[Watchtower study for the week of June 2, 2014 – w14 4/15 p. 3]
The topic elements for this Watchtower study are:
WHAT DOES MOSES’ EXAMPLE TEACH US ABOUT…
the difference between material and spiritual treasures?
(Consider how the publishers demonstrate their view of material treasures.)
how Jehovah will equip us to fulfill theocratic assignments?
(Not, equip us “to do his will”, but “to fulfill theocratic assignments”. Theocracy is a word we (and others) use to denote a human organization allegedly, but not demonstrably, run by God. Phrasing it this way indicates that what is really being referred to are organizational assignments.)
why we need to look intently toward our reward?
(The key question being, what reward specifically?)
Par. 1-6 – A summary of Moses’ early life showing what his great faith moved him to give up and how he truly made the right choice as the history of the Israelite nation shows.
Par. 7 – To make application of Moses’ life to our day, the article refers to the example of a sister named Sophie who gave up a career in ballet to become a full-time pioneer for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Having also given up a potential career so that I could pioneer where the need was greater, I can relate very personally to this sister’s sacrifice. So I will not condemn her nor praise her nor call into question her motives. What I would like to do is ask how you, as a reader of this study article, feel about this case history? Let us say that you feel very positively about it as I am sure many of our millions of brothers and sisters around the world will, upon studying this paragraph next weekend. Of course, we can find many similar testimonials in the journals of other religions—nuns who gave up fame and glamor to wear the habit; evangelical missionaries who left home and hearth to preach in deepest Africa. If Sophie were reporting from one of those faiths, would you feel the same about her sacrifice? If not, why? What difference would the particular Christian faith she professes make on the value of her life-style sacrifice? If you feel that the religion of her choosing does make a difference, that it might actually invalidate her sacrifice, then ask yourself, why? Again—and I think I’m speaking for the great majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses—the answer would be that her chosen religion was false. Since she would be teaching falsehood, her sacrifice would be without value. Okay, let’s run with that. If you’ve been reading the pages of this forum, you know that many of the core beliefs of our brotherhood are without scriptural foundation. They are, in a word, false. So what now of our “Sophie’s choice”?
Par. 8 – Two weeks ago, we were instructed that the congregation could take care of elderly parents for children who had chosen the full-time ministry as their career, thus freeing them of the burden imposed by 1 Timothy 5:8. That seems to be the context for the exhortation of this paragraph. Addressing young ones directly, it says you should “choose a career that will enable you to love Jehovah and serve him “with all your heart and all your soul.”” It seems that the wrong career choice will not allow you to do this. Granted, there are careers which would severely hamper one’s ability to serve God whole souled. Mafia hit man comes to mind. However, I don’t think that is the point the article is making. This paragraph, following hot on the heels of Sophie’s choice, surely is intended to encourage young ones to take up a career in the full-time ministry. What is a career? According to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, a career is:
- A racecourse; the enclosure at a tournament etc.; course, road
- A short gallop of a horse at full speed; a charge, an encounter on horseback.
- A (swift) running course; an act of careering; full speed, impetus.
- A course or progress through life or history; an occupation or profession engaged in a life-work, a way of making a livelihood and advancing oneself.
In a way, all four definitions apply to the full-time ministry as performed by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Now there is nothing wrong with whole souled self-sacrificing service to both our Lord and our God as long as it is done in spirit and truth. (Take away either of those two elements and it is of little value what you do.) However, our emphasis in the Organization is always on the work itself. When Moses penned the words at Deut. 10:12, 13 upon which this career call is based, he was not instructing the Israelites to take up a life-long profession as a way of advancing themselves. He was talking about the inner person, not outward works. Christianity is not a profession, but a state of being. We are saved by faith, not by works. True, the works flow from the faith. However, that just proves that we should always focus on the faith, and not on the works as is our constant tendency in the publications, meetings and convention parts.
Par. 9, 10 – Kudos to the writer for finally acknowledging in print that “I will become what I choose to become” is but one meaning of God’s name. Negative kudos for not giving us the reference to the “Bible scholar” mentioned in the footnote on page 5. By the way, it appears to have come from Whedon’s Commentary on the Bible, verses 14-15.
Par. 11-13 – Quote from the end of par. 13:“As Jehovah equips you to fulfill your assignments…”
Question: Who makes these assignments? Are these assignments from God or from men? Let us consider. If I’m moved by zeal to cut my work back to part-time and to dedicate many hours in the preaching work and being aware of the Organizational requirement to report time regularly report between 90 and 100 hours a month in the field service. Will I get praise from the Body of Elders? They may praise me but they will surely encourage me to put in a pioneer application. If I decline, stating that it isn’t necessary, but that Christ’s assignment at Matthew 28:18, 19 is enough for me, do you think things will go well for me? Truth be told, for us to consider the assignment as valid, it must come from men through the Organizational arrangement.
