Can We Know How Long a "Time of the
End" Amounts to?
Jehovah never brings destruction upon any people unless he first sounds the warning and clearly explains the reason for his coming judgment, thereby providing ample opportunity for the wicked to repent. (Ezek. 3:17-21) The period of time from when his exposure of the wicked begins, to the actual execution of them, is their "time of the end." The time of the end has a definite beginning and expiration. (Dan. 8:16-19; 12:9,10) According to past scriptural examples, that period of time is relatively short, especially when compared to the length of time during which the wicked seemingly prospered. (Eccl. 8:11-13; Mal. 3:15) Besides exposing the sins and errors of the wicked during the time of the end, God also includes specific instructions on what he requires in order for a person to preserve his life. Whatever sort of individual a person may have been prior to this, his present obedience becomes now a matter of life and death. (Ezek. 33:11-16; Acts 17:30,31; Rom. 2:4-6; Heb. 10:26-31)
For the inhabitants of the Assyrian city Nineveh the time of the end amounted to a mere forty days. It began when the prophet Jonah sounded God’s warning: “Only forty days more, and Nineveh will be overthrown.” As a result, the entire city including the king was moved to action and repented, so that “the true God felt regret over the calamity that he had spoken of causing to them; and he did not cause it.” (Jonah 3:3-10) Since the king of the mighty Assyrian Empire along with all his subjects humbled themselves by repenting, how much more so should God’s own anointed kings and his covenant people have heeded the warning of God's prophets. Fittingly, Jehovah used the Assyrian armies to overthrow the ten-tribe kingdom in 740 BCE. Their "last days" began when the prophets Hosea, Isaiah, Amos, and Micah were raised up to proclaim God's judgment; and they ended about forty years later (sixty years in Hosea's case) with the desolation of Samaria and the deportation of the ten tribe kingdom into exile. (Isaiah 8:4; 9:9; Hosea 7:1; 8:5, 6; 10:5, 7; 13:16; Amos 3:9; 8:14; Micah 1:1, 5, 6)
It turned out to be no different for the two-tribe kingdom of Judah, with its capital city Jerusalem where God's temple was located. Again and again Jehovah sent his prophets to his people, "because he felt compassion for his people and for his dwelling. But they were continually making jest at the messengers of the true God and despising his words and mocking at his prophets, until the rage of Jehovah came up against his people, until there was no healing." (2 Chr. 36:15,16) Their "last days" began when God raised up his prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel (along with some lesser known prophets), who sounded the warning, preached repentance, and provided instructions on how to survive. This period of time likewise amounted to forty years, ending with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in the twelfth year of when their exile began. (Jer. 1:1-3; 26:20; 39:1,2; 40:2-4; Ezek. 2:3-5, 7; 33:10,11, 21; Hab. 1:5,6) Obedience during this time of the end became crucial for their survival, a matter of life and death. Unlike in Jonah's case, Jehovah did not reveal to his prophets how many days or years they had until the end, but he did tell them the reason it was coming.
After the foretold seventy years of exile in Babylon were completed, the Jews returned and rebuilt the temple and the city. In 70 C.E. it was destroyed once more for a final time, this time by the Romans, in fulfillment of Jesus' words that all these things would come upon that wicked generation. (Luke 11:29,30, 49-51) Their "time of the end" was also relatively short, yet again amounting to about forty years, which began with the preaching and baptism in symbol of forgiveness of sins by John the Baptist in 29 CE. (Matt. 3:1-6) Jesus too added to the warning, telling the Jews: "The days will come upon you when your enemies will build around you a fortification with pointed stakes and will encircle you and distress you from every side, and they will dash you and your children within you to the ground, and they will not leave a stone upon a stone in you, because you did not discern the time of your being inspected.” "Truly I say to you, All these things will come upon this generation." And it did! (Luke 19:42-44; 21:32; Matt. 23:36)
The Scriptures point to yet another final “time of the end,” which leads up to Jesus' return and the judgment of God's people; and culminates in the destruction of this entire system of things at Armageddon. (Matt. 24:1-3, 21,22, 32-34; Rev. 16:14, 16; 19:11-21; ) Again, this "time of the end" does not involve a long extended period of time, such as a hundred years or more. It is similar in duration as in the past, "one generation," which has amounted to about forty years in each case. (Mark 13:30) Since "the judgment starts with the house of God," the time of the end begins when Jehovah draws the sins and errors of his people to their attention, giving them ample time to repent. This includes the revealing of the "man of lawlessness" within his temple, whose presence is "according to the operation of Satan." (2 Thess. 2:3-12; 1 Peter 4:17,18) From the evidence that we are now observing taking place within God's household in response to the revealing of the errors and sins of God's people, along with the signs that are being fulfilled on a global scale, we know that we are well along in our "time of the end." What a person does during this short time period is a matter of life and death, not only for us, but also for the whole world because this is also their time of the end. (Matt. 24:14, 36-39; 1 Thess. 5:2-5; 2 Thess. 1:6-10; Zeph. 1:17,18)
The Wisdom of God's "Limits"
"How many your works are, O Jehovah! All of them in wisdom you have made. The earth is full of your productions." (Psalms 104:24) Jehovah has created everything in wisdom and for a purpose, from the vast universe to the seemingly insignificant things that are invisible to our naked eye; and there are always unavoidable consequences when we fail to listen to him by acting contrary to his purpose. (Psalms 19:7-11; Deut. 32:3-6) Today, three thousand years removed from when David composed his words of praise to Jehovah, there is little that reflects the glory and wisdom of God in the way that is due him. Not only has man ruined the earth by polluting the soil, the oceans, and the air; but the earth is also full of violence. Conditions are even worse today than they were in Noah's day. (Gen. 6:5-8; Rev. 11:18) This is not God's fault!
