Hello! I trust whomever you are (feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org) that things are going well. I’d like to start by actually talking about the outdoors. Since I do hunt, there are “sacred” days in Pennsylvania. The commonwealth’s unofficial “holiday” is the start of buck season (first Monday after Thanksgiving). The second is in the spring with opening day of trout. Last weekend was “Mentored Youth Trout Day.” This allows each child to get paired with an adult. They are allowed to take two trout home as well which they did.
April’s 1st (today) was the official opening day in my area. What lessened the sting was a few days of rain making the waters muddy. However, I still yearned to go out (I admit I went out after starting this write up and almost had one but came home empty handed). First up, were my Jehovah’s Witness friends.
Before addressing them, I do wish to publicly acknowledge my oldest child. She wanted to make chocolate chip cookies. She specifically had the elder and the custodian’s husband in mind.
So just a few minutes after our set time, they rolled up. One of the first things I mentioned is that today is the opening day of trout. The elder made mention that when he grew up, he went fishing a lot. So much so that he hates it now. He also told me how he’s been “going” on a trip with his brother for the past three or four years. He did say his wife wanted to know when it’s going to happen. He pretty much said to the custodian’s husband and myself, “never.”
This lead into the proverbial fishing stories. He said that as a youth he’d go fishing in the Chesapeake and crabbing in the mud back in the 1960s prior to limits getting set. He loved the food yet he didn’t want to get the work in to get the food. Myself, I went fishing as a youth too. I told them that I asked mom why we went so much. She said that’s pretty much the only way we ate at times. Looking back 30 years, God is good since neither my brother or I went to bed hungry once. The custodian’s life has centered on cars and he always focused on that. However, he did contribute by talking about sea serpents in Japan and how these 70 year old women would grab them out of the water. So we explained to him how they are very poisonous yet docile. We then talked about neighborhoods, people, and how it can influence how people act. At this time, the cookies were out and my daughter served them. They seemed to be genuinely thankful and appreciated the “proper food at the proper time” (a play on the “spiritual food” delivered).
With that 20 minute of chit chat over, we moved into the material. I wish to warn you in advance, the “meat” of this may be a tad tough to follow as there’s zigging and zagging.
Starting with paragraphs 18 and 19, it starts to deal with one of the most important events in Watchtower Bible and Tract Society doctrine-Armageddon (I’m still working through the project I mentioned a few weeks back).
My question was centered on the “final conflict.” The booklet says this is it, however, I wanted to get insight on Revelation 20:7-10. The New World Translation renders it this way:
7 Now as soon as the 1,000 years have ended, Satan will be released from his prison,
8 and he will go out to mislead those nations in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Maʹgog, to gather them together for the war. The number of these is as the sand of the sea.
9 And they advanced over the whole earth and encircled the camp of the holy ones and the beloved city. But fire came down out of heaven and consumed them.
10 And the Devil who was misleading them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulfur, where both the wild beast and the false prophet already were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
While reading I did place emphasis on the latter part of verse 10 with eternal torment.
At this point the elder excused himself to the bathroom and the custodian’s husband said they had a work day at the kingdom hall. He had to attend to the plumbing to make sure the drains and traps were are properly. The elder who works with computers was doing work associated with the networks. I surmise this may somehow deal with the organization's official website since there’s a log in link at the upper right hand corner of the main page. The custodian’s husband who is not tech savvy said he doesn’t have an account.
The elder came back and tried to answer me. He said one MUST get into the other prophecies associated with these verses. He said essentially, we have to start in Revelation 16:1. I worked at defining the word “earth” in this verse from my Strong’s Dictionary at the back of my New American Standard Bible.
This led him into saying the organization doesn’t do word for word translation due to Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic due to those words not translating into the English properly. He’s saying they want to go with the concept. (Side note, the New World Translation does lean towards a paraphrase even though it’s a non-recognized translation. (This chart helps to explain bible translation philosophy and the New American Standard Bible is a fine word for word translation). He read into Zephaniah for a few minutes and talked about this. Jumping back, he asked about who was to be killed relating to worship of the beast. He tried to equate this to the sheep and the goats (this has changed over the years with the Watchtower as to who they were). He was then leafing through Revelation talking very briefly about Babylon the Great and I just took over because my Bible has the subheadings in each chapter which the New World Translation does not.
