In these days we hear much about Armageddon being imminent, although many of the Lord’s people knew about Armageddon long before now – already in 1897 Pastor Russell had published the fourth book of the Studies in the Scriptures, “The Battle of Armageddon.” This book is so descriptive of our day, it is as though it were written by some one observing the turmoil that is now upon us. Of course, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been predicting Armageddon for many years, and have prophesied dates for it to occur. However, as Armageddon didn’t occur at the times predicted, the Witnesses were so disappointed they have not set another date since 1975, when Armageddon did not begin as they had expected.
Pastor Russell predicted that the great Time of Trouble would begin in 1914 with the World War. He predicted the World War 25 years before 1914 – in 1889 – and many people laughed at this “preacher of doom.” But he had arrived at the date 1914 from Bible chronology, Bible prophecies and the parallel dispensations. However, when the world seemed so calm in 1913, a World War seemed unthinkable, so he and several other capable scholars went over the chronology very carefully to see if there might be some mistake. They couldn’t find a thing wrong, so Pastor Russell let his prediction stand, and continued to proclaim 1914 as the date for the World War, as well as the end of the Gentile Times.
But when the World War broke out in 1914, many unbelievers became believers. However, after 1918, when conditions became more stable, quite a few believers became unbelievers. Many will say that we still have the Gentile governments, social systems, etc. Which we do! But their lease expired in 1914; and the present turmoil in every nation today is due to the fact that these governments are being evicted.
Pastor Russell taught a very different Armageddon than do the Witnesses today. They teach that Armageddon will be the end of the Gentile Rule – and after that Christ’s benevolent Kingdom will be established, with their Great Crowd as earthly rulers of that Kingdom. Pastor Russell taught that there would be other Gentile governments established after Armageddon – a socialistic or Communistic regime – but the Gentile governments will not be fully destroyed until Anarchy, which will set in shortly after Armageddon. The Witnesses not only teach error on the Time of Trouble, but also error on Christ’s Kingdom and its benevolent purposes for all mankind.
It does not surprise us that the world is waking up to realize that something is now happening that cannot be stopped by human hands, even though this Time of Trouble was taught and predicted in practically every country in the world long before 1914. But it was not the time for the world to wake up, as this message was to enlighten and encourage the Lord’s faithful people. The prediction then was that the world would not receive it until it reached a crisis – extreme disorder, crime and social unrest in every country in the world as it is today. So many people are waking up, including quite a few clergy today who are preaching an imminent Armageddon – talking as though they were the first to see it from their study and search of the Bible. Surely most people know that the Witnesses have made Armageddon prominent in their world-wide ministry! But the clergy don’t mention that, or them. And they (the clergy) are “profiting” by their prophecies! When Pastor Russell taught these things they were for those who had “an ear to hear.” He spent not only his time, energy and health, but all of his large fortune to “bear witness to the Truth,” in which there were other capable people who joined him. These clergymen today are educated men, but they seemingly haven’t had time to read a book published long before 1914 – the Battle of Armageddon – which is still distributed and sold to all interested people. In fact, there are groups of Christians today who are studying this book in class studies. But these educated clergy are too busy with their own ideas to bother with the Truth as given in this informative book written by Pastor Russell, just as the Scribes and Pharisees were too busy with the “traditions of men” to be bothered to learn of that “Carpenter,” when Jesus was here teaching the Truth to all who had an “ear to hear.”
So 37 years after His crucifixion (in 70 A.D.), their city was taken by the Romans and their beautiful temple demolished. And so it will be today with those who are ignoring the Truth: they, too, will have the same experience of those Jews who did not have an “ear to hear.”! They, too, will have their “temples” destroyed. The Witnesses will also witness the destruction of their errors – especially when Christ’s Kingdom is established. They are more responsible for their errors, as they have received more light than have these clergy. The Witnesses still claim Pastor Russell as their founder, while discarding many of the fundamental Truths he left them. His message to the world was indeed “Good Tidings of Great Joy,” while theirs is bad tidings of great misery to all who do not join with them before Armageddon. Pastor Russell is not the founder of their errors, but he is the founder of their organization, which they unlawfully seized after his demise in 1916.
