Friday, April 27, 2012

What is a Jehovah's Witness? #2: Jesus returned invisibly in 1914 (1)

Continuing from "What is a Jehovah's Witness? #1: Jesus is not God and was not bodily resurrected" with this "What is a Jehovah's Witness? #2: Jesus returned invisibly in 1914," being my comments on an article by Daniel Ausbun, Pastor of First Baptist Moreland, Georgia. The words of the article are bold as are my headings. I am posting this initially without quotations to support the points I make, but will progressively add quotes later. I have since decided because of length to split this part #2 into two sub-parts #2(1) and #2(2). In this part #2(1) I will state the Watchtower position and in the next part #2(2) I will refute it.

"What is a Jehovah's Witness?," The Newnan Times-Herald, Daniel Ausbun, First Baptist Church, Moreland [Georgia], March 3, 2012 ... Knock knock! Two people are standing at your door, sharply dressed and very friendly, offering you The Watchtower magazine. They're Jehovah's Witnesses, and they're at your door to tell you God's good news. ... What do Jehovah's Witnesses' believe? ...

[Above (click to enlarge): Front page of the Herald of the Morning, July 1878, edited by Nelson H. Barbour (1824-1905), an Adventist, with Watchtower Bible & Tract Society founder "C. T. Russell" (1852–1916) listed as an assistant editor, and showing in the bottom right-hand corner the then Adventist teaching that the "Times of the Gentiles" would "end in 1914": Wikipedia, 18 April 2012. This proves that the foundational Watchtower Society date of 1914 was actually `borrowed' from 19th century Christian Adventist teachings, which the Watchtower effectively admits:

"In the course of their Bible studies, these searching students took up a consideration of the `times of the Gentiles,' as spoken of by Jesus at Luke 21:24 (AV), and they associated those Gentile Times with the `seven times' mentioned four times in Daniel, chapter four, verses 16, 23, 25, 32. What did those Bible students determine to be the date for those `seven times' of Gentile domination of the earth to end legally before God? Well, at that time there was a monthly magazine being published in Brooklyn, New York, by one George Storrs [an Adventist], and it was called "Bible Examiner." In the year 1876 the twenty-four-year-old Russell made a contribution on the subject to this magazine ... which was the issue of October, 1876 ... Russell's article was published under the title "Gentile Times: When Do They End?" In that article (page 27) Russell said: `The seven times will end in A.D. 1914.' In the following year (1877) Russell joined with one Nelson H. Barbour [another Adventist], of Rochester, New York, in publishing a book entitled 'Three Worlds, and the Harvest of This World." In this book it was set forth that the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E. would be preceded by a period of forty years marked by the opening of a harvest of three and a half years, beginning in 1874 C.E. This harvest was understood to be under the invisible direction of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose presence or parousia began in the year 1874. " (WB&TS, "God's Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached," 1973, pp.186-187. My words in square brackets).]

* The second "coming" of Jesus was an invisible spiritual presence that began in 1914. From 1879 to 1914 (~35 years) the Watchtower Society taught that Jesus had come invisibly in 1874, and that He would come visibly in 1914, at the end of the Times of the Gentiles:

"According to an inaccurate chronology that had been worked out from the King James Authorized Version Bible, Russell calculated that Christ's `presence' had begun in the year 1874 C.E., unseen to human eyes and seen only by the eye of faith. This was why, when he began publishing a new religious magazine in defense of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Russell entitled it "Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence." (WB&TS, "Man's Salvation Out of World Distress at Hand!," 1975, pp. 287-288).

But that prophecy was proved false in 1914, and Russell died in 1916:

"From that understanding of matters, the `chaste virgin' class began going forth to meet the heavenly Bridegroom in the year 1874, as they believed him to have arrived in that year and to be from then on invisibly present ... Due to this fact, when Charles T. Russell began publishing his own religious magazine in July of 1879, he published it under the title "Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence." ... The new magazine was heralding Christ's invisible presence as having begun in 1874. This presence was to continue until the end of the Gentile Times in 1914, when the Gentile nations would be destroyed and the remnant of the `chaste virgin' class would be glorified with their bridegroom in heaven by death and resurrection to life in the spirit ... As the years passed by and the time drew closer, the remnant of the `chaste virgin' class looked ahead with intensifying interest to that critical date, October 1, 1914. ... They were endeavoring to let their light shine as they approached the time when they expected to meet their Bridegroom in the heavens. Finally the day arrived, October 1, 1914, and on the morning of that day Charles T. Russell as president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society announced to the headquarters staff of workers in Brooklyn, New York: `The Gentile Times have ended and their kings have had their day.' However, with that end of the Gentile Times there did not also come the anticipated glorification of the remnant of the church in the heavens. It was first on October 31, 1916, that Russell himself died, leaving the Society's presidency to another. Something must have been miscalculated." (WB&TS, "God's Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached," 1973, pp.187-188).

