A Jehovah Witness came to the door and I responded to her immediate question with, I am a believer in Jesus Christ and anxiously await his return. At that, she turned over the Watchtower magazine she held in her hand, and pointed to the section entitled: Why pray for God’s Kingdom to come? She pointed two things out to me.
- That “Jehovah has also chosen a group of Jesus’ followers to be associate rulers with Jesus in the kingdom.”
They reference Luke 11:2; 22:28-30 to prove their point. Luke 11:2 says nothing about ruler-ship over any kingdom but it does speak about praying to the Father in Jesus name.
And He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. (Luke 11:2 NASB)
The implications are huge.
If the Jehovah’s Witness are telling us that we can pray and in a sense force the kingdom to come, how does that align with God’s will, especially if the kingdom looks like what I desire with no concern for God’s plans? Does not 1 John 5:14 tell us that we have to align ourselves with God’s plan?
“And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14 MKJV)
How does one speak to the creator of the universe in such familiar tones without having an intimate relationship? Moreover, how does one have an intimate relationship with a person they do not know? Considering the fallacies integrated into the translations JW’s set their hopes upon, how could the person knocking on my door know this Jesus Christ whom I love and serve?
The JW’s do not believe that Jesus was God on the earth, and yet He made that clear as he walked among the people for three years. It was Jesus that said, “if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” Fairly well stated, and yet the JW’s believe, “Jehovah God existed from the beginning. His first creations were two angels, Michael (who later becomes Jesus) and Lucifer. Jehovah God created all else through his firstborn, Jesus (Michael).” Those who refuse to look at the truth will always find a way to bash and ignore it. Perhaps a portion of Paul’s letter to the Colossian church might help to convince a reader of who Jesus is.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him — all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers — all things were created through him and for him. He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him. He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, so that he himself may become first in all things. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross — through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven. (Colossians 1:15-20 NET.)
Whom was Jesus talking to when he made these statements about his deity? The first thing to consider here is the context of what he said. He was responding to his disciples, and he was answering a Jewish oriented question. The boys had argued about which one was greater or better than the other, and how that person would be able to dominate the others. There is something screwed up in that kind of thinking from the get go and Jesus was not going to tolerate it. Therefore, what we see is Jesus straightening them out.
What does this kingdom look like?
In Matthew 4:23 we have Jesus, “teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” So, an aspect of the kingdom is healing. Jesus words also conveyed that the kingdom is for the poor in spirit – Matthew 5:3. According to Matthew 19:14 it is filled with little children. In Mark’s gospel chapter one, verse fifteen, Jesus said, the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Perhaps I am not to be stressing over any kingdom to come, because it is already here, and I just need to wait and have it revealed; that will happen in His timing.
One last thing and I will move on. Jesus told those listening that God cares about the needs of birds and how he knows what people need, therefore we are not to be so wrapped up in needs, but merely seek Him. Look this up in Luke’s gospel chapter 12:29-31
The other scripture reference they use is: Luke 22:28-30
You are those who have continued with Me in My trials. And I appoint a kingdom to you, as My Father has appointed to Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:28-30 MKJV)
If I use this as a foundational verse for my religious doctrine of ruling in the new kingdom, then perhaps I should be very concerned about how I judge now, for we are told that the manner in which we judge is the way we will be judged. There is of course a context to this passage as well. He was speaking to his disciples, and you are not they.
The second thing she pointed out.
- “Soon, God’s kingdom will take action against all opposers of God’s rule. So the prayer for God’s kingdom to come is a request for God’s government to replace all human governments.” The scriptures referenced were Daniel 7:13-14; Revelation 11:15, 18.
Let us see if Daniel defines the paragraph for us.
I saw in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. And dominion and glory was given Him, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages, should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14 MKJV)
“One like the Son of man” a common reference to Jesus Christ.
“the Ancient of Days” – God himself.
“that all peoples, nations and languages, should serve Him.“
I do not see how this defines a replacement of all human governments. To merely use the term nations tends to show that they have a governmental rule. There is no denying that there is a possibility that God will overthrow all governments, but that is not what this passage says. What it says, is that they will serve God. (Read about this in Zechariah chapter 14. Pay close attention to verse 16 -18 where it says, everyone who is left of all the nations which came up against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Jehovah of Hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles” So, scripture makes it clear that nations continue to exist through the thousand-year reign. (Revelation 20:4-6)
Let us try the two verses the magazine suggested from Revelation 11:15,18 to see how they apply to the doctrine.
