[From ws1/17 p. 18 April 17-23]
“Jehovah will always lead you.” – Isaiah 58:11
Right from the get-go, there is a major problem with this article: Its premise. The title will immediately invoke the idea in the mind of the reader that Jehovah is leading the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yet the Bible makes it very clear that we have one leader, Jesus Christ.
“Neither be called leaders, for your Leader is one, the Christ.” (Mt 23:10)
A witness might counter that Jesus obeys Jehovah so that in a sense it is Jehovah who is leading his people. This is essentially the point made in the opening two paragraphs. This is shallow reasoning that stems from the organization’s need to emphasize Jehovah over Jesus as a means for Jehovah’s Witnesses to distinguish themselves from the rest of Christendom. What is worse is that it disregards what the Bible explicitly says on the subject of who leads us. Indeed, if this reasoning were valid, why would Jesus have referred to himself as the one and only leader of his disciples? Why would he claim that all authority had been granted him if in fact Jehovah still retained a leadership role?
“Jesus approached and spoke to them, saying: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. 19 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,” (Mt 28:18, 19)
These words indicate that Jehovah trusted Jesus to such an extent that he gave him full authority and made him the leader. Further, God told us specifically, in his own voice no less, to listen to his Son.
“. . .And a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud: ‘This is my Son, the beloved; listen to him.’” (Mr 9:7)
Nowhere in the Christian Scriptures are we told that our leader is Jehovah God. What we are told explicitly can be found – to give one example – in the book of Ephesians:
“. . .with which he has operated in the case of the Christ when he raised him up from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above every government and authority and power and lordship and every name named, not only in this system of things, but also in that to come. 22 He also subjected all things under his feet, and made him head over all things to the congregation,” (Eph 1:20-22)
From these verses, it is very clear that Jehovah God is transferring authority from himself to his Son. True, when Isaiah wrote the words in our theme text, Jehovah was the leader of his people, the nation of Israel. However when he established the Christian congregation, all that changed. Jesus is now our leader. We have no need for others. When Jehovah established Moses as the head of Israel, certain men became envious of his role. Men like Korah. They wanted to be the go-between, the channel between God and the nation. We now have the greater Moses in Jesus Christ. We have no need for a replacement, a modern-day Korah.
That being said, let us look at the content of this week’s Watchtower article.
Paragraphs 1 and 2 lay the groundwork for the article by attempting to compare us with other religions. These may ask, “Who is your leader?” They are implying a human leader. We reply that our leader is Jesus Christ who follows the lead of Jehovah God. Again, we make Jesus the go-between instead of the commander-in-chief. The opening paragraph implies that we are different from other religions in this. Of course, we are not. Whether Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, or Mormon, each in turn would claim Jesus as their leader while explaining that certain men take the lead in their church under Jesus’ leadership. How is this any different from what we are attempting to say in this article? We do not have a Pope, nor Archbishop, nor an apostolic succession, but we do have a Governing Body. To misquote Shakespeare, “A rose by any other name, still has thorns”.
The article will now attempt to lay the groundwork for drawing a parallel between ancient Bible examples of men used by God to take the lead and the modern-day Governing Body. This line of reasoning will conclude with next week’s article.
Empowered by Holy Spirit
The evidence that Moses was empowered by Holy Spirit is overwhelming. Under Joshua, Holy Spirit brought the walls of Jericho down. Gideon overwhelmed a vastly superior military force with only 300 men. And then we have David. He did many great things when the Holy Spirit was with him. However, when he sinned as he did with Bathsheba, things did not go so well. The presence of the Holy Spirit is not guaranteed. Its flow can be hindered, even stopped, by sin.
For example, in the Bible record there is no complaint made against Joshua. He seems to have maintained his integrity throughout his life. Nevertheless, under his leadership Israel experienced a shocking defeat. This was due to the sin of one man, Achan. Only when that sin was discovered and punishment for Achan’s disobedience had been meted out, did the Holy Spirit return to ensure victory. (Joshua 7:10-26)
From these accounts it is very clear that Jehovah does not channel his spirit through any man or group of men if these individuals are engaged in disobedience and sin.
