on my own ground? That is why I went ahead and ran away to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness, and feeling regret over the calamity.”

Jonah, like many today, failed to understand the reason and purpose of God’s choosing, imagining it to be for them to get saved, while those not chosen are damned. But Jehovah purposed for those chosen to become a blessing to all those not chosen, and this role Jonah was reluctant to fulfil. The God who made Israel also made Assyria, and according to what transpired in Nineveh, he might have been more justified in choosing Assyria as his people than Israel. God’s people are no better or more deserving than the world, hence only those that respond to his mercy and repent are really his People, and this is the sign of Jonah.

He saved 120000 souls in one day among God’s enemies, because they believed what Jonah preached, but the Son of man, who is far greater than Jonah, preaching among Jehovah’s witnesses for three odd years, averaged only about 120 followers. Men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment and condemn the generation of first century Jehovah’s witnesses; what will they say to us? Jehovah’s witnesses in Jonah’s time were all through their lives slaving under the strictures of the Law, while the Ninevites lived an indulgent live, repenting only 40 days before the day of judgment and were spared, while only a remnant of God’s people survived the day of Jehovah. In the future time of trouble we may be called upon to deliver a final message of judgment to the world. What may be the result? What may be our response? Have we learned Jonah’s lesson?

God’s righteousness revealed

With the exercise of free will comes accountability and hence, culpability for any and all consequences such choices may lead to, especially as affecting others. This is a matter of moral responsibility, one that applies with even greater force to the originator of such ethical thinking, the Almighty himself.

Unlike humans, he is not limited in foreseeing even the most far reaching and minute consequences of his choices, be they acts of commission or omission, thus making his personal accountability infinite, in direct proportion to his foresight. His liability is as extensive as his might, as implied in his title The Allmighty!

He originated and committed himself to this code of ethical thinking, planting it deep also in our hearts. Satan is interested in obscuring this sense of justice, trying to invalidate the sacrifice of Jesus, by challenging the legal necessity for his death. Even the disciples of Jesus were slow to grasp that the Law of Moses made “it necessary for the Christ to suffer,” to become sin for us and to face its ultimate consequence, to be totally forsaken by his father, to experience the full wrath of God. (Lu.24:25, 26, 44; Mat.27:46)

Satan’s system tries to misrepresent God’s love as vain sentimentality, as if he can’t help himself indulging in this feel-good, unconditional, ego-pampering love that exists even between criminals, and that does not base itself on righteousness.

Along with this twisted sense of love comes a distortion of justice, fueled by pride, whereby people are lead to believe that it is perfectly just to suffer the consequences of Adam’s sin in their own bodies, thus assuming responsibility for the transgression of Adam. Now, we all suffer the consequences of Adam’s sin, but it is entirely an exercise of free will to give consent to this travesty of justice. Paul certainly disowned the inherited sin within him, recognizing it as, and blaming it for hijacking his so-called free will. Whose responsibility was it to rescue Paul from this injustice? Nobody but the very one who subjected him to this futility, even Jehovah God himself by revealing his righteousness, through the sacrifice of his son Jesus, appropriated through faith by Paul. Where, then, is the boasting? All glory to God! (Ro.7:14-20)

Those who are happy with suffering the consequences of inherited sin, this heritage of sin, are also likely pleased with sin itself and its temporary enjoyment and pride that it engenders – such people have no use for Christ to suffer for them, they are perfectly content to do so themselves. In fact, they are quite offended that someone should infringe on their free will and personal accountability by offering to carry this sin for them. Such ransom-deniers are seeking to establish their own righteousness, thereby invalidating God’s righteousness through the faith in Jesus Christ, promised before the founding of the world.

The Seventy Weeks

This prophecy has been much misunderstood because it comes in two stages and deals exclusively with God’s people. “There are seventy weeks that have been determined upon your people and upon your holy city, in order to terminate the transgression, and to finish of sin, and to make atonement for error, and to bring in righteousness for times indefinite, and to imprint a seal upon vision and prophet, and to anoint the Holy of Holies.” Please note, that although Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, and this passage deals with the Messiah, the context limits the application of the seventy weeks that have been determined, to deal exclusively with the transgression of the holy people and the holy city.

