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WHO DID THE PROPHETS SEE? A JEHOVAH’S WITNESS DILEMMA

As in some of my previous posts: CHRIST: THE DIVINE MEDIATOR AND SAVIOR, I will employ the Bibles which Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) have produced to show how their own translations can be used to prove the Deity of Christ and the blessed Trinity. I will mainly be citing from the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Study Edition).

However, I will diverge from using such whenever a text has been rendered in a less accurate manner, or for the purpose of comparing and contrasting how various Bible versions translate a given verse. I will attempt to quote from the very Bible translations that the Society itself has endorsed or used in their published works. Some of these various Bible versions can even be found on their own website: Online Bible.

In this segment I will show how and why Jehovah’s Witnesses are forced with a dilemma that they cannot escape from, without recanting their heretical views about God, Christ and the Spirit.

The [O]ld [Testament] attests that Jehovah God often appeared and showed himself to the heirs of the covenant:

“When Aʹbram was 99 years old, Jehovah appeared to Aʹbram and said to him: ‘I am God Almighty. Walk before me and prove yourself faultless. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and I will multiply you very, very much.’ At this Aʹbram fell facedown, and God continued to speak with him, saying…When God finished speaking with him, he went up from Abraham.” Genesis 17:1-2, 22

“Then God said to Moses: ‘I am Jehovah. And I used to appear to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but with regard to my name Jehovah I did not make myself known to them.’” Exodus 6:2-3

“Stephen replied: ‘Men, brothers and fathers, listen. The God of glory appeared to our forefather Abraham while he was in Mes·o·po·taʹmi·a, before he took up residence in Haʹran,’” Acts 7:2

The following encounter is truly remarkable since Jehovah not only appeared as a man to speak directly with Abraham, he also ate actual physical food and washed his physical feet with actual water!

“Afterward, Jehovah appeared to him among the big trees of Mamʹre while he was sitting at the entrance of the tent during the hottest part of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing some distance from him. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them, and he bowed down to the ground. Then he said: ‘Jehovah, if I have found favor in your eyes, please do not pass by your servant. Please, let a little water be brought and have your feet washed; then recline under the tree. Seeing that you have come here to your servant, let me bring a piece of bread so that you may refresh yourselves. Then you may go on your way.’ At this they said: ‘All right. You may do as you have spoken.’ So Abraham hurried to the tent to Sarah and said: ‘Quick! Get three measures of fine flour, knead the dough, and make loaves of bread.’ Next Abraham ran to the herd and chose a tender and good young bull. He gave it to the attendant, who hurried to prepare it. He then took butter and milk and the young bull that he had prepared and set the food before them. Then he stood by them under the tree as they were eating. They said to him: ‘Where is your wife Sarah?’ He replied: ‘Here in the tent.’ So one of them continued: ‘I will surely return to you next year at this time, and look! your wife Sarah will have a son.’ Now Sarah was listening at the tent entrance, which was behind the man. Abraham and Sarah were old, being advanced in years. Sarah was past the age of childbearing.  So Sarah began to laugh to herself, saying: ‘After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I really have this pleasure?’ Then Jehovah said to Abraham: ‘Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Am I really going to give birth even though I am old?’ Is anything too extraordinary for Jehovah? I will return to you next year at this appointed time, and Sarah will have a son.’ But Sarah denied it, saying, ‘I did not laugh!’ for she was afraid. At this he said: ‘Yes! You did laugh.’ When the men got up to leave and looked down toward Sodʹom, Abraham was walking with them to escort them. Jehovah said: ‘Am I keeping hidden from Abraham what I am going to do? Why, Abraham is surely going to become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by means of him. For I have come to know him in order that he may command his sons and his household after him to keep Jehovah’s way by doing what is right and just, so that Jehovah may bring about what he has promised concerning Abraham.’ Then Jehovah said: ‘The outcry against Sodʹom and Go·morʹrah is indeed great, and their sin is very heavy. I will go down to see whether they are acting according to the outcry that has reached me. And if not, I can get to know it.’ Then the men left from there and went toward Sodʹom, BUT JEHOVAH REMAINED WITH ABRAHAM. Then Abraham approached and said: ‘Will you really sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are 50 righteous men within the city. Will you, then, sweep them away and not pardon the place for the sake of the 50 righteous who are inside it? It is unthinkable that you would act in this manner by putting the righteous man to death with the wicked one so that the outcome for the righteous man and the wicked is the same! It is unthinkable of you. Will the Judge of all the earth not do what is right?’ Then Jehovah said: ‘If I find in Sodʹom 50 righteous men in the city, I will pardon the whole place for their sake.’ But Abraham again responded: ‘Please, here I have presumed to speak to Jehovah, whereas I am dust and ashes. Suppose the 50 righteous should lack five. Because of the five will you destroy the whole city?” To this he said: ‘I will not destroy it if I find there 45.’ But yet again he spoke to him and said: ‘Suppose 40 are found there.’ He answered: ‘I will not do it for the sake of the 40.’ But he continued: ‘Jehovah, please, do not become hot with anger, but let me go on speaking: Suppose only 30 are found there.’ He answered: ‘I will not do it if I find 30 there.’ But he continued: ‘Please, here I have presumed to speak to Jehovah: Suppose only 20 are found there.” He answered: ‘I will not destroy it for the sake of the 20.’ Finally he said: ‘Jehovah, please, do not become hot with anger, but let me speak just once more: Suppose only ten are found there.’ He answered: ‘I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.’ WHEN JEHOVAH FINISHED SPEAKING TO ABRAHAM, HE WENT HIS WAY and Abraham returned to his place.” Genesis 18:1-33