Par. 14-19 – “Moses “looked intently toward the payment of the reward.” (Heb. 11:26)…Do you look “intently toward the payment of” your reward?” The accompanying picture on page 6 illustrates graphically the point made which is to encourage us to envision life in the paradise where we will actually be able to speak to Moses (presumably pictured here in the tropics holding a staff and describing how he split the Red Sea).
It is good to picture our reward, but only if the reward we are picturing is the one we are promised. Otherwise, we are daydreaming about fiction. Since we are being encouraged to imitate Moses in this, let’s look at the context of Hebrews 11:26. Look up the following in particular: Hebrews 11:26, 35, 40
Verse 26 speaks about Moses considering “the reproach of the Christ to be riches greater than the treasures of Egypt, for he looked intently toward the payment of the reward.” Then in verse 35, Moses—along with the rest of the “great cloud of witnesses” described in chapter 11—is said to be wanting to “attain a better resurrection”. Verse 40 compares these ones, which would include Moses, with Christians showing that they should “not be made perfect apart from Christians.”
So what reward were these pre-Christian witnesses to receive? What is “the reproach of the Christ” that Moses considered of such great value? Romans 15:3 says, “For even the Christ did not please himself, but just as it is written: “The reproaches of those reproaching you have fallen upon me.”” So assuming the reproaches of Christ means disowning oneself, which Moses definitely did. Christians must also assume the reproaches of the Christ.
“Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach he bore, 14 for we do not have here a city that remains, but we are earnestly seeking the one to come.” (Hebrews 13:13, 14)
This reproach means that Christians die as Christ did, but also share with him in the likeness of his resurrection. (Romans 6:5)
So Moses took on the reproach of Christ just as Christians with a heavenly hope do. Moses wanted to attain to a better resurrection, just as Christians with a heavenly hope do. Moses will be made perfect together with Christians having a heavenly hope.
It would appear that if we are to look intently are the reward, we should be looking heavenward. Is there some scriptural basis for considering that Moses and the rest of the faithful ones listed in Hebrews 11 are going to be resurrected on Earth?
Whether heaven or earth, if we attain to the better resurrection then we will be there with them. That is what counts. But our publications must restrict the reward to the earth so as not to give the rank and file ideas…ideas that have a firm basis in Scripture, I might add.
My overall comment is that the theme of the article is hardly portrayed by Moses. Nor is its objective. While the target audience is children who are growing up under the watchful eye of JW parents, the life of Moses was entirely different. How could any young person so sheltered in their upbringing even imagine Moses’ first 40 years in Egypt? Nothing was said about his initial attempt to rescue his enslaved fellow Israelite and his escape from Egypt. Were they not the deciding factors? And what about the next 40 years he spent without without family and friends or… Read more »
As far as the hope of the ancient worthies as Rutherford called them,Heb 11:16 defines their hope as being in a heavenly city,not a paradise earth,for me this one scipture was the pivot in changing many of my cherished GB ideas. This fits in with the arrangement that Jehovah now has in place which is the new covenant,it took me 35yrs to realise the power the NC has,so many beliefs,doctrines,teachings et al either stand or fall on the NC,no wonder Paul said ” we preached Christ only”as good news,the Ransom and its legal apparatus the new covenant are stand alone… Read more »
A couple points I noticed in the article: Par. 9-11 “Privileges of service” – See article here for an analysis of the use of the term “privilege” in the NWT. “Moses was commissioned as ‘the Christ’ “ (p.9) and “Moses highly esteemed his daunting assignment” (p.11) – These phrases are used as interpretations of the phrase, “he considered the reproach of the Christ to be riches greater than the treasures of Egypt” in Hebrews 11:26. This is a highly flawed interpretation of the phrase, although, I think it does reflect the WT view on “privileges of service” and class distinctions… Read more »
When studying with a 7th Day Adventist family (with several pastors attending the study) I recall their version of heaven was a 1,000 year desolation of earth wherein the new scrolls would be opened while the earth paid off its Sabbaths. Now that I look back I believe there is truth in every doctrine. We just have to not be so dogmatic about our own.
i believe there is without doubt two hopes open to manking today. The idea of living forever in a paradise earth with eternal youth is what made me become a JW. The holy spirit directed me otherwise, i am no apostle Paul and it took a bit of time for me to look intently toward this call, (especially as the organisation directed otherwise).
The idea of going away never coming back was quite saddening. When i eventually fully accepted this hope i found peace and my appreciation for it has grown immeasurably.
