1975–Could it Happen Again?

It’s embarrassing when you say the world is going to end and then it doesn’t. How are you going to shake off that one? Jonah was so nonplussed that he hiked outside Nineveh to sit and sulk. (Jonah 4:1-5)

Robert Luccioni addressed such problems when he advised “strengthening your spiritual core.” Disturbed at a prior organizational “dogmatic statement?” What if you had heard Jesus himself make one? “Most truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves,” he said. (John 6:53) He lost a lot of disciples that day. “This speech is shocking—who can listen to it?” they said, and stomped off. They might have done better had they strengthened their spiritual core—hang around to see how it played out.

The trick is not to try to sanitize the present. It is to desanitize the past. This is what Luccioni does as he considers a few biblical blooper scenarios, like when Jesus’s disciples flubbed up expelling a demon that was causing great havoc to a child—and the scribes were making hay out of that failure. “They failed? Isn’t that their job?” he envisioned spectators being stumbled over it. (Mark 9:14-18) In the same way should modern-day “disciples” fail in some aspect of their job—well—some are stumbled.

How about the brouhaha over 1975? Might that not cause ones minus an enduring spiritual core some problems? Vic Vomodog trots out this faux pas repeatedly. Answer his question once and he repackages it and runs it through again. What a humiliation it was. Could it happen again?

There are two ways to answer this question: 

“No.” As Mark Twain said: “A cat that sits on a hot stove will never sit on a hot stove again. Nor will it sit on a cold one, for they all look hot.”

21315737-ECE7-4E67-8B9C-708E35B5CC3D

“Yes.” Are you kidding me? It was 6000 years countdown from Adam per Bible chronology. AND, coupled with the 1000 year reign of Christ to commence after Armageddon. It doesn’t call to mind the 6:1 sabbath arrangement of God? Especially given that one day to God is as 1000 years to mankind? Yes, yes—days to years is apples to oranges—still, its close enough. It is the 1000 to 1 that sticks.

Come now. You think they’re going to snooze through that one? They’re the watchman, after all. It’s an irresistible type/anti-type situation. Given the monumental alignment of the planets, it’s a wonder they didn’t make the call far more forcefully than they did, instead of merely stating it was a possibility, which some zealots presently escalated into a probability. They have to make a call on something like that. It is a sorry watchman, peering through the gloom, high up in his perch, that sounds the alarm only when the prow of the approaching ship smashes through the gunwale and pinches his toes.

“No.” The above is actually reassuring. Because such monumental circumstances will not repeat for a long, long, time—and it took such monumental circumstances to put the call on the back burner that some moved to the front. Three or four years after 75, I recall some rep saying, “We’ve sailed past all the markers.” What can that mean except, “We’re done?” No more calls like that—until the next time—but there shouldn’t be a next time, for that kind of a setup doesn’t happen everyday. Now we get things like “deep in the last days,” the “end is just around the corner,” and “the last of the last days.” No sense in holding out till “the last of the last of the last of the last days” Last of the last is enough.

Everyone gets one failed end-date call within a lifetime. It’s in the rules. It’s a sign of staying alert. Jump the gun in the race and do they shoot you with it? No. It’s not a big deal. They just start the race over.

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Uniting the Four Fundamental Prophesies of Nature—Fulfilled with the Demise of Trump. (a Parody)

Q: Dear TrueTom: Do you have any new prophesies so that we can be ready for the Big Day?

A: Yes. Trump’s defeat has allowed me to discern the Mother of All Prophesies.

We have already established that 2020 is the year to end all years. The line “Future historians will be asked what quarter of 2020 do they specialize in” says it all, as does the coining of the phrase ‘doomscrolling’ during the year. What a villainous time!

But recentlyI have read several instances of: “Finally! Something good about 2020!”

The occasion, of course, is the election’s (presumed) outcome. They are partying in the streets over this. Church bells have rung in Paris—it is not just a U.S. phenomenon, but worldwide. Euphoria prevails for the first time in ages, at least among the victors—the losers are muttering.

Now, what prophesy forecasts an enthusiastic announcement of great news that breaks a long spell of calamity—and yet we know that beneath the veneer of optimism nothing has really changed? Bingo! It is the cry of peace and security.

Whenever it is that they are saying, “Peace and security!” then sudden destruction is to be instantly on them, just like birth pains on a pregnant woman, and they will by no means escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:3)

To be sure, they are not saying those exact words just yet—but how far behind can they be? I’d give it till tomorrow, and then, the end being “instantly” upon them—figure Friday at the latest for the grand finale. Be sure to have your bags packed.