All of God's creation is designed for a purpose, Nothing exists by the random joining of atoms, or accidental combination of deoxyribonucleic acid molecules (DNA) that "encodes the genetic instructions in all known living organisms," including the incredible human body. Everything that God has made operates within certain bounds, or limits; just like every star or planet in all the galaxies revolve in their designated orbits. The Creator knows the purpose and its functions for everything that he designed; and we are blessed and protected when we live within those limits. For example, consider the human body. Although at present it is imperfect due to inherited sin, still, our bodies are a marvel of creation when we don't abuse it by introducing things for which it was not designed. When we are in good health it is easy to take for granted its many parts and functions. Medical science and modern technology cannot replace a missing limb, or an eye, that is anywhere close to what God has given us. Should that not inspire in us confidence in him?
Consider yet another example! After Jehovah had prepared a small portion of the earth as a beautiful home for Adam, whom he then created "in his image," and soon thereafter presented with a wife, as a "helper and a complement of him," God blessed them and told them to "be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it." (Gen. 1:27,28; 2:7,8, 20-24) Does this amazing family arrangement not reflect God's wisdom and love? It was designed to be a source of great and lasting happiness! Having created us, Jehovah also understands exactly how our hearts and minds respond when we fall in love, and the immense pleasure that it produces. In time, the physical love expressed within this holy union, and within the boundary that God has set for it, results in the miracle of creating another life, an offspring born in the likeness of the parents, a product of true love. How marvellous beyond words everything is when we listen to Jehovah, and we obey him, and acknowledge the limits that he has set for us.
Consider the consequence when we ignore God's standards, and his clearly stated laws. Instead of lasting happiness and blessings there is instead terrible pain and anguish; sleepless nights; divorce and broken families, and children who are raised outside the loving family unit that God intended; domestic violence; abortions or illegitimate children; possible diseases; and perhaps even worse, rape; murder, or suicide. Something that is designed to be a source of lasting happiness, making our lives meaningful, can also become the very opposite and be destructive. When that is the case, it is never God's fault. He tells us:
"O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments. Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea." (Isaiah 48:18)
Do You "Test Out" the Inspired
The apostle Paul warned that definitely, in "later periods of time some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons, by the hypocrisy of men who speak lies." (1 Tim. 4:1,2) Among the signs Jesus gave regarding the nearness of his presence, he included the appearance of "false Christs (Greek, "anointed ones") and false prophets." Jesus was not talking about the false prophets of this world, but the ones within God's own house, who pose the danger of misleading "even the chosen ones." (Matt. 24:24, 32,33; Acts 20:29,30; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Rev. 2:2) Therefore, for our protection, the apostle John admonishes us not to be gullible and "believe every inspired expression," but to "test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God." (1 John 4:1)
Suppose you have read the latest Watchtower (whichever one that might be), and have tested the "inspired expressions" by comparing them with God's Word; and you discover that the magazine clearly contains discrepancies, "inspired expressions of error."
Do the Meek "Inherit the Earth," or do They Go to Heaven?
Jesus said that “the meek shall inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5) He was quoting Psalms 37:11; and verse 29 adds: “And they will reside forever upon it.”
Adam was created to live, not in heaven, but on earth. (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:15-17) His continued life depended on obedience to his Creator. Having lost the right to life on account of his sin, he could not pass it on to his offspring. It was for that reason that Jesus came, in order to buy back for us what Adam lost. God holds out the hope for "the meek," all righteous mankind who exercise faith in Jesus’ ransom, to inherit his original purpose, namely, to live forever in peace on earth. (Psalms 37:9, 29, 34; Isaiah 11:6-9; 45:18; 1 Cor. 15:21,22)
Jesus did not come to cancel God’s original promises, as guaranteed in the Law he gave through Moses, but rather to fulfill them. By Jesus’ death we have the guarantee that all of God’s promises will become “Yes.” (Matt. 5:17; Rom. 5:8-10, 19-21; 10:4,5; 2 Cor. 1:20; Gal. 3:23,24)
In the Revelation, John saw in vision the “new heaven” and the “new earth”—the new heaven being the heavenly kingdom in which Jesus and the holy ones will rule over the “new earth” of righteous mankind. (Matt. 4:17; 19:27,28; Isa. 65:17-25; Dan. 7:13,14, 17, 27) The apostle John writes: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’” (Rev. 21:1-4, 7,8; 20:6; 3:21, ESV; 2 Peter 3:13)
Please note that the “voice from the throne” says that God will dwell with man, not man with God. This refers to the new earth! God’s dwelling place will be with his people in the same way that he dwelled with his people Israel. (Lev. 26:11,12; Zech. 2:10,11) In fact, Jehovah already dwells with the righteous among his people today, for they are his temple. (1 Cor. 3:16,17; Eph. 2:19-22)
Did The Watchtower really say that:
Must the "great crowd" partake at the Memorial?
The Watchtower of June 15, 1987, noted that the previous year, in 1986, "It was appreciated that both the remnant and the “great crowd” must figuratively partake of Jesus’ flesh and blood by accepting his sacrifice in order to be in harmony with him.—John 6:53-56." (w87 6/15 p. 19 par. 13) (Bold mine) How do both, the remnant and the great crowd, "figuratively partake of Jesus' flesh and blood"?