Russell's successor `Judge' Joseph F. Rutherford (1869–1942) in 1919 declared that Jesus had come invisibly in 1914:

"The `chaste virgin' class endeavored to let their light shine as they approached the time when they expected to meet their Bridegroom in heaven. Finally, that day arrived-October 1, 1914. The Gentile Times ended, but the anticipated heavenly glorification of the church did not come about. In fact, it had not occurred by the time Russell himself died on October 31, 1916. ... As the slumbering virgins were aroused by the midnight cry that the bridegroom was coming, so in 1919 C.E. the fact of the heavenly Bridegroom's presence in the Kingdom was thrust upon all who claimed to be virgins awaiting him ... A general convention was held at Cedar Point, Ohio, on September 1-8, 1919 ... The `discreet virgin' class had the faith that the kingdom of God's Son had been established in heaven at the close of the Gentile Times in 1914 ... The `discreet virgin' class thus met the glorious Bridegroom in 1919 and have continued as part of the procession that honors him down to the end." ("No Spiritual `Energy Crisis' for Discreet Ones," The Watchtower, August 15, 1974, pp.507-508)

"When the Bible Students assembled at Cedar Point, Ohio, in 1919, J. F. Rutherford, who was then the president of the Watch Tower Society, declared: `Our vocation was and is to announce the incoming glorious kingdom of Messiah.' At the second Cedar Point convention, in 1922, Brother Rutherford highlighted the fact that at the end of the Gentile Times, in 1914, `the King of glory had taken unto himself his great power and had begun to reign.'" ("Kingdom Proclaimers Active in All the Earth," The Watchtower, May 1, 1994, pp.15-17)

thereby contradicting Russell and the Watchtower's teaching for forty years that Jesus had already come invisibly in 1874!

The date of 1914 adopted by Russell from the Adventists was worked out by them as follows:

1. The "times of the Gentiles" in Luke 21:24 must be the period from the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians to the second coming of Christ:

"`JERUSALEM shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.' - Luke 21:24. The term `Times of the Gentiles' was applied by our Lord to that interval of earth's history between the removal of the typical Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Israel (Ezek. 21:25-27), and the introduction and establishment of its antitype, the true Kingdom of God, when Christ comes to be `glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe in that day [2Th 1:10 KJV].'" (Russell, C.T., "The Time is at Hand," WB&TS, 1889, p.73. Emphasis original).

But this is false, as we shall see in part #2(2).

2. The date of that destruction of Jerusalem must be 70 years (Jer 25:11-12; 29:10) before 536 BC, the year that the Medo-Persian conqueror of Babylon, Cyrus the Great allowed the exiled Jews in Babylon to return to Jerusalem, i.e. 536 BC + 70 = 606 BC:

"The Bible evidence is clear and strong that the `Times of the Gentiles' is a period of 2520 years, from the year B.C. 606 to and including A.D. 1914 ... The date for the beginning of the Gentile Times is ... at the time of the removal of the crown of God's typical kingdom, from Zedekiah, their last king. According to the words of the prophet (Ezek. 21:25-27), the crown was taken from Zedekiah; and Jerusalem was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar's army and laid in ruins, and so remained for seventy years-until the restoration in the first year of Cyrus. (2 Chron. 36:21-23) Though Jerusalem was then rebuilt, and the captives returned, Israel has never had another king from that to the present day ... they, as a nation, were subject successively to the Persians, Grecians and Romans ... With these facts before us, we readily find the date for the beginning of the Gentile Times of dominion; for the first year of the reign of Cyrus is a very clearly fixed date -both secular and religious histories with marked unanimity agreeing with Ptolemy's Canon, which places it B.C. 536. And if B.C. 536 was the year in which the seventy years of Jerusalem's desolation ended and the restoration of the Jews began, it follows that their kingdom was overthrown just seventy years before B.C. 536, i. e., 536 plus 70, or B.C. 606. This gives us the date of the beginning of the Times of the Gentiles-B.C. 606." (Russell, "The Time is at Hand," 1889, pp.79-80. Emphasis original).

