[this article is contributed by Alex Rover]

The Governing Body has been steadily working toward a new prophetic framework over the past decade or so. An ounce of ‘new light’ at a time, just the right amount of change to make the friends excited, but not too much to cause large divisions.

In the past two years things have begun to come together and we can start to see the larger picture. Yet, even for Jehovah’s Witnesses, it’s still hard to see how all the pieces fit.  So, in this article, we will try to tie it all together for you.

The timeline below comes with an extensive appendix at the end of this article to list all the source material.

The Conclusion of a System of Things

Observation 1: The Governing Body is ‘Faithful’

With the Governing Body’s repeated calls that the Great Tribulation is now ‘imminent’, we have to understand what this means in light of their clarified understanding of final sealing.

“Just before the great tribulation, God will give his final approval to the hardworking anointed ones who are still on earth at that time. This is their final sealing.” (WT 3/15 pp.17-23 p.13)

At that time, the anointed will know it in their heart that they have been sealed. (w07 1/1 pp. 30-31)  One wonders if the members of the Governing Body believe that they have already received their final sealing. It would certainly explain why they have declared themselves faithful and discrete before the master’s return.

The final sealing is to give confirmation that the anointed are now “once saved, always saved”. It is a conviction caused by Holy Spirit as a seal on the heart. Just like one knows they are anointed, they can know that they have received the final sealing. Paul knew when he was confirmed. He said: “From this time on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

“The sealing in a final sense serves to confirm that this chosen and sealed individual has fully demonstrated his loyalty. Only then, at the final sealing, will the seal be permanently placed ‘in the forehead’ of the anointed one, identifying him conclusively as a tried and faithful ‘slave of our God.’ The sealing mentioned in Revelation chapter 7 refers to this final phase of the sealing.—Revelation 7:3.” (w07 1/1 pp. 30-31)

Observation 2: The Heavenly Calling Will End Soon

Up until 2007, Jehovah’s Witnesses believed that the heavenly call ceased in 1935. (w07 5/1 pp. 30-31) I have no doubt that view emerged from the now-defunct teaching that the Great Tribulation had already started in 1914 and was cut short in 1918 (w56 12/15 p. 755 par. 11), because once the last of the anointed is sealed in their forehead, the Great Tribulation commences. (Revelation 7:3)

Thus once the beginning of the Great Tribulation is announced, we can expect that no new anointed will be accepted anymore among Jehovah’s Witnesses. The pressure to not partake will be even greater, since I believe there will be no room for a resurrection of the now-defunct replacement doctrine after declaring the start of the Great Tribulation. The replacement doctrine taught that the anointed were sealed as a class, but not as individuals, so it was possible for there to be very few new anointed as replacements for those lost.

“In time the prescribed but limited number of 144,000 would be reached. After this no more would be anointed by holy spirit as witness that they had the heavenly hope, unless, in a rare occurrence, the unfaithfulness of one of the remaining ‘chosen ones’ made a replacement necessary.” (w82 Feb 15 p.30)

As the teaching that the generation of 1914 would not all die proved untenable, the ‘generation teaching’ changed and rendered the replacement doctrine unnecessary, so Jehovah’s Witnesses abandoned it. Should a new Tribulation be announced, I don’t think the Governing Body would see a need for resurrecting the replacement doctrine, which means that the door for the heavenly hope will be firmly closed.

And since the existing anointed would be fully sealed, what should brothers and sisters think of a partaker who becomes disfellowshipped at this time? If they were truly anointed, they would have gotten their final sealing. If they truly received their final sealing, how can they become bad association? Perhaps they were not truly anointed.

Observation 3: The Time Will be Cut Short, again

When the attack on religion begins, the time will be cut short by Jehovah to allow his faithful ones to preach the judgment message.

We must never forget that supposedly this already happened.  Until 1969 [1], Jehovah’s Witnesses believed that The Great Tribulation started in 1914 and was cut short in 1918 (w56 12/15 p. 755 par. 11). After realizing that the days had been cut short, Witnesses expected a very short time until Armageddon.

Learning from the past, I find this dusted-off doctrine an alarming development. Why? Because they were able to stretch this period that the time was cut short from 1918 to 1969 — over fifty years! If it happened before, it can happen again.

So what might Jehovah’s Witnesses believe years after the Governing Body one day “soon” announces the Great Tribulation has started? That there is no more heavenly calling, that the faithful slave is fully sealed and approved, and that the time is cut short to allow for an urgent preaching campaign unlike any before in history?  The generation of anointed ones would be dwindling fast. The reduction in their numbers will be clear evidence that Armageddon will be near. Does this sound familiar?

Observation 4: The Kingdom Good News

In 1995 Jehovah’s Witnesses abandoned the teaching that the Sheep and the Goats would be separated by means of the preaching work. I remember the Watchtower of October 1995. It was a period of soul-searching. If our message does not help separate the sheep and the goats, then what is the purpose of the preaching work?  To address this question, the Organization published the following Questions from Readers:

“We were thrilled with our study of Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats. In view of the new understanding presented in “The Watchtower” of October 15, 1995, can we still say that Jehovah’s Witnesses today are sharing in a separating work?”