The newly released book in 1986, Worldwide Security Under the “Prince of Peace,” explained how those who are in the new covenant partake at the Lord's evening meal merely in a figurative way, saying: "The sacrificial death of the Mediator of the new covenant, Jesus Christ, is remembered every year by Jehovah’s Witnesses on the anniversary of 'the Lord’s evening meal.' The unleavened bread partaken of by those in the new covenant during that 'evening meal' symbolizes the perfect flesh of the Mediator, and the wine symbolizes the pure, uncontaminated blood that, according to the Scriptures, contained the very life value of the Mediator. (1 Corinthians 11:20-26; Leviticus 17:11) When those in the new covenant partake of the Memorial cup of wine at 'the Lord’s evening meal,' it is only in a figurative way that they are drinking blood, that of the Mediator of the new covenant. It is also in a symbolic way that they eat his flesh when they partake of the Memorial loaf of unleavened bread. By doing this, symbolically speaking, they demonstrate their faith in the ransom sacrifice of the Son of God, the Redeemer of all mankind."—Worldwide Security [ws] chap. 12 p. 104, pars. 13-14) (Bold added)
Since it was acknowledged back in 1986 that the remnant and the great crowd "must figuratively partake of Jesus' flesh and blood" (symbolized by the bread and the wine) it clearly indicates that the Society has understood for the past 27 years that everyone, the remnant and the great crowd, should partake at the Memorial. (Matt. 26:26-28; Rev. 7:9, 13-15) Then why is the great crowd, until the present time, still waiting to be encouraged to "demonstrate their faith in the ransom sacrifice of the Son of God" by "figuratively partaking of Jesus' symbolic flesh and blood each year at the Lord's evening meal," thereby showing that they too are "accepting his sacrifice in order to be in harmony with him"? (Gal. 3:26) Jesus commanded his followers to "keep doing this in remembrance of me"! (Luke 22:19,20; Acts 5:29) As the apostle Paul explains, the Memorial is not about who has what hope—whether in heaven or on earth—but about "proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives." (1 Cor. 11:23-26; Eph. 4:4-6)
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How Do We Know That We Are
(1 Tim. 3:15)
Could you imagine a Jew back in Jesus' day not being able to explain to a Gentile why the Jews were God's people? It was not simply because of any claim on their part, but on account of the covenant that Jehovah had made with them at Mt. Sinai. (Deut. 4:33-37; John 4:22; Rom. 3:1,2; 9:3-5; Eph. 2:11-18) Even after fifteen hundred years, every Jew was familiar with the covenant that Moses mediated which established them as God's people. The Jews today still cling to that covenant, although it became history when the new covenant rendered it obsolete with the outpouring of the holy spirit at Pentecost, with Jesus as the mediator; as foretold by Jeremiah, and explained by Paul. (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:6-13) Does Jehovah have a people today who are in the new covenant? If it is us—Jehovah's witnesses—then why, unlike the Jews, are so few able to explain from the Scriptures the new covenant, and what it is that determines whether we are God's people?
Ask any Witness how we know that we are God's people, and he will most likely answer by saying it is because "we have the truth;" "we have love among ourselves;" and "we preach the good news of the kingdom." Although these are necessary things that God requires of his people, yet they are not what makes us his people. (And no, it's not because Jesus chose us in 1914.) The Scriptures are very clear on this subject, and all of God's people ought to understand it, and be able to explain it to others. (1 Peter 3:15) After all, how can we endure the foretold persecution within God's house if we are not even sure as to why, or if, we are God's sons and daughters.
The apostle Paul explains in simple terms who God's people are, and the basis for it. First of all, he points out that under the new covenant God is no longer worshiped in a physical temple, as was the case under the old covenant, because now his people are his temple, and there is where his spirit dwells. (John 4:19-24; 1 Cor. 3:16,17; Heb. 9:1-10, 24) His people are not scattered throughout other religions, for they are all built upon the one "real" and "solid" foundation, the builder and maker of which is God. (2 Cor. 6:14-18; 2 Tim. 2:19; Heb. 11:10) Jesus is the foundation cornerstone of God's temple, and with him are 144,000 "holy ones" who make up the foundation. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul explains this as God's arrangement: "Certainly, therefore, you are no longer strangers and alien residents, but you are fellow citizens of the holy ones and are members of the household of God, and you have been built up upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, while Christ Jesus himself is the foundation cornerstone. In union with him the whole building, being harmoniously joined together, is growing into a holy temple for Jehovah. In union with him you, too, are being built up together into a place for God to inhabit by spirit." (Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:4-9; Isa. 28:16) All of God's people constitute his temple—either as part of the foundation, or built upon that foundation. Thus they are all harmoniously joined together and built into a "holy temple" for God to inhabit by spirit.