This also is false, as we shall see in part #2(2). Also note that the original Watchtower year for the destruction of Jerusalem and the start of the Times of the Gentiles was 606 BC, not the Society's current 607 BC.

3. The "seven times" in Daniel 4:16-32, which in the context is the period of Babylon's King Nebuchadnezzar's temporary insanity (Dn 4:33-37), must mean seven years:

"We have already examined the initial, typical application of Daniel's prophecy of the `seven times' and have noted that it applied to the seven literal years of Nebuchadnezzar's madness." (WB&TS, "Let Your Kingdom Come," 1981, p.133)

"The prophetic dream recorded by Daniel mentions an immense tree that was chopped down and banded with iron and copper until `seven times' passed over it. During that time, it was said, `the heart of a beast' would be given to it. (Daniel 4:10-17) What did this mean? God caused his own prophet Daniel to explain: Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, was to be removed from his throne and driven from among men to live as a beast. After seven years the king's sanity returned, he acknowledged the superiority of God's rulership, and he himself was restored to his throne. (Daniel 4:20-37)." (WB&TS, "True Peace and Security: How Can You Find It?," 1986, p.71).

But as we shall see in part #2(2), the Watchtower's claim that these "seven times" must be seven years is false.

(a) Each of those 7 years must be of 360 days:

"According to Daniel chapter four, these `appointed times' would be `seven times.' Daniel shows that there would be `seven times' during which God's rulership, as represented by the `tree,' would not be in operation over the earth. (Daniel 4:16, 23) How long are these `seven times'? In Revelation chapter 12, verses 6 and 14, we learn that 1,260 days are equal to `a time [that is, 1 time] and times [that is, 2 times] and half a time.' That is a total of 3½ times. So `a time' would be equal to 360 days." (WB&TS, "You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth," 1989, pp.140-141. Emphasis & square brackets original)

"In prophecy, a year averages 360 days, or 12 months of 30 days each. (Compare Revelation 12:6, 14.) So the king's `seven times,' or seven years, were 360 days multiplied by 7, or 2,520 days." (WB&TS, "Pay Attention to Daniel's Prophecy," 1999, pp.95-96).

But as we shall see in part #2(2), there is no connection between the "seven times" of Daniel 4:16-32 and the "time and times and half a time" of Revelation 12:14 and therefore the Watchtower's claim that the "seven times" of Daniel 4 must be seven years of 360 days each is false.

(b) Each of those 360 days must be a year:

"Therefore, `seven times' would be 7 times 360, or 2,520 days. Now if we count a day for a year, according to a Bible rule, the `seven times' equal 2,520 years.-Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6." (WB&TS, "You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth," 1989, p.141)

"The Bible shows that three and a half `times' equal 1,260 days. (Revelation 12:6, 14) Twice that period, or seven times, would be 2,520 days. But nothing noteworthy happened at the end of that short period of time. By applying `a day for a year' to Daniel's prophecy and counting 2,520 years from 607 B.C.E., however, we arrive at the year 1914 C.E.-Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6." (WB&TS, "Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life," 1995, p.97)

"However, the vision served notice that this `trampling of Jerusalem' would be temporary-a period of `seven times.' How long a period is that? Revelation 12:6, 14 indicates that three and a half times equal `a thousand two hundred and sixty days.' `Seven times' would therefore last twice as long, or 2,520 days. But the Gentile nations did not stop `trampling' on God's rulership a mere 2,520 days after Jerusalem's fall. Evidently, then, this prophecy covers a much longer period of time. On the basis of Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6, which speak of `a day for a year,' the `seven times' would cover 2,520 years." (WB&TS, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?," 2005, p.217. Emphasis original).

But as we shall see in part #2(2), there is no "a day for a year" rule in the Bible, so therefore this claim by the Watchtower that each of those 360 days must be a year is also false.

