[Watchtower study for the week of July 21, 2014 – w14 5/15 p. 21]
“God is a God not of disorder but of peace.” 1 Cor. 14:33
Par. 1 – The article opens with a teaching which I have come to believe diminishes Christ’s place in God’s purpose. It states: “His first creation was his only-begotten spirit Son, who is called “the Word” because he is God’s principal spokesman.”
We teach that the only reason Jesus is called the Word is because he is God’s spokesman. Since no other being—human or spirit—is called the Word, yet many have served as God’s spokesman, we claim that the degree to which Jesus is used in this role is what merits his being given this singular designation. Hence, we often call him God’s chief Spokesman or in this case, his principal spokesman. The article “What is the Word According to John?” deals with this issue in detail, so I won’t belabor the point here, except to say that being the Word represents a unique role—one only Jesus could fill. It is so much more than simply being God’s mouthpiece, as privileged as that assignment might be.
Par. 2 – “God’s numerous spirit creatures are referred to as the well-organized “armies” of Jehovah.—Ps. 103.21” [Boldface added]
The verse cited does not say nor even imply that God’s armies of angels are “well-organized”. We can safely assume they are, just as we can safely assume they are mighty, loyal, happy, holy, valiant, or any one of a hundred other adjectives. So why insert this one? Obviously, we are trying very hard to make a point. We are trying to show that Jehovah is organized. One would hardly think this necessary as the idea of a disorganized Almighty God of the universe seems at once insulting and ludicrous. So no, that is not the point we are trying to make. What we are saying –what will be evident by next week’s study—is that God only works through an organization of some type. That is why the title of the article isn’t “Jehovah Is an Organized God”, but rather “a God of Organization”. In line with what will be revealed in the next week’s article, a more on-the-nose title would be “Jehovah Always Works through an Organization”.
So the question thinking Christians should be asking themselves at this juncture is: Is that really true?
Par. 3, 4 – “Like the righteous spirit creatures in heaven, the physical heavens are superbly organized. (Isa. 40:26) Therefore, it is logical to conclude that Jehovah would organize his servants on earth.”
This is an odd example to present as proof that Jehovah would organize his earthly servants as he organized the universe. The Hubble telescope has provided many extraordinary pictures since it went operational. Some reveal galaxies in collision, ripping each other into new shapes and tossing random stars loose into the cosmos. There are also many images of supernova remnants—the aftermath of unimaginably massive star explosions irradiating space for light-years in every direction. Comets and meteors smash into moons and planets, reshaping them.[i] This is not to suggest that there isn’t purpose in all this. Jehovah has set strict physical laws in motion which all astronomical bodies obey, but there seems to be a kind of randomness at work here as well; not the clockwork, micro-managing organization the publishers would have us accept. The article doesn’t err in using the universe as an example of how Jehovah manages his intelligent creation. It errs by drawing the wrong conclusion from this example. This is understandable given that there is a strong bias that looks for anything Scriptural to support the existence of our organizational hierarchy.
Setting down strict laws—be they physical or moral—and then setting things in motion and stepping back to see where they lead, while lending a guiding hand here or there, is consistent with what we know of the universe in general and what we’ve learned from God’s dealings with humans.
Par. 5 – “The human family was to grow in an organized way so as to populate the earth and extend Paradise until it covered the entire globe.”
Perhaps this is a good time to revisit our theme text. Paul contrasts “disorder” not with orderliness or organization, but with peace. He wasn’t promoting the idea of organization over chaos. He just wanted the members of the Corinthian congregation to respect one another and conduct their get-togethers in an orderly fashion, avoiding a prideful, chaotic atmosphere.
Let’s have a little fun. Open up your copy of the WT Library and type “organization” into the search field and hit Enter. Here are the results I got.
Number of hits in the Awake: 1833
Number of hits in the Yearbooks: 1606
Number of hits in the Kingdom Ministry: 1203
Number of hits in the Watchtower: 10,982
Number of hits in the Bible: 0
That’s right! Watchtower, 10,982; Bible, 0. Stunning contrast, isn’t it?
It now becomes obvious why we have to reach so deep to try to find scriptural support for the idea of God doing everything by an organization.