How exactly is a worshiper of Jehovah built upon the foundation? By accepting and acknowledging that this arrangement is from Jehovah; and that it includes not only Jesus, but also the "holy ones." (Dan. 7:13,14, 27) Any person who desires to worship God must accept not only the foundation cornerstone, but the entire foundation upon which God's temple is built. That is what Jesus meant in his parable of the sheep and the goats, for the sheep did good to Christ's "brothers," and he views it as having been done to him personally. The "sheep" are built upon the foundation of his brothers. (Matt. 25:31-46) There is no other people on earth who accept the 144,000 brothers of Christ as an essential part of worshiping God in his temple. To all others these foundation stones remain God's mystery, his sacred secret. (Eph. 3:8-11, 17,18; Rev. 7:14,15)
We do not need to know the individual members of the foundation in order to exercise faith in their position within God's temple arrangement. God never purposed to give them glory while serving him on earth. The only names that we have been given are those of the twelve apostles, and a few others including Paul. (1 Cor. 4:8-13) God's temple has continued to grow in size throughout the many centuries since Pentecost, as Jehovah has kept expanding the foundation, all the while building upon it, until it will finally be completed just prior to the great tribulation. (Acts 13:48,49; 12:24; 19:20; Rev. 7:1-4) Soon thereafter, Jesus will be glorified in connection with his holy ones, which will be witnessed by all who exercised faith and survived the great tribulation. (2 Thess. 1:7-10) On account of your faith you too belong to God's holy temple, having been built upon the solid foundation; and therefore Jesus is truly your Lord. You have his assurance that where there are two or three gathered together in his name, he is in your midst! (Matt. 18:19,20)
God's holy temple came into existence at Pentecost; and it should not be confused with the Watchtower Society that has imposed itself upon God's people for the past hundred years. That secular corporation, along with its leaders, the foretold "man of lawlessness," have set themselves up over us as our "masters," and acting as if they were also our "owners." But the yoke they have imposed on God's people will soon be broken at Jesus' presence, for our great relief. (See 2 Thess. 2:3-12; Isa. 26:13; Jer. 30:8,9)
Guard Against "Loose Use of
In the early years of the Watchtower Society a person who wanted to get baptized needed to “consecrate [himself] to God through Jesus Christ” before he was accepted as a footstep follower of Jesus. Similar to the baptism questions of today, the person would be asked the following: “God’s word is, that whosoever [consecrates] cometh unto God by Jesus is accepted. (Heb. 7:25) Then, the first question to ask yourself is, Did I ever fully consecrate myself to God—my life, my time, talents, influence, all? If you can candidly answer before God—Yes, I gave myself wholly to him; then I assure you on the authority, not of your feelings, but of God’s Word, which, unlike your feelings, is unchangeable, that you then and there instantly became a child of God—a member, a branch of the true vine. (John 15:1) This is an evidence that you have joined the true church, which is Christ’s body.”—Zion’s Watch Tower of July, 1882, page 6, par 3, 4.
The term "consecration," in connection with a person giving himself wholly to God, continued to be used until 1952 at which time The Watchtower explained that there is no such thing as “self-consecration”, but rather it is God who does any consecrating, as in the case of the priesthood in Israel. After all, as was pointed out, Aaron and his sons did not consecrate themselves as priests; and neither did “Jesus make himself God’s High Priest.” The conclusion was that the term “consecration” was incorrect and was therefore substituted with “dedication,” which is still in use today. Interestingly, one subheading referred to the term "consecration" as a “former loose use of words.”—w52 5/15 pp. 304-314 Dedication to God and Consecration. (See "God's View On Dedication")
“Loose use of words” are still present in the Society's vocabulary when explaining certain teachings; and we may not even be aware to what extent it has affected our understanding on some doctrines. They are much like the Interpolations that have found their way into the Scriptures, but which distort the truth. “Loose use of words” also can misrepresent the truth, and rejecting them is not a quibbling over semantics, which some may view as petty stuff. Consider the phrases "spiritually alive," or "spiritually dead," or even "spiritual Israel" and "spiritual paradise." These are "loose use of words" which do not appear in the Bible, yet we make regular use of them. For example, The Watchtower of Nov. 15, 2008 (page 21) answered the question: "Who were 'the dead' to whom 'the good news was declared'?" by saying: "These were ones who were ‘dead in their trespasses and sins,’ or who were spiritually dead, before they heard the good news. (Eph. 2:1) After putting faith in the good news, though, they began to 'live' spiritually." (Bold mine)
What did Paul mean by saying, "you were dead in your trespasses and sins," but "God made [you] alive?" Was he saying that they had been "spiritually" dead, but were now made alive "spiritually"? Paul adds that they were "dead" when they "had no hope and were without God in the world." (Eph. 2:1-5, 11-13) When someone is "without God" in the world, is he merely spiritually dead? Adam did not die merely a spiritual death upon eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, as Satan might have suggested to Eve, but he became "dead in his trespass," and "without God"—although he lived on for another nine hundred some years. God said that Adam died in the day he ate from the tree, when he lost his relationship with his Creator. From that day on Adam would live in sin and suffering, and eventually die (not spiritually) and return to the ground from which he had been taken, as God said, "for dust you are and to dust you will return." (Gen. 2:17; 3:4, 17-19)
It's not a "spiritual death" that we have inherited from Adam! People are not dying simply in a spiritual sense, are they? According to the Scriptures, those who are without God are dead! They are Adam's children, having no inherited right to life. (Rom. 5:12, 18,19; 1 Cor. 15:22) On the other hand, those who belong to Jehovah are alive, and have their names written in the "book of life," (Dan. 12:1; Mal. 3:16; Rev. 3:1, 5; 20:15) They are alive because Jehovah knows them, not merely spiritually but in actuality—even if they should die, for they will return in the resurrection. Jesus said: "He is a God, not of the dead, but of the living, for they are all living to him." (Luke 20:37,38; John 11:25,26) He was not speaking in mere spiritual terms. Jehovah is a God of the "real life," the life everlasting. (1 Tim. 6:19) A person becomes "alive" when he turns to God in obedience; exercises faith in Jesus; and then receives the holy spirit "which is from God, that he might know the things that have been kindly given us by God." "But a physical man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot get to know them, because they are examined spiritually." (1 Cor. 2:10-14) A "physical" man is "dead in his trespasses," for he rejects God and the ransom provided by Christ Jesus, the only means by which he can have life. He lives without hope, for apart from Jehovah there is no life!
