Wednesday, August 18, 2010

One of the most powerful refutations of the Watchtower's two-class system yet...Luke 13:28

But I tell YOU that many from eastern parts and western parts will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens. (Matthew 8:11)

According to the Watchtower, none of the Old Testament figures are in, nor will ever be, in the kingdom of God. If this is the case, how do they explain Matthew 8:11?

*** w62 3/15 p. 191 Questions From Readers ***

In the year 30 (A.D.) Jesus told Nicodemus that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were not in heaven. (John 3:13) Three years later, on the day of Pentecost of the year 33, the apostle Peter said that the descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, namely, King David, had not ascended to heaven and so was not in any kingdom of the heavens or kingdom of God. (Acts 2:34) Peter said that after Jesus made the statement about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in Matthew 8:11 at the time of healing the servant of a Roman centurion.
Hence those three patriarchs could not be in the Kingdom class as joint heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ. They were his ancestors, who preceded him by more than seventeen hundred years.

It is therefore evident that in Matthew 8:11 Jesus referred to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob figuratively. On the occasion when Abraham offered up his son Isaac, Abraham represented Jehovah God and Isaac represented God’s only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, who was offered up in sacrifice. Accordingly Jacob represented the spiritual Christian congregation, the “kingdom of the heavens” class; for, just as the congregation gets life through Jesus Christ, so Jacob got life from Abraham through Isaac. From this standpoint Abraham, Isaac and Jacob mentioned together in Jesus’ illustration would picture the great theocratic government, in which Jehovah is the Great Theocrat, Jesus Christ is his anointed representative King, and the faithful, victorious Christian congregation of 144,000 members is the body of Christ’s joint heirs in the Kingdom.

To summarize the Watchtower's position:

1. No one who has lived up until the time of Christ goes to heaven (i.e. the kingdom of God, according to the WT)

2. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are described in Matthew 8:11 as being in the kingdom of God.

3. Because of these men "can't" be in the kingdom, figurative explanations must be implemented.

4. Therefore, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob aren't really in the kingdom.

As most can see, this is a classic example of imposing figurative explanations when the text contradicts your theology. But this gets much worse. Thankfully, Jehovah saw it fit to provide parallel accounts of the gospels. And in many instances, these parallel accounts offer further clarity to the others. It turns out that the Luke parallel not only clarifies the Matthew account, but renders any further figurative explanations as more absurd than they already are:

(Luke 13:28-29) There is where [YOUR] weeping and the gnashing of [YOUR] teeth will be, when YOU see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves thrown outside. 29 Furthermore, people will come from eastern parts and western, and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God.

Here, we have the same Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob mentioned, which the Watchtower views as the figurative expressions of Jehovah, Jesus, and the Christian congregation of anointed ones. But there is one important group added: "all the prophets." Not only is there absolutely nothing in the context which would demand a figurative explanation, the plan meaning of the text contradicts it. Who are "all the prophets" figurative expressions of? Are not all the options exhausted by this point? One will search the Watchtower CD Library in vain for any explanation.

Would it not be wiser to go with what the Bible teaches, in that all true worshippers of Jehovah under the Old Covenant administration will be in the Kingdom of God, along with all true Christians under the New Covenant? The following text makes this more than clear:

(Matthew 25:31-34) “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. 32 And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. 34 “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, YOU who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for YOU from the founding of the world.

20 comments:

Mark Hunter said...

Matthew 8:11 But I tell YOU that many from eastern parts and western parts will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens;

During our exit from the Watchtower, we were visited by 2 elders who wanted to know why we'd ceased attending meetings. In our discussion we asked them about this verse and why the Watchtower CD Rom has nothing of substance on it to explain why Jesus says Abraham et al will be in heaven.

The Presiding Overseer shrugged his shoulders and said, "obviously Jehovah doesn't see it [ie. those verses] as relevant."

Amazing.

