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The opening verse of this parable indicates the time of its application. It refers to the period of Christ’s reign over the earth, from His assumption of power at the commencement of the Millennium to the cleansing of the world from the last trace of evil. “When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats” (‘Matt. 25. 31-32). Jesus cast this parable against the background of Daniel’s vision (Dan. 7. 9-10) in which that prophet saw the “Ancient of Days” seated upon a throne of splendor with myriads assembled before Him for judgment, one “like the Son of Man” coming with the clouds of heaven to be brought before Him, and the kingship of earth being formally committed to that Son of Man and his companions, the “people of the saints of the Most High” that they might possess the kingdom for ever. Meanwhile the evil powers and institutions of the old world were being destroyed in a great holocaust of fire. Jesus knew himself to be that “Son of Man” and his disciples and those that should afterwards believe on His Name to be the “people of the saints of the Most High” that were to be joined with Him in that Kingdom, and in this parable He set down the purpose and the character of his kingship over the nations during the Age of his glory.

The disciples must have understood this parable more clearly than any other parable. They were so accustomed to this view of the Messianic reign. How often in the Temple services would they join with intense feeling in the inspiring strains of the twenty-fourth Psalm “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty…” How they must have conned over the mystic vision of Zechariah “Behold the man whose name is the BRANCH … he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne” (Zech. 6. 12-13). Jewish literature of the date of the First Advent is full of such references, and Jesus himself must have been thoroughly familiar with them. It is thought that the very phraseology of this parable was suggested to his mind by passages in the Book of Enoch, a book with which He would certainly be well acquainted: “On that day mine Elect One shall sit on the throne of glory and shall try their works … and I will transform the earth and make it a blessing … for I have provided and satisfied with peace my righteous ones, and have caused them to dwell before me: but for the sinners there is judgment impending with me, so that I shall destroy them from the face of the earth”. “And the Lord of Spirits seated him upon the throne of his glory, and the spirit of righteousness was poured out upon him, and the word of his mouth slays all the sinners … and they shall be downcast of countenance, and pain shall seize them, when they see the Son of Man sitting on the throne of his glory” (I Enoch 45. 3-6 and 62. 2-5). Another passage in the same work, quoted by Jude, runs “And behold! he cometh with ten thousands of his holy ones to execute judgment upon all, and to destroy all the ungodly; and to convict all flesh of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (I Enoch 1. 9: compare Jude 14-15). Here is a reference that parallels the various sayings of Jesus regarding the “angels” or messengers that will be with him at his coming, the members of his Church, raised from the sleep of death, or changed “in the twinkling of an eye” as the case may be, united with him and revealed with him to the world in glory.

The vision of the Great White Throne of Revelation 20:11 is parallel to that of Daniel 7 and to this parable. In Revelation there is the same standing of the nations, the “dead, small and great”, before the Throne, the same judgment and separation between good and evil, and the same condemnation of sin and sinners. These three pas-sages between them afford a wonderfully vivid picture of the work of judgment that is carried on throughout the Millennial Age, a work that divides and separates men into two classes, those who choose righteousness and life, and those who choose unrighteousness and death.

The basis of the selection, feeding or not feeding the hungry, clothing or failing to clothe the naked, and so on, is an allusion to the very practical ideas held by thinking men in Jesus’ day as to what constituted fitness or unfitness for eternal life. Such “good works” have always been features of the religious life of true Jews. There is a parallel to the Lord’s words in the “Secrets of Enoch” (not to be confused with the Book of Enoch just now mentioned, and usually known as 2 Enoch to distinguish it from that book), a work which was known to pious Jews during His life-time, or at any rate shortly thereafter. The book itself is of no particular value to Christians; it presents the truths of religion as they appeared to orthodox Jews of the First Century and was to them what many theological works are to us today; and was strongly colored with Greek and Oriental ‘philosophies. But the passage in question is interesting: it describes Enoch’s visit to Paradise, in the third heaven (compare Paul’s use of this term when writing to the Corinthians) and his guides say to him “This place, O Enoch, is pre-pared for the righteous who endure every kind of attack in their lives from those who afflict their souls: who turn away their eyes from unrighteous-ness, and accomplish a righteous judgment, and also give bread to the hungry, and clothe the naked, and raise the fallen, and assist the orphans who are oppressed, and who walk without blame before the face of the Lord, and serve him only. For them this place is prepared as an eternal inheritance”. The likeness of these words to the parable is obvious. The following reference to the sinners is also highly significant. They are said to be cast into hell in the third heaven. That is a fitting description of that death which comes to sinners in or at the end of the Millennial Age, the third heaven of which Paul spoke. “And I (Enoch) said, Woe, woe, how terrible is this place! And the men said to me: This place, Enoch, is prepared for those who do not honor God: who commit evil deeds on earth … oppressing the poor and spoiling them of their possessions … who when they might feed the hungry, allow them to die of famine: who when they might clothe them, strip them naked … (2 Enoch 9 and 10). If in fact Jesus was familiar with the book and did take these passages as the basis of his parable it is easy to see how readily his hearers would grasp his meaning, and connect the “sheep” and “goats” who “did” or “did it not” with the final judgment upon righteous and evil men. At any rate the similarity of thought shows that the sentiment portrayed was one that was quite familiar to Jewish ears.