The “loose use of words” that reduces our precious relationship with Jehovah to a spiritual one is dangerous. This already took place in Paul's day when some began teaching a "spiritual" resurrection which they claimed was happening when a spiritually dead person came to life spiritually upon accepting Jesus; and like the Sadducees they came to deny the physical resurrection of the dead. Paul said that these false brothers became a danger to the congregations for they "deviated from the truth" and were "subverting the faith of some." Their false teaching is still with us today. (2 Tim. 2:18,19; John 5:25-29; 1 John 4:5,6)
Get Involved in Foolish, Ignorant Arguments that only Start Fights"
Suppose someone offers you for very little cost what he claims to be a fortune in gold, pearls, and precious stones—but then becomes upset when you refuse it. Wouldn't that make you suspicious of the true nature of the supposed treasure, and question the integrity of the person? If the treasure is truly what he claims, and his motive genuine, then he would not take it personal if you were not interested. After all, it would be your loss, not his. There are many fraudsters and deceivers to whom we may fall victim if we don't "keep on the watch." (Prov. 14:15; Matt. 7:15-20; 1 John 4:1)
Do you value what you have received from Jehovah? You have in your possession what Paul calls "the riches of assured understanding," and the wealth of "the knowledge of God’s mystery—Christ. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him." (Col. 2:1-3; HCSB; Matt. 6:20,21) After having spent much time studying and evaluating this treasure, and getting to appreciate its true worth, you cannot help but be motivated to enthusiastically share it with others, even at no cost to them. But how do you respond when someone starts to argue with you, even daring to question the worth of your presentation and your integrity? If you were to get offended, become argumentative, and even vilify the individual, wouldn't that person conclude that your supposed treasure is not what you say it is? He may judge your message by your response to his attitude, for he may have fallen victim to other impostors in the past and judge you as being just another one of them. But remember, it's his loss, not yours! Don't get upset if they don't listen!
Often the other person becomes agitated and argumentative when being presented with the treasure of the truth, because they need to defend their personal stand on something; either because their conscience is pricked, or they are afraid of the consequences if they were to accept your scriptural evidence. After all, it's not a trivial matter to be shunned by family and friends for abandoning what they hold in common. Wasn't that also the case of the Jews in Jesus' day who refused his message, although accompanied by miracles? It wasn't Jesus who became belligerent, but rather his opposers, who wanted to silence him. They even stoned Stephen to death for the same reason. (Matt. 13:13-16; John 10:31-39; 16:1-4; Acts 6:8-15; 7:54-60) Things haven't changed when it comes to intolerance of the truth.
Keep this in mind also when you deal with Witnesses who are intensely loyal to the Society and its governing body, having an attitude resembling that of the Jews in the First Century. Back then, they too followed the teachings and direction of their governing body, the Sanhedrin, in whom they trusted. (Matt. 15:1-9) In the end it cost them their lives, when the Romans came and destroyed them and their city; while the ones in whom they had put their trust were unable to deliver them, since they too perished. When we have the truth we do not need to fight, or even debate it. The truth speaks for itself, and passes the test of time. Truth is unassailable; it originates with Jehovah "the God of truth," and those who reject it reject Him—not you. (Psalms 31:5; 86:11; John 8:42-47; 2 Thess. 2:9-12) Jesus tells us not to "give what is holy to dogs," for can a dog appreciate its value? In fact, if you were to push the truth on someone who has little or no appreciation for it, you would actually be demonstrating little value for it yourself. Don't argue or debate with them, for "a physical man does not receive the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot get to know them, because they are examined spiritually." (Matt. 7:6; 1 Cor. 2:14)
Take Paul's timely counsel to heart: "Don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants." (2 Tim.2:23-26, NLT) Rejoice in the truth! Don't let it become a source of frustration to you simply because others have no appreciation for it. (Phil. 4:4,5)
Jehovah is Refining You
Jehovah takes a keen and personal interest in each and every one of his people! (Psalms 32:8) Perhaps due to suffering you may have come to question whether that is really true in your own case, especially since your prayers have seemingly gone unanswered. But please consider the apostle John's assurance: "And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that, no matter what it is that we ask according to his will, he hears us. Further, if we know he hears us respecting whatever we are asking, we know we are to have the things asked since we have asked them of him." This echoes Jesus' own words: "If you remain in union with me and my sayings remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will take place for you. My Father is glorified in this, that you keep bearing much fruit and prove yourselves my disciples." (1 John 5:14,15; John 15:7,8) Jehovah listens to your prayers because it brings glory to him when you reflect his qualities in your life, in the same way that children honor their parents when they are like their parents. (Psalms 106:8) What does that mean in practical terms?
Simply put, we must display God's personality in our own personality. That does not come natural due to our inherited sinful tendencies. All of us fall short of reflecting the glory—the loving and perfect personality—of our heavenly Father. (Rom. 7:18-20, 24) Jesus on the other hand was so alike his Father in everything that he could say, "He that has seen me has seen the Father also." (John 8:29; 14:9; 12:45; 5:37) To a great extent, we too can prove ourselves to be more like our heavenly Father. In fact, as his sons and daughters, Jehovah requires us to make adjustments in our personality, and "put away the old personality which conforms to our former course of conduct," and "be made new in the force actuating our mind, and should put on the new personality which was created according to God's will in true righteousness and loyalty." (Eph. 4:20-24; 2 Cor. 3:18; 6:18) We glorify Jehovah, as Jesus said, when we "keep bearing much fruit." (Gal. 5:22,23)
Most of us may not see ourselves the way others see us—or more importantly, how Jehovah views us. He can see right through us, observing the inner person we truly are, even our motives! (1 Sam. 16:7; Jer. 17:9,10) When we fail to see the need to make certain adjustments in our personality, Jehovah will draw that to our attention in a way that we cannot ignore. For example, have a look at the things that Paul lists as being "works of the flesh," in his letter to the Galatians. (Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 4:31,32) You may feel comfortable in knowing that none of the things he lists applies to you; but you can certainly see them in others, such as "jealousy" (being resentful, suspicious, intolerant), or having "fits of anger" ("screaming and abusive speech," cursing), or "contentions" (being argumentative, belligerent, opinionated, self-centered).
