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|JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES MEASURED IN THE LIGHT OF THE SCRIPTURES
(The following information is an excerpt taken from the book called The "Report" Volume I, pages 41-63.)
FACT: IN THE YEAR OF 1931, JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES (FORMERLY INTERNATIONAL BIBLE STUDENTS) BEGAN THE DIVINE NAME MOVEMENT. In that year, the Jehovah's Witnesses as a nation and people, became the only organized people INTERNATIONALLY SPEAKING, on the face of the earth who actually carried God's Name (Jehovah) upon themselves in the world. (See link below for detailed discussion on Jehovah's Witnesses and use of the Divine Name.) In fact, the teachings listed on the accompanying chart (page 64 of The "REPORT" Volume I.) are indeed official teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses themselves, for many years now.
(See article entitled: 70 Years "Declaring" The Sacred Name Completed -- October 1931 thru October 2001 for more details.)
However, please keep in mind that these basic teachings mentioned above, merely represent fundamental, basic truths only -- basic truths that have actually been known throughout the centuries. Which thus means, these fundamental truths, as Bible understanding and knowledge goes, are not the exclusive property of the Jehovah's Witnesses. No, not at all! Therefore, at this point, we must ask the all-important question, namely: Does possessing these fundamental truths, by themselves, really prove that the Jehovah's Witnesses as an organization today are the True Religion of our time, in a complete sense?
(See Link: 40 Fundamental Truths Taught By Jehovah's Witnesses)
Actually, the answer to that question, is a surprising "No!" And this is so, because the facts prove, what the Jehovah's Witnesses presently possess as a nation in the form of Bible knowledge and understanding, under the tutelage and direction of the Watchtower Society, does not measure up to the lofty Biblical description of true religion, in it's complete sense. No, but instead, they best resemble the Jewish nation under the tutelage of the Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus' day. Think about it.
IDENTIFYING MODERN-DAY JERUSALEM AND ISRAEL
As mentioned above, actually, the Bible's fundamental or basic truths, have really been known throughout the ages. And how have these basic teachings survived? Well, we find upon examination of the historical facts, that these fundamental truths have been maintained by small Christian groups down through the years. These small Christian groups, acting as "custodians of truth," formed little clusters, and were known by various names, down through the centuries. These little groups kept certain characteristics, certain similarities, that made them appear very much like ancient Israel, as well as the first century congregation, in their form of worship and have maintained a "thread of truth" right down till our day.
Take for example, the Ten Commandments. The first and second commandments in particular, were often visible within the ranks of small Christian groups, down through the centuries. (Exodus 20:3,4; Deut. 6:4) These same characteristics can actually serve, in our day and time, to identify: Modern-day Israel, or Jerusalem of our times, Jehovah's Witnesses. The table or diagram below highlights these characteristics.
See if you, the reader, can pick out the similarities between "Israel" of old, and modern-day "Israel" spoken of in Bible prophecy — Jehovah's Witnesses. Remember, it is the "framework of Truth" that differentiates them from all other religions upon the face of the earth today. (Romans 2:20) The following characteristics distinguish them as modern-day Israel. They are:
1) Called by God's Personal Name
2) Mono-theistic (one God concept)
3) Iconoclastic (no images in worship)
Jehovah's Witnesses as "Israel":
1) Called by God's Personal Name
2) Mono-theistic (non-trinitarian)
3) Iconoclastic (against images)
We also cannot help but notice, that the Jehovah's Witnesses have become known, the world over, for their relentless attacks upon the doctrine of the great main-line religions of our time. And this is much to their credit, make no mistake about that. Based upon the foregoing, we notice that the Jehovah's Witnesses have scripturally demonstrated the church's failure in:
(a) bringing honor to God's Personal Name, Jehovah
(b) propounding the error and blasphemy of the trinity doctrine
(c) propounding the error and blasphemy of eternal torment in Hellfire
(d) the ungodly promotion of images in worship such as the cross.
Nevertheless, these beliefs mentioned above, which are presently held by Jehovah's Witnesses, are actually for the most part, consistent with the beliefs of a group of 12th century Christians called the "Albigensians." The following is a brief description taken from the publication, The Story of Civilization Volume 4, The Age of Faith (pg. 771, 772), about the "Albigensiens" and their beliefs:
"...Opponents describe the Albigenses as rejecting the sacraments, the Mass, the veneration of images, the Trinity ... They made the Sermon on the Mount the essence of their ethics. They were taught to love their enemies, to care for the sick and the poor, never to swear, always to keep the peace, force was never moral, even against infidels, ... one should quietly trust that in the end God would triumph over evil, without using evil means."