THE HISTORICAL RECORDS
The word Armageddon occurs only once in the Bible – Rev. 16:16: “He gathered them together into that place which is called in Hebrew Armageddon.” Here is the description given of it by one writer: “(Mountain of Destruction) a place in Samaria, east of Caesarea; the Mountain of Mageddon, or Megiddo, a city at the foot of Mount Carmel, and noted for scenes of carnage. The Canaanites and Philistines, Jews and Egyptians, Chaldeans and Persians, Greeks and Romans, Moslems and Christians, of almost every age and nation, have encamped around Megiddo, because of its commanding position, its abundant supply of water and rich pastures, ... In the Apocalypse this place is referred to probably as a symbolical name for great slaughter.”
Another writer, who spells the name as Har-Magedon, says this: “A prophetic battlefield, where the kings of the whole world gather together unto the war of the great day of God. The name is framed with evident reference to the sanguinary contests which took place near the town of Megiddo; the first, that in which Sisera and the Canaanites were defeated at the waters of Megiddo (Judg. 5:19); the 2nd, that which resulted in the death of Ahaziah, King of Judah, at Megiddo (2 Kgs. 9:27); and the third, that in which King Josiah, was killed when in conflict with the army of Pharaoh Nechoh (2 Kgs. 23:29; Zech. 12:11). The historical associations with Megiddo in the past were seized upon by the prophet to supply a name appropriate in a description of the future sorrows and triumphs of God’s people.”
And this further comment from another source: “The fact that the tell of Megiddo was about 70 feet high in John’s day, and was in the vicinity of Carmel Range, justified the use of Hebrew ‘har,’ used loosely in the Old Testament for ‘hill’ and ‘hill country.’ The ‘waters of Megiddo’ (Judg. 5:19) and the ‘valley-plain of Megiddo’ (2 Chron. 35:22) have witnessed important battles, from one fought by Tuthmosis III in 1468 B.C. to that of Lord Allenby of Megiddo in 1917. The ‘mountains of Israel’ witness Gog’s defeat in Ezek. 39:1-4. This may be in the writer’s mind.”
THE BOOM IN DOOM
A few months back there came to us an article captioned as above; and we believe our readers will appreciate reading quite a lot of it, interspersed with some remarks of our own, for which reason we shall avoid much of the quotation marks:
“Fear No Evil,” a new horror film about Lucifer battling three archangels over the second coming of the Creator, was only two weeks into its shooting schedule when tragedy struck: A mobile home used as a makeup and wardrobe studio exploded in the middle of the night and burned to the ground. The next morning, hair stylist Frank Montesanto searched the rubble for salvage. All he could find was a Bible. “It was slightly charred, but mostly intact,” he said. “The plastic cover had been melted, and fused to the Bible was a charred copy of the ‘Fear No Evil’ script. I couldn’t believe it.”
Montesanto thinks the episode might have been some sort of omen. For those who seek them, portents of catastrophe are not hard to find these days. Fascination with finitude is spreading. Fundamentalist Bible believers who take prophecies of the end of days quite literally number in the tens of millions, according to polls. And there are signs that the public at large is detecting omens. “Impending disaster has become an everyday concern,” says historian Christopher Lasch, who believes that humanity has lost faith in the future and awaits some kind of ending.
Armageddon is a growth industry as well as a box office draw. In addition to ‘Fear No Evil’ the latest in a spate of devil and disaster mania films is ‘The Final Conflict,’ the last chapter in the ‘Omen’ trilogy. The chilling saga of Damien Thorn, son of Satan, as an adult is said by production consultant Robert Munger to be “part of a mission to warn the world of what is coming.” A burgeoning array of books on apocalyptic themes are selling briskly in supermarkets, drugstores and airports as well as in Bible bookstores.