It is a stupendous breakthrough of prophesy that I (blush) have come up with all by myself, and I have applied for copyright. I am in no danger of the Jehovah’s Witness organization trying to steal this one from me—they don’t go in for thinking that prophesies are fulfilled in a single person. They know it is the play we are watching, not the actors in the play. Sometimes an actor ducks out, takes ill, or even dies. It makes no difference to the outcome of the play—they just stick in another actor who has all the lines memorized down pat. No, JW HQ will not contest me for this one, but you never know about the scrappy upstart prophets; we prophets are a very competitive bunch. The guy who made much of Ronald Wilson Reagan (3 names of 6 letters each—666!) will be a particularly sore sport over this I fear.

True, I have already established my supremacy over them with my explanation of how to pinpoint the year of the world’s end. Since no one knows the day or the hour, simply extend that to the year—since ‘day and hour’ is overly picayune—and then rule out any year that some yo-yo has claimed to be it. There’s only two of three left unclaimed, so one of them has to be the end year.

Still, to really put this prophesy out of reach of my jealous competition, let us not rest on the ‘peace and security’ announcement alone, impressive though that is. Let us seek to unify the four fundamental prophesies of nature into one grand prophesy. To do this, we must tie in minutia such as the 1260 days of the Book of Daniel. This should not be overly difficult. Simply count back 1260 to discover whatever outrageous thing the POTUS said that day and assign historical significance to it.

What of the 3 kings that are humiliated at Daniel 7:24? Don’t make me laugh. It’s a piece of cake, the only slight complication being that there may be more than three that vie for position. For my money, Merkel, Macron, and Trudeau are the three kings Trump insulted most spectacularly.

However, a prophet must be neither know-it-all nor dogmatic. As long as I get top honors for calling this, I am willing to entertain other suggestions for the humiliated kings. Wanna put Xi in there? Fox from Mexico?  Who can forget Rocketman? The ballots are not all counted yet and Merkel, Macron, and Trudeau may be supplanted before the day is done.

And what exactly are my credentials as a prophet? What evidence do I advance to validate my position? I’m glad you asked. When I was changing congregations, moving to one far away, the local brothers threw a party for me. They surprised me with a cake on which frosting was written Jesus’ timeless words: “A prophet is not without honor except in his home territory and in his own house.” (Matthew 13:57)

Did your brothers ever bake a cake for you?

9F79ACCA-8409-48B6-BCCE-4C7F852008AEPhoto: Susan Mohr

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Simplified Looks at the Kings of the North and South

That May 2020 Watchtower really simplified how we can look at the Daniel prophesy of the kings of the north and south. I appreciate it for that reason.

I think it can be likened to the ingredients of a sandwich disappearing. When that happens, what’s the point of keeping track of the two slices of bread that enclose it? Such is the case when the weeds swallow up the wheat and the Master says ‘Don’t worry about it—we’ll sort it out at the harvest.’ (Matthew 13:24-30) If the covenant people disappear, why concern oneself about who is the king of the north and south? They vanish, too. This way, you don’t have to trace some tortuous lineage through the centuries that you can get your head around after a fashion, but the moment you turn away it disappears, like your grasp of relativity.

When the covenant people reappear during the harvest—well, we know that they are to be between a rock and a hard place. So look for a rock and a hard place. What could be easier than that? When the harvest season arrives, what two parties during the World Wars hate each other’s guts, and also give the covenant people grief for the same reason, that of neutrality? Easy. This new streamlined method works to everyone’s advantage except for Queen Zenobia (my favorite Bible character, second only to Obi Wan Kenobia), and I have completed my mourning for her.

The second of the study articles made it very clear: “For a government to fill the role of the king of the north or the king of the south, it must do three things: (1) interact directly with God’s people, (2) show by its actions that it is an enemy of Jehovah and his people, and (3) compete with the rival king.”

I noted Trump’s campaign words in Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we actually got along with Russia?” and how, were that to happen, it would take the prophesy off-script—the two are not supposed to get along. Almost immediately outside forces in the form of the media intervened to ensure that the two kings will not get along—they are to stay on script. Almost from the instant he said it, a Russian collusion narrative emerged to ensure the two kings would remain at loggerheads.

In the course of two weeks, the verses of Daniel 11:25-45 were considered at the meeting. A crash course for anyone not in the know: It is king-of-the-north Germany that opposes the king of the south during both world wars and opposes the covenant people, treating them harshly. With the Allied victory ending WWII, the Soviet Union and later Russia takes over the role of the northern king—pushing & shoving the king of the south and also treating the covenant people harshly, lately to be seen in the banning of their organization and publications, confiscation of their property, and arrests leading to the imprisonment of many.

A nice touch, I thought, was the “little help” rendered at 11:34. Might this be prophetic of the lull in opposition to kingdom preaching from the fall of the Soviet Union to renewed all-out attack on Jehovah’s people in 2017? During this lull, it was not even clear just who the king of the north was. (Davey-the-kid, always quick with a joke, told me it was Bolivia) Jehovah’s Witnesses were the last of all faiths to be legally recognized in 1991 (fall of the Soviet Union) and the first of all faiths (and so far, only) to suffer ban in 2017.