The historical source also tells us of other valuable points such as among the "Albigensiens,"
"There was no hell or purgatory in their theology."
Further, the same source states that this particular group of Christians:
" ... denied that the [Catholic] Church was the Church of Christ; St. Peter had never come to Rome, had never founded the papacy; the popes were successors to the emperors, not the apostles. Christ had no place to lay His head, but the pope lived in a palace...these lordly archbishops and bishops (of the Catholic church), these worldly priests, these fat monks, were the Pharisees of old returned to life! The Roman Church, they were sure, was the `Whore of Babylon,' the clergy were a Synagogue of Satan, the pope was Antichrist."
And this same source tells us that the group disdained the Roman Catholic Church's:
"... confession, holy water, the cross; they called the churches `dens of thieves,' and Catholic priests seemed to them `traitors, liars, and hypocrites.'"
Again, the facts according to the source: "The Story of Civilization," the "Albigensiens,"
1. disbelieved the trinity
2. were against giving veneration to images
3. did not believe in hellfire nor purgatory
4. were taught to love their enemies, keep the peace at all cost
5. taught that the Catholic Church was the "Whore of Babylon."
6. taught the Clergy was the Synagogue of Satan.
7. disdained "holy water" and "confession"
8. were totally against the "cross"
9. called the church a "den of thieves," and
10. called the Catholic priests "traitors," "liars," and "hypocrites."
Now, we ask:
Among religions today, which one does this sound most like?
You know the answer, is that not so? If you have spent anytime studying the Bible with Jehovah's Witnesses or if you are yourself one of Jehovah's Witnesses, you indeed, know the answer. There can be no question but that there is a distinct and clear similarity in the religious convictions with this particular group, and the beliefs and convictions of Jehovah's Witnesses today. No, we are not trying to say that these early groups had the exact same beliefs on every single doctrine. We realize that during the years following the demise of the 1st century congregation, under the direction of the apostles, many superstitions and false beliefs surfaced among professed Christians. No doubt, it was a great struggle for these small groups to maintain any standard of faith in the face of the overwhelming odds against them. But the point we are making is that their beliefs are quite similar, if one would take the time to analyze the evidence.
Therefore, the evidence proves that many fundamental teachings that Jehovah's Witnesses presently believe, did not actually originate with Charles Taze Russell as some believe, but were beliefs previously held by Christian groups such as the Arians, Waldenses, Lollards, Albigensiens, Annabaptists, early Unitarians and numerous other groups of Christians for centuries. Yes, there is a common thread of truth that has been maintained down throughout the years since Jesus. But remember, these truths only represent the "framework of Truth." However, the great "sacred secrets" or "mysteries" [Greek: mysterions] of the Bible would continue to be held in secret until the "time of the end." (Daniel 12:4,9) To be sure, as Jesus said at John 16:13, the day would come when the following would be true:
"However, when that one arrives, the spirit of the truth, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak of his own impulse, but what things he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things coming."
Yes, God's people could one day look forward to the time when the "spirit of truth" would "guide them" into "all" of the "truth" — beyond simply the "framework of truth," but "all" of the "truth."
THE FRAMEWORK OF KNOWLEDGE AND TRUTH POSSESSED BY THE JEWISH NATION
Paul described the level of "truth" possessed by the Jewish nation during his day by saying:
"If, now, you are a Jew in name and are resting upon law and taking pride in God, and you know his will and approve of things that are excellent because you are orally instructed out of the Law; and you are persuaded that you are a guide of the blind, a light for those in darkness, a corrector of the unreasonable ones, a teacher of babes, and having the framework of the knowledge and of the truth in the Law."
Yes, Paul states that even though the Jewish people were "persuaded," (no doubt by their leaders) that they were provided by God as a "guide of the blind, a light for those in darkness, a corrector of unreasonable ones, teachers of babes," — what they merely possessed was only a "framework" or superstructure of "knowledge" and "truth," which was based upon the "Law covenant" handed down by Moses. No, the Jewish nation did not have the complete picture. The "Law" was to merely act as a "tutor," until the Christ arrived. (Galatians 3:24) The Greek word Paul employs for "framework" is mor'pho-sin which literally means a "form" or outline of something. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance describes the word as meaning a
"formation," or "appearance" or "semblance" of something.
Vines Expository of New Testament Words states that the Greek word morphosis means:
"a form or outline, denotes ... an image or impress, an outward semblance of knowledge of the truth."