At the sound of the seventh trumpet, loud voices were heard in heaven. They said, “Now the kingdom of this world belongs to our Lord and to his Chosen One! And he will rule forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15 CEV)
Since the idea is that God’s government will reign and all human governments will come to an end, I suppose the secondary hope is that those chosen will hold a high-ranking cabinet position, collect a large salary, and be able to dominate over others. Do you get that from this passage? No. What you see is the kingdom of this world belonging to the Lord and his chosen one.
Question: If I take this passage literally, then how many people do we count, two, the Lord and his Chosen one. However there is a problem with the literal approach because anyone who has spent time in the Bible knows that there are those that are in Christ that have been removed from the earth seven years earlier, and scripture tells us that they are “in Christ.” Scripture really does not speak that openly of where they are, and yet we know they are with Him, somewhere.
Another group that seems to be ignored, and yet is not distinctly mentioned in this passage are the martyred saints.
The Apostle John told us that their numbers were uncountable, but we also know that they specifically are to reign with Christ during the thousand years. (Revelation 5:10; 20:6) That alone exceeds the idea that 144, 000 select will have that priority. The only reference to 144,000 is when God seals that many Jews that are not tainted by the world. (Revelation 7:3,4) These apparently walk untouched through the seven years of wrath we like to call the tribulation, and seem to serve as priests in the temple of God that will be in the New Jerusalem. This city and temple play an active role during the 1000 years.
Since that did not answer the question of who is in charge, perhaps Revelation 11:18 will.
When the nations got angry, you became angry too! Now the time has come for the dead to be judged. It is time for you to reward your servants the prophets and all of your people who honor your name, no matter who they are. It is time to destroy everyone who has destroyed the earth.” (Revelation 11:18 CEV)
Now this actually sounds like something we could build a doctrine around, so let us look at it for a minute.
“Now the time has come for the dead to be judged.”
Since we are hoping for a removal of human government and God’s government replacing it, what need is there if the humans are dead? Under a literal interpretation, the idea that God needs to set up his own government does not fit when I use this passage. Perhaps being dead plays a role in the human governments being removed from power. Judgment is a thought-provoking idea, but loses steam quickly when I look at the context of the passage for it opens with, “and the nations were angry, and thine anger did come.” The implications are that something drastic has transpired and, in general, the nations have been wiped out. This does not really speak to governments but we will not exclude that yet.
Where in scripture and chronological time do we find a judgment of the dead? Again, you know the answer to this if you study your bible. This occurs at the end of the thousand years where Christ and the martyred saints have reigned.
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Revelation 20:11-12 KJV)
Revelation 20 happens at the white throne judgment seat. The dead are brought before Him; not the living; not the believers; and not martyred saints, just dead folk. I know what you are thinking; how does this speak to the period of its occurrence? Good question; all we have to do is to look at the context (which I did not give you) and we can sort that out quickly.
Revelation 20:7-10 KJV “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, (8) And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. (9) And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. (10) And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
I cannot say with confidence that this is what we are seeing in Revelation 11:18, but I still believe it is a poor choice on which to build a doctrine representing a change of leadership. At best this may be representing the mid-point of the seven years of God’s wrath upon the earth, and though it is hard to understand how anyone survives God’s onslaught, we know they do, or there would be no need for Christ to come at the end of seven years with a sword, executing vengeance. We also see that rebellion will continue, to some degree, during the thousand years because there are statements telling us that no evil will be allowed in the City of God. (You can look up this aspect that speaks to exclusion of the vile in Revelation 22:14-15) If God wipes out all evil and its associated government, then where do these people come from?
