[ws2/17 p. 8 April 10 – 16]
“Every good gift and every perfect present is from … the Father”. James 1:17
The purpose of this article is as a follow up to last week’s study. It covers, from a JW perspective, what role the Ransom plays in the sanctification of Jehovah’s name, the rule of God’s Kingdom and the accomplishment of the purpose Jehovah has for the earth and humankind.
The greater portion of the article is dedicated to an analysis of the Model Prayer from Matthew 6:9, 10.
“Let your name be Sanctified”
William Shakespeare wrote, “What’s in a name. That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. (Romeo and Juliet). The Israelites typically gave their children personal names that conveyed specific meanings, and adults were sometimes renamed due to particular characteristics they displayed. It was then, as it is today, also a means of identifying a person. The name brings up an image of the person behind it. It is not the name that is special, but who and what it identifies that is important. That is the point made by Shakespeare, you could call a rose by another name but it would still look as beautiful and have the same lovely scent. So it is not the name Jehovah, or Yahweh, or Yehowah that is important but what that name means to us in terms of the God behind that name. To sanctify God’s name means to set it apart and treat it as holy.
Therefore, with this in mind the statement in Paragraph 4, “Jesus, on the other hand, truly loved the name of Jehovah”, most likely sounds strange to our ears. If you are newly married, you love your spouse, but if you say, “I absolutely love my spouse’s name”, people might think you a little strange.
Back in the first century, there were many gods. The Greeks and Romans each had a pantheon of gods, all with names. The names were treated as holy, pronounced with respect and reverence, but beyond that the worship and attention went to the god itself. Is it not therefore reasonable to understand that Jesus, when giving us the model prayer, wanted the name of Jehovah to be treated as holy instead of being the object of insults and the like from non-Jews who took Jehovah to be merely the God of the Jew’s. Jesus wanted Jehovah to be known as the God of all people, and treated as such. How would that come about? Firstly Jesus would have to give his life as a ransom sacrifice, which then would open the way for Jehovah to extend the invitation to the Gentiles as he did in 36 CE starting with Cornelius.
On that basis, the question in paragraph 5 should be “How can we show that we love Jehovah God, and show respect for his name?” rather than “How can we show that we love Jehovah’s name?” The focus is wrong. Rather, as the rest of the paragraph shows, we should indeed “do our best to live according to his righteous principles and laws.”
In paragraph 6, the usual distinction between anointed Christians and the “other sheep” is made by the organisation. However, does such a distinction exist in the scriptures? We have examined this subject in last week’s Watchtower review and other articles on this site. We will also examine it closer here.
Let us take a closer look at James 2:21-25—the only Scripture ever used in an attempt to label the “other sheep” as friends of Jehovah instead of his children. Verse 21 states, “Was not Abraham our father declared righteous by works after he had offered up Isaac”. Romans 5:1, 2 says, “Therefore now that we have been declared righteous as a result of faith….” What difference is there between these two scriptures? None, other than faith and works. Based on these two scriptures (especially in full context) there is no difference between Abraham and the early Christians. Faith moves true servants of God to approved words, by which God can declare them righteous. James 2:23 shows that in addition to being declared righteous as an outstanding as a man of faith, Abraham was also called Jehovah’s friend. There is no scriptural basis for calling anyone else Jehovah’s friend. Abraham was not called God’s son because the basis for adoption had not yet opened up in his time. Nevertheless, the benefits of the ransom, (i.e., adoption) can be extended retroactively it seems. Consider that Matthew 8:11 and Luke 13:28,29 tell us “that many from eastern parts and western parts will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of the Heavens.” Matthew 11:12 shows “the Kingdom of the Heavens is the goal toward which men press, and those pressing forward are seizing it”.
“Let your Kingdom come”
Paragraph 7 reiterates the organisation’s view of the kingdom arrangement.