It occurs to me that if the king of the north started being nice to our people he would louse up stipulation 2 of the prophesy, that he must “show by its actions that it is an enemy of Jehovah and his people.” Why doesn’t he do that? There is no better way to discredit Jehovah’s Witnesses than to spectacularly mess up their take on a prophecy. Then we would have to revert back to Davey-the-kid, say it is Bolivia, and look ridiculous.

Well, maybe will happen that way. But it doesn’t seem likely. If Trump couldn’t derail the prophesy, Putin can’t either. It is probably one of those situations of nations being drawn as with hooks in their jaws. They are too determined in a course of their own seeming choice to do any differently.

From paragraph 13 and 14 of the second week’s study:

“A prophecy recorded by Ezekiel gives some insight into what may happen during the last days of the king of the north and the king of the south....it appears that we can expect the following developments....That symbolic hailstorm may take the form... It could be that this message provokes Gog of Magog into attacking God’s people with the intention of wiping them off the earth.” [italics mine]

Joe at the Kingdom Hall, who can always be depended upon for perceptive comments, chimed in about the “wiggle words” that I’ve italicized—it may....it could be...it appears that. Hardly dogmatic, is it? Sure to be missed by Tom Pearlsandswine, that brother who is known for putting the dog into dogmatic! But the words simply indicate that, while we know the final destination, we do not know the precise route to be taken, and the foregoing only indicates the best educated guess at present.

Of course, “educated” in this context means educated in the Bible study of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Despite my “crash course” a few paragraph above, I’ve made no effort to thoroughly explain anything—only the barest outline is offered. It is a little bit like how I have lately been reading Thirty Years that Shook Physics, a 1966 book by George Gamow that stood on my Dad’s bookshelf for 50 years and that I rescued from the estate sale. The preface speaks of “Dr. Gamow’s artistic gift as well as his ability to expand science in the layman’s language.” But as I peruse page after page stuffed with arcane mathematical formulas, I say, “I think they are overestimating his ‘gift.’” It’s not nothing. I’d sooner have him around than Wolfgang Pauli. But he is not exactly Mr. Rogers, and neither have I tried to be with the details of the north and south king.

As to what the final fulfillment will be, and what route it will take, 1 Peter 1:12 says: “Into these very things, angels are desiring to peer.” Are you going to tell them to straighten up and get back to work? No. You won’t stop them. But I like the current sense of couching things that only appear likely in wiggle words. It is a little like how we don’t do anti-types anymore, unless such anti-type is clearly spelled out in the Bible—Jesus’ identification with the Passover lamb, for example. It is enough to say, “this reminds me of that.” What! Is someone going to come along later and say it doesn’t?

 

 

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Is The Judge of the Entire Inhabited Earth Not Going to Do What is Right?

Q: We have had the same problem when questioned about Armageddon, especially when we know there has been so little chance to make headway in many countries where no one has heard anything positive about JWs, if they've heard of us at all. 

...

I don’t even pretend to know how this works. I know what is the place of safety. I know what is my obligation to publicize it. Everything else involves matters “too great for me.” 

Can you be some distance from the place of safety or not on millimeter? Dunno. “Is it only Jehovah’s Witnesses who will be saved?” someone asked my daughter, now a need-greater. “Well—I’m not Jesus, and I don’t know,” she replied. What of the verse that you will by no means complete the circuit of Israel before the son of man arrives? How does that factor in? Will Jehovah pull some last minute trick like he did with Jonah?

It is enough to know that he can read hearts. I’ll just do an Abraham and say, “is not the Judge of the entire earth going to do what is right?” After Armageddon, (let us assume that I find myself on the other side of it) I will look around, see who I see, and say, “I guess that’s what is right.”

All we can do is what we can do. Between house-to-house, carts, internet, and just plain zeal, what we have done is a lot. Is the kingdom the burning issue in everyone’s mind that they consciously approve or reject, as some of our material would suggest? Or is it that people are consumed with the day-to-day and “take no note” of what is happening around them, as also some of our material would suggest? What is the interplay between the two?

The issue is do people prefer government by God or government by men. The Witness organization would be negligent to not continually stress the place of safety and call attention to verses that indicate you’d better be there. They would be negligent to not urge those there to prioritize their lives so as to join Christ in saying “Come.” They have not been negligent. Imitate them, says 2 Thess 3:7-9. Imitate their faith, says Heb 13:17, a faith that has manifested itself as deeds, because faith without works is dead.

That is enough for me to go on. You don’t have to know every little thing. Not a sparrow falls to the ground unseen by the Father. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t fall. How many will fall, and why, and how many will stand? How many now seated (or even lying) will ultimately stand?

‪Those who heard this said: “Who possibly can be saved?” [Jesus] said: “The things impossible with men are possible with God.”‬ (Luke 18:26-27)

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Farewell, Queen Zenobia—We Barely Knew Ye

Queen Zenobia given the boot!* She was almost my favorite Bible character, second only to Obi-Wan Kenobia. I’m in mourning.

