“Mad Sweeney” continues his comments on the last major segment of the 2011 “Let God’s Kingdom Come” District Conventions:
The final convention segment I think important to talk about is also the final part of the entire convention. It relates to the hype mentioned earlier in this article about the graphic found on the reverse side of the convention invitation.
In case the image on the screen is difficult to read, the text is as follows:
Jesus taught his followers to pray: “Let your kingdom come.” (Matthew 6:10)
What is God’s Kingdom?
When will it come, and with what effect?
The answers to these questions are contained in the fulfillment of a prophetic dream that was recorded by the prophet Daniel over 2,500 years ago. – Daniel 2:31-45.
Why should you be interested in that dream? Because its fulfillment will have a direct impact on the lives of everyone living on this planet, including you and your loved ones.
We invite you to come and listen to an explanation of this intriguing prophecy in the talk “God’s Kingdom Will Crush All Other Kingdoms – When?” It will be part of the convention program.
The picture, as you can see, shows the statue described in the Bible book of Daniel, with labels and lines connecting them to the different parts of the statue:
- Babylon points to the golden head
- Medo-Persia points to the silver arms and chest
- Greece to the copper hips and torso
- Rome to the iron legs
- Britain and the United States to the iron & clay feet
- A big question mark ? pointing to the toes.
When the Witnesses got these (and it is my belief that these convention invitations are designed primarily for Jehovah’s Witnesses, not for worldly people), there was a lot of excitement about this image that appears on the back of the invitation. The Watchtower organization has been discussing this image for well over a century, using it to convince people that the end is very soon. All Jehovah’s Witnesses already know what each part of this image is supposed to mean according to Watchtower doctrine.
So why the question mark?
To the Jehovah’s Witness, this was a clue that what they call “new light” was coming out at the district convention.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, while believing they know “the truth” about the Bible and God’s will for mankind, also believe that their knowledge is subject to change. I won’t go into how they twist their minds around the idea that truth is fungible right now – but that is what they’ve been convinced of by their leadership. What they call “present truth” can be replaced with “new light” whenever the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses deems it necessary. And when it comes to prophetic fulfillment of prophecies like those of Daniel, Witnesses are especially excited to learn “new light.” Their “present truth,” especially in regard to prophecies, has always been awkwardly “unfulfilling” in both a literal and a figurative sense.
This is because not one of the Watchtower’s predictions has ever come true.
The Watchtower has used various excuses, such as: “we didn’t say that” or “it did come true, but invisibly, or in a spiritual sense.” Or, “you Jehovah’s Witnesses misinterpreted what we said and ran ahead of Jehovah’s organization.” Or, years later, they’ll misrepresent what they prophesied in the past to make it appear to the Witnesses (who don’t bother fact-checking) that their prophecies did, in fact, “come true.”
Some thinking Jehovah’s Witnesses have these things in the back of their mind. They don’t dwell on them much, because that would lead to dissatisfaction with the Watchtower organization, which leads to leaving the religion, which leads to shunning, and social isolation – not to mention the disfavor of God if you’re still basically a true believer at heart. While most Witnesses have an inkling that something just isn’t right about the Watchtower’s prophetic acumen, they also tend to sit back and (to use another loaded Watchtower phrase) “wait on Jehovah” to give the full and complete truth to the Governing Body, who (they hope) will give it to them.
So they have this picture of an image looking at them several weeks ahead of time – maybe even a month or two. They’re thinking to themselves (and maybe even talking to each other about it): “Hey, do you think we’re going to get new light on the Daniel image at the convention?”
“Yeah, I saw the invitation. I wonder what the toes mean?”
“I can’t wait for them to tell us.”
The invitation doesn’t say that they’re going to have to sit through three whole days before the program even gets to this topic. Not knowing when it is going to actually come up, the Witnesses are excited to attend all three days without missing a single session.
Finally, on the third and last day of the convention, that talk finally arrives. The Witnesses are excited and ready to hear the new light that will tell them just how close to Armageddon we all are.