There were to be 69 weeks of years to the Messiah’s cutting off with nothing for himself, that is, without receiving the kingdom and without accomplishing the task set for the seventy weeks, namely, to finish off sin and to terminate the transgression of his people. This was to be accomplished at the end of the remaining week, the seventieth week. When does the seventieth week of seven years start? We do not know directly, not yet, at least, but we do know precisely when we will be half way through the seven years of trouble.

But first back to verse 26: “And after the sixty-two (69) weeks Messiah will be cut off, with nothing for himself.” Notice, Jesus was to be cut off after 62 (69) weeks, not 62 ½ weeks as we say! Verse 26 continues: “And the city and the holy place the people of a leader that is coming will bring to their ruin.” The city is Jehovah’s visible organization, and the leader that is coming with his people to destroy it, is the modern-day Assyrian, the antichrist! Verse 26 continues: “And the end of it will be by the flood.” This is the “overflowing flash flood” of Isaiah 28:18,19, of which we keep saying, “in case it should pass through, will not come to us!” Verse 26 continues: “And until the end there will be war; what is decided upon is desolations.”

Yes, the “leader that is coming” will make “war upon the holy ones, prevailing against them” “until the end!” The “disgusting thing,” the U.N.- beast, will indeed be “causing desolation” to Jehovah’s “holy city” and thus the objective of the seventy weeks will be accomplished, namely, “to terminate the transgression and to finish off sin, and to make atonement for error!” Verse 27 continues: “And he must keep [the] covenant in force for the many for one week; and at the half of the week he will cause sacrifice and gift offering to cease.” Was the Abrahamic, or new covenant kept in force for the Jews for only seven years? No, that “covenant is in force for the many” even today. Hence a different covenant is meant here. Was Christ cut off at the half of the sixty-third week, as we say? No, he was cut off at the end of the 62nd. Week! And who is “he” who keeps the covenant in force? Messiah was cut off in verse 26, then “a leader that is coming” is introduced;

Hence it is the antichrist that will conclude and “keep in force [a] covenant with the many” of “your (Daniel’s) people” for the remaining week of seven years yet to come, thus causing “the transgression!” But who “will cause sacrifice and gift offering to cease?” Chapter 11:31 provides the clue, talking about the “king of the north,” it says: “And there will be arms that will stand up, proceeding from him; and they will actually profane the sanctuary, the fortress, and remove the constant [feature]. And they will certainly put in place the disgusting thing that is causing desolation.” What is the “constant [feature] ” here, if not the “sacrifice and gift offering” of chapter 9:27? And it is caused “to cease” by being “removed!”

Verse 27 continues (the step in the verse here is arbitrary): “And upon the wing of disgusting things there will be the one causing desolation;” – Clearly, the “leader that is coming,” the “one causing desolation” who is “upon the wing of disgusting things,” is the one that “will cause sacrifice and gift offering to cease!” This “leader” is described in his various forms as the “little horn,” the “king of the north,” and the “antichrist” among others. And since he enters into a covenant with “the many” of God’s people for seven years, at the half of which his “arms” place him into “the holy place,” it becomes evident that there is a period of 3 ½ years preceding the start of the Great tribulation! The whole focus of chapter 9 verses 24 to 27 is on the destruction of Jerusalem and the events leading up to it. Hence it has got nothing whatsoever to do with Christ’s sacrifice for mankind, or the 3½ years of special privilege for the Jews, as we suppose! It does however provide a time frame for the appearing and cutting off of the Messiah in the first century, followed by an as yet undeterminable interval, followed by two consecutive 3 ½ year periods, at the end of which the Messiah would appear for his Parousia.

Does that mean that we can calculate the time of Christ’s arrival? Yes, but only if we can discern the start of the covenant with the antichrist, and, more importantly, the standing of the disgusting thing in a holy place, and then we still don’t know the ‘day and the hour,’ but we are not in the dark and deluded as the rest of the world!

What other indications are there in scripture that show such a future covenant between God’s people and the antichrist? This seems outrageous! Isaiah prophesises for our day in 8:11, saying: “This is what Jehovah has said to me with strongness of the hand, that he may make me turn aside from walking in the way of this people, saying: ‘You men must not say, ‘A conspiracy!’ (Heb. confederacy) respecting all that of which this people keep saying ‘A conspiracy!’ and the object of their fear you men must not fear, nor must you tremble at it. Jehovah of armies – he is the One whom you should treat as holy, and he should be the object of your fear, and he should be the One causing you to tremble.”

