JWs have been told to circle the wagon for years. The Bible says this about trying to predict the time Jesus is coming: (NWT)
Matthew 24:44 ***
44 On this account
too prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that
do not think to be it
, the Son of man is coming.Luke 12:39-40 ***
39 But know this, that if the householder had known at what hour the thief would come, he would have kept watching and not have let his house be broken into. 40 Y OU also, keep ready, because at an hour that YOU do not think likely the Son of man is coming."
*** w99 5/1 16 "Let the Reader Use Discernment" ***
Gods people once understood that the first phase of the great tribulation began in 1914 and that the final part would come at the battle of Armageddon. (Revelation 16:14, 16; compare The
Watchtower, April 1, 1939, page 110.) So we can understand why it was once thought that the latter-day "disgusting thing" must have stood in a holy place soon after World War I.
However, in later years we have come to see things differently. On Thursday, July 10, 1969
, at the "Peace on Earth" International Assembly in New York City, F. W. Franz, then vice president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, gave an electrifying talk. In reviewing the previous understanding of Jesus prophecy, Brother Franz said: "The explanation was given that the great tribulation had begun in 1914 C.E. and that it was not allowed to run its full course then but God stopped World War I in November of 1918. From then on God was allowing an interval for the activity of his anointed remnant of elect Christians before he let the final part of the great tribulation resume at the battle of Armageddon."
Then a significantly adjusted explanation was offered
: "To correspond with the events of the first century, . . . the antitypical great tribulation did not begin in 1914 C.E. Rather, what took place upon Jerusalems modern antitype in 1914-1918 was merely a beginning of pangs of distress
. . . The great tribulation such as will not occur again is yet ahead, for it means the destruction of the world empire of false religion (including Christendom) followed by the war of the great day of God the Almighty at Armageddon." This meant that the entire great tribulation was yet ahead.
This has a direct bearing on discerning when "the disgusting thing" stands in a holy place. Recall what happened in the first century. The Romans attacked Jerusalem in 66 C.E., but they abruptly withdrew, which allowed Christian "flesh" to be saved. (Matthew 24:22) Accordingly, we expect the great tribulation to begin soon, but it will be cut short for the sake of Gods chosen ones
. Note this key point: In the ancient pattern, the disgusting thing standing in a holy place was linked to the Roman attack under General Gallus in 66 C.E. The modern-day parallel to that attackthe outbreak of the great tribulationis still ahead. So "the disgusting thing that causes desolation," which has existed since 1919, apparently is yet to stand in a holy place
. How will this happen? And how can we be affected?
Revelation depicts "a scarlet-colored wild beast" that exists for a time, disappears, and then returns. (Revelation 17:3, 8) This beast is supported by world rulers. Details supplied in the prophecy help us to identify this symbolic beast as a peace organization that came into existence in 1919 as the League of Nations (a "disgusting thing") and that is now the United Nations. Revelation 17:16, 17 shows that God will yet put it into the hearts of certain human rulers who are prominent in this "beast" to desolate the world empire of false religion. That attack marks the outbreak of the great tribulation.
16 Since the start of the great tribulation is yet future, is the "standing in a holy place" still ahead of us? Evidently so
. While "the disgusting thing" made its appearance early in this century and has, thus, existed for decades, it will take a position in a unique way "in a holy place" in the near future.
As first-century followers of Christ must have keenly watched to see how the "standing in a holy place" would develop, so do present-day Christians. Admittedly, we will have to wait for the actual fulfillment to know all the details.
Yet, it is noteworthy that in some lands there is already a detectable and growing antipathy toward religion
. Some political elements, in league with former Christians who have deviated from the true faith, are promoting hostility against religion in general and true Christians in particular.
(Psalm 94:20, 21; 1 Timothy 6:20, 21)