Treasures from God’s Word
Week’s theme: “Israel Forgot Jehovah” (Jeremiah Chapters 12 – 16)
The first two portions of this consideration of Jeremiah, together with references, quote from the Gods Word for Us through Jeremiah (jr) book to relate Jeremiah’s trip to and from the Euphrates with a linen belt, and how he obeyed Jehovah’s instructions. This is a fine example for us, providing of course that the instructions are from Jehovah and clearly in his word, rather than springing from man’s own interpretation.
The third portion (Jer 13:8-11) refers to jr p. 52 pars. 19-20, and the organizational slant on these verses comes in paragraph 20 when it says regarding neighbors being puzzled or even criticizing you: “It may involve your dress and grooming, your choice as to education, what you prefer as a career, or even your view of alcoholic beverages. Will you be as determined to comply with God’s guidance as Jeremiah was?”
Firstly let us state up front, we should all be determined to comply with God’s guidance even as Jeremiah was. Indeed it is unlikely we would be on this site if we were not concerned in discerning exactly what God’s guidance really is.
So what guidance is there in God’s word as to dress and grooming?
1 Timothy 2:9, 10 provides this: “…well-arranged dress, with modesty, and soundness of mind.. not with ..very expensive garb.. but in the way that befits women professing to reverence God”.
The key principle is that by our dress we show our reverence to God and our personal choice of clothing, hairstyles and adornment would point to that reverence by proving acceptable to God and to the general community rather than ourselves or our narrow community of associates, whoever they may be.
Deuteronomy 22:5, 1 Corinthians 10:31 & 13:4, 5 and Philippians 2:4 also contain fine principles.
To go beyond these principles and lay down restrictions such as those on beards is to go beyond what is written. Just pause and think for a moment, if Jesus materialized today as he did to the first century disciples and walked into a circuit assembly or regional convention, he would be barred from giving a talk from the platform. (As an aside, the US Military currently has a general prohibition on beards and have done so since World War I with the exception of a break between 1970-1984. Also the Mormons strongly encourage all members to shave and it is mandated for its missionaries and those who work or attend the Mormon University. Should we be emulating these organizations?).
What guidance is there in God’s word as to choice of education and career?
The short answer is no specific guidance at all. Of course there are some general principles that can be applied, such as Luke 14:28, to calculate the expense, but it is up to our conscience, remembering Romans 14:10, “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you also look down on your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgement seat of God”.
Yes, we all are responsible before God for our choices in life, including our education and career. So why are we not encouraged to exercise our conscience in these matters? Why are we expected to adhere to directions that go beyond what is written under the threat of sanctions?
Then comes the claim for authority as paragraph 20 in the Jeremiah book continues: “In any case, being obedient to Jehovah’s direction found in his Word and accepting the guidance given through the faithful slave class is for your lasting good.” Of course, since 2012, we have been taught that there never was a “slave class” consisting of all the anointed on earth. Now we are told that the faithful slave is the Governing Body. So why are we quoting an understanding that has now been disavowed? If these men claiming to be the faithful slave cannot even discern the incongruity of telling us to obey a class that no longer exists, how can we believe that it is for our ‘lasting good to accept and obey their guidance’?
Digging for Spiritual Gems
“What was Jeremiah’s view of associations, and how can we imitate him? (w04 5/1 12 para 16)”
The Watchtower reference says in part, “Jeremiah would rather be alone than be corrupted by bad companions. We today view matters the same way.”
That is missing the point. Being merrymakers did not make those Israelite contemporaries of Jeremiah bad associations per se. Reading the context of this verse shows that Jehovah had been giving Jeremiah a strongly worded warning to deliver to the Israelites of his day; one they needed to heed urgently. It potentially meant their very lives. In verses 13and 14, addressing Israel, Jehovah said:
“Your resources and your treasures I will give as plunder… 14I will give them to your enemies.” (Jer 15:13, 14)
Therefore this was a very serious situation. Having been given this commission to transmit the impending destruction, how could Jeremiah sit with merrymakers and rejoice? It would have totally undermined the seriousness of his message by implying that he did not take the words he was prophesying seriously when in reality he took them very seriously. While the nation as a whole was wicked, there were individuals who were not, but were still taking no note of Jeremiah’s message. It is therefore a misapplication to state that “Jeremiah would rather be alone than be corrupted by bad companions.”
