Treasures from God’s Word

The theme is ‘Let Jehovah Mold Your Thinking and Conduct’ this week based on Jeremiah 18.

Yes indeed, let us all do that. When a question or an issue regarding our faith comes along, why not take a little time to give consideration as to what are the principles and the context behind the scripture? This will help us understand and gain insight on the ideas and principles behind the words rather than applying the words without any thought.

A typical case in point, Deuteronomy 19:15 reads: “No single witness should rise up against a man respecting any error or any sin. At the mouth of two witnesses or at the mouth of three witnesses the matter should stand good.”  This is used to support the ‘two witness rule’. Yet the following four verses (the context) deal with exactly how the Israelite judges could handle an accusation with just one witness.

So with only one witness to a sin/crime does verse 15 exclude any further action and mandate that nothing can be done? No! Verse 15 is describing the recommendation that ideally additional witnesses should be available wherever possible to avoid any miscarriage of justice. Verse 18 highlights that where there was one witness/accuser only then “the judges must search thoroughly”. Why? Surely to see which was the most credible witness. What factors should those judges have considered? Relevant factors such as: Did the accuser have anything to gain by the accusation such as money or revenge or did they stand to lose much? Why should the accuser’s testimony be ignored or dismissed if they have a reputation of being honest in all things? True, humans cannot read the hearts but these and other aspects would have to be taken into account and examined. Today, why not encourage the reporting of crimes to the secular authorities who have more expertise in handling these matters, especially when it is the law that we report?

Do the scriptures exclude inanimate witnesses? No! Therefore, other evidence depending on the accusation surely would be acceptable. Today, this could include forensic evidence, strong circumstantial evidence, the alibi (or lack of if not confirmed by another witness) of the accused and the like. So if a particular crime is against another person, especially a minor and in done in secret, with no other human witnesses present, that should not preclude the finding of the accused as guilty on the balance of evidence.

Today many witnesses are finding themselves disgusted at things happening within the organisation. They surely would echo the words of the 3rd scripture examined “This is what Jehovah says: ‘Here I am preparing a calamity and devising a scheme against you. Turn back, please, from your bad ways, and reform your ways and your practices’”. Yes, indeed, turn back, please, from your bad ways and reform your ways and your practices!

Digging for Spiritual Gems:   Jeremiah 17-21

Jeremiah 17:9 – “How may the heart’s treachery become manifest?” (w01 10/15 25 para13)

The reference states, “This treachery of the heart may manifest itself when we make excuses for our errors, minimize shortcomings, rationalize away serious personality flaws, or exaggerate accomplishments. A desperate heart is also capable of taking on a two-sided posture – smooth lips saying one thing, actions saying another. How vital that we be honest as we examine what comes out of the heart!”

Let us examine the statements included in this reference.

Does the organisation ever “make excuses for its errors”?

What excuses for its errors were made regarding expectations for what 1975 would bring? The June 22 1995 Awake, page 9 stated “More recently, many Witnesses conjectured that events associated with the beginning of Christ’s Millennial Reign might start to take place in 1975. Their anticipation was based on the understanding that the seventh millennium of human history would begin then”. Yes, it lays the blame squarely on Witnesses in general, rather than accepting that the publications and its senior public representatives stressed 1975 strongly as an official teaching. It was a time when you could not voice your skepticism openly for fear of censure, even if you pointed out that events prophesied to occur as a prelude to Armageddon had not yet happened.

Does the organisation minimize shortcomings?

The same article says, “Prior to the latter part of the year 1914, many Christians expected Christ to return at that time and to take them away to heaven. Thus, in a discourse given on September 30, 1914, A. H. Macmillan, a Bible Student, (a prominent Bethel member who became a director of the Society in 1919) stated, “This is probably the last public address I shall ever deliver because we shall be going home [to heaven] soon.” Clearly, Macmillan was mistaken, but that was not the only unfulfilled expectation he or his fellow Bible Students had.” The remark “was mistaken” is not qualified as to why he was mistaken, i.e. because it was an official teaching. The paragraph then moves swiftly on to other unfulfilled expectations. Is this not evidence of minimizing shortcomings?

Does the organisation rationalize away serious personality flaws?

What about the obsession with preaching, but lip service paid to improving Christian qualities in how we act and deal with others as highlighted in recent CLAM reviews. What about the blindness to the fact that the organization’s standards should be above the worlds, for example in protecting minors, instead of being inferior as clearly demonstrated in the recent Australian Royal High Commission into Child Sexual Abuse. For an organisation allegedly preparing for a paradise earth, it has set a poor standard.  For example, for years in the UK it used its charitable status to avoid compliance with the building standards for insulation in its Kingdom Halls.

Does the organisation exaggerate accomplishments?

Just read the section from the God’s Kingdom Rules book considered during March 6-12 on how the ‘increase’ fulfills Isaiah 60:22, despite other religions growing by more than the organisation during the same period. Also the claims that we are still having a great increase (see the CLAM review for March 13-19, 2017 re Para 20 from kr.) despite clear evidence to the contrary.

