Did the Watchtower close the door to heaven in 1935?
Although Christians throughout the centuries have longed to meet their Saviour and live with Him forever, the Watchtower does not share the belief that all Christians go to heaven. The Watchtower currently teaches that only a very small group of Christians have been chosen to live in heaven. This special group, called the 144,000, was handpicked by Jesus from among all Christians from the time of Jesus' death in the first century until the year 1935. Although this is the Watchtower's current teaching, it was not their original teaching. When the Watchtower had its beginning in the late 1800's, their teaching was that all true Christians went to heaven including the great crowd. The great crowd who were originally deemed a secondary heavenly class by the Watchtower did not become an earthly class until 1935. The Watchtower's second president J. F. Rutherford said that God gave them new light on the destiny of the great crowd. No longer did the great crowd have a heavenly hope, but Rutherford said that now God was giving a new hope - a hope to live forever on the earth. One cannot help but wonder what happened to the members of the great crowd that had already died with a heavenly hope before the revelation of 1935.
What does the Bible say?
In contrast to the Watchtower's teaching on heaven, who does the Bible promise heaven to? Matthew 5:10-12 makes it clear that those who are persecuted for righteousness sake will be in the kingdom of heaven. Will this be a very small select group of Christians? It can't be because 2 Timothy 3:12 says that all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Not a few, but all! Jesus made the statement that those who are born again are the ones who will enter into the kingdom of God. In John 3:3 & 5 Jesus confronts Nicodemus with the truth that unless you are born again you cannot even hope to see the kingdom of God. Is being born again only for a special select few? 1 John 5:1 says that whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. Whoever means anyone not a limited number of 144,000. Jesus himself gave a prayer for believers in John 17:20. Here Jesus says that his prayer is not only for his disciples but also for all those who will believe in Jesus through their word. What did Jesus pray for them? John 17:24 says that he prayed that they would be with him where he is. Where is Jesus? John 14:2-3 says, "In my Father's house are many mansions, if were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also." Jesus is in his Father's house and he desires all those who have believed in him by the word of the apostles would be there with him.
What about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?
What about the old testament saints? Will they enter into heaven? Matthew 8:11 states that many will sit down there with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. Abraham himself gave a great testimony to his belief that he would be in the kingdom of heaven. In Hebrews 11:10 Abraham is said to have waited for the city whose builder and maker is God. In fact he was so sure that he would be in heaven that Hebrews 11:14-16 says plainly that Abraham and all the old testament believers confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth and that they were looking for a homeland, a better heavenly country.
How are Jehovah's Witnesses convinced to desire earth?
Have you ever wondered how the Watchtower has managed to convince millions of Jehovah's Witnesses that heaven is not for them? Have you ever wondered why Jehovah's Witnesses say that they choose to live on earth and prefer it over the choice of heaven? Next week we will discuss how the Watchtower has made earth more desirable than living with God Himself.