This article was originally posted in 2020. In it we were addressing two ways in which false teachers interpret and twist scripture in order to deceive the unwary. Sadly, these two tricks seem to be remarkably effective. The first involves ignoring context when “interpreting” the Bible. Once context is abandoned, scripture can be manipulated to say nearly anything – to support any outlandish claim. The second is the tendency to make oneself or one’s group or organization the central character of the Bible or particular text of scripture. Gwen Shamblin, Harold Camping, the NAR, and a whole host of cult groups insist that they and their followers are the true “remnant” in scripture. They are “IT,” and everyone must join them if they want to be “one of God’s people.”
The Remnant is far from the only issue which is used by cults in this way. For example, not only are the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society “the remnant” but their organization – specifically the elite “anointed class” – is THE “faithful and discreet slave” of Mathew 24 and claim that Jesus appointed them to be the only group able to interpret scripture at all, and all must submit to them. In the early part of the 20th Century, the WTBTS actually taught that the Seven Trumpets of Revelation were seven early conventions the Society hosted. Sounds rather silly, doesn’t it? More than that, it is insanely narcissistic.
The false teachers of the New Apostolic Reformation are the very ones that falsely prophesied that God told them Donald Trump would win the 2020 election. They unabashedly proclaim they are the central characters in our time to bring in the Kingdom! They allegedly have been given the mandate to take dominion of the “seven mountains of power” – the media, entertainment, education, business, family, and religious systems. Biblically of course, it is Jesus Who will bring in the kingdom, but they have conveniently read themselves into this lofty position. How does their “takeover” of everything seem to be working out these days? No matter, they are undaunted by failure and on this past second of July, false prophets like Johnny Enlow were out in force predicting “something big” was going to happen on July Fourth to save the American republic. Why the fourth? Because Johnny reads America into the story of the raising of Lazarus in John 11 where Jesus told Lazarus to “come forth” from his grave. Since Lazarus represents America in their twisted view, this is a prophetic word that our republic will be miraculously resurrected on the Fourth of July. Did anyone notice anything?
In 2002 we published an MCOI Journal article, “Camping With Gwen or Will the True Remnant Please Stand Up?” Both Harold Camping and Gwen Shamblin had convinced their followers that their group and their group alone was the remnant spoken of in scripture. Of course, Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that they are the true remnant as do others, so the “true remnant” field gets pretty crowded.
Most cults and false teachers try to gain credibility by reading their particular group into the Scriptures. If they can convince their followers of their special unique position, it is much easier to keep them in the fold. After all, if Group “A” is the special group, the true remnant, then to question the group’s leadership is essentially questioning God Himself. Leaving the group, they are told, would result in eternal judgement and probably immediate difficulties as well. Few dares to leave, as long as they remain convinced of the group’s special position in God’s plan.
There are other biblical options a group can choose to make themselves special. A fairly popular option is to claim to be Joel’s Army, written about in the book of Joel. Operating within the Pentecostal church, the Latter-Rain movement lays claim to being Joel’s Army. But what is Joel’s Army?
We read about Joel’s Army in Joel 1:1-7 and 2:1-11. It is an army of locusts which God sends to devour the everything in the land of the disobedient Nation of Israel. The Latter-Rain movement holds that as Joel’s Army, they will conquer and subdue the land (world) for God. They even hold a “Joel’s Army Conference.” There is the proud assertion, “Joel’s Army Is About To Arise In The Midst Of Darkness”
We are being drafted into an End-Time Army! This is God’s answer for a generation in the midst of perversion and wickedness – the Army of God must arise in boldness.
It is pretty heady stuff! According to their understanding, the locust horde are an army commissioned by God to punish the perversion and wickedness of non-Christians.
Another contender for the role is again, the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their May 1, 1998 Watchtower p. 8-13 identifies the JWs with the destructive locust army of Joel chapter 1. In paragraph 9 the Watchtower gives their explanation of this teaching:
Is this just a prophecy about “a nation” of locusts, a locust swarm, invading Judah? No, there is more to it than that. At both Joel 1:6 and Revelation 9:7, God’s people are represented by locusts. The modern-day locust army is none other than the military force of Jehovah’s anointed locusts, now joined by some 5,600,000 of Jesus’ “other sheep.” (John 10:16) Are you not glad to be part of this great throng of Jehovah’s worshipers?
The locusts, they assert, represent God’s people (who are only made up of JWs, of course). They do not see their locust army invading the nation of Judah, however. But if they are not destroying the nation of Judah, who are the JW locusts tormenting? In paragraph 12 they write:
When the “priests” of Christendom see Jehovah’s people in action and hear their warning of divine judgment, they become frantic. They beat their breasts in vexation and rage at the devastating effect of the Kingdom message. And they howl as their flocks slip away from them. With their pastures being denuded, let them spend the night in sackcloth, mourning over their loss of income. Before long, they will lose their jobs too! In fact, God tells them to mourn all night because their end is near.
They JW locust army are destroying “Christendom” (Anyone calling themselves Christians that are not JW) with their door to door work. It is quite a gruesome scene, as they describe it…People of Christendom howling and beating their breasts, wearing sackcloth, and mourning because of the JWs door-to-door work. You’d think we’d all remember IF that had happened…
Neither the latter-rain group nor the Watchtower Society sees Israel as the focus of God’s punishment, because they see Israel as irrelevant today. Their group are God’s chosen people these days, as they see it.
