Saturday, October 6, 2007
THE SECOND WOE -- ARMIES OF CAVALRY
This week’s lesson covers the last three paragraphs of the 22nd chapter. Under the subheading “World Rulers Put on Notice,” paragraph 18 states: “The modern-day locusts had a job to do. The Kingdom good news had to be preached. Errors had to be exposed. Lost sheep had to be found. As the locusts went about these tasks, the world was forced to sit up and take notice. In obedience to the angels’ trumpet blasts, the John class has continued to expose Christendom as deserving of Jehovah’s adverse judgments. In response to the fifth trumpet, a particular aspect of these judgments was emphasized at a convention of the Bible Students in London, England, May 25-31, 1926. This featured a resolution, “A Testimony to the Rulers of the World,” and a public talk at the Royal Albert Hall on “Why World Powers Are Tottering—The Remedy,” the complete text of both of these being printed in a leading London newspaper the following day. Later, the locust band distributed worldwide, as a tract, 50 million copies of that resolution—a torment indeed to the clergy! Years later, people in England still spoke of this stinging exposé.”
First, Revelation does not depict the locusts going about preaching the good news or searching for lost sheep, as the paragraph implies. A careful reading of the text in the 9th chapter of Revelation reveals that the only task assigned to the locust band is to sting the men who do not have the seal of God. As stated previously, that can only come about after the final sealing is concluded. Even by the Society’s own reckoning the sealing of the chosen ones has still not been concluded.
While the scope of the Society’s work back then is truly impressive, the events of the 1920’s simply could not have been the fulfillment of the blowing of the symbolic trumpets of Revelation. That’s because the judgments of God heralded by the angelic trumpeters take place after the opening of the 7th seal – after the start of the great tribulation.
The most absurd aspect of the Society’s interpretation of Revelation and their tying it to events that took place 80 years ago is that the entire generation that supposedly heard the announcements of Jehovah’s impending judgments against Christendom has passed away; yet in 2007, Christendom is in many respects more powerful and influential as ever. Reasonably, we would expect that when the Destroyer actually unleashes his army of stinging locusts it will be swiftly followed by the destruction of Jehovah’s enemies.
THE ARMIES OF CAVALRY
After the locusts are released from the abyss the blowing of the 6th trumpet unleashes a fire-breathing, lion-headed cavalry! Revelation 9:13-19 words it this way: “And the sixth angel blew his trumpet. And I heard one voice out of the horns of the golden altar that is before God say to the sixth angel, who had the trumpet: ‘Untie the four angels that are bound at the great river Euphrates.’ And the four angels were untied, who have been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, to kill a third of the men. And the number of the armies of cavalry was two myriads of myriads: I heard the number of them. And this is how I saw the horses in the vision, and those seated on them: they had fire-red and hyacinth-blue and sulphur-yellow breastplates; and the heads of the horses were as heads of lions, and out of their mouths fire and smoke and sulphur issued forth. By these three plagues a third of the men were killed, from the fire and the smoke and the sulphur which issued forth from their mouths. For the authority of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents and have heads, and with these they do harm.”
As the Climax commentary points out, the symbolic cavalry are very similar to the locust, in that, the locusts are said to have the teeth of lions, whereas the horses have heads like a lion. Both the locust and the cavalry men are wearing protective breastplates – reminding us of the Christian armor of the breastplate of righteousness. Also, both have stinging tails that torment and kill.
What is the significance of the four angels being untied “that are bound at the great river Euphrates”? Again, the Society’s commentary rightly makes the connection to the Jewish exile in Babylon. However, as all of Jehovah’s Witnesses are aware, the Watchtower teaches that the grand prophecies related to the spiritual liberation of Christians from Babylon the great have already been fulfilled, back in 1919.