Par. 6, 7 – These paragraphs reference the time of Noah, however the real point they are making is found in the caption to the illustration on page 23: “Good organization helped eight people to survive the Flood.” Surely, this is stretching the idea to the point of absurdity. Or perhaps the writer of Hebrews got it wrong. Perhaps a better rendering of Hebrews 11:7 should be:
“By good organization Noah, after being given divine warning of things not yet beheld, showed godly fear and constructed a well-organized ark for the saving of his household; and through this organization he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness that is according to organization.”
Forgive the facetious tone, but I feel it is the best way to show who silly this caption is.
Par. 8, 9 – Continuing the theme that God always uses an organization to get things done, we are now taught that in Israel “good organization was to involve all aspects of their life and especially their worship.” Here we are confusing rules and laws with organizational structure and procedure. Before the time of the kings, we have an idyllic time alluded to in Judges 17:6
“. . .In those days, there was no king in Israel. Each one was doing what was right in his own eyes.” (Jg 17:6)
“Each one…doing what was right in his own eyes” hardly fits with the organization that is being described in these two paragraphs. However, it does fit nicely with the pattern of a God who provides order through laws and principles, then sits back and watches how his servants apply them.
Par. 10 – This is a pivotal paragraph, in the humble opinion of this writer, for it unwittingly disproves the point the article is attempting to make. Up to now they have attempted to show that the success enjoyed by Jehovah’s servants was due to being well-organized. Noah survived the flood due to good organization. Rahab survived the destruction of Jericho, not by putting faith in God as Hebrews 11:31 says, but by allying herself with the organization of the Jews. Now we are in the time of Jesus and Jehovah’s Israelite organization is more highly organized than ever. They have laws governing every aspect of life, down to details like how far up the arm one has to wash to please God. They are also God’s appointed channel of communication. Caiaphas prophesied—evidently under inspiration—because of his role as high priest. (John 11:51) The priesthood could trace its lineage all the way back to Aaron. They had better, more scripturally provable credentials than the leadership of any Christian denomination on earth today.
That their organization was efficient and effective is evident by the fact that they could use it to control all the people, even getting them to turn on the Messiah they had publicly praised just days before. (John 12:13) They accomplished this by coercing the dissenters with a call for unity. Unity with and obedience to those taking the lead overrode common sense and the conscience of the people. (John 7:48, 49) If some disobeyed, they were threatened with disfellowshipping. (John 9:22)
If it is organization that Jehovah values, then why reject them? Why not fix it from within? Because the problem was not inside the organization. The problem was the organization. The Jewish leadership was the organization. God laid down laws to govern a nation ruled by Him. Men turned it into an organization ruled by them. They had prophetic interpretations in place, even as to how the Messiah was to appear and what he would do for them. They were unwilling to change when forced to face the reality of the situation. (John 7:52) Jehovah lovingly sent his son, and they rejected and murdered him. (Mt. 21:38)
Jesus didn’t come bringing a better organization. He came bringing something they lost along the way: faith, love, and mercy. (Mt 17:20; John 13:35; Mt 12:7)
Paragraph 10 unwittingly disproves the study article’s main premise.
Par. 11-13 – This paragraph is an excellent example of the power of repetition. Here we continue to restate “organization” in place of “people” or “congregation”, hoping that by repetition the reader will forget that the word is never—NEVER—used in the Bible. We might just as easily insert “club” or “secret society” for all the probative value it adds to the discussion.
Par. 14-17 – We close our study with a brief review of the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem. “The Jews in general [those not joining Jehovah’s organization] did not accept the good news, and calamity was to befall them…faithful Christians [those in Jehovah’s organization] survived because they heeded Jesus’ warning.” (par. 14) “Those associated with the well-organized early congregations benefited greatly… (par. 16) “As Satan’s world nears its end in these last days, the earthly part of Jehovah’s universal organization is moving ahead at an ever-increasing speed. Are you keeping pace with it?”
A newbie reading this subject for the first time may be puzzled by all the emphasis placed on organization. He may wonder how our salvation is tied, not to faith or a personal relationship with God, but to keeping up with an organization. However, any baptized Jehovah’s Witness will know that what the article is promoting is not the quality of being organized—something not required by God for salvation—but the importance of being loyal to the direction of a small group of men who head up the worldwide organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses. If any should doubt this conclusion, they have but to read next week’s study to remove all doubt.