[From ws12/16 p. 19 February 13-19]

“Throw all your anxiety on [Jehovah], because he cares for you.” – 1Pe 5:7

 

This is a rare Watchtower study article.  I do not mean to sound condescending, but in my experience, it is difficult to find a study article like this one where some emphasis is put on Jesus’ role and where the writer doesn’t stray from the Bible narrative.  If you’ve been following our past reviews, you’ll know this to be true.

Often, Jesus is all but ignored.  For example, in the introduction to this month’s broadcast on tv.jw.org, we are told that “Jehovah urges us to seek first the kingdom”.  Actually, it is Jesus who does this, not Jehovah. (See Matthew 6:33; Luke 12:31)  How can we honor the Son if we cannot even give him credit for the things he himself has said?

“. . .He that does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” (Joh 5:23)

However, the writer of this study does appear to be trying to give Jesus his due.  For example,

In God’s Word, we find Jesus’ soothing sayings. His words and teachings were a source of refreshment to his listeners. Multitudes were drawn to him because he calmed troubled hearts, strengthened the weak, and consoled the depressed. (Read Matthew 11:28-30.) He showed loving consideration for others’ spiritual, emotional, and physical needs. (Mark 6:30-32) Jesus’ promise of support still applies. It can prove to be as true for you as it was for the apostles traveling with Jesus. You do not have to be in Jesus’ physical presence to benefit. As heavenly King, Jesus continues to have and show empathy. Thus, when you are anxious, he can mercifully ‘come to your aid’ and ‘help you at the right time.’ Yes, Jesus can help you to cope with distress, and he can fill your heart with hope and courage.—Heb. 2:17, 18; 4:16. – par. 6

In most articles, such a paragraph would be written with “Jehovah” being substituted for “Jesus”, and nary a meeting attendee would bat an eye.  I honestly cannot recall the last time I read a passage like this in the publications.  Let us hope they keep this up.

All in all, it is a encouraging and balanced article. For instance, the chart following paragraph 15 in the online version or at the top of pages 22 and 23 in the print and PDF versions encourages us to have a balanced way of life.   This is good theory, but in practice—as any Witnesses will tell you—it is virtually impossible to apply this counsel while complying with the many demands on our time imposed by the Organization.  We have two meetings a week to prepare for and attend. We have a third which is the “family worship night”.  We have to go out in the field ministry and maintain the congregation average of hours.  We have extra meetings when the circuit overseer comes, and we have to support two assemblies and one convention every year.  If you are an elder, you also have many additional administrative duties to perform.  Additionally, we are all pressured to increase our time in the ministry every year as auxiliary pioneers, or even better, as regular pioneers.

If we start to cut back on any of these things, we get “encouraged” by the elders to bring our service back up, or even to exceed what we formerly did.

So as Yogi Berra once said: “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.”

However, this is not theory. The chart items are supported by scriptural references, so we are dealing with Bible principles. If a Witness is going to prosper, he must be obedient to God and Christ.  Therefore, we should all be vigilant in applying the counsel shown in the chart of this week’s study article and resist any attempts by well-meaning elders to change.  Only we can maintain our balance.  One way for us to accomplish this is to apply the Bible principle found at Matthew 6:33:

“. . .“Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness,. . .” (Mt 6:33)

Spending time learning falsehoods and spending more time preaching falsehoods is clearly not seeking the kingdom and God’s righteousness.  So if we eliminate such activities from our schedule, just imagine the time we free up for the other things the chart mentions that contribute to a happy, balanced, and spiritual life.

Your Relationship with God—Your Greatest Strength

My late wife was considered by all to be a model Witness.  She spent years preaching where there was a greater need, helped dozens to acquire a knowledge of the Bible and be baptized, and made people feel they could share anything with her without fear of being judged.  She was a quiet and mild person, but was also fiercely loyal and courageous.  Yet, she lamented to me from time to time that she never felt really close to God. She wanted a close, personal relationship with her creator, but it always seemed beyond her grasp.  It wasn’t until she awakened to the truth and came to realize that she needed to have a relationship with Jesus and through him to the Father; it wasn’t until she came to accept that she was called to be a child of God by her faith in the Lord; it wasn’t until she finally viewed God as her personal father that she finally began to feel the relationship she had yearned for all her life. (John 14:6; 1:12)

This study concludes by telling us that such a relationship is our greatest strength.  That is true, but the Organization, by its “Other Sheep as friends of God” doctrine, denies us the very relationship it extols, rendering its reassuring words empty and bereft of meaning.  Our greatest strength is our relationship with God as our Father, not as our friend.  That relationship has been taken away from us by this abomination of a doctrine. However, they cannot really shut up the kingdom because they are not more powerful than Jesus, who continues to extend the offer. (See Mt 23:13 and Mt 11:28-30)

Do You Remember

Since there isn’t much to comment on in this week’s Watchtower study, perhaps we might have a look at the “Do You Remember” review on page 18 of this December issue.

