Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in Heaven—Part 2
If you think the Watchtower Society put an unbelievable spin on the scripture at Matthew 8:11, 12 to keep Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob out of heaven, wait till you read what they have to say about the scripture at Hebrews 11:8-16. Briefly, the Bible states that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all of their numerous descendants didn’t get the fulfillment of God’s promises while they were alive on earth. Instead, throughout their lifetimes, they were looking ahead and welcoming a better place, a city built and prepared by God, “one belonging to heaven.” (Heb. 11:16 NWT) Read the text for yourself. Seems pretty simple and straightforward, doesn’t it? Not if you’re one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. For them, keeping Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob on earth forever requires that they reject the inspired words of a Bible writer in favor of a doctrine promulgated by one of their leaders, Joseph Rutherford.
In 1935, Joseph Rutherford, president of the Watchtower organization, saw a “flash of dazzling light” (Revelation book, p. 125) and suddenly realized that only 144,000 Christians would go to heaven. All of the other faithful servants of God, including all those who lived before Jesus died, had the hope of living forever on this earth, not in heaven.
How, then, do they explain the text at Hebrews chapter 11 where the Apostle Paul (who was the writer of Hebrews, according to Jehovah’s Witnesses) said that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob looked forward to heaven? They state the following in The Watchtower, March 15, 1981, page 30:
“Nothing in the Hebrew Scriptures [OT] says that God promised these three men a ‘city having real foundations, the builder and maker of which city is God.’ That is Paul’s comment on the matter. Doubtless that expression refers to the established government of God by the ‘seed of Abraham,’ under which government those three patriarchs will live on earth and gain human perfection by the end of the thousand years.”
What kind of a spin is that? First of all, just because the Old Testament doesn’t specifically describe the hope of heaven, that doesn’t mean God’s faithful servants didn’t know about it. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob communicated personally with the source of the Old Testament, sometimes speaking with God himself, other times through angels or in visions and dreams. As a result, it shouldn’t be difficult to believe that they had an unwritten understanding of spiritual realities.
Secondly, the Watchtower Society flippantly dismisses the validity of Paul’s statement by saying, “That is Paul’s comment on the matter.” Then they say “doubtless” Paul meant to say what Joseph Rutherford came up with in 1935!
Talk about a super spin zone! Dismiss the Apostle Paul’s insight into the minds of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob because, after all, Paul was only in direct contact with the risen Christ (Acts 9; Gal. 1:15-17), in constant touch with the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:6-10; Gal. 2:2), and permitted a glimpse into heaven itself (2 Cor. 12:1-4). Accept, instead, the convoluted reasoning of Joseph Rutherford, an obviously uninspired man, who told the world that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were going to be resurrected in the year 1925 at a house he had bought for them in San Diego, California.
For most people, the choice about whom to believe here would be a pretty easy one. But for those who have been living in the Watchtower’s spin zone, the information they read is very carefully controlled. Watchtower leaders will go to any lengths to support their false doctrine of the two-class system, even as far as deliberately mistranslating the Bible, as you will see in my next blog entry, entitled How Scary is This Admission by the Watchtower Society?!