Salvation: Unknown

The 15 July 2015 Study Edition of the Watchtower, has a study article entitled, “Your Deliverance is Getting Near”! The article begins by asking the reader to imagine they live in 66 A.D. when the Jews revolt against Rome to assert their independence.  It describes the Romans surrounding Jerusalem and that the reader manages to escape destruction by fleeing to the hills with other faithful christians by considering Jesus’ words in Luke 21:20-21. Yes, the reader was saved right before the Romans came in and destroyed Jerusalem four years later. A parallel is then drawn between the salvation of the reader from a first century localized event and an impending worldwide catastrophe that the reader will experience “soon, very soon”.

In Luke 21:21, Jesus gave clear and concise instructions on how a believer could attain salvation from an army surrounding Jerusalem. Do the Faithful & Discreet Slave “who are giving food at the proper time”, provide clear and concise instructions to its members on how to “survive this worldwide catastrophe”? Let’s study the Watchtower article to find out.

The Beginning of the Great Tribulation

What Watchtower Says…

How will the great tribulation begin? The book of Revelation answers by describing the destruction of “Babylon the Great.” (Rev.17:5-7) How appropriate that all false religion is likened to a prostitute! The clergy have prostituted themselves with the leaders of this wicked world. Instead of loyally supporting Jesus and his Kingdom, they have given their support to human rulers and have compromised godly principles just to gain political influence. They stand in stark contrast with the clean, virgin like anointed ones of God. (2Cor.11:2; Jas.1:27; Rev.14:4) But who will destroy the harlot-like organization? Jehovah God will put “his thought” into the hearts of “the ten horns” of the “scarlet-colored wild beast.” These horns represent all the present political powers that give support to the United Nations, an organization pictured by the “scarlet-colored wild beast.”—Read Revelation 17:3, 16-18.

What AvoidJW.org Says…

Revelation 17:5-7 does not describe the destruction of “Babylon the Great”. Nor does it state that all false religion is likened to a prostitute. It simply describes a woman who has “Babylon the Great” written on her forehead.  When the article states that “the clergy have prostituted themselves with the leaders of this wicked world” are they referring to all clergy in all denominations? This is a gross generalization and it is not reflective of all denominations, many of whom have no interest in gaining political influence, but rather loyally support Jesus and his Kingdom.  So, if “Jehovah God” is going to destroy the harlot-like organization of religion, who “stand in stark contrast with the clean, virgin like anointed ones” as self-righteously described by Jehovah’s Witnesses, what will happen to those religious groups who have not “prostituted themselves with the leaders of this wicked world”?

What Watchtower Says…

Should we conclude, though, that the destruction of the religions of Babylon the Great results in the death of all the former members of those religions? Apparently not. The prophet Zechariah was inspired to write about that time. Speaking of someone who was previously part of false religion, the account states: “He will say, ‘I am no prophet. I am a man cultivating the soil, because a man bought me when I was young.’ And if someone asks him, ‘What are these wounds between your shoulders?’ he will answer, ‘Wounds I received in the house of my friends.’” (Zech.13:4-6) So, apparently, even some of the clergy will abandon the irreligious course and deny that they were ever part of those false religions.

What AvoidJW.org Says…

The Watchtower attempts to use Zechariah’s prophecy relating to prophets in Israel as having a two-fold fulfilment, simply because Zechariah foretold the destruction of Jerusalem. Bear in mind that many Christians, particularly millennialists such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, believe that the first century  destruction of Jerusalem has a two-fold fulfilment. Therefore, it would seem logical to them that if the destruction of Jerusalem has a two-fold fulfilment, then all aspects of that prophecy has a two-fold fulfilment. It should be noted that “prophets” in scripture were not always of the clergy, yet the Watchtower seems to indicate that the terms are synonymous. However, there is no attempt to justify this view.

What Watchtower Says…

How will God’s people fare at that time? Jesus explains: “In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.” (Matt.24:22) As we considered, in 66 C.E. the tribulation was “cut short.” This allowed “the chosen ones,” anointed Christians, to flee the city and its environs. Likewise, the initial part of the future great tribulation will be “cut short” because of “the chosen ones.” The political “ten horns” will not be allowed to annihilate God’s people. Rather, there will be a brief respite.