(c) Hence the "times of the Gentiles" must span a period of 7 x 360 = 2520 years:

"When Nebuchadnezzar's sanity was restored by God, little did he realize that the `seven times' were to have a greater fulfillment of a year for each day of the seven prophetic years of 360 days each, a total of 2,520 (7 x 360) years. Little did he realize that it was a prophecy revealing that, from the overthrow of God's representative kingdom when Jerusalem was desolated in 607 B.C.E., there would be no king of the line of David exercising ruling authority in the affairs of mankind for 2,520 years. During this time `Jerusalem would be trampled on by the nations until the appointed times of the nations should be fulfilled'-that is, God would permit Gentile domination of the earth, with no king on the throne representing God. At the end of the 2,520-year period God's due time would arrive to set his Messiah upon the throne in the heavens. According to Bible chronology and world conditions fulfilling prophecy, these `times of the Gentiles' expired in 1914 C.E.-Luke 21:24, American Standard Version; Ezek. 21:27." ("The Best Time to Be Alive," The Watchtower, November 1, 1973, pp.644-645).

"One of these reasons is that this is the time of Christ's invisible presence in power as King. The `appointed times of the nations,' or the `times of the Gentiles,' have ended. These `times' began when God's representative kingdom on earth was overthrown in 607 B.C.E. by Babylon. How long were these `times' to run? They were to be `seven times' or seven prophetic years of 360 days each, in which a day was to count for a year. This would be 7 × 360, or 2,520 years. This brings us to the year 1914 C.E., when the Kingdom would be restored in the hands of the one `who has the legal right.'-Luke 21:24; Daniel 4:17; Ezek. 4:6; 21:27." ("Is Christianity Dying?" The Watchtower, September 15, 1974, p. 557).

"Nebuchadnezzar's case of madness, probably a condition known as lycanthropy, lasted for seven years. At his recovery he acknowledged the God who healed him, but he did not restore God's people to their homeland. Jehovah God had decreed that Jerusalem and the land of Judah should lie desolate for 70 years. So the trampling upon Jerusalem by the Gentiles continued on, even after Jerusalem was rebuilt by the repatriated Jews beginning in 537 B.C.E. How so? Because they remained subject to Gentile control, without any descendant of the royal line of David sitting on the throne at Jerusalem as independent king. So it is evident that in the case of Jehovah God, the `seven times' are symbolic, hence, longer than seven years counting from 607 B.C.E.- Daniel 4:16, 23, 25, 32. In the Bible's prophetic count of time, a lunar year is calculated as amounting to 360 days. So a symbolic year, or `time,' would amount to 360 calendar years. Seven symbolic `times,' or `years,' would therefore amount to 7 x 360, or 2,520 years. Counted from the year 607 B.C.E., when Jerusalem, `the city of the great King,' was destroyed by Jehovah's `servant,' Nebuchadnezzar, and thus the trampling on Jerusalem by the Gentiles began, those 2,520 years would end in the autumn of the year 1914 of our Common Era." ("Israel and the `Times of the Gentiles," The Watchtower, August 1, 1983, p.21).

4. Therefore Jesus' second coming at the END of the Times of the Gentiles would be in 606 BC + 2520 years = AD 1914.:

"In Leviticus xxvi, the expression `seven times' is four times repeated in reference to the duration of the rule of its enemies over Jerusalem. It has often been shown that this is the basis and key of the Times of the Gentiles (Luke xxi. 24), or the duration of Gentile rule over Jerusalem. A time is a year; a prophetic year is 360 common years and has been so fulfilled. `A time, times and a half' (i.e., 3½ times) has been fulfilled as 1260 literal years ... If three times and a half are 1260 years, seven times are 2520 years. From B.C. 606, where the desolation of Jerusalem began, 2520 years reach to A.D. 1914. According to this application of the number seven, Jerusalem will be free at that time, and thence-forward be a praise in the earth." ("Number Seven," Zion's Watch Tower, June 1880, Reprints, p.109.

"It is an accepted fact that in Bible symbolism each day represents a year; and the Jewish year had twelve months of thirty days each. Thus each year represented, symbolically, three hundred and sixty years; and the seven years of chastisement represented 7 x 360 = 2,520 years. When, therefore, we read that the kingdom would be `overturned, overturned,' [Eze 21:27] until Messiah should come, we are to understand that the period of the overturned condition, as a whole, would be 2,520 years, beginning with the time the crown was taken from Zedekiah-in 606 B.C. (70 years prior to the proclamation of Cyrus permitting the people to return-536 B.C.). ("Overturned Until He Come," The Watch Tower, August 1, 1911, Reprints, p.4867).