And again, what had given this "form," "outline" or "outward semblance of knowledge of the truth" to the Jewish nation? Paul again answers by saying it was the "Law" of Moses, as the Jews understood it. Let's notice what Paul said about it at Galatians 3:24 which says:
"Consequently the Law has become our tutor [Greek: pedagogue] leading to Christ, that we might be declared righteous due to faith."
We notice from what Paul states here that the "Law" given by Moses, actually became a "tutor" or literally a "child-leader" for the nation. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance describes the Greek word for "tutor" [pedagogue] as meaning:
"a boy-leader, i.e. a servant whose office it was to take the children to school."
Yes, the "tutor's" primary function was to simply "take the children to school," and that is all. No, he was not the primary instructor of the children at all. Vines Expository of New Testament Words makes additional comments on this word by saying:
"...the idea of instruction is absent. In this and allied words the idea is that of training, discipline, not of impartation of knowledge. The paidagogos was not the instructor of the child; he exercised a general supervision over him and was responsible for his moral and physical well-being. Thus understood, paidagogos is appropriately used with `kept in ward' and `shut up,' whereas, to understand it as equivalent to `teacher,' introduces an idea entirely foreign to the passage..."
Therefore, if by chance, the national leaders got carried away somehow, and begin to feel that they had all the instruction they needed to teach the people, the results would be disastrous. Further, if the religious leaders began to feel as if they themselves should be the final word on all religious matters, they would have gotten far away from their assignment of using the "law" as a "child-leader," or "tutor" for the nation until the Messiah came. Certainly, the religious leaders would have gone far off the track if they began to give too much credence to their particular understanding and interpretation of what the "Law" Covenant really meant for the Jewish nation, before the promised Messiah arrived on the scene. And of course, this is precisely what happened to the Jewish nation whose leaders began to think of themselves as having more than a mere "framework of knowledge of truth." According to Paul, what the Jewish nation actually possessed was simply enough to `take them to school,' but since Jesus Christ was the actual "teacher," or "instructor," his teachings were much more advanced, accurate, and to the point, than what people of his day had ever experienced.
So, when Jesus came to the nation of Israel, what did he find? Did he not find the nation being led by an unscriptural council of 71 men called the "Sanhedrin." Yes, that's exactly what he found. The "Sanhedrin" was totally, an unscriptural arrangement, nowhere to be found in the "Law" at all. The Sanhedrin was made up of "Sadducees," "Pharisees" and "scribes," and there can be no question that among them there existed a serious lack of "knowledge" since the Bible tells us that it was these leaders who led the way in ultimately rejecting Christ's teachings. It was primarily these individuals who by their leadership caused the nation to lose their relationship with Jehovah God, was it not? The Sanhedrin was presided over by the Sadducee High Priest Caiaphas, and the Bible tells us this revealing information about the Sadducees at Acts 23:8:
"For Sadducees say there is neither resurrection nor angel nor spirit, but the Pharisees publicly declare them all."
No, the Sadducees did not believe in God's power of "resurrection," of "angels," nor of "spirit." This was because the Sadducees did not believe any part of the Hebrew text but the writings of Moses, the first five books of the Bible. Think of the implications of what this means. This would mean that the entire Jewish nation was led in worship by a High Priest who did not have faith in the holy writings of Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. No, he did not believe in the Bible's accounts of Elijah and Elisha's resurrection of the dead. And yet, he was the spiritual leader of the nation when Jesus arrived on the scene.
And were the Pharisees any better? No, Josephus, the Jewish historian who at one time described himself as a Pharisee, according to Harper's Bible Dictionary reports:
"They [Pharisees] believed that the soul survives death and is punished or rewarded with another life." — pg. 783
Clearly, the Pharisees were influenced by false pagan teachings of Greek philosophers, prevalent during such time. And yet, this is what they believed. This is what they taught. There can be no question but that the nation of Israel, under the leadership of the Sadducees and Pharisees, had strayed a long way away from the "truth," as we know it today. However, we remember, Paul states at Romans 2:20, the nation still had the "Law," the "tutor," the "child-leader" that was to assist them, that was to lead them to the Christ. Yes, they had the "semblance," the "outline," the "framework of the knowledge of the truth." That's what they had. And that was enough or sufficient from Jehovah's standpoint, to bring them as a nation, to the Christ, their their final instructor. -- See Luke 24:27; John 4:25.
Therefore, just as the Jewish nation had the teachings of the "Law" covenant that would act as a "tutor" leading to the Christ, so also the "framework of truth" down through the centuries would also act as a "tutor," "child-leader," until God's time to reveal the "sacred secrets" of the Bible. (Galatians 3:24) Remember, these are only the ABC's of religious truth, you might say. The Jehovah's Witnesses revived, yes revived many of these teachings during the time of C.T. Russell (the first President of Watchtower Society) in the early 1870's, but have progressed no farther. Nevertheless, these basic truths have served to make the Jehovah's Witnesses a people separate, distinct, and different from all the other forms of worship on earth today. These truths really make them: Modern-day "ISRAEL."
