Friday, September 28, 2007
In last week’s lesson we were asked to consider the first century fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel.
The Society teaches that the original Christians were the symbolic locust plague, just as are Jehovah’s Witnesses today, supposedly.
While it is true that the apostle Peter, while under inspiration, applied a portion of Joel’s prophecy to the outpouring of holy spirit that had just taken place. In some respects it could be said that the sun had turned dark and the moon to blood due to the fact that just 40 days before Pentecost, on the Passover, Christ had been put to death and Jehovah literally blotted out the sun for several hours. Also there was a great earthquake. Still, though, the inspired apostle made no mention of locust.
If we were to thoroughly examine all the occurrences of locusts in prophecy it would become apparent that God uses locusts to symbolize marauding invaders. For example, as regards the Midianites, who plundered Israel in the days of Gideon, Judge 6:5-6 says: “They would come as numerous as the locusts, and they and their camels were without number; and they would come into the land to ruin it. And Israel became greatly impoverished due to Midian; and the sons of Israel began to call to Jehovah for aid.”
Of the Egyptians Jeremiah 46:23-24 says: ‘“They will certainly cut down her forest,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘for it could not be penetrated. For they have become more numerous than the locust, and they are without number. The daughter of Egypt will certainly feel shame.’”
The prophecy of Nahum depicted the Assyrian Empire like locusts, saying of them: “Make yourself heavy in numbers like the locust species; make yourself heavy in numbers like the locust. You have multiplied your tradesmen more than the stars of the heavens. As for the locust species, it actually strips off its skin; then it flies away. Your guardsmen are like the locust, and your recruiting officers like the locust swarm. They are camping in the stone pens in a cold day. The sun itself has but to shine forth, and away they certainly flee; and their place is really unknown where they are.” (Nahum 3:15-17)
The key to interpreting the meaning of the locust of Joel is found in the prophecy of Isaiah. There, Isaiah depicts the despoilers of Jehovah’s people as both cockroaches and locusts. Isaiah 33:1-5 reads: “Woe to you who are despoiling, without you yourself being despoiled, and to you who are dealing treacherously, without others having dealt treacherously with you! As soon as you have finished as a despoiler, you will be despoiled. As soon as you have done with dealing treacherously, they will deal treacherously with you.
O Jehovah, show us favor. In you we have hoped. Become our arm every morning, yes, our salvation in the time of distress. At the sound of turmoil peoples have fled. At your arising nations have been dispersed. And the spoil of you people will actually be gathered like the cockroaches when gathering in, like the onrush of locust swarms that is rushing against one. Jehovah will certainly be put on high, for he is residing in the height.”
Nevertheless, the Society insists that the locusts and cockroaches of Joel represent Jehovah’s Witnesses. (See essay: Joel – The Day of the Locust Attack)
(Some non-JW’s may be inclined to agree with the Society's interpretation, albeit for different reasons)
The opening paragraph of this week’s lesson states: “Reasonably, we could expect Joel’s prophecy to have a final fulfillment in the time of the end. How true this has proved to be! At the Bible Students’ convention at Cedar Point, Ohio, U.S.A., September 1-8, 1919, a notable outpouring of Jehovah’s spirit activated his people to organize a global campaign of preaching. Of all professed Christians, they alone, recognizing that Jesus had been enthroned as heavenly King, spared no effort in publishing abroad that good news. Their relentless witnessing, in fulfillment of prophecy, became as a tormenting plague to apostate Christendom.”
While it is notable that the tiny band of intrepid Bible Students seemingly sprang to life back in 1919 and the Society’s spokesman relentlessly exposed the clergy by means of radio, sound cars and the printed page; still, the notion that this phenomenon was in fulfillment of Joel or Revelation or that the time of the end began in 1914, is wholly unfounded. (See essay: The Harvest)
The Society claims that the symbolic tormenting locusts were unleashed in 1919, to sting the hypocritical religionists of Christendom only. However, the 9th chapter of Revelation indicates that the locusts are commanded by the king of the abyss to only sting those men who do not have the seal of God upon their forehead. (The seal of God is the name of Jehovah and Christ, which Revelation 14:1 reveals is symbolically written upon the foreheads of the 144,000 chosen ones only.)
So, reasonably, the locusts begin their macabre work of tormenting the condemned only after the sealing is completed, which Revelation 6:7 shows takes place after the beginning of the great tribulation.
Elsewhere in Revelation the chosen ones are said not to have received the mark of the beast – contrasted with the condemned who do. It seems then, that, those described as not having the seal of God is simply another way of saying that they have received the mark of the beast. Those who receive the mark of the beast are condemned to everlasting death. That being the case, it should be obvious that that judgment is not issued until the actual commencement of Judgment Day. (See essay: Judgment Day - The Last Hour of the Eighth King)
What is symbolized by the locusts of Revelation then? Other then the erroneous timing tied to 1914, the Society’s interpretation seems reasonable. The locusts apparently represent the sealed sons of the kingdom after they return from being laid low by Jehovah’s discipline.
Please note that the locusts have what appear to be crowns of gold upon their heads. Recall, though, that Paul reproved the Corinthians for assuming a superior attitude, chiding them sarcastically: “You have begun ruling as kings without us, have you? And I wish indeed that you had begun ruling as kings, that we also might rule with you as kings.” Clearly, Paul did not take the view that anointed Christians had already been given the kingdom. However, at the coming of Christ the kingdom will be given the holy ones, even while the remnant is upon the earth. That takes place when Christ gathers his chosen ones from the four corners of the earth. At that time the holy spirit will be poured out in full measure upon the then-revealed sons of God. (See essay: Will Christianity Survive the End of the World?)
Please note too, that, the 9th chapter of Revelation also depicts the kingly locusts as having the mouths of a lion. The prophecy of Micah sheds light upon this; portraying the re-gathered remnant of Jehovah’s spiritual nation as roaring lions, as they herald Jehovah’s sovereignty to the friends of God and pronounce doom upon the peoples and nations that refuse to submit to the rule of the kingdom. Micah 5:7-9 states: “And the remaining ones of Jacob must become in the midst of many peoples like dew from Jehovah, like copious showers upon vegetation, that does not hope for man or wait for the sons of earthling man. And the remaining ones of Jacob must become among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of a forest, like a maned young lion among droves of sheep, which, when it actually passes through, certainly both tramples down and tears in pieces; and there is no deliverer. Your hand will be high above your adversaries, and all enemies of yours will be cut off.”
It is evident, then, that the locusts represent the sons of the kingdom immediately prior to the outbreak of Armageddon; as they announce Jehovah's final judgments upon Satan's doomed system of things.