In next week’s Watchtower study, the Governing Body is going to attempt to use what is taught this week as a means to demonstrate that in this modern world, they are the chosen ones of God to lead his people. When you come to next week’s study, remember the lessons from David’s life as well as the incident with Achan. Then think about this: in 1991, while condemning the Catholic Church for having 24 nongovernmental organization members in the United Nations, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses applied for membership in that same organization on behalf of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. They achieved membership in 1992 and continued renewing it annually for a 10-year period, only stopping when they were exposed in a newspaper article. Moreover, they never acknowledged any wrongdoing or expressed any repentance for what they themselves qualify as a sin. According to the elders manual, Shepherd the Flock of God, the mere act of joining, or becoming a member of, a non-neutral organization such as the United Nations immediately results in one’s disassociation (disfellowshipping by another name). (See ks p. 112) Yet the men of the Governing Body never considered themselves, nor were considered by others, to be disfellowshipped for this action. As self-proclaimed anointed ones making up the faithful and discreet slave, they are part of the bride of Christ, and as such maintain a virginal status of chastity toward their betrothed, our Lord Jesus. Such ones do not worship the wild beast nor its image. (Re 20:4; 14:4) Yet that is exactly what these men did. This, by their own definition, constitutes gross spiritual adultery of the worst kind!
From what we have studied of past examples of men who were guided by holy spirit, can there be any doubt that the Holy Spirit would have been withheld in such a circumstance? Indeed, since no acknowledgment of sin, nor repentance thereof, has ever been expressed, is there any reason to assume that the Holy Spirit returned once they broke off their immoral relationship with the image of the wild beast? If not, then can we honestly say that Jehovah God has been guiding the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses for the past 25 years? Can we truly believe that the righteous God with whom there is no injustice has overlooked this incredible betrayal of his Son. The Governing body, as the self-proclaimed faithful slave who gets appointed over all Jesus’s belongings, would constitute the most prominent part of the bride class. Would Jehovah really turn a blind eye to their fornication and continue to bless them with his Holy Spirit?
Guided by God’s Word
Paragraphs 10 through 14 demonstrate how the men that Jehovah used to guide his people were men who adhered rigidly to his inspired word. When the kings of Israel deviated from God’s word, things went bad for the people.
Undoubtedly, Witnesses will consider that the Governing Body is likewise guided by God’s word. A perusal of the various articles on the Beroean Pickets Archive Site will demonstrate that this is not the case. Whether it be the 1914 return of Christ, or the 1919 appointment of the faithful slave, or the two-hope doctrine of salvation, or the prohibition against the medical use of blood, or the JW judicial system, one will see that none of these originates with God, but with men.
Jehovah Appoints a Perfect Leader
The closing paragraphs of this study offer evidence that Jesus Christ was the perfect leader that Jehovah chose to lead his congregation. However, the goal of this study and the one that follows is not to engender confidence in Jesus as a leader. Rather, the purpose is to bolster belief in the leadership of men, specifically, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. With this in mind, the final paragraph leaves the reader with the following questions to ponder prior to next week’s study:
But as an invisible spirit in heaven, how would Jesus lead God’s people on earth? Whom would Jehovah use to work under Christ’s leadership and take the lead among His people? And how would Christians be able to recognize his representatives? The next article will consider the answers to those questions. – par. 21
It would seem that, being far away in heaven, Jesus cannot effectively lead his people on earth. Instead, he needs visible representatives. That is the first premise they wish us to accept. Next, notice that it is not Christ who chooses these individuals, but rather Jehovah does: “Whom would Jehovah use…?” Again, we are taking the focus away from our appointed leader. If we accept these two premises, the next question is how would we recognize God’s representatives. How would we know whom Jehovah has chosen to lead us? We will see how the Governing Body attempts to answer these questions in next week’s study.