We learned from the previous video (8.4), the place and time of the appearance of the man of lawlessness from 2Thess.2:1- 4,8 (21st century AD). He will sit in Jehovah’s worship during the worldwide preaching work about Jehovah’s Kingdom, foreshadowing the second coming of Jesus Christ and the end of this system of things (Matthew 24:3,14; whoever considers the true temple of God to be another Christian congregation – seek the man of lawlessness there ).
In this article, we will reveal to you how to recognize the man of lawlessness in Jehovah’s worship today (in the 21st century). In its essence, there is nothing new, only the scenery of the current world and the modern worship of Jehovah have changed (Eccl. 1:9). Therefore, we will discover from the Bible, who represented the man of lawlessness in Jehovah’s worship of antiquity (we will take the 1st century AD, closer in time and clearly described by Christ). We will then transfer his image into the 21st century.
The man of lawlessness in the Temple of God is responsible for Jehovah’s worship (the «capital ruler» of Jehovah’s people, Matthew 23:37), who gradually retreated from God in some way, and have ceased to understand Him and the prophets sent by Him as a result (2Ch.36:14-16, Mt.23:27-35, since Jehovah did not appoint kings after the Babylonian captivity — we will not consider the secular authority of Judah, Luke 3:1). So, who was responsible for Jehovah’s worship in the 1st century AD?
Responsibility for Jehovah’s worship by the 1st century AD was not on one person, but a class of religious leaders (the elite of Jehovah’s people). These were the teachers of the Law: the priesthood and the scribes (interpreters of the Word of God, Ezr.7:11). This also included the elders of Jehovah’s people, obedient to the scribes (Mark 15:1). They were also judges of Jehovah’s people: the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem consisted of priests, Levites, and eminent elders.
In the period of the establishment of Jehovah’s worship, religious leaders sincerely tried to obey Jehovah, if mistakes were made, — only by inexperience (Lev.10:1,2). Strengthened in position and power, they retreated from God for other reasons (which is not so unnatural for the descendants of Adam, De. 8:10-14). God punished them for it, and they were corrected (even after the Babylonian captivity).
How did it turn out that the religious leaders, as well as the heads of the generations, after giving the oath to Jehovah to obey Him in everything after the Babylonian captivity, (Ez.10, Ne.8,9) — by the 1st century AD again departed from Him? It did not happen in one day. Let’s briefly consider the stages of the history of their repeated fall. This will help us to understand the history of the formation of the man of lawlessness in our time (Our sources: the Bible, T. F. Josephus, and several others from Jewish history).
The epoch after the Babylonian captivity (after 539 BC) was vague: there wasn’t a single source of leadership for Jehovah’s people (the kings of Jerusalem were no longer appointed by Jehovah). To help and encourage His people, Jehovah sent His prophets (Zechariah, Haggai). The restoration of the temple took place under the rule of foreign kings, the hostility of foreign peoples, and the impositions of other people’s philosophy and culture.
Therefore, the priesthood had to strengthen the severity of the requirement to observe the Mosaic Law, which was done so that Jehovah’s people could maintain the foundations of true worship. As a result, the written injunctions of the Mosaic Law became the main focus for the priesthood (they began to «serve the Mosaic Law»). The love of God and for the people were moved to a more distant plan as the priests focused solely on the preservation of the prescriptions of the Mosaic Law.
Since there were no teachings in the Mosaic Law (there were only direct commands), and the philosophies of Babylon, the Persians, etc. were usurping the spiritual values of Jehovah’s people, there was a need to strengthen religious education in order to strengthen the influence of synagogues (schools). This is how the basis of the Mosaic Law schools began to appear on the reasoning of the Word of God — beyond what is written in the Mosaic Law.
After the desecration of the temple in Judea, perpetrated by Antiochus IV, a priesthood dynasty from the Hasmoneans (Maccabees, 167-37 BC) and the school of Sadok (Zadok, according to the Geiger — from the dynasty of the high priests, and the Sadducees from him) moved forward. The Hasmoneans were Sadducees, and in their hands was not only spiritual power, but also secular power (a person could not hold both the positions of king and priest, but this is how they hoped to protect the people from the influence of foreign kings).
Zadok appreciated the teachings of Antigonus of Sokho (a third-century BCE curator), but he slightly distorted the words of Antigonus. He taught: «Do not serve the Lord for reward, serve out of love.» Zadok interpreted that doctrine this way: «After death there is no reward, it is necessary to serve Jehovah here and now. For the observance of the Mosaic Law He will reward you with wealth, position and glory, in this – is the essence of righteousness and worship of God.»
That is why in the 1st century AD, Jehovah’s people valued fame and luxury, believing it to be God’s blessing for righteousness (Mark 10:23, 24. If poor, that meant sinful, devoid of blessing). This doctrine of Zadok soon led to the denial of the resurrection of the dead (Mt. 22:23. If there is no reward after death then there is also no resurrection as a reward). That is why the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, instead creating their own blessings in the present (Mt. 22:23).
