“A revelation by Jesus Christ, which God gave him, to show his slaves the things that must shortly take place.”
The opening words of Revelation locate the events as taking place during “the Lord’s day.” That is why John states: “by inspiration I came to be in the Lord’s day.” As presented in chapter five, the Lord’s day is the future manifestation, or revelation of Jesus, asPaul indicated when he wrote: “While you are eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also make you firm to the end, that you may be open to no accusation in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into a sharing with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” (I Corinthians 1:7-9).
The dramatic unsealing of each of the seven seals of the sacred scroll of Revelation sets into motion irreversible events associated with Christ receiving his kingdom crown. The opening of the first four seals unleashes the so-called four horsemen of the Apocalypse, plunging the world into war, pestilence and famine. As has been established in this publication, these are future events. This is especially evident in connection with the opening of the sixth seal depicting the symbolic heavenly luminaries being snuffed out, which symbolism Jesus also employed to describe the earth-shaking events associated with what the Lord called a great tribulation unlike any calamity that has ever occurred or ever will occur. Since the great tribulation has not begun yet, what about the opening of the final seal—the seventh seal? What might those apocalyptic symbolisms betoken?
The opening of the last seal takes place after the sealing of the remaining 144,000 has been accomplished. Revelation 8:1-4 reads: “And when he opened the seventh seal, a silence occurred in heaven for about a half hour. And I saw the seven angels that stand before God, and seven trumpets were given them. And another angel arrived and stood at the altar, having a golden incense vessel; and a large quantity of incense was given him to offer it with the prayers of all the holy ones upon the golden altar that was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense ascended from the hand of the angel with the prayers of the holy ones before God.”
It seems appropriate that after the final sealing is accomplished, which is apparently why the great tribulation will be cut short, cut short by God for the sake of the chosen ones, as Jesus foretold, and symbolized in Revelation by the four angels holding back the winds of destruction even after the point when the metaphoric heavens have gone dark and the institutional mountains of the world have all collapsed, the thankful prayers of the then-sealed holy ones should ascend like perfumed incense before God. The Watchtower, however, teaches the seventh seal was unsealed in 1919—or thereabouts. The Grand Climax commentary on Revelation quotes from a Watchtower published in 1919 that comments:
‘“We believe it is now a true saying that the harvest of the kingdom class is an accomplished fact, that all such are duly sealed and that the door is closed.’ During this difficult period, the fervent prayers of the John class were ascending, as though in the smoke of a large quantity of incense. And their prayers were being heard!”
But since the sealing is slated to occur some time before the opening of the seventh seal but after the symbolic stars have fallen from heaven and the sun and moon have ceased to shine and every mountain crashes to earth, it is manifestly not true that the sealing was accomplished in 1919. Neither was the door closed back then.
DO NOT HARM THE EARTH OR SEA OR THE TREES
After the opening of the sixth seal the vision depicts four angels standing upon the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of destruction. And the angels are commanded: “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until after we have sealed the slaves of our God in their foreheads.” Next, though, after the sealing takes place the seventh and final seal is broken and the blowing of the first trumpet initiates the destruction of a substantial portion of the earth, sea and trees. Hence, we read: “And the first one blew his trumpet. And there occurred a hail and fire mingled with blood, and it was hurled to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees was burned up, and all the green vegetation was burned up.” (Revelation 8:7)
Prior to the unsealing of the last seal the angels had been commanded not to harm the earth, sea or trees until the sealing had been accomplished. But the judgments contained in the seventh seal are to be executed against the earth, sea and trees. What do these symbols represent? A significant clue may be found in the last verse of the eight chapter of Revelation, which reads: “And I saw, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven say with a loud voice: ‘Woe, woe, woe to those dwelling on the earth because of the rest of the trumpet blasts of the three angels who are about to blow their trumpets!’”
In view of the fact that the “rest of the trumpet blasts of the three angels”—specifically the fifth, sixth and seventh trumpets—result in “woe, woe, woe to those dwelling on the earth”—three woes associated with the last three trumpet blasts—the question arises: why do not the first four trumpets similarly result in woe for the peoples of the earth? The answer is: The first four judgments heralded by the angelic trumpeters are not directed against the “peoples dwelling on the earth”—that is to say, those who are not recognized as being in association with God’s earthly organization. The first four trumpets herald God’s judgments upon his organization. That is in harmony with the axiom that the judgment starts with the house of God.
This is also discernable by reason of the fact that both the accomplished sealing of the Israel of God and the gathering of the great crowd who are destined to “come out of the great tribulation” are presented in context as taking place immediately before the opening of the seventh seal. At that point, before the opening of the seventh seal, the door to salvation is officially closed. Everyone who is going to inherit salvation is then either a sealed spiritual Israelite or they are part of the great crowd. At that point there will no longer be any need for an earthly organization to guide and train and exhort God’s people. As the Jewish system of things became obsolete after it accomplished its intended purpose of producing the Messiah, so too, the Watchtower will become dispensable.
In order to better appreciate why God would destroy what up until then had served as his earthly instrumentality consider what the Hebrew prophecy of Zechariah says. Zechariah 13:7 reads: ‘“O sword, awake against my shepherd, even against the able-bodied man who is my associate,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies. ‘Strike the shepherd, and let those of the flock be scattered; and I shall certainly turn my hand back upon those who are insignificant.”’
What is the connection to the blowing of the first trumpet?
This aspect of Zechariah was initially fulfilled when the shepherd, Jesus, was struck by the executioner’s sword and the apostles were all momentarily scattered. Nevertheless, the prophecy has an application to God’s judgments during the Lord’s day. That should be plainly evident by the context of the following 14th chapter of Zechariah, which describes Armageddon as immediately subsequent to the scattering of the flock. To what degree is the flock scattered? Jehovah answers at Zechariah 13:8-9, saying: ‘“And it must occur in all the land,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘that two parts in it are what will be cut off and expire; and as for the third part, it will be left remaining in it. And I shall certainly bring the third part through the fire; and I shall actually refine them as in the refining of silver, and examine them as in the examining of gold. It, for its part, will call upon my name, and I, for my part, will answer it. I will say, ‘It is my people,’ and it, in its turn, will say, ‘Jehovah is my God.’”