He was then saying that those who survive Armageddon get to live for 1,000 years. He then explained how during the 1,000 years there’s a gradual resurrection. I let him roll with it even though Hebrews 9:27 is extremely clear (New World Translation), And just as it is reserved for men to die once for all time, but after this to receive a judgment. He then proceeded to tie this into chapter 20 by referencing those who did not receive the mark of the beast. This is limited to the 144,000. Again, side note here, there are women I’ve heard who claim to be of the anointed. There are no instances where the Old Testament mentions a woman serving as a priest. They led and prophesied (Miriam, Deborah, Esther, Huldah, and Ataliah) but NEVER once was one mentioned as a priest. The 144,000 are priests and co-rulers according to Watchtower theology. So I asked the clarifying question so I could understand the organization’s thought process… The booklet calls Armageddon the final conflict which is for human governments. Revelation 20 is a final test for those who didn’t have to go through Armageddon. Once this is done, according to Watchtower theology is when Satan is annihilated (Revelation 20:10 must now reference an unconscious torment). What took about 10 minutes he said, “a lot of research” goes into this and brings many prophecies in as well from Daniel. A further study would ‘take a while.’” He then talked about how the book is to merely be “a guide.” The custodian’s husband then quipped that if you don’t know, just “put it on the shelf and come back to it later.” Personally speaking, that’s an unacceptable answer but that shows you how they think as the elder agreed with that summation. He said he hopes it helps some and he would be willing to “do more research” on that subject.
The custodian’s husband then pipes in saying, “the Revelation (Grand Climax at Hand) book really goes into this. We studied this twice.” The elder then says he thinks there’s changes coming down the pike and they are going to revise the book again. It was released in 1988 and has some changes in 2006 (click here and to see the changes from Avoid JW.org). I told them I was able to purchase this for a penny on Amazon. They looked surprised and I told them I had to spend that to get free shipping on an order. He said that he can get me ANY of that literature. He isn’t paying attention as this November 2015 announcement (from JW Survey) said they are discarding a lot of material to include Revelation-It’s Grand Climax is At Hand: https://www.dropbox.com/s/vppig0g8rjgdscc/Monthlyannouncement201511-E.pdf?dl=0
The elder said the Revelation-It’s Grand Climax is At Hand book has had “enhancements” which have necessitated a change. The custodian’s husband said “things are accelerating”and the elder then quipped, “Jehovah reveals so we can understand better.” I asked if the book was available on the website. They said, it’s not and all have the same red cover. I performed a simple Google search and the 2006 printing is uploaded on JW Survey. This one has a blue cover to boot. I was told that since 2006, many things in that book are starting to happen right now. There was a mention by me of The Finished Mystery. I did tell them that I did download a copy since it’s considered public domain. The elder essentially said, “that’s fine and present material updates what was printed then. Current material at times references it. The only publication that hasn’t been updated is the bible.” I pushed back very gently referencing specifically Colossians 1 with the brackets. I explained that the 1984 New World Translation had brackets so readers would know a word was inserted. The 2013 version has no brackets so the reader assumes the word appeared in the original Greek. I told them in the JW Library App the word “other” does not appear at all. The elder then said the original writers didn’t use “a,” “an,” or “the” in the original Greek and my mind went to John 1:1 where the “a” is added in front of God.
This led him into zagging about bible translation techniques and how the New World Translation is translated and that everything is open and nothing is hidden at all (the Society still hasn’t released the translation committee member names). We took a look at the Appendix regarding how the bible came to us in the present day. I went along with this when the elder bought up the Dead Sea Scrolls. He apologized for getting off the major topic but it’s something we always do in some way. He then talked about everything is in the open and how they don’t wish to mislead anyone (if the Society was open, sites like JW Leaks wouldn’t exist).
With this we moved to the next paragraph after this 40 minute rabbit trail.
So in paragraph 20 I asked my question, “why is it at Armageddon those people are destroyed forever when chapter seven mentions that all will get a second chance resurrection? Through history people have committed the actions mentioned in the paragraph. So let’s say for example sake, we have people who died five years ago. They live and let’s say Armageddon is today, what happens?” The elder asked my thoughts and I wanted him to clarify. Cue the puzzled look on the custodian’s face. This is essentially because there’s an obvious contradiction. They sat silently for a few moments and the custodian’s husband said, “I can tell you what we believe.” He went quiet. The elder asked me to ask the question again. The elder tried to tie in 2 Peter 2:4-7 which the New World Translation renders:
4 Certainly God did not refrain from punishing the angels who sinned, but threw them into Tarʹta·rus, putting them in chains of dense darkness to be reserved for judgment.