The Word of God, Jesus Christ, makes a statement that contradicts the teachings held by JW 2000 years later, but Jehovah doesn't see Jesus' words as being relevant.

It makes you wonder who Jehovah is to that particular JW elder; God or the Governing Body.

Anonymous said...

Mark,

From where do you get they will be in heaven? It says they will be in the kingdom, not heaven.

Mark Hunter said...

Actually, it says "in the kingdom of heavens". There's a difference.

The cross-reference on that verse in the NWT takes you to;

Hebrews 11:16 But now they are reaching out for a better [place], that is, one belonging to heaven. Hence God is not ashamed of them, to be called upon as their God, for he has made a city ready for them.

This isn't hard to figure out.

Factor in Revelation 21:2 I saw also the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God and prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

The faithful men (and women) of old will be in the kingdom of heaven, they'll be part of this city, the New Jerusalem that will come down out of heaven when God comes to reside with men.

You have to remember that the "great crowd" are in heaven;
Revelation 19:1 After these things I heard what was as a loud voice of a great crowd in heaven.

Revelation 7 bears this out, although the Watch Tower Society lie about the meaning of the Greek word for 'temple', namely naos;
15 That is why they are before the throne of God; and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple; and the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them.

Naos refers only to the inner most part of the temple, in Greek temples this is where the god "lives". Hence, in the NWT Ref. Bible the footnote correctly says "or divine habitation". Where is God's divine habitation? Heaven. Where are the "great crowd"? Heaven. Where are Abraham et al? Heaven.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the kingdom of heaven is not necessarily in heaven. It is "of heaven," that is to say, belonging to heaven.

Hebrews 11:16 says nothing of being in heaven either, but again, belonging to heaven. So you're correct in that New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven. It belongs to heaven, so is heavenly, but it comes to reside upon the earth where Abraham, et al, will reside.

Rev 19:1 is entirely ambiguous. John hears a voice, but he never sees anything. Scholars and commentators entirely disagree on just who or what is heard.

Naos is used in Rev 11:1 for the temple that is by way of the context certainly on earth.

Religion is a Racket said...

This subject was the one that got the "ball rolling" so to speak for me in my exit process from the JWs. I started meditating on accounts such as Heb. 11 where it says that the prophets were "strangers on earth" and how they were awaiting a heavenly home. Also the 23 Psalm where David said that he would dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Good post, thanks.

Mark Hunter said...

Heaven. Heaven. Heaven. That's the hope for all Christians.

Remember, the theme of this thread is looking at the Watchtower's two-class system.

Anonymous said...

Racket,

Contextually, that refers to the land, not the whole earth

Mark,

the bible never speaks of a resurrection to heaven.

Religion is a Racket said...

Anon,
"But now they are reaching out for a better [place], that is, one belonging to heaven. Hence God is not ashamed of them, to be called upon as their God, for he has made a city ready for them." Heb 11:16 (NWT)
What city is the above passage referring to? New Jerusalem. Where is that? In Heaven. I don't see how one can come to any other conclusion unless one is forced to. so as to be accepted by his religion.

Mark Hunter said...

The cross-ref. in the NWT for Heb 11:16 is Rev 21:2.

@Racket - "I don't see how one can come to any other conclusion unless one is forced to. so as to be accepted by his religion.".

Spot on.

Anonymous said...

Col 1:20
"through him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth, and the things that are in heaven"

We should err on the side of caution , that which currently separates the Earth including the rest of the physical universe from the heavenly/spiritual realm will one day be removed - God will in a sense then also "stretch" out his "heavenly tent" to encompass and include the physical realm and there will be no division between the so-called "Heavenly Kingdom" and the physical realm it will envelop.Paul assures us that ALL creation will be set free.

In Daniel 2 , The Kingdom of heaven is the "rock" that destroys
ALL human kingdoms and becomes a mountain that fills the whole earth...the Earth will then be as much a part of the Kingdom of Heaven as the spirit real is ...Most if not all Evangelical movements also believe in a restored Earth at some point in time ...