“Then Jehovah made it rain sulfur and fire on Sodʹom and Go·morʹrah—it came from Jehovah, from the heavens. So he overthrew these cities, yes, the entire district, including all the inhabitants of the cities and the plants of the ground. But Lot’s wife, who was behind him, began to look back, and she became a pillar of salt.  Now Abraham got up early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before Jehovah. When he looked down toward Sodʹom and Go·morʹrah and all the land of the district, he saw quite a sight. There was dense smoke rising from the land like the dense smoke of a kiln! So when God destroyed the cities of the district, God kept Abraham in mind by sending Lot out from the cities he overthrew, the cities where Lot had been dwelling.” Genesis 19:24-29

These are not the only times where Jehovah appeared in visible form to his servants:

“Jacob departed from Beʹer-sheʹba and kept going toward Haʹran. In time he came to a place and prepared to spend the night there because the sun had set. So he took one of the stones of that place and set it to rest his head on and lay down there. Then he had a dream, and look! there was a stairway set on the earth, and its top reached up to the heavens; and there were God’s angels ascending and descending on it. And look! there was Jehovah stationed above it, and he said: ‘I am Jehovah the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you are lying, to you I am going to give it and to your offspring. And your offspring will certainly become like the dust particles of the earth, and you will spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and by means of you and by means of your offspring all the families of the ground will certainly be blessed. I am with you, and I will safeguard you wherever you go, and I will return you to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said: ‘Truly Jehovah is in this place, and I did not know it.’ And he grew fearful and added: ‘How awe-inspiring this place is! This can only be the house of God, and this is the gate of the heavens.’ So Jacob got up early in the morning and took the stone on which he had rested his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. So he named that place Bethʹel, but previously the city’s name was Luz. Jacob then made a vow, saying: ‘If God will continue with me and will protect me on my journey and will give me bread to eat and garments to wear and I return in peace to the house of my father, then Jehovah will certainly have proved to be my God. And this stone that I have set up as a pillar will become a house of God, and without fail I will give you a tenth of everything you give to me.’” Genesis 28:10-22