To re-emphasis a very important point: the prophecy of Zechariah was written after the Jews had returned from exile in Babylon. It is apparent, then, that the destruction of Jerusalem applies to Christ’s congregation, also designated as Zion. The “two parts” that are destined to be “cut off and expire” pertain to God’s organization—his land. Not coincidently, the expression “in all the land” may also be translated “the earth.” So, it appears as if “a third of the earth” that “was burned up” upon the blowing of the first trumpet corresponds to the third part of God’s earthly organization that is to be burned—as with fire.
What might the “trees” represent, a third of which are also “burned up”? Again, Zechariah 11:1 provides the chilling answer, saying: “Open up your doors, O Lebanon, that a fire may devour among your cedars. Howl, O juniper tree, for the cedar has fallen; because the majestic ones themselves have been despoiled! Howl, you massive trees of Bashan, for the impenetrable forest has come down! Listen! The howling of shepherds, for their majesty has been despoiled. Listen! The roaring of maned young lions, for the proud thickets along the Jordan have been despoiled.”
The symbolic “trees” represent the men of stature in the Christian congregation. That is why the prophet depicts “the howling of shepherds”—the majestic ones—in connection with the symbolic congregational forest going down. But Zechariah foretells that two-thirds of God’s nation will be destroyed, not merely one third—as does Revelation. The denunciation continues: “And the second angel blew his trumpet: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was hurled into the sea. And a third of the sea became blood; and a third of the creatures that are in the sea which have souls died, and a third of the boats were wrecked.”
“The great mountain burning with fire” that is “hurled into the sea” likely symbolizes that which is associated with the mountain-like kingdom of God, as it becomes subjected to God’s burning anger. Jeremiah penned a lamentation portending Jehovah’s coming judgments upon Mount Zion, saying: “Jehovah has accomplished his rage. He has poured out his burning anger. And he sets a fire ablaze in Zion, which eats up her foundations.” (Lamentations 4:11)
The vision of Ezekiel also symbolizes a similar fiery destruction of God’s temple and city. After describing the marking of those who were sighing and groaning over all of the detestable things being done, Ezekiel 10:2 says: “And he proceeded to say to the man clothed with the linen, even to say: ‘Enter in between the wheelwork, in under the cherubs, and fill the hollows of both your hands with coals of fire from between the cherubs and toss them over the city.’”
The denunciation against Israel in the second chapter of Isaiah is quite similar to the judgments connected to the blowing of the first two trumpets. For example, the prophecy calls for all mountain-like institutions and massive treelike personalities, as well as “all desirable boats,” to be brought low before Jehovah’s “splendid superiority.”
Isaiah 2:10-16 reads: “Enter into the rock and hide yourself in the dust because of the dreadfulness of Jehovah, and from his splendid superiority. The haughty eyes of earthling man must become low, and the loftiness of men must bow down; and Jehovah alone must be put on high in that day. For it is the day belonging to Jehovah of armies. It is upon everyone self-exalted and lofty and upon everyone lifted up or low; and upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are lofty and lifted up and upon all the massive trees of Bashan; and upon all the lofty mountains and upon all the hills that are lifted up; and upon every high tower and upon every fortified wall; and upon all the ships of Tarshish and upon all desirable boats. And the haughtiness of the earthling man must bow down, and the loftiness of men must become low; and Jehovah alone must be put on high in that day.”
As was the case with God’s dealings with apostate Israel and Judah, Jehovah did not simply remove wicked men from his holy mountain. He destroyed the entire kingdom and demolished his own temple as an expression of his indignation and rage—bringing down “every high tower,” as Isaiah says. So, when the house of God comes under judgment, that which is condemned by God will then be utterly thrown down.
The denunciation continues: “And the third angel blew his trumpet: And a great star burning as a lamp fell from heaven, and it fell upon a third of the rivers and upon the fountains of waters. And the name of the star is called Wormwood. And a third of the waters turned into wormwood, and many of the men died from the waters, because these had been made bitter.”
“The great star burning as a lamp,” which falls from heaven, polluting the rivers and fountains of waters, turning them to wormwood—causing many men to perish—similarly would seem to picture the lamp of the congregation—or what had been looked to as a lamp—as a lighted city on a hill. For example, Jesus told the congregation in Ephesus: “Therefore remember from what you have fallen, and repent and do the former deeds. If you do not, I am coming to you, and I will remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.” The implication is that if Christians did not repent, their light would be removed. There would be dire consequences indeed for all those dependent upon the light that was snuffed out. Elsewhere, Jesus exhorted his disciples to walk while they had the light before them—because the night was coming.
Jehovah spoke of feeding the apostate Israelites poisoned water and wormwood, saying at Jeremiah 9:15-16: “Here I am making them, that is, this people, eat wormwood, and I will make them drink poisoned water; and I will scatter them among the nations that neither they nor their fathers have known, and I will send after them the sword until I shall have exterminated them.”
It seems, then, that the third trumpet blast, which causes the congregational lamp to be extinguished and the waters to become as wormwood, relates to the spiritual deaths of Christians who continue to imbibe of the Watchtower’s ‘refreshing waters of truth’ after those water sources have been cursed by God as contaminated wellsprings of error and falsehood.
The denunciation continues: “And the fourth angel blew his trumpet: And a third of the sun was smitten and a third of the moon and a third of the stars, in order that a third of them might be darkened and the day might not have illumination for a third of it, and the night likewise.”