“Yes. Understandably, many have wondered about this because Matthew 25:31, 32 says: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” The Watchtower of October 15, 1995, showed why these verses apply after the great tribulation begins. Jesus will arrive in his glory with his angels and will sit on his judgment throne. Then, he will separate people. In what sense? He will render decisions based on what people did or did not do before that time.” (w97 7/1 p. 30)

The newest understanding is that there will be a future preaching of a judgment message, but that the current preaching is one of good news. So the question above may be raised once again: can we still say that we share today in a separating work of the sheep and the goats if there is a future preaching of a judgment message during the Period of Calm?

The answer may be found in the Watchtower of January 2014, keeping in mind that the current work is labeled as the “Kingdom Good News”:

“By 1919, the “good news of the Kingdom” had taken on added meaning. (Matt. 24:14) The King was ruling in heaven, and he had gathered a small group of cleansed earthly subjects. They eagerly responded to Jesus’ rousing instructions: Preach the good news of God’s established Kingdom in all the earth! (Acts 10:42)”

This is the good news that should be preached TODAY. And as the above quote demonstrates, since 1919 it was continuously about the Good News of the Kingdom, never about the judging of the sheep and goats. This is historic revisionism at its best: they have rebranded the preaching work from 1919-1995 as one preaching the Good News of the Kingdom and not a message of judgment.

Really?!

Why are we unable to preach Jesus as our mediator, that Christ died for YOUR sins and MY sins personally and directly? That Jehovah calls you to become his adopted child? That we may all be brothers in Christ? Many today object: If the Heavenly Calling has not ceased, then the preaching work should not be different than the preaching work from the first century.

Just how dangerous is the true Kingdom Good News, whereby more anointed can be found and eventually become sealed? The fastest growing segment of Jehovah’s Witnesses are the anointed. Yes their ranks have just about doubled in the past 7 years alone.

With a teaching that the total number of anointed are just 144,000 — and the number of anointed rising so rapidly — how much longer until the start of the Great Tribulation is announced?

 

Appendix A: Sources for the Timeline

1: The Final Sealing of the Anointed occurs just prior to the outbreak of the Tribulation.

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/402015206?q=final+sealing&p=par

Paragraph 13

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2015203

Paragraph 11

“They will know it in their heart” (w07 1/1 pp. 30-31)

“Just before the great tribulation, God will give his final approval to the hardworking anointed ones who are still on earth at that time. This is their final sealing.” (WT 3/15 pp.17-23 p.13)

2: The Cry of “Peace and Security!” occurs.

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1102014263

Paragraph 3

3: The Tribulation must begin before the Overlapping Generation dies.

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1102014240

Paragraph 18,19 (chapter 1)

4: The United Nations (“Disgusting Thing”) receives extra authority from the nations and outlaws the organizations within Christendom.

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1102014263

Paragraphs 5-6

5: The United Nations then does the same thing to all other religious groups (Babylon), but the WT organization will be saved.

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2013530

Paragraph 7

6: Now begins a short time of calm during the Great Tribulation.

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2015523

Paragraphs 6-9

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1102014263

Paragraph 7

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2013530

Paragraph 7

7: Former members of false religion can choose to repent and assist the Anointed (thus becoming a sheep instead of a goat) as long as the Anointed are still alive.

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2015207?q=sheep+and+goat&p=par#h=13

Paragraphs 3-6

8: Signs in the Heavens and on the Earth now occur.

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2015523

Paragraph 11

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1102014263

Paragraph 9

9: A supernatural sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky when Jesus comes to judge the sheep and goats.

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2015523

Paragraphs 12-13

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1102014263

Paragraph 9

10: Gog of Magog attacks Jehovah’s Witnesses

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2015523

Paragraph 10,16-17, see point 12 below

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1102014263

Paragraph 12-14

11: The Gathering of the Anointed occurs.

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2015523

Paragraphs 14-15

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1102014263

Paragraphs 15-16

12: Armageddon

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2015523

Paragraph 17

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1102014263

Paragraph 17

13: Satan and the demons are cast into the Abyss.

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1102014263

Paragraph 18

14: The Heavenly Wedding Ceremony of Jesus and the 144,000.

http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2014123

Paragraphs 10-13

15: The start of the Millennial Reign of Christ.

Source: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2015207

Paragraph 12

Footnotes

[1] The discourse “Peace with God amid the ‘Great Tribulation’” shed light on Bible prophecy and led to much discussion among the conventioners. It showed how completely Matthew 24:3-22 had a miniature application in apostolic times. Reasons were given showing why the now-approaching “great tribulation” first begins with the destruction of Babylon the Great and ends with Armageddon. It will be “cut short,” the speaker showed, in that it will take place in a comparatively short period of time. (w69 9/1 p.521)