I hope that this section has illustrated the need to really see for yourself what was published and to put statements into context of what the WBTS taught.
"But wait!" I hear opponents of JWs say, "your own magazine the Watchtower says that they are a prophet". To support their claim they will pull out a quote that someone has printed from the Watchtower April 1 1972 page 197 and it says :-
"So, does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come?
IDENTIFYING THE "PROPHET"
These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet?….. This "prophet" was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses."
"There you see, they do claim to be a prophet"
Yes, on the surface, just reading that it is understandable why they come to that conclusion. But to the opponents that spread this quote, I would say it is very unfair and uncharitable of them to do so. Why do I say that? They fail to tell their readers the CONTEXT of that statement. This is probably because they do not understand the context. If, on the other hand, they do understand the context, then they are just wanting to cause waves, which again is very unfair. What they should also consider is, How do the Witnesses understand that statement? That is important because they are the ones that this statement affects.
To answer the second part of that first. Jehovah's Witnesses DO NOT view any one or group of persons as "inspired prophets", in the sense of the prophets from the Bible. So how do we view this modern day "prophet". We view this group as acting in the roll of a "prophet" in the sense of giving divine warning according to what is already written in the Bible in relation to events that are happening in the world today. How do we explain that? Lets see by examining the CONTEXT of the quote.
First, we need to look at a custom that most Witnesses would be aware off. When ever a major book is released, the following year a series of articles will appear in the Watchtower highlighting, in brief, some of the aspects of that book. During the year of 1971, a book was released entitled "The Nations Shall Know THAT I AM JEHOVAH - How?". This book was a commentary on the Bible Book of Ezekiel. That is the case here, the Watchtower is discussing material relating to that book and the JWs were aware of the significance of what the Watchtower was saying. They read nothing into this other than what was meant.
That Watchtower says (emphasis like this are mine)
"A third way of coming to know Jehovah God is through his representatives. In ancient times he sent prophets as his special messengers. While these men foretold things to come, they also served the people by telling them of God’s will for them at that time, often also warning them of dangers andcalamities. People today can view the creative works. They have at hand the Bible, but it is little read or understood. So, does Jehovah have a prophet to help them, to warn them of dangers and to declare things to come?
IDENTIFYING THE "PROPHET"
These questions can be answered in the affirmative. Who is this prophet? The clergy of the so-called "Christian" nations hold themselves before the people as being the ones commissioned to speak for God. But, as pointed out in the previous issue of this magazine, they have failed God and failed as proclaimers of his kingdom by approving a man-made political organization, the League of Nations (now the United Nations), as "the political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth."
However, Jehovah did not let the people of Christendom, as led by the clergy, go without being warned that the League was a counterfeit substitute for the real kingdom of God. He had a "prophet" to warn them. This "prophet" was not one man, but was a body of men and women. It was the small group of footstep followers of Jesus Christ, known at that time as International Bible Students. Today they are known as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. They are still proclaiming a warning, and have been joined and assisted in their commissioned work by hundreds of thousands of persons who have listened to their message with belief.
Of course, it is easy to say that this group acts as a "prophet" of God. It is another thing to prove it. The only way that this can be done is to review the record. What does it show?
During the World War I period this group, the International Bible Students, was very active in preaching the good news of God’s kingdom, as their Leader Jesus Christ had set this work before them in his prophecy at Matthew 24:14. They took literally Jesus’ words to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate: "My kingdom is no part of this world." (John 18:36) They also took to heart Jesus’ words to his followers: "You are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world." They expected to suffer for living according to that rule, just as Jesus went on to say, "on this account the world hates you." (John 15:19) Hatred toward them grew into violence during World War I.
These Bible Students had long been concerned with Ezekiel and his prophecy. In 1917 they published a book entitled "The Finished Mystery," explaining the book of Ezekiel as well as that of Revelation. This book criticized the clergy as false to the Word of Jehovah. Within nine months a ban was put on its circulation in the United States and Canada. Then eight members of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, including its president and secretary-treasurer, were sentenced to prison in the Federal penitentiary, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.
Though the work of these Christians was crippled for a while, after only nine months the eight men were freed from prison, in March 1919. They accepted this as an answer from God to their prayers. Their work was revived, much to the consternation of the clergy, who had been behind the banning.