Since the opening of the sixth seal similarly resulted in the moon and sun being blotted out and the stars falling from the sky, what is the meaning of one third of each heavenly luminary being smitten? While the Watchtower insists the fourth angelic trumpet blast relates to the condemnation of Christendom, since roughly one-third of the world claims to be Christian, the question ought to be asked: Has not Christendom always been in spiritual darkness? What has changed since 1925, when the fourth angel is believed to have blown his trumpet? More reasonably, and in keeping with the other angelic trumpetings, the loss of a third of the illumination of the heavenly bodies must relate to the spiritual darkness that will yet envelope God’s organization during his denunciation.
Due to the Watchtower’s teaching that Christ has already come and the prevailing attitude that all is well in “spiritual paradise,” it is doubtful that the Watchtower will immediately have any meaningful answers for Jehovah’s Witnesses when things go terribly wrong. It will be as if the organization’s light suddenly goes out. Isaiah 59:9-10 describes it this way: “That is why justice has come to be far away from us, and righteousness does not catch up with us. We keep hoping for light, but, look! darkness; for brightness, but in continuous gloom we kept walking. We keep groping for the wall just like blind men, and like those without eyes we keep groping. We have stumbled at high noon just as in evening darkness; among the stout ones we are just like dead people.”
The lethal darkness will seem to impose the sentence of death upon even the spiritually “stout ones”—as the 59th chapter of Isaiah describes. However, Christ will then become a light to those trusting in him, dispelling the gloom into which his people will have been plunged, which is what Isaiah 29:18-20 foretells, where we read: “And in that day the deaf ones will certainly hear the words of the book, and out of the gloom and out of the darkness even the eyes of the blind ones will see. And the meek ones will certainly increase their rejoicing in Jehovah himself, and even the poor ones of mankind will be joyful in the Holy One of Israel himself, because the tyrant must reach his end, and the bragger must come to his finish, and all those keeping alert to do harm must be cut off…”
The coming night will discredit the Watchtower as a source of light and spell the end of the no-so-subtle tyranny that Christians have been subject to. In contrast to the gloom the chosen ones will at some point shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
“AND THE FIFTH ANGEL BLEW HIS TRUMPET”
The prophecy of Revelation continues in the ninth chapter: “And the fifth angel blew his trumpet. And I saw a star that had fallen from heaven to the earth, and the key of the pit of the abyss was given him. And he opened the pit of the abyss, and smoke ascended out of the pit as the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun was darkened, also the air, by the smoke of the pit. And out of the smoke locusts came forth upon the earth; and authority was given them, the same authority as the scorpions of the earth have. And they were told to harm no vegetation of the earth nor any green thing nor any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.”
What sort of woe is envisaged by the release of the stinging locusts?
The Watchtower’s interpretation of the identity of the locusts seems sound. The fact that the locusts are depicted as wearing what seem to be crowns of gold and have women’s hair well symbolizes that they are the kings of God’s kingdom and the earthly bride of Christ. Be that as it may, there are several reasons why it is unreasonable to suppose that the vision has already been fulfilled. One: the locusts are commanded to sting “only those men who do not have the seal of God.” Logically, that judgment comes after the sealing is concluded.
Secondly, the golden crowns would not be an appropriate symbol unless the bearers of those crowns were actually ruling kings. In view of the fact that Paul sarcastically asked the Corinthians if they had already begun ruling as kings without the apostles, it is doubtful that Revelation would use that imagery unless the anointed were actually ruling as kings when the angel of the abyss releases them.
A little understood aspect of the sacred secret of God relates to the final sealing. Namely, when God bestows the full measure of his undeserved kindness on the approved sons of the kingdom, resulting in “the revealing of the sons of God,” they then become kings of God’s kingdom in the fullest sense, even though still existing in human form. It is after their becoming kings, in the short while that they remain on earth, that they become empowered by God’s spirit to issue God’s stinging denunciation for “five months.”
The second woe unleashes four angels that are prepared to kill a third of men: “The one woe is past. Look! Two more woes are coming after these things. 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.”
Logically, following the stinging denunciation from the locust-like kings comes the actual judgments from God. Seeing that ancient Babylon sat upon the banks of the river Euphrates, from where the four executionary angels are symbolically unleashed, the second woe appears to be the actual destruction of Babylon the Great. Just as the 17th chapter indicates that God puts it into the hearts of the kings of the earth to destroy the harlot, similarly the four angels at the Euphrates maneuver the armies of the earth (symbolized by the fearsome cavalry) into killing a third of the men.
There is really no indication that the killing is symbolic though. On the contrary, the fact that the third of the men are killed by plagues from God and that the scripture goes on to say “the rest of the men who were not killed by these plagues did not repent of the works of their hands, so that they should not worship the demons and the idols of gold and silver and copper and stone and wood”—indicates that the judgment is against those engaged in false worship. However, before the plague the angelic call to ‘get out of her if you do not want to receive part of her plagues’ is sounded. Reasonably, those killed by the plagues did not obey God and did not ‘get out of her.’
Lending support to the argument that the second woe is depicting the destruction of Babylon the Great is the fact the during the second woe the 10th chapter of Revelation reveals Christ Jesus firmly establishing his authority over the earth—as if standing astride the earth and sea, roaring as a lion, claiming his dominion over the planet. Similarly, the 19th chapter of Revelation reveals that the destruction of Babylon the Great coincides with Jehovah becoming king—through Christ. That is why we read at Revelation 19:6: “Praise Jah, you people, because Jehovah our God, the Almighty, has begun to rule as king.”
Of course, as with most prophecies, the Watchtower teaches that the vision in the 10th chapter of Revelation was fulfilled in 1914. But how can that be? After the blowing of the sixth trumpet, immediately before the seventh trumpet, the announcement is made that the sacred secret of God is finished and there will be no further delay of God’s oncoming judgments. Revelation 10:5-7 reads: “And the angel that I saw standing on the sea and on the earth raised his right hand to heaven, and by the One who lives forever and ever, who created the heaven and the things in it and the earth and the things in it and the sea and the things in it, he swore: ‘There will be no delay any longer; but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to blow his trumpet, the sacred secret of God according to the good news which he declared to his own slaves the prophets is indeed brought to a finish.’”