What AvoidJW.org Says…

Who are “God’s People”? Jehovah’s Witnesses? Matthew 24 does not mention Jehovah’s Witnesses. It does mention and warn against false prophets. If Jehovah’s Witnesses are the true religion, surely they should be able to explain how “the political “ten horns” will not be allowed to annihilate God’s people”. Surely, they should be able to explain how this “brief respite” will pan out. When we review Jesus words in Luke 21:20-21, we understand clearly when the “brief respite” is and how to save oneself from destruction.

Do Jehovah’s Witnesses explain how their members will avoid annihilation from the political “ten horns”? Do they explain when, during the Great Tribulation, there is a brief respite? Continue reading to find out.

A Time of Testing and Judgement

What Watchtower Says…

What will happen after the destruction of false religious organizations? It will be a time to reveal what is really in our heart. The majority of mankind will seek refuge in human organizations that are likened to “the rocks of the mountains.” (Rev.6:15-17) Figuratively speaking, however, God’s people will flee to the refuge that Jehovah provides. In the first century, the interval was not a time for a mass conversion of Jews to Christianity. It was a time for action and obedience on the part of those who were already Christians. Similarly, we cannot expect that the future interruption in the great tribulation will result in an influx of new believers. Rather, it will be an opportunity for all true believers to prove their love for Jehovah and give their support to Christ’s brothers.—Matt.25:34-40.

What AvoidJW.org Says…

This paragraph provides little to no information. Really, there is no information here that is of use to anyone. What organizations will the majority of humanity turn to after the destruction of false religious organizations? And why? What refuge is Jehovah going to provide? How can God’s people flee to a refuge that is not revealed? In the first Century, Jesus clearly told his followers to flee to the mountains. If the Watchtower Society is truly God’s organization on earth, why are they devoid of any detail of a place of refuge for his people? If the “future interruption in the great tribulation” will be “an opportunity for all true believers to prove their love for Jehovah and give their support to Christ’s brothers”, is there no opportunity for “true believers” do so right now?

What Watchtower Says…

Although we do not fully understand all that will happen during that time of test, we can expect that it will involve some measure of sacrifice. In the first century, Christians had to leave behind their possessions and endure hardships in order to survive. (Mark 13:15-18) To remain faithful, will we be willing to experience material loss? Will we be ready to do whatever is required of us to prove our loyalty to Jehovah? Just think! At that time, we will be the only ones following the example of the ancient prophet Daniel by continuing to worship our God no matter what.— Dan.6:10,11.

What AvoidJW.org Says…

Clearly, Watchtower have no idea at all what “will happen during that time of test”.  Everything mentioned here is pure conjecture. Yes, there may be some sacrifice and a need to leave behind material possessions, but if the Jews had to run to the hills to escape from the Romans, is using the example of Daniel getting down on his knees petitioning God a fitting one? In a time of uncertainty, using the example of Lot might be a better example (Gen.19:15-17).  In any case, Muslims are more likely to follow Daniel’s example than any self-righteous Jehovah’s Witness.

What Watchtower Says…

This will not be the time to preach the “good news of the Kingdom.” That time will have passed. The time for “the end” will have come! (Matt.24:14) No doubt God’s people will proclaim a hard-hitting judgment message. This may well involve a declaration announcing that Satan’s wicked world is about to come to its complete end. The Bible likens this message to hailstones when it says: “Great hailstones, each about the weight of a talent, fell from heaven on the people, and the people blasphemed God because of the plague of hail, for the plague was unusually great.”— Rev.16:21.

What AvoidJW.org Says…

The Watchtower makes assumptions using no supporting data except interpret scripture in a manner that suits their doctrine. For example, why would God need people to proclaim a hard-hitting judgment message? Isn’t the Great Tribulation a clear enough sign for the world? Indeed, what difference is there between Jehovah’s Witnesses declaring a complete end to Satan’s wicked world during the Great Tribulation and the message they preach today, and have been preaching since their inception, that Satan’s wicked world is about to end? Additionally, Rev.16:21 says that the hail comes from heaven, not from earth.

What Watchtower Says…

None of this will go unnoticed by our enemies. Under inspiration, the prophet Ezekiel explains what Gog of Magog, a coalition of nations, will do: “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: ‘In that day thoughts will come in to your heart, and you will devise an evil plan. You will say: “I will invade the land of unprotected settlements. I will come against those living in security, without disturbance, all of them living in settlements unprotected by walls, bars, or gates.” It will be to take much spoil and plunder, to attack the devastated places that are now inhabited and a people regathered from the nations, who are accumulating wealth and property, those who are living in the center of the earth.’” (Ezek.38:10-12) Spiritually speaking, God’s people will stand out as unique, “in the center of the earth,” as it were. This will be too much for the nations. Yes, they will be eager to attack Jehovah’s anointed ones as well as their associates.