So it seems that fear of the U.N.- beast will be a factor in making an agreement with it. Further, in chapter 10 verse 20 we are told that “those remaining over of Israel and those who have escaped of the house of Jacob will never again support themselves upon the one striking them, and they will certainly support themselves upon Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, in trueness.” That we will “never again” support ourselves upon the modern-day Assyrian implies that we will yet conclude a covenant with the New-world-order-beast in the near future, alas! Yes, this is speaking about us, who are supporting ourselves upon Jehovah; only, we have yet to do so “in trueness!”

This future arrangement with the antichrist is referred to in Daniel 8:13 as “the transgression causing desolation,” on account of which the ‘army’ of holy ones will be given over to be trampled on. Moreover, in Daniel 11:23, the “little nation” of God’s people are “allying themselves with” the coming king of the north, who will use them to carry on his deception and become mighty be means of associating himself with them! So apart from the motive of fear there is also the enticement of sharing in the glory of this new world order to come!

In Isaiah 28:15 we hear the “rulers of this people” brag: “We have concluded a covenant with Death (the deadly U.N.- dictatorship); the overflowing flash flood, in case it should pass through, will not come to us!” Makes one wonder how come the Watchtower is so sure that, “The coming destruction will be fear inspiring for faithful Christians watching from the sidelines.” (WT.2.1.04, 21; 14) Might they already know more than we do?

In summary, at some future time, when Satan gets thrown out of heaven, and hands his authority over all the nations to the New world order, (and they receive his kingdom for an ‘act of worship,’ such as Jesus refused, Mat.4: 8,9) the leaders of God’s people will make a covenant with them, starting off the last seven years of this system. At this point also all the world’s religions will climb on the back of this beast to control it. During the first 3 ½ years of ‘pre-Great tribulation,’ there will be persecution of the faithful ones as they preach the good news of the coming kingdom of God to all nations, as well as the doom of false religion, while their brothers who have joined the beast will betray them and drag them before the courts.

Then comes the Great tribulation on all religion conflicting with the worship of the beast, which will go on for another 3 ½ years, after which Jesus comes on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory to start his Parousia by rescuing his chosen ones from being wiped out completely, glorifying them together with himself. He will force the whole apostate leadership of the New world order, the beast, to “come and do obeisance before [the] feet,” of his glorified chosen ones who will then join with Jesus to destroy this apostate man of lawlessness! This destruction of the beast along with its worshipers by the glorified Sons of God will be a spectacular show of fire, hail, lightning and earthquakes, as nation turns against nation, that will make even the best Hollywood production look like a pre-historic rock painting, as all the glorious angels on fiery steeds with drawn swords join in the mayhem of battle, before the eyes of tens of millions of onlookers who did not receive the mark of the beast, as they witness the wrath of the lamb!

Great Tribulation – upon whom?

Will the Great tribulation be on the world at large, on apostate Christianity, or on the chosen ones? The answer to this question will prepare us for what to expect in the chaos just ahead of us. As we know, immediately after the Great tribulation, Jesus will arrive to destroy the multinational beast and its worshipers, who have received its mark.

This beast is religio-political in nature, that is, both a political empire dominating the whole world, as well as a religious cult, a globalist new world ideology, that will be worshiped by all. Such a religio-political beast is nothing new, just think of Nazism; was it a political world power, or a religious cult, demanding worship? Evidently both! Hence, at a certain point in time, Satan himself will in a special and unprecedented way give to this beast his power and his throne and great authority over every nation, at which point it will demand to be worshipped, enticing, and later on forcing all people to change their religion, because it will turn against all other forms of worship that have ‘divided mankind’ and caused so much bloodshed.

To be an effective replacement for all religions it will perform powerful works and lying signs and portents. Most ‘Christians’ and others will easily be fooled into joining this new cult, receiving its mark, and thinking that this must be the very kingdom of God. The tiny minority of those who don’t worship it will be persecuted. This is the Great tribulation, and it will be on all religious folk who cling to their particular form of worship in defiance of the beast, while the world of beast-worshippers at large will be prospering under their new world order, similar to the way Nazism blessed its followers.