Hal Lindsay, chief apostle of biblical future fright, has sold 18 million copies of his “The Late Great Planet Earth,” the New York Times No. 1 best-selling non-fictional book of the 1970s. Lindsey’s update “the 1980s – Countdown to Armageddon,” is expected to land quickly on topseller lists. And now, to keep pace with prophetic events, Lindsey is offering a monthly cassette service, “Prophecy Hotline.”
Jim McKeever, an Oregon investment counselor, Bible teacher and futurologist, is urging the discerning to join – at once – the 250,000 subscribers who already read his EndTimes News Digest. And, for those who can’t wait for the mail, Salem Kirban of Pennsylvania offers a weekly recorded prophecy message over a toll-free line (for a donation of $10 or more).
Television preachers Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham, Pat Robertson (of “the 700 Club”) and others are keying on Armageddon apprehension. They preach that Jesus will return very soon and they warn believers to get ready for grim worldwide and personal adversity.
The staples of the modern-day fundamentalist interpreters of the Bible prophets are the rise of the Antichrist and Jesus’ imminent return to and judgment of America.
Based on a patchwork of passages from the Old and New Testament, the most popular scenario for the Second Coming unfolds along these lines:
After the Israelites return to the ancient land and set up a government, Israel’s neighbors and other nations turn against her. Their hostile armies move on Jerusalem, the capital city, and conquer half of it, looting houses and raping women. At that point God intervenes, and the attackers, alarmed by supernatural signs, fall back to Megiddo, or Armageddon (a site southeast of modern Haifa). There, a climactic and incredibly gory war involving the entire world takes place. (Same of these “prophets” have heard the real Truth on these things, but they have heard a bell ringing, but can’t locate the bell.
At some point – prophecy scholars disagree about exactly when – Jesus visibly participates (his visibility will become more and more apparent as He ejects the present powers in a more pronounced manner—JJH), leading an army out of heaven, and touching down on the Mount of Olives just outside of Jerusalem. He destroys the remaining armies and establishes a reign of a thousand years of utopia and peace – the Millennium. (With all the ignorance of that blessed Millennium, it will far surpass the prediction of the imagination of the worldly-minded. They, too, will appreciate God’s Great Plan of Salvation if they are in harmony with righteousness and justice, when they see the wonderful works of Christ’s Kingdom for all mankind.
The Second-Coming scenario includes the rise of a “one-world” dictator who, as the Antichrist, heads a 10-nation confederacy in the Middle East and leads the world to nuclear holocaust. (It will indeed be a “one-world” dictator – The Christ – who will head all nations.
Most of those who hold this view believe that Jesus will snatch up believing Christians to heaven just before the terrible tribulation breaks out. Or, at least, he will give true believers supernatural strength to endure until he returns. Why apocalypse now? Told that all previous predictions of the Second Coming – and there have been many through the centuries – have been wrong, fundamentalists counting down to Armageddon reply that never before have all the elements described in Bible prophecies occurred together. “All is falling into a predicted-plan,” says Lindsey, 51, who is in great demand on talk shows and the prophecy lecture circuit. “Today’s dramatic international events conform exactly to the Bible’s signs of the last days.”
Lindsey, a mustachioed, muscular man whose expression sometime conveys a hint of impishness, quotes Matthew 24:34, in which Jesus says: “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” What things? In his books and in personal interviews, Lindsey lists the following:
“Israel has been miraculously reborn as a nation,” the United States is fading as a superpower and the Red Chinese “continue to build their awesome army.” All of the world’s powers appear ready to involve themselves in a Middle East war because of their need for oil. Meanwhile, Arabs and the world’s Moslems threaten a war that would destroy the state of Israel. The European Common Market community of 10 nations grows stronger and begins to doubt the effectiveness of the United States as an ally. Nuclear holocaust “seems more possible every day”: Famine spreads as population explodes; pollution threatens survival; and earthquakes, volcanic activity and droughts increase. Told that leading scientists disagree with some of his observations about natural disasters, Lindsey shrugs and says: “I don’t major in that aspect of prophecy..... Hal Lindsey may be wrong, but the Bible can never be wrong.”