What AvoidJW.org Says…

So, Jehovah’s Witnesses now think that Ezek.38:10-12 is in reference to them. But really, do Jehovah’s Witnesses have enemies? If you disregard disgruntled ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses and those they term as apostates, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not have any enemies from “a coalition of nations”.  Granted, their work is banned in some countries. And maybe for good reason. However, they are not the only religious group whose religious work is banned.  And just because some countries may have banned their work, there is no indication that any nation has any reason to attack them as a people. What purpose would it serve for “a coalition of nations” to attack such a small religious group? Why would it be too much for the nations when, “spiritually speaking, God’s people … stand out as unique”? Why would the nations be eager to attack them? There is nothing in this paragraph to justify such nonsensical claims. It’s fear-mongering.

What Watchtower Says…

As we examine what happens next, we need to keep in mind that God’s Word does not reveal the exact time order of events. It seems likely that some events will overlap. Jesus states in his prophecy about the conclusion of this system of things: “There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation. People will become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:25-27; read Mark 13:24-26.) Will the fulfillment of this prophecy include frightening signs and events in the literal heavens? We will have to wait and see. But whatever the case, the signs will cause terror and panic in the hearts of God’s enemies.

What AvoidJW.org Says…

I think readers need to keep in mind that the bible does not reveal much at all when it comes to the events surrounding the so-called “Great Tribulation”. However, it is clear that Jehovah’s Witnesses expect and hope for a Great Tribulation where “there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations not knowing the way out”, where “people will become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth”. Yet, Jehovah’s Witnesses have no idea if Jesus’ description of the “conclusion of the system of things” is figurative or literal! How interesting: God’s self-professed representatives on earth are unsure if the fulfillment of their end-of-world prophecy that they’ve been preaching about for over a hundred and fifty years is literal or figurative. Meanwhile, they think the fearful events will only frighten God’s enemies?

What Watchtower Says…

What will happen when Jesus comes “with power and great glory”? This will be a time for rewarding those who are faithful and for punishing those who are not. (Matt.24:46,47,50,51; 25:19,28-30) According to Matthew, Jesus finished giving the composite sign with the parable of the sheep and the goats, saying: “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.” (Matt.25:31-33) What judgment will the sheep and the goats hear pronounced on them? The parable finishes with the words: “These [the goats] will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.”—Matt.25:46.

What AvoidJW.org Says…

Who are the sheep and who are the goats?  Notice that the Watchtower is reluctant to state outright who the goats are. Yet, all faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses know that it refers to all religious groups that are not Jehovah’s Witnesses. After all, all the scriptures referenced are in relation to the parables of a faithful and wicked slave.  Indeed, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the “faithful & discreet slave” is in reference to their governing body.  If Jehovah’s Witnesses’ governing body is considered to be the faithful slave by its members, then it’s no wonder that they consider themselves the sheep and all other religions as the goats.  So, while Jehovah’s Witnesses expect to come out of the Great Tribulation into an endless life within paradise conditions, they also expect all other Peoples and religious groups to depart into everlasting cutting-off. In other words, die during the Great Tribulation.

What Watchtower Says…

How will the goats react when they realize that “ever lasting cutting-off” awaits them? They “will beat themselves in grief.” (Matt.24:30) But how will Christ’s brothers and their faithful companions react at that time? With full faith in Jehovah God and his Son, Jesus Christ, they will heed Jesus’ command: “As these things start to occur, stand up straight and lift up your heads, because your deliverance is getting near.” (Luke 21:28) Yes, we will have a positive attitude, confident of deliverance.

What AvoidJW.org Says…

Jehovah’s Witnesses will be in for a great shock when they see “these things start to occur” and then find that “the son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” is saying to many of them, “I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!” – Matthew 7:23. Truly, the goats can be found within the membership of Jehovah’s Witnesses just as easily as they can be found in the membership of other religions. The separating work is not simply separating Jehovah’s Witnesses from Non-Witnesses.

How do the remaining members of Jehovah’s Witnesses with a heavenly hope expect to get to heaven if they are living through the Great Tribulation? Do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in the rapture? The term “rapture” isn’t found in scripture and unless they had coined the term themselves, Jehovah’s Witnesses are unlikely to refer to the phenomenon of being caught up into heaven as a “rapture”. Read on to find out more.