Anonymous said...

@Mike - Im not sure that this is a factual statement :
"According to the Watchtower, none of the Old Testament figures are in, nor will ever be, in the kingdom of God."

The WTS , does actually teach that while they are currently at rest in "sheol" or "Hades", they will be resurrected into the Kingom of God at the beginning of the millenium reign..these ancient prophets and other "faithful ones" of old are considered righteous and are raised perfect in body and mind from the outset and are made princess on the Earth , during the 1000 yrs , and will oversee the restitution of the rest of humanity ...

Anonymous said...

Racket, context is how. New Jerusalem comes from heaven, but it comes to reside upon the earth. Notice those in Rev 20 of the first resurrection come to be surrounded by armies. They are upon the earth. With Abraham, historically he did not have a home country, a land of his own. He had Jah's promise of one, which he held on to. This will be fulfilled for him in the kingdom, but with New Jerusalem coming to be upon the earth, there is no reason to see him in heaven.

The Apologetic Front said...

I don't see how my representation isn't accurate. If they will be in the kingdom of God, then they will see the kingdom of God. Therefore, they must be born again, along with anyone else who is to see or be in the kingdom.

Anonymous said...

"they must be born again, along with anyone else who is to see or be in the kingdom."..

Well the WTS would say yes absolutely the case - if its the spiritual realm of the Kingdom, as "being born again"includes adoption to sonship and will ultimately require a change for the individual from a human body to a spirit body - flesh and blood cannot pass from the earthly to the spiritual without this change ... it would be impossible and they could not, then "see/experience the "heavenly" or spirtual realm/dimension of the kingdom in a literal sense , I believe this is what the WTS undestands Jesus words to mean .
However as to the physical/earthly realm or dimension a bodily change to spirit is not required so while those on Earth might not see the Heavenly with their literal eye, they will "see" it in a spiritual sense and experience it fully in physical bodies here on earth ..., so adoption to spiritual sonship through the "process" of being born again would not be required in this sense , however being "born again" in the sense of being transformed into the newness of Christ, by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit is required by all who want eternal life on earth or in heaven .

The Apologetic Front said...

@anonymous, if such can be distinguished in the WT view, then why do they seek to make the language figurative in Luke 13:28? Wouldn't it suffice for them just to say, "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will not be in the spiritual realm of the KOG, but the physical realm?"

But since they've strictly defined KOG as, "God's government in heaven," it would seem that they've tied themselves up in expanding KOG to include the physical realm.

Religion is a Racket said...

David evidently didn't look forward to Paradise on earth. In Psalms 23 he said he would "dwell in the House of the LORD forever."

Anonymous said...

And that means heaven why? This is a very earthly statement as Psal 27:4 aptly demonstrates.

Matthew 5:5 is quite clear, as is all of Revelation 20.

Anonymous said...

@ Racket - so you do not believe like other evangelicals that the Earth will also one day be restored ? If you do then for what purpose ? who will dwell there and please dont tell me souls who were once in heaven and now have resurrected bodies - as that is simply nonsensical ..REV21 : 3 SAYS
"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God"

Anonymous said...

Heaven will come to earth...only an "invisible veil" separates us from heaven at the present time ...how it will happen - we are not given the details - it is beyond human understanding - what we are told is it will happen !!

Four* Pointer said...

Revelation 7:9--"After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands."

John says that the multitude of those who stood before the throne of God was a number so great that no human being could count it (Of course this is assuming that the throne of God is in Heaven, and not on "Paradise Earth"). And yet, John could manage to count up to 144,000.

Now, since the 144,000 spoken of in Revelation are Jewish male virgins (Revelation 14:4), and those who are in the multitude that no man could number standing before the throne of God, in Heaven are people from "every nation, tribe, people and tongue", how is it possible that only the 144,000 will be in Heaven?

That just doesn't make sense.