In the parable the “sheep” are those who manifest the practical Christian virtues toward their fellows; feeding the hungry and thirsty, sheltering the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and delivering those in bondage. It has been pointed out that of the seven obligations laid upon the Christian in the New Testament only one; visiting the fatherless; is omitted in this parable. The reason is not hard to discern; there will be no, fatherless in the Millennium! All will have been restored to conscious life by the Redeemer, Jesus, and all may thenceforth become sons of God by reconciliation to him. But there will be many hungry, naked and in prison, at first. Men, returning from the grave, will have the same characters and dispositions that were theirs at death, and the result will be that, although physically whole, many will still `be mentally and morally sick, in prison by reason of bondage to their past vices and depravity, naked as respects fitness for the new world into which they have come, and whether they realize the fact or not, hungry and thirsty for the blessings of life and knowledge that the Kingdom is designed to give them. There is a link here with the Parable of the Good Samaritan; it will be remembered that Jesus gave that parable in answer to a question “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” and the Samaritan who undertook the care and healing of the distressed wayfarer was the one shown to be worthy of such. So it will be in the Millennial Age; the man who is making progress toward perfection and harmony with God will be actively employed in helping and assisting his fellows in every conceivable way; the selfish and the sinner will be indifferent to such service and Jesus in the parable points to this as a touchstone by which the true state of the heart can be indicated.

The question put both by sheep and goats “When saw we thee an hungered, or athirst…” and so on, is a rhetorical one, put into the mouths of the characters in order to row into prominence tike essential, principle of these “good works”; inasmuch as ye did it–or did it not-unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it-or did it not-unto me. Our Lord’s concern for those He came to seek and to save is such that every service or disservice rendered to them He feels as if rendered to Him. More; since He gave his own life, at the coast of great suffering, for the salvation of .men, and is to establish his thousand year reign on earth for the purpose of persuading as many as can possibly be persuaded to “turn from sin to serve the living God”, it follows that every service or disservice rendered to men in that day is either a help or a hindrance to the execution of the King’s plans, and therefore can be aptly said to be done, or not done, unto him. No one in that Age can escape working, either for or against the purposes of God–and all will be judged accordingly.

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand. `Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ ” (vs. 34). This “kingdom” is not the same as the Millennial Kingdom of Christ. That is a kingdom in which all men are under discipline, and all, good and bad alike, are present in that kingdom and must perforce remain so until they have come to a full knowledge of the truth and made their choice between “life and death, good and evil”. This is a kingdom entrance into which is granted only to the proved righteous, to those who have passed the test and are in no sense unclean. It thus corresponds to the Holy City of Rev. 21 and 22, into which nothing unclean or that defileth will ever enter. It is the kingdom of the earth after the Millennial Age, which men inherit as kings in their own right, living, moving and having their being in God the Father and con-ducting their own affairs on a basis of equality with each other in harmony with the laws of righteousness.

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, `Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (vs. 41). Here we have the antithesis to the Holy City, the lake of fire of Revelation 19 and 20, symbolic of utter destruction. The allusion is, of course, to the valley of Gehenna outside Jerusalem, where perpetual fires destroyed the- refuse of the city. Jesus took the illustration from the apocalyptic literature of his day, and his hearers would realize quite naturally what He meant. The final verse of the parable perhaps makes this more clear “These shall go away into everlasting punishment”, where “punishment” is kolasin, disciplinary restraint, and not timora, which is the word that indicates penal infliction in the sense of the English word punishment. Kolasin, derived from the verb kolazo, which means to lop or prune trees, hence to check, curb or restrain, is very descriptive of the purpose of God with irrecoverable sinners. “They shall be as though they had not been”; they will be “cut off from among the people” and so the expression “everlasting” (or enduring) punishment can be accurately rendered “final cutting-off”. That cutting-off is as permanent and everlasting as is the eternal life of the righteous mentioned in the same verse.

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The Jewish People are Jehovah’s Witnesses?