Shining Brightly in the Kingdom

What Watchtower Says…

What will happen after Gog of Magog starts the attack on God’s people? Both Matthew and Mark record the same event: “[The Son of man] will send out the angels and will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from earth’s extremity to heaven’s extremity.” (Mark 13:27; Matt.24:31) This gathering work does not refer to the initial ingathering of anointed ones; nor does it refer to the final sealing of the remaining anointed ones. (Matt.13:37,38) That sealing happens before the outbreak of the great tribulation. (Rev.7:1-4) So what is this gathering work that Jesus mentions? It is the time when the remaining ones of the 144,000 will receive their heavenly reward. (1 Thess.4:15-17; Rev.14:1) This event will take place at some point after the beginning of the attack by Gog of Magog. (Ezek.38:11) Then these words of Jesus will be fulfilled: “At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.”—Matt.13:43.*

What AvoidJW.org Says…

Remember, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Gog of Magog is a coalition of nations that are hell-bent on attacking their small religious group. So, the Watchtower has made it clear that this gathering of the chosen ones is not the selecting or sealing process of anointed ones, quoting Rev.7:1-4 where is clearly states that the sealing process takes place before the earth is harmed. At one time, Jehovah’s Witnesses believed that the sealing process was completed in 1935. This date was arbitrarily picked out of thin air by the then president of their organization, Joseph F Rutherford. However, in recent years, the organization is reluctant to place a date on when the sealing process was completed. Now, they are more concerned with the next event: the rapture of their anointed into heaven. It’s somewhat puzzling how Ezek.38:11 is supposed to explain how the rapture takes place at some point after the beginning of the attack by this coalition of nations.

What Watchtower Says…

Does this mean that there will be a “rapture” of the anointed ones? Many in Christendom believe, according to this teaching, that Christians will be bodily caught up from the earth. Then, they expect that Jesus will visibly return to rule the earth. However, the Bible clearly shows that “the sign of the Son of man” will appear in heaven and that Jesus will come “on the clouds of heaven.” (Matt.24:30) Both of these expressions imply invisibility. Additionally, “flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s Kingdom.” So those who will be taken to heaven will first need to be “changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, during the last trumpet.”* (Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-53.) Therefore, while we do not use the term “rapture” here because of its wrong connotation, the remaining faithful anointed will be gathered together in an instant of time.

What AvoidJW.org Says…

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in the rapture. The only reason they don’t like to use the term is because some Christian denominations believe that they will be caught up bodily from the earth. But the truth be told, many denominations believe in the rapture and, like Jehovah’s Witnesses, believe that they will be “changed in the blink of an eye”. One other point made here is that “the Bible clearly shows that “the sign of the Son of man” will appear in heaven and that Jesus will come “on the clouds of heaven.”” Then they go on to state that “these expressions imply invisibility”. How can something that is only implied be clearly shown? It’s a contradiction in terms. Either it’s clearly stated or simply implied. Which is it? Not that it really matters because whether Jesus’ return is visible or invisible has no bearing on the rapture.

What Watchtower Says…

Once all the 144,000 are in heaven, the final preparations for the marriage of the Lamb can begin. (Rev.19:9) But something else will happen before that joyous event. Remember, shortly before the remaining ones of the 144,000 are taken to heaven, Gog will attack God’s people. (Ezek.38:16) What reaction does this provoke? On earth, God’s people will appear to be defenseless. They will obey the instructions given in the days of King Jehoshaphat: “You will not need to fight this battle. Take your position, stand still, and see the salvation of Jehovah in your behalf. O Judah and Jerusalem, do not be afraid or be terrified.” (2 Chron.20:17) In heaven, however, there is a different reaction. Referring to the time when all the anointed are in heaven, Revelation 17:14 tells us this about the enemies of God’s people: “These will battle with the Lamb, but because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb will conquer them. Also, those with him who are called and chosen and faithful will do so.” Together with his 144,000 corulers in heaven, Jesus will come to the rescue of God’s people here on earth.

