Treasures from Gods Word: “Stop ‘Seeking Great Things for Yourself’”

Jeremiah 45:2,3– Baruch’s wrong thinking caused him distress (jr 103 para 2)

As a sign of the true quality of the spiritual food we receive from the organization these days, the eagle eyed will have spotted ‘the wrong reference’ above and below compared with the workbook being quoted for both Jeremiah 45:2,3 and Jeremiah 45:4,5a. This is because based on the content of the references, they have been reversed in the meeting workbook from what they should be.

The reference (jr103) implies that it was the seeking great things that was causing Baruch to sigh. However while we could attribute Jeremiah’s prophecies of destruction to the phrase ‘for Jehovah has added grief to my pain’ in that Baruch may have been pained that he could lose out materially, we cannot say for sure. It is speculation, and as such is prone to be incorrect. The sighing that Baruch had grown weary of, could have just as easily been over the wickedness he was witnessing or being subjected to, instead of any potential loss of material possessions or position. However the organization has a particular ax to grind and is desperate to clutch at any straws to support itself with a scripture, however speculative it may be. After all, speculation that coming from the Writing committee takes on the character of inspired truth in the eyes of most Witnesses and hence will serve its purpose.

Jeremiah 45:4,5a – Jehovah kindly corrected Baruch (jr 104-105 para 4-6)

This reference is rife with speculation. As you read it, look out for the following phrases, and then imagine these same words being given as evidence in a court of law, trying to establish fact and hence guilt on the part of the defendant (Baruch).

Paragraph 4: ‘might not have been just’, ‘This suggests’, ‘must have been’.

Paragraph 5: ‘might grow weary’, ‘might have put at risk’, ‘if Jehovah’, ‘might prove to be’, ‘if Baruch was’.

Paragraph 6: ‘might have included’.

A lawyer defending Baruch would say to the Judge for each of the above statements: “Objection, your honor, the witness is speculating.” To which the Judge would reply “Objection sustained. Strike that from the record.”

If we are able to speculate, how about this? Baruch’s seeking great things could also have been for (a) desiring to be used by Jehovah as a prophet like Jeremiah, or (b) because he wanted to be known for delivering popular messages, and hence be popular himself, instead of the messages of doom that Jeremiah delivered via Baruch. These two options are equally possible as the Bible is silent on what “the great things” were. As the Bible is silent, so should we also be silent, otherwise we go beyond what is written, especially if we were to make a policy affecting people’s lives as this speculation goes on to do.

Jeremiah 45:5b – Baruch preserved his life by focusing on what was most important. (w16.07 8 para 6)

The reference says in part “As we near the end of this system of things, now is not the time to amass more and more material things for ourselves.” While Jesus and inspired writers of the Christian scriptures cautioned about having a balance between money (and possessions) and our service to God, Jesus did not caution against sensible planning for ones future. As Jesus said in Matthew 24:44 “proves yourselves ready, because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming.” We do not know when the end of this system of things is coming. Is it therefore showing a lack of faith if we live as if it were coming in our lifetime, but also as if it were not coming? No, we can be alert and ready for Christs return, but also be prepared by making wise financial decisions to provide for our old age, as Christs return may not come in our lifetime.

Young Ones – Do Not Seek Great Things for Yourselves

Whenever a subject like this is discussed I always wonder how youngsters and tennis fans within the organization can reconcile this viewpoint with the example of Venus and Serena Williams. In the spring 2017 Circuit Assembly we are reminded that we should resign from or not accept a job that would require working away from our home congregation for long periods of time, or at times that would require us to miss meetings at our home congregation, no mention being made of the fact that if necessary we could attend other congregations on these occasions.

This video, like so many interviews, sounds scripted. The participants also give an unrealistic view of life. Both went to Bethel where they are financially supported, one still being there. Yet as we know due to the layoffs of Bethel staff in most countries, the chances of getting into Bethel for current youngsters in the organization is slim. The interviewees also were going for what even the world would consider as all-consuming careers, rather than earning enough to comfortably support themselves and any family that might come along. Most youngsters would never be in a situation to go for this type of career. Yet this video and other interviews like it—as well as the weight of a portion of the Jeremiah book referenced in the “Treasures from God’s Word” section—apply “seeking great things” also to obtaining “financial security through scholastic achievements”.[1] In the experience from the reference and those interviewed in the video, would we have heard from them if they had found themselves with children to support and not in Bethel? Probably not.  Yet a life at Bethel free from financial worries is held out as a carrot and the official goal of all young ones, thereby not requiring qualifications, even though only a minute percentage of witness youngster’s will ever get the chance to go there.  This also gives no consideration to how they might cope when asked to leave Bethel at 50 or more years of age (as has recently happened to many former Bethelites) without qualifications, savings, or commercial job experience to fall back on.

Gods Kingdom Rules (kr chap 13 para 1-10)

Paragraph 3 discusses various charges leveled against JW’s. One is “that we are commercial salesmen – peddlers”. Now that may not be true today, as witnesses no longer ask for donations to cover the printing cost, but rather pay for the literature themselves through the congregation donation arrangement. Whether or not there has ever been any truth to that accusation, the current financial state of affairs within the organization does raise some serious questions.  Why was it necessary for the organization to slash printed output by more than 50%; seize tens (or hundreds) of millions of dollars in the privately held financial reserves of countless congregations around the world; require all congregations to pass resolutions pledging monthly payments to headquarters; seize ownership of all congregation and circuit properties from their legal owners; initiate a major sell-off of Kingdom halls and siphon the profits back to headquarters; cut its worldwide workforce by 25%; and all but obliterate the existence of paid special pioneers?  Why are we so drastically cutting back on the publishing and preaching of the Good News?  Where is all the money going?  Not to building Kingdom halls, since more a sold than are being built. So where is the excess money going?   If they truly want us to believe they are not interested in money, then why not make their account ledgers public?  Surely it would have been in the organization’s best interests to publish such proof, assuming their assertions are true.

Also rather than the organization being litigious regarding the requirement to apply for a license, we have to ask what was wrong in complying with Caesar’s request to apply for licenses. Why did they not go along with the arrangement, and only appeal if they were refused a license or required to pay a charge?

It is also interesting to note that the court ruling mentioned did establish that Witnesses do not disturb public order, but the Kingdom Rules book makes no mention as to whether the ruling addressed the original charge against the Cantwell’s of the issue as to whether they were soliciting donations without a license. On this issue they could not point to a Biblical precedent, unlike that of being free to preach.

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[1] God’s Word for us through Jeremiah, (jr) page 108-109 Chapter 9 paragraph 11,12