I had asked a Jehovah Witness friend from work some questions pertaining to end times, because I wanted to get his take on it.
He threw out his answer and then said, you should read this. It happened to be this booklet.
“What does the Bible teach?” written by the Jehovah Witnesses.
He stated, "this will help you understand the Bible."
I chose to begin with chapter 9 as the chapter topic is: "Are we living in the last days?
That subject is my passion as of late, and I study it with consistency. I do not claim to be an expert, but I am getting better at it with everyday. I have also noticed that in discussions with other Christians I am getting canned answers. This demonstrates to me how little they read, apply logic and truly attempt to understand the scriptures. It also demonstrates how unwilling they are to think outside the box that religion has put them in.
Do I have all the answers? No, but I am willing to ask and find out. I truly believe that if there is a question, the answer is in this book called the Bible, not some book by the Jehovah Witness. I also think that there are questions that are not to be answered down here. Daniel is an example of this. The angel told him that the understanding for what he saw was not to known then, but later; folks, the later is now.
With the rise of Islam, and a knowledge of what they believe, suddenly the book of Revelation and why Jesus comes at the end of the Great Tribulation with such a vengeance makes all the sense in the world to me.
The 9th chapter of the booklet immediately asks 3 questions.
- What events in our time were foretold in the Bible?
- What does God's word say people would be like in "the last days"?
- Regarding "the last days", what good things does the Bible foretell?
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The first scripture reference is to James 4:14. They do not elaborate but my friend says look these up in your bible. I can assure you that they are not looking these scriptures up themselves or they would be screaming foul. This idea of looking up the scriptures for yourself is something that, as believers, we should all be doing. It reduces the ability for someone to deceive you, because you will be applying intelligence to what you hear and read, and judging it in contrast to what “the Word” says.
What do you know about tomorrow? How can you be so sure about your life? It is nothing more than mist that appears for only a little while before it disappears.
(James 4:14 CEV)
The booklet makes the statement: "Tragic things happen so suddenly that no human can predict what tomorrow will bring". While there is logic to this, you should rarely take scripture out context. That is precisely what the JW's have done.
Here is the entire passage
“.. God is our judge, and he can save or destroy us. What right do you have to condemn anyone? You should know better than to say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to the city. We will do business there for a year and make a lot of money!" What do you know about tomorrow? How can you be so sure about your life? It is nothing more than mist that appears for only a little while before it disappears. You should say, "If the Lord lets us live, we will do these things." Yet you are stupid enough to brag, and it is wrong to be so proud. If you don't do what you know is right, you have sinned.” (James 4:12-17 CEV)
While things can happen that are tragic, and sudden, the biggest impact seems to be from not acknowledging God as being in control. One commentary that I read suggests that the person on the receiving end of these tragic events is self-willed and arrogant.
The booklet goes on to say that: “however, Jehovah knows what the future holds.”
Again, that is common sense to someone that reads scripture, but what about the person that does not. To back up this statement the booklet uses Isaiah 46:10 as their scripture reference.
Let's look at Isaiah 46:10
(KJV) Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Again, the student of scripture knows that God knows the end before it ever begins, but this passage speaks about a God that decrees how it will be more than it speaks about him knowing, and it has a context.
Isaiah 46:9-11 NIV Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. (10) I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, 'My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.' (11) From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.
The overall context is that God is in control and he honors his word. If anything this passage tells me that God can be trusted and regardless of what comes, he has my best interest at heart.
Look at Isaiah 46:4 NIV Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
There is nothing about this passage that warns of tragedy coming. Unforeseen events are a daily part of life. Tribulations, though not the Great one of scripture, are a daily part of life, and yet God brings hope. Did you ever wonder where the Apostle Peter or Paul got their information? Right here. God says, “I made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. This theme begins to pop up all over scripture, but the bottom line is that God is in control.
The last two verses of Isaiah are a radical statement against those that refuse to give God the glory. Read these:
Isaiah 46:12-13 NIV Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted, you who are now far from my righteousness. (13) I am bringing my righteousness near, it is not far away; and my salvation will not be delayed. I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendor to Israel.
