Transcript of OnionUnlimited podcast episode 042
HELLO AND WELCOME TO EPISODE 42 OF ONIONUNLIMITED—THE PODCAST. I’m your host, Daniel Torridon. If you have spent any time at all as a Jehovah’s Witness the idea of a future “great tribulation” and “Armageddon” will have been drummed into your mind. You will have spent your life anticipating a future “time of trouble”, marked by an increase in pestilence, earthquakes, and war. In particular, you will have been expecting Russia, the supposed “king of the north”, to make some unexpected military move on the world stage, even an attack on Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Now, with the world in the grip of one variant of virus after another, and with Russia posturing to start a war with the Ukraine, prompting a possible NATO response involving the UK and USA, Jehovah’s Witnesses will, I’m sure, be getting very excited. Meanwhile, some of those who have left Jehovah’s Witnesses, either faded or disassociated, or been disfellowshipped, could be worrying that the Organisation may have been right all along. What if the great tribulation and Armageddon really are coming? Where do we stand as ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses? Should we return to avoid being killed by Jesus when he comes to execute the wicked?
I’m here to tell you there is nothing to worry about. Well, there might be, but being or not being a Jehovah’s Witness has nothing to do with it. First of all, it’s highly unlikely that the words spoken, allegedly, by Jesus about pestilence, earthquakes, and war—followed by a “great tribulation”—have anything to do with our day. For almost 2000 years Christians have consistently applied Jesus’ words to their specific day. Yet, for 2000 years humanity has continued as before. Sure, there have been plenty of pandemics, earthquakes, and wars, but none have escalated into a global tribulation ending in an Armageddon scenario. Even the two world wars, massive as they were, came and went, like any other conflict. Humanity survived. That tends to be the nature of things. It always has been and probably always will be.
Sure, it’s entirely possible that humans could blow the world up in a nuclear war, but it would have nothing to do with God, or the Bible, or Armageddon. Chances are, assuming Jesus ever existed and spoke the words attributed to him in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, the “great tribulation” he referred to was fulfilled in 70 AD with the fall of Jerusalem’s temple to the Roman army. It’s even possible—most likely actually—that these so-called “prophecies” were written after the fact. For them to apply to an event 2000 years into the future, in our specific time period in history is extremely unlikely. Not to mention that Jesus said nothing to his disciples about Armageddon. That was John, in his Revelation, and that, if you try to make any sense of it, reads like he was on drugs.
Modern scholars say Revelation was probably not written by the Apostle John anyway—more likely by another Christian “prophet” by the same name. The JW explanation of Armageddon being a war by God against non Jehovah’s Witnesses was introduced by J F Rutherford. Prior to this, the Bible Students under the leadership of Charles Taze Russell believed Armageddon referred to a societal collapse. Now that is completely possible. It’s happened at various times in human history, but again, it’s never been anything to do with an intervening God, and being a JW or not has made no difference. The fact is, if anything bad happens in the future it will most probably just be a course of less-than-desirable events like any other time in world history. Pandemics will happen. Earthquakes will occur. Wars will come and go. Humanity might cause the end of civilization as we know it in a sudden nuclear holocaust, or more slowly by destroying the climate, or they might not—but whatever happens, or doesn’t, being a Jehovah’s Witness or not will make no difference whatsoever.
The JW teaching of a great tribulation followed by Armageddon where everyone apart from them is slaughtered has no real basis in scripture, or reality for that matter. It’s their own interpretation of scripture, of “prophecy”, which may have already been fulfilled, or may not even be true. It’s used by the leaders of what is simply a cult to control their followers—”Keep on the watch! Do as we tell you, and everything will be fine. Don’t, and you will die at Armageddon!” Even if these scare tactics were based upon truth, do you honestly believe Jehovah’s Witnesses would have an[y] advantage over others? Consider their history of teaching one falsehood after another, hence their continual need to release “new light”. Jesus said: “God is a Spirit, and those worshipping him must worship with spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) On this account alone Jehovah’s Witnesses have failed miserably. Then, consider their track record with regard[s] to child sexual abuse. The Organisation is far from clean. If you still follow the Bible, remember the direction given at 2 Corinthians 6:1: “‘Get out from among them, and separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing; and I will take you in.’”; or the words of Revelation 18:4, 5 which surely must apply to the Organisation now: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues. For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind.”
Yes, there will be bad times ahead. That’s just how things are, and always have been. But there is no Biblical “Armageddon” to be scared of. What will be, will be. Life will most likely carry on like it always has—or not—but being a Jehovah’s Witness makes no odds either way. So, I say, try not to worry.