IT IS just six years since I had the joy of seeing my first Jehovah's Witnesses family step out and accept the Advent message. Although this family had been connected to the Witnesses for more than eighteen years, and have relatives still in that organization, they are loyal Seventh-day Adventists today, actively working to spread the message for these days.
Since that time I have seen many other wonderful families, either members or on the verge of becoming members of that movement, leave the teachings of the Witnesses and join with us. Many who are honest in heart and searching for truth, if shown simply and clearly the truths from the Bible that we as a people are privileged to know, happily and readily accept our message.
I believe that all of us should become more interested in studying ways and means of effectively meeting the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses with our wonderful message, and as we do we shall see many more accept the light of the gospel.
In dealing with the members of this church, one cannot go to too much trouble in preparing visual aids and charts. So much of the Bible is spiritualized away by their teachings that one needs to help them understand how the simple texts of Scripture can be taken literally.
The presentation of the second coming of Christ, the millennium, the destruction of the wicked, the Holy City and the new earth, in particular, need to be depicted visually to help them orientate their mental concepts.
I have charts that I have painted which I find invaluable, but a lineup of good pictures or illustrations from our publications and periodi-cals, going step by step from the signs of the last days to the new earth, can be used to good effect.
Select a few simple, direct texts on each phase of your study and have the person read them from his Bible, then illustrate visually with pictures or aids. Endeavor to teach through as many senses as possible, and you will find the truth becomes powerful as it is made clear in this manner.
In presenting the distinction between the moral and ceremonial aspects of the law, cut out of cardboard or three-ply a simple scroll and tables of stone to illustrate how the laws written in a book by Moses were placed in the side of the ark of the covenant, and how the commandments written by God on stone were placed inside the ark. Allow the people to handle these aids; it will make the subject more of a reality to them.
Much could be written on how to deal with each phase of truth, but I will deal only in this article with the teachings of the Witnesses on the second advent of Christ, and the Sabbath. I have found the following to be effective.
Second Advent in 1914
Here are six reasons why Christ could not have come in 1914, as maintained by Jehovah's Witnesses:
1. Every eye did not see Him in 1914 (Rev. 1:7). It cannot be a spiritual discernment, for "all the tribes of the earth" do not have spiritual understanding, and yet they shall see Him (Matt. 24:30).
2. The righteous dead were not resurrected in 1914 (1 Thess. 4:16).
3. The righteous living were not translated in 1914 (1 Thess. 4:16).
4.. The wicked were not destroyed in 1914 (2 Thess. 2:8; Luke 17:26-30).
5. The communion service did not finish in 1914 (1 Cor. 11:26). Jehovah's Witnesses call this service the Memorial Service and hold it once a year at Easter.
6. Christ did not take up His kingdom in 1914, because that would have meant that His mediatorial work as high priest would have finished then and no one could have been saved since that time (Heb. 7:24-26).
Second Advent Was 1874
The teaching that Christ's coming took place in 1914 is only a comparatively recent one, for from the beginning of the movement the Watchtower taught that the second advent of Christ took place in 1874. This was taught until 1917, although that date is three years after the Second Advent which is now believed by them to have taken place.
In 1917 the Watchtower published a posthumous work o£ C. T. Russell, founder, entitled "The Finished Mystery," series 7 of the "Studies in the Scriptures," in which the bold statement appears on page 167: "At the time of the Second Advent, Oct. 1874." A chart on page 60 of the book lists the fall of 1874 as the time of the second advent of the Lord, and the spring of 1878 as the time of the resurrection. Altogether there are nine definite statements in the book clearly outlining these dates.
The question which no Jehovah's Witnesses believer can answer satisfactorily is, "Why did the Watchtower, if it is as it claims to be, the channel of truth in these last days, publish a book three years after Christ was supposed to have come in 1914, stating that He came in 1874?
The 1914 Date in Error
The date a.d. 1914 is supported by a time prophecy known as the "times of the Gentiles," a period of 2,520 years based on Daniel 4, when Nebuchadnezzar was insane for a period of "seven times." The time prophecy is begun in 607 b.c. when it is claimed that Zedekiah, the last Jewish king, was taken captive by the Gentile king, Nebuchadnezzar. The end of the "times of the Gentiles" is thus a.d. 1914, which must be the second advent of Christ, according to their reckoning.