How do we explain what appears as discrepancies between Revelation 11:18 and Revelation 22:14-15? We may not have to because another aspect of God’s word is that so much of it is a broad-spectrum picture. An example of this could be the 2000-year, momentary gap between the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks of years, in which Christ physically comes back to earth. Thinking like this forces us to consider what is outside the box. In this case, we may be seeing things in Revelation 11 that transpire a few years later in Revelation 22. The prophecy to Daniel stated, “Seventy weeks are decreed as to your people and as to your holy city, to finish the transgression and to make an end of sins, and to make atonement for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.” (Daniel 9:24 MKJV) We can say with confidence that the Most Holy has not been anointed, and so we await the bringing in of the everlasting righteousness; the seventieth week, as far as anyone can tell, has not started yet; or has it.
What else happens here in Revelation 11:18?
“Rewards are given” – but to whom?
- “To your servants,” – This is an interesting usage of a phrase because it actually means a slave. This is problematic mainly because it becomes a hard sell. God has not demanded a slave/master relationship, but one in which we have dedicated ourselves in subjection to him as a child. I made the decision to do that because of the realization that I can do nothing without him. In my broken world where I barely trust anyone, he made the first move, proving his love for me by giving His Son Jesus Christ. It was all I could in response – love him back and give myself to him.
- “To the prophets” – The prophet was a foreteller or by analogy an inspired speaker. The “modern” church has denied, ignored, and refused to listen or allow the prophets to operate within the church body, allowing their fears to control them. Let us do the gutsy thing for a change and believe that God put them here for a purpose and his purpose is not complete yet.
- To the saints – Saints means those that are sacred. That definition is given sporadically to those that follow Christ, but more definitively to those that are martyred for their faith in the only God, not Allah. We, as a human race, have made it through October of 2014, and the rise in the number of “Christians” or infidels, as Islam puts it, being martyred is rising on a daily basis. God’s word tells us that this will get out of control.
- To those (great and small) that fear your name – This is a conundrum because we have to define who these people might be. The first clue we have in defining them is the fact that they fear your name. Because we know that these are among those getting rewards, we comprehend that there is a positive spin to this, and yet this does not define them as followers of a particular religious sect, but those that have a deep respect for God’s name. God is not a respecter of persons. When it came to picking a king God told Samuel that he looked at the heart, not the external appearance, so, this really has nothing to do with an external appearance does it? It is talking about those who have attained success in the world’s eyes, and those that have nothing in comparison. That they fear His name is the important thing.
Here is an extensive list of scriptures that speak about a rewarding of the Saints.
The reward is from God
But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: (Romans 2:5-7 KJV)
Keep in mind that this rendering according to your deeds can also bring about his wrath.
Knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [and not from men] that you will receive the inheritance, which is your [real] reward. [The One Whom] you are actually serving [is] the Lord Christ (the Messiah). (Colossians 3:24 AMP)
Our real reward is our inheritance. Ephesians chapter one tells us that we have obtained our inheritance. Studying this concept out in Ephesians tells us that our reward then, has everything to do with our acceptance, forgiveness, and the idea that God wishes to show us the things he planned for us all along.
The reward comes through grace and faith alone
Romans 4:4-5 should be one the LDS completely ignore because it flies in the face of their works based system. What the passage tells us is that while there is reward to this life in Christ, it has everything to do with believing on Christ’s actions.
But to him working, the reward is not reckoned according to grace, but according to debt. But to him not working, but believing on Him justifying the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (Romans 4:4-5 MKJV)
Romans 4:16 seems to stand on its own for understandability, but then it also depends on what translation you read. I chose this version because of its readability without having to dive into the context.
Everything depends on having faith in God, so that God’s promise is assured by his great kindness. This promise is not only for Abraham’s descendants who have the Law. It is for all who are Abraham’s descendants because they have faith, just as he did. Abraham is the ancestor of us all. (Romans 4:16 CEV)
Let’s assume for a minute that all we had was the King James Version.
Rom 4:16 “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed:..”
The first three words have me thrown for a loop, for several reasons. First I have to decide what the “it” is, and that forces me to look into the context. Secondly, because the words “it and is” are grayed out, I should not even consider that they are there, as grayed out words were added for comprehension or understanding.
What then is the context that applies to Romans 4:16?