The Witness Governing Body have said they are not inspired, and I guess this proves the point! “Zenobia and Kenobia!” some traveling overseers were shouting—or at least they would have been if they’d thought of it—and they got it right from HQ!. She came crashing to the ground yesterday with no one to mourn her—with no one to say, “Too bad, too bad, you Great Dame!” What a flip-flop to treat the old girl with such disrespect! How can God not be displeased? That evening I prepared a protest sign: “Zenobia Lives!” but then I realized there would be no convention to carry it to.

If the king of the north is the upper slice, the king of the south the lower, and the ingredients disappear, as they do when the weeds overrun the wheat, then there barely is any point to having the sandwich, is there? Let the two slices disappear, too, even the one on which Queen Zenobia had arisen. Don’t keep track of them. Who needs them? Too bad for Queenie, though, fine woman that she was—she is sent packing. “Ah, Queenie, we barely knew ye,” some of the brothers were saying, almost in tears.

When the people of God reappear, who’s putting the squeeze on them, as the kings of the north & south must scripturally do? Who are the players? Their identity soon becomes apparent, as the opposing forces of the two World Wars come into view. Both sides are hostile against those faithful to the covenant, and both sides are hostile for the same reason—their non-participation in the worldwide conflagration. They have decided to sit that one out—it is too much for the two kings to tolerate. They do not—in fact all the kings on earth do not agree on much—but they do agree on Psalm 2.

The kings of the earth take their stand, and high officials gather together as one against Jehovah and against his anointed one. They say: ‘Let us tear off their shackles and throw off their ropes!’”

The people of God are to be between a rock and a hard place. When they make their reappearance, who corresponds to the rock and who the hard place? Reverse the slices if you like, but otherwise these forces are not hard to identify. There was even brief reference at the end to the “image of the wild beast”—the human agency that would rule the earth by man. The kingdom of God is the divine agency that would rule it by God. The contrast is easy to see.

This is the gist of the Watchtower Study covered just before the first day of the Regional. Of all studies not to read the paragraphs before, it would have to be this one. Tom Pearlsandswine can usually hide the fact that he does not prepare beforehand—he has never prepared for anything in his life. No such l**k this time. I dropped the fact to him casually that we were not reading the paragraphs. I could hear the gears in his head turning:

Hmm. “King of the North.” I really should have looked this study over more. [More!? How about just some?] Hmm. The north....Who is in the north? Santa Claus! Yeah—he’s supposed to live there! I can always raise my hand and say that! Nobody will know I didn’t prepare!”

 

*Sidebar from that Watchtower considered Sunday: For the reason stated [in the text], it no longer seems appropriate to list Roman Emperor Aurelian (270-275 C.E.) as a “king of the north” or Queen Zenobia (267-272 C.E.) as a “king of the south.” This updates what was published in chapters 13 and 14 of the book Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy!

Easy for them to say! I sort of had a crush on her.

....(with apologies to Elvis):

A very old friend came by today
'Cause he was telling everyone in town
Of the love that he just found
And Zenob’s the name of his latest flame
 
He talked and talked and I heard him say
That she had the longest, blackest hair
Prettiest green eyes anywhere
And Zenob’s the name of his latest flame
 
Though I smiled the tears inside were burning
Well I wished him l**k and then he said goodbye
He was gone but still his words kept returning
What else was there for me to do but cry
 
Would you believe that yesterday
This girl was in my arms and swore to me
She'd be mine eternally
And Zenob’s the name of his latest flame
 
And Zenob’s the name of his latest flame
And Zenob’s the name of his latest flame
And Zenob’s the name of his latest flame
 
 
 
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Crocodiles Eating Straw Just Like Bulls

There are people who say - more people than not - that it is more likely for your dog to pour himself a breakfast bowl of Cheerios than for a lion to eat straw like a bull. They are not really built that way.
 
That's why I like how the brothers didn't go there last night with the God's Kingdom Rules book. Discussing the return of the Jews from Babylonian exile and how they would be encouraged by Isaiah's prophesy about the animals, it said: "The lion would eat straw in the sense that it would not devour the Jews' cattle."
 
They didn't have to do it. They could have said "God will supply them with bales of hay in order to feed the lions."
 
Will it be literal someday? Who knows? But I like that our people can spot a metaphor when they see one. They know (unlike some religionists) that when someone cries crocodile tears, it does not mean that they are a crocodile.
 
