[From ws2/18 p. 3 – April 2 – April 8]
“Noah, Daniel and Job … would only be able to save themselves because of their righteousness.” Ezekiel 14:14
Once again we have a verse fragment out of the Scriptures in isolation. At least most of the article that follows attempts to be encouraging. However, the actual ‘meat’ is missing. What we are treated to is a short review of Noah, Daniel and Job and their faithfulness and encouraged to do the same. Quite how we should achieve that is missing, and while their life course is certainly one to be emulated, a direct comparison with life today is difficult. It comes over as yet another article of ‘do this and everything will be okay’, yet that is the opposite of what the theme text in its entirety is actually teaching us.
“‘Even if these three men—Noah, Daniel, and Job—were within it, they would be able to save only themselves because of their righteousness,’ declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.” (Ezekiel 14:14)
Ezekiel is saying that Israel was so wicked at that time—just before the final exile to Babylon—that it could not be saved by even the likes of Noah, Daniel and Job.
Does this not indicate that we cannot be saved by being in the Organization. We are saved on an individual level by our faith, and if there are faithful men within the Organization, they cannot save the whole anymore than Noah, Daniel, and Job could have saved faithless Israel.
This week’s article is just littered with assumptions. As we review them, see whether they have any historical or scriptural support. We’ve already dealt with most, if not all, of them in our past articles, so we’ll only leave a brief comment on each one.
|1.||2||Claim||Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 607 BCE||History indicates the date was 587 BCE, and all Bible texts can be seen to fit with this date without any contorted interpretations despite any claims of the organization to the contrary.|
|2.||2||Assumption||Based on (1) above, the date for Ezekiel’s writing this is given as 612 BCE.||Based on the actual date of 587 BCE, this writing may have occurred in 592 BCE.|
|3.||3||Assumption||“Likewise today, only those whom Jehovah considers blameless – people like Noah , Daniel and Job – will be marked for survival when the present system of things comes to an end. (Rev 7:9,14)”||Revelation 7 does not support the claim made. It does not talk about any marking for survival or destruction at Armageddon.|
|4.||6||Misapplication||Noah “became a bold ‘preacher of righteousness’ publicly confessing his faith in Jehovah. (2 Peter 2:5)”||There is nothing to suggest that Noah was a door-to-door preacher. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says, “God’s ambassador, one who summoned to righteousness”. The Greek word for “herald, messenger” (translated as preacher in NWT) means vested with authority by a king [Jehovah God in Noah’s case] to give a public summons or demand.” Not to speak to individuals.|
|5||7||Leading implication||Regarding the Ark “still, he obediently went ahead in faith”, implying we should obediently follow the organization’s directions today.||Noah received a message (probably via angel) from God. The organization has not had any such direct contact from God or from angels (neither do they claim this). How they receive their claimed direction is shrouded in mystery and obscurity. The emphasis on obedience is also wrong. Noah had faith, therefore he was obedient to God’s directions. One can be obedient to someone with or without faith. But if one has faith then one will be obedient to the object of their faith.|
|6||8||Leading implication||Noah “centered his life, not on material concerns, but on God”.||True, he did, but that does not mean he did not have material concerns and just dismissed them (which is how most Witnesses would take this statement). There is also no record that Noah received divine provisions to enable him to afford the Ark building program and to provide for his family. He had to learn carpentry and other skills to both build the ark and provide for his family.|
|7||9||Misleading claim||“even now, our firm stand for God’s laws, such as those concerning marriage and sexual morality, has led to negative publicity in some lands”||I am unaware of negative publicity in some lands because of a firm stand on marriage and sexual morality. (Perhaps readers can enlighten us if they know of such). However, I am well aware of negative publicity because of a stubborn refusal to deal with claims of child sexual abuse in a manner that complies with legal requirements & best practice. I am also aware of negative publicity because of the policy of shunning of any members who may leave the organization for whatever reason.|
|8||12||Misleading speculation||Referring to Daniel when he “He was likely in his late 90’s …” (Daniel 10:11)||Put simply how many people in their late 90’s or early 100’s have the following said about them as Daniel 6:3, 28 says. This problem is a result of the errors and claims made in (1) and (2) above. Using 587 BCE for Jerusalem’s fall leads to a much more reasonable late 70’s.|
|9||13||Speculation||“Perhaps Jehovah maneuvered matters this way so that Daniel could be a blessing to his own people”||It is just as likely that he did not maneuverer matters, but instead used the situation Daniel was in.|
|19||14||Misapplication||“Hence we too stand out as different, even becoming targets for ridicule. Mark 13:13”||Are Jehovah’s Witnesses ridiculed “on account of my name (Christs)” as Mark 13 states? No, how can they be when the importance of our Lord Jesus Christ is minimized. What about ridiculed for other reasons? Is it not rather because of their many traditions that do not have a firm Scriptural basis?|
In paragraph 15, parents are given good advice:
“So parents, do not give up on your children, but teach them patiently (Ephesians 6:4)” Also, pray with them and for them. When you strive to impress Bible truth on their hearts, you invite Jehovah’s rich blessing. (Psalm 37:5)”.
