Saturday, December 24, 2005

Daniel is strengthened by a messenger of God

 The 12th chapter of the Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy will be considered by the congregation book study in two parts during the final week of 2005 and the first week of the new year. The study is based upon the 10th chapter of Daniel.

We might say that Daniel had a close encounter with an extraterrestrial being. It startled him so greatly that he became as a dead man and his personal dignity was changed to ruination, as the prophet described. Only after the visiting angel strengthened and reassured Daniel was he able to recover his composure. But what a sight he beheld! A human-like creature with the glory of a god!

Oddly, the Watchtower’s commentary attaches no special significance to the supernatural encounter. But it is well to point out that while angels infrequently materialized to communicate messages to God’s servants, they usually materialized flesh and looked like men. For instance, when three angels descended to inspect Sodom and Gomorrah they looked exactly like men. When they first went to visit Abraham he even prepared a meal for them. He certainly was not convulsed in terror by their very presence. That being the case, surely God could have conveyed his message to Daniel by some other means than what took place. For that reason the close encounter that Daniel had must have some prophetic significance beyond the message that was conveyed. And, indeed, it would appear that the encounter has the most profound implications; standing as a prophetic drama foreshadowing Jesus’ future presence. The reason the Watchtower fails to recognize that to be the case will become obvious.

The close encounter that Daniel had on the banks of the river Hiddekel is nearly identical to the vision the apostle John had several centuries later. John describes Jesus as having eyes like fire and feet like burnished copper; and his countenance was as the sun. As a result of his visionary encounter of Christ John fell down as a dead man—the same as Daniel had done. And just as the angel strengthened and reassured Daniel, so too, Jesus laid his hand on John and imparted strength to him. Interesting, too, both Daniel and John were in exile at the time of their encounters and both experiences were preliminary to their receiving vital revelations concerning the finale of things.

John had had an earlier experience, along with Peter and James, when they witnessed the transfiguration of Christ. On that occasion Jesus shone like the sun—just as the glorious angel who appeared to Daniel. Years later Peter revealed that the transfiguration was a confirmation of the power and presence of Jesus Christ.

Another similar encounter that Paul experienced helps to shed light upon the significance of these various superhuman manifestations.

Paul also had a close encounter with the glorified Christ. Writing about the experience in his letter to the Corinthians, Paul explained that after his resurrection Jesus appeared to the apostles and later to upwards of 500 disciples. Then, after his ascension back to heaven Jesus appeared to Paul; however, all the other witnesses who saw Jesus after his resurrection saw him in human form, but Paul saw him as a spirit. Paul described the encounter as a flash of light, which left him blind for three days. The significance of Paul’s encounter with Christ is that he is the only human to have seen Christ as a spirit—not in the flesh and not in a vision. In the 15th chapter of 1st Corinthians Paul commented on the uniqueness of his experience, saying: “but last of all he appeared also to me as if to one born prematurely.”

Paul was born prematurely, in a spiritual sense, because he was the first to see Christ as he now exists and how all of the chosen ones will eventually see him. But, contrary to the current expectations of Jehovah’s Witnesses—the anointed in particular—the chosen ones will see Christ before they are united with him in heaven. That, in fact, is the significance of the visionary encounters of Daniel and John and the transfiguration of Christ, as well as Paul’s experience. In all of those experiences Christ revealed himself to humans.

The fact that both Daniel and John fell down as dead men and had to be carefully revived, and Paul was struck blind for three days, indicates that the glorified Christ is destined to reveal himself to his chosen ones in a similar manner, while they are in the flesh, during Christ’s presence. Surely the glorified 144,000 will not fall down as dead spirits before Christ in heaven, since at that point they will be as glorious as Christ himself. No, but it is during the parousia, after the evil slaves have been thrashed and put out of God’s household to weep and gnash their teeth in the outer darkness, that Jesus will “come alongside” his faithful ones in order to minister to them and reveal himself to them. That is what the revelation of Jesus is all about. It is when he reveals himself to his chosen ones. And in turn they are revealed as the sealed and chosen sons of God.

Another noteworthy aspect of Daniel’s encounter is that the men with Daniel could not see the spirit. However, they were inexplicably terrified and went into hiding. In a similar manner Jesus will not manifest himself to anyone except the genuine sons of the kingdom. This was hinted at during the transfiguration and the fact that Jesus only selected three of his apostles and afterwards ordered them not to tell any of the others what they had seen until after Jesus was resurrected.

(While Jesus will only reveal himself to his true disciples during his presence, the sign of his presence will be manifest for everyone to see.)

It should be apparent why the Pay Attention book omits any comment on the prophetic significance of Daniel’s encounter with the angel. To do so would draw attention to the fact that the Watchtower’s 1914 doctrine is nothing more than an “artfully contrived” false story; since it should be obvious that Jesus has not come alongside to minister to his disciples in any sort of miraculous way. (Parousia literally means to come alongside another. At Luke 12:37 Jesus used that same expression.)

