Daniel interprets a dream in which he explains there will be four world empires -- the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks (under Alexander) and the Romans, the last of which are symbolized by the belly and legs (Eastern and Western). After that, he saw that the Roman Empire would fragment and ultimately become ten kingdoms, being partly iron and partly clay. It was during these "kings" that "the God of heaven [shall] set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever."
If this kingdom was the Roman Catholic church, then why does it come in the days following the destruction of Rome, and if it's the Jehovah's Witnesses, then in what way is it not "left to other people"? In the Lord's prayer, Jesus prayed, "Thy kingdom come...." (a future event). Is this kingdom the Jehovah's Witnesses -- a kingdom that will last forever? The JWs speak of "manmade" religions, but I'm having a difficult time in seeing how they would fulfill this scripture.
I'm interested in what JW literature has to say about this scripture and its fulfillment, and how it might have changed over the years. The leaders of the JW movement seem to be ordinary men, not particularly different than the founders of other religions. What makes them different? Did any of them claim spiritual inspiration like Ellen G. White did? They seem pretty dogmatic, and when a group of men establish themselves as leaders, judges and ordained overseers, it sounds pretty presumptuous. Some have claimed they were "false prophets," but since (as far as I know) none of them actually made prophecies, I don't see how that term would apply. White seems to have come up with a very similar doctrine, the main difference being the Saturday-Sabbath thing. But she had visions of heaven and the "pearly gates" that sound almost comical by today's standards. Did both movements come from the Millerites? In many ways they seem similar.
I guess it's this whole "manmade" religion thing that seems so bizarre. How can anyone be sure what is manmade and what's not if the men themselves don't know. Did any of them have...a visitation or something? If not, then how do they know that their own church isn't manmade?
One other prophetic incident that interests me is the formation of Israel. In Isaiah 11:11, the prohet states: "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea." At the time the Witnesses established their foundational doctrines, Judah had not gathered back into their ancestral homelands, so I understand why they would have had to develop an alternative eschatology. But now that Judah has gathered "the second time" from all over the world, their dogmatism has them locked in to that first eschatology. Yet the formation of Israel is a literal fulfillment of Isaiah 11 and many other scriptures (see also Zachariah 12 and 14).
Some Witnesses say that the legitimacy of their religion rests on the strength of their scriptural exegesis. In other words, if it's not us, then who? So what would happen if a bunch of people got together and called themselves The Church of Jehovah in Christ, and they adopted all the doctrines they liked from the Jehovah's Witnesses, but instead decided to wipe the proverbial slate clean and not have all these wrong dates and times hanging over them and other stuff that's hung over the JWs. And let's say they decided to interpret the gathering of Israel as a prophetic event and tweak a few of the more ridiculous things, like revamping the whole blood issue and maybe voting and the whole spirit/breath thing. (They could take a stand against eating blood in, say, blood pies and such, but allow blood transfusions, or not, as they deemed appropriate). Would the leaders of the said second church be equal in authority to those of the first group? If not, why not?
I was going to call this thread, "What's in a Kingdom?" but the gist is, what if the only difference in the two churches was how they viewed the gathering of Judah and everything else stayed the same? Instead of overseers, they could call the local leaders "bishops" and other tiny changes. Obviously the leaders of the WBTS wouldn't like it, but what claim to legitimacy would they have over the leaders of the second group? The Daniel 2 prophecy also would equally apply and people who are fed up with Group A might go to Group B.
Any ideas? What do you think?