Accordingly, their magazine The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, in its issues of August 1 and 15, 1919, encouraged vigorous resumption of the work of preaching the good news free from the fear of men. Under the subject "Blessed Are the Fearless," the following statements were made:
"There is a fear which is very proper, and which everyone must have who is pleasing to God, and this is known as ‘Godly fear’. It means a holy reverence for Jehovah and a fear lest we should displease him and come short of the blessings he has promised us. . . . The Scriptures abound with testimony that those whom God approves do not fear man nor any other creature, but have a holy, reverential fear of Jehovah. In times of old Jehovah justified some men to friendship with him, and the record of his dealing with them was written for the benefit of the church."
Ezekiel was one of these men so used by God, and not only his prophecies, but also Ezekiel himself and his acts were pictorial of things to come."
"The League of Nations came into being in 1919 and began really to function when it was ratified by the signatory powers at Paris on January 10, 1920. But Jehovah’s servants continued to proclaim the Messianic kingdom of God. When the ban on The Finished Mystery was lifted, they resumed its circulation and, with it as a textbook, they continued to study the book of Ezekiel. As time went on and further developments fulfilled the prophecy of Ezekiel, a three-volume set of books titled "Vindication" provided an up-to-date understanding, showing more fully the application of the prophecy.
Thus this group of anointed followers of Jesus Christ, doing a work in Christendom paralleling Ezekiel’s work among the Jews, were manifestly the modern-day Ezekiel, the "prophet" commissioned by Jehovah to declare the good news of God’s Messianic kingdom and to give warning to Christendom. It is significant that, in 1931, after twelve years of faithful service despite the opposition of Christendom’s clergy, these followers of Christ embraced the name "Jehovah’s witnesses" at the same convention at which the book Vindication was released.—Isa. 43:10-12, American Standard Version."
What is the point of this? The information here is showing that they believed that were acting like a "prophet" in the same vain as Ezekiel had to.
Ezekiel was sent to the JEWS (his own people, the ones claiming to be Gods representatives) to warn them because they had turned away from their God, and in effect, at that time, did not represent God.
The parallel with that is as mentioned above the religions of Christendom supported man rule in the form of the League of Nations and not Gods Kingdom as the Bible students were doing. (That is another subject not to be discussed here due to limitation in space).
They only act as a "prophet" in that they do not claim to be inspired, but interpret what they see in inspired Bible prophecy and from world events.
Note also Ezekiel 3:17-21 (NWT) "Son of man, a watchman is what I have made you to the house of Israel, and you must hear from my mouth speech and you must warn them from me. 18 When I say to someone wicked, ‘You will positively die,’ and you do not actually warn him and speak in order to warn the wicked one from his wicked way to preserve him alive, he being wicked, in his error he will die, but his blood I shall ask back from your own hand. 19 But as for you, in case you have warned someone wicked and he does not actually turn back from his wickedness and from his wicked way, he himself for his error will die; but as for you, you will have delivered your own soul. 20 And when someone righteous turns back from his righteousness and actually does injustice and I must put a stumbling block before him, he himself will die because you did not warn him. For his sin he will die, and his righteous acts that he did will not be remembered, but his blood I shall ask back from your own hand. 21 And as for you, in case you have warned someone righteous that the righteous one should not sin, and he himself does not actually sin, he will without fail keep on living because he had been warned, and you yourself will have delivered your own soul."
Ezekiel was appointed to watch (just as a sentry on a watchtower has to be alert to danger and warn of what he sees) and warn the breakers of the law of Gods covenant and of the consequences of their actions as per the words from Jehovah. Just as the soldier on sentry duty would be put to death if he fell asleep or failed to give warning, so Ezekiel would lose his life if he failed to pronounce Jehovah's warning. Jehovah's Witnesses, are announcing the warning words from Jehovah as found in his inspired book, the Bible. Also, they feel that they would be held accountable to their God if they did not give the warning that is needed today.
So the CONTEXT of that article is NOT talking about "predicting" or "prophesying" about something new, but "prophesying " or sounding the WARNING of coming destruction upon false religion and those that listen too her just as Ezekiel did to apostate Israel.
The opening words of chapter 5 of "The Nations Shall Know THAT I AM JEHOVAH - How?" says "A Watchman should be specially appreciated in time of danger. His service by day and night, if appreciated and acted upon, results in protection and life for those over whom he acts as watchman. The people of Christendom have been in great danger ever since the "time of the end " began.."
WHY DO THEY CONTINUE TO WARN OF THINGS THAT HAVE NOT HAPPENED ?
A watchman on a WATCHTOWER, has the job of interpreting the events that he sees, (in a sense that makes him a prophet) and letting others know about them. If he were to wait until the enemy was knocking at the gates, it would probably be too late. So, the modern day watchman, continues to give warning according to his interpretation of events and Bible prophecy.