Since all the streams from the tithes flowed from the temple treasury to the priesthood, the Sadducees were not only patrimonial but also a monetary aristocracy in Jehovah’s people. Although the Sadducees were strict and picky in demanding that all follow the letter of the Mosaic Law, they themselves, under the cover of power and influence (in due course), began to allow themselves liberties, therefore turning the people against themselves (Neh. 13:4-8).
The second direction of the school in this period is the Essenes. They became stricter than the Sadducees priests: living in the same environment with strangers was considered an abomination. In protest, a small group of men, the Essenes, took a vow of celibacy and went into the desert, where it would seemingly be easier to keep themselves in the holiness of the Mosaic Law (they did not participate in the social life of Jehovah’s people, so Jesus did not mention them as the leaders of Jehovah’s people).
The Pharisees are the third school of the category «from mud to riches.» They emerged from the depths of the masses, but they achieved popularity among Jehovah’s people through hard work regarding their mental development. At first they were politicians. They fought against the Hasmoneans (the Sadducees priesthood), who strictly and solely controlled the temple ritual (even though it was necessary according to the Mosaic Law. Nu.18:20-23).
To the power in Jehovah’s people, the Pharisees came under the high priest and king J. Hyrcanus (from the Hasmoneans, after Antiochus IV in the 1st century BC). The Pharisees demanded that the Sadducee Hyrcanus cease to combine the secular power of the king and of the high priest because it was against the Mosaic Law (and in this they were correct: the king was also a commander, and the person who shed blood was not supposed to raise his hands in prayer to God).
By adopting the customs that the people loved, except the Mosaic Law (in contrast to the Sadducees), the Pharisees won over the hearts of the people. This is how they undermined the religious monopoly of the priesthood. Under Herod (37-4 BCE), they faded away as a political party and became scribes (dedicating themselves to the study of the Torah, the books of Moses). The masses liked the interpretation of the Pharisees more those of the priests (they were less strict; Josephus, the Antiquities of the Jews XIII.10.4).
In the books of Moses, the Pharisees saw the promise of a reward for the righteous after death, believing in the resurrection (Gen.13:15; Joh.11:24), but they were fascinated by the ancient philosophy of the Gentiles in regards to the immortality of the soul (Flavius Josephus, the Antiquities of the Jews XIII. 1.3; Gen.3:4). However, the difference in teaching about the future after death (as an unprovable theory) did not prevent them (along with the Sadducees) to keep the Mosaic Law and lead Jehovah’s people.
Deciding to enrich the Mosaic Law with the record of the Oral Law (the laws that the Sadducees priests rejected), the Pharisees attached the historical customs, traditions, and teachings from the eminent elders to their works. Collecting oral traditions, the Pharisees may have had good intentions. But it turned out that they added man made traditions into Jehovah’s worship. In the future, it took them away from the true path (Mark 7, Mt.23:37).
In the period of their ascension to power, they were establishing relations with the priesthood; strengthening mentoring positions and making their way to the aristocratic Sanhedrin (Acts 23:6); gradually receiving the keys of understanding (the right to interpret the Scriptures, Luke 11:52, Mt 23:2,3) and forming a team of loyal to them elders of Jehovah’s people, appointing them as heads of synagogues and bringing them closer to their «court». (Joh.9:13,22).
As a result, two elite groups of the leaders of Jehovah’s people appeared on the basis of the Mosaic Law anointed by the lineage of Aaron priesthood/Sadducees (strict with the people). And Pharisees, who were less strict with the people (from among the common people). Both of them were offering the fundamentals of correct knowledge towards Jehovah’s worship according to the Mosaic Law, and the differences in the theory about death did not bother them (there’s a question of whether or not there is resurrection, but the control over the people had to be done immediately).
Gradually, the Pharisees (the defenders of the people in the beginning of their ascent to glory) also became fastidious, prim, and strictly «righteous,» similar to the Sadducees (Lk. 18: 10; Mt. 15: 1, 2). However, the authority of the Pharisees among Jehovah‘s people by inertia was so great that it continued to oppress the authority of a strict priesthood that did not allow for any deviation from the commandments of Jehovah’s Law.
That is why, Jesus said that the scribes (from the priests, to whom Jehovah entrusted the spiritual training, Mal. 2:4-7, Lev.10: 8-11), and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the seat of Moses (in the place of true worship) and became the leaders of Jehovah’s people to whom everyone had to obey. This helped to properly worship Jehovah and to do His will (Mt. 23:2,3).
Now we will find out who are the religious leaders of Jehovah’s people in the 21st century (in the modern worship of Jehovah)?
Let’s briefly review the history of the restoration of Jehovah’s worship in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (according to the prophecy of Mic. 4:1,2). Knowing this will help to understand the history of the formation of the man of lawlessness in the modern worship of Jehovah: he also was not formed in a single day.
In the period of the restoration, as in the period of the formation of Jehovah’s worship of antiquity — it is clear that some mistakes were made by inexperience, as in teachings (for example, Russell believed 1914 to be the end of this system of things and meeting with Christ in heaven), and also in deeds (in anticipation of various resurrected righteous people of the Old Testament, they built the Beth-Sarim Palace). By trial and error, brothers were creating the way of worshiping Jehovah and meeting the needs of congregations.