Lindsey, who promotes biblical prophecy theories that he learned when he was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary about 20 years ago, denies that he possesses supernatural insight or that he is a prophet. (Pastor Russell denied that he possessed “supernatural” insight, too, before 1897 and was only proclaiming prophesies taught in the Bible; and these prophecies concerning a World War in 1914, etc., were fulfilled accordingly and much more accurate of the events transpiring today than those of present-day “prophets”.
Though he (Lindsey) may be a non-prophet, his products are not non-profit. The hardcover edition of Lindsey’s “Countdown to Armageddon,” has sold 360,000 copies in nine months. With 50 cents’ royalty per copy, it has brought Lindsey $180,000. And with 8 percent royalties on the first printing of the new Bantam paperback “Countdown,” Lindsey will be counting up at least as much. His prophecy cassette tape service grosses another $150,000 a month.
McKeever, the economist, advertises his books and newsletters widely in Christian publications. His End-Times News Digest, grossing $3 million annually in subscription fees, capitalizes on disaster mania: “I see a time of famine, earth upheaval, persecution, wars and economic calamity coming,” McKeever predicts. “God has laid it on my heart to warn the Body of Christ about this coming period of intense turmoil that will precede his return, and to encourage Christians to get ready.”
Salem Kirban, head of Second Coming Inc. in Huntington Valley, Pa., advertises, “the first toll-free prophecy hotline in the United States” and sells by mail the 35 books he has written. Titles include “Guide to Survival,” “666,” “The Rise of the Antichrist” and “Satan’s Angels exposed!” The latter, one of “two extra bonuses” sent to persons who contribute $25 or more, is anti-Catholic in tone and reveals “how secret organizations, whose threads of horror reach back centuries ago, are carefully weaving their power plot to control the world for Satan.”
Here we would emphasize: “Prophets and Profits usually go together!”.
Then the paper goes on: If Armageddon is inevitable, why fight it? As Radio Bible preacher Vernon McGee has said, “You don’t polish brass on a sinking ship, a capsule rationale for not wasting time and effort on political activism or improving the social order. Most historians believe that pre-millennialism, the doctrine that Jesus’ return is imminent, has inhibited social action by fundamentalists. But surprisingly, perhaps, many religious leaders who stress a Second Coming, soon manage to harmonize their social action and apocalyptic views.
Jerry Falwell, who heads the new right political and religious coalition called Moral Majority, preaches about Jesus’ imminent return. His apocalyptic message apparently heightens his urgency to transform American culture. He warns godly people to keep their thumb in the moral dike or “we may have only a few years left.”
Our comment on the foregoing: With many of these preachers, their preaching is so saturated with error that it is a wonder indeed that they can attract any substantial following at all. They often quote the Bible for their authority, but every false religion in existence does that. They all have some Truth in them; otherwise, no one would believe them. However, we believe the words of St. Paul are most appropriate here: “When for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God.” (Heb. 5:12)
Some months back one of these uplifters (?) told his television audience that if one million of them would each send him just $12 per month (only 12 million a month, or 144 million a year), he would not only explain the intricacies of prophecy to them, would make Christians of enough of the social ax-wielders that Armageddon could be avoided here in the United States. Surely the words of St. Peter loom largely here: “They shall make merchandise of you.” (2 Pet. 2:3) And it is certainly in order here to note that Jesus or the Apostles never at any time took up a collection to help them make more Christians! “Judge” Rutherford, one-time president of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, told his trusting ‘dedicated’ supporters that, if he could obtain a million dollars, he would break the Devil’s back in one year’s time. His deluded devotees went to work with unstinted vim and vigor and secured the million for him. But, even though he got the million, the Devil is more active and more mischievous than ever to any unbiased mind.
