[Jesus, as pictured on AWAKE cover Dec. 8 1998]
December 8, 1998 Awake! cover

Awake! declares that it is through the preaching "done by Jehovah's Witnesses" that people can
"know the real Jesus"
--December 8, 1998 Awake! page 11

Awake! then takes up two questions:
"What Did He Really Look Like?
What Is He Now?"

But, if the Jehovah's Witness organization gives the wrong answer to the first question, can we look to them for "the real Jesus"?

What Did He Really Look Like?

For more than two decades (mid-1942 through early 1968) the Watchtower Society produced books and magazines picturing Jesus without facial hair. Then a 'new truth' was revealed in the May 1, 1968 Watchtower: "it is apparent that Jesus did wear a beard, and so artistic representations of him in future Watch Tower publications will harmonize with the Scriptural evidence to that effect." (page 288)

Suddenly, due to this 'new truth,' Jehovah's Witnesses came to believe what everyone else knew all along.

What, though, about Jesus' hair length? The December 8, 1998 Awake! magazine cover, pictured here, shows Jesus with shorter hair than most traditional portraits. This is very strange, in view of the Bible reference used to restore his beard in 1968.

The May 1, 1968 Watchtower based its 'new truth' about Jesus' beard on Leviticus 19:27, commenting like this:

"Like all other Jews, Jesus was under obligation to keep the whole law. One of the commandments of the Law was: 'You must not cut your side locks short around, and you must not destroy the extremity of your beard.'" (page 286)

Although they quoted the entire verse, they seem to have noticed only the part about the beard, missing the part about not cutting short the side locks of hair on the head. It seems strange that they missed this, since they commented to the effect that Jesus would have kept the whole law.

Thirty years later, the Society continues to ignore Scripture on this point. The December 8, 1998 Awake! asks, "Was the hair of Jesus long?" and answers by saying that "Jesus was not a Nazirite. So he no doubt had his hair neatly clipped like any other Jewish male. (Numbers 6:2-7)" (page 5)

Oh? The passage cited in Numbers does not say that Jewish males wore short hair, neatly clipped as pictured on Awake!'s cover. Rather, the passage speaks only of the Nazirites who were instructed "never" to cut their hair. Other Jewish males who did cut their hair occasionally (once a year in Absalom's caseÛ2 Sam. 14:26) evidently obeyed the Law by not cutting their side locks short.

In fact, Jeremiah spoke of Gentiles as those with "hair clipped at the temples" (Jeremiah 9:26; 25:23; 49:32 New World Translation) or "'these heathen' ÛLiterally, 'those who cut the corners of their hair.'" (Jer. 49:32 Living Bible footnote) As a keeper of the Law, Jesus would certainly not have groomed himself like the heathen with hair clipped at the temples as in Awake!'s picture.

So what?

The point is not that we feel Jesus' grooming style is a major issue. "though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more." (2 Corinthians 5:16 KJV). But the Watch Tower Society is making a major issue of this through a cover article in their magazineÛwhile failing to acknowledge what Scripture really says on this simple matter.

Can they be trusted, then, when they speak about Jesus in more important spiritual matters?

The Watch Tower Society teaches that Jesus is Michael, God's "chief angel" (The Watchtower February 1, 1991, page 17), that "the first spirit person God made was like a firstborn son to him" (Enjoy Life on Earth Forever! page 14), and that Jesus resumed his role as Michael "after his return" to heaven. (The Watchtower May 15, 1969, page 307)

The Bible, on the other hand, assigns a much greater role to Jesus.

For example, an angel can only be at one place at a time:

Then he continued, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.
But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia." --Daniel 10:12-13

But Christ is...
...him who fills everything in every way. --Ephesians 1:23 NIV
...the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe. --Ephesians 4:10 NIV
...the (one) having stepped up over-upward of all the heavens, in order that he might fill the all (things). --Ephesians 4:10 Kingdom Interlinear

...sustains all things by the word of his power. --Hebrews 1:3 New World Trans.
...sustaining the universe by his powerful command --Hebrews 1:3 Jerusalem Bible

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Copyright 1998 by David A. Reed, all rights reserved. Clipart copyright by Corel Corp., Metro Creative Graphics, Inc., Metro ImageBase, Inc., T/Maker, Zedcor, Inc., et al., used with permission.