The Watchtower, April 15 2004, p.6, contains an article “When God’s Will is Done on Earth”. In it the Watchtower Society repeat two statements that are part of their ‘trademark’. First, they talkaboutthe new heavens and new earth as just a new system of government and not to be taken literally. They then quote Revelation 21:3, 4 in this context but do not see the error they are making. In this article we want to challenge these statements and put the other side.
New Heavens and New Earth
This is a teaching that has been around for many years and has often been treated in detail. Reasoning from the Scriptures, p.113, asks the question, “Will God himself destroy the earth by fire?”
In answer they quote two Scriptures: 2 Peter 3:7, 10, and Revelation 21:1, from the King James Version. They then argue that we must take these verses in context and discover that it is not a literal burning up but a symbolic one.
It is that symbolic ‘earth’, or wicked human society, that is ‘discovered’; that is, Jehovah will sear away as by fire all disguise, exposing the wickedness of ungodly human society and showing it to be worthy of complete destruction. That wicked society of humans is also ‘the first earth’, referred to at Revelation 21:1 (p.115). This teaching was amplified in The Watchtower, 1 November 1974, pp.665-667, and can be summarised as follows:
1. The story of Noah is a prophetic picture. Noah = Jesus Christ. Noah’s wife = the remnant of the Bride of Christ still on earth. The sons and their wives = the great crowd. The ark = spiritual paradise into which God has brought worshippers.
2. The fire that is coming is not all literal, although part of it may be. The earth will be cleansed and become a perfect place to live.
3. ‘Heavens’ and ‘earth’ are not literal, but represent ‘systems of governments’.
4. The fulfilment of this ‘prophecy’ began in 1919.
5. The ark = spiritual paradise = Jehovah’s Witness congregations.
What Does the Bible Teach?
2 Peter 3:1-13 compares the judgement of Noah’s flood with the judgement of fire in the last days.
Verse 5 shows a literal heavens and earth existed in the past
Verse 7 shows a literal heavens and earth exist now
Verse 6 shows that literal water was used as a judgement
Verse 7 shows that literal fire will be used as a judgement
Verse 6 shows that everything in the world (kosmos) was destroyed
Verse 7 shows ungodly men will be destroyed Verse 10 shows that the heavens and earth will be burned up
Everything was literal at the flood and everything will be literal in the last days. The Greek words used for heaven, ouranos, and earth, ge, are used in Scripture for the literal earth and the literal heavens. There is nothing here to suggest that the words should be spiritualised as a ‘system’. There are three sets of ‘heaven and earth’ mentioned and each set is literal.
Verse 5. The original ones created by the Lord
Verse 7. The present ones instituted after the flood
Verse 13. The new ones yet to come.
The heavens will pass away and the elements will be destroyed. The earth, with its entire works, will be burned up. As with the flood, all the inhabitants are to be destroyed unless they are in the ‘ark’ of the New Testament.
The Greek word for ‘new’ used in these verses is kainos, which has the meaning of ‘new in quality not time’, and of ‘a different nature from of old’. The very heavens and earth will undergo a change, which could never be brought about by a thousand years of work by all the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is an essential change of character that only the miraculous working of God can produce.
The ‘ark’ to the Jehovah’s Witness pictures ‘the spiritual paradise into which God has brought His worshipers today’. But the ark only enabled Noah and his family to ride out God’s judgement, it was a temporary dwelling place. 1 Peter 3:20 shows the ark as the means of salvation, not a place of long residence. The worst part of this typology is that their ‘ark’ is being a baptised member of the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society and actively associating with the local congregation. This is blasphemy, because they have placed themselves instead of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 3:18-22 shows Jesus Christ is the Ark that will bring us safe through God’s judgement into eternal life.
Part of this typology actually destroys their belief. According to them Noah’s wife, representing the remnant of the 144,000, and the sons and daughters representing the ‘great crowd’, were all in the same ark and all went to the same place! Without realising it, they have stumbled on the truth. All who are in the true ‘ark’ are brought to one place! There is no two-tier salvation.