What type of sin was Jesus speaking of in the counsel outlined at Matthew 18:15-17?
He was speaking of matters that can be settled between those directly involved. But the sin is serious enough to merit disfellowshipping if the matter is not settled. For example, the sin might be slander, or it might involve fraud.—w16.05, p. 7.

False!  He was speaking of all types of sin, not just those of a personal nature.  First, there is nothing to indicate Jesus is speaking of a specific type of sin. Second, if he were only giving us direction to his disciples on handling sins of a personal nature, where is his direction on handling sins of a non-personal nature?  Why would he lovingly prepare us to handle less serious sins (as the Organization puts it) and then leave us empty handed when it comes to dealing with more serious sins? (For more information, see Matthew 18 Revisited.)

What can you do to make Bible reading more beneficial?
You can do the following: Read with an open mind, seeking lessons that you can apply; ask yourself such questions as ‘How can I use this to help others?’; and use available tools to do research on the material you just read.—w16.05, pp. 24-26.

“Read with an open mind”, yes!  But not a credulous mind. Rather, be like the Beroeans of old and verify everything.  As to using the “available tools”, it is understood by Witnesses that these are confined to the publications of JW.org.

Thus, “the faithful and discreet slave” does not endorse any literature, meetings, or Web sites that are not produced or organized under its oversight. (km 9/07 p. 3 Question Box)

Ignore this!  Use the plethora of Bible research tools available online.  (I use BibleHub.com regularly.) How else can you be sure you have the truth unless you put it to the test?

 

Whom do the man with the secretary’s inkhorn, mentioned in Ezekiel chapter 9, and the six men with weapons symbolize?
We understand them to picture heavenly forces that were involved in the destruction of Jerusalem and that will be involved in bringing destruction at Armageddon. In the modern-day fulfillment, the man with the inkhorn represents Jesus Christ, who marks those who will survive.—w16.06, pp. 16-17.

The Bible makes no secondary application to this account, no antitypical fulfillment.  So where does this antitypical fulfillment come from?  What instructions have we received from the Governing Body who now claims to be the “faithful and discreet slave” of Matthew 24:45 on the use of prophetic antitypes?

In summing up our new position on the use of types and antitypes, David Splane stated at the 2014 Annual Meeting Program:

“Who is to decide if a person or an event is a type if the word of God doesn’t say anything about it? Who is qualified to do that? Our answer? We can do no better than to quote our beloved brother Albert Schroeder who said, “We need to exercise great care when applying accounts in the Hebrew Scriptures as prophetic patterns or types if these accounts are not applied in the Scriptures themselves.” Wasn’t that a beautiful statement? We agree with it.” (See 2:13 mark of video)

Then, around the 2:18 mark, Splane gives the example of one brother, Arch W. Smith, who loved the belief we once held in the significance of pyramids. However, then the 1928 Watchtower nullified that doctrine, he accepted the change because, to quote Splane, “he let reason win out over emotion.”  Splane then continues to say, “In recent times, the trend in our publications has been to look for the practical application of events and not for types where the Scriptures themselves do not clearly identify them as such. We simply cannot go beyond what is written.

This was reiterated in the “Questions From Readers” in the March, 2015 Watchtower.

So why is the June, 2016, Watchtower contradicting the “new truth” about non-Scriptural antitypes? Why is it flouting this new direction from those purporting to be God’s channel of communication?  Is Jehovah sending us a mixed message or is this an example of human hypocrisy?

 

The Bible survived what sorts of threats?
It survived (1) the threat of decay of the materials used to write on, such as papyrus and parchment; (2) opposition by political and religious leaders who tried to destroy it; and (3) attempts by some to alter its message.—wp16.4, pp. 4-7.

Yes, it certainly has survived these threats, and largely due to the courageous stand of faithful children of God who risked life and limb to preserve it.  The current edition of the NWT is just one more example of point (3).  Take, for example, the insertion of Jehovah into the Christian Greek Scriptures where it isn’t found in any of the 5,000+ original manuscript copies and fragments. (See Fred Franz and the Divine Name in the Greek Scriptures.) Or take 1 Peter 1:11 where the rendering is changed from:

“Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” – 1 Peter 1:11 KJV

To:

“They kept on investigating what particular time or what season the spirit within them was indicating concerning Christ as it testified beforehand about the sufferings meant for Christ and about the glory that would follow.” (1Pe 1:11 NWT)

 It appears the removal of “Christ” in this verse—even though it appears in the interlinear upon which the NWT is based—is to avoid questions that would challenge JW doctrine.

There are too many examples to list here, but one thing is clear, the Beroean Bible student should make use of many versions to ensure he or she doesn’t fall prey to translator bias.

 

Is it proper for a brother today to have a beard?
In some cultures, a neat beard may be acceptable and may not detract from the Kingdom message. Still, some brothers might decide not to have a beard. (1 Cor. 8:9) In other cultures and localities, beards are not considered acceptable for Christian ministers.—w16.09, p. 21.

While this seems like a reasonable statement, we are getting reports that indicate the “cultures” being referred to are cultures particular to the local congregation or community of Jehovah’s Witnesses and have nothing to do with how the world at large views a man with a beard.