It seems increasingly that the publications depend on the rank-and-file to not read the Bible context for any new interpretation. The second “Question from Readers” (page 30) in the current study edition of The Watchtower is but one example. Analyzing the account in the 11th chapter of Revelation, it comes up with the following new understanding:
The two witnesses represent the anointed brothers taking the lead who from 1914 to 1916 were Russell and his associates [not the faithful slave] and then from 1916 to 1919, Rutherford and his associates 1919 [the faithful slave].
The 42 months/3 ½ years represent the time from the autumn of 1914 to the incarceration of Governing Body.
The 42 months is the time during which the anointed brothers taking the lead (i.e., the Governing Body preached) in sackcloth.
The death of two witnesses represents the incarceration of Governing Body.
The 3½ days represent the period of their incarceration.
The period from 1914 to 1919 represents the temple cleansing. (The “two witnesses” prophesy says nothing about a temple cleansing.)
That about sums it up. It seems simple; perhaps even logical under a cursory examination. However, if the reader uses discernment, if the reader reads the whole account, another view emerges.
That there is a lot left out of this “new truth” is evident from the fact that the article comprises a mere 500 words. Revelation chapter 11 contains over 600 words. Let’s have a look at what’s left out and see if that affects anything relating to this interpretation.
Verse 2 says that the holy city, Jerusalem, is trampled on by the nations for 42 months. Since we teach that the appointed times of the nations are marked by the trampling of Jerusalem and that they end in 1914, one wonders why the trampling continues for another three and a half years.
What does it mean that they preach in sackcloth? That implies a time of grief of mourning, but there is no evidence the Governing Body’s message during and after the war displayed any grief or mourning.
The article refers to Numbers 16:1-7, 28-35 and 1 Kings 17:1; 18:41-45 when referencing the two olive trees and two lampstands of Rev. 11:4. These perform signs like Moses and Elijah. But why does the article stay with the Hebrew Scriptures and not use a more recent reference—only 60 years before John wrote these words—that directly involves Moses and Elijah. Jesus appeared with them in a vision linked to his return. Perhaps we ignore this reference for more obscure ones because it doesn’t tally with our need to support the 1914 doctrine since we now acknowledge that Jesus didn’t return in that year and has yet to return. (Mt:16:27-17:9)
Next we have Rev. 11:5,6:
“. . .If anyone wants to harm them, fire comes out of their mouths and consumes their enemies. If anyone should want to harm them, this is how he must be killed. 6 These have the authority to shut up the sky so that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have authority over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every sort of plague as often as they wish.” (Re 11:5, 6)
Amazing events! Such powerful words! What a picture they present. So we must ask ourselves, if this is what the Governing Body was capable of from 1914 to 1919, where’s the historical proof? Supposedly it was during these years that they were in captivity to Babylon the Great. Based on these verses, it doesn’t appear the two witnesses were in captivity to anyone, nor were they in any type of disapproved state from which they needed cleansing.
Rev. 11:7 says they were killed by the wild beast that ascends out of the abyss. Our publications teach that this wild beast is the United Nations, which came into existence after World War II, not World War I. Its predecessor was the League of Nations, but that didn’t come into existence until 1920; too late to have a part in this alleged fulfillment.
According to Rev. 11:9, 10, “the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations…rejoice…and celebrate and…send gifts to one another” because the Governing Body members are in jail. What evidence is there that anyone took note outside of those directly involved?
Verse 11 says they came back to life (following their release from prison supposedly) and “great fear fell upon those who saw them.” What evidence is there that the nations felt great fear at the release of Rutherford and his associates?
Verse 12 says they are called up to heaven. The anointed are called up to heaven just before Armageddon. Matthew 24:31 speaks of this. But there is no evidence that anyone was taken to heaven in 1919.
Verse 13 speaks of a great earthquake, a tenth of the city falling, and 7,000 being killed, while the rest are frightened and give glory to God. Again, what happened in 1919 to indicate such events transpired?
The Governing Body proclaims itself to be the faithful and discreet slave. But would a discreet slave not know when it doesn’t know something? Discretion is akin to wisdom which is why many translations render it “faithful and wise slave”. A wise man knows when something is beyond his grasp. Combining wisdom with humility, he will know enough to say, “I don’t know”. Additionally, a faithful slave is one who is faithful to his master. Therefore, he never misrepresents his master by pronouncing something as true and as coming from the master when in fact it is really self-serving human speculation.