Friday, November 18, 2005


This blog entry is a consideration of the entire 10th chapter, which will be covered by the congregation book studies over two weeks.

The 8th chapter of Daniel presents one of the most profound prophecies in the Bible; as it foretells vital details concerning the final conflict between God’s kingdom and the last human kingdom. Unfortunately, the Watchtower’s interpretation has grossly mutilated Daniel’s vision of the conflict between the king fierce in countenance and the Prince of princes.

The Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy book identifies the British Empire as the little horn that emerges to become the king of fierce countenance. One problem with that view is that the prophecy presents the king of fierce countenance as coming on the scene during the time of the end; yet, the British Empire came to power more than a century before 1914. Besides, the evidence of scripture indicates that the beginning of
the time of the end is still future.

Another apparent contradiction is that the prophecy foretells that the king of fierce countenance succeeds in bringing the holy ones to ruin. However, the Society says that the king fails. For example, please note that the last sentence of the 19th paragraph says “Let us see how the Anglo-American World Power tries to threaten the holy ones.” Farther down in the 24th paragraph we read: “This king’s attempts to desolate God’s sanctuary do not succeed.” The prophecy, however, indicates that the king does more than merely try—it says that he succeeds in throwing truth to the earth and in dragging down and trampling the sons of the kingdom and brings them to ruin.

According to the Society’s interpretation the persecutions of Jehovah’s Witnesses prior to and during the Second World War fulfilled the prophecy—this in spite of the fact that the Watchtower Society weathered the storm of persecution remarkably well. Whereas the prophecy foretells that the holy place will be completely desolated, the Society’s interpretation would have us believe that the prophecy was fulfilled in the temporary banning of Watchtower literature in some lands and the closure of a number of branch offices.

Another problem with the Society’s teaching is what is omitted. Specifically, Daniel 8:24-25 says:
“And his power must become mighty, but not by his own power. And in a wonderful way he will cause ruin, and he will certainly prove successful and do effectively. And he will actually bring mighty ones to ruin, also the people made up of the holy ones. And according to his insight he will also certainly cause deception to succeed in his hand. And in his heart he will put on great airs, and during a freedom from care he will bring many to ruin. And against the Prince of princes he will stand up, but it will be without hand that he will be broken. ”Presumably, the angel’s explanation of the vision is the only reliable means by which we may understand the prophecy. But the Watchtower neglects to even comment on a substantial portion of the prophecy—for reasons that should be apparent.

No doubt the reason why is because the Society has no explanation as to how the Anglo-American king may have become mighty, but not by its own power; or how the king may have caused ruination in a wonderful way during the Second World War; or how it is that the king may have brought mighty ones to ruin along with the holy ones. Furthermore, how could the period of the Great Depression and the Second World War possibly fit the description of being a time of “freedom from care”?

No doubt the Society's Bible interpreters recognized this difficulty and chose to simpy ignore details of the prophecy which could not conveniently be made to mesh with their version of reality. In so doing, Bethel has merely made a pretense of interpreting the prophecy and is evidently confident that none of Jehovah’s Witnesses will even notice that the Society’s presumably verse-by-verse commentary of Daniel omits any comment on the angel’s own explanation, which is the most important aspect of the prophecy.

Perhaps the most absurd aspect of the Society’s explanation, though, is the notion that the holy place was brought into its right condition as a result of some insignificant organizational adjustments that were announced at a corporate meeting in 1944.

But the most glaring deficiency of the "Pay Attention" commentary is the fact that the Prince of princes stands up and destroys the king of fierce countenance as an immediate reaction to the ruining of the sons of the kingdom. Yet, according to the Society the sons of God were trampled on long ago and the holy place has long since been repaired and still the king of fierce countenance continues on without suffering any consequences for his impertinence.

Clearly, the Watchtower’s interpretation of the 8th chapter of Daniel is wholly artificial. For a fuller discussion on the king of fierce countenance please see the essay entitled:
A King of Fierce Continence.