Members of fundamentalist ‘prosperity religions’ will be sorely tempted to join in. Jesus informed us that the Great tribulation starts with the standing of the disgusting thing in a holy place. Is this beast disgusting? Is its being worshiped worldwide the ‘standing in a holy place?’ Will it cause desolation to all other religions, including Jehovah’s witnesses? Evidently so. But this beast must have been empowered by Satan some time before it stands in a holy place. When might that happen? We will see. The bible shows elsewhere that this Great tribulation on those who refuse to worship the beast will be about three and a half years long.

Turning to Mark 13 now, we are able to find a description of this period of Great tribulation in verses 14 to 20, which read:

“However, when you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation standing where it ought not (let the reader use discernment), then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains. Let the man on the housetop not come down, nor go inside to take anything out of his house; and let the man in the field not return to the things behind to pick up his outer garment. Woe to the pregnant women and those suckling a baby in those days! Keep praying that it may not occur in wintertime; for those days will be [days of] a tribulation such as has not occurred from [the] beginning of the creation which God created until that time, and will not occur again. In fact, unless Jehovah had cut short the days, no flesh would be saved. But on account of the chosen ones whom he has chosen he has cut short the days.”

This is what will transpire during the three and a half years of Great tribulation down to verse 20; now, verse 21 continues: “Then, too, if anyone says to you, ‘See! Here is the Christ,’ ‘See! There he is,’ do not believe [it].” This means, first of all, that the developments of verses 21 to 23 are part of what occurs during the Great tribulation.

But when,too,” that is, which other period outside of the 3½-year Great tribulation period will “false Christs and false prophets” arise “to lead astray, if possible, the chosen ones?” Since this cannot happen after Jesus comes on the clouds of heaven, and it happens already during the Great tribulation, there must be another period of time before the Great tribulation, when ‘false Christs’ would try to ‘mislead the chosen ones.’ This ‘pre-Great tribulation period’ is introduced in verses 5 to 7 where we read: “So Jesus started to say to them: ‘Look out that nobody misleads you. Many will come on the basis of my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and will mislead many. Moreover, when you hear of wars and reports of wars, do not be terrified; [these things] must take place, but the end is not yet.” So ‘this pre-Great tribulation’ period will be marked by scattered wars in diverse places, but Jesus hastens to add, in verse 8, that this is not the total warfare of “nation against nation!”

This, according to the parallel in Luke 21 verses 10 to 12 happens immediately after the Great tribulation when the Son of man comes! How so? Luke explains:

“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against; and there will be great earthquakes, and in one place after another pestilences and food shortages; and there will be fearful sights and from heaven great signs. But before all these things people will lay their hands upon you and persecute you, etc.”

What has to happen beforenation rises against nation?’ All the events of verses 12 to 19, and the Great tribulation from verse 20 to 24. Back to Mark 13. Having just established that verse 8 is to be fulfilled immediately after the Great tribulation, we continue to read verses 9 to 13 to see what is to happen in the ‘pre-Great tribulation’ period: “As for you, look out for yourselves; people will deliver you up to local courts, and you will be beaten in synagogues and be put on the stand before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them. Also, in all the nations the good news has to be preached first. (Clearly, this ‘pre-Great tribulation’ period, whatever its first century application, must have its major fulfilment in our time when the good news will be preached in all the nations!) But when they are leading you along to deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand about what to speak; but whatever is given you in that hour, speak this, for you are not the ones speaking, but the holy spirit is. Furthermore, brother will deliver brother over to death, and a father a child, and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death; and you will be objects of hatred by all people on account of my name. But he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.”

