[From ws6/17 p. 9 – August 7-13]
“Where your treasure is, there your hearts will be also.” – Luke 12:34
(Occurrences: Jehovah=16; Jesus=8)
Switching Out the Prize
There’s a lesson we can take from the life of Jacob that applies to this Watchtower study.
Jacob fell in love with Laban’s daughter, Rachel, and made a deal to work for him for seven years in exchange for her hand in marriage; but Laban went back on the deal and by trickery gave his eldest daughter, Leah, to Jacob instead. How would you have felt had you been in Jacob’s position and found that the promised prize you had labored so long and hard for had been snatched away from you at the last moment?
In paragraph 3, the study article explains the parable of the “Pearl of Great Value”. This represents the Kingdom of the heavens. Question: Who inherits the kingdom?
If, as a Jehovah’s Witness and a member of the Other Sheep class with an earthly hope, you believe you do, then consider this incident from Jesus’ life. When asked if Jesus paid the temple tax, Peter impulsively replied in the affirmative. Afterwards, Jesus set him straight with these words:
“What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth receive duties or head tax? From their sons or from the strangers?” 26 When he said: “From the strangers,” Jesus said to him: “Really, then, the sons are tax-free.” (Mt 17:25, 26)
The sons are tax-free because they inherit the kingdom. A son inherits from his father. The strangers—subjects of the kingdom—pay the tax because they are not inheritors, not children of the King. In all his the-Kingdom-of-the-heavens-is-like parables, Jesus is talking to his disciples, those who will, together with him, inherit the Kingdom of God.
“Come, YOU who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for YOU from the founding of the world.” (Mt 25:34)
Those for whom the kingdom has been prepared since the founding of the world are the children of God. These will reign with Christ as Kings and Priests. (Re 20:4-6)
However, The Watchtower is switching out this prize.
What is the lesson for us? The truth of God’s Kingdom is like that priceless pearl. If we love it as much as the merchant loved that pearl, we will be willing to give up everything in order to become and to remain one of the subjects of the Kingdom. (Read Mark 10:28-30.) – par. 4
Jesus didn’t say “The truth of the Kingdom of the Heavens is like….” Since the Organization has denied its followers the inheritance which is their due, it now must reshape the message Jesus clearly spoke. The Kingdom of the heavens is no longer like a precious pearl, according to them. No, it is the truth, which is the pearl. And we all know that when Witnesses speak of the truth, they speak of the Organization. For instance, the common question among JWs: “How long have you been in the truth?” is really asking, “How long have you been in the Organization?”
“Peter began to say to him: “Look! We have left all things and followed you.” 29 Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, no one has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the sake of the good news 30 who will not get 100 times more now in this period of time—houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the coming system of things, everlasting life.” (Mr 10:28-30)
The Other Sheep—according to the doctrine of JW.org—do not get everlasting life in the coming system of things. They only get a chance at everlasting life along with everyone else that comes back in the resurrection of the unrighteous. They have a thousand years to make good on the opportunity or to blow it and lose out for all time. But in Mark 10:28-30, Jesus is promising everlasting life in the coming system of things meaning that those who are resurrected get it at the start. This is the first resurrection. (Re 20:4-6)
Jesus never taught his followers that their hope was “to become subjects of God’s Kingdom”. (par. 7) The hope he spoke of was to be rulers with him in that Kingdom and become the means by which all of creation would be reconciled with the Father. (Ro 8:18-25) Here, as elsewhere, the Organization endeavors to take that hope away from us and instead substitute the hope for the resurrection of the unrighteous, rebranded as something it is not, an earthly resurrection of the righteous. In doing this, the Governing Body seeks to deny us our rightful opportunity to become adopted children of God.[i] (John 1:12)
It is hard to imagine a more heinous crime. There are many horrific acts of injustice and violence perpetrated on innocent victims every day, but all are temporary and the damage, though severe, will be undone under the righteous rule of the Christ. It is far more grievous an injustice to trick a man or woman out of their god-given opportunity to be with Christ in the Kingdom of the heavens. To stumble the little one in this way far surpasses any crime, however heinous, that one can imagine today, for it affects the victim for all eternity. Thus, it merits a special judgment.
“But whoever stumbles one of these little ones who have faith in me, it would be better for him to have hung around his neck a millstone that is turned by a donkey and to be sunk in the open sea.” (Mt 18:6)
This leads us to consider the next subtitle in a new light.