Finally, the idea that the Prince of Princes is Jehovah does not harmonize with the other prophecies of Daniel; all of which culminate with the last human king being destroyed by Christ. Evidently the Society feels compelled to identify Jehovah as the Prince of Princes because the sanctuary is said to belong to him. But, since the spiritual sanctuary is intimately connected with Christ's congregation and Jesus is the head of the congregation, as well as the high priest of Jehovah's temple, it does not seem inappropriate for the angel to refer to the sanctuary as Christ's sanctuary. Being the Prince of princes would harmonize with Christ's other titles of King of kings and Lord of lords.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Lasting Rulership Just Ahead! para. 33-40

Illustration copyrighted by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society

“I kept on beholding at that time because of the sound of the grandiose words that the horn was speaking; I kept on beholding until the beast was killed and its body was destroyed and it was given to the burning fire. But as for the rest of the beasts, their rulerships were taken away, and there was a lengthening in life given to them for a time and a season.” (Daniel 7:11-12)
The Watchtower briefly comments on the passage above:

By decree of the Great Judge, Jehovah God, the horn that blasphemed God and harassed his “holy ones” will have the same experience as the Roman Empire, which persecuted the early Christians. Its rulership will not continue. Neither will that of inferior hornlike “kings” that came out of the Roman Empire. What, though, about the rulerships derived from the previous beastly powers? As foretold, their lives were lengthened “for a time and a season.” Their territories have continued to have inhabitants to our day. Iraq, for example, occupies the territory of ancient Babylon. Persia (Iran) and Greece still exist. Remnants of these world powers are part of the United Nations. These kingdoms also will perish with the annihilation of the last world power. All human governments will be obliterated at “the war of the great day of God the Almighty.” (Revelation 16:14, 16) But, then, who will rule the world?

This aspect of the Watchtower’s interpretation seems reliable. It is true that the remnants of the previous beastly empires still remain in existence concurrent with the now-ruling ten-horned beast. However, the passage of prophecy under consideration indicates that the last beast is killed and burned in the fire as a direct and presumably immediate result of the grandiose words of the little horn and the harassment of the holy ones.

In the 37th paragraph the Society states:  “Thus the Messianic Kingdom was established in heaven in 1914.” In view of the fact that the Society insists that the little horn made war with and conquered Christ and the holy ones back during WWI, we are left to wonder why Jehovah’s judgment against the blaspheming beast has not been executed yet. After all, if Jehovah held court and issued his verdict in 1914 why has the offending beast been allowed to continue on unimpeded for nearly a century? What did Jehovah's judgment accomplish?

Furthermore, since the grandiose words spoken by the mouthy little horn of the beast are a primary reason for Jehovah’s judgment, why is it that the Watchtower is unable to point to any specific words uttered by the Anglo-American beast over the past century that might be indicative of how the prophecy may have been fulfilled?

The last sentence of the 38th paragraph states:  

“Hence, Christ Jesus and the resurrected anointed Christians will rule the world of mankind.” The last sentence in the 39th paragraph states: “What blessings obedient mankind will experience under that Kingdom!” The last sentence of the 40th paragraph similarly states: “Paying attention to this prophecy will strengthen our faith and bolster our conviction that Jehovah’s Messianic King will rule the world.”
Is this not a case of doublespeak at its worst? (What Ezekiel calls “double-faced divination”) In the 37th paragraph the Society dogmatically insists that God’s kingdom began to rule the world in 1914; but in the ensuing paragraphs they say that Jesus and the holy ones “will rule mankind”—as in the future. The logical question is: Which is it? If the kingdom was given to the holy ones in 1914 why must there be yet another occasion when they begin to rule the world? How many times does God have to set up his kingdom? And if the rulership of the world was given to the holy ones in 1914, then why aren’t they ruling? Obviously there is no shred of evidence that the holy ones are presently ruling. Nor is there any reason to believe that God has taken away the rulership of the beast. The only evidence the Watchtower offers as proof that the kingdom of God has begun ruling is a contrived chronological calculation of the seven-times. Clearly, something is not quite right with the Society’s interpretation of the timing of these crucial developments in the advent of the kingdom.