Crocodile tears
 
 
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Weather on Steroids

At the end of each year, media looks back to recap just what went down in the past 365 days, even as they brace for the new year. Didn't Ogden Nash point out that every new year is the direct descendant of a long line of proven criminals? It was a light and breezy line when he said it, long ago, but over time the criminals are getting nastier and nastier. PBS ran a story Dec 28th titled “How 2011 Became a 'Mind-Boggling' Year of Extreme Weather” Anyone halfway observant knows that last year blew us away (sometimes literally) for extreme weather, but people of scientific bent demand evidence! So here it is:

Whereas normally there are three or four “significant” weather events per year in the U.S, last year chalked up twelve. The prior record breaking year, 2008, ImagesCA1EWC8Wregistered nine. “So, we went a third again in the number of events each of which had greater than a billion dollars, many other events, of course, that just fell below that billion-dollar threshold through the course of that year, quite a remarkable string, quite a remarkable array,” said Kathryn Sullivan of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Jeff Masters, of Weather Underground, added: “we talk about the Dust Bowl summer of 1936. Well, this summer pretty much matched that for temperature, almost the hottest summer in U.S. history. We also talk about the great 1974 tornado outbreak. Well, we had an outbreak that more than doubled the total of tornadoes we had during that iconic outbreak. And, also, we talk about the great 1927 flood on the Mississippi River. Well, the flood heights were even higher than that flood this year. So, it just boggles my mind that we had three extreme weather events that matched those events in U.S. History.”

The story focused on U.S. weather events, but worldwide extremes were not ignored: “Weather around the world showed equal extremes. Australia was hit with record flooding, followed by one of its worst tropical cyclones ever. Floodwaters also ravaged parts of Thailand and China, while the Horn of Africa suffered its worst drought in decades.” Jeff Masters especially keeps track of drought, since that corresponds with social upheaval. Russia cut of wheat exports in 2011, so bad was their drought. Food prices surged, and it's thought that the Arab spring revolts were caused, in part, by that woe.

For my money, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said it best in his 2012 State of the State address. He didn't want to get into a debate on global warming, he prefaced, but “100 year floods are now happening every two years, so something is clearly happening.” ImagesCAOK6GNE

Does rotten weather count as one of the signs of the last days that Jesus ticked off? You have to force it a bit. I mean, it's not so directly mentioned as are earthquakes, food shortages, wars, and so forth. Does it fit under the “fearful sights and from heavens great signs” of Luke 21:11? Or is it a factor, among many, that when put together, give relevance to Jesus' fig tree remark? “Note the fig tree and all the other trees: When they are already in the bud, by observing it you know for yourselves that now the summer is near. In this way you also, when you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near.” (Luke 21:30)

No one in the story's comment section pays any attention to Biblical relevance, of course. They just debate over whether the extremes do or do not indicate global warming, since upon that question hangs major economic policy. One character remarks weather may not be getting any worse at all; we simply have miraculous scientific measurements today so that we notice things more, as though the flattened town of Joplin, Missouri might not have registered upon less enlightened folk of a generation ago.

Weather Underground's Jeff Masters thinks global warming is positively a factor, and by pumping more heat energy into the atmosphere, the result is weather events “on steroids.” If he's correct, then surely extreme weather is but another manifestation of humans “ruining the earth” today, as Revelation 18:11 says.

********************************

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No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

 

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Costa Concordia, Titanic, and the Last Days

Sometimes the spirit of an entire age is captured in a single event. Even better, sometimes the spirit of an entire age is bookended by two separate events, one defining the “before,” the other the “after.” Whenever this happens, it's a fine thing. It saves a lot of work. You don't have to read up on the entire age....don't you have a lot to do already? Just get your head around the two bookend events and you're homefree. Like Morgan Freeman said to Miss Daisy, "we don't have to worry about what's in the middle?" No. We don't.

 

Costa concordia sailing

 Titanic sailing

We have exactly this situation today with regard to the Costa Concordia, that luxury cruise liner that capsized January off the Italian coast. It's a nautical bookend. It's complement, the Titanic, also capsized, almost exactly a century ago, in 1912. The age thus bookended is the “last days”, as proclaimed by Jehovah's Witnesses. That age began in 1914 and is near completion, since we are “right around the corner” from the end of this system of things. 1914, you will remember, was the year of WWI, and marks the first time the entire world went to war concurrently. It was the year that events described in Luke 21:10 set off with a bang, and have intensified to our day. Odd as it may sound, that year is determined by biblical prophesy.

If ever there were contrasting events to illustrate the fulfillment of 2 Tim 3:1-5, they are to be found in these behemoth boats. Those verses of Timothy read:

"But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up [with pride], lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power; and from these turn away."

In other words, the verses point to a general deterioration of human character. People have “gotten worse” during the last days. As Pop, who's even older than I am (and not a Witness)  readily asserts: the world is going “to hell in a handbasket.” But this is not necessarily easy to prove to one who thinks otherwise. It's subjective. If you show the verses to someone who doesn't agree that they apply more today than at other times, there's not much you can do about it. To some extent, it depends upon where you look. If you think in terms of technology, for instance, the notion of things worsening is patently untrue. One is reminded of that line from the 1968 book The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life, “True, there has been progress in a materialistic way. But is it really progress when men send rockets to the moon, and yet cannot live together in peace on earth?” Some people think it is.