Hence, the fourth paragraph states: “Jehovah is a precise Timekeeper. He has a timetable and is keeping to it. Hence, these messengers are released exactly on schedule and in time to accomplish what they have to do. Imagine their joy on coming forth from bondage in 1919, ready for work! They have a commission not only to torment but finally “to kill a third of the men.” This is related to the plagues heralded by the first four trumpet blasts, which afflicted a third of the earth, the sea, the creatures in the sea, the fountains and rivers, and the heavenly light sources. (Revelation 8:7-12) The four angels go further. They “kill,” exposing to a completion Christendom’s spiritually dead condition. Trumpeted pronouncements, made from 1922 onward and continuing to the present time, have accomplished this.”
Over the course of the past five years the Society’s 1914 teaching and all that goes with it, such as the Watchtower’s interpretation of Revelation, have been thoroughly dissected and shown to be what the apostle calls “artfully contrived false stories.” There is, therefore, no reason to reiterate here the falsity of the notion that Jehovah performed a mighty liberation of his people in 1919. (See essay: Babylon the Great – When Does it Fall?)
The Watchtower is fond of saying that prophecy cannot be fully understood until after it is fulfilled. But is that really true? Isn’t that really just a cop-out for having no insight into God’s prophetic word as regards his future judgments?
A question to be considered in this regard is this: Was it possible for the Israelites to understand the prophetic messages of the prophets before they were fulfilled? Yes, of course it was! That was the point of Jehovah issuing messages in the first place – he wanted his people to understand his judgments in order that they might take action to avoid his wrath.
For example, the prophecy of Jeremiah clearly spelled out that Jehovah was going to cause the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem if the Jews did not repent. There was no ambiguity. The majority of Jews may have refused to believe it but at least they understood what the prophets were saying.
Now take the Society’s approach to prophecy: they claim to be a Jeremiah class of prophet. If that is true, though, why didn’t the Society foresee the calamity that befell them back in the 1916-1918 period, which was supposedly in fulfillment of dozens of prophecies, including Revelation? Why was it that it was not until decades later that the Watchtower concocted an elaborate explanation of prophecy regarding the fall of Babylon and the supposed liberation of spiritual Israel in 1919?
The truth is – the reason Bethel cannot understand prophecy before it is fulfilled is because they are blind. (See essay: Who is Blind as the Servant of Jehovah?) The prophecies themselves foretell that it suits God’s purpose to withhold understanding from his people until such time as Jehovah gives light.
The 47th chapter of Isaiah contains Jehovah’s denunciation of ancient Babylon, and by extension Babylon the great. Then in the next chapter Jehovah addresses himself to his chastened nation, saying to them at Isaiah 48:3-7: “The first things I have told even from that time, and out of my own mouth they went forth, and I kept making them heard. Suddenly I acted, and the things proceeded to come in. Due to my knowing that you are hard and that your neck is an iron sinew and your forehead is copper, I also kept telling you from that time. Before it could come in, I caused you to hear it, that you might not say, ‘My own idol has done them, and my own carved image and my own molten image have commanded them.’ You have heard. Behold it all. As for you people, will you not tell it? I have made you hear new things from the present time, even things kept in reserve, that you have not known. At the present time they must be created, and not from that time, even things that before today you have not heard, that you may not say, ‘Look! I have already known them.’”
According to the prophecy of Isaiah, Jehovah holds things in reserve until a certain time. But “before it could come in” Jehovah caused his people to hear his judgments, at the “present time.” Clearly, that disallows the sort of after-the-fact interpretation that characterizes the Society’s present method of interpretation.
Although it is presently beyond the grasp of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the prophecies foretell that God’s nation is due to go into spiritual captivity to Babylon the great during the tribulation. (See essay: What is the Holy Place and the Great Tribulation? )
The four angels that are released from bondage at the great river Euphrates at the sounding of the 6th trumpet coincides with the liberation of spiritual Israel from Babylon the great. The things that Jehovah has held in reserve are the judgments that his servants will then issue. That is why Revelation refers to the cavalry being prepared “for the hour and day and month and year.” God’s purpose in keeping his servants in ignorance until then is in order to discredit their idol, which is the Watchtower Society itself. (See essay: My Own Idol Has Done Them)