The name, Jehovah’s Witnesses or Witnesses of Jehovah, however else used, is a scriptural concept. But to whom did the Lord give this title? Has the Lord instructed Christians to be witnesses for Jehovah, or witnesses for Jesus? There is not a single New Testament scripture that calls Christians the witnesses of Jehovah. On the other hand, the New Testament commissions Christians to be the ‘witnesses of Jesus’ (Acts 1:8; Revelation 20:4) and the ‘ambassadors of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 5:20). The commission given to Christians by Jesus was that they should be his witnesses in all the world by preaching the Gospel (Matthew 24:14).

But the Jewish people witnessed for Jehovah in a different way. It was not because Israel preached God’s Word that they were called His ‘witnesses.’ Rather, it was because God revealed His glory to others by the miraculous manner in which he dealt with them.

In three instances in the Old Testament God said to Israel, ‘Ye are my witnesses.’ These three times are to be found in Isaiah 43 and 44. In these two chapters, Isaiah establishes five historic facts concerning who are the ‘Witnesses’ of Jehovah.

The ‘Witnesses’ of Jehovah… Were delivered from the land of Egypt (Isaiah 43:3) Offered animal sacrifices to the Lord (Isaiah 43:23) transgressed the Law Covenant (Isaiah 43:24,25) Are forgiven for the Lord’s sake (Isaiah 43:25) Are being regathered from all over the world to the Holy Land (Isaiah 43:5,6) These five stated identifications are true only of one people, the Jews! Therefore, it is clear that the Jewish people, the ‘ancient people,’ ‘my chosen’, are the real ‘Witnesses’ of Jehovah (Isaiah 44:7; 43:20).

But in case anyone concludes that the Jews have long since forfeited this title, the last scriptural assertion concerning the ‘Witnesses’ of Jehovah was a prophecy that is only now in the process of fulfillment. The Jewish people are being regathered from all over the world to the Land of Israel. Their regathering has been motivated not only by religious fervor, as some might have expected, but this does not matter. The Bible reveals that after the Jews are regathered in their Land, then the Lord will bring them through experiences that will gradually increase their faith and enkindle a true religious vitality that will reach their ‘inward parts’ and fit them for their special role in God’s Kingdom on earth (Isaiah 2:1- 4).

How Are the Jewish People the ‘Witnesses’ of Jehovah? The Jewish people are the ‘Witnesses’ of Jehovah from two standpoints. First,God has revealed His power and glory by the miraculous manner in which He has dealt with them (Isaiah 43:9- 12). God delivered them from Egypt, led them through the Red Sea, sustained them in the wilderness, led them through the River Jordan, gave them the land of Canaan, and made them a nation. During their chastening and dispersion, the phenomenal preservation of the people of Israel over the centuries as a distinct and homogeneous people among nations is itself a miracle of history. They have left blood- stained footprints of martyrdom in every nation they have trod. Neither persecution, nor famine, nor any other force was able to cause them to be assimilated. However, after 2,000 years, contrary to every pattern of history, they are re- established in their homeland, an independent nation. Surely the Lord’s power and glory has been witnessed through this people!

The second way they are the ‘Witnesses’ of Jehovah is how their history proves the validity of God’s Word- the Bible. Every detail of their history has been prophesied and fulfilled…or is in the process of fulfillment. Their original establishment as a nation, their destruction as a nation and dispersion as a people, their regathering, the circumstances of their regathering, their future role, all were prophesied in the Bible. All this detailed fulfillment is an extraordinary witness to the immutability of God’s Word. Therefore, these arethe reasons why the Lord has said of the Jewish People, ‘YE ARE MY WITNESSES, SAITH JEHOVAH.’ Promises to Christians, and to the Jewish People The ‘JWs’ today, like other replacement, theology- believing Christians, do not see any special future for the Jews.

However, ‘from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable’ (Romans 11:28,29 NAS). Since God promised that the Seed of Abraham would inherit the Land and bless all the families of the earth out of Jerusalem (Genesis 22:18,19; Jeremiah 32:41; Isaiah 2:2,3), what right have any Christians to annul this promise? These blessings were never forfeited. These promises are ‘forever’ (Amos 9:14,15). If we say God has cancelled his promises to the children of Israel, what confidence can we have in His promises to us as Christians?

That baptism for those wishing to follow in the footsteps of Christ is a scriptural admonition is not debated. What is debated among various Christian denominations is who should get baptized and for what purpose. Many denominations believe in infant baptism, which we believe is unscriptural.

In any event, a long standing tradition within the Watchtower movement is to ask a few questions to those desiring to get baptized as an outward symbol of their consecration to the Lord and His will.

In the days of Pastor Russell, two simple questions were asked:
Have you repented of sin with such restitution as you are able, and are you trusting in the merit of Christ’s sacrifice for the forgiveness of your sins and the basis of your justification?