“Jesus Christ spoke about the kingdom of God which will bring an end to wickedness and make the earth a paradise.” (I will refer to the booklet as JWB from this point on.)
Their scripture reference is Luke 4:43. Alright let's look at that passage.
Luke 4:43 NIV But he said, "I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent."
Once again, the student of scripture knows that the command was given in Mark 16:15 to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
But, what is the context?
Luke 4:40-44 NIV At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. (41) Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah. (42) At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. (43) But he said, "I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent." (44) And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
People had been coming to him steadily. Why, because they got something out of him. Not necessarily because they believed that he was the Messiah that they had been waiting for, but because he did not turn them away. Who wouldn't come? He feeds and heals people, and no one has done that before.
While the people may not have understood who he was, the demons sure did, and they shouted out who he was as they came out at his command. Having been exhausted by all this he had found a quiet place, as was his custom. They found him again, and tried to prevent him from leaving. Now you get Jesus response, “I must proclaim the good news to other towns also”. And so he kept on preaching in other synagogues of Judea.
This passage is once again a thin example and should not be used as the backbone of your argument. It does define the statement: “Jesus Christ spoke about the kingdom of God which will bring an end to wickedness and make the earth a paradise.” While he did tell the people that he had to declare the good news of the kingdom, his main purpose here, it does not say what he preached and the end result. That kind of assumption is pure conjecture here. There is a context here and this is not it.
If you gain anything from Jesus interaction with the people, you should come to understand that Jesus said what he meant, and meant what he said. He did go and preach the gospel to others, in so many ways.
There is nothing in this that even remotely backs the statement that he will make earth a paradise. I do though, believe the heaven will be exactly like this, paradise. Why do I think that? Because God make the earth, and all creation perfect in the day that he made it. Try looking that up! It was paradise, but paradise became subject to corruption just as man did. Revelation tells us that this earth and the heavens will be destroyed.
What the disciples asked was a very Jewish question, for they all understood that a Messiah would come and reign. The question was also asked to define when the destruction would come? Think about it, Jesus had told them that every stone in the temple would be thrown down. That happened in a relatively short period of time, but do you claim that as the forerunner to your paradise.
What Jesus spoke of is the most exciting time on earth. While there will be unparalleled destruction coming, it is also a time where those who have relationship with Him, will be rescued out of here, and those that remain will have to make a stand for God or bow to the beast / man and give your allegiance to the god he worships. If you know anything about Islam then you would know that the beast will take the role of the Islamic Mahdi, and you have to bow your knee to Allah. Doing this is a personal affront to God and all that he represents. Why? Because he paid for you with his own blood, an act of Love that surpasses anything that man could ever do, and yet man still choose to give his allegiance to Satan, the power that the Mahdi / Beast embodies.
Those who are not established in hope have nothing to look forward to but fear and dread. Try reading the book of Revelation for yourself. You will find the judgments of the seals, the bowls, and the trumpets. All this is going on at the same time the Islam is trying to weed out those that will attempt to resist its false prophet.
I have a hope that I can anchor on two things, even though there is so much more.
1Peter 1:3 tells me that: “..he has (Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, my Savior and soon coming King.) caused me to be born again into a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”
This passage ends with a comma, therefore the thought continues:
1 Peter 1:4 KJV To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you,
Another comma. I am getting to where I love commas because each one gets better. Now I have an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance, a promise that will not fade away, reserved in heaven for me. But not just me, anyone who calls on the name of the Lord as their own. Jesus I need you and want you in my life. How I have lived without you I do not know. Come into me as you promised and let the rivers of living water flow from me as you promised. I turn my life over you and give you control, now take control of me and bring me into your kingdom.
1 Peter 1:5 KJV Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
While Jesus himself is a strong anchor that easily stands alone, another one that I learned to lean upon is one that Jesus himself stated, and the Apostle Peter reinforced, and expounded upon.