What AvoidJW.org Says…

This Gog of Magog, being a coalition of nations, coming together to attack an insignificant religious group, who total no more than a small nation themselves, just seems ridiculous. It makes no sense that a heaven full of angels and 144001 heavenly rulers would need to come together to defend such a small group of people. Even the words of 2 Chronicles do not seem fitting. Why? Because the command is given to soldiers. They are to take their position in battle but need only stand still. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not soldiers, nor are they trained in any form of warfare. So what position do they take? At the ready by a door bell!? Most are probably just looking forward to another marriage. In this case, it’s the marriage of the lamb.  Why is this even mentioned here? It’s like the writer wanted to relate joyous event so the reader could imagine something to look forward to. Maybe Jehovah’s Witnesses will then look forward to a time when the war would end so that they don’t have to stand still for long. After all, their are suits to be picked out, and dresses to be donned for this wedding!

What Watchtower Says…

The resulting war of Armageddon will lead to the magnifying of Jehovah’s holy name. (Rev.16:16) At that time, all goat like ones “will depart into everlasting cutting-off.” The earth will finally be cleansed of all wickedness, and the great crowd will pass through the final part of the great tribulation. With all preparations completed, the climax of the book of Revelation, the marriage of the Lamb, can take place. (Rev.21:1-4)* All those surviving on the earth will bask in God’s favor and experience bounteous expressions of his love. What a marriage feast that will be! Do we not look forward to that day with eager expectation?—Read 2 Peter 3:13.

What AvoidJW.org Says…

What does “magnifying of Jehovah’s holy name” actually mean? And what has Rev.16:16 got to do with holy name magnification? When the goat like ones depart into everlasting cutting-off, who is responsible for cleaning up the dead? The earth may be cleansed of wickedness, but who is responsible for cleaning up the dead? Getting to a wedding seems a little premature. There seems to be a lot of work to be done before the marriage of the lamb. Couple of questions about this marriage: What has basking in God’s favor and experiencing bounteous expressions of his love got to do with the Marriage feast? How long will this feast last for?

What Watchtower Says…

With these exciting events ahead of us, what should each of us now be doing? The apostle Peter was inspired to write: “Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, consider what sort of people you ought to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, as you await and keep close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah… Therefore, beloved ones, since you are awaiting these things, do your utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace.” (2 Pet.3:11,12,14) Let us, then, be resolved to remain spiritually clean, supporting the King of Peace.

What AvoidJW.org Says…

Ignoring the events ahead as described by Jehovah’s Witnesses, because it’s clear that they are full of conjecture and lack substance, it is still important to consider the words of the apostle Peter in 2 Pet.3:11,12,14: “Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, consider what sort of people you ought to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, as you await and keep close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah… Therefore, beloved ones, since you are awaiting these things, do your utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace.”

In Conclusion

  • Stating that the clergy compromise godly principles for political influence is a gross generalization and therefore misleading.
  • The terms “Prophet” and “Clergy are not synonymous.
  • No attempt is made to explain how God’s enemies will try to annihilate Jehovah’s Witnesses, or how they will be saved during a “brief respite”.
  • Where or how can Jehovah’s Witnesses flee for refuge if the means for salvation is not disclosed?
  • The Watchtower’s opinion on what Jehovah’s Witnesses need to do during the Great Tribulation is pure conjecture.
  • What difference is there between Jehovah’s Witnesses declaring a complete end to Satan’s wicked world during the Great Tribulation and the message they preach today, and have been preaching since their inception, that Satan’s wicked world is about to end?
  • Disregarding disgruntled ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses and those whom they term as apostates, Jehovah’s Witnesses have no enemies, especially not from “a coalition of nations”.
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses are led to believe that only God’s enemies will find the Great Tribulation frightening. This is misleading. Consider the man Lot; he found the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha frightening. Compare Genesis 19:19.
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the “Goats” in Jesus’ parable refers to all who are not members of their religion.
  • The separating of the sheep from the goats is not simply a separating of Jehovah’s Witnesses from non-Jehovah’s Witnesses.
  • Ezek.38:11 does not indicate that the rapture takes place after the sealing of the anointed.
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in the rapture; they do not use this term simply because they were not the ones to coin it.
  • A “coalition of nations”, coming together to attack an insignificant religious group, who total no more than a small nation, is a ridiculous notion.
  • The article conveniently ignores the question: Who is responsible for cleaning up the dead “goats” after the Great Tribulation?

For an alternative perspective on this Watchtower article:

Are Jehovahs Witnesses a Doomsday Cult?

  • Hostyle

    I mean…. The best way to go about it is to avoid religion entirely. The JWs collectively are a nice bunch of people, the religion itself is horrible when looked at closely, as are all others.