I had always been raised to believe that the anointed were implanted with the knowledge they were going to heaven and therefore desired that reward. The other sheep had the knowledge they were going to be resurrected on earth therefore that is where they desire to be. The reasoning went that since I did not desire to live in heaven, that could not be the destination held out to me. Once I came to realize that the Bible taught no such thing and that the hope extended to Christians was to be with Christ in heaven and rule with him,… Read more »
Meleti, When I first came into the Organisation years ago and started studying I had the desire to go to heaven, but then due to Society indoctrination I abandoned that for the earthly paradise. When I left the Organisation some months ago the desire to go to heaven returned to me, but at the same time I didn’t want to abandon the earth completely and so I was a bit confused. Therefore, what you say about returning to the earth is very appealing to me. However, because I don’t have enough knowledge I am not able to fully grasp it,… Read more »
I have also come to the same conclusion meleti it seems the most obvious interpretation of revelation 20 they came to life and reigned with christ for the thousand years Verse 9 shows the city of gods people to be on earth and revelation 21 v2 describes the holy city coming down out of heaven Also verse 10 shows the same .although i admit its description seems symbolic in chapter 21 .i dont see why we shouldnt expect to see some type of tangible government on the earth just as revelation 5 v 10 says you made them to be… Read more »
“If Jehovah grants us the reward of serving with his Son in heaven, I do not believe we will go and never return. Rather, I believe the only way that we can carry out the work for which we are being tested and perfected will be to return, so that we can personally and directly bring about the healing of the nations. That is, after all, the reason for this entire arrangement.” I agree Meleti, when one considers how the angels were seen in human form to Lot and other examples in the bible, I see that those in heaven… Read more »
Amen to that Meleti This is a kernel of belief that I have rolled over in mind for years without coming any comfortable conclusion until I left the mindset of a JW. That’s not to say I think I have a fully rounded understanding of the scriptural concept of what God’s Kingdom, or more specifically Jesus Kingdom, will mean for mankind, other than restoration of the Jehovah’s rule. But Jesus Kingdom must be REAL and in the words of Daniel 2:44 “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left… Read more »
Dear Meleti and Peter, What I think I’m hearing are the feelings of two very different cultures. I actually agree with both of you. Having spent a little time studying ancient Hebrew, there are some major differences, not just in translation but in culture and thinking. Initially when Jesus arrived he already knew that Judaism was severely divided between the cultures of Hebrew, Babylonian Aramaic and Greek. We know this because he never took sides or excluded the doctrines of any one of them by calling them “false” as we JW’s might do to religions apart from us. His main… Read more »
“How Jehovah will equip us to fulfil theocratic assignments” Theocracy – Oxford English Dictionary – a system of government in which priests rule in the name of God or a god. Other dictionary definitions, of course. Not to go off topic but it’s a bit like the Society’s use of the word apostasy. They pick the dictionary definition of the word which suits the teaching they want brothers to accept which means you can take a word and put your own interpretation on it. Therefore in order to examine the Society’s teachings you don’t only need the Bible – it’s… Read more »
Even that won’t always get you by. Consider “generation”. No definition in the Bible or in any dictionary I’ve scanned fits with the definition we place on the word. 🙂
Remember dictionaries supply “worldly” definitions.
Just read most of the article and it seems to be designed to motivate young people to choose the so called career of pioneering .dont get me wrong im very happy for sophie .thats great that shes happy .But what struck me was can moses really be compared to alot of young people today . Yeah he did great but it must be remembered he didnt get the assignment from god till he was 80 years of age .And he was still in egypt till he was 40 and who knows what went on in that time whatever . It… Read more »
I think you misread me. Sorry. It’s not always easy to see how a statement will come across. What I said was: “However, the “better resurrection” spoken of doesn’t refer to location but to quality or state” I was making this point for clarity to all who might read the comment. Then I continued: “As you point out, it is a permanent or everlasting life which this resurrection provides rather than the temporary state or quality of life which came from the previous resurrections.” By saying, “as you point out”, I was acknowledging the point you made, that the resurrection… Read more »
hi brother just to correct you I never said that it’s a location… as you stated I quote: However, the “better resurrection” spoken of doesn’t refer to location but to quality or state. my statement was this : A “better resurrection” than the temporary ones alluded to in verse 35 by the women. The one they were waiting for is a permanent one not the temporary one that the women had because they died again. ? so where did you get location from that statement ? when its clear it has to do with a state not location…the location is… Read more »
I think your assessment of Hebrews 11:26, 35, 40 is out of context, because you assume that since Paul uses the word better in verse 35 and again in verse 40 that he is saying the same thing. But if you look carefully Paul is contrasting in ver 35 the resurrection of those women with a better one that the prophets where waiting. in other words A “better resurrection” than the temporary ones alluded to in verse 35 by the women. The one they were waiting for is a permanent one not the temporary one that the women had because… Read more »
Hi Peter, Thank you for your comment. I purposely didn’t expand on those thoughts because I knew I would be able to address them through comments. Admittedly, the individuals named in Hebrews 11 could not know the fuller nature of the resurrection hope which was revealed to Christians. Christians did not have the full picture either. (1 Co 13:12) Nor do we today. However, the “better resurrection” spoken of doesn’t refer to location but to quality or state. As you point out, it is a permanent or everlasting life which this resurrection provides rather than the temporary state or quality… Read more »
It’s double jeopardy for anyone not of the 144k. If the United States government thinks double jeopardy is unjust, I’m sure God does too. Why should faithful men like Moses who are resurrected have to prove themselves once again, while the 144k only have to do it once? Of you’re faithful enough to survive Armageddon why do you have to pass another test, while the 144k get taken to heaven?