But what was the “old light”? And why did it need replacing?
From the 1950s through most of the 1970s the Watchtower taught that the upper parts of the image meant the same thing they do on the picture on this year’s convention invitation:
The succession of world governments from Babylon down through what they used to call “the Anglo-American dual world power,” which is now referred to as “Britain and the United States.”
And what did the toes mean?
The June 15, 1961 Watchtower article entitled “The March of World Powers in Prophecy” stated:
In the Bible the number ten is used to indicate earthly completeness. Thus the ten toes picture all the coexisting political powers and governments during the time of the end of this symbolic image. ~Watchtower “The March of World Powers in Prophecy” 6/15/1961
This understanding of the “dream image prophecy,” or whatever you choose to call it, had been current, “present truth” since at least the 1950s. Honestly, I didn’t really feel like going back in my research any farther than half a century – and when I finish explaining why, you’ll see why a half-century is sufficient to get the point of what the Watchtower is all about.
From the 1950s, and maybe even earlier, Jehovah’s Witnesses were told by The Watchtower that the toes of this image, because there are assumed to be ten of them, represented “all the coexisting political powers and governments during the time of the end.”
But in 1978, new light flashed up. The Watchtower article of June 15th, entitled “Human Governments Crushed by God’s Kingdom,” stated:
There does not appear to be any prophetic significance to the image’s having ten toes. This is a natural human feature, just as the image has two arms, two legs, and so forth.
That article goes on to explain that the feet and toes together are one world power: the Anglo-American world power of Britain and the United States. (Please don’t get me started on the problems with calling Britain and the U.S.A. a single world power.) The article explains that the iron part is the strong, generally conservative governmental rule of these nations. This is what it says about the clay:
So the “clay” of the image would represent the proletarian elements that develop as a result of the people’s rising up against established authority. Through labor unions, demonstrations, strikes and other protest activity, the common people have sought to undermine the traditional, capitalistic style of government manifested in the Anglo-American World Power, along with its sphere of influence.
The emphasis here, and also in a subsequent Watchtower article published in 1981, is that because Britain and the United States are world powers right now, and there are no more world powers left on the image, that Armageddon and the end of the current world system is imminent. This is what they was taught more than 30 years ago. So that’s what we got as new light in 1978.
The toes no longer meant anything significant – they were just part of the feet – and the iron and clay represent a hardline and a liberal factions within the UK and the USA. Great. Jehovah God has shed new light on the Watchtower Society and our understanding of prophecy is progressing. Right?
Just seven years after that change in the doctrine of the toes, a Questions From Readers article was published entitled “What is symbolized by ‘the feet and the toes’ of the ‘immense image’ described at Daniel 2:31-45?”
Well, assuming this was really a question from a reader (which I have serious doubts any of these articles actually are), why didn’t the Watchtower simply refer the questioner to the previous articles from 1978 and 1981?
Was it time for new light already? After just seven years? Well, sort of. The July 1, 1985 Watchtower magazine states:
…there has been a succession of world powers, commencing with imperial Babylon and proceeding with Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the Anglo-American empire.
And then it goes on to say:
Various views have been expressed about the ten “toes.” But since “ten” is often used in the Bible to signify completeness as to things on earth, the ten “toes” appear logically to represent the entire global system of rulership at the culmination of the days.
Hold on a minute!
This wasn’t new light at all! That was a flip-flop back to the understanding they had before 1978. Isn’t that strange? They introduce a new understanding of the toes of the image and then just seven years later revert back to the prior understanding?
Which is correct? Are either of them correct? Which understanding was given to the Governing Body by God’s holy spirit? Is it possible that holy spirit could lead them back and forth between two understandings like this in just a matter of seven years? Or is it more likely that the holy spirit has nothing to do with the teachings and prophetic interpretations of the Watchtower? Maybe they’re just flying by the seat of their pants? Is it possible that this organization is run by mere men who make decisions without any spirit direction at all?
I’ll leave that up to the reader to decide. But now, lets bring this “prophecy” up to the modern day.