Thinking Bible students should take note of the significance of the three and one half years prophetic period, which is expressed as time, times and half time, as 42 months and also as 1,260 days. The significance of that time period is that three and a half years also happens to be the exact length of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Surely it is no coincidence that from the time of Jesus’ baptism to the time of his death just so happens to amount to three and a half years. (From Autumn 29 CE to the Spring of 33 CE) That being the case, Jesus’ earthly ministry must portray a vital pattern that is repeated during the time of the end, when the kingdom ultimately comes to power.

Consider the fact that when Jesus was baptized he was also anointed—thus becoming the king designate. Six months after becoming the Messiah Jesus went to Jerusalem and threw the money-changers from his Father’s temple. Three years later Jesus returned to Jerusalem hailed as the king of Israel. It was at that time that Jesus announced that he had conquered the world. So, during his three and a half ministry Jesus was given the kingdom of David (Upon his baptism when the Psalm applied: ‘Ask of me that I may give you kingdoms’) During that 42 month period Jesus ministered to his disciples and prepared them for the hardships ahead. Finally, Jesus subdued his religious enemies and triumphed over the Roman Empire at his death. (The 10-horned beast) Jehovah showed that he had given judgment in favor of Christ by resurrecting him from the dead.

Reasonably, the parousia of Christ will likewise last for three and one half years, during which time Jesus will cleanse his Father’s spiritual temple and discipline and prepare his faithful disciples to face the end of the world.
During the final phase of that interval the beast will be destroyed and it will also become manifest that Jehovah has given the kingdom to the holy ones.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Illustration copyrighted by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
The Watchtower’s Pay Attention to Daniel's Prophecy book provides Bible students with a valuable historical background into the book of Daniel. (The meaning of the enigmatic Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin is one example that comes to mind.) But beginning the week of November 7th the congregation book study schedule gets into the part of the "Pay Attention" book that delves deeper into prophetic interpretations and their modern day fulfillments.

For those uninformed, the Watchtower's prophetic interpretations of Daniel have remained essentially unchanged since they were published in 1958 in the book entitled Your Will Be Done—which means that in nearly a half century there has been virtually no new insights into the outworking of the prophecy of Daniel. Therefore, the purpose of this blog is to provide Jehovah's Witnesses with a concurrently running critical analysis of the Society's teaching and an alternative view of Daniel’s prophecy.

(Page 137 paragraphs 20-22)

There is no question but that the unusually fierce ten-horned beast represents the Roman Empire and its Holy Roman Empire successor. What is less certain is the prophetic identity of the peculiar 11th horn that emerges from among the ten horns and which causes three horns to be plucked out. The verses in question read:

"I kept on considering the horns, and, look! another horn, a small one, came up in among them, and there were three of the first horns that were plucked up from before it. And, look! there were eyes like the eyes of a man in this horn, and there was a mouth speaking grandiose things." (Daniel 7:8)

"And as for the ten horns, out of that kingdom there are ten kings that will rise up; and still another one will rise up after them, and he himself will be different from the first ones, and three kings he will humiliate. And he will speak even words against the Most High, and he will harass continually the holy ones themselves of the Supreme One." (Daniel 7:24-25)

Under the sub-heading A Small Horn Gains Ascendancy, the Watchtower identifies Great Britain and the United States as the small horn. Paragraph 22 states:

In 1588, Philip II of Spain launched the Spanish Armada against Britain. This fleet of 130 ships, carrying more than 24,000 men, sailed up the English Channel, only to suffer defeat by the British navy and to fall victim to contrary winds and fierce Atlantic storms. This event "marked the decisive passing of naval superiority from Spain to England," said one historian. In the 17th century, the Dutch developed the world's largest merchant marine. With growing overseas colonies, however, Britain prevailed over that kingdom. During the 18th century, the British and the French fought each other in North America and India, leading to the Treaty of Paris in 1763. This treaty, said author William B. Willcox, "recognized Britain's new position as the predominant European power in the world beyond Europe." Britain’s supremacy was confirmed by the crushing victory over NapolĂ©on of France in 1815 C.E. The "three kings" that Britain thus 'humiliated' were Spain, the Netherlands, and France. (Daniel 7:24) As a result, Britain emerged as the world's greatest colonial and commercial power. Yes, the "small" horn grew to become a world power!
According to the Society's view, the three horns were not plucked out simultaneously---as a straightforward reading of the prophecy would seem to suggest---but rather, individually, over a period spanning 227 years! (From 1588 to 1815)

Not only that, but because the Society also identifies the United States with the ascending small horn, and the Anglo-American alliance did not even begin to take shape until the US entered WWI in 1917 on the side of Great Britain, it would seem that the little horn has been gradually budding for nearly 400 years! And taking the Society's interpretation at face value, what is even more difficult to comprehend is that we would also have to conclude that the emerging little horn plucked out his three competitors long before he gained full stature as the modern day Anglo-American dyad. But how reasonable is that?