By what method of reasoning can the Watchtower declare that the sacred secret of God was finished in 1914? There is no satisfactory biblical explanation for such baseless assertions. Even by the Watchtower’s own reckoning 1919 was just the beginning of the preaching of the good news, not the end. Furthermore, how can such a view be reconciled with the fact that the angel declares that “there will be no delay any longer”? It has now been over 90 years since Jesus supposedly became king and still the earth languishes under satanic control. How does the Watchtower reconcile a delay of nearly a century and counting?
Reasonably, the sacred secret of God is not finished until all 144,000 members of the woman’s seed are sealed and the great crowd is gathered. Such developments, culminating with the fall of mystical Babylon the Great, would truly validate all prophecy and mark the finish of the sacred secret of God. With no further delay the nations will then brought to the situational battlefield of Armageddon.
But what is signified by the little scroll and the angelic command: “You must prophesy again with regard to peoples and nations and tongues and many kings”?
The “little scroll” represents a final condemnation of Satan’s wicked system that will be issued immediately before Armageddon erupts. In fact, it would seem that the final denunciation of doom is what provokes the conflict.
Since the entire premise of Revelation centers on the dramatic unsealing of the scroll containing the sacred secrets of God and the little scroll is handed to John after the seventh seal has been removed, it is apparent that the little scroll itself represents the entire revelation from God finally being revealed to Christ’s slaves on earth.
As already pointed out, the 19th chapter of Revelation indicates that a great shout of praise is offered to Jehovah immediately after the destruction of the harlot by the eighth king and it is at that point that Jehovah is said to have become King. Doubtless, those who are overjoyed and praise Jehovah will also take part in heralding Jehovah’s kingship far and wide. However, even after Babylon the Great is removed and Jehovah has become the King, the rival kingdom of the wild beast will still exist.
The vision of Habakkuk, a vision yet for the appointed time, sheds light upon developments after the “Chaldean” fulfills his assignment of destroying many nations; showing that the remaining people will issue a series of denunciatory “woes.” For example, Habakkuk 2:6-8 says: “Will not these very ones, all of them, lift up against him a proverbial saying and an alluding remark, insinuations at him? And one will say, ‘Woe to him who is multiplying what is not his own—O how long!—and who is making debt heavy against himself! Will not those claiming interest of you rise up suddenly, and those wake up who are violently shaking you, and you certainly become to them something to pillage? Because you yourself despoiled many nations, all the remaining ones of the peoples will despoil you, because of the shedding of blood of mankind and the violence to the earth, the town and all those dwelling in it.’”
“The remaining ones of the people” who despoil the “Chaldean” can only be the kings of God’s kingdom and the surviving great crowd who inherit the earth after the eighth king is slain by God’s kingdom. Their speaking against him “a proverbial saying” and “insinuations” for his bloodguilt and idolatry indicates that the prophesying contained in the “little scroll” of Revelation, which is directed to peoples, nations and many kings, will be a powerful denunciation of the world and a proclamation of Jehovah’s newly established kingship.
The prophecy of Ezekiel also shines a light upon these matters. In the context of the fall of Tyre and Egypt Jehovah told his watchman: “In that day I shall cause a horn to sprout for the house of Israel, and to you I shall give occasion to open the mouth in the midst of them; and they will have to know that I am Jehovah.” (Ezekiel 29:21)
After Babylon destroyed Jerusalem God then maneuvered the rapacious empire to also overthrow Tyre and Egypt. But when that occurred “the house of Israel” was still captive in Babylon. It is doubtful that the fall of Egypt and Tyre was a cause for Ezekiel or Israel to rejoice.
It would seem, then, that the prophecy applies foremost to the grander outworking in connection to the fall of the Anglo-American system and the appearance of the eight king. It is in the post crash world, similarly symbolized by the sword stroke upon the head of the seven-headed wild beast, that God will cause to sprout the horn of the spiritual house of Israel and an occasion for his watchman to open his mouth to announce God’s judgments.
WHEN THEY HAVE FINISHED THEIR WITNESSING
The 11th chapter of Revelation contains one of the most profound sacred secrets. Revelation 11:3-6 reads: “And I will cause my two witnesses to prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days dressed in sackcloth. These are symbolized by the two olive trees and the two lampstands and are standing before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire issues forth from their mouths and devours their enemies; and if anyone should want to harm them, in this manner he must be killed. These have the authority to shut up heaven that no rain should fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have authority over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every sort of plague as often as they wish.”
The case has here been made in a previous chapter against the Watchtower’s unreasonable teaching that the wild beast has already suffered the foretold death-stroke and revived. Seeing that the beast is yet to go into the abyss, that means the two great witnesses of God are yet to come on the scene and be killed by the beast after it emerges from the abyss. What is the significance of the two witnesses and of their being killed by the beast? What do the two witnesses symbolize?
These two prophetic entities are connected to the biblical figures of Moses and Elijah due to the fact that they perform miracles similar to those two prophets. As Bible students know, Elijah prayed to God and a drought ensued that lasted for three years and six months; which also happens to be the same time period the two symbolic witnesses torment the nations.
Likewise, Moses turned the Nile into blood and invoked numerous other plagues upon the defiant Pharaoh. The significance of Moses and Elijah representing the two witnesses in the vision in Revelation is that those same two Hebrew prophets also appeared in the transfiguration vision, which will find its ultimate realization during the manifestation of Christ to the chosen ones.
Drawing from Zechariah, the two witnesses are also represented in heaven by the two lampstands and two olive trees, which are said to be “standing before the Lord of the earth.” In the transfiguration vision Moses and Elijah symbolize the communion that anointed Christians will have with Christ when he comes in his presence as “the Lord of the earth.” So, the two symbolic witnesses of Revelation become eye-witnesses to Christ’s otherwise invisible parousia and afterwards they themselves become the visible manifestation of Christ’s presence in his heavenly kingdom during the 42-month interval before they are killed.