Thes 1985 reversion back to the old light of the 1950s and 1960s lasted a long time, continuing through the rest of the 1980s. It was confirmed again in the Insight edition of 1988. It was repeated again in the 1999 book Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy – and the year 2000 Watchtower article “Keep on the Watch.”
Now that is a lot of reinforcement of belief and indoctrination over a long-time for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Year after year from 1985 to the present, that’s 26 years, the toes of the image have represented all the world “governments that are ruling today” that are “soon” to be destroyed by God’s Kingdom – and have been for well over half a century.
“Soon.” They keep using that word. I do not think it means what they think it means.
Even to the most faithful of Jehovah’s Witnesses, believing something is coming “soon” for over a quarter of a century has to be wearing on their spirit. So, when Jehovah’s Witnesses saw this dream image portrayed on the convention invitation, their excitement abounded.
It’s obvious to any observer of international events that the United States and Britain have lost their status as THE world power. Surely whoever the toes are going to be will take their place, right? Both China and India are ascendant, Russia isn’t going away, and the European Union is solid in its own right. The Anglo-American dual world power of the cold war era has long since become just another player in the world; it is still A power but it is no longer THE power.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have to be excited about the new light understanding of the toes of the Daniel image – and they are.
So what is the “new understanding”?
First, the ten toes meant all the governments of the world at the time of the end.
Then, the toes meant nothing unique or different from the rest of the feet from 1987 until 1985.
Then the Watchtower flip-flopped back to the ten toes meaning all the governments of the world at the time of the end – again.
Now, at the 2011 “Let God’s Kingdom Come” District Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses, comes the talk: “God’s Kingdom Will Crush All Other Kingdoms – When?”
I’ve heard a recording of that talk and have transcribed the portion that is relevant to this discussion. This transcription is verbatim from the district convention. I’ll comment after the speaker has explained the rest of the image. He tries to get around the fact that there are other world powers than the United States and Britain. He explains that the image “isn’t just about world powers,” but about world powers that have direct impact on “God’s People”- either the ancient nation of Israel or his “congregation of anointed Christians” (two more loaded phrases for Jehovah’s Witnesses).
Then the speaker brings attention to the invitation and the picture of the image on the reverse side, and lays out what each of the metallic parts of the image mean – basically reading it off from the picture.
Then he explains that “our comprehension of Daniel 2: 41-45 continues to increase.” This “increase” in comprehension is also a loaded phrase in Watchtower language, meaning “we are changing what we have previously taught you and now you have to change what you believe.”
Here is what the talk says next:
“How have we understood this in the past? Previously we had understood that the image had ten toes, and that those ten toes represented all the coexisting governments that have come into power mainly since WWII. We said that the iron in the feet symbolizes tyrannical governments whereas the clay represents democracies that have replaced monarchies or other autocratic governments.
“But two problems arise from that explanation.
“First, Daniel chapter two does not say the iron becomes clay.
“Second, when referring to the feet, Daniel 2:41 speaks of only one kingdom being represented. Not all the kingdoms of the world. Thus, a reexamination of this prophecy has led to a refinement in our understanding.
“What then do the iron and clay represent?
“The feet of iron and clay represent the Anglo-American world power, being Britain and the United States. What does the clay represent? The clay represents divisive elements within the realm of influence of this Anglo-American world power. These elements undermine the ability of this world power to act.
“We know this because Daniel 2:43 says, that even though the iron would be mixed with clay they would not stick together. The easy to read version of the Bible puts that verse this way: ‘You saw the iron mixed with clay but iron and clay don’t mix completely together. In the same way the people will not be united as one people.’
“Since 1914 many of the offspring of mankind have risen up within this world power. Civil rights campaigns, Labor unions, independence movements have undermined the ability of the Anglo-American world power to act with the same strength that it once had. Because of close election results and opposing ideologies even popular leaders have no clear mandate to implement their policies.
“What do the toes represent?