Then, in verse 14 the Great tribulation is introduced, clearly marked off with: “However, when you catch sight of the disgusting thing…” Let’s see how the developments in the ‘pre-Great tribulation’ period differ from what is to happen during the 3½ years of the Great tribulation. In the ‘pre-Great tribulation’ the good news will be preached in all the nations first, before the Great tribulation comes, at which time we will flee to the “mountains”, the “wilderness;” no preaching there! The worldwide preaching work has to happen before the disgusting thing stands in a holy place, as it will be impossible to preach when it turns on religion, including Christianity during the Great tribulation, when we have to go into hiding to survive. (The prophesying of the two witnesses during the Great tribulation will not be the good news, but the message of doom that torments the beast-worshippers.) Clearly the element of fleeing is absent during the ‘pre-Great tribulation,’ and although we will be objects of hatred by all the nations, referred to by Matthew as “tribulation,” it is unlike the “Great tribulation” such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning. Also, the element of ‘cutting short’ is absent from the ‘pre-Great tribulation;’ it will be endurable.

This clear demarcation between ‘a pre-Great tribulation period’ and the Great tribulation can be seen in all three Gospels as follows:

  • Pre-Great tribulation period: Mat. 24:4-6, 9-14 Mk.13: 5-7,9-14 Lu.21: 8,9,12-19

  • Great tribulation: Mat. 24:15-28 Mk.13:14-20 Lu.21:20-24

Since the witnessing work has got to be done in the ‘pre-Great tribulation’ period, we can expect an outpouring of Holy Spirit at its start, as predicted by Joel. So, too, Daniel 11 verses 32 to 35 will happen in this ‘pre-Great tribulation’ period, the whitening, the refining work and the cleansing, until the time of the end, the start of the Great tribulation. But how long will this ‘pre-Great tribulation’ period be? Daniel 9 gives us revealing insights, starting in verse 24

Part 2 – The Seventy Weeks

Who are the “Gifts in men?”

According to the ‘governing body,’ the answer is at once simple and emphatic: The ‘spirit appointed elders’. Can this claim though be biblically substantiated? “One body there is,” says Paul in Ephesians 4, “and one hope,” namely the heavenly, to which all of those addressed here belong, and to “each one of us” the undeserved kindness of being a ‘gift in man’ was given according to how the Christ measured out the free gift. So the ‘gifts in men’ are sourced only from the members of the body of Christ. In fact, each and every member of the Christ is such a gift to men, not by official appointment from their peers, but by virtue of their receiving this individual gift of service to the body at large, through their anointing held in common with all.

The purpose of constituting each and every member a unique gift was with a view to the readjustment of the holy ones, for the building up of the body of the Christ, so that from him as the head, all the body being harmoniously joined together and made to cooperate through every joint that gives what is needed, according to the functioning and gift of each respective member in due measure, make for the growth of the body, for the building up of itself in love.

Just as the expression “some as shepherds and teachers” precludes all from being such, so “some as evangelisers” of necessity implies that not all are evangelisers, but that all such functions are by the Holy spirit, working as a unique ‘gift’ in them, which then also may be officially recognized by the body at large.

Since Christ’s body is synonymous with the congregation, there are at present only about 8000 members left of the Christian congregation. In the first century, when there were whole “congregations of the holy ones” everywhere, the functioning of the body, as represented in each local ‘congregation,’ was made possible as such through the assembling of its many members, as was their custom, and as enjoined by Paul. Did they get a written outline for their meetings from the ‘governing body’ back then? Or did they instead rely on Christ’s Spirit in them, so that when they came together, one had a psalm, another had a teaching, another had a revelation, another had an interpretation, for the upbuilding of all? Just where on earth can such meetings be found today?

So the children of God have in most places no contact with each other at all, cannot ‘consider one another to incite to love and fine works’ and are solely relying on the head to supply the growth that God gives through his spirit. Adding to the dilemma, in the local ‘congregation’ of non-members of Christ’s body, elders who are sourced from such, have been ‘appointed’ over them to shepherd them – how can that be? Is the body of the Christ to be readjusted and build up by people who don’t belong to it, as is happening today among ‘Jehovah’s witnesses?’ Shall we then “take the members of the Christ” and join them to another body of non-members to have control over us?

Through its ‘theocratic’ policies, the ‘governing body’ has in effect appointed spiritual “strangers” and “foreigners” over “the priests of Jehovah,” when such were supposed to be looking after our flocks and dress our vines! What an astonishing situation has been brought to be in the midst of all the spiritual land of Jehovah! Remember, according to Paul, the body was to “build up itself “ through the ‘gifts in men’ of “each respective member,” male and female, old and young.