Neither group understands nor recognizes that although the locusts are said to be God’s army, they are NOT in any way God’s people. They have obviously not carefully examined the text. A simple look at the context tells us what God’s purpose was for His “army.” In Joel 1:1-3, we have a Jewish prophet (Joel) being given a word to deliver to the Jewish nation, His people:
The word of the Lord that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel:
Hear this, you elders;
give ear, all inhabitants of the land!
Has such a thing happened in your days,
or in the days of your fathers?
Tell your children of it,
and let your children tell their children,
and their children to another generation
Chapter 2 opens with:
Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain!
Zion, God’s “holy mountain,” is in Israel. God’s “locust army” is going to be sent to punish God’s people Israel for their rebellion against Him. Once their work of destruction is completed, and Israel turns back to God, “Joel’s army” suffers a fearful fate. A person may want to consider this before enlisting:
“I will remove the northerner far from you,
and drive him into a parched and desolate land,
his vanguard into the eastern sea,
and his rear guard into the western sea;
the stench and foul smell of him will rise,
for he has done great things.(Joel 2:20)
God drives Joel’s locust army into the desert and then into the eastern and western sea. What happens to Israel who the locust army were used to punish? God returns everything to Israel that had been eaten and destroyed by Joel’s army and more:
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame. (Joel 2:16-27)
God’s locust army was just an ungodly tool that he used to bring His people back to Him so He could bless them and give them final deliverance from their enemies.
The Watchtower Society Receives New Light
Everyone changes their minds and their understanding of things from time to time. But how that is different from the Watchtower path is that they claim that their TRUTH comes straight from God and all must believe it unquestioningly. But the Apostle Paul in Acts 17:11 makes it clear we are to be like the Bereans, checking out everything we are taught against the Word of God. We are not to claim that we get our understanding of the Word directly from God, since that ties God and His reputation to the understanding of mere men and women. But the Watchtower Society does tie their god’s reputation to their ever-changing TRUTHS.
Very recently, the Watchtower has received “new Light” concerning their role as Joel’s army. It turns out they are not that army after all. As we said, the Watchtower Society believes and teaches that they receive their TRUTH from God Himself, and they merely pass that TRUTH on to the little people through their publications. Jehovah’s Witnesses must accept as absolute TRUTH everything taught to them by their leadership. Doubting the leadership is doubting God. Strangely though, their TRUTH just cannot seem to stay TRUE. This can be very awkward at times. The “TRUTH” the Watchtower teaches today is often very different, even opposite to, what was “TRUE” yesterday or last week, or 50 years ago. The rank and file are told the organization receives “New Light” and quotes 2 verses from Proverbs 4 (out of context of course) to support their claim.
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
The way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know over what they stumble. (Proverbs 4:18-19)
In context, the passage is comparing godly living to ungodly living, and shows how stable the path of the righteous is compared to the unrighteous stumbling around in deep darkness. The righteous person’s path is stable because he is following the unchangeable God and His word. Every bit of additional light the Godly person receives builds on what he already knows, and any new wisdom he gains only makes his way even brighter.
Here’s an example: On the path of the righteous, he or she is walking along in the early morning, and as the light begins to break they see in the distance what looks like a building. As they walk a bit further and the light is a little brighter, they can now see that it is a multi-story building. Further down the path with additional light they can see it is a ten-story building with copper tinted windows. Their way gets brighter and their wisdom builds upon itself.
The wicked man or woman, in contrast, is walking their own path making things up as they go. In the distance they see an object which they declare is a building. Everyone following them must also believe it is a building because the Organization speaks only TRUTH from God. A while later along the path, they declare that no, it isn’t a building but a boy on a bicycle. This is the TRUTH now. Everyone following them obediently gets in line and starts preaching that TRUTH door to door. Sometime later, the TRUTH changes again, and they realize the boy on the bike is after all a garbage truck, which of course, is TRUE with all caps, and no one can dare doubt it. No one dares notice that the emperor is wearing no clothes! The “garbage truck” TRUTH is simply published in their magazine and they peddle that TRUTH from door to door.
And so, the governing body came ‘round the bend a few months ago and can now clearly see that the organization is NOT Joel’s Army after all! Which, considering how Joel’s army ends up, is probably a safer option.
The April 2020 Watchtower article, “An Attack Coming From the North!” delivers the new light concerning Joel’s Army. After admitting that they had taught they WERE the “locust army” for many years, they give four reasons why that old TRUTH needs an “adjustment.” These better be some good reasons, since their TRUTH comes from God, including TRUTHS that God originally must’ve gotten wrong. The April 2020 article states:
First of all, notice Jehovah’s promise with regard to the plague of locusts: “I will drive the northerner [the locusts] far away from you.” (Joel 2:20) If the locusts represent Jehovah’s Witnesses as they obey Jesus’ command to preach and make disciples, why would Jehovah promise to drive them away? (Ezek. 33:7-9; Matt. 28:19, 20) Clearly, Jehovah is driving away, not his faithful servants, but something or someone who is hostile to his people.
Oops, the kid is now looking like a garbage truck.
How stable is the path of a man or an organization that keeps changing the TRUTH all the time, especially TRUTH that allegedly comes straight from God, which everyone is forced to believe? The Watchtower path seems so much more like the second path in Proverbs, the stumbling route taken by the ungodly. Just how much credence should anyone give to the new TRUTH, since the “old truth” was TRUE? Why didn’t their god Jehovah give them the TRUE TRUTH to begin with? Does their god Jehovah even know what is actually TRUE? We think it unlikely. But their God is not the God of the Bible.Ω
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