It would also appear that the coming of “Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah,” as foretold in Malachi, will find its manifestation of the body of Christ during the parousia.
Revelation goes on to say of the two witnesses: “And when they have finished their witnessing, the wild beast that ascends out of the abyss will make war with them and conquer them and kill them. And their corpses will be on the broad way of the great city which is in a spiritual sense called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was also impaled.”
The scripture says that the two witnesses were killed and their corpses were left on the streets of the great city, “where their Lord was also impaled.” Now, as everyone knows, the Lord Jesus was quite literally killed. He did not simply die some sort of symbolic death. He died the most gruesome and agonizing death imaginable. Since the vision of Revelation compares the deaths of God’s two witnesses to the death of Christ the killing of the two witnesses must symbolize the literal martyrdom of the remnant of the woman.
As regards the “great city,” Jesus was, of course, condemned in Jerusalem and impaled just outside the walls of the holy city.
But in what sense was Jerusalem “Sodom and Egypt” in the “spiritual sense”?
Jesus was put to death by the Jewish religious leaders and Roman authorities. In the Hebrew Scriptures Jehovah refers to Israel as Sodom because of its iniquity. And since the Roman Empire was once one of the ruling heads of the symbolic seven-headed beast, of which the first world power of biblical history and prophecy was Egypt, Egypt is a fitting symbol for whatever head may be ruling. In that sense Rome was “Egypt” during the time of Christ—“in a spiritual sense.”
Hence, Christ was impaled in “Sodom”; that is, he was killed by the Jewish religious leaders, whom Jehovah regarded as Sodomites, and by the Roman Empire—“Egypt.” The two anointed witnesses will likewise be killed in the “great city” representing Jehovah’s earthly organization—killed by their religious betrayers from within collaborating with the last king—perhaps properly be designated as the last Egypt.
The appearance of Moses and Elijah in the vision of the transfiguration and the allusion to them both in the vision of Revelation is rich with meaning. It is significant that Moses and Elijah shared a common experience—both being symbolically taken by Jehovah, no doubt as a portent of things to come. Moses ascended Mount Pisgah to view “the land flowing with milk and honey” stretched out before the Israelites—he never descended.
Although still strong at 120 years of age, Jehovah put Moses to death for his sin at Meribah and did not allow his servant to enter the land of Promise. The Bible says that God buried him and no one ever found his grave. The death of Moses at Jehovah’s insistence, as the nation stood on the border of the Promised Land, surely stands as a portent foreshadowing that no anointed Christian will be allowed to enter the New World in the flesh. They will be taken.
Although Elijah was not literally put to death, as was Moses, he was taken up into the sky in a flaming war chariot; and even though his attendants diligently looked for him for three days (the same length of time the two witnesses lie unburied on the broadways) they did not find him. What might the taking of Elijah portend? Elisha was an eyewitness and participant to the supernatural rapture. The account in 2nd Kings relates: “All the while Elisha was seeing it, and he was crying out: ‘My father, my father, the war chariot of Israel and his horsemen!’ And he did not see him anymore.”
The relationship of Elijah to Elisha, who was a prophet under Elijah’s tutelage, seems to portray the relationship of the sealed anointed to the great crowd. Elisha’s calling Elijah “my father” reflects the fact that the great crowd look to the faithful slave as their spiritual father, even as Isaiah 29:22-23 makes mention. The fact that Elijah was taken in a fiery war chariot, as Elisha and fifty other prophets looked on from a distance, serves as a portent for the anointed being taken by God “in the war chariot of Israel” in the throes of the final conflict—never again to be seen on earth. Elisha and the fifty picture the great crowd who will serve as eyewitnesses to the revealing of the sons of God and to their ultimately being taken into the heavenly kingdom.
Having been previously taken by God, it is as if both Elijah and Moses show up hundreds of years later in the transfiguration vision to complete the portent that their being taken established. Moses and Elijah being taken serves as a prophetic enactment of how God will take the last remaining anointed witnesses to himself after they have completed their witnessing and are subsequently killed by the beast from the abyss.
After their execution the second woe concludes with the two witnesses being raised to heaven—as both Moses and Elijah were figuratively. Revelation 11: 11-14 reads: “And after the three and a half days spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon those beholding them. And they heard a loud voice out of heaven say to them: ‘Come on up here.’ And they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them.”
Although the resurrection of the holy ones during the parousia occurs instantaneously, “in the twinkling of an eye,” in the vision of the two witnesses their coming to life after “three and a half days” invokes the death and subsequent resurrection of Christ on the third day. Such symbolism would verify that the two witnesses do indeed submit themselves “to a death like his,” as Paul stated, and they personally experience “the power of his resurrection” when they respond to the command to “come on up here.”
Revelation 11:13-14 continues: “And in that hour a great earthquake occurred, and a tenth of the city fell; and seven thousand persons were killed by the earthquake, and the rest became frightened and gave glory to the God of heaven. The second woe is past. Look! The third woe is coming quickly.”
In the time of Elijah Jehovah informed his prophet that there were seven thousand men who had not bent their knee in homage to Baal or kissed his disgusting idol. In the 11th chapter of Romans Paul referred to the account of Elijah and the seven thousand and applied it to what he called the remnant of Israel, which at that time included non-Jewish Christians. Hence, the seven thousand represented a remnant of spiritual Israel, as Paul interpreted it under inspiration. The seven thousand in Revelation similarly must represent the anointed remnant left behind after the resurrection commences; those who do not bend their knee to the image of the beast or receive its mark during the concluding judgment phase.
The sacred secret of God is that the seven thousand are the individual brothers of Christ that will serve as the composite two witnesses during the coming parousia, after their being sealed. Revelation 11:13 indicates that the deaths of the seven thousand coincides with the death and resurrection of the two witnesses by saying—“in that hour.” This signifies that the wild beast kills the remaining sons of the kingdom after it arises from the abyss.