Then the article continues: Lindsey, credited with being the most influential person in the current prophecy movement, is fully convinced that Armageddon cannot be stopped – only temporarily delayed at best. On the one hand, Lindsey says the Antichrist is already alive, thus making the final conflict less than a lifetime away. On the other hand, he advocates a massive U.S. armament buildup to stop the Soviet Union from taking over the world. This hawkishness, coupled with his call for America to return to moral righteousness, is an effort to insure that the nation is spared “until the Lord comes to evacuate His people.” (Note now the words of St. Paul: “Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.”—2 Tim. 3:13) In other words, Lindsey hopes this generation of American Christians will be spared from seeing the destruction of their country. They would be gone – raptured – before the holocaust.
McKeever has a different slant on the end times, combining prophecy and pragmatism. He teaches that Christians will live under the reign of the Antichrist and must endure famine, persecution and nuclear war before Jesus returns to end the great tribulation. In his survival handbook, “Christians will go through The Tribulation,” McKeever tells Christians how to build bomb shelters, live without utility and food distribution systems and get along without police, fire and other services.
Sitting snugly in their solar-powered, radiation-proof underground homes, Christians must nonetheless face a knotty ethical problem, McKeever warns: What if, during a famine, a Christian householder’s ample food supply is threatened by takeover from others? McKeever’s answer: “You must do whatever God tells you to do at the moment .... I believe that God might lead one Christian family to protect their food with all their might, even to the point of killing those who would attempt to steal it. I also believe that God would lead other Christians to give most or all of it away. (Remember, our confidence is not in the food we have stored, but in God!)
Some religious observers say that today’s purveyors of doom, lacking a clear scriptural blueprint, seem to base their projections more on secular news, military pessimism and right-wing political tracts.
If this is so, Lindsey’s opening sentence in the final chapter of “Countdown to Armageddon” may be telling: “Even if I didn’t know anything about prophecy, I would know enough from studying what is going on in our world to see that we are headed toward catastrophe. In any case, millenarian fever is likely to spread as the end of true millennium the year 2000 – approaches.” (Jesus’ words are appropriate here: ‘‘Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven (the present ecclesiastical systems) shall be shaken.”—Luke 21:26.
THE TRUTH ON THE SUBJECT
All of the foregoing “prophets” freely admit that they are somewhat in a fog about this Armageddon matter; but the Bible gives us a very vivid preview of the whole situation in 1 Kgs. 19:11,12, where the great War, Armageddon, and Anarchy are portrayed in symbolic language as “a great and strong wind” (war), after the wind an earthquake (Armageddon – certainly a world revolution will cause the earth – present society – to quake); “and after the earthquake fire” (Anarchy – Fire in the Bible is usually used to describe destructive force of some kind; and when the Bible tells us that the final spasms of this trouble will bring “every man’s hand against his neighbor”—Zech. 14:13 – that will be the final great destructive force).
In connection with the above, we quote St. Paul in 1 Thes. 5:2,4: “Yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night .. But ye, brethren are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” From other Scriptures we know definitely that we are “in the time of the end” (Dan. 12:4); there can be no guesswork about it! For more than 25 years before 1914 the “watchers” were well informed about the approaching holocaust, and made public declaration of it, but they received the scorn and ridicule of most of the wiseacres. The idea was pure nonsense, they said. Follows now a quote from Reprints 5659 (written April 1915):
“The Battle of Armageddon, to which this war is leading, will be a contest between right and wrong, and will signify the complete and everlasting overthrow of the wrong, and the permanent establishment of Messiah’s righteous kingdom for the blessing of the world. All these things are probably easier to be seen from this side of the ocean than by the dear friends who are nearer to, and more directly influenced by the war and their national and personal interest ... Our hope is broad enough and deep enough to include all in the great blessings which our Master and His Millennial Kingdom are about to bring to the world.”
Further now from Reprints 5735 (written July 1915): “The Lord’s faithful, watching people, guided by the Word of Truth, will have an understanding of temporal affairs. As St. Paul has assured us, though this day shall come as a snare upon the whole world, it shall not so come upon God’s children who are living up to their privileges. ‘When these things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads; for your deliverance draweth nigh;’ ‘When ye see these things ... know that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand.’ (Luke 21:28,31) The Master does not say, When ye see all these things, but When ye see the beginning of them (In World War One the Lord’s faithful people saw the beginning of these things, and lifted up their heads and rejoiced, gladly proclaiming the “good news” of the Kingdom to others. – not rejoicing in the trouble, nor in the sufferings of others, but in the fact that these things are the foretold signs that the present order is about to be succeeded by a new order, which will be far better, and more advantageous and desirable for all.