Revelation 21:3, 4
That last statement is very important when we read these verses. For a Jehovah’s Witness, they must speak of two distinct places – heaven and earth. In the one will be Jesus and the 144,000 and in the other the Great Crowd; but is that what Scripture says?
Revelation – Its Grand Climax at Hand says about these verses”
“John tells us further: ‘With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them.”‘ (Revelation 21:3) When Jehovah made the Law covenant with the then new nation of Israel, he promised: “I shall certainly put my tabernacle in the midst of you, and my soul will not abhor you. And I shall indeed walk in the midst of you and prove myself your God, and you, on your part, will prove yourselves my people.” (Leviticus 26:11, 12) Now Jehovah is making a similar promise to faithful humans. During the thousand-year Judgment Day, they will become a very special people to him.
“During the Millennial Reign, Jehovah will ‘reside’ among mankind in a temporary arrangement, he being represented by his royal Son, Jesus Christ. At the end of the Thousand Year Reign, however, when Jesus hands the Kingdom over to his Father, no royal representative or intercessor will be needed. Jehovah will reside spiritually with ‘his peoples’ in a permanent and direct way. (Compare John 4:23, 24.) What a lofty privilege for restored humanity!” – p.303
Residing with His people means that He will be with them on a temporary basis. They will be a very special people but only enough in the end for Jehovah to reside spiritually with His people. I see nothing about spiritually or temporary residence in the text; I wonder where they get that from?
If God is with mankind surely He is with them, and if He resides with them, surely that is a permanent arrangement? What can we glean from these verses as to the meaning?
The picture given is of the Tabernacle of old. This tent was at the centre of the encampment and all the tribes had their positions around the Tabernacle. Once again God is going to be in the midst of all His people – Jew or Gentile.
It is said in the Greek that, “He will reside or dwell with His people”. The idea is abiding, staying with, and there is no sense of it being spiritual. In the age we live in, God’s abiding is spiritual, by His Holy Spirit within us. But the time described here is different.
When you go back to the beginning, God dwelt with Adam in the Garden. He walked with him and He talked with Him and there was no separation between God’s ‘home’ and man’s ‘home’. Sin was to change that and the r
ealms were separated. However, when we get to Revelation, sin has finally been dealt with; there is no separation between God and man and once again, God’s ‘home’ and man’s ‘home’ become one. Heaven and earth are rolled into one; there is one King and one Kingdom – not two. Once again, man lives, abides, dwells with all – not just a select few – of His people. How tragic that thousands of people today are being offered a second-class salvation. What a different picture these verses actually paint from the one shown regularly in The Watchtower.
The Watchtower, June 15 2004
In the article entitled, “Be Guided by the Living God?” we read on p.20 about God’s Guidance re blood. I put God in italics because I would dispute that God’s Word forbids blood transfusions.
They quote the verses from Acts 15 re blood and state,
“Plainly, the governing body viewed ‘abstaining from blood’ to be as morally vital as abstaining from sexual immorality or idol worship. This proves the prohibition about blood is serious.”
it actually proves is that the Jewish church in Jerusalem realised that the Gentiles should not be put under all the law but they felt that there were four things that were necessary, and one of these was abstaining from blood. So what these words prove is that abstaining from blood was seen as an important part of God’s law but is “abstaining from blood”, and “do not have a blood transfusion”, one and the same thing?
It is obvious that what the leaders in Jerusalem wrote was not understood as “don’t take blood transfusions”, for the simple reason that they were not even invented; to put that meaning on these Scriptures is taking them totally out of context. What did they mean?
This was written in the light of the Old Testament law on eating blood and the sacrifices. This is what it meant then; is it any different now? When did this verse change to include blood transfusions? It never has; this is something that the Society have added to try to boost their case.
If there is no justification in this New Testament Scripture, the Old Testament ones to which they refer need to be read in the context they were given.
Though they could now eat meat, it had to be dead, without life left in it. The Watchtower makes this connection, even if accidentally.