The "works of the flesh" are not compatible with God's personality. If Jehovah sees any of these traits in you he will most definitely make you aware of it! How? By subjecting you to situations that will test your character, which will clearly expose the real person you are by your reaction. For example, under test will it be shown that you become easily offended? Are you prone to retaliate when someone wrongs you? Do you get upset when things don't go your way, even becoming argumentative and confrontational? Perhaps you are "righteous overmuch," being judgmental? (Eccl. 7:16) All of us need to have the mind of Christ Jesus, which takes effort and the willingness to change. (See 1 Peter 2:19-23; James 1:22-24)
Jehovah sees the good in you, and helps you make changes where necessary. That is called discipline! Godly discipline involves instruction, education, correction, and sometimes even chastisement. (Prov. 3:11,12; Heb. 12:5,6; 2 Cor. 6:18) One effective means by which he has successfully softened the hearts of his people has been through suffering. That's why he says: "I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering." (Isaiah 48:10, NLT; Psalms 119:71; compare Heb. 5:8) Jehovah refines you because he wants you to more closely reflect his qualities, his personality, the way that Jesus did. (Eph. 4:17-20) Cain refused to change his course when God brought it to his attention. You certainly don't want to be like him! (Gen. 4:6-8) I am sure that you can remember some recent occasion when Jehovah drew your attention to a matter that needed adjustment, and which helped you grow spiritually!
Gleaning Words of Wisdom From the Modern Baalam's Ass
By the time Jehovah delivered his people out of Egypt they had grown into a great and numerous nation, mighty enough to cause the king of Moab extreme anxiety. Realizing that he could not defeat them in battle, Balak, the king of Moab, hired the prophet Balaam to curse God's people, hoping thereby to somehow gain the advantage over them. But Jehovah did not permit it! Every curse that Balaam spoke against his people, Jehovah turned into a blessing. Yet, Balaam was determined to collect the reward offered by the king of Moab and continued in his mad course of opposition. This resulted in Jehovah using the ass upon which Balaam was riding to rebuke him. In the end, Balaam did succeed in causing the death of 24,000 men of Israel, having induced them to sin against Jehovah; but it also cost Balaam his life. (Num. 22:1-24:25; 31:8)
We are facing a similar situation today! The "man of lawlessness," who is sitting prominently within God's temple and whose "presence is according to the operation of Satan," is actively opposing God's faithful servants and denouncing them as apostates. (2 Thess. 2:3,4, 8-12; 1 Peter 5:8,9) By means of the publications and sermons, this "son of destruction" attempts to curse all who put their trust exclusively in Jehovah; but Jehovah turns the curses into blessings. If you have attended the 2013 District Convention, 'God's Word Is Truth!', you may already have come to that realization, and been encouraged by the information presented to the extent that it is based on God's Word. Like in the case with Balaam, Jehovah is using an "ass" (or several of them, upon which the modern day Balaam is riding) to deliver his word of truth, and expose today's opposers. (Num. 22:22-31) For example, the symposium on Friday, entitled, "The Truth Sets Us Free," includes the talks: From Alienation from God; ...False Beliefs (2 Thess. 2:9-12); ...Hopelessness; ...Bad Associates. These talks encourage us to listen only to Jehovah. That is certainly Jehovah talking!
Other talks, as well, help us to understand that Jehovah is protecting his faithful servants today: “I Shall . . . Deliver You From Their Slavery”; • “I Will Really Help You”; • The Drama: Prepare Your Heart for the Trials Ahead (Esther); • Remain 'Firmly Set in the Truth'! (2 Peter 1:12) • Believe Inspired Truth, Not Inspired Error; • Walk 'Straight According to the Truth' (Galatians 2:14)"; • Rejoice With the Truth’ (1 Corinthians 13:4,6)"; and the talk, The Truth Brings 'Not Peace, But a Sword' (Matthew 10:32-38)", which asks the question: “How should we view our family members who strongly oppose us? For whom will we have greater affection? If we put any human before Christ, we will not be worthy of him.” This particular talk will be especially encouraging to you if you are at present suffering on account of your loyalty to Jehovah, and you have been ostracized by your family, relatives, and former friends who now consider you to be apostate. Recognize such talks as coming from Jehovah, and let them be a source of encouragement. We are not in danger from this world in the way that we are of the false prophets and false Christs within God's own temple. (Matt. 24: 24,25; 2 Peter 2:1-3) Jehovah has not abandoned us! He will deliver us from the man of lawlessness who is still operating within God's temple in opposition to anyone who remains loyal to Jehovah and his word of truth!