“The number of toes on the image does not seem to have prophetic significance for the following two reasons:
“First, in other visions Daniel mentions specific numbers that are significant such as the number of horns on the heads of the wild beast. Daniel does not mention the specific number of toes, so that number does not seem to be significant.
“Second, each of the sections in the rest of the image represent only the dominant world power that interacted with God’s people. Therefore, the feet and toes represent not a conglomeration of many different governments, but just the Anglo-American world power.
“This prophecy shows, and it is confirmed by Revelation 17, verse 10, that the Anglo-American world power, Britain and the United States, will be the dominant political force when that stone, when God’s Kingdom strikes the image. It will rule concurrently for a time with the eighth king, the United Nations.
“But what does this mean?
“It means that we do not have to wait for another power to arise. All the elements are in place, and since 1914 that stone has been hurling toward the feet of the image and is now about to strike.” [applause]
[~2011 “Let God’s Kingdom Come” District Convention talk entitled: “God’s Kingdom Will Crush All Other Kingdoms – When?”]
So as of summer 2011, according to the Watchtower’s leaders, what do the feet of iron and clay mean? They mean the Anglo-American world power, as depicted on the invitation picture. And what do the toes of that image, the answer to the big question mark on the invitation, the new light that more than seven million Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world have been waiting for, what do they stand for? (Drum roll, please.)
The much anticipated answer to that great question mark of the meaning of the ten toes of the image is:
The ten toes don’t mean anything at all.
Quoting again, “The number of toes on the image does not seem to have prophetic significance.”
And then the audience bursts into applause of appreciation for this new light. The “Ten Toes” no longer represent all the nations of the world at the time that God’s Kingdom finally strikes and kills everyone who isn’t a Jehovah’s Witness. They are now simply part of the feet – which represent Britain and the United States – and they have no prophetic significance of their own at all.
Sound familiar to anyone else? Is this really new light?
Cast your mind back a few decades (or simply scroll back up in this article): Is this new light not the exact same understanding that was floated from between 1978 and 1985, and first explained in the June 15 Watchtower of 1978 article: “Human Governments Crushed by God’s Kingdom”?
That Watchtower article from thirty-three years ago could very well have been the talk outline for this 2011 district convention talk. Even the names are similar. This year’s talk is called: “God’s Kingdom Will Crush All Other Kingdoms – When?” and the 1978 article was called “Human Governments Crushed by God’s Kingdom.”
This hype over the invitation, this dramatic build up to new light has resulted in yet another flip-flop and isn’t even NEW LIGHT at all. It is old light that the Watchtower has already not believed, then believed, and then disbelieved again all within the last half-century. That is an example of their so-called “Truth.”
Can two opposite truths really be true? Can two opposite truths both be supported and viewed as truth by God? If someone you know tells you one thing today, the opposite thing tomorrow, the first version again next week, and then the opposite again next weekend – just how much faith will you put into that person’s opinion? Will you put trust in either of the things he keeps flip-flopping about?
Not only that, this version of the answer to the question of the toes ends in a disappointing anti-climax. The toes, rather than meaning something new, don’t mean anything at all. So the Watchtower spent months building up anticipation of what new light would reveal the toes to mean – and the result is an anticlimactic “nothing” just like their previous belief taught between 1978 to 1985.
This is incredibly disingenuous coming from the Watchtower leadership. They show absolutely no respect at all for the thinking abilities, the memories, or the research abilities of their rank and file members. And yet, Jehovah’s Witnesses will be required to believe this explanation without question. Express doubts or disbelief in the Governing Body’s explanation of the meaning of the Bible – and a Witness will be brought before the elders. Persist in those disagreements and that Witness will be disfellowshipped and then shunned – losing all contact with their Witness family and friends.
Does this sound like an organization that has the backing of Almighty God? Does this sound like an organization that is actually directed by holy spirit?
“Mad Sweeney” is a frequent poster on Jehovahs-Witness.net and other websites. He is also host of Cult Free Radio, a bi-weekly podcast. Sweeney can always be counted for a well researched discussion on almost any subject relating to Jehovah’s Witnesses.