All parents would readily concur with this advice, although being imperfect it may at times be difficult to put in practice fully; nevertheless, that is what we would strive to do. So with this in mind, who is the greatest parent from whom we have inherited these fine principles, such that almost without exception any Christian parent would agree with the sentiments expressed? If you were thinking of our Father, Jehovah God, you would be right. Firstly, he inspired the fine counsel found in his word the Holy Bible. Further, as Genesis 1:26, 27 reminds us, God made man in his own image. As Galatians 3:26 tells us, “You are all, in fact, sons of God through your faith in Christ Jesus”.
So how do you, as a loving parent, treat a child who has done something wrong? Is the best way to treat them to refuse to speak to the child until the child says ‘Sorry, I won’t do it again’? Or do you “not give up on your children, but teach them patiently” so that they realise their behaviour is unacceptable, while they are still loved? Does this not motivates them to correct their behaviour? Perhaps you might withhold certain treats, but not your interaction with them, otherwise how would they ever learn? We would also not want them to potentially get overly sad about being ignored by their parents, which could lead to self-destructive behaviour, making matters worse.
If we as parents realise that is not the way to act, then our caring heavenly Father in whose image we were made would not want us to act in that way. A loving parent knows it is counter-productive and cruel to shun their child; God is a loving parent. A truly loving Christian group would also know it is counter-productive and cruel to effectively blackmail others by withholding human interaction. That is a tactic of terrorists, not true Christians. It is imperfect, unloving reasoning to think otherwise.
- So, would our Father Jehovah give instructions that Christians who we think have erred are to be treated any differently?
- Would an organization being used by God give any different instructions?
That being the case, any organization that by written articles and/or by video gives their members instructions to totally shun their brothers or sisters for mistakes made or for failing to attend meetings must be seriously examined to see if it is a false organization and is actually not being used by God. Indeed 1 John 4:8 reminds us, “He that does not love has not come to know God, because God is love.”
If such thinking does not come from God, then there is only one other place where it comes from. (John 8:41-47) If for any reason, you still hold doubts that this type of treatment is not cruel and that it can be justified in certain circumstances please read this summary of the results of experiments by Donald O Hebb in 1951. It makes for shocking reading.
We also need to draw attention to the official JW.org website, the material accessed by the following link shows that the Official policy of Jehovah’s Witnesses is as follows:
“Those who were baptized as Jehovah’s Witnesses but no longer preach to others, perhaps even drifting away from association with fellow believers, are not shunned. In fact, we reach out to them and try to rekindle their spiritual interest”. (Paragraph 1)
“What of a man who is disfellowshipped but whose wife and children are still Jehovah’s Witnesses? The religious ties he had with his family change, but blood ties remain. The marriage relationship and normal family affections and dealings continue.” (Paragraph 3)
Therefore any shunning particularly against family members is against the organization’s official publicly presented policy. Sadly, Organization practice and oral law take precedent and are at odds with its written (public face) policies. Rather, most Witnesses are unaware of such statements, preferring instead to follow the example shown in a video at the Regional Assembly in the summer of 2016 where even inactive ones are shunned. So we ask the Governing Body, what is your true policy? The officially published one on the JW.Org website or the 2016 Regional Assembly video? The rank-and-file witnesses are putting the 2016 video into practice which makes the website statement a bold-faced lie from those that claim to be God’s representatives on earth. If the implementation of the video is wrong and was never intended then they urgently need to correct this damaging practice. Will they do so? On past performance it is unlikely. It seems that the video is how they want witnesses to act, but they dare not put it in writing.
From the article: “Let us always keep Jehovah” and his son Christ Jesus “at the center of our lives, trusting“ them “fully”. “Job’s experience also highlights our need to show compassion to fellow Christians who may be enduring hardships” such as bereavements, and also to non-Christians in the same predicaments. Then others will know who the true followers of Christ are. As James 2:14-17 says in part “faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself”, yes, indeed faith without matching works (fruits) of the spirit is truly dead. We implore any currently practicing witnesses not yet awakened to seriously consider these important scriptures. It is not works of preaching and attending meetings that prove one’s faith; it is, as Ephesians 4:22-32 shows, the changing of our old personality “into the new personality … according to God’s will” that matters most.