"SEVEN TIMES' COMMENCED JULY-AUGUST, 606 B.C. The punishment for not properly observing the jubilee was a severe one, yet in Leviticus 26:18,21,24 and 28 mention is made of `seven times' more punishment if the Jews neglected to keep their Law, as they had covenanted. By the key given in other scriptures, Bible Students have long known that the `seven times' refer to seven symbolic or prophetic years of three hundred and sixty days, each day standing for a full year of actual time. Thus seven times would be 7 x 360, or 2520 years. In Luke 21:24 Jesus stated that Jerusalem, standing for the Jewish nation, would be trodden down, or under the dominion of the Gentiles, `until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.' The nation went completely under the dominion of the Gentiles at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar July-August, 606 B.C. 2520 years from that date would be 1914 A.D." ("The Year of Jubilee," The Watch Tower, February 15, 1925, p. 54. Emphasis original).

"It is by Israel's jubilee system, detailed in the twenty-fifth chapter of Leviticus, and by the `seven times' of the twenty-sixth chapter, that the chronological system of the Bible is verified. The seven times or seven `years' (of 360 days each) of punishment are seven periods of 360 years each, or 2520 years in all, which began with the destruction of the national life of Israel at a kingdom, in 606 B.C., and which ended in 1914 A.D. with the outbreak of the World War, when Christ began to take control of earth's affairs." ("Obedience to Law," The Watch Tower, August 1, 1926, p.237).

"In Leviticus 26:14-39, God told the nation of Israel that if they failed to keep their covenant he would scatter them among the Gentile nations, where they would be a byword and a hissing for a long period called `seven times'. This foretold period of punishment began when Nebuchadnezzar carried the Israelites to Babylon, in 606 B.C., and ended in 1914, exactly 2520 years later. In Jewish reckoning, a time is a Jewish year of 360 days. Seven times would be seven times 360 days, or 2520 days; and the Lord through his prophet tells us that, in prophecy, a day counts for a year.-Ezek. 4:4-6; Num. 14:34." ("Divine Foreknowledge: Proof That Jehovah is God," The Watch Tower, July 16, 1930, p.218).

But as we shall see in in part #2(2), there is no connection between Jesus' prophecy of "the Times of the Gentiles" in Luke 21:24:

"They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled."

and the "seven times" of Daniel 4:16-32, or indeed any Old Testament passage.

The Watchtower Society later admitted (what it must have known since at least 1904) that there was no year zero between 1 BC and AD 1, therefore 606 BC + 2520 years = AD 1913. But rather than admit that 1914 was wrong (which would cause the collapse of the entire Watchtower `house of cards' system - see next part #2(2) - the Watchtower changed its date for the destruction of Jerusalem from 606 BC to 607 BC!:

"How long are `seven times', the times of the nations? ... In Revelation 12:6 (NW) there is mentioned 1,260 days and then in the 14th verse this very same period is referred to as 3½ `times'. So if 3½ `times' is 1,260 days, then 7 `times' (twice 3½ `times') must be twice 1,260, or 2,520 days. ... So according to this [year-day] rule established in the wilderness the Jewish nation [Num 14:34] ... These 2,520 years ran from the desolating of Jerusalem and the land in the summer and fall of 607 B.C. up to the summer and fall of 1914, when they expired. From 607 B.C. to 1 B.C. is 606 years. From 1 B.C. to A.D. 1 is only one year, because the ancients had not discovered the zero which according to modern mathematics would have made it two years. The use of the zero is only of comparatively recent mathematical origin. From A.D. 1 to A.D. 1914 is 1,913 years. Therefore adding 606 years plus 1 year plus 1,913 years we get a total of 2,520 years." ("Determining the Year by Fact and Bible," The Watchtower, May 1, 1952, pp.270-271).