“And he said unto Moses, Come up unto Jehovah, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off: and Moses alone shall come near unto Jehovah; but they shall not come near; neither shall the people go up with him… Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. And they saw the God of Israel; and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and as it were the very heaven for clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: and they beheld God, and did eat and drink.” Exodus 24:1-2, 9-11 American Standard Version (ASV)

“Mi·caiʹah then said: ‘Therefore, hear the word of Jehovah: I saw Jehovah sitting on his throne and all the army of the heavens standing by him, to his right and to his left. Jehovah then said, “Who will fool Aʹhab, so that he will go up and fall at Raʹmoth-gilʹe·ad?” And one was saying one thing while another said something else. Then a spirit came forward and stood before Jehovah and said, “I will fool him.” Jehovah asked him, ‘How will you do it?” He replied, “I will go out and become a deceptive spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.” So he said, “You will fool him, and what is more, you will be successful. Go out and do that.” And now Jehovah has put a deceptive spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, but Jehovah has declared calamity for you.’” 1 Kings 22:19-23

I saw Jehovah stationed above the altar, and he said: ‘Strike the head of the pillar, and the thresholds will shake. Cut them off at the head, and I will kill the last of them with the sword. No one who flees will get away, and no one trying to escape will succeed.’” Amos 9:1

This next case will be vitally important in deciphering who exactly did the patriarchs/prophets see when the God of Israel appeared to them in visible shape, often as a man:

“In the year that King Uz·ziʹah died, I saw Jehovah sitting on a lofty and elevated throne, and the skirts of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were standing above him; each had six wings. Each covered his face with two and covered his feet with two, and each of them would fly about with two.  And one called to the other: ‘Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah of armies. The whole earth is filled with his glory.’ And the pivots of the thresholds quivered at the sound of the shouting, and the house was filled with smoke. Then I said: ‘Woe to me! I am as good as dead, For I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of armies himself!’” Isaiah 6:1-5

Here’s where it gets rather interesting.

According to John’s Gospel, the God whose glory Isaiah beheld was that of the preexistent divine Christ:

“So Jesus said to them: ‘The light will be among you a little while longer. Walk while you still have the light, so that darkness does not overpower you; whoever walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, exercise faith in the light, so that you may become sons of light.’ Jesus said these things and went off and hid from them. Although he had performed so many signs before them, they were not putting faith in him, so that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, who said: “Jehovah, who has put faith in the thing heard from us? And as for the arm of Jehovah, to whom has it been revealed?’ The reason why they were not able to believe is that again Isaiah said: ‘He has blinded their eyes and has made their hearts hard, so that they would not see with their eyes and understand with their hearts and turn around and I heal them.’ Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory, and he spoke about him. All the same, many even of the rulers actually put faith in him, but they would not acknowledge him because of the Pharisees, so that they would not be expelled from the synagogue;” John 12:35-42

The context shows that Jesus is the One whose glory Isaiah saw and spoke of, since he is the One that the Jews rejected despite having done all those miraculous signs. This explains why we find certain translations paraphrasing the text in such a manner as to make this point explicitly clear:

“Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” John 12:41 New International Version (NIV)

“Isaiah said these things because he saw the glory of Christ, and spoke about him.” J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

“Isaiah said these things because he saw Christ’s glory and spoke of him.” William Mounce Reverse Interlinear New Testament (MOUNCE)

“Isaiah said these things because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about Him.” Berean Study Bible (BSB)

“Isaiah said this, because he saw the glory of Jesus and spoke about him.” Contemporary English Version (CEV)

“Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” Good News Translation (GNT)

“Isaiah said this because he had seen Jesus’ glory and had spoken about him.” GOD’S WORD® Translation (GW)

Isaiah said this because he had seen Yeshua’s glory and had spoken about him.” Names of God Bible (NOG)

“Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” New Century Version (NCV)

“Isaiah said these things because he saw Christ’s glory, and spoke about him.” NET Bible

Now what is interesting about this is that the Evangelist mentions Isaiah having seen the glory of the preincarnate Christ write after quoting Isaiah 6:10, which is the very chapter where the prophet beheld the visible form of Jehovah seated on his throne.

