A scene from the viewpoint of a Jehovah’s Witness:
Armageddon is now past, and by the grace of God you’ve survived into Earth’s new paradise. But as new scrolls are opened and a clearer picture emerges of life in the New World, you learn, either by a direct judgment or a slow realization, that you have not yet been declared righteous so as to inherit everlasting life. You are astonished to learn that you were found to be unworthy of this gift of undeserved kindness as you had expected. Instead, your lot and judgment is to work toward “coming to life at the end of the 1000 years.” (Rev 20:5)
In this circumstance, you find yourself on equal or nearly equal footing with the unrighteous, such as those who lived before Jesus and never came to know his promise of salvation by being declared righteous by undeserved kindness. You find yourself as just one of many peoples who together now have the opportunity to know and exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but over the next thousand years. Granted, you might be ahead of others in faith and understanding, but you must wait the same amount of time until the end of the 1000 years to receive “eternal life.”
As you go about your daily work of building a New World Society, you become aware that the role of priests and princes is being carried out by a class of Christians that did receive the reward, those of the first resurrection.
“Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6)
You are questioned as to why it was that you thought you were a member of a “great crowd of other sheep” that were excluded from the covenant for a kingdom. You had a publisher’s record card in your congregation file with a check box for O.S., “other sheep.” You ask why you are no better off in standing than those who died before the ransom sacrifice, or unbelieving sons of Abraham—both Jews and Arabs—or people from the pagan nations?
These Kingdom princes direct you to examine John chapter 10 where Jesus says in verse 16: “And I have other sheep, which are not of the fold.” And you reply to them, “There I am.”
But these princes point out the second half, “…those too I must bring in, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd. 17This is why the Father loves me, because I surrender my life, so that I may receive it again.” (John 10:16, 17)
You are helped to realize that you did not become part of the “one flock, once shepherd” who received the free gift of everlasting life, because you rejected your membership in the “covenant for a kingdom.” When Jesus spoke those words, he was speaking to Jews while he was a Jew and was given the assignment to go only to the lost sheep of Israel. After his death, those “other sheep,” non-Jews or Gentiles, did become “one flock” under “one shepherd” as part of the anointed Christian Congregation. They, and all other Christians who partook of the emblems. Those who became part of the International Bible Students Association (IBSA), as well as those who became known as “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in 1931, continued to partake; but the majority of witnesses stopped partaking in 1935. What had changed? What sudden obstacle to the “covenant for a Kingdom” sprung up in 1926?
With the failure of World War I to end in Armageddon, Rutherford increasingly put emphasis on 1925, beginning door-to-door preaching with the new Golden Age magazine in 1919. Fervor for the New Order reached a high point where 90,000 were partaking of the memorial emblems in 1925, with an expectation of immediate passage through the great tribulation. This was a growth rate that would soon exceed 144,000, a literal limit in Rutherford’s view. By this date, Fred W Franz had become Rutherford’s research and doctrinal aide. With the failure of all the predictions surrounding the 1925 expectation, a disheartened atmosphere developed. Rutherford’s followers were more skeptical. These were called a class lacking true belief in their anointing, and through the type/antitype analysis that Franz favored, they came to be called the Jonadab class, after the model of King Jehu and his associate Jonadab, a Kenite and non-Israelite .
The Jonadabs did not qualify for baptism or for even attending the memorial until after 1934. By that time, the pathway to Kingdom covenant was closed off. A new fork in the road to the kingdom had been set in place that would lead to out-right rejection of Jesus simple command to accept undeserved kindness belonging to his brothers, the anointed. Even though the word Christian implies anointing by spirit (Christ = the anointed one), these skeptics were set aside as observers, not participants in the new covenant.
“But they said: “We will not drink wine, because Je·hona·dab the son of Rechab, our forefather, gave us this command, ‘Neither you nor your sons must ever drink wine.” (Jeremiah 35:6)
By mid-1934, the doctrine was laid down that this class could present themselves for water baptism as friends of God, but they did not receive a spirit of inheritance as sons of God. They would stand apart from a closed class of 144,000 anointed, ignoring the Bible view of the “great crowd” as declared righteous to live in the tabernacle of God.
You protest, saying, “But I was part of the ‘great crowd.’”
Again your reading of scripture is adjusted by princes, because they point out that the great crowd was not formed as a class until after they came out of the great tribulation ( Rev 7:14), and then they found themselves declared righteous and were seated in the temple before the throne of God.” The “great crowd” is seen, not in the temple courtyards, but in its inner-most chamber, “the divine habitation.”
“Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.” (Re 7:15 ESV)
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-26)
The free gift of being declared righteous and joining the great crowd inside God’s tabernacle is offered to all mankind by the preaching of the Good News of salvation by Christ’s ransom. It is undeserved kindness or grace for the very reason that we are unworthy. Nothing on their part, aside from faith in the merit of Christ’s sacrifice in our behalf, is required. Yes, sinners are unworthy, but they are made worthy not by works, but by the grace of God. That is the point of propitiation. Undeserved kindness is by its nature not applied to worthy ones, but the un-worthy.
Therefore, if we explain that we did not partake of the emblems of the covenant because we considered ourselves to be unworthy, then we show that we have rejected what was offered, specifically, the free gift of God. This results in a great irony, for we are essentially telling Jehovah that “I am unworthy to be counted as unworthy.”
No measure of service activity or faithfulness to an organization makes a difference to our outcome. If we reject the kingdom covenant and membership in its spirit-anointed class—something never done before 1935—then we do not apply the value of the ransom sacrifice to ourselves.
Partaking of the emblems is more than observing a command to “take and eat” or “take and drink.” It is a communion with the Lord, and Paul speaks of it being done on the Lord’s day, not the Passover.
As a summary of reasons as to who is worthy to partake, we have considered the following points in Scripture:
- The “other sheep” of John 10:16 are Christian gentiles who joined with Christian Israelites to make up “one flock” under one shepherd by the ransom sacrifice and the pouring out of holy spirit (anointing) on the people of the nations. They are worthy as “one flock” to be in the new covenant and partake.
- The post-Armageddon “great crowd” of Rev 7:14 are declared righteous by accepting undeserved kindness or grace through their belief in the sin-atoning value of Christ’s blood and sacrificed body. They were found worthy to be declared righteous because in faith they followed the commands to “take eat” and “take drink.”
- The “great crowd” are placed in the center area of the temple, not in its courtyards. God spreads his tent out over them, and they dwell in his place of habitation. Thus under Kingdom Rulership they will act as administrators and princes, as the New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven to cover the extents of the earth.
- This group, which receives everlasting life, is worthy, not in their own right, but by their faith in the new covenant.
- By their partaking of the emblems, they confirm their communion with Jesus as brothers and as spirit-anointed “sons of God.”
“To that very end we always pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling and with his power perform completely all the good that he pleases and every work of faith. 12 This is so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you and you in union with him, according to the undeserved kindness of our God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11, 12)
The substance of the 2017 Memorial talk, like the invitation campaign that precedes it, is focused on causing one to believe an “earthly hope” is offered as the way to Paradise.
The scriptures lay out that Christians serve with Christ in his Kingdom rule to bring the earth and mankind back into harmony with Jehovah’s purposes. Whether they do this from the heavens or upon the earth will be revealed in God’s due time.
The only option offered by Christ now is the kingdom covenant, to rule with him as a brother. The “rest of the dead” will eventually receive their opportunity too, but for now, Christians have but one hope, the Kingdom covenant hope.