Further, “one body there is,” the body of Christ, and it cannot be that a small part of it is separated off into forming another body, called ‘governing body,’ because Christ’s body is governed by its head alone, which is none other but Christ himself! So for the ‘Governing body’ to come back under the headship of Jesus, it has to reintegrate itself with the one and only body of Christ’s anointed disciples that he is exclusively dealing with today, the members of which are known, and whose function as slaves of Christ is to provide spiritual food at the proper time to the collective household of faith; and to encourage and facilitate such functioning of all the anointed is the obligation of ‘those who seem to be something,’ the ‘governing body,’ if you will.

The distributing of spiritual food to the household of the Lord was not to be the special prerogative of a self-appointed ‘governing body,’ arrogating to itself a virtual monopoly as it were, but to be shared in by all who are of the slave class; the unmediated and sovereign anointing from Jehovah surpasses any appointment from men, though such be based on qualifications received under inspiration.

As pointed out by the Watchtower, when Peter received counsel from Paul, he received food at the proper time from him as a faithful fellow slave, and when he wrote his letter to the scattered chosen ones he distributed food at the proper time to the household of faith; who appointed who over whom? But this interchange of feeding is just not happening today because of the hierarchical position and functioning of the ‘governing body’ as it has isolated itself from the body of Christ, pursuing a corporate, Theo-political agenda, aloof to the collective mind of Christ which it ignores to its own peril and to the detriment of the whole body of Christ, not to mention the sighing and cringing of the six million sympathisers associating with us.

Paul counselled the Colossians to cling, not to the elders and apostles in Jerusalem, but to hold fast to the head, the one from whom all the body is being supplied and harmoniously joined together in unity. Human nature, with its predilection for hierarchical structures, has no place in the body of Christ, the new creation, where all are one in Him, who is the sole hierarch and leader. In the human body, can the hand be in charge of the feet, or the eyes under the authority of the ears, or the arms ignore and do without the rest of the body? Can some members act as ‘governors’ over the rest of the body, as is the case among us? A body where such conditions exist is by definition not the body of Christ, where its members should have the same care for one another, and where there should be no division of the body into ‘governing’ and non-governing members.

In the first century, the apostles and older men in Jerusalem, were appealed to in only one recorded case in about 30years of Christian history, and then only acting as administrative chair, expressing the common consent of the entire, and rather informally grouped multitude of assembled older men, not because there was a shortage of mature ones to express the mind of Christ on the matter at hand, but because at that time the original apostles directly appointed by Jesus, being still alive, were to lend their weight to the already predetermined divine decision. To say that the apostles and older men in Jerusalem formed an electively appointed ‘governing body’ to distribute spiritual food to the congregations of the holy ones is just not true. That the body of Christ is to “build up itself,” excluding as it does the building up of it by outsiders, precludes also the building up by it of anything else, to the dereliction of this, its primary task.

Instead of building up a corporate empire to rival that of Jerusalem, where in the end not a stone was left upon a stone, and in view of the fact that we do not have here a city that continues, but are to look to the spiritual, eternal organization having real foundations, the more pressing task of Christ’s body is to build up itself, with solid spiritual food, with tables spilling over, which will automatically result in great blessings for those who are not sitting at the table of Jehovah yet as his children.

If the slave wants to be found faithful and discreet by the master at his future arrival for inspection, he has to be found in the act of feeding the domestics not only their food, but also at the proper time! A slave that feeds Christ’s domestics not “their food,” but unsuitably watered down spiritual skim milk meant to feed others, is neither faithful nor discreet in fulfilling his duty.