5 And he did not refrain from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a flood upon a world of ungodly people.
6 And by reducing the cities of Sodʹom and Go·morʹrah to ashes, he condemned them, setting a pattern for ungodly people of things to come.
7 And he rescued righteous Lot, who was greatly distressed by the brazen conduct of the lawless people—
He wanted to know what it paralleled so I answered. I was able to tie this into the “sheep and goats” that was mentioned earlier. The elder said that what “solidified” it was verse nine. So I took him back out of the bible and into the publication. The elder zagged and asked about judgement in the bible to see what happened. I told him eternal destruction. He replied about the angels and how Armageddon is a day of judgment. He then attempted to answer by talking about Pharaoh and how he knew he wasn’t greater than Jehovah. He then said that everyone is warned at all times by some sort of messenger. He talked about the judgment of disobedience in relation to the children of Israel for serving Baal yet Peter is a different judgment. After he tried to explain, I asked what the difference was and even the custodian’s husband said, “why the second chance (seems to me like he understood where I was coming from the organization’s standpoint)?” I said that it seems like Jehovah is partial. Chapter seven folks have a second chance yet Armageddon does not. The reply was, “they experienced death not due to their action.”
I asked then how does Revelation 20 fit into this. The elder said, “you want to jump ahead” to which he started laughing some. He brings in Revelation 16 and 20. So I talked about the Great White Throne and tried to sum up saying:
Armageddon is the First Judgment
Great White Throne is to be considered the final judgment.
The elder essentially said, “there’s a lot more that goes into this and I don’t want to confuse you.” I was told that the final war was not over at this point and he deflected by saying, “it takes more research to tie everything together when you get the people who were before Armageddon. In the end what happens is death is cast into the lake of fire.”
The elder was going for the annihilation but I wasn’t giving him space by talking about how we covered Hades a long time ago. He suggested doing another study later on regarding this. He pretty much finished by saying, “Armageddon in Revelation is deep. We can’t cover this in one hour.” He suggested I read the Revelation-Grand Climax at Hand! to get a better explanation. The custodian’s husband commended me for being studious to which I said I only did only to be eligible for sports. At that we wrapped things up. We are set to meet April 15th.
Please continue to pray.
- I again find it remarkable that they are willing to try and zag away from a topic when they don’t feel comfortable or possibly prepared.
- They suggest studying more when an answer is not readily obtainable. I’ve heard this is a common JW tactic.
- They are comfortable at times with just “shelving” a topic and leaving it unanswered. This is a clear contradiction. If they headed the words of 2 Timothy 3:16, 17 they’d shelve things a lot less. It says (New World Translation): 16 All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, or reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.
- They can essentially contradict themselves in the course of five minutes with no problems at all.
- They still keep coming. My guess is they will consider it a major “victory” if they can get me to convert. I thought more about this. I work as an engineer for the federal government. It would be better for me to quit that and go door to door preaching “their” gospel. After five years of them coming off and on, I’d be a major coup.
I didn’t want to go back and change last week’s meeting notes after submitting so I will add them here. The elder was proudly said the the organization is fully transitioning to an online presence. From the Watchtower standpoint, this is a great business decision. Technology is destroying the need for the Watchtower printing machine. Also, this will make things slightly harder to track in terms of changes as the Society can make an “adjustment” and it’ll be harder to detect. From the individual Witness standpoint, they are all having to purchase mobile devices. Since they tend to be lower on the socio-economic scale as Pew reports, this is an extra financial burden.
There was no really good place to fit this into the narrative but I had to include this information about Revelation and how the organization has written on it. As an Adventist offshoot, they’ve carried on this tradition of focusing on the last book of the Bible. Now, they if the don’t understand or properly interrupt the first 65 books, what makes them right with the last one?
This article on Huffington Post gives a general overview critique of the Revelation-Grand Climax At Hand! book
Books with hyperlinks are those that I’ve read and have highlighted since they pertain to the biblical book of Revelation. These highlights are things worth comparing to the current Revelation-Grand Climax at Hand! book:
The Finished Mystery-1917
Light: Volume I-1930
Light: Volume II-1930
Babylon the Great Has Fallen! God's Kingdom Rules!-1963
Here’s the short of the long. They have to keep publishing since the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society hasn’t gotten it right from the beginning.
Ecclesiastes 12:12 (New World Translation)-As for anything besides these, my son, be warned: To the making of many books there is no end, and much devotion to them is wearisome to the flesh.