Digging Even Deeper for Spiritual Gems
Summary of Jeremiah 16
Time Period: Probably late in reign of Josiah
- (1-8) Jeremiah told not to take a wife. Calamities to befall mothers and babies. Jehovah will take away peace from the people.
- (9) ‘Here I am causing you to cease out of this place (Jerusalem)… I will put an end to the sounds of exultation and rejoicing, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride.’
- (10-13) When questioned as to why these calamities the reply was to be because they and their fathers kept going after other gods. They would be hurled into the land they had not known without Jehovah’s favor.
- (14-15) The Jews would return because of Jehovah taking action in a way exceeding the notoriety of the Exodus from Egypt.
- (16-21) Before that though they would be rooted out without exception to pay off their sins in polluting the land Jehovah had given them.
Apply Yourself to the Field Ministry
Talk: (6 min.) w16.03 29-31—Theme: When Were God’s People Held Captive by Babylon the Great?
Question: What do you do if you change the understanding on a teaching and most Witnesses do not understand it? How about raise an unattributed “Questions from Readers” and repeat the same information to emphasize it is right. Well, is the answer any clearer now? Let’s investigate.
First, the question, “Why is this adjusted view warranted?” Notice the word “view”. Teachings from the Governing Body are views, which allows them to change their view without repercussion. However, if you or I were to question said view, it would instantly change into a teaching because it comes from the GB and should therefore not be challenged.
Paragraph 2 makes the claim “God’s people were tested and refined during the years following the establishment of Gods Kingdom in the heavens in 1914” citing Malachi 3:1-4 and a footnote reference to The Watchtower of July 15, 2013 pp. 10-12, pars. 5-8, 12—the watershed Watchtower for many fading or ex-Witnesses.
For a discussion of the messenger of the covenant, the proper application of Malachi 3 and a review of the Watchtower application, see the CLAM review of Oct 3-9, 2016.
Paragraph 8 (pp. 10-12) of the July 15, 2013 Watchtower deserves a detailed analysis:
“In late 1914, some Bible Students were disheartened because they had not gone to heaven.”
Why? Because of unfulfilled prognostications that Armageddon would come in 1914 and that they would be taken to heaven to be with Christ at that time.
“During 1915 and 1916, opposition from outside the organization slowed down the preaching work. Worse, after Brother Russell’s death in October 1916, opposition arose from inside the organization. Four of the seven directors of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society rebelled against the decision to have Brother Rutherford take the lead.”
What are the facts, as opposed to claims? (1) January 1917 Rutherford was unanimously voted in as President at a special convention. (2) Within a few months four Directors had a change of heart because they came to see autocratic behavior from the then President of the Organization. They tried to limit his powers, but Rutherford got rid of them using a legal technicality in the Society’s bylaws. After that, he remained in power with four Directors who were loyal to him. (For a review of whether Rutherford met the qualifications to even be considered the faithful and discreet slave, see Qualifications to Become God’s Channel of Communication.)
“They tried to cause division among the brothers, but in August 1917, they left Bethel—a cleansing indeed! “
“History is written by the victors.” – Walter Benjamin.
Fortunately, the history is recent enough and printed material durable enough that serious historians can learn what really happened. Both the ousted Directors and Rutherford published arguments and accusations against each other to try to win over the early Bible Students. Both sides caused divisions which led to hundreds leaving the Watchtower organization to join three different Bible Students groups. Hundreds more left disenchanted with all the upheaval caused by the leadership during the 1917-1919 period. There was no cleansing. What there was can best be called a coup.
Also, some Bible Students gave in to the fear of man. Still, as a whole they willingly responded to Jesus’ cleansing work and made the needed changes.
