TRANSITIONING TO THE KINGDOM OF THE HEAVENS
- The September 2015 JW Broadcast" -
By Associate Writers of
September 13, 2015
Watching the September 2015 JW.TV Broadcast hosted by David Splane, a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Robert Cranko, a Helper to the Writing Committee, we witnessed some of the strangest teachings yet to come from the Governing Body. In strangeness, it rivals the testimony given by Geoffrey Jackson, also a member of the Governing Body, on August 14, 2015 to the Australian Royal Commission investigating child sexual abuse among Jehovah’s Witnesses. The introductory discussion in the broadcast is a true red herring designed to mislead and obfuscate truth. Yet buried within was some new and exciting light! We hope to expose the deception and reveal the light in this article.
David Splane began by saying he wanted to discuss how their understanding of “this generation” that Jesus spoke about at Matthew 24:34 has a bearing on the nearness of the “time of the end” of this system of things. By the end of his discussion, there were so many biblically unsubstantiated statements in their understanding of Jesus’ plain and unambiguous words that one wonders if the Governing Body really took the time to carefully examine what they were broadcasting to millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world.
This scripture has been used for decades to determine how near we are to the “great tribulation.” Many of us are aware how often the Governing Body has revised their teachings on this subject. The foretold end keeps embarrassingly delaying its arrival, throwing all previous interpretations into a failed quandary and requiring novel and strange ways of reinterpreting Jesus’ plain and unambiguous words.
Now Jehovah’s Witnesses are being told that this new 2015 interpretation, as described below, is what Jesus had in mind when he was sitting with his four apostles on the Mount of Olives as they were overlooking Jerusalem nearly 2,000 years ago. But is that so?
Jesus’ Plain Words
The scripture referred to in the broadcast is Jesus’ words to his four primary apostles, Andrew, Peter, James and John, in 33 C.E. Jesus described a number of events that would culminate in a great tribulation in Jerusalem. After describing those events, Jesus said:
“This generation will by no means pass away until all these things happen.”
– Matthew 24:34
Clearly, the generation Jesus was referring to in that discussion was the generation of the four men he was speaking to. That is surely what the four men thought. Jesus spoke in a common dialect. The term “generation” simply means a group of people who: (1) are born about the same time; and (2) share the same experiences. As a confirmation of this definition, history tells us that all the things Jesus mentioned leading up to, and including, the great tribulation in Jerusalem culminated in 70 C.E., within the ‘generation’ of the four men who sat before Jesus. So where is the difficulty? Where is the confusion? Why have the Governing Bodies of Jehovah’s Witnesses been so confused as to its meaning?
Some believe Jesus was cryptically telling his followers that there would be a greater fulfillment of his prophesy about Jerusalem’s great tribulation that would occur in the 21st century. But is that so? Is there a greater fulfillment that will culminate in a similar or greater tribulation that we should be looking for today?
Not according to Jesus. He told those four men, as recorded at Matthew 24:21:
“[F]or then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” – Revised New World Translation
“For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.”– New International Version
“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.” – English Standard Version
No, there would be no greater fulfillment. The prophesy concerning a great tribulation is a closed prophesy. There may continue to be horrific events on our planet, but none would compare with, and certainly not exceed, the great tribulation suffered in Jerusalem in 70 C.E. It would be appropriate to call the tribulation in Jerusalem the Greatest Tribulation ever suffered, and ever to be suffered, by a ‘system of things.’
The continual effort of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other Christians, to find a greater fulfillment of Jesus’ plain and unambiguous prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem is pointless and even disrespectful to Jesus. His plain words should end any dispute.
Notwithstanding what is so clearly articulated by Jesus, this scripture continues to cause a great deal of problems for Jehovah’s Witnesses as is evidenced by the September 2015 broadcast. So for those still “limping between two different opinions” (1 Kings 18:21) and unable to decide whether to believe Jesus or to believe the Governing Body, let’s take a close look at the Governing Body’s newest reinterpretation as delivered by David Splane.
The Watchtower’s “Generation”
David Splane departed from the common use of the term “generation,” leaving out the part that all members of a generation are ‘born about the same time.’ He opted for the more self-serving and incomplete definition of “a group of contemporaries,” or “a group of people who lived at the same time.” In his definition, not all members of “this generation” were born at the same time, but they did live at the same time. Think about that for a moment. According to Splane’s definition, parents and grandparents who are alive at some point during a child’s life are part of the child’s generation! Does anyone think that makes sense? Yes, they all lived at the same time, but they do not share the same experiences. They usually do not like the same music, the same entertainment, the same taste in clothing, etc. They usually do not view people the same way, or share the same prejudices and tolerances. They simply are not contemporaries!
However, Splane was able to mislead his audience and draw the attention away from the clear fallacy of his definition by focusing on the life of one individual. His definition was not for the purpose of seeing who is included, but for the purpose of determining who is excluded so that he can make the claim that the end is near. And he produced a chart to prove it!
According to the chart, the individual chosen for his explanation was Frederick W. Franz (“F.W.F.”), a previous and now-deceased member of the Governing Body. Fred Franz’ life is used as the pivot point for defining “this generation” that would be alive to fulfill Jesus words at Matthew 24:34 (which, as we have shown, has already been fulfilled).