“Now we who are living in this day see the beginning of these foretold events. We see the prelude to the great Battle of Armageddon. Our thought is that Armageddon itself will be the mighty ‘Earthquake’ spoken of in Rev. 16:16-18 (and enacted in pantomime in 1 Kgs. 19:11,12). In this great revolution and in the succeeding anarchy all earthly institutions will be swept away. The result of the anger, hatred and strife – if permitted to continue indefinitely – would be so terrible that it would bring about the total destruction of the race; but for the elect’s sake (“on account of the chosen” —Matt. 24:22, Dia.), they may begin their glorious reign, God will cut short the carnage, and will set up His own Kingdom under Christ and His elect Church. Christ and His bride will take over the kingdoms of this world, and thus will hinder the strife of men from going to the extreme that it would otherwise go. But it will not be stopped until the present order shall have been wholly dissolved.
“With the uproar so prevalent everywhere, our readers are admonished to be peace-makers and not strife breeders. When all around men’s souls give way, a special opportunity comes to the people of God for pointing their distressed fellow-creatures to the great blessing which God has provided for the near future, and for re-establishing faith in the Creator and in the future life, and for pointing out that it is to be attained only by those who learn the true lesson of life and who come to love righteousness and hate iniquity. We would be inclined to expect this great trouble to break out very soon were it not that the Scriptures apparently indicate that it will be preceded by a very powerful Church Federation, which will flourish outwardly in unrighteousness and will be the first to succumb.”
“You know the Bible gives us the symbols of the loosing of the ‘winds,’ which is the Great War. Then comes the ‘earthquake,’ which is the great Revolution (Armageddon) to follow. Then comes the ‘fire,’ the Anarchy-Armageddon experiences. I think the Church, the Bride Class, will be gone before that Armageddon experience, but we cannot be sure. We will leave the subject here.” (Question Book, p. 617, middle)
Our comments: In all this Armageddon hullabaloo the Jehovah’s Witnesses take first rank, and have accumulated considerable resources in the things of this world and in the very large following they have amassed; and it is quite some spectacle now to see the leaders in Babylon joining the procession, and making it pay well, as evidence the many citations listed in the earlier pages of this article. So here we would quote also the Apostle James (5:3, Dia.): “Your gold and silver have become rusted; and the rust of them will be for a testimony against you, and will consume your bodies like fire. You have laid up treasures for the last days.”
Now from reprints 5456: “Emphasizing the suddenness with which the calamity will overtake the world, Jesus said on the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained down fire and brimstone from heaven; and He declared that thus it will be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. (World War One – the reference here is to Christendom, “the great city, which is called spiritually Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified”—Rev. 11:8) The Greek text shows the difference between the Parousia, or presence, of Christ before the Time of Trouble (before the World War One) and the later Epiphania, or revealing.” (The “revealing” began with the outbreak of the Great War, and is becoming increasingly manifest ever since; and will become much more pronounced in the very near future.
Further now from Reprints 5523: “The judgments of the Lord will begin to be manifest in the world (which began in 1914 with the world War), and will run counter to many of their interests. This manifestation of the presence is Scripturally called the Epiphania, the shining forth, the revealment, of the King of Glory. (To the world in the Time of Trouble – the Epiphany) ‘He shall be revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (2 Thes. 1:7-10)
“These Bible students call our attention to the fact that the Bible distinctly differentiates between the Parousia of Christ and His Epiphania, at His second coming. The word Parousia signifies presence, without in any sense of the word indicating that the presence is visible. The word Epiphania signifies the revealing of one who is already present, invisible to men, during a period of forty years (1874 to 1914—JJH), doing a work especially in His church – rewarding the faithful, as shown in the parables of the Pounds and the Talents, and receiving the ‘wise virgins,’ as in the parable of Matt. 25:1-13 ... In other words, the revelation of Christ to the world will be subsequent to His revelation of Himself to the ‘wise virgin’ class. The world will know that He has taken His great power and begun His reign of righteousness, not by seeing Jesus in the flesh, but by seeing the great Time of Trouble which then will break upon the world – ‘a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation.’—Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21.” (May 1915) (The great World War of 1914 was something the world had never witnessed before – the greatest calamity up to that time.