PROPHECY — FAR BEYOND FUNDAMENTAL TRUTHS
However, many of their present and supposedly more advanced doctrinal beliefs, strictly formulated by the Watchtower Society on the more deeper matters of prophecy, are incorrect and cannot be Biblically substantiated. And this in turn, automatically makes for an elementary education of the scripture for the rank and file Jehovah's Witness. In our examination of the Watchtower Society's teachings, we stress prophecy here, since the average Jehovah's Witness, due to the Society's teaching, sees all unfavorable prophecy pertaining to "Israel" or "Jerusalem" as applying to the churches of Christendom and/or pagandom. Let's notice this comment from the publication Insight On the Scriptures under the subject of "Unfaithful Jerusalem." It states:
"Since much that is said concerning Jerusalem in the Scriptures is in condemnation of her, it is clear that only when faithful did Jerusalem symbolize Jehovah's heavenly organization and, at times, the true Christian congregation, `the Israel of God.' (Ga 6:16) When unfaithful, it was pictured as a prostitute and an adulterous woman; it became like the pagan Amorites and Hittites that once controlled the city. (Eze 16:3, 15, 30-42) As such, it could only represent apostates, those following a `prostitute' course of infidelity to the God whose name they claim to bear. — Jas 4:4"
Now, let's pay close attention to the main point of their explanation. It says:
"It can thus be seen that `Jerusalem' is used in a multiple sense, and the context must in each case be considered to gain correct understanding." — Vol. II. pg. 49
CHECKING THE CONTEXT???
And so, the Watchtower Society says that we can determine whom "Jerusalem" represents by the surrounding context of scriptures. However, in the case of the scriptural example they cited as proof, namely Eze 16:3, 15, 30-42, did the Watchtower Society themselves check the context here? Evidently they didn't because notice what verses 59-62 of the same chapter says about the `prostituting, adulterous woman:'
"For this is what the Lord Jehovah has said, `I also must do with you just as you have done, because you despised the oath in breaking [my] covenant. And I, I myself, must remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I must establish for you an indefinitely lasting covenant... And you will certainly remember your ways and feel humiliated ... And I, I myself , will establish my covenant with you; and you will have to know that I am Jehovah, in order that you may remember and actually be ashamed and you may no more come to have any reason to open [your] mouth because of your humiliation, when I make an atonement for you for all that you have done,' is the utterance of the Lord Jehovah."
Did you notice that the same `adulterous, prostitute woman' is now spoken of as being given an "indefinitely lasting covenant?" And did you also notice that the sins of this same `Hittite, Amorite-like woman' is now being `atoned' for by Jehovah? And further, once she has been `atoned' for, she can now regain her good standing with Jehovah, the kind of standing she had with Him in the beginning. As Jehovah said: "I must remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth." Clearly, this "adulterous woman" is now being RESTORED to Jehovah's favor! That point is crystal clear, isn't it?
And so we can see that if an individual were to do exactly as suggested by the Watchtower Society, he would find the same prophetic "woman" spoken of as an "adulterous," "Hittite," and "Amorite," is also the same "woman" that is to be `atoned for' and subsequently receives an "indefinitely lasting covenant." Now, does that sound like the religions of Pagandom and/or Christendom to you?
Again, let's keep in mind what the Watchtower Society actually said was their definition as to how one can `correctly understand' the verses in question. Yes, we want to be able to correctly identify modern-day "Jerusalem" in these prophecies, right? The Watchtower Society says: If it's good, then "Jerusalem" [or Israel] represents God's people. And, if the context indicates bad, it merely represents false worshippers, "apostates," or "prostitute" "pagan nations" — in other words, Christendom and/or Pagandom. However, as you have just observed, what do we conclude if the context of prophecy shows both good and bad for the same said "Jerusalem" [or Israel]? Remember, in many, many passages, if we really examine the entire context of the verses considered, we see that the same "Jerusalem" that is spoken of in an unfavorable light, is later spoken of as having received "restoration" by the hand of God! Now, how do we explain that?
Also, many prophecies demonstrate that the same "Jerusalem" [or Israel] who previously had a good standing before Him, later embark upon an unrepentant course of sin and are the very ones that ultimately bring on an estranged relationship with God, and finally become the recipients of severe discipline from His hand! And finally, it is from this "Lo-ammi" or disowned state, that they [Israel] have to be "restored." (Hosea 1:8, 9) Think about it.