When we take a closer look at the Greek rendering of Isaiah 6 (often referred to as the Septuagint [LXX]) we discover that this is the very moment that John believed Isaiah actually saw the visible glory of the prehuman Son of God:

“And it came to pass in the year in which king Ozias died, [that] I saw (eidon) the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne, and the house was full of his glory (tes doxes autou)… And one cried to the other, and they said, Holy, holy, holy [is the] Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory (tes doxes autou).” Isaiah 6:1, 3

Now contrast this with what the inspired Apostle wrote:

“Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory (eiden ten doxan autou), and he spoke about him.” John 12:41

The Greek wording is basically identical, and it is therefore exegetically certain that the Evangelist is indeed affirming that the Jehovah whose glory Isaiah saw, the Lord who appeared in visible form seated on a throne, was actually the Lord Jesus in his preincarnate state.

This is further brought out by the Apostle’s claim that no one has ever seen God at any time apart from, and without the agency, of the Son:

“No man has seen God AT ANY TIME; the only-begotten god who is at the Father’s side is the one who has explained Him.” John 1:18

“No man has seen God AT ANY TIME; the only-begotten god who is in the bosom [position] with the Father is the one that has explained him.” New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (1984 Edition) (NWT1984)

“No man hath seen God AT ANY TIME; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” King James Version (KJV)

“No man hath seen God AT ANY TIME; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” ASV

“Nobody EVER has seen God; an Only Born God, he who is in the Father’s bosom, he gave the account of him.” The Bible in Living English (BYINGTON)

“It is true that no one has EVER seen God AT ANY TIME. Yet the divine and only Son, who lives in the closest intimacy with the Father, has made him known.” PHILLIPS

“No one has EVER seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.” Revised Standard Version (RSV)

The point is obvious. The reason why the OT believers and prophets could see God, and know him personally and intimately, is because the living Word had come to enable them to both visibly behold and understand who and what God is truly like.

In other words, according to the inspired Christian Greek Scriptures the Jehovah God whom the OT believers beheld visibly was the prehuman Son of God that had appeared to them since, apart from the Son’s mediation, no one can behold or comprehend God.

As Christ himself stated on multiple occasions:

“At that time Jesus said in response: ‘I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to young children. Yes, O Father, because this is the way you approved. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one fully knows the Son except the Father; neither does anyone fully know the Father except the Son and anyone to whom THE SON is willing to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for yourselves. For my yoke is kindly, and my load is light.’” Matthew 11:25-30

“However, Jesus called out and said: ‘Whoever puts faith in me puts faith not only in me but also in him who sent me; and whoever sees me sees also the One who sent me. I have come as a light into the world, so that everyone putting faith in me may not remain in the darkness.’” John 12:44-46

“Jesus said to him ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; nobody comes to the Father except through me. If you knew me you would know my Father too. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’ Philip said to him ‘Sir, show us the Father and we are satisfied.’ Jesus said to him ‘I have been with you such a long time, and do you not know me, Philip? he who has seen me has seen the Father; how is it you are saying “show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? the words that I say to you I do not say from myself, but the Father, abiding in me, is doing his work. Take my word for it that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or if not, believe because of the work itself. Verily, verily I tell you, he who believes in me will himself do the work I do, and do greater things than these, because I am going to the Father, and whatever you ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name I will do it.’” John 14:6-14 BYINGTON

There is additional substantiation from the very context of John 12 itself to corroborate this point.

Recall what the inspired Evangelist noted about the Jew’s response to Christ’s miraculous signs:

“Although he had performed so many signs before them, they were not putting faith in him,” John 12:37

Now compare this with what Jehovah told Moses:

“Then Jehovah said to Moses: ‘How much longer will this people treat me without respect, and how much longer will they not put faith in me in spite of all the signs that I performed among them?’” Numbers 14:11

These verbal parallels make it evident what the holy Apostle is getting at.