As a result, the worship of Jehovah was restored, and by the 21st century the basics for correct knowledge about Jehovah, His Son Jesus Christ, and the purpose for mankind sounded throughout the earth, fulfilling the prophecies of Micah 4:1, 2 and Mt. 24:14 (for 2018, 240 countries are covered. There are about 300 countries in the world, GEO-encyclopedia).
For 100 years of Jehovah’s worship, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s people has undergone several changes: at the dawn of its formation it was represented by a group of anointed men (the Society’s board of directors), headed by presidents. In one person, they combined the spiritual and administrative-directorial power (figuratively speaking, the power of the «king and of priesthood», as the Sadducees. From Russell to N. Norr, they were responsible for the doctrines, for the Kingdom’s interests, and for the legal field).
Since 1971, the authority of the administration and spiritual mentors was divided («kings» and the anointed «priesthood,» separately). This is how the Governing Body advanced (in the Governing Body – only the anointed; presidents and directors — are not anointed). The Governing Body took over the supervision of the creeds and spiritual nourishment (before this, the president was responsible for both the creeds and spiritual food). Since 1976, the Governing Body has taken all decisions in general, including organizational matters (mandatory for all structures of JW).
Although the Governing Body relies on the educational base of the anointed at the beginning of the 20th century (Russell, Rutherford, and others from the period of the restoration of Jehovah’s worship, Mic. 4:1,2), disagreements appeared between them in the teachings over time (as was the case with the Pharisees and Sadducees). The Governing Body gradually replaced some of their teachings as a new light, but the fundamentals of the Biblical knowledge of Jehovah’s worship and His purpose for mankind are the same.
Regarding the tactics of management the Governing Body is similar to the class of the Pharisees: gradually forming its team of assistants (since 1977 — the school for pioneers, 1987 — for elders; only those who are loyal to the Governing Body are accepted); along the way, was superseding the authority of the «priesthood» (other Jehovah’s anointed, except for members of the Governing Body, Russell is no longer a discreet slave, watchtower 15.07.2013). So the Governing Body completely seized the «keys of understanding» (the right to interpret the Scriptures, Lk.11:52: in Russell’s time, all the anointed had access to the discussion of the Scriptures).
In superseding the authority of God’s anointed, the Governing Body even surpassed the Pharisees: they did not dare to forbid the priesthood, called by Jehovah, to teach (Mal.2:7), reason on the Scriptures, and to interpret the Word of God. Over time, however, the Governing Body banned it outright.
How did this happen?
First, the Governing Body taught the same way as Russell: all anointed ones are the faithful and discreet slave class (Watchtower 15.5.1995, p. 16, «… all the anointed as a group, no matter where on earth they live, are members of the slave class»). In 1992, the Governing Body appointed, not anointed, from among the «other sheep» to the Writing Committee, and they later announced that, although all of the anointed ones are members of the slave class, only the Governing Body has the responsibility of representing the slave class opinion (Watchtower 15.06.2009; p.18).
With this interpretation of the meaning «slave», a question arose: «How can the Governing Body represent the opinion of all of God’s anointed (the whole class of the slave) if they are absolutely not interested in their opinion?» Therefore, the Governing Body had to make the concept of a slave even narrower, such as: there is no class of slave; the faithful and discreet slave is only the Governing Body. All other anointed ones are not slaves, and they have no more holy spirit than the «other sheep» (Watchtower 15.07.13; 15.03.15).
As a result, the Governing Body for 2018 is the only religious leader and mentor of Jehovah’s people (according to the Bible, it must consist of anointed ones). To him, all of the money flows from Jehovah’s people. The spiritual school of mentoring the Governing Body is the only leading «school» in Jehovah’s worship nowadays (Russell’s breakaway supporters, as the «Essenes» in the 1st century, do not have much influence on the life of the Earth society).
In the tactics of teaching Jehovah’s people, the Governing Body surpassed the Pharisees too: those allowed the common people to ask them questions, discuss their teachings, and reason about the Bible (Lk. 4:16; Mt. 22:41-46). But the Governing Body gradually banned it (until 2009, during the book study, it was not forbidden). Perhaps this was done for the Kingdom Interests: on a global scale, discipline is essential.
What then is the lawlessness of the Governing Body? Since the man of lawlessness disguises himself as a righteous leader, and in many ways fulfills Jehovah’s commandments, it is not easy to recognize him. In the 1st century, only Jesus was able to do this. He could see the hearts and understood the motivation of all with whom he had to deal (Mat. 23:28, 9:4).
Unlike Jesus, we are unable to see hearts. However, we can use the characteristics of the man of lawlessness that was described by Jesus Christ in the 1st century. Combining them with the «portrait» of the Governing Body, we will learn, why this generation of the rulers of Jehovah’s people of the present is «wicked and adulterous» (Mat.12: 38,39).
We will discuss this in the following video/article, if God wills.
Jehovah’s Witnesses , “Box of answers”.