And isn’t it now the “proper” time to dish up all the prophecies dealing with the coming denunciation of Jehovah against us for all our transgressions, that we have so self-servingly relegated to the historical dustbin of 1914/18, or threatened against Christendom? “The overflowing flash flood, in case it passes through will not come near or reach as far as us” is a familiar catchphrase of “the braggarts,” the “rulers of this people,” that imagine themselves to be on good terms with the modern-day Assyrian, little realising that he will not be dealt with until Jehovah terminates all his work in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, in the day when he binds up the breakdown of his people and heals even the severe wound resulting from the stroke by him! Seeing that the “kingdom that cannot be shaken” is one “that we are [yet] to receive,” it becomes obvious that ‘Jehovah’s visible organization,’ as one of the “things that have been made,” will disappear in “the removal of the things being shaken,” when Jehovah “will jiggle the house of Israel among all the nations, just as one jiggles the sieve, so that not a pebble falls to the earth. By the sword they will die – all the sinners of my people, those who are saying: ‘The calamity will not come near or reach as far as us.’” Sounds familiar to readers of the Watchtower, doesn’t it. What may not be familiar to Jehovah’s witnesses is that the expression “my people,” uttered, as it is by Jehovah, unequivocally refers to us! Instead of walking ‘by sight,’ as in seeing the visible organization, shouldn’t we be causing people to ‘walk by faith’ in the coming kingdom to arrive with heavenly glory?

The gentile times - when do they end?

Ever since Jehovah put Satan in charge of the earth there was trouble for mankind. It didnt take long for his followers to take over rulership of clans, regions and empires to tyrannize earths inhabitants. The divine record refers to those outside Jehovahs people as gentiles or the nations. This rulership by the nations over the earth under the guidance of Satan, was only occasionally interfered with by Jehovah, and then without the need for some invisibly established Parousia kingdom.

Jehovah himself had given Satan, and through him the nations, free reign to rule the earth, but only for an appointed time. That is why Satan could offer the rulership over all the earth to Jesus when he tempted him by showing him all its glorious kingdoms. The nations, of course, used their power to persecute Gods people, but often they had a direct mandate from Jehovah to discipline, punish, and even almost exterminate them because of their apostasy.

Jehovahs people, although promised to one day take over the whole world under the rule of the Messiah, were never actually meant to become a world-power in this system of things that he had leased to the nations and their ruler. That way, if Jehovah used the nations to punish his people, they could thereby never said to be trampling upon His sovereign rulership over the earth, since he never yet invested his people with such authority. In fact, before the holy ones receive the kingdom of the world, there will be a final trampling by the nations of Gods people. Are we ready for that?

For this to come about, Satan will give his power and throne and great authority to a supra-national beast, an incarnation of himself as a fiery-coloured dragon, to have control over every nation, and to be worshiped by all those who dwell on the earth. Here is where it means the endurance and faith of the holy ones!

An honest appraisal of the text in Luke 21 verses 20 to 24 reveals that the Jerusalem of verse 20, which is to be surrounded by encamped armies of the nations, has to be the same Jerusalem mentioned in verse 24 that gets trampled on by the nations, until their appointed times are fulfilled. And it follows that while the nations are surrounding Jerusalem, they havent started their trampling yet! Clearly, Jerusalem here in both cases stands for Jehovahs people, true Christianity as such, if distinct from his visible organization.

The parallel account in Matthew has the disgusting thing, i.e. the encamped armies of the nations, standing in a holy place, i.e. Jerusalem. This according to Matthew signals the start of the great tribulation, the nations trampling on Gods people, until their appointed time is fulfilled, when Jesus comes on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory to take away their rulership over the earth. That is exactly the appointed time when Jesus, on the clouds of the heavens, gains access to the Ancient of days and is given the kingdom over all the nations together with the holy ones.

Thus the appointed time for the nations to rule the world ends immediately after the great tribulation on Gods people, and during which the nations empower the beast to also destroy all religion that competes with its own worship. Similarly, Daniel 7 informs us that the little horn of the beast made war upon the holy ones and it was prevailing against them until the Ancient of Days came and judgment itself was given in favour of the holy ones, and the definite, or, appointed time arrived that the holy ones took possession of the kingdom itself. This is precisely the end of the appointed time of the nations, and the start of the long-awaited and much misrepresented kingdom presence!

The Watchtower has the same sequence of events, except that, when we adjusted our view to the effect that the great tribulation was yet future, we conveniently forgot to mention that this would naturally also transfer all these prophesies, including the start of the Parousia to the future, immediately after the great tribulation! How convenient for those who are well along in years; makes one wonder though what Jehovah thinks of this strategy?

The appointed times of the nations have a dual application of ruling the world at large and of trampling on God
s people during the great tribulation, at the end of which both purposes are fulfilled!