We can make a personal decision to listen to or ignore that watchman.
If people want to view portions of WTBTS literature as being "prophecy", that is their privilege. I personally (along with all JWs that I know) see NO prophecy in any of those words, and JWs DO NOT VIEW the WTBTS as prophets. But I do see them taking the responsibility to "keep on the watch" very seriously (just as the watchman on a Watchtower).
Keep on the watch, therefore, because YOU do not know on what day YOUR Lord is coming
Keep on the watch, therefore, because YOU know neither the day nor the hour.
Keep looking; keep awake, for YOU do not know when the appointed time is. 34 It is like a man travelling abroad that left his house and gave the
authority to his slaves, to each one his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to keep on the watch. 35 Therefore keep on the watch, for YOU do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether late in the day or at midnight or at cockcrowing or early in the morning
Happy are those slaves whom the master on arriving finds watching!
YOU also, keep ready, because at an hour that YOU do not think likely the
Son of man is coming
So keep strict watch that how YOU walk is not as unwise but as wise [persons], 16 buying out the opportune time for yourselves, because the days are wicked
YES the organisation known as the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and the people that are attached to the group known as Jehovah's Witnesses are made up of imperfect humans with all of our failings. These ones are keeping on the watch, looking and warning.
YES there has been mistakes made, both in teaching and in the conduct of individuals. They do not stand still, they continue to progress.
YES they can answer what is Gods purpose for the earth, why all the suffering, why Jesus came to earth, the future of all mankind.
YES they honour the God of the Bible by not mixing old pagan ideas, teachings and philosophies with the Bible. eg Easter, Christmas, Hell, Immortality of the Soul, God dishonouring Trinity to mention a few.
YES they have made what some call false predictions (interpretation). For me there is a difference between the prophecies of True and False Prophets as in the Bible, and the "prophecies" (interpretation) of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. The prophets of old were coming up with original ideas relating to the future. Some of these come from Jehovah (true prophets) others from Satan (false prophets). The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society DO NOT come up with their own new prophecies. As they examine closely the Bible, they interpret what they see. Just like Moses, they sometime rush ahead, and just like Peter, they sometimes miss understand the information they see.
YES they are striving to do the will of God by proclaiming his Kingdom by his son, Jesus.
YES they strive to stay separate from this world (James 4:4 NWT "4 Adulteresses, do YOU not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God") and ALL of its affairs e.g. politics, wars, social reform.
YES they are known through out the world for the good, peaceful, law-abiding results they bring to communities Note Matthew 7:16-20 NWT "By their fruits YOU will recognise them. Never do people gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles, do they? 17 Likewise every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit; 18 a good tree cannot bear worthless fruit, neither can a rotten tree produce fine fruit. 19 Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Really, then, by their fruits YOU will recognise those [men]."
YES, on the international stage they are known for the Love among themselves just as John 13:35 says: "By this all will know that YOU are my disciples, if YOU have love among yourselves." As an international brotherhood this is particularly true. But note that, even in the days of the apostles, not all congregations showed the same degree of concern. That is why they had to be counselled to take care of orphans and widows (James 1:27). In the book of Revelation we read about one of the seven Congregations that had trouble with showing Love (Rev 2:4).
Also notice what Paul said to the Philippian congregation at Philippians 4:14-16 "14 Nevertheless, YOU acted well in becoming sharers with me in my tribulation. 15 In fact, YOU Phi·lip'pi·ans, also know that at [the] start of declaring the good news, when I departed from Mac·e·do'ni·a, not a congregation took a share with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except YOU alone; 16 because, even in Thes·sa·lo·ni'ca, YOUsent something to me both once and a second time for my need." NWT (italics mine) The apostle Paul even had to reprimand Peter for causing racial divisions as recorded for us in Galatians 2:11-13"However, when Ce'phas came to Antioch, I resisted him face to face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before the arrival of certain men from James, he used to eat with people of the nations; but when they arrived, he went withdrawing and separating himself, in fear of those of the circumcised class. 13 The rest of the Jews also joined him in putting on this pretense" If these kind of things happened in the first century while the apostles of Jesus were still alive, and involving some of them, should we not expect to see similar things today?
For me, these are just some of the reasons why I an confident that the organisation known as The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society as well as the religion that this society represents Jehovah's Witnesses, are doing what is right in the eyes of our creator.
REMEMBER this was only a starting point in doing your own research. I am sure that if you do you will be able to come to the right conclusion