"Jehovah's witnesses from 1877 up to and including the publishing of `The Truth Shall Make You Free' of 1943 considered 536 B.C. as the year for the return of the Jews to Palestine, basing their calculations for the fall of Babylon on secular histories that were inaccurate, not up to date on archaeological evidences [This is a lie. The WB&TS was repeatedly told by Christians from at least 1904 that 606 BC was wrong, based on historical and archaeological evidence, but it claimed that that they were wrong and that it got its 606 BC date from the Bible, which itself is false because the Bible has no dates-SEJ]. This meant that Jeremiah's seventy years of desolation for Jerusalem ran back from 536 B.C. to 606 B.C., instead of more correctly as now known from 537 B.C. to 607 B.C. (2 Chron. 36:21; Jer. 25:12; Zec. 1:12) With the above Absolute date for the fall of Babylon, the date 607 B.C. is on solid ground for the fall of Jerusalem, when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon terminated the reigning Davidic dynasty by taking Jerusalem's last ruler, King Zedekiah, captive. This leads to the important modern date of 1914, which marks the end of the `seven times' of 2,520 years of Gentile domination since the first fall of Jerusalem 607 B.C. (Dan. 4:9-16; Luke 21:24) This adjustment of one year for Jerusalem's fall to 607 B.C. was acknowledged in the book `The Kingdom Is at Hand' of 1944, footnote of page 171, and also in The Watchtower of 1952, page 271." ("Questions From Readers ," The Watchtower, February 1, 1955, p. 94).

"1914 Foreseen ... `The Bible evidence is clear and strong that the `Times of the Gentiles' is a period of 2520 years, from the year B.C. 606 to and including A.D. 1914.'-Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 2, written by C. T. Russell and published in 1889, page 79. Charles Taze Russell and his fellow Bible students realized decades earlier that 1914 would mark the end of the Gentile Times, or the appointed times of the nations. (Luke 21:24) ... Providentially, those Bible Students had not realized that there is no zero year between `B.C.' and `A.D.' Later, when research made it necessary to adjust B.C. 606 to 607 B.C.E., the zero year was also eliminated, so that the prediction held good at `A.D. 1914.'-See "The Truth Shall Make You Free", published by Jehovah's Witnesses in 1943, page 239.' (WB&TS, "Revelation: Its Grand Climax At Hand!," 1988, p.105).

This was despite the Watchtower's founder Russell claiming that 606 BC was one of "God's dates, not ours":

"We see no reason for changing the figures-nor could we change them if we would. They are, we believe, God's dates, not ours. But bear in mind that the end of 1914 is not the date for the beginning, but for the end of the time of trouble." (Russell, C.T., "Can It Be Delayed Until 1914?," Zion's Watch Tower, July 15, 1894, Watchtower Reprints, p.1677).

and, "To change the chronology even one year would destroy all this harmony" (my emphasis):

"Question.-If the `Times of the Gentiles' can be changed as suggested in the July TOWER, so that the anarchy will follow 1914 A. D., instead of preceding it, might not similar changes be made in respect to all the various lines of prophetic time-proof set forth in MILLENNIAL DAWN, Vols. II. and III.? Answer.-You are entirely in error. ... The harmony of the prophetic periods is one of the strongest proofs of the correctness of our Bible chronology. They fit together like the cog-wheels of a perfect machine. To change the chronology even one year would destroy all this harmony,- so accurately are the various proofs drawn together in the parallels between the Jewish and Gospel ages. It would affect the ending of the Jubilee cycles, the 1335 days, the 2300 days and the times of the Gentles, throwing out of gear all the wonderful harmonies of these in the `parallel dispensations.'" (Russell, C.T., "The Harvest and Gentile Times," Zion's Watch Tower, August 15, 1904, Watchtower Reprints, p.3415. Emphasis original).

But as we shall see in in part #2(2), the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar was in 587 BC not in 606 BC, nor in 607 BC. The Adventists' (and therefore Russell's and the Watchtower's) fundamental error was in confusing Jeremiah's prophecy about Judah and the surrounding nations serving the King of Babylon as vassals for 70 years:

Jer 25:11 KJV. "And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years."

which began soon after Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptians at the Battle of Carchemish in 605 BC, with the actual destruction of Jerusalem 18 years later in 587 BC.

Note that if any one of the factors in the equation: 7 (times = years) x 360 (days = years) = 2520 years is even slightly different, the answer would not be 2520. For example, if the "seven times" of Nechuchadnezzar's temporary insanity was not "seven literal years" as the Watchtower claims, but six years and nine months (which is well within the meaning of "seven times"), that would make the calculation 6.75 x 360 = 2430 years, which if then added to the Watchtower's current year for the destruction of Jerusalem of 607 BC, would yield the end of the Gentile times of 1823! And even if all the factors were exactly what the Watchtower claims they are, and the answer was 2520, then the year of the destruction of Jerusalem has to be 607 BC (which it isn't-it was twenty years later in 587 BC) for -607 + 2520 +1 (no year zero) to equal 1914. And even if each part the Watchtower's equation was correct (and as we shall see all of them are wrong, with the possible exception of the "seven times" of Nebuchadnezzar's temporary insanity being seven years), there is still no good reason to think that "times" in "times of the Gentiles" in Luke 21:24) has anything to do with the "seven times" period of Nebuchadnezzar's temporary insanity in Daniel 4:16-32.