The same God whom the Israelites refused to trust in during the time of Moses, despite all the miracles he had done in their midst, is the same God who had now become flesh so as to dwell among his people as a Man:

So the Word became flesh and resided among us, and we had a view of his glory, a glory such as belongs to an only-begotten son from a father; and he was full of divine favor and truth.” John 1:14

And much like their ancestors before them, the Jews of Jesus’ day continued to disbelieve in the same One who had appeared to Moses in spite of all the miraculous signs he had been performing before their very eyes!

Jehovah’s Witnesses are now faced with a dilemma.

Since the God-breathed Scriptures identify Jesus as that very Jehovah God who appeared all throughout the OT in a multiplicity of visible shapes and forms, this shows that the Son cannot be a created being, especially the spirit creature called the archangel Michael.

And since these very sacred writings further attest that Jesus is not the Father or the Holy Spirit, but is the Father’s uniquely begotten Son, and since they even describe the Father as being Jehovah and the Spirit as being eternal:

“Let me proclaim the decree of Jehovah; He said to me: ‘You are my son; Today I have become your father.’” Psalm 2:7 – Cf. Acts 13:32-33; Hebrews 1:5

Jehovah declared to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand Until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.’” Psalm 110:1 – Cf. Acts 2:33-36; Hebrews 1:3, 13

“how much more will the blood of the Christ, who by the working of an eternal Spirit offered himself as a faultless oblation to God, cleanse our conscience from the corpses of our deeds for worshiping a living God!” Hebrews 9:14 BYINGTON

This means that Jehovah is not a singular divine Person, specifically the Person of the Father, as JWs teach. Rather, according to the explicit witness of the Holy Scriptures, the one true, uncreated, infinite, living and rational Being whom we call Jehovah eternally exists as a multiplicity of divine Persons, particularly, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit:

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the NAME of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit,” Matthew 28:19

The inspired writings also proclaim that one of those eternal Persons became a human being when he condescended to be born from the blessed Virgin Mother, specifically the Son of God, whom we now know as Jesus Christ of Nazareth:

“But this is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. During the time his mother Mary was promised in marriage to Joseph, she was found to be pregnant by holy spirit before they were united. However, because her husband Joseph was righteous and did not want to make her a public spectacle, he intended to divorce her secretly. But after he had thought these things over, look! Jehovah’s angel appeared to him in a dream, saying: ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take your wife Mary home, for what has been conceived in her is by holy spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All of this actually came about to fulfill what was spoken by Jehovah through his prophet, saying: ‘Look! The virgin will become pregnant and will give birth to a son, and they will name him Im·manʹu·el,’ which means, when translated, ‘With Us Is God.’ Then Joseph woke up from his sleep and did as the angel of Jehovah had directed him, and he took his wife home. But he did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son, and he named him Jesus.” Matthew 1:18-25

“In her sixth month, the angel Gaʹbri·el was sent from God to a city of Galʹi·lee named Nazʹa·reth, to a virgin promised in marriage to a man named Joseph of David’s house, and the name of the virgin was Mary. And coming in, the angel said to her: ‘Greetings, you highly favored one, Jehovah is with you.’ But she was deeply disturbed at his words and tried to understand what kind of greeting this might be. So the angel said to her: ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And look! you will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus. This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule as King over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end to his Kingdom.’ But Mary said to the angel: ‘How is this to be, since I am not having sexual relations with a man?’ In answer the angel said to her: ‘Holy spirit will come upon you, and power of the Most High will overshadow you. And for that reason the one who is born will be called holy, God’s Son.’” Luke 1:26-35

Therefore, according to the inspired witness of Holy Scripture Jesus is himself Jehovah God Almighty who often appeared to his servants in the OT in a variety of visible forms long before he became flesh from the blessed Virgin.

This means that Jehovah’s Witnesses have a monumental problem!

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