The 20th chapter confirms that the remaining sons of the kingdom are destined to be executed with the ax for giving witness to God and Christ during that critical time and for refusing to receive the mark of the beast.
What does the city represent—a tenth of which also falls as a result of the great earthquake? A city is mentioned three times within the context of the 11th chapter of Revelation. The “holy city” is referred to in the second verse as being trampled upon by the nations for 42 months. Also, the two witnesses are killed in the “great city” where Christ was also impaled, which was also the literal holy city of Jerusalem.
There is, therefore, no contextual basis for the Watchtower’s claim that the city represents sinful Christendom. It is evident that the context of the vision dictates that the tenth of the city that falls represents God’s holy city, which is heavenly Jerusalem as represented on earth by the holy ones. But what is represented by the one-tenth?
The book of Zechariah contains a parallel prophecy that aids in deciphering Revelation. Zechariah 14:1-3 states: “Look! There is a day coming, belonging to Jehovah, and the spoil of you will certainly be apportioned out in the midst of you. And I shall certainly gather all the nations against Jerusalem for the war; and the city will actually be captured and the houses be pillaged, and the women themselves will be raped. And half of the city must go forth into the exile; but as for the remaining ones of the people, they will not be cut off from the city. And Jehovah will certainly go forth and war against those nations as in the day of his warring, in the day of fight.”
Zechariah’s prophecy reveals that the nations warring against Jerusalem initiates God’s war against them, exactly as is also described in the 11th chapter of Revelation. It is apparent that “Jerusalem” relates to Christ’s kingdom. In what sense, though, might “half of the city” go into exile while “the remaining ones of the people” are not “cut off from the city”?
Since the Jerusalem above is represented on earth by the anointed remnant, their being killed by the nations brings about their instantaneous resurrection into the heavenly kingdom; hence, “the remaining ones,” are not cut off from the holy city since they have a place reserved for them in the city above.
Those who are killed join the already-resurrected holy ones in heaven to complete the New Jerusalem. That is why, following the pillaging of the holy city and the evident martyrdom of the earthly sons of the kingdom, Zechariah 14:5 says: “And Jehovah my God will certainly come, all the holy ones being with him.”
“All of the holy ones being with him” denotes that all of the 144,000 are with Jehovah when he comes to finish off the nations at the war of Armageddon—none of them remaining on the earth. Therefore, “half of the city” that goes into exile symbolizes the earthly congregation of the great crowd that is left behind after the last of the remnant have departed to the city above.
Thus, the appointed times of the nations to trample upon God’s kingdom terminate when there is no longer any portion of the Jerusalem above represented upon the earth below.
So, the “tenth of the city” in Revelation symbolizes the earthly realm of the kingdom that falls during the final attack of Gog, which is the great earthquake that occurs when the seven thousand sons of the kingdom abandon their earthly estate to take up residence in the heavenly New Jerusalem. “The rest [who] became frightened and gave glory to the God of heaven” can only bespeak of the great crowd of earthly survivors who will be witnesses to the awe-inspiring events during the culmination. They will be the only humans on earth that will give glory to God.
Appropriately, immediately after the death and resurrection of God’s two anointed witnesses the seventh angel blows his trumpet and the twenty-four heavenly elders praise God, saying: “We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king.”
Jehovah’s kingship is expressed through the messianic kingdom. When the remaining ones have all been lifted up to heaven and seated upon their thrones next to Jesus, then it can be said that Jehovah himself has become king. Then will come the fullest expression of the kingdom’s power, as it annihilates all earthly kingdoms in its realm. The last verse in the 11th chapter of Revelation reveals the ark of his covenant in heaven, “in his temple sanctuary.” That would seem to symbolize that the new covenant, which is intended to produce a kingdom of heavenly priests, had been accomplished with the killing of God’s two witnesses and the seven thousand and their being called to heaven.
“ITS TAIL DRAGS A THIRD OF THE STARS”
Since it is evident that the prophetic time period of forty-two months and 1,260 days in connection with the witnessing of the two witnesses in sackcloth has not yet commenced, it is also apparent that the equivalent period allowed for the Devil to “wage war with the remaining ones of her seed” has not begun either. Since the interval allowed for the Devil to persecute the woman and her seed and the two witnesses follows after the great Dragon is hurled down from heaven, it means that Satan has not yet come down to earth in great anger. The 1,260 days is undoubtedly the “short period of time” after his ouster when the Devil vents his wrath. The Devil coming down to the earth in “great anger” will be the worst time of trouble this world has ever experienced—far exceeding, by comparison, the horrors of 1914 or the Holocaust.
Contributing to the terror, no doubt, the relatively benign, lamb-like wild beast that subsequently begins to speak like a ferocious dragon and causes fire to fall from heaven, signifies the use of earth-scorching nuclear weapons. But immediately prior to the war in heaven that results in Satan’s ouster, Revelation 11:3-4 says: “And another sign was seen in heaven, and, look! a great fiery-colored dragon, with seven heads and ten horns and upon its heads seven diadems; and its tail drags a third of the stars of heaven, and it hurled them down to the earth.”
Commenting on the verse above, the Grand Climax book asserts that the third of the stars represent the demons under Satan’s control. True enough, the Bible refers to the angelic sons of God as the “morning stars”; however, why would the Revelation of Jesus Christ, a prophecy which is intended “to show his slaves the things that must shortly take place,” concern itself with events that occurred thousands of years ago, before the Flood? Revelation reveals the future, not the past. Would-be Bible interpreters should take note that angels are not the only sons of God that are symbolized in scripture by the stars of heaven. The prophecy at Daniel 12:3 refers to the enlightened sons of the kingdom who ‘will shine like the stars’ during the time of the end. It is the fate of these earthly sons of the kingdom, concerning whom the prophet writes at Daniel 8:10, saying of the king of fierce countenance: “And it kept getting greater all the way to the army of the heavens, so that it caused some of the army and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it went trampling them down.”