Jesus said, these last days would be as in the days of Noah.
Matthew 24:37 KJV But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Read the whole thing and then some thought to what the implications are.
The saga begins in Genesis 6:5 and continues through Genesis chapter 7. Even as Noah worked upon the Ark evil and the threat of destruction stood outside the door step.
An important passage to note in this is Genesis 7:16.
Genesis 7:16 KJV And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.
In terms of a guarantee and hope, destruction is literally coming like a flood and God shuts the door behind them. One might even conjecture that God could not release the floods until Noah and his family were safely inside the Ark, protected. That is not such a far fetched idea.
Look at 2 Peter chapter 2. Peter describes God's salvation of Noah, but takes it a step further and includes Lot. God warned that he would destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. After sending angels and telling Lot and his family to get out, Lot hesitates. The angels had to physically escort them out, stating that we can do nothing until you are safe.
Genesis 19:16-22 NIV When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. (17) As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, "Flee for your lives! Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!" (18) But Lot said to them, "No, my lords, please! (19) Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can't flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I'll die. (20) Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it--it is very small, isn't it? Then my life will be spared." (21) He said to him, "Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. (22) But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it." (That is why the town was called Zoar.)
Here is the key to this, and an aspect of the believers hope.
2 Peter 2:9-10 NIV if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. (10) This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings;
“In fact, Jesus disciples asked: 'what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?'” JWB
This is supposed to be a quote from Matthew 24:3. Let's just look at that a moment.
Matthew 24:3 NIV As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"
So what was going on that the disciples should ask this question.
Matthew 24:1-2 NIV Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. (2) "Do you see all these things?" he asked. "Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."
Jesus told them that the temple would be thrown down. This happened in 70 A.D., at the hand of Titus. While many felt that this was the end of the world, it was not.
No one asks, “what will be the sign of your presence.”JWB
PRES'ENCE, n. s as z. [L. proesentia; proe, before, and esse, to be.] The existence of a person or thing in a certain place; opposed to absence.
Are you serious, God, as a man, was sitting before them, answering their questions. He had not, as far as we know, explained to them that he going back to the Father, so how could this be an aspect of their thinking. They no more believed he was the Messiah, than any of the Pharisees that plague him.
Revelation 1:7 NIV "Look, he is coming with the clouds," and "every eye will see him, even those who pierced him"; and all peoples on earth "will mourn because of him." So shall it be! Amen.
If you make the claim that Jesus returned to the earth in 1914 or whenever else, then you have taken the role of deceiver, or as Revelation calls him the anti-Christ. Trying to make people believe that Jesus acted outside of Truth makes you no less destructive than the False Prophet himself.
So if you now have people looking for signs of some presence then they will waste their time unproductively at everything but the Truth. Jesus himself said that he was the Way, the Truth, and the Life. John testified that he, Jesus, was the Word of God, and the ONLY begotten Son. Standing around, not looking at the Truth, but looking for what they don't know, millions will be deceived, and be caught off guard.
One way that will happen: Islam despises “the people of the book”. In truth, this is the scripture, the Truth, that leads men to Jesus Christ, the Son, and none other. But Islam too has it's prophecies. One of which calls for the appearance of Jesus. Not the Son of God, but the son of Mary. They call him Isa ben Mariam, and he is just a man.
- He is definitely a Jew, of the Aaronic line, therefore qualified to be a high priest in the rebuilt Jewish temple. (That will become very important in a minute.)
- How is it that Muslims that hate Jews, are awaiting one? Because he is also a Muslim. When he comes he will be asked to say a prayer over the battle that is to take place. He defers to the Mahdi (the beast of Revelation, and leader of Islam at this time.) For him to defer to the Mahdi is to show a strong allegiance and subservience to Allah, not God the creator.
- This Jesus of Islam is said to barter a peace treaty with Israel with those Muslim nations that have surrounded Israel, as they move in to destroy it.
