Note: This blog entry is meant solely to counter opposition, not as spiritual food. If you are seeking spiritual enlightenment and nourishment, seek out a congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses or go to JW.org.
Many will claim that Jehovah's Witnesses are "false prophets", because the Faithful and Discreet Slave (now identified as the governing body, See WT July 15, 2013,) "claims to be a prophet" and has given dates about when the world would end. In fact, the majority of our opposers are often obsessed with this issue to a seemingly unhealthy degree. Did the organization actually provide these improper dates? Yes. Is the organization a "false prophet"? No.
Were the first century disciples false prophets because they said that the disciple John would not die as a misinterpretation of Jesus words, "If it is my will for him to remain until I come, of what concern is that to you"? (John 21:21-23) A similar thing occurred among Jehovah's Witnesses when it was said that many of those living at a certain time would never die, because of incorrect understanding. Clearly such things do not make them false prophets.
Was the prophet Nathan a false prophet because he told King David to go ahead and build the house to Jehovah, and then Jehovah turns around and tells him otherwise? (1 Chronicles 17:1-4) Such things have occurred where the organization believed one way at one time, and then their understanding of Scripture was clarified so that they changed their view. Clearly such things do not make them false prophets.
The faithful slave class has been careful to admit that at times they, or certain individuals among them, have run ahead and given specific dates, and the faithful slave has accepted their responsibility in the matter as a body. (It is admirable that they admit their mistakes and repent. 2 Corinthians 7:9-10) However, they have never claimed to be an actual prophet, but a "composite prophet" whose job is to interpret modern events through the lens of Biblical prophecy and warn people appropriately, and most importantly to help draw them to Jehovah. (1 Peter 1:10-11; WT October 1, 1982) In fact, Jehovah's Witnesses believe that prophesying has been done away with because we are in the conclusion of the times prophesied. (1 Corinthians 13:8-10)
But what many fail to understand is that the entire organization is not responsible for this. Only those members of the governing body at that time are responsible. Many individuals at those times still clung properly to the scriptures that warn us not to run ahead and not to be disturbed by claims that the end is here. (1 Samuel 15:22-23; Matthew 24:36; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2)
"Fallible Men"Who were responsible? Men. Or as the Watchtower mentioned in the outset says, "fallible men". Yes, they want us to understand that the faithful slave makes mistakes like the rest of us. But they have the additional weight that each of them has an accounting with Jehovah regarding what they permit to be printed by the organization. So they try to be very careful. But sometimes they err. And these errors will continue to be remembered among Jehovah's people, not as a punishment to the ones who committed the error, but as a lesson of the effect that such errors have on many. (Romans 15:4) These errors have been faithfully admitted in various publications. Yes, we all know about these mistakes, but surprise! We remain faithful, but for good reason.
Yes, many were lead astray because of those errors and suffered shipwreck. Some in the world who looked on may have been turned off of the truth because of it. The toll is still being felt today, and those responsible have had to live with that, and most have finished their earthly course. In fact every governing body member shown in the publication Jehovah's Witnesses—Proclaimers of God's Kingdom (p.116) has died. Thus everyone who has ever been a part of those improper dates has passed away, and those on the governing body now cannot be held responsible for the errors of those who came before them, but they have learned their lessons.
The Watchtower mentioned at the outset also points out that the appointment of the faithful slave "over all [the master's] belongings" has not happened yet. In fact, the sole responsibility of the faithful slave is to provide "food at the proper time". (Matthew 24:45) The question isn't whether they have made mistakes in the past in doing this. The question will be if they are providing the "food at the proper time" when Jesus arrives. Then, when Jesus arrives, he will resurrect those anointed who he deems worthy of the appointment. It is not our job to judge who should or should not be resurrected. So the question isn't whether the organization has made mistakes. The question is whether the organization is making improvements and repented for past mistakes. (2 Peter 1:19-21)
Showing a Waiting AttitudeBut why do many of us remain faithful? Is it because of some credulity on our part? Are we stupid? Are we blind? No, no and no. I am able to address the matter of improper dates to you because I have faced the subject head on, not rushing ahead without information. I make no move without first investigating a matter fully from Jehovah's viewpoint. I do this in all matters in which I encounter contrary ideas. Indeed, it is important to wait for the answer through diligent study and consulting those with knowledge. (Proverbs 13:10) This is known as "waiting on Jehovah". (Lamentations 3:22-24; Micah 7:7)
This is a concept foreign to those belonging to the opposition because they have no idea what it means to wait on Jehovah. They trust more in their own ideas than on the Scriptures. Their idea of waiting on Jehovah is to run away and then wait for Jehovah to find them, meantime drawing others after themselves with every kind of conniving. Well, they'll be waiting an awful long time because they are rejecting the very shepherds Jehovah sends to find them and thereby reject the channel through which Jehovah's spirit operates.
When you compare Jehovah's Witnesses to other organizations, you realize that this is truly Jehovah's Organization. Comparing them to others is a part of "waiting on Jehovah". When the disciples were shocked at Jesus' speech concerning eating his flesh and drinking his blood, Jesus asked those that remained, "You all do not want to go also, do you?" But Peter said, "Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life." Yes, being faithful is about remembering who we learned the truth from. (2 Timothy 3:14) When we realize this, then it becomes unthinkable for faithful individuals to go away. Besides, where are we to go away to? To Trinitarians? To idol-worshipers? To hellfire preachers? To followers of men? To the faithless? If we were to go away, we would have no hope, just as those belonging to the opposition have no hope. But because we remain, we not only have hope, we have certainty, faith, love and truth. Those leaving Jehovah's people do not have any of those things.
How to Identify Actual False ProphetsBut now, what are the signs of an actual false prophet? The Law gave us the sign for a false prophet whose signs come true. Yes, a false prophet can actually have signs that come true. Who is the false prophet of this type? It is the one who says "Let us walk after other gods, whom you have not known, and let us serve them." Yes, this would be those teaching the false Trinity, spiritism and idolatry. But not just these. It is any prophet that provides a teaching as a "revolt against Jehovah your God." (Deuteronomy 13:1-5) This includes such teachings as hellfire and the immortality of the soul, which originate with the worship of false gods.
Deuteronomy 18:20-22 says, "the prophet who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded him to speak...when the prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah and the word does not occur or come true, that is the word that Jehovah did not speak. With presumptuousness the prophet spoke it. You must not get frightened at him." So, first, the prophet must claim to "speak in the name of Jehovah". That is, they must actually say, "This is what Jehovah has said". (Yes, as a comparison, it is very much like the game, "Simon Says".) So unless they say those words, they are not acting as a prophet as demonstrated by Nathan. (1 Chronicles 17:1-2) And if anyone quotes Scripture that says, "this is what Jehovah has said", then they are acting as a type of "prophet", because they claim to be relating the message of God. But if they say "this is what Jehovah has said", and it is not found in Scripture and Jehovah did not command them to speak it, then they are a false prophet.
Moses never makes mention of one who makes mistakes of interpretation. In fact, the false prophets who spoke against Jehovah's prophets, whose prophecies did not come true, were not simply making a mistake. They were purposefully speaking contrary to Jehovah's prophets for the purpose of maintaining their status. (Jeremiah 6:13-15)
So a false prophet isn't one who simply makes a mistake of interpretation with the end result of an incorrect date for the end. But is one whose intent is to mislead or draw people away from Jehovah. Sound familiar? Yes, the very ones calling Jehovah's people "false prophets" are themselves the actual false prophets, because their intent is to turn people away from Jehovah and his true people.