[From ws4/17 June 12-18]
“The Rock, perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice.” – De 32:4.
What Christian would disagree with the thoughts expressed in the title and theme text of this article? These are true thoughts expressed in God’s Word.
The title comes from Genesis 18:25, Abraham’s words when negotiating with Jehovah God over the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Reading through the entire article and its continuation in next week’s study, we could hardly be blamed for continuing to think that Jehovah is still the “judge of all the earth” just as he was in Abraham’s day.
We would be wrong, however.
Things have changed.
“. . .For the Father judges no one at all, but he has committed all the judging to the Son, 23 in order that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He that does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” (Joh 5:22, 23)
Some, not wanting to let go of the thought conveyed in this article, would argue that Jehovah continues to be the judge, but that he judges through Jesus. A judge by proxy as it were.
This is not what John is saying.
To illustrate: There is a man who owns and runs a company. He has the final word on all decisions. He alone decides who gets hired and who gets fired. Then one day, this man decides to retire. He still owns the company, but has decided to appoint his only son to take his place running it. All employees are directed to take all matters to the son. The son now has the final word on all decisions. He alone will decide who gets hired and who gets fired. He is no middle manager who must consult with upper management on major decisions. The buck stops with him.
How would the owner of the company feel if the employees failed to show the same respect, loyalty, and obedience to the son that they showed to him previously? How would the son, who now has full power to fire, treat employees who failed to show him the honor that is his due?
This is the position that Jesus has held for 2,000 years. (Mt 28:18) Yet, in this Watchtower article, the Son is not honored as the judge of all the earth. His name is not even mentioned—not even once! There is nothing to tell the reader that the situation in Abraham’s time has changed; nothing to say that the present “judge of all the earth” is Jesus Christ. The second article in this series does nothing to correct this situation either.
According to the apostles inspired words at John 5:22, 23, the reason that Jehovah has decided not to judge anyone at all, but to leave all the judging in the hands of the Son, is so that we may honor the Son. By honoring the Son, we continue to honor the Father, but if we think we can honor the Father without giving due honor to the Son, we are sure to be—to understate the matter exceedingly—disappointed.
In the Congregation
Under this subtitle, we get to the crux of these two study articles. The Governing Body is concerned that problems within the congregation not result in a loss of membership. This is dressed up as being loyal to Jehovah, and those who are stumbled by the actions of others are urged not to abandon Jehovah. However, from the context it is patently evident that by “Jehovah” they mean the Organization.
Take the experience of brother Willi Diehl as a case in point. (See pars. 6, 7.) He was unjustly treated, yet he continued to remain a part of the Organization and as paragraph 7 concludes: “His loyalty to Jehovah was rewarded” by getting back his privileges within the organization. With this type of indoctrination, it is inconceivable for the average Witness to imagine a scenario where a brother like Diehl could abandon the Organization while remaining loyal to Jehovah. My daughter, while trying to comfort a sister who is dying of cancer, was asked if she still went to meetings. When the sister learned that she was not, she told her flat out that she wasn’t going to make it through Armageddon and broke off all further communication. To her, not going to the meetings of JW.org was tantamount to abandoning God. Such scare tactics are intended to reinforce loyalty to men.
Joseph—Victim of Injustice
Under this subheading, the article tries to draw a parallel between gossip in the congregation and the possibility that Joseph never spoke ill of his brothers. The article sugar-coats the eventual exchange between Joseph and his errant siblings, when in fact he put them through a most difficult, though thoroughly justified trial by fire.
While Joseph’s life can provide many fine object lessons for Christians today, it seems a bit of a stretch to use it to discourage gossip. However, the counsel not to engage in slanderous gossip is fine. Unfortunately, it appears that if the subject of the gossip is someone who is drawing away from the Organization, then all these rules go right out the window. And if that someone is then labelled an apostate, it’s open season for gossip.
A case in point happened to me just this past weekend when I was revealing to an older friend who has served in the foreign field and labored as a circuit overseer for many years—ergo, an exceptionally experienced brother—that the Organization was affiliated with the United Nations as an NGO for a 10-year period until caught out by a newspaper article in the UK Guardian. He refused to believe this and suggested that it was the work of apostates. He actually wondered if Raymond Franz was behind it. I marveled at how ready he was to slander the name of another human being without any evidence whatsoever against him.
Any one of us who’s stopped going to meetings knows just how powerful the rumor mill is, and the powers that be do nothing to squelch such easy and widespread slander, since it only serves to hamper those whom they see as a dangerous threat. This is nothing new, of course. Slanderous gossip was effective at covering great distances long before the days of Facebook and Twitter. For instance, when Paul arrived at Rome, the Jews he met with said:
“But we think it proper to hear from you what your thoughts are, for truly as regards this sect it is known to us that everywhere it is spoken against.”” (Ac 28:22)
Remember Your Most Important Relationship
What is your most important relationship? Would you answer in line with what the article teaches?
“we must cherish and guard our relationship with Jehovah. Never should we allow the imperfections of our brothers to separate us from the God we love and worship. (Rom. 8:38, 39)” – par. 16
Of course, our relationship with our father is vital. However, the article is obscuring a key element to that all important relationship, without which there can be no relationship. The context of the cited reference holds the answer. Let’s go back three verses in Romans.
“Who will separate us from the love of the Christ? Will tribulation or distress or persecution or hunger or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 Just as it is written: “For your sake we are being put to death all day long; we have been accounted as sheep for slaughtering.” 37 On the contrary, in all these things we are coming off completely victorious through the one who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers 39 nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ro 8:35-39)
The reference The Watchtower cites to speak of not losing a relationship with Jehovah is actually speaking about a relationship with Jesus, something rarely mentioned in the publications of JW.org. Yet, without it, a relationship with Jehovah is impossible, for the Bible clearly teaches that “no one comes to the Father except through [Jesus]”. (John 14:6)
This is yet another in a long line of articles whose main purpose is to cement loyalty to the Organization. By equating the Organization with Jehovah and sidelining the Greater Moses, men are attempting to lead us astray from the teachings of the Christ, substituting their own brand of Christianity.
“However, brothers, concerning the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you 2 not to be quickly shaken from your reason nor to be alarmed either by an inspired statement or by a spoken message or by a letter appearing to be from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here. 3 Let no one lead you astray in any way, because it will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness gets revealed, the son of destruction. 4 He stands in opposition and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits down in the temple of God, publicly showing himself to be a god. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you, I used to tell you these things?” (2Th 2:1-5)
We must bear in mind that a common definition of “god” is someone who demands unconditional obedience and who punishes those who disobey.