Besides, the defeat of the Spanish Armada was not so much due to British naval superiority anyway. The Spanish Armada more or less defeated itself. Sailing ships, such as comprised the Spanish Armada, are naturally subject to the fickle winds of fate. Contrary winds and poorly built sailing vessels---more than British strategy or strength---foiled the invasion of Britain.

But, there is no question it was a great moral victory for Queen Elizabeth's England. And while the defeat of the Spanish Armada was a corresponding humiliation for King Phillip of Spain, since he had personally overseen the actual design of many of the ships that failed to withstand the heavy seas and he also apparently devised the failed battle plan, still, the monarchy was not toppled nor was the empire uprooted. Phillip is quoted as saying 'I had intended to fight England, not the weather.'

According to a BBC historical documentary even after the loss of part of the Spanish navy "the Anglo-Spanish war was to all intents a stalemate, for neither side was able to attack the other effectively, but even this result showed that there were limits to Spanish power. On a one to one basis England was clearly much weaker than Spain, but Elizabeth had demonstrated successfully that of all Philip's contemporaries in Europe she was the most dangerous enemy."

So, even though a battle was won, Great Britain was not immediately transformed into the master empire in the 16th Century---even as the Daniel book makes note of. It would be nearly 200 years before Britannia would reign supreme. As far as geo-politically decisive naval battles go, the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 was much more historically significant in terms of establishing British imperial dominance.

In view of all of the above here are a few questions for reasoning Bible students to consider:

Is it reasonable that the little horn would take centuries to emerge?

Is it logical that the three horns (kings) are supplanted individually over centuries of time? For example, how can it be that the little horn supposedly supplanted one king (Spain) nearly two centuries before the British Empire fully emerged as the most dominant power on earth?

And does it make sense that the little horn with eyes and a mouth supplanted his rivals long before he began to speak grandiose things against God and persecute the sons of the kingdom?

Bible students should take note of the fact that two other places in prophecy depict a powerful political agency exalting itself above all others and speaking grandiose words against God himself. Notably, Daniel 11: 36 says of the king of the north: "And the king will actually do according to his own will, and he will exalt himself and magnify himself above every god; and against the God of gods he will speak marvelous things. And he will certainly prove successful until the denunciation will have come to a finish; because the thing decided upon must be done."
The Watchtower, of course, assigns the fulfillment of this prophecy to the now-nonexistent Soviet Union. (Topic of future discussion)

Also, the 13th chapter of Revelation symbolizes the seven-headed beast after it miraculously recovers from a mortal wound, saying of it: "And a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies was given it, and authority to act forty-two months was given it. And it opened its mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name and his residence, even those residing in heaven."
Let it be noted that a mouth is given to the beast after it recovered from its death-stroke. Since the Watchtower identifies the little horn with the seventh head of the seven headed beast, how is it that in the Watchtower's interpretation the little horn has a mouth centuries before the time when the Anglo-American king is supposed to have received his death wound during World War One? Was the horn mute all those centuries? Related to that, given that the death-stroke upon the beast is a significant event in the out-working of God’s purpose---commencing a period of judgment---why is it that Daniel's prophecy seemingly makes no allusion to that event? Really, thinking Bible students ought to ponder the question as to why Jehovah God would presumably reveal such relatively trivial events of history through prophecy, such as the defeat of the Spanish Armada, which occurred centuries before the time of the end, even by the Society's reckoning.