Does the organisation have a two-sided posture – smooth lips saying one thing, actions saying another?

How about its claims to the Australian Royal High Commission into Child Sexual Abuse? The response to the commission (Day 259 Case Study 54) was to say, “It is not and has never been Jehovah’s Witnesses’ policy to shun a victim of child sexual abuse.” The counsel for the commission replied, “That says what it says. That’s fine. That doesn’t meet the point that has been made, which is that the victim of child sexual abuse who wants to and does leave the organization is shunned.”

These are the smooth lips. What are the actions in reality? Many of you dear readers have verified for yourselves that this is far from the reality. You can even be shunned while still attending meetings and going in field service and answering up at meetings, just because they suspect you are not 100% behind the organization, as perhaps a number of you are experiencing. They also censor your public expression by restricting your ability to answer at meetings.

The God’s Kingdom Rules portion this week is Chapter 10 para 12-19 pp.103-107

The Theme: ‘The King Refines his People Spiritually’

This week’s portion deals with how the organization treated the Cross.

Like the issue of Christmas, it took from the 1870’s to 1928, nearly 60 years for it to become clear the cross had no place in pure worship. Yet in recent weeks, the claim was made that Christ inspected his people and accepted them as cleansed in 1919, some 9 years previously. The claim just does not hold water. It is another case of spiritual food not at the proper time, with all its implications for the Governing Body as a claimed faithful and discreet slave.

Talking about the Cross (including the use of the Crown and Cross pins) paragraph 14 states “We came to recognize that what we once cherished as symbolic or representative of the death of our Lord and of our Christian devotion was really a pagan symbol”. Have things changed? Not really, in the last few years, the icon JW.org has been promoted heavily. For many Kingdom Halls, the JW.org logo is the most prominent feature on the building’s sign. Casual passersby can be forgiven for thinking the Kingdom Hall is some corporate building or conference hall rather than a place of worship. In addition, while witnessing we are encouraged to point the public to JW.org for the answers instead of directly to the Bible. Do we see a pattern? Cross and Crown pin, Watchtower pin, JW.org pin. The desire to be identified by symbols instead of actions. We should be clearly identifiable by our Bible based conduct, not a piece of jewelry or a corporate style logo.

In paragraph 17 and 18, the kr book briefly examines Matthew 13:47-50. Once again a claim is made that some invisible work has been going on without any proof.

Matthew 13:48 states the “[fishermen] hauled it [the catch] up onto the beach, and sitting down, they collected the fine ones into vessels, but the unsuitable they threw away.”

Unsuitable” is the translation from the Greek word sapros which means “rotten, useless, corrupt, depraved, overripe, overdone, unfit for use”. Bear this definition in mind as you read the following section to see that the original Greek word has a much stronger meaning than the NWT choice of “unsuitable”.

So the fishermen [angels] are harvesting, not crops but fish.

When are they separated? Immediately.

Does the following sound a bit far fetched? Is there any opportunity for the unsuitable fish to wiggle into the sea, swim off, metamorphose in to fine fish, and come and jump back into the net on the beach ready to be put into the vessels with the rest of the fine fish? Or are they thrown away, discarded as rotten, useless?

In Verse 49 Jesus gives the explanation as “in the conclusion of the system of things [Greek – the consummation of the age] the angels will go out and separate the wicked from among the righteous and will cast them into the fiery furnace. There is where their weeping and the gnashing of their teeth will be”.

Is there any opportunity here for the wicked to say to the angels, “Wait a minute, I want go off to become righteous, then you can re-separate me, and not cast me into the furnace.”? No, there and then they are thrown into the symbolic fiery furnace—destruction, just like the weeds that are burned.

Now contrast the scripture verses you have just read with the explanation in paragraph 18: “Throwing away “the unsuitable” [note:  It should be “the rotten fish”]. Throughout the last days [note: It should be the consummation or completion of the age, not a long time period], Christ and the angels have been separating ‘the wicked from among the righteous’”.

The footnote reads in part: “The separating of the fine fish from the unsuitable fish is not the same as the separating of the sheep from the goats.

Why not? No explanation is given or referred to as to why the different interpretation.

The separating or final judgment, of the sheep and the goats takes place during the coming great tribulationUntil then, those who are like unsuitable fish may return to Jehovah and be gathered into containerlike congregations.” It also references Malachi 3:7 “‘Return to me, and I will return to you,’ Jehovah of armies has said. And you have said: ‘In what way shall we return?’” – par. 18

According to this, the way to return is: the rotten fish dying on the beach in the rubbish heap have a chance to wiggle into the sea, swim off, metamorphose into fine fish, return, and jump back into the net on the beach ready to be put into the vessels with the rest of the fine fish.

Is this not a perversion of the words of our Lord?  A fine, instructional parable is being subverted to support the needs of the Organization.