“As a whole”? In a court case in 1947 one of the breakaway Bible Students associations gave evidence that during the 1920’s to early 1940’s over 56,000 of the 75,000 that broke off affiliation with The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society had joined their movement. As of 1942 the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses had not yet reached 100,000, so to claim that “as a whole” they willingly responded is clearly to engage in “alternative facts”. And precisely what changes did Jesus get them to make? Rutherford was, by this time, deep into his “Millions Now Living Will Never Die” campaign. This was the campaign that predicted the end would come in 1925 when the ancient worthies would be resurrected and the physical nation of Israel would be restored. Are we now to blame Jesus for this fiasco? Apparently Yes, if we are to accept that he was responsible for this so-called “cleansing work”.
Hence, Jesus judged them to be true Christian wheat, but he rejected all imitation Christians, including all of those found within the churches of Christendom. (Mal. 3:5; 2 Tim. 2:19)
Unfortunately, we don’t have Jesus’ written nor spoken words to verify this astonishing fact, but we can take it as a given that he actually performed this judgment because those who have set themselves up in the seat of Moses as God’s appointed channel of communication have assured us that Jesus actually did this.
Notice that it is not the individuals that Jesus is judging as wheat, but the organization itself. True, Jesus says that the seed he sowed were the “sons of the Kingdom”, but he didn’t really mean that. He meant that the seeds were the Organization, and the weeds were the other bad organizations. So we cannot be saved individually as wheat. We have to be in the wheat-like Organization to be saved. This we also have on good authority by those who have proclaimed themselves to be the “faithful and discreet slave”.
Paragraph 8 of the “Questions from Readers”, referring to the period of spiritual captivity from the 2nd Century onward, states in part:
“Any who expressed an opinion contrary to what the clergy taught were dealt with harshly, thus stifling any attempts to spread the light of the truth”.
Of course, that is no longer the case in the churches of Christendom with one notable exception. The Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses continues to practice this technique to quell dissent. If one expresses, not an opinion, but a Bible truth that is contrary to what the clergy of the Organization teaches, he will be dealt with most harshly. Most are in fear to express any idea that might conflict with “established truth”.
As the final paragraph concludes it could be accurate to say “that God’s people went into captivity…in the 2nd century C.E.” However, it is sad to say that, with regard to Jehovah’s Witnesses, that captivity continues to exist.
Living as Christians
Congregation Bible Study
God’s Kingdom Rules (Chapter 10 para 8-11 pp.101-103)
Theme: “The King Refines his People Spiritually”
This week’s portion deals with how the organization treated the celebration of Christmas. As paragraph 8 notes, the Watchtower of December 1881 stated “the pagan holidays came to be called by Christian names – Christmas being one of these holidays”. Despite supposedly being cleansed by Christ in 1919, the pagan celebration of Christmas continued to be practiced by the Bible Students until 1927. Strange that! Especially when we know that the Plymouth colony of Puritan settlers of New England in the USA outlawed Christmas in Boston between 1659 and 1681 and it took another 200 years for it to become popular in the Boston area. Other Protestant churches of the time also disapproved of Christmas.
Paragraph 11 may give us a clue as to why nothing was done. Perhaps some of the early Bible Students knew it was wrong but did nothing because there was no direction from Headquarters. The Governing Body uses the opportunity to ask us to ask ourselves “How do I view the direction [or lack of direction!] we receive from headquarters? Do I gratefully accept it and apply what I learn?”
It concludes by stating “Our willing obedience shows our support for the Messianic King, who is using the faithful slave to dispense timely spiritual food.” Of course we should obey Christ, but as for those claiming to be the faithful and discreet slave, should not the measure of their claim be based on whether they have acted in faith and exercised discretion? On the issue of Christmas, those claiming to be the slave were some 268 years late! Hardly timely by any definition of the word. Such a slave would be sacked for delivering food so late. We also have to ask, if the Puritans and others knew it centuries before, then why would Jesus select a group who were still steeped in this pagan practice?