In our above scenario think of Satan as being like the king of Moab; who hires Balaam to curse God's people—Balaam picturing our governing body [the man of lawlessness]; and the speakers at the convention as represented by Balaam's ass, that Jehovah uses to rebuke the insane course that the governing body has embarked upon in opposing Jehovah's loyal worshippers. (2 Peter 2:15,16; Rev. 2:14) The 2013 District Convention program is certainly accomplishing that. (Interestingly, Balaam was not an Israelite, yet he called Jehovah "my God."—Numbers 22:5, 18)
If you are unable to attend the 2013 District Convention, you may want to listen to some of the more encouraging talks, as made available on the following website: 2013 District Convention 'God's Word Is Truth!' - Audio
Did the Watchtower really say that: Lies Cannot Stand the Test of
At times we receive information in the Watchtower that may cause us to pause and wonder: Did the Watchtower really say that? We may be surprised when an article explains that the things that Jehovah condemns is actually being fulfilled among God's people today, especially in connection with the foretold "man of lawlessness." (2 Thess. 2:3,4) The article, "Why Be Truthful?" (February 1, 2007) said the following under the subheading, "What Is a Lie?":
"Every lie is an untruth, but not every untruth is a lie. Why not? A dictionary defines a lie as 'an assertion of something known or believed by the speaker to be untrue with intent to deceive.' Yes, lying includes the intention to deceive someone. Hence, to speak an untruth unwittingly—such as giving someone incorrect facts or figures by mistake—is not the same as to tell a lie."
Although a dictionary may define a lie and an untruth as being different, yet to Jehovah they are the same. Any untruth is a lie! Among God's people, any prophet who spoke an untruth was a false prophet. Jehovah condemned such false prophets, telling them: “‘For the reason that you men have spoken untruth and you have visioned a lie, therefore here I am against you,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. And 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. . . for the reason, yes, for the reason that they have led my people astray.” (Ezek. 13:6-10) A true prophet, on the other hand―one who was sent forth by Jehovah, such as Ezekiel and Jeremiah―always spoke the truth. Their sayings stood the test of time! Note what the same Watchtower article further says in this regard:
“It is the lip of truth that will be firmly established forever, but the tongue of falsehood will be only as long as a moment,” explains Proverbs 12:19. Yes, truthful speech is marked by durability and permanence. And human relationships are more stable and satisfying when people are committed to speaking the truth and acting in harmony with it. Indeed, truthfulness brings immediate rewards. These include a clean conscience, a good reputation, and strong relationships in marriage, in the family, among friends, and even in business. Lies, on the other hand, cannot stand the test of time. A tongue that utters falsehood may deceive for a while, but untruth does not prevail in the long term. Furthermore, Jehovah, the God of truth, has set a time limit for the toleration of untruth and of those who promote lies. The Bible promises that Jehovah will wipe out the influence of Satan the Devil, the father of the lie, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth. Jehovah will soon put an end to all lies and liars.—Revelation 21:8."―w07 2/1 p. 6,7 Why Be Truthful? (Bold mine)
Why would the Watchtower dare mention "truthful speech" being "marked by durability and permanence"? Surely they are aware that their "truthful speech" has not stood "the test of time." Instead, time has proved to be their enemy! When yesterday's "truth" becomes obsolete in today's Watchtower, is that not proof of it having been an "inspired expression of error," as the apostle John calls it? And no inspired expression of untruth ever originates with Jehovah! They originate with the false prophets that God warns us against. (1 John 4:1, 6; 1 Tim. 4:1,2) Incredibly, the constant changes and adjustments made to our doctrines over the past decades have actually been viewed by many as a good thing―as evidence of God's guidance upon the Society and its leadership; when in fact it proves the very opposite. The apostle Paul emphatically warns us against the "influence of Satan the Devil, the father of the lie," who is using the "man of lawlessness" as his tool to dispense his untruth―lies, for his "presence is according to the operation of Satan." He has lifted himself up over everyone within God's temple, including God's "chosen ones." (2 Thess. 2:3-12; 1 Cor. 3:16,17; Matt. 24:24,25; Gal. 2:4,5) We should not be surprised by this, after all, the same situation existed among God's people in Jesus' day. (John 8:44-47; Matt. 23:1-7) Can you see why it is important for us to "test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God"? God's holy spirit teaches us to distinguish between "the inspired expression of truth and the inspired expression of error." And sometimes even a Watchtower article may help in doing that. Jehovah is the God of truth! His sayings, his teachings, and his commandments have stood the test of time! They endure forever! But not so the false prophets! "Jehovah will soon put an end to all lies and liars." (Psalms 25:4,5; 1 Cor. 2:10, 14; 1 Peter 1:25)
"For With You is the Source of
We all know that our life depends on air, water, and food, in that order! How long can you hold your breath? The present underwater breath-holding (static apnea) world record is an amazing 22 minutes and 22 seconds; while most of us would perish in only a fraction of that time. We can live without water for a few days; and survive without food for several weeks. There is yet, though, a fourth essential for life; and because we have come to view as normal the short life expectancy of seventy or eighty years without it, very few give it any thought. (Psalms 90:10)
The New World Translation says regarding Jehovah: "For with you is the source of life. By light from you we can see light." (Psalms 36:9) But Jehovah is more than just the source of life. He is also the sustainer of it; for not only has all life originated with him, but its continued existence depends on him. The Hebrew word translated as "source" [מְק֣וֹר mə·qō·wr ] in the NWT, really means "fountain." That is why other Bibles translate the Psalm to read: "For with you is the fountain of life." Yes, Jehovah is "the fountain [mə·qō·wr] of living water," providing us with a continuous supply that never runs dry. (Jer. 17:13; Prov. 1:23) If you have ever stopped on a scorching summer day to refresh yourself at a fountain bubbling forth cold clear water, you may well appreciate the sentiment of another Psalmist who wrote: "My soul indeed thirsts for God, for the living God." (Psalms 42:2) You may similarly thirst for God because of living in a world alienated from him.