[To be continued in part #2(2)]

Stephen E. Jones, B.Sc., Grad. Dip. Ed.
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & The Shroud of Turin

Friday, April 20, 2012

What is a Jehovah's Witness? #1: Jesus is not God and was not bodily resurrected

Here are my comments on an article by a Baptist pastor on some of the distinctive teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses. I had intended to post it unfinished and then progressively add my comments to it. But I later realised it would become too long, so I will now split my responses over multiple parts. My comments are bold to distinguish from the article.

"What is a Jehovah's Witness?," The Newnan Times-Herald, Daniel Ausbun, First Baptist Church, Moreland [Georgia], March 03, 2012 ...

[Left: Daniel Ausbun, Pastor of First Baptist Moreland, Georgia: First Baptist Moreland: Staff.]

Knock knock! Two people are standing at your door, sharply dressed and very friendly, offering you The Watchtower magazine. They're Jehovah's Witnesses, and they're at your door to tell you God's good news. ... What do Jehovah's Witnesses' believe?

* Jesus is not Jehovah God; he is the first and only direct creation of God and the agent through which Jehovah made all things. Jesus was originally created by God as the Archangel, Michael. Michael was later given a human body and renamed Jesus. ... This is indeed what the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society teaches:

"Who Is Michael the Archangel? THE spirit creature called Michael is not mentioned often in the Bible. However, when he is referred to, he is in action. In the book of Daniel, Michael is battling wicked angels; in the letter of Jude, he is disputing with Satan; and in Revelation, he is waging war with the Devil and his demons. By defending Jehovah's rulership and fighting God's enemies, Michael lives up to the meaning of his name-'Who Is Like God?' But who is Michael? At times, individuals are known by more than one name. For example, the patriarch Jacob is also known as Israel, and the apostle Peter, as Simon. (Genesis 49:1, 2; Matthew 10:2) Likewise, the Bible indicates that Michael is another name for Jesus Christ, before and after his life on earth. Let us consider Scriptural reasons for drawing that conclusion." ("What Does the Bible Really Teach?" Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 2005, p.218. Emphasis original).

This is a good topic for a Christian to start dialoguing with a JW because it is, "Perhaps the most peculiar Watchtower doctrine" and "If Witnesses have difficulty explaining any particular doctrine, it is this one":

"Perhaps the most peculiar Watchtower doctrine is the idea that Jesus is really Michael the archangel. This teaching is not typically mentioned when introducing the faith to a new recruit, as can be seen in the official overview of beliefs published by the Watchtower. If Witnesses have difficulty explaining any particular doctrine, it is this one. ... The clearest contradiction of such an idea can be found in the book of Hebrews ... where the sacred author asks, `For to what angel did God ever say, "Thou art my Son"' (1:5, citing Ps. 2:7) and `When he brings the first-born into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him"' (1:6, citing Deut. 32:43). `Of the angels he says, "Who makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire." But of the Son he says, "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever ..." and, "Thou, Lord, didst found the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of thy hands"' (1:7-8, citing Ps. 104:4, 45:6, and 102:25). Here the author of Hebrews not only separates Jesus from angels, he even commands the angels to worship him (Heb. 1:6; cf. Rev. 5:13-14, 14:7). The first issue of Zion's Watch Tower magazine agreed: `"Let all the angels of God worship him" [that must include Michael] and "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever."' [Zion's Watch Tower, July 1879, p.9. Brackets and italics original]" (Evert, J., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses," 2001, pp.72-73).

See my two-part series, "Is Jesus Christ Michael the archangel?" for other reasons why the Watchtower Society is wrong in its claim that Jesus is Michael the archangel.

* Jesus' true followers are known by their worship of the true and almighty God, Jehovah, who is not a Trinity. Jesus is Jehovah, come in the flesh. See my previous post, "Jesus is Jehovah!" So Jehovah's Witnesses who deny that, are not Jehovah's witnesses, but are witnesses to a false god of the Watchtower Society's making.