Have you made a full consecration of yourself with all the powers that you possess–talent, money, time, influence–all to the Lord, to be used faithfully in His service, even unto death?

The candidate was then told “On the basis of these confessions, we acknowledge you as a member of the Household of Faith, and give to you as such the right hand of fellowship, not in the name of any sect or party or creed, but in the name of the Redeemer, our glorified Lord, and His faithful followers.”

After the death of Pastor Russell and prior to the year 1985, the questions asked to baptismal candidates did not change much, although they were slightly revised. An example of the questions asked are found in the February 1st 1945 Watchtower:

Have you recognized yourself as a sinner and needing salvation from Jehovah God? and have you acknowledged that this salvation proceeds from Him and through his Ransomer Christ Jesus?

On the basis of this faith in God and in his provision for redemption, have you consecrated yourself unreservedly to do the will of God henceforth as that will is revealed to you through Christ Jesus and through God’s Word as His holy spirit makes it plain? (page 44 – Subheading “Questions”)

These same questions were asked of baptismal candidates in 1970 (See Watchtower 1970 pg. 309 par. 20.)
We believe that these questions are proper and in line with what both the prophet John the baptizer and Christ Jesus admonished their followers to do, “Repent, because the Kingdom of Heaven draws near!” – Matthew 3:2; 4:7
However, as the years have gone by and the leadership behind the Watchtower have taken unto themselves certain privileges that rightfully belong to Christ Jesus, they have made drastic changes within the organization. Abusing their authority, and having ursurped the authority of Christ. By their actions they have asserted equal status with Jehovah God Himself. Yet, these changes came subtley and unnoticed by the rank and file members of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Some may ask for an example, and to that we ask, let’s take a look at the baptismal questions and how they have drastically changed since 1985. There is no need to reproduce the original questions as they are quoted above, we do well to look at the new questions asked of baptismal candidates since 1985.

On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?

Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization? (Watchtower June 1, 1985 pg. 30 par. 3,4.)

You will notice that the original questions and there slight revisions placed emphasis on one being a sinner and in need of a redeemer, that redeemer being Christ Jesus as a means of salvation. A simple and plain stated fact. Scripturally sound.

However, the new questions, (post 1985), are drastically revised. While emphasis in recognizing ones sinfulness in need of repentance is stressed, the atoning blood of Jesus is not. Instead, the emphsis is in recognizing ones association with the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. As they are the “spirit-directed organization” mentioned.
Therefore, The candidate is NOT baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit, but in the name of the Watchtower, Bible and Tract Society. As there is no emphasis in whom to confess ones sins in order to gain forgiveness, there is no emphasis on accepting Jesus as one’s personal savior, the ONLY name by which we gain salvation. Acts 4:12

While the candidate is led to believe that he is repenting of his sins and dedicating his life in the service of Jehovah, he is in fact doing the opposite, that is dedicating his life in the service of man, the Watchtower leadership. Yet the Watchtower states that “Baptism validates a solemn agreement made with God.” (Watchtower April 15, 1987, page 12)

So we ask, why the change? What prompted the Watchtower leadership to change the questions to their current status? We believe that the new questions are out of character and unscriptural to say the least. The Society states they were changed for simplification but for what purpose?

“Recently the two questions addressed to baptismal candidates were simplified so that candidates could answer with full comprehension of what is involved in coming into intimate relationship with God and his earthly organization.” (Watchtower April 15, 1987, page 12)

An “intimate relationship with God”? Where is that stated in the questions? There is nothing said of one’s intimate relationship with God. Yet, there is stated, one’s intimate relationship with the spirit-begotten organization.
We may ask then to what is baptism a dedication? Let’s look at the Watchtower to gain some insight:

“A Christian, therefore, cannot be baptized in the name of the one actually doing the immersing or in the name of any man, nor in the name of any organization, but in the name of the Father, the Son and the holy spirit. This shows, among other things, that Christianity is not a denominational affair, that sects have nothing to do with it. “Does the Christ exist divided? Paul was not impaled for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I am thankful I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name.”—1 Cor. 1:13-15, NW”. (Watchtower July 1, 1955, page 411)

One would think the leadership would reread that issue of the Watchtower or perhaps reread the July 1, 1955 issue, (pg. 411 par. 15)

“We do not dedicate ourselves to a religion, nor to a man, nor to an organization. No, we dedicate ourselves to the Supreme Sovereign of the Universe, our Creator, Jehovah God himself. This makes dedication a very personal relationship between us and Jehovah.”

Yet, the questions state the opposite, instead of a personal relationship between “us and Jehovah” it is a personal relationship between “us and the spirit-directed organization” namely, the Watchtower Society.