A Look at the Shepherd’s Rod Teachings
A Look at the Shepherd’s Rod Teachings
Last week I sought to provide a history of the Shepherd’s Rod. Today, I will explore some of their teachings showing some differences with those of Seventh-day Adventists and, of course, the Bible. As noted the sources for this new series are as follows: the websites for Adventist Biblical Research and SDADefend.
Denying Messianic Prophecies
In an article on Shepherd’s Rod teachings taken from an earlier edition of a Review article, George Reid observes, “Perhaps the most important is the idea that a Davidic kingdom of absolute righteousness is to be established in Palestine prior to the close of probation. This was the event foreseen for April 22, 1959. By divine intervention, Arabs, Jews, and others would be displaced to make room for this kingdom, whose citizens would be the 144,000, including Shepherd's Rods and certain others.”
He further pointed out, “Shepherd's Rod teachings deny that messianic prophecies such as Isaiah 7:14 (‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son…’) and Micah 5:2 (‘But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah… out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel’) met complete fulfillment with Jesus, arguing that they should apply to the coming Davidic kingdom.” Instead, Shepherd's Rods see themselves as appointed “to announce the approach of this Davidic kingdom.” It is their view that afterward, “Jesus will return to establish another kingdom with the Second Advent, which is to follow the close of probation.”
Interpretation of the Parable of Wheat and Tares
In looking at the parable of the wheat and tares, and the harvest of Revelation (Matt. 13:36-43; Rev. 14:14-19), Houteff “applied these to the present time period, anticipating the coming of the Davidic kingdom.” Instead of Houteff describing events to occur at Jesus' return, he assumed “the harvest of grain began January 1, 1931, with a vision he received appointing him to call out the 144,000.” Additionally, he taught, “The harvest of tares, …will be a divine slaughter of Adventists who reject his message, fulfilling the prophecy of Ezekiel 9.” However, as we know the harvest, and the separation of grain from tares take place at the second return of Jesus at the end of the world, which follows the close of probation according to Matt. 13:39-43.
The Prophecy of Ezekiel 9
A major theme of Shepherd's Rod teaching has been an interpretation of the prophecy of Ezekiel 9. Unfortunately, it would seem that Shepherd’s Rods ignore the initial meaning or application of the entire book of Ezekiel that has its setting in Babylon, and God’s desire to reach His people through the prophet Ezekiel. Instead, Shepherd’s Rods bypass the historical meaning and fast forward to “a point prior to probation's close,” when according them, “divine agencies will destroy those Adventists who reject the appeals of the Shepherd's Rod.” They claim, “this represents an invisible coming of Christ to establish the Davidic kingdom prior to probation's close. Later, Jesus is to come in visible glory to establish His kingdom following the seven last plagues.”
Shepherd’s Rods contend, "Had the church as a body, or at least the leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination accepted the message of reform as presented to them in 'The Shepherd's Rod, Volume 1, there would be no necessity for that class to fall by the figure of the five men with the slaughter weapons. It is the reception or rejection of the message that will fix the destiny of the two classes as described in the following testimony: (quotes Early Writings, p.270)."-The Shepherd's Rod, Volume 2, (1932), p.218.
On the other hand, we as Adventists see the prophecy's primary meaning in the Babylonian conquest of Judah, but paralleling “with the visions of Revelation 7:15,16” indicating ‘analogies with certain final events. But those events will follow the close of probation.”
The Seals of Revelation 5
The fracturing of the Shepherd's Rod movement, which began in 1961, has led to “a wide variety of additional beliefs promoted by different subgroups” For example, Vernon Howell (David Koresh), held a special interpretation of the seven seals of Revelation (6:1-8:1). He declared that he alone held a satisfactory understanding of the seals that he used to bolster his claim “to be the Lamb who alone can open the seals (Revelation 5).” Again, this interpretation of Howell stands in marked contrast to the Adventist understanding, which sees Jesus as the Lamb and the seals as reaching across 2,000 years from the time of Jesus to His return. Unfortunately, many of the followers of this subgroup perished with David Koresh in the Waco, Texas massacre on April 19th, 1993.