"Sheep and Goat Judgment" Also Delayed
In a related move, the Watchtower has also announced that the current door-to-door work is not the sheep and goats judgment spoken of by Jesus. For decades the Watchtower claimed that knocking on doors and making converts was "separating the sheep from the goats" judgment foretold by Christ (Matthew 25:31-46). After 1914 failed to bring Armageddon as originally announced, the Watchtower had slowly reinterpreted their prediction claiming that 1914 was the year that Jesus "sat down in judgment" in heaven. Since 1914, the Watchtower had supposedly been helping Jesus with that judgment by "separating the sheep from the goats." The "sheep" were those who became Jehovah's Witnesses and supported the Watchtower while the "goats would be "destroyed because they fial to help Christ's anointed 'brothers' in their service to God" (You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, p. 183).
Apparently the Society feels that the judgment period has stretched too far. Its been over 80 years since the judgment began in 1914. They are now saying the Bible, "does not show that such judging would continue over an "extended period of many years" (Watchtower, 15 October 1995, p. 22). So the Society now says that Christ sat down as King in 1914, but he did not sit down as Judge in that year. "Although Jesus is now King of the Kingdom, his further activity mentioned in Matthew 19:28 will include sitting on a throne to judge during the Millennium. At that time he will judge all mankind. . ." (Watchtower, 15 October 1995, p. 21). So the sheep and goats judgment is not current since 1914, it is the future - during the Millennium.
The importance of this doctrinal change is magnified by the fact that the Watchtower had in effect caled their old interpretation a revelation from Jehovah. They claimed that, "The Lord revealed to his people the meaning of the parable of the sheep and the goats, showing how the 'sheep' only would be spared by Jehovah when his wrath is expressed at Armageddon. All this information came not from or by man, but by the Lord God. . ." (Watchtower, 1 February 1938, p. 35). Obviously, their old interpretation could not have been "revealed" by Jehovah since they now admit that their old "meaning of the parable" was wrong. Moreover, how can only those judged as "sheep" be spared, and the "goats" be destroyed, at Armageddon, when the "sheep and goats judgment" does not take palce until during the Millennium, after - not before - Armageddon.
Both doctrinal changes are seen by critics as delaying tactics, although the Watchtower denies this motive. "Officials of the Watchtower. . .deny that the leadership felt a generational pressure to change," says Witness spokesman Bob Pevey (Newsweek, 18 December 1995, p. 59). While these new doctrines may provide the Jehovah's Witnesses some much needed breathing room, in the end they may suffocate the Watchtower with the most damaging and conclusive charges of false prophecy to date.