Our Lifesaving Ministry
While it can be shown that the preaching of the Good News is a means to salvation, the question is: Is the ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses really a “Lifesaving Ministry”? To be so, it would have to be the same good news that Jesus and the apostles preached? Paragraph 8 says: “[Paul] described the ministry of the new covenant as a “treasure in earthen vessels.”
Hold on just a minute! Our lifesaving ministry is the ministry of the new covenant?! We are going from door to door in ‘the lifesaving ministry of the new covenant’? But the millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses preaching this message, this good news, are not in the new covenant. The hope that is being preached is to be part of the Great Crowd whom we are taught are not in the new covenant either. We are telling people that Jesus is not our mediator, because we do not have a heavenly hope.
it-2 p. 362 Mediator
Those for Whom Christ Is Mediator. The apostle Paul declares that there is “one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all”—for both Jews and Gentiles. (1Ti 2:5, 6) He mediates the new covenant between God and those taken into the new covenant, the congregation of spiritual Israel. (Heb 8:10-13; 12:24; Eph 5:25-27) Christ became Mediator in order that the ones called “might receive the promise of the everlasting inheritance” (Heb 9:15); he assists, not the angels, but “Abraham’s seed.” (Heb 2:16) He assists those who are to be brought into the new covenant to be ‘adopted’ into Jehovah’s household of spiritual sons; these eventually will be in heaven as Christ’s brothers, becoming a part with him of the seed of Abraham. (Ro 8:15-17, 23-25; Ga 3:29) He has transmitted to them the promised holy spirit, with which spirit they are sealed and are given a token of what is to come, their heavenly inheritance. (2Co 5:5; Eph 1:13, 14) The total number of those who are finally and permanently sealed is revealed in Revelation 7:4-8 as 144,000.
In light of the foregoing, this whole subtitle makes little sense.
Our Treasure Store of Revealed Truths
From the time that we first heard the truth, we have had the opportunity to collect truths from his Word, the Bible, from our Christian publications, and from our conventions, assemblies, and weekly meetings. – par. 13
“We have had the opportunity to collect [revealed] truths…from our…publications…conventions, assemblies, and weekly meetings.” So we have become like the Catholic Church with its Catechism, a collection of “revealed truths”. These are truths revealed by God to the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, or in our case, the Governing Body. (Mk 7:7)
Jehovah God progressively revealed truth to individuals under divine inspiration, and what we have today was written down over the course of about 1,600 years. We have what we need, and we need what we have. There is no provision for humans today to “reveal new truths”. If such a need arises, we can be sure that, just as in the past, their credentials will be impeccable—dividing the Hudson river or raising the dead, that sort of thing.
True, some with more knowledge may be able to help us understand what is already revealed in God’s Word; but there looms large the danger that unscrupulous men may use their position and influence to twist the Word of God to their own ends. How do we protect ourselves? Ironically, the answer is found in the next paragraph of this study article:
The very first issue of this magazine, published in July 1879, stated: “Truth, like a modest little flower in the wilderness of life, is surrounded and almost choked by the luxuriant growth of the weeds of error. If you would find it you must be ever on the lookout. . . . If you would possess it you must stoop to get it. Be not content with one flower of truth. . . . Gather ever, seek for more.” – par. 14
To ensure that the brothers don’t carry this advice into dangerous territory, this “governor” is put on the engine of JW research: “We must develop good personal study habits and do careful research in God’s Word and in our publications.” (par. 14) Heaven forbid that Witnesses should go beyond the approved research resources provided by JW.org.
However, if you are to follow the advice given in paragraph 14 when seeking truth, you must not limit yourself. Do not be afraid of what lies over the horizon. The spirit of Jehovah will help you differentiate between the teachings of men and those of God as long as you submit to your leader, the Christ, and not to men. Many of us were former Witnesses and many continue to associate, yet this we have in common: We will no longer allow ourselves to be bullied into submission by men. Instead, we courageously stand for what is right and true, even if that means—as Jesus predicted—that we lose family and friends and even experience persecution in the form of shunning.
We want to conquer, not lose out on the prize due to cowardice.
“Anyone conquering will inherit these things, and I shall be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowards and those without faith and those who are disgusting in their filth and murderers and fornicators and those practicing spiritism and idolaters and all the liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur. This means the second death.” (Re 21:7, 8)
[i] This is the resurrection to life on the paradise earth of both righteous and unrighteous persons. (pe chap. 20 p. 173 par. 24 Resurrection—for Whom, and Where?)
Jehovah declares anointed Christians righteous as his sons and those of the “other sheep” righteous as his friends. (w17 February p. 9 par. 6 The Ransom—A “Perfect Present” From the Father)