For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. (Romans 4:13-15 KJV)
Allow me to reassemble this in a form that makes sense to me. Therefore, the promise of a reward (I need to have that clear in my head, and it really has nothing to do with worldly gain.) was not only to Abraham but to his seed also, and those that have received Christ are of that seed. While keeping the law maintains civility, it has nothing to do with gaining this promise of a future life and hope in Jesus Christ. It has everything to do with a faith in God’s Son, a faith that makes us right in His eyes. The Jews tried going the law route and this tells us that it made their faith void and the promise of no effect to them. Sadly, this can happen to anybody. (Read Romans 8: 14-17)
The JW’s stand on the street corners and walk through neighborhoods, expressly for the purpose of earning a place in a future kingdom, one in which they have no assurance. I suspect some actually believe they have a chance to attain to one of those 144, 000. That becomes a problem since they are tightly defined as Jews.
Is of God’s good pleasure
Let’s camp out on the verses in Matthew for a few minutes.
Take what is yours and go. I want to give to this last man the same as I gave to you. Am I not permitted to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ (Matthew 20:14-15 NET.)
There is a context, and it is not what we typically think. I decided that you needed to see the entire “parable.”
As Jesus was telling what the kingdom of heaven would be like, he said: Early one morning a man went out to hire some workers for his vineyard. After he had agreed to pay them the usual amount for a day’s work, he sent them off to his vineyard. About nine that morning, the man saw some other people standing in the market with nothing to do. He said he would pay them what was fair, if they would work in his vineyard. Therefore, they went. At noon and again about three in the afternoon he returned to the market. And each time he made the same agreement with others who were loafing around with nothing to do. Finally, about five in the afternoon the man went back and found some others standing there. He asked them, “Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?” “Because no one has hired us,” they answered. Then he told them to go work in his vineyard. That evening the owner of the vineyard told the man in charge of the workers to call them in and give them their money. He also told the man to begin with the ones who were hired last. When the workers arrived, the ones who had been hired at five in the afternoon were given a full day’s pay. The workers who had been hired first thought they would be given more than the others. But when they were given the same, they began complaining to the owner of the vineyard. They said, “The ones who were hired last worked for only one hour. But you paid them the same that you did us. And we worked in the hot sun all day long!” The owner answered one of them, “Friend, I didn’t cheat you. I paid you exactly what we agreed on. Take your money now and go! What business is it of yours if I want to pay them the same that I paid you? Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Why should you be jealous, if I want to be generous?” Jesus then said, “So it is. Everyone who is now first will be last, and everyone who is last will be first.” (Matthew 20:1-16 CEV)
Did you notice that pay was the same for everyone?
As I have studied, end times events and tried to discuss these things with some, I get angry arguments and rebuttals; I wonder why? It is not so different from what Jesus conveyed in the story he told. It, by the way is not just some bizarre analogy he made up, it conveys what I hear today.
In Revelation 20 we the white throne where all the dead are brought before Him. He separates those dead into two groups, the sheep and the goats. The goats are sent to eternal destruction, while the sheep are allowed to enter into the kingdom. Seems like a good thing and rather benign, but when you begin to point out how Revelation 20 and what Jesus conveyed in Matthew 20:1-16, religious people get very upset. (I know this because I too have found myself upset by what I pointing out.) The response is something like this, I have wasted my years living right, focused on what religion and God wanted, not allowing myself any fun, and sacrificing my free time for the Lord; only to have God give these people, that have done nothing, that, in my mind, qualifies them to enter into the kingdom. Yet, there he goes, inviting them in. They get the same reward as I do, and he lets them in at the last minute.
Yeah, I know, it is hard to swallow and comprehend, but it’s there.
The last verse referenced is Luke 12:32
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32 KJV)
While the context might be applied to the small group of followers that hovered around Jesus, problem is that Jesus expanded that flock to include the Samaritans, and no decent Jew would allow them to be considered Jews. Therefore, what we have is Jesus effectively taking the gospel to the gentiles, and by extension, the nations. Now then, who is the kingdom for?
My bible tells me that God desires that none should perish, but then I suppose that is what the Witnesses go door to door, or stand on street corners for, winning the lost so that they too can enjoy the kingdom that is to come; or is it?
The gift of God is free, and it is by faith in the one who paid it all by giving his life for us, and then rising from the dead. His name is Jesus Christ and he is the Son of God. Choosing the life he offers is the way into this kingdom and it is available to anyone who will come.