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Sunday, March 2, 2014

What the Bible Teaches

How has Jesus' authority grabbed your attention recently? How is his authority bringing freedom to you?  (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1439).

For many Saturdays now a Jehovah's Witness friend and I have been sharing viewpoints.  Before Jehovah's Witnesses were so named, they were called Bible Students for they met regularly to study the Bible.  Today my friend and I imagined that we were part of one such group in the early 1900's.  I told my friend where my mind would be at as we set down at the table.   I would want to find guidance on the essential beliefs of Christianity--specifically how we are called to follow Christ and do God's will today in practical ways wherever we may be.  In short, I would have a strong bias preferring what might be called a practicum on Bible based Christian ethics.   

I asked him to imagine my consternation when we sat down and the discussion turned from the Gospel and the letters of Paul and daily living to a discussion of widely dispersed and highly symbolic passages from Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation.  Central to this discussion as it developed is the year 1914.  This date is arrived at by beginning in 607 B.C.E. when Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians and the line of kings that had begun with David was interrupted not to be resumed until Jesus assumes the kingship role when Gentile rule ends.  Earlier than the year 1914,  Bible Students calculated that Jesus' kingship would commence in that year based on a dream by Nebuchadnezzar.  In that dream an angel declares "Let seven times pass over" a tree stump banded with iron and copper (trees can sometimes represent rulership).   From Revelation 12:6 and 14 in which a woman with two wings like a great eagle is mentioned, it can be deduced that 3 1/2 times equals 1,260 days.  Therefore 7 times  is twice 3 1/2 or 2,520 days.  But Numbers 14:24 and Ezekiel 4:6 indicate a day can mean a year.  So counting from October 607 B.C.E.,  the end date will be October 1914 when Jesus will become king.  Satan and his cohorts are to be duly flung from heaven to earth on this date (note the mess confronting us on earth since that date).  Satan's defeat at Armageddon is now imminent at which point the 144,000 heavenly joint heirs will rule with Christ for 1,000 years with many positive marvels and wonders blessing all the earth.**

My discontent with the drift and complexity of our discussion would be palpable.  Where in all this do we find practical guidance for Christian living?  Why can't we  accept the remark of Jesus: "No one knows about the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.... Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back....(Mark 32 and following NIV).  Aren't we showing a degree of intellectual if Jesus came primarily to pose math puzzles and symbolism's labyrinths for an intellectual elite rather than living and dying for us as common sinners?  I would remind everyone at the table of this passage from Matthew 18: At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"  He called a little child and had him stand among them.  And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

**For excellent summary of beliefs of the Jehovah's Witness see What Does the Bible Really Teach; a Watchtower Publication.  Referenced here page 217.

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