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.