“Jehovah God the Creator is responsible for the existence of all flesh, and for its life… Originally, vegetation and fruit, and not flesh, were given man as his diet. But after the Flood God added animal flesh, commanding, however, that flesh with its soul – its blood – you must not eat… Cannibalism, the eating of human flesh, naturally was repugnant to the human mind, was abhorred by God and his ancient covenant people Israel.” Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. l, p.840.
Remember that we are dealing here with animals and animal blood. This was not to do with human blood but with the way that animals should be killed, before they were eaten. Incidents such as in Saul’s day (1 Samuel 14:33) show that they should not eat the meat with the blood. There is no way that you can take God’s law of not eating animal meat with its blood and make it say that God forbids blood transfusions.
The Society say that they are no longer under Mosaic law, yet they continue to use this law. The law respecting blood also states:
“It is a perpetual statute throughout your generation in all your dwellings: you shall not eat any fat or any blood.” Leviticus 3:17.
The Watchtower Society do not teach ‘no fat’ but why not? It is part of the same law.
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.”
The animals sacrificed on the altar, and especially the Passover Lamb, symbolised the coming of Jesus, ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29). Hebrews 9:20 says if there’s no shed blood, there’s no forgiveness. After Jesus shed His blood there were to be no more animal sacrifices on the altar, to make atonement, else we would be saying that Christ’s death was not sufficient. Therefore, sacrifices passed away along with the pouring out of blood (Lev 17:13).
Much is made these days of the dangers of viruses in the blood and the innovation of bloodless surgery. However, these do not prove anything. Whatever is happening in the world today does not alter God’s Word – what did He say and what did he mean?
Finally, in this issue, we want to look at one or two Scriptures that the Watchtower Society use and see if there is another side to the story.
1 Corinthians 8:6
This is a verse that Jehovah’s Witnesses want to bring up to disprove the Trinity. However, I think the following, which I discovered on a Copyright Free Bible Study programme I have, gives a clear and precise answer:
“But to us there is but one God, the Father,…. In this Christians and Jews agree with the best and wisest philosophers of the Gentiles, that there is but one God; which is clear from the perfections of God, as necessary existence, eternity, infinity, omnipotence, all-sufficiency, goodness, and perfection; from one first cause of all things; from the government of the world; and from the writings of the Old and New Testament: so that to us believers this point is out of all doubt; but who this one God is the Gentiles knew not, and the Jews are very ignorant of; but we Christians know him to be “the Father”; by whom meant either God essentially considered, the one God, Father, Son, and Spirit, called the Father, not in relation to any person in the Godhead, but in relation to the creatures: so this one God, Father, Son, and Spirit, is the Father of spirits, the creator of angels, and the souls of men, the God of all flesh, the Father of all the individuals of human nature, the Father or author of all the mercies and blessings the children of men enjoy. Or else personally considered, and so designs the first person in the Godhead, who is called so in relation to his Son, who is styled the only begotten of the Father: and when he is said to be the one God, it must be understood, not as exclusive of the Son and Spirit; for if the Son stands excluded in this clause from being the one God with the Father, by the same rule of interpretation, the Father, in the next clause must stand excluded from being the one Lord with Christ; but as dominion or lordship belongs to the Father, so deity to the Son, and also to the Spirit.”
Verse 9 tells us that Michael had a dispute with the devil concerning Moses and said “The Lord rebuke you”. What is interesting is the way that Jude uses the term “Lord” in the rest of the letter.
In verses 4, 17, 21 and 25, he shows that when he uses “Lord” he is referring to Jesus Christ. In Verse 9, therefore we must also come to the conclusion that when Michael refers to “Lord”, he is referring to Jesus. Thus this makes it impossible for Michael to be Jesus, unless of course he is talking to himself!
1 Corinthians 1:13
The literal translation in the KIT reads, “Has been parted the Christ”. Most versions treat this as a question, as the context would seem to indicate – “Has Christ been divided?” But the NWT translates this, “The Christ exists divided”. Maybe that explains why the Watchtower Society is often changing its mind!