Still, the best chance we have of illustrating 2 Tim 3:1-5 lies in contrasting similar events occurring in different time frames. Like ship sinkings. Consider: after the Titanic struck a berg, back in 1912, the captain expedited rescue efforts, then went down with his ship. After the Costa Concordia struck a rock, in modern 2012, the captain, seen beforehand schmoozing up women in the bar, was among the first to jump ship. Titanic's crew, in 1912, urgently worked to shepherd passengers to lifeboats. Concordia's crew, in 2012, told them to go back to their rooms....surely this crisis would pass. With the 1912 Titanic, it was “women & children first.”* With the 2012 Corcordia it was “every person for himself.”

 
In short, all that was noble and self-sacrificing is replaced today with all that is cowardly and self-serving. That's the relevance of 2 Tim 3:1-5. Tell that to fatheads that can's see any change in people!

Even the big liners themselves seem to fulfill 2 Tim 3:1-5. Titanic, in 1912, went down majestically, gracefully, symmetrically. Concordia, in 2012, rolled over on its side like a huge fat pig and just lay there lolling in the sun, like our overstuffed cat does in hopes someone will scratch it's belly. People of the last days can't even sink a ship properly.

 

Titanic sinking

  Costa concordia

Okay, okay, so it doesn't prove anything, comparing the two sunken ships. It's pure symbolism. I understand that. But as symbolism goes, it doesn't get any better. I don't issue many prophesies, being a modest guy, but I'm comfortable with this one: James Cameron will never make a film entitled Concordia.

 

2012 1 18 downtown pictures 093


 

*74% of the women on board Titanic were saved and 52% of the children, but only 20% of the men. (with major variations over First Class, Second Class and Third Class passengers)

 

Thanks to Aussie blogger Daniel for the inspiration.

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How to Predict the End of the World

From our readers:

 

Dear Tom Sheepandgoats:

How can I figure when the world will end?

Sincere Person

 

Dear Sincere Person:

The only thing you're sincere about is saving your skin! Nevertheless, here's how you do it.

You start with the well-known verse in Mathew:

Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.     Matt 24:36

Got it? Nobody knows the day and the hour. While, at first glance, that might seem unhelpful for your calculation, in reality it is the key to success! The method is straightforward. Since no one knows the day and the hour, that means if anyone claims a certain date for the end of the world, that's not it. To visualize how the method works, start with a calendar. 

2011 5 13 cameras and calendars 014 
 

Now, let's consider an example. May 21st. Say someone declares this day to be the end of the world. Since he knows it to be true, that's not it. On your calendar, you cross out May 21. Cross it out, not in pencil, but with a permanent marker. 

 

2011 5 13 cameras and calendars 021 

Repeat the process. Whenever you come upon a day someone just knows is the day and the hour, cross out that day. With a bit of research, you ought to eventually have a calendar looking like this.

 

2011 5 13 cameras and calendars 023 


There! That's all there is to it. You'll cross out all days except one. That's the day! Be ready.

  

I can hear the cynics, already. “Hold on a minute, Sheepandgoats!  You can't tell me that every day of the calendar is taken. There may be a lot of nutcakes, but surely not so many as to fill up every day on the calendar!”

On the surface, it seems a valid objection, but in reality, it just reveals laziness on your part. I admit, if you just count nutcakes predicting the day and hour, you'll fall short. You must count more than just the nutcakes. You must also count the screwballs, the cranks, the fruitcakes, the starry-eyed lunatics, the wolflike false prophets, the round-the-bend idiots, the maniacal crackpots, the self-aggrandizing demented, the certifiable crazies, the raving beserk, the unhinged wackos, and the moonstruck schizos. It's a little work, I admit, but it's not rocket science. If you count all these characters, you easily eliminate the wrong days, leaving only the truth to assert itself!


Now, since I do nothing but think about God all day long, I've worked through all this, and I know the date. But, if I really knew the date, that wouldn't be the date, would it? So I don't know. I've only been able to narrow it down to three possibilities. There are only three days throughout time that no one else has claimed. Thus we can see the breathtaking splendor of the heavenly plan. Three things are proven:

1. God is a trinity.
2. He works in mysterious ways.
3. Matt 24:36 holds. You can't tell the day and the hour; your best shot is a 33% chance.

 

Now, should we give Mr Camping some credit? It's not easy to do. I agonize over it. His formula, seven 1000-year days after the flood, seems awfully simplistic. He's throwing everyone in a tizzy over that? Haven't I said before I don't do floods? If I met him, I'm not at all sure I would like him. Besides, he buys into all the typical hash of trinity and hellfire, doesn't he? Don't get me started on this rapture stuff. And what's to say about those folk who buy into his prophesies? Why weren't they wearing ties as they announced the end? So, I suppose, not being on board, I run the risk of going to hell. Maybe if I say kind words, I will go to a softer version of hell...some place with merely an abominable climate, like here in Rochester, which I am used to. At any rate, it seems worth the effort. So....