The claim that participating in the preaching work shows our support for the Kingdom misses the point that there is more to bear witness than knocking on doors. Our works speak more than our Christian routine. To translate Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7:21,22 into modern day language, “Not everyone saying to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord’ did we not prophesy in your name [from door to door, did we not preach that your kingdom would start ruling in 1914], and perform many powerful works in your name, [like building many fine Kingdom Halls and Bethel facilities, and translating Bible literature into many languages]? And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.” Jesus is looking for love, and mercy, and obedience to his commands—not the great works that impress men.
For instance, in James 1:27 we learn that the form of worship of which the Father approves is “to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world.” What charitable works is the Organization known for? Do we have lists in every congregation to provide for widows and orphans as the first century congregation did? Does a 10-year-membership in the United Nations Organization qualify as being “without spot from the world”?
“Let Your Will Take Place”
In paragraph 10, we get an example of the mixed messages being conveyed which confuse most witnesses. According to the Organization, are we friends or are we sons? Having stated we are friends earlier in the article now it tells us, “As the Source of life, he becomes the Father [Note: not friend] of everyone who is resurrected.” Then it correctly says how appropriate it is that Jesus taught us to pray “Our Father in the heavens”. Yet, because of the mixed message, how do you open your prayers? Do you pray “Our Father in the heavens”? Or do you often find yourself praying “Our Father Jehovah” or “Jehovah our Father”? When you call or speak to your fleshly father, do you address him “My Dad Jimmy” or “Jimmy my Dad”?
Jesus being the firstborn son of God told his listeners in Mark 3:35 “Whoever does the will of God, this one is my brother and sister and mother”. (italics theirs). Would that not make these ones, sons of God (albeit human ones)?
Is it God’s will that we should be his friends? If so, where does it say that? And if not, then if we pray that his “will take place” while simultaneously preaching something that is not his will—that humans are not his sons, but his friends—are we not working against the very thing we are praying for?
“Show Your Gratitude for the Ransom”
Paragraph 13 discusses how “our baptism shows that we belong to Jehovah”. Let us remind ourselves of Jesus’ command about baptism. Matthew 28:19,20 tells us, “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.”.
Now contrast that command with the current baptism questions.
- “On the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, have you repented of your sins and dedicated yourself to Jehovah to do his will?”
- “Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit directed organization?”
No mention of being baptised in the name of the Father, Son, and holy spirit. Yet, they go beyond Jesus command by tying the baptismal candidate into an earthly organization? Additionally, they also presumptuously indicate that you cannot be a Witness of Jehovah without associating with the JW Organization.
Paragraph 14 again gives a mixed message by misapplying Matthew 5:43-48 talking to all witnesses and saying, “We prove that we desire to be ‘sons of [our] father who is in the heavens’ by loving our neighbour. (Matt. 5:43-48)”. The scripture actually says, “Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those who persecute you, so that you may prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens”. Notice the scripture says we prove ourselves sons of God by our actions, rather than “we desire to be” sons of God.
Paragraph 15 teaches that Jehovah will adopt those of the great crowd at the end of the thousand year reign of peace, however the cited scriptures in support of this, Romans 8:20-21 and Revelation 20:7-9 do not support such a notion. Indeed Romans 8:14 tells us that: “For all who are led by God’s spirit are God’s sons”. Does this mean that if we are part of the claimed ‘God’s spirit directed organization’ we are therefore God’s sons? I do not think they intended that link to be made. Instead, let us look to the scriptures once again to understand what ‘led by God’s spirit’ might actually mean. Galatians 5:18-26 shows that we ‘are led by the spirit’ if we manifest the fruits of the spirit. Rather different to the unprovable claim made by the GB.
In addition, the suggestion, “it is as though Jehovah has drawn up an adoption certificate” for the great crowd is pure speculation (although many witnesses will consider this as revealed truth). The only adoption spoken of in the scriptures (Romans 8:15, 23, Romans 9:4, Galatians 4:5 and Ephesians 1:15) refers exclusively to those termed ‘sons of God’. The idea of an “adoption certificate” with a thousand-year completion date is silly and completely unscriptural.
To conclude, let us agree at least with sentiments of paragraphs 16 and 17 and echo the words of Revelation 7:12 “Let the praise and the glory be to our God forever and ever” for the loving provision of his son Jesus Christ as a ransom for all humankind.