Recently I was asked a couple of good questions on this blog entry which I felt really merited its own post. Who knows, if I get enough of these questions I might make “Questions From Readers” a regular feature here on YACAWA :)
On September 9, 2010 “Lavita” wrote…
I just wanted to ask two questions.
1. what is the witnesses understanding of 1Thess.4:16-17? 2. who are the “two witnesses” spoken of in Revelation who appear during the great tribulation?
Well, concisely put the Watchtower teaches that the events described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 already occurred (invisibly) in 1914 when Jesus Christ (a.k.a Michael the Archangel in Watchtower theology) returned invisibly. Those of the “anointed” (144,000 in number) who were alive on Earth at that time were “caught away in the clouds” when they died and were immediately transformed into spirit creatures alongside other members of the 144,000 (such as the apostles Paul and Peter, etc.) who were “resurrected”–by which they mean recreated into spirit beings.
As the “Reasoning” book puts it…
“Resurrection involves a reactivating of the life pattern of the individual, which life pattern God has retained in his memory. According to God’s will for the individual, the person is restored in either a human or a spirit body and yet retains his personal identity, having the same personality and memories as when he died.” – Reasoning From the Scriptures (1989), p.333
In other words, “resurrection” is not necessarily of the body, and in either case it’s really akin to a massive cloning operation wherein God makes a new creation and inserts a copy of a person’s memory into this new creature so they can galavant around on Earth (or the Pleiades star cluster for the 144,000) believing that they are someone else who is dead. For as the Watchtower also teaches….
“When a person dies, he ceases to exist.” – What Does the Bible Really Teach? (2005), p.58
In regards to your second question, the “two witnesses” spoken of in Revelation 11 are understood to be a reference to “anointed” individuals comprising the “John class” who preached a message condemning Christendom from December 1914 to June 1918. They were “killed” when the board of directors of the Watchtower (including then president J. F. Rutherford) were convicted of sedition and imprisoned. They were then “Raised Again!” when they were released from prison and allowed to resume their propaganda campa–err “preaching work”.
No joke. This is what the Watchtower teaches to this day about the “two witnesses” of Revelation. They go into exhaustive detail about this little section of Revelation, devoting seven pages (from 164 to 171) in the book Revelation–Its Grand Climax at Hand! (1988). Meanwhile, no mention is made of the fact that the “false charges of sedition” (p. 168, par. 21) were in regards to the publishing of The Finished Mystery and its explicit anti-government statements during a time of war, which was illegal under the Sedition Act of 1918. While, I’m not a big fan of the law myself (it was repealed December 13, 1920), Rutherford did in fact violate the law.
The Watchtower continues to argue that Rutherford and his cronies were “exonerated” of all charges, when in reality they were released on a technicality and continued to be eligible for re-trial. When the war was over (and as I mentioned the law was later repealed), the government decided to not bother trying the case again. Thus, the fact of the matter is that they were not truly exonerated at all. Here’s a good article on the subject: Did J. F. Rutherford Lie About Being Exonerated?