Harold Camping, too, was aware of “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” He didn't just blow it off as if it never existed. He worked around it in a very clever way. He said that verse related only to that specific period of time in which it was written, not now! Now all the Trinitarians laugh at such a silly explanation, yet they blunder as greatly regarding the second part of the verse: "...no man knows the day and hour, nor does the Son, but the Father does!" Still, they would have me believe that the Son and the Father are the same!

Look, Camping stuck his neck out and looked ridiculous, he messed up a lot of people, but at least he is in the spirit ofJesus admonition to “keep on the watch.” I'll give him credit for that, if no more. I mean, I've heard atheists and skeptics carry on about how can people be so credulous to buy into end-time obsessions. I'll tell you how. You need look no further than Newsweek, which lists calamities on the front cover of it's “Apocalyse Now” edition, before tearing their hair out with “What the #@%!" is Next?! So at least Camping errs in furthering a Bible theme, that there will be an end of this system of things. I mean, if the ridicule of him comes from those steamed over his goofball formula, or his presumption of nailing the day and hour, well and good. But if it comes from those mocking the very notion that one day God will intervene in world affairs so that the earth does not end up totally ruined.....well....I hate to pick sides. I'm not sure which is the worse.

Years ago I called on some science person who had read the book Life – How Did it Get Here; by Evolution or by Creation. In the course of discussion, he asked what difference did it make. Who cared? Either way, evolution or creation, we're here. I answered that if God was responsible for bringing about earth and the life on it, then he just might have some purpose for it, and might not stand idly by while human mismanagement destroyed it. But if evolution was responsible for all, then if there was any hope for earth's future, it lay with humans. And they weren't doing so well, then or now. The man's wife, who up to that time had had little to say, remarked 'that's a good point.'


Well......alright already Sheepandgoats. You say there's three possibilities? Spill. What are they? Not so fast! It'll cost ya. Look, Camping and everyone else draws a salary for what they do. What should I and Jehovah's Witnesses be the only ones not to cash in? Contact me and we'll talk. Do you want to be ready for the big day or don't you?

************************

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What the #@%! is Next?

Can you really put a smiley face on the world, with but a little tweaking, or even none at all? I wouldn't think so, but there are plenty who disagree.  Sometimes, trying to make me mad, they scour Watchtower publications for pictures of Armeggedon, and post them on their websites. Jehovah's Witnesses are mean, they charge. Look how they print such pictures, traumatizing the little children! What is armeggedon cover Many of these grousers, amazingly, are ex-Witnesses, who have tired of organized cooperation with a Bible educational work. These have reassessed their former view that today's world merits God's disapproval, instead concluding that it's a nifty place to find fulfillment.

 

Typifying this view, here's a comparative religion website accusing the Watchtower Society of "maintain[ing] a state of high anxiety in their membership by stressing the imminence of the end." We would not have phrased things this way.  Instead, we would say that recognition of where we are in the stream of time goes a long way to allay anxiety. It's as though these web writers think all is just peachy worldwide and everyone would know it were it not for JWs fouling the air with their “high anxiety.”


Well, two can play at that game. Take a look at Newsweek's cover for March 28, 2011:Newsweek cover apoclayse

“Tsunamis, Earthquakes, Nuclear Meltdowns, Revolutions, Economies on the Brink!” No anxiety here, is there? I tell you, for anyone with a memory, it's absolutely amazing to see such despairing words on the cover of a national magazine. Surely Newsweek, representing the world's collective wisdom, has some reassuring words for the children? Ah...yes, here it is, just below the list of calamities: They say “What the #@%! is next?!”

And to think that my 7th grade social studies teacher had us all subscribe to Newsweek, on the premise we would thereby become well-informed. Was I anticipating future covers of that magazine when I began my World News Oral Report with the words “What the #@%! is next?” and spent the rest of the semester writing “I will not swear” on the chalkboard? As adults of this system have failed the children in so many ways....in morals, in education, in personal and group and financial security, they now fail them even in reassuring rhetoric. “What the #@%! is next?” is the best they can manage. Why not further say: “We haven't a clue, kids. We've screwed things up in every way.”

For that matter, why not say “Jehovah's Witnesses are Right?” For Jehovah's Witnesses have been saying for decades that the present system of things is doomed to extinction, to be replaced by God's Kingdom. Everyone else says or hopes that God will somehow bless the present hash of human governments, so as to collectively bring us all a happy future. Well who doesn't want a happy future? But a happy future is not something humans can provide. It comes only under God's Kingdom. No human has the slightest role in bringing that Kingdom about. God himself does that. But we can position ourselves to benefit from it. That is the long-standing message of Jehovah's Witnesses, coupled with an invitation to study the Bible itself.