The symbolic meaning of the stars that are made to fall to earth and which are then trampled by the king fierce in countenance is not left in question. Daniel identifies them as the holy ones who are brought to ruin during the time of the end.
The 14th chapter of Isaiah also symbolizes the sons of the kingdom as stars. The denunciation of “the shining one” parallels the prophecy of Daniel and confirms that the last king will be impelled by Satan’s spirit to eliminate the sons of the kingdom on earth, and in that way he will attempt to exalt his throne “above the stars of God,” as the prophecy of Isaiah describes.
The original Chaldean lifted himself above the “mountain of meeting” when he literally destroyed the temple that sat upon the pinnacle of Mount Zion. He lifted himself above the stars of God by exalting himself above the princes and kings of the Judean kingdom that Jehovah had established. The grander fulfillment during the conclusion of the entire system can only mean that the eighth king will ultimately exalt himself above God’s kingdom—not merely as a counterfeit kingdom, but in complete opposition to Christ. So, the third of the stars that are flung to earth by the tail of the Dragon represents the congregation on earth that is trampled by the beast “for a time and times and half a time.”
But since God’s kingdom rules from a heavenly vantage point how may any earthly kingdom possibly raise itself above the ruling stars of heaven? Since the inception of the Christian congregation on the day of Pentecost, 33 C.E., Jesus Christ has ruled as king over his congregation of believers, who, themselves are said to have been seated in union with Christ in the heavenly places. However, the prophecies point to a time when the Devil’s kingdom over the world will be given to Christ as well. That is the period of tumult and agitation described in prophecy.
Leading up to that momentous event, anointed Christians who hope to share with Christ in his kingdom have no real ruling authority outside of the congregation. But, when their Lord becomes the King of the world the faithful anointed followers of Christ become kings in the fullest sense too—being appointed over all of their heavenly Master’s belongings. As portrayed in Revelation, the angels hold back the four winds of destruction until the very last members of the 144,000 are bestowed with Jehovah’s irrevocable seal of approval. The final sealing of the anointed remnant means that they are approved to rule in God’s kingdom. That is when the chosen ones begin to shine as brightly as the stars of heaven in the kingdom of their Father—as foretold by the prophet Daniel, as well as Jesus himself.
The revealing of the sons of God is accomplished when the holy ones are given the kingdom, even before being resurrected. Thus, Satan’s attack upon the earthly kings is a direct attack upon God’s heavenly kingdom.
“THE ANGER OF GOD IS BROUGHT TO A FINISH”
Satan is not the only god to come down in great anger. Jehovah—the God of gods—is fully capable of expressing his wrath in executing judgment against the gods themselves.
History records that thousands of original Christians were killed by their persecutors, including Stephen, James, Peter, Paul, and perhaps others of the apostles as well. It is these martyred Christians, who, at the opening of the fifth seal are depicted as saying: ‘“Until when, Sovereign Lord holy and true, are you refraining from judging and avenging our blood upon those who dwell on the earth?’ And a white robe was given to each of them; and they were told to rest a little while longer, until the number was filled also of their fellow slaves and their brothers who were about to be killed as they also had been.”
God’s purpose is accomplished by the killing of the remaining holy ones during the short period of time after Satan is cast down. The 15th chapter of Revelation reveals another great sign in heaven showing seven angels with seven bowls full of the anger of God. But before the angels pout out their bowls upon the world, John envisions “what seemed to be a glassy sea mingled with fire, and those who come off victorious from the wild beast and from its image and from the number of its name standing by the glassy sea, having harps of God. And they are singing the song of Moses the slave of God and the song of the Lamb.”
“Those who come off victorious from the wild beast and from its image and from the number of its name” are all of the holy ones who had been on earth prior to Satan being cast down. They are victorious in that they do not compromise their integrity to God during the time when the beast endeavors to coerce everyone to worship its image, even upon pain of death. Evidently, that is why the beast wages war with them and kills them—because they refuse to worship the beast.
The series of plagues poured out upon the world are not mere announcements of coming acts of vengeance, but are symbols of the actual judgments executed against the Devil and his world. Furthermore, it is evident that there are no more holy ones upon the earth at the time the angels pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath. They are all in heaven “singing the song of Moses”—thus, completely fulfilling what was foreshadowed by Moses’ own portentous death and subsequent appearance in the vision of the transfiguration.
God’s anger will be ignited by the murder of his sons and Jehovah will not be appeased until the Devil’s world is no more. That is why vengeance comes upon the world in the outpouring of the seven plagues. For example, the pouring out of the third bowl is for the express reason of avenging the blood of his servants. Revelation 16:4-6 reads: “And the third one poured out his bowl into the rivers and the fountains of the waters. And they became blood. And I heard the angel over the waters say: ‘You, the One who is and who was, the loyal One, are righteous, because you have rendered these decisions, because they poured out the blood of holy ones and of prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. They deserve it.’”
“GET OUT OF HER, MY PEOPLE”
One of the centerpieces of the Watchtower’s extensive prophetic exegesis is the notion that Babylon the Great fell from prominence in 1919. But as with many other aspects of Revelation, there are a number of compelling reasons why Jehovah’s Witnesses ought to reconsider the Watchtower’s present teaching. While it is true that Jehovah’s Witnesses have rejected the core of mystic Babylon’s false teachings—such as the Trinity, the doctrine of the immortal soul, hellfire and so forth—it is not so apparent that heeding the angelic call to “get out of her” involves merely rejecting those teachings.
Ever since 1919 the Watchtower has continued to amplify the call to “get out of her my people” by appealing to churchgoers to forsake Christendom and become Jehovah’s Witnesses. But from God’s standpoint why would the angel refer to those in Babylon as “my people”? In the case of the fall of literal Babylon the captive Jews were God’s people before they went into captivity, due to the fact that God had made a covenant with the fleshly offspring of Abraham. The overthrow of Babylon by Cyrus afforded those Jews the opportunity to return to their homeland and so they packed up and made their exodus out of Babylon as a congregation of Jehovah’s redeemed people.