* Jesus was raised from the dead, not with a physical body, but as a mighty spirit creature. This is indeed what the Watchtower teaches, "God ... raised Jesus Christ to life ... Jesus became a living spirit creature, as he had been before coming to earth:"

"God, in one of history's most important acts, raised Jesus Christ to life after he had been dead for days. Jesus became a living spirit creature, as he had been before coming to earth ..." ("Happiness-How to Find It," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, 1980, p.118-119).

"God raised Jesus back to life as a glorious spirit creature":

"Lovingly, Jehovah provided a perfect solution. How so? First, by performing the miracle of transferring the life of his beloved heavenly Son to the womb of a virgin so that he could be born as a perfect human ... Then, after Jesus' enemies put him to death, Jehovah performed another outstanding miracle. God raised Jesus back to life as a glorious spirit creature." ("Righteous Ones Will Praise God Forever," The Watchtower, March 15, 2009, p.24).

"Jesus today ... is a mighty spirit creature":

"Where Is Jesus Today? Jesus died on a torture stake at the age of 33 1/2. But death was not the end of his life course. The third stage of his life began about three days later when Jehovah God resurrected his Son as a spirit person. ... Jesus today is neither a man nor God ... Rather, he is a mighty spirit creature ..." ("Who Is Jesus Christ?," The Watchtower, September 15, 2005, p.6).

But the Bible teaches that Jesus'body was resurrected:

"While Jesus was passing through the temple in Jerusalem, some Jewish people asked him for a sign. He replied, `Break down this temple, and in three days I will raise it up' (John 2:19). They understood him to be speaking of the temple building, but John clarifies that Jesus had something else in mind: `He was talking about the temple of his body' (John 2:21; emphasis added). The Greek here is somatos autou, `the body of himself.' Jesus unequivocally teaches that he will raise up his body after three days. ... After he had risen, Jesus showed that his promise had been fulfilled, `See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; feel me and see, because a spirit does not have flesh and bones just as you behold that I have... . Do you have something there to eat?' (Luke 24:39, 41; emphasis added). Jesus also insisted that Thomas place his finger into his wounded side, to prove that he had indeed risen from the dead (John 20:27). But why would Jesus offer a body to prove that his spirit had risen? In Matthew 28:6, why would the angel offer the empty tomb as proof that Jesus rose if his body is forever dead?" (Evert, J., "Answering Jehovah's Witnesses," 2001, pp.106-107. Emphasis original).

"JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES, as has been observed, deny the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and claim instead that He was raised a `divine spirit being,' or as an `invisible spirit creature.' They answer the objection that He appeared in human form by asserting that He simply took human forms as He needed them which enabled Him to be seen, for as the Logos, He would have been invisible to the human eye. In short, Jesus did not appear in the same form which hung upon the cross, since that body either `dissolved in gases or is preserved somewhere as a memorial to God's love.' [Russell, C.T., The Time is at Hand, 1907, p.129] The Scriptures, however, tell a completely different story, as will be evident when their testimony is considered. Christ Himself prophesied His own bodily resurrection, and John tells us `he spake of the temple of his body' (Jn 2:21, KJV). In John 20:25-26 the disciple Thomas doubted the literal physical resurrection of Christ only to positively declare his belief in verse 28, after Jesus (v. 27) offered His body, the same one that was crucified and still bearing the prints and spear wound, to Thomas for his examination. No one would say that the body the Lord Jesus displayed was not His crucifixion body, unless he either ignorantly or willfully denies the Word of God. It was not a body `assumed' for the time by a spiritual Christ; it was the identical form that hung on the tree-the Lord Himself; He was alive and undeniably tangible, not a `divine spirit creature.' The Lord foresaw the unbelief of men in His bodily resurrection and made an explicit point of saying that He was not a spirit but flesh and bones (Lk 24:39-44), and He even went so far as to eat food to prove that He identified with humanity as well as Deity. Christ rebuked the disciples for their unbelief in His physical resurrection (Lk 24:25), and it was the physical resurrection that confirmed His deity, since only God could voluntarily lay down and take up life at will (Jn 10:18)." (Martin, W.R. & Klann, N., "Jehovah of the Watchtower," 1981, pp.69-70. Emphasis original).

[Continued in part #2].

Stephen E. Jones, B.Sc., Grad. Dip. Ed.
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & The Shroud of Turin