While Jesus was resting at Jacob's fountain, which was in the Samaritan city called Sychar, a woman came to draw water. Jesus requested a drink from her, and then used the opportunity to tell her about the fountain of "living water." He said to her: “If you had known the free gift of God and who it is that says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” She said to him: “Sir, you have not even a bucket for drawing water, and the well is deep. From what source, therefore, do you have this living water? You are not greater than our forefather Jacob, who gave us the well and who himself together with his sons and his cattle drank out of it, are you?” In answer Jesus said to her: "Everyone drinking from this water will get thirsty again. Whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty at all, but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water bubbling up to impart everlasting life.” The woman said to him: “Sir, give me this water, so that I may neither thirst nor keep coming over to this place to draw water.” (John 4:7-15)
The symbolic living water that Jesus spoke of is God's holy spirit ("active force," NWT). There is only one holy spirit! It is the same spirit by which God created the universe, including our earth, and everything in it [Heb: וְר֣וּחַ ru′ach; Greek: πνεύμα pneu′ma]. (Gen. 1:1,2; Isa. 40:26; John 7:37-39, ESV) We cannot see God's spirit any more than we can see God, but we can see the result of its power. His spirit not only gives life but also sustains it; imparting everlasting life to those who obey him. Upon death, "all are returning to the dust," and "the spirit itself returns to the true God who gave it." (Gen. 3:19; Eccl. 12:7; 3:19-21; Psalms 104:29,30, NASB) God is appropriately spoken of as "the fountain of life" for he gives his faithful servants his spirit as abundantly as he provides air, water, and food. (Acts 5:32) Furthermore, it is God's holy spirit that makes life worth living by providing us with its fruitage in our lives and personality. (Gal. 5:22,23) It is only by God's spirit that we have the power to endure these foretold "critical times hard to deal with," which we are coping with on a daily basis. (2 Tim. 3:1-7; Jude 21) The Psalmist well illustrates how we are blessed when we are being watered by God's streams of living water, his spirit, which the wicked cannot receive:
"Happy is the man that has not walked in the counsel of the wicked ones, And in the way of sinners has not stood, And in the seat of ridiculers has not sat.
2 But his delight is in the law of Jehovah, And in his law he reads in an undertone day and night.
3 And he will certainly become like a tree planted by streams of water, That gives its own fruit in its season And the foliage of which does not wither, And everything he does will succeed.
4 The wicked are not like that, But are like the chaff that the wind drives away.
5 That is why the wicked ones will not stand up in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of righteous ones.
6 For Jehovah is taking knowledge of the way of righteous ones, But the very way of wicked ones will perish." (Psalms 1:1-6; Compare Revelation 22:1,2)
The worship of Jehovah is not merely a religion. And it is more than a way of life. It is life itself, for without Jehovah and his holy spirit there can be no life!
Did the Watchtower really say that?
Do God's Warnings Apply to His People and not
"Exclusively to Worldly Clergymen"?
Has a Watchtower article ever caused you to pause and ask:
"Do Not Put Your Trust in the Son of Earthling Man, to
Whom No Salvation Belongs" (Psalms 146:3)
Does Jehovah direct his people to put their trust in those who take the lead among them, specifically the Governing Body? (Heb. 13:17) Not only are we told by the Society that Jehovah requires us to trust them, but incredibly, they claim that even Jehovah and Jesus trust them. This is what a recent Watchtower said:
The End of Babylon the Great
When will the great tribulation begin? The July 15th Watchtower answers: “When the United Nations attacksChristendom and the rest of Babylon the Great. That event will be the beginning of the great tribulation.” (WT 2013 7/15 p. 4,5) Is the destruction of “Babylon the Great” the beginning of the “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now”? (Matt. 24:21) The annihilation of all religions of which Satan is the god, will be a tribulation only for its members who had placed their trust in it. That is why the warning is sounded for anyone who wants to worship the true God, to "get out of her" before her destruction, "if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.” This is not a tribulation for those outside of Babylon the Great. In fact, such ones will breath a sigh of relief when this “mother of the harlots” will cease exercising her Satanic influence over the entire earth. (Rev. 17:1,2, 5, 15; 18:4,5, 8)
Since the mid nineteenth century, Babylon the Great has come to be viewed as “the opium of the people” by some philosophers who visualized a world without religion, as noted in one Watchtower article, which said:
The Man of Lawlessness Sits Within God's Temple
The July 15th Watchtower (2013) makes this application of Daniel's prophecy, as quoted by Jesus:
5/16/13Did the "Great Tribulation" Occur in the First Century?
5/9/13The Watchtower, July 15, 2013 ― New Truth?
Our Ever Changing Teachings Comparable to a Square Dance
The Watchtower of July 15, 2013 (which will be studied during the month of September), asserts in four articles that the Governing Body alone has the right to call itself "the faithful and discreet slave." The new arguments presented will have far-reaching consequence to our present understanding, and render many of them obsolete. That in itself is not unusual for we have come to expect our understanding of the truth to change periodically. Why, though, is there the constant need for updating present teachings? A recent Watchtower, with the article entitled, Keep in Step With Jehovah’s Organization, said:
5/5/13Did Jesus Tell His disciples WHEN He Would Return?
(5/5/13 - 10/28/13)
Additional pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 PRESENT
Food for Thought Index