As to the identity of the little horn, Jehovah's Witnesses should take note of the fact that the 17th chapter of Revelation also depicts a beast with 10 horns representing 10 kings. (Just as the beast of Daniel has 10 horns) Those kings are said to give their authority to the beast for one hour. After the 10 kings abdicate their own sovereignty the seven-headed beast then becomes the 8th king. The only way to harmonize the prophecies is to interpret that little horn, the lastly emerging 11th horn of Daniel’s 10-horned beast, as the yet-to-appear 8th and final king that rules for "one hour." The humiliation of the three kings before the ascendant little horn is a future event. Quite likely it has to do with the downfall of the Anglo-American, democratic system globally.

Interestingly, the 11th chapter of Daniel, verses 42-43, foretells that the king of the north will also subjugate three powerful kings during the time of the end; namely, Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia. (For further discussion of that topic see the essay Doom of the Anglo-American Dyad) These likely correspond to the three horns that are plucked up and humiliated the little horn.

Paragraph 29 states: "For the anointed Christians, World War I meant a time of testing. By the end of 1914, they were expecting persecution. In fact, the very yeartext chosen for 1915 was Jesus’ question to his disciples, "Are ye able to drink of my cup?" It was based on Matthew 20:22, King James Version. Hence, beginning in December 1914, that small band of witnesses preached "in sackcloth."
Is it really true? In what sense did the Bible Students put on symbolic sackcloth and preach in a humiliated state beginning in 1914? In reality, the Bible Students were in a state of elation because it seemed to them that their 1914 expectations were on the mark. And Russell continued to travel the country showing the Photo-drama of Creation to large audiences. In fact, C.T. Russell continued traveling and preaching up until his death in October 1916. The notion that the Bible Students preached in sackcloth from 1914 on is mere Watchtower lore---a fiction spun to fit their elaborate but artificial construal of prophecy. More than anything else, the death of Charles Russell is what stumbled the Bible Students. That's because so many of them were mere followers of a charismatic leader.

Paragraphs 30-31 in the Pay Attention book go on to say:

As war fever took hold, the anointed Christians encountered mounting opposition. Some of them were imprisoned. Individuals, such as Frank Platt in England and Robert Clegg in Canada, were tortured by sadistic authorities. On February 12, 1918, the British Dominion of Canada banned the recently published seventh volume of Studies in the Scriptures, entitled The Finished Mystery, as well as the tracts entitled The Bible Students Monthly. The following month, the U.S. Department of Justice pronounced the distribution of the seventh volume illegal. The result? Why, homes were searched, literature was confiscated, and Jehovah’s worshipers were arrested!

Harassment of God's anointed ones climaxed on June 21, 1918, when the president, J. F. Rutherford, and prominent members of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society were sentenced on false charges to long prison terms. Intending "to change times and law," the "small" horn had effectively killed the organized preaching work. (Revelation 11:7) So the foretold period of "a time, and times and half a time" ended in June 1918.

The absurdity of the Watchtower's teaching becomes evident if we simply reason upon the Scriptures. As regards the 3 ½ times, Daniel 12:7 correspondingly indicates that after the designated period of persecution “all these things will come to their finish.” That verse reads: “It will be for an appointed time, appointed times and a half. And as soon as there will have been a finishing of the dashing of the power of the holy people to pieces, all these things will come to their finish.”
We might entertain the following questions: In what way were the holy ones "dashed to pieces" in 1917-18? Keep in mind Rutherford and company were only imprisoned for a few months and most of the International Bible Students back then did not personally face any sort of persecution. The persecutions during the Holocaust period were far, far worse. Yet, how can that fact be harmonized with the 12th chapter of Daniel, which quite clearly indicates that the persecutions of the holy ones are brought to a finish after the appointed time for such expire? Obviously "all these things" did not come to their finish in 1918.

Furthermore, if the kingdom was given to the holy ones in 1914, so that all the kingdoms of the world should serve them, why is it that the Anglo-American king continues to reign supreme? Worded differently, if God's awesome judgment was leveled against the beast in 1914, why has it been business as usual all these decades since Jehovah supposedly took away the beast's authority?

In actuality, a study of the Society's prophetic interpretations is an exercise in unraveling "artfully contrived false stories," which is what the Watchtower's 1914 doctrine is.