In order to overturn the fraud that has been perpetrated upon Jehovah’s Witnesses in regards to Christ presence supposedly having begun in 1914, the following scriptural texts have been arranged to show how there is essentially no difference between Christ’s presence and his coming, arrival, revelation and manifestation.

(Colossians 3:4)… “When the Christ, our life, is made manifest, then you also will be made manifest with him in glory.”

(1 Peter 5:2-4) . . . "Shepherd the flock of God in your care, not under compulsion, but willingly; neither for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly; neither as lording it over those who are God’s inheritance, but becoming examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd has been made manifest, you will receive the unfadable crown of glory."

(1 John 2:28) . . ."So now, little children, remain in union with him, that when he is made manifest we may have freeness of speech and not be shamed away from him at his presence."Please note: In the verse above it is apparent that Christ has not yet become manifest—but 1 John 2:28 connects his manifestation with his presence, making them one and the same.(1 Corinthians 4:5)… “Hence do not judge anything before the due time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring the secret things of darkness to light and make the counsels of the hearts manifest, and then each one will have his praise come to him from God.”

(Matthew 25:31-33)…“When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And 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.

(Mark 8:38)…For whoever becomes ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of man will also be ashamed of him when he arrives in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

(Mark 13:35-37) . . .”Therefore keep on the watch, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether late in the day or at midnight or at cockcrowing or early in the morning; in order that when he arrives suddenly, he does not find you sleeping. But what I say to you I say to all, Keep on the watch.”

(Luke 18:8) . ... Nevertheless, when the Son of man arrives, will he really find the faith on the earth?”

(Luke 22:17-18) . . .And, accepting a cup, he gave thanks and said: “Take this and pass it from one to the other among yourselves; for I tell you, From now on I will not drink again from the product of the vine until the kingdom of God arrives.”

(1 Corinthians 11:26) . . ."For as often as you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives."

(Luke 9:26-29) … “For whoever becomes ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of man will be ashamed of this one when he arrives in his glory and that of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truthfully, There are some of those standing here that will not taste death at all until first they see the kingdom of God.” In actual fact, about eight days after these words, he took Peter and John and James along and climbed up into the mountain to pray. And as he was praying the appearance of his face became different and his apparel became glitteringly white.

(Matthew 24:36-44) “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father. For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken along and the other be abandoned; two women will be grinding at the hand mill: one will be taken along and the other be abandoned. Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know one thing, that if the householder had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have kept awake and not allowed his house to be broken into. On this account you too prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming.”

Please note: Jesus’ coming and arrival are the same thing. In order to demonstrate his glory, which is to be revealed to his disciples upon Christ’s arrival, Jesus was transfigured. As Peter pointed out, he was an eyewitness of Jesus’ magnificence. And by being an witnesses of Christ's glory Peter acquainted the disciples with the power and presence of Christ. Since the transfiguration occurred immediately following Jesus’ comment about his arrival and how some would not die until first they see the kingdom, it is evident that the actual presence of Christ in kingly power will also be witnessed by Jesus anointed disciples. To be sure, we will not need a pocket calculator to decipher the 7 times of Daniel in order to discern Christ’s arrival and presence. It will become manifest to the ones who have been approved beforehand--just as it was to Peter, James and John.

(1 Thessalonians 3:12-13) . . ."Moreover, may the Lord cause you to increase, yes, make you abound, in love to one another and to all, even as we also do to you; to the end that he may make your hearts firm, unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the presence of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones."
(1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) ..."May the very God of peace sanctify you completely. And sound in every respect may the spirit and soul and body of you brothers be preserved in a blameless manner at the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ."

(James 5:7-8) . . . Exercise patience, therefore, brothers, until the presence of the Lord. Look! The farmer keeps waiting for the precious fruit of the earth, exercising patience over it until he gets the early rain and the late rain. You too exercise patience; make your hearts firm, because the presence of the Lord has drawn close.

Please note: In the previous three verses the presence of the Lord is used in reference to the final judgment.
(2 Peter 1:16-18) … “No, it was not by following artfully contrived false stories that we acquainted you with the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, but it was by having become eyewitnesses of his magnificence. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when words such as these were borne to him by the magnificent glory: “This is my son, my beloved, whom I myself have approved.” Yes, these words we heard borne from heaven while we were with him in the holy mountain.”

(1 Corinthians 1:4-8)… I always thank God for you in view of the undeserved kindness of God given to you in Christ Jesus; that in everything you have been enriched in him, in full ability to speak and in full knowledge, even as the witness about the Christ has been rendered firm among you, so that you do not fall short in any gift at all, while you are eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also make you firm to the end, that you may be open to no accusation in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.(1 Peter 1:13)…Hence brace up your minds for activity, keep your senses completely; set your hope upon the undeserved kindness that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Please note: In all the verses above, the presence of Jesus, as well as the day of our Lord and his revelation, are the same thing.

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