- He is said to produce lost documents that will prove that the Messiah that Israel seeks is all wrong.
- He is said to produce the lost Ark of the covenant.
- Many will be deceived. This may include those outside the Jewish faith.
- He is said to have complete access to the temple.
- He is said to be the enforcer of global Sharia law. That law allows for the beheading of those that oppose Islam.
So back to the obscure allusion to an answer to the question that the disciples asked. When Jesus responded to their question, what was the first thing he said. The JWB did not bother to mention that. Jesus said, “SEE TO IT THAT YOU BE NOT DECEIVED!” Considering what I just described above, why else would he have said that? We have a clear definition of when Jesus will come back to earth. Scripture tells us that he is coming in the clouds and every eye will see him. He is not sneaking in some back door, and only the Jehovah's Witness will have knowledge of it. He is not showing up in some Nebraska corn field. He is going to plant his feet upon the Mount of Olives, and that Mount will split in two, as though some great earthquake had hit. This happens very explicitly at the end of the seven years of “Great Tribulation”. That also coincides with the seven year reign of the beast/Mahdi. That also happens to be three and a half years after the beast breaks the peace treaty with Israel, and the be-headings have been continuing for some time.
If you were not aware, the Great Tribulation is a time of judgment upon the nations of the earth, so do not expect Christ to be coming with anything but a sword. If you actually read scripture then you should understand that a third of the earths population will be killed by various methods. We are told that if God did not shorten time, no one would survive what is coming.
Why would I tell you any of this?
Because only knowing the truth will set you free. There is only one truth, and his name is Jesus Christ, the lamb of God, the risen one.
2 Peter chapter 2 gives you the precedent. God will save his righteous ones, but as with Noah and Lot, it will be at your doorstep, and on the razors edge.
Righteous is what he makes those that humble themselves and come to him. He is in control, not you, and there is nothing you can do to make yourself righteous.
Having forgiven the world of the sin debt that we owed and could not pay, he made it possible for us to give ourselves freely to the Father. The Father gave his Son to die so that the family relationship could be restored. This is what Adam had in the beginning. If you cannot relate because your image of a family is skewed, then consider this. The earth represents a large adoption agency, and just like a legitimate one here, a price had to be paid. God comes down and takes a look to see if there is someone he wishes to bring home with him. Having looked around he decided that he had to have them all. He pays the price for all, signs the paperwork, and says come on and get in the truck. All anyone has to do is to sign the paperwork indicating that you wish to join him, and go jump in the truck. Here is the good news, He has not pulled away yet. That day will come soon. That does not mean that you are not welcome to come, it merely means that you may now have to sign the paperwork with your own blood as they chop off your head.
Many see this love and run to him, others may see it as something momentarily better than the conditions here, and others, with their bad attitudes sign on, sneering that I will try it out. Matters not, God takes you in. Some will struggle with that concept, but what does scripture say,
Romans 5:8 NIV But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Imagine if you had adopted and older child, set in their ways. They state openly, I will come with you, but don't expect me to do anything!” Do you understand that love himself gave his life for world that had nothing but a huge chip on their shoulder.
You really want to know what the sign of his presence is?
It came in the form of a baby in a manger. It was placed upon a cross to die. It rose again from the dead that I might live. It died for a world for a world that did not deserve it, and it promises us a life, beyond imagination, with Him, in Glory. The best part is, anybody is welcome to come.
“..and of the conclusion of the system of things?”
If you are going to throw something at me as scripture, then try using scripture. They did not ask him this, you are only conjecturing when you make a statement like this. Charles Taze Russell was disproved in a court of law as a charlatan that knew no Greek, therefore all his writings and claims were proven to be falsehoods, that he was using to gain monetary means.
On the other hand, scripture has withstood the test of time, and still brings men into a knowledge of a loving God, that wishes above all else to restore his relationship with man.
If Jesus disciples asked him what would be the sign of the end of the world, then wouldn't that be the end of all of us as well, unless of course you actually have a hope, based upon your relationship of Love with him.