Hey, it's not been an easy job. It still isn't. “Aw, go soak your head,” people tell us. “What a bunch of alarmists! We've always had bad things happening!” I can hear the refrain now.  Naturally, the Bible reader thinks of 2 Peter 3:3,4:

First off, you need to know that in the last days, mockers are going to have a heyday. Reducing everything to the level of their puny feelings, they'll mock, "So what's happened to the promise of his Coming? Our ancestors are dead and buried, and everything's going on just as it has from the first day of creation. Nothing's changed."   (the paraphrased Message translation; it may not be literal, but it sure is fresh)

Well....we sure haven't always had magazine covers like this one of Newsweek's! It's as if the editors are collectively throwing up their hands and crying “Sheesh! Everything humans touch turns to shit!” (Normally I would never use such unsavory words as “shit,” but I am unwholesomely influenced by Newsweek's #@%! It really is true that “bad associations spoils useful habits.)

The only time I said “What the #@%! is next?” was when I saw the price of the magazine. $5.95! Weren't these things under a dollar when I was a kid? With more pages? And better written, not dumbed down like it is today? I know, I know, it's unfair to be critical of a mass publication for “dumbing down.” The Watchtower is dumbed down, too. We all know it. As the world's education system steadily goes down the toilet, so do collective reading skills. If you want to reach a broad audience, simple writing is the way you have to go, however painful it may be for guys who cherish reading. But there's hardly any need to rub it in: Note above the Newsweek banner is the byline for another story: “How Ignorant are You?” Am I being too sensitive when I read between the lines: “We're not ignorant.....you are!”?)
 
To be faithful to the Bible, you need to talk about things not so pleasant. You just do. And destruction of “the ungodly” is not so pleasant. Nobody says otherwise. The only caveat.....and it's a significant one....is that a person can be saved from it by adhering to divine direction. Isn't that, when push comes to shove, a good thing?

Now....see if you can spot the spurious words I've cleverly inserted in the following passage: Revelation 6:12-17 (Message Translation, again) in which John prophesies

“…..a bone-jarring earthquake, sun turned black as ink, moon all bloody, stars falling out of the sky like figs shaken from a tree in a high wind, sky snapped shut like a book, islands and mountains sliding this way and that. And then pandemonium, everyone and his dog running for cover—kings, princes, generals, rich and strong, along with every commoner, slave or free. They hid in mountain caves and rocky dens, calling out to mountains and rocks, “What the #@%! is next?”

There. Did you spot it? What they actually cry is "Refuge! Hide us from the One Seated on the Throne and the wrath of the Lamb! The great Day of their wrath has come—who can stand it." But I try to keep up with contemporary jargon per Newsweek.

Or, what about the words of Jesus:

The time is coming when they'll say, 'Lucky the women who never conceived! Lucky the wombs that never gave birth! Lucky the breasts that never gave milk!' Then they'll start calling to the mountains, “What the #@%! is next?”  Luke 23:29-30

Nope. What they actually call to the mountains is “Fall down on us! Cover us up!”

We take a lot of flak for adhering to the Bible's teaching of Armageddon, great tribulation, destruction of the wicked, paradise earth under Kingdom reign, and so forth. Jehovah's Witnesses are a serious religion that doesn't hedge its bets. We're not all over the board. We unabashedly hold to key Bible tenets, no matter if they find scorn elsewhere. For, to be sure, if you don't think God will call “the ungodly” to account, if you don't think God will one day intervene dramatically in world events, then Jehovah's Witnesses and all that they represent are ridiculous, a perfect target for derision. It all depends upon where you're coming from.

But pertaining to Armageddon.... look, I don't know just who will and who will not go down at that time. Nobody does. Can you be some distance from theocratic provisions or not one inch? Dunno. But why not stay in a known place of safety and take part in a work in which it is good to take part in any event, simply on the basis of Rev 4:11?

“You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.”

God created all things. The massive experiment of human self-rule is turning out exactly as he said it would. He deserves our service.

Is it coincidence? In the same month Newsweek throws up its hands in mass despair, Jehovah's Witnesses intensify their ministry as never before.  Here in Rochester, most congregations have 50-80% or more of members in some form of “pioneer service,” volunteering 30-50 hours of their time in Bible teaching. As they visit neighbors, they don't say “What the #@%! is next?” Instead, they point out today's disintegration is all foretold, and is a precursor to God fulfilling his promise to bring peace and paradise on earth through his kingdom.

We like verses like the following one in Psalms. We think they're soon to come true. And we don't just sit on the information, we do our best to tell others so they can benefit too:

And just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; And you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, And they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.   Ps 37:10-11

Does not this Psalm recall Jesus' words “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” They certainly haven't to date. But Jehovah's Witnesses believe this promise is soon to be fulfilled, and they invite others to examine the evidence.

See here, here, here, and here.

 

[EDIT....58% was the figure of those in some sort of full-time service during April, so reported our C.O. recently. (figures in your circuit may vary)]

************************

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No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

 

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