Let's reason upon this: It would certainly make more sense to believe that these prophecies could only apply to one "Jerusalem," one people, Jehovah's Witnesses — the true "Israel of God." Really, the only people, who have the real capacity to `leave the Holy Covenant' are the people who are in the "Holy Covenant" with Him, right? (Daniel 11:30) And Jehovah's Witnesses say that they are the only people, truly, in the "New Covenant" with Jehovah, right? For remember, Christendom is not in any "Holy Covenant" with Jehovah God whatsoever, are they? Now, doesn't that make more sense, when you really, really think about it.
What is more, the "Israel" in question mentioned in prophecy could only represent, and we repeat only represent, the "Israel of God" that has been "covenanted" to Him in marriage. (See Isaiah 54:5-8.) Furthermore, contrary to what the Watchtower Society says, Christendom has never "claimed to bear" God's Personal Name, Jehovah. They completely avoid the use of His Name today, as they have for centuries! Therefore, Christendom could not in any way, shape or form fit the Biblical description of "Israel," since they are:
(b) lovers of icon or image worship, and
(c) quite simply HATE the Personal Name of God, Jehovah.
Therefore, how could Christendom, or any religion of pagandom really represent the "Israel of God," spoken of prophetically in scripture. That would simply be an IMPOSSIBILITY. Think about it.
To further this thought, let's take another excellent example in Isaiah 2:1-9. The Jehovah's Witnesses have all been taught that verses 1-4 have application upon themselves, in their present state of increase, in our day and time. But have you ever read the remaining 5 verses in context. Let's notice these:
"O men of the house of Jacob, come and let us walk in the light of Jehovah. For you have forsaken your people, the house of Jacob. For they have become full of what is from the East, and they are practicers of magic like the Philistines, and with the children of foreigners they abound. And their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no limit to their treasures. And their land is filled with horses, and there is no limit to their chariots. And their land is filled with worthless gods. To the work of one's hands they bow down, to that which one's fingers have made. And earthling man bows down, and man becomes low, and you cannot possibly pardon them."
Now keep in mind, that the Watchtower Society has never explained the remaining five verses in their publications, namely verses 5 - 9, which shows us that the same "Jacob" [or Israel], who in verses 1-4 has great increase and people streaming to Jehovah's Mountain, in these verses are spoken of as being polluted, and completely unclean before Jehovah in these same "last days." Now, how could "Israel" picture God's people [Jehovah's Witnesses] in the first 4 verses, and someone else [like Christendom] in the remaining 5 verses? And what's more, the prophecy shows that those who refuse the invitation to `come and walk in the light,' away from such a bad environment, will ultimately lose his favor totally! And so we can see that the Jehovah's Witnesses as a people will be faced with a grave situation in the very near future, according to PROPHECY! Think about it.
However, keep in mind, that this is not to suggest that there are no discerning ones among them. To the contrary, no doubt, there may be many who are searching the scriptures because they have many, many questions concerning what is being taught them by the Watchtower Society. Neither, is this said to imply that there are none who are sincere among them either. No, because prophecy clearly indicates that many from among the family of Jehovah's Witnesses will prevail in the end. Daniel 11:32-35 clearly indicates this fact!
No, but what we are saying is that, the Jehovah's Witnesses as a whole, have not matured as a people or nation, spiritually speaking, the same as the Jewish nation is Jesus' day. Therefore, they correspond perfectly, in almost every detail and way, to the Jewish nation of Jesus' day under the Pharisees and Sadducees. And by so corresponding, they fulfill many, many prophecies, spoken of in the Prophetic books of the Bible concerning "Israel," God's people of our time. And the essay or dissertation called: "THE REPORT" has been written to demonstrate such fulfillment among Jehovah's Witnesses of our time. — Hebrews 6:1,2; Matthew 9:36; Ezekiel 21:7
This same lack of spiritual progress will ultimately cause them to fail, again according to prophecy, as a light-bearing organization according to the standard set by Jesus Christ himself, our exemplar. And this will be despite the fact that they now carry the Name of God, Jehovah, upon themselves. Remember: it is this Name that has set them apart from all other religions. And, on the other hand, it is this same Name that carries with it grave responsibilities as we have seen. Yes, Jehovah's people must live up to that Name! — See Deuteronomy 28:58-62.
***This article was contributed by YORWW Bible Academy found at the LivingWatersForum.com website.***
"...say to the sixth angel, who had the trumpet: Untie the four angels that are bound at the GREAT RIVER EUPHRATES." -- Revelation 9:14