However, as we examine this teaching we find it not only scripturally in error, but historically so.
1. Daniel 4:25 clearly states that the "seven times" period of Nebuchadnezzar's insanity began when he was driven from men and dwelt with the beasts of the field. It did not happen earlier, when he was at the height of his conquests.
2. There is no connection whatsoever between Daniel 4 and the "times of the Gentiles"'— an expression first used in the Bible by Jesus in Luke 21:24 to describe the destruction of Jerusalem, a.d. 70, and its subsequent future.
3. When Jesus spoke of the "times of the Gentiles" He spoke of it as being future from His time, and not back around 600 B.C.
4. The prophecy of the "seven times" in Daniel 4 was all fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar
(Dan. 4:28, 33). It could not have been fulfilled more than 2,500 years later.
5. The starting point of the prophecy is nineteen years in error. Zedekiah was taken captive in 586 b.c, and not in 607 b.c. as stated in Witnesses books, including the recent From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained, page 103. Ancient histories and encyclopedias support the date 586 b.c. However, a cheap King James Version of the Bible with dates in the margin, published by the Watchtower has the date 588 b.c. for the twenty-fifth chapter of 2 Kings. The first verse of this chapter records the final siege of Jerusalem, which lasted two years, so that it, too, agrees that 586 b.c. is the true date of Zedekiah's capture. This nineteen-year discrepancy would bring the date to 1933 and not 1914.
Most Jehovah's Witnesses accept this interpretation of prophecy without thoroughly investigating its veracity, although it is the basis of one of their cardinal teachings.
The 7,000-Year Sabbath
A theory is upheld that each day of Creation was a period of 7,000 years, which would mean that we today are still living in the 7,000-year seventh-day Sabbath dating from Creation. In this way it is taught that it is not necessary to keep a weekly Sabbath of twenty-four hours. So Jehovah's Witnesses do not keep a Sabbath on any day of the week.
These nine reasons are helpful in showing why this theory cannot be upheld from the Bible.
1. Genesis 1 states that each day of Creation consisted of "the evening and the morning."
2. If each day were 7,000 years long, the period of darkness would have been 3,500 years long, in which all vegetation would have died.
3. Vegetation was created on the day before the sun's creation and could not have existed for 7,000 years without sunlight.
4. Most plants and trees are dependent upon insects to pollenize and fertilize them, but insects were not created until the sixth day, which would have been 21,000 years later.
5. Adam was created on the sixth day and therefore could have been up to 7,000 years old before he saw the light of the first Sabbath.
6. The Bible teaches that God spoke everything into existence instantly. Genesis 1 continually uses the expression, "And God said, . . . and it was so"; also, "He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast" (Ps. 33:9).
7. The fourth commandment speaks of the six days of Creation as being the same as the seventh; and the Sabbath is based on the seven-day cycle of twenty-four hours.
8. The Bible alwavs states that God rested the seventh day (Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 20:11; 31:17; Heb. 4:4) and never once uses the forms "resting" or "rests" as would be the case if the Sabbath were 7,000 years long.
9. Nowhere in the Bible is there mention that a day equals a period of 7,000 years. The assumption of this length of time is purely one of convenience.
Although at first some other of our doctrinal differences may loom large in the minds of the Witnesses, I have found that the two doctrines, the second coming of Christ and the Sabbath, form the strongest key in unloosing the hold of the Witnesses teachings.
It must also be remembered that the usual method of indoctrination used by the Jehovah's Witnesses reveals zealous repetition, in which the student is quickly but carefully taken from a direct study of the Bible to a study of the Watch-tower publications and magazines.
Over a period of months and even years at times, these teachings are repeated until a type of brainwashing has taken place. The student not only accepts the teachings but believes them to be Bible truth directly from the Watch-tower, which claims to be the only channel of Bible truth in the last days, the "faithful and wise servant" of Matthew 24:45.
When this has taken place, it is necessary then to patiently present Bible truth a number of times also, until a new perspective can be grasped and the many erroneous teachings begin to fall.
Working for Jehovah's Witnesses is interesting and challenging, and it is rewarding for those who have been under the influence of these teachings to be brought into a full knowledge of the Advent message. They become zealous and successful soul winners.