As to those who are making merchandise of their “prophecies,” our Lord said to those of His Day as He drove them out of the temple: “Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.” (John 2:16) “The Lord shall have them in derision.” (Psa. 2:4) “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion ... Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance.” (Psa. 2:6,8) Also, “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
At His first Advent Jesus “went about preaching the gospel of the kingdom.” (Mark 1:14) The “gospel” means “good news,” and we emphasize the good news that is to follow “this evil day.” (Eph. 6:13) Isaiah Chapter 35 gives us a beautiful picture of the Kingdom. “And an highway (an easy way of traveling) shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men (the world of mankind), though fools (atheists – see Psa. 14:1), shall not err therein.” (Isa. 35:8) The reason no one will err therein is because, “When thy judgments (instructions) are in the earth, the inhabitants will learn righteousness.” (Isa. 26:9) And further: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isa. 11:9)
All will surely agree that the “knowledge of the Lord” is not abroad in the earth today. We are indeed living in that “evil day” when erroneous teaching is more acceptable to the masses than the Truth – even though the “gospel” is indeed good news and the error not palatable. But all that will be changed in the Kingdom: No error will be taught there. All who wish to learn righteousness can do so, and they will be given the ability to do righteously if that is their hearts’ desire. So we who have believed continue to preach the “good tidings” to all who have an “ear to hear,” because we know God is faithful that promised. (Heb. 10:23)
Much more could be written on this subject; but we believe we have made sufficiently clear the real meaning and import of Armageddon – what it will accomplish, and also what it will not accomplish. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are presently teaching a very different explanation of this subject from what the founder of their organization taught, as is readily apparent from the many quotations we have presented from what he taught about it. We continue to believe and teach the Truth as he gave it to us, as “the truth of the Lord endureth for ever.” (Psa. 117:2) The Lord has promised to give the faithful a “mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.” (Luke 21:15) And verily we have found it so!
It is not our wish to overly dramatize present conditions; but being forewarned is being forearmed; and it is our fond hope that our readers will accept this article from that standpoint. “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me.” (Jer. 9:23,24)
(Brother Hoefle, Reprint 317, November 1981
The above Armageddon article was written in 1981, but it is more timely in 1991 because of the Middle East war. Many books have been written predicting Armageddon in the Middle East followed by Christ’s Kingdom. Many of these Prophets have not preached the Kingdom as did Jesus when He was on the earth (Matt. 4:23; Luke 8:1). Much money has been made on these prophecies. Prophets and Profits! Religion is big business! Jesus did not approve of moneychangers (Matt. 21:12,13).
We did not believe this Time of Trouble (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21) would end with the Middle East conflict because it is not taught in Scriptural prophecy. We are not prophets but students of prophecy. “We have a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed.” (2 Peter 1:19) “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief ... We are not of the night, nor of darkness.” (I Thes. 5:4,5)
The Scriptures give us four violent phases of this Time of Trouble: (1) Wars and rumors of wars, “but the end is not yet.” – (Matt. 24:6) (2) Armageddon, worldwide revolution – 1 Kings 19:11; Heb. 12:26; Rev. 16:18; Nahum 1:3. (3) Anarchy, fire, destruction – I Kings 19:12; Zech. 8:10. (4) Jacob’s last trouble – Ezekiel, chapters 38, 39; Zech. 14:1-3. We are told to Watch! (I Thes. 5:6) We watch for the fulfillment’s of these prophecies. These prophecies are portrayed in the Bible as earthquakes, whirlwinds, fire, storms, etc.