How can it be said that the modern-day adherents to the religions of Babylon the Great are God’s people when called upon to “get out of her my people”? Did God call for the Babylonians to get out of Babylon and return to Jerusalem with the Jews?
Furthermore, if the Watchtower’s interpretations are correct, it means that God’s people get out of Babylon the Great gradually, over decades of time, as persons individually withdraw from various religious institutions. However, that simply does not parallel the scope of the Israelite exodus from Babylon. Taken in context the angel not only appeals to God’s people to “get out of her,” but he also heralds the imminent destruction of Babylon the Great, saying: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues. For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind.”
Reasonably, the window of opportunity to get out of Babylon the Great opens immediately before God executes his judgment against the iniquitous city; otherwise, why the urgency to flee in order to avoid sharing in her sins and receiving “part of her plagues”? Surely the plagues have not been poured out upon her yet. As the angel indicates, the call to “get out of her my people” coincides with the arrival of the time when “God has called her acts of injustice to mind.”
But if the sins of Babylon the Great had reached “clear up to heaven” in 1919, at what level of accumulation are her sins now? Have her sins been allowed to amass above heaven in the decades since 1919? If Jehovah “called her acts of injustice to mind” back then, why has the harlot not been executed by now? In view of the error that permeates so many of the Watchtower’s prophetic interpretations, it is time to discard the assumption that Jehovah’s Witnesses have somehow already heeded the call to “get out of her my people.”
Related to the presumptive teaching that Babylon fell in 1919, the Watchtower repeatedly states that Babylon the Great will meet her ultimate end at the beginning of the great tribulation. For example, below are two quotes taken from the June 1, 1996, and the April 1, 1997, Watchtower respectively:
“The execution of divine judgment will start with the destruction of Babylon the Great. That harlotlike empire of false religion will be forever blotted out of existence. That time is very near!”
“The great tribulation begins when the political elements suddenly turn on Babylon the Great. They “will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire.”
Usually the Watchtower at least offers scriptural citations to support its doctrines; however, when it comes to the teaching that the tribulation begins with the destruction of Babylon the Great, no biblical support is ever offered. It should be noted that neither the cited scripture from Revelation 17:16, nor the surrounding text in Revelation, explicitly states anything as to the timing of affairs in relation to the destruction of Babylon the Great and beginning of the great tribulation.
In all fairness, though, the Watchtower’s view is not entirely baseless. It is assumed, albeit erroneously, that the holy place that is destroyed by a disgusting thing represents Christendom, and, of course, Jesus stated that the desolation of the holy place would be a time of great tribulation. However, the case has already been presented that the “constant feature” and “sanctuary” associated with spiritual Israel are what Christ had in mind when he foretold the profanation of the holy place and referred the discerning reader to Daniel’s prophecy. Since the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple was what originally led to the Jews being brought into a state of captivity in Babylon in the first place, Jesus’ prophecy concerning the desolation of the holy place during the conclusion of the system must follow that same pattern.
The 47th chapter of Isaiah parallels the judgments in Revelation against Babylon the Great. At Isaiah 47:5-6, Jehovah states the reason for Babylon’s overthrow, saying to her: “Sit down silently and come into the darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans; for you will not experience again that people call you Mistress of Kingdoms. I grew indignant at my people. I profaned my inheritance, and I proceeded to give them into your hand. You showed them no mercies. Upon the old man you made your yoke very heavy.”
Let Jehovah’s Witnesses cease being so unreasonable so as to suppose that Jehovah’s indignation was correspondingly expressed in 1918. Besides, if God was indignant with the Bible Students in 1918 for the trivial sins of celebrating birthdays, using the cross and having a “self-righteous attitude in character development,” according to the Watchtower’s own confession, how must he judge the organization presently for its interpretive flimflammery, hypocrisy, worldly corruption and outright haughtiness?
Since there is no valid reason to suppose that the beast from the abyss that kills God’s two witnesses is different from the scarlet-colored beast, which emerges from the abyss mounted by the harlot; and neither is there any reasonable explanation as to how the seven-headed beast may have suffered his fated apocalyptic death stroke in 1914; it also being apparent that the globe-rocking catastrophe that plunges the beast into the abyss is looming—the yet emergent beast that is destined to kill the two witnesses must inevitably be mounted by the symbolic harlot of Babylon. That means that Jehovah’s Witnesses are fated to go into babylonish captivity upon the desolation of the holy place, which will take place while false religion is still in a controlling position.
Contrary to presently prevailing assumptions, Jehovah’s Witnesses have not gotten out of Babylon the Great. That is because Jehovah’s Witnesses have not even gone into exile yet! Babylon the Great is yet to conquer Jehovah’s people. That will come about as a result of the king of the north moving into the land of the Decoration. Just as when Nebuchadnezzar’s armies sacked Jerusalem’s holy temple and dragged the Jews off into exile, it will seem as if Jehovah God is inferior to the gods of the nations that support the eighth king, which is what the king of the north eventually becomes during the time of the end.
After Jehovah humbles his people, the greater Cyrus—Christ Jesus—will then re-gather his chastened loyal ones and liberate them from whatever bondage they may find themselves in then.
However, for the sons of the kingdom their triumphing over Babylon the Great will be by virtue of being resurrected to heaven. It is at that point, immediately following the destruction of the iniquitous harlot, that the marriage of the Lamb takes place and Jehovah becomes king. Hence, Revelation 19:6-7 states: “And I heard what was as a voice of a great crowd and as a sound of many waters and as a sound of heavy thunders. They said: ‘Praise Jah, you people, because Jehovah our God, the Almighty, has begun to rule as king. Let us rejoice and be overjoyed, and let us give him the glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has arrived and his wife has prepared herself.’”