This week delivers our final Watchtower study article of the year. Rather than go into a detailed review (It is after all only routine article discussing often recurrent topics) it seems appropriate to take the occasion to close out our yearlong analysis of study topics.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are told that the spiritual nourishment provided by the Governing Body in The Watchtower is just what is needed at any given point in time. Typical of this view are these WT references:
“For us today, it means having confidence in “the faithful and discreet slave” appointed to give us our spiritual “food at the proper time,” as well as in those from among them who form the Governing Body.” (w98 8/15 p. 12 par. 11 Jehovah Should Be Our Confidence)
“Another blessing that Jehovah has bestowed upon us is the great body of Scriptural truth. As we feast on an abundance of rich spiritual food, we have reason to “cry out joyfully because of the good condition of the heart.” (w11 2/15 p. 19 Do You Really Appreciate Your Blessings? Subheading “Food at the Proper Time”)
A rich and abundant feast brings to mind the picture of bountiful plates of food of every type to satiate even the hungriest, most malnourished invitee. It does not conjure up the image of tables filled with jugs of milk and bowls of porridge.
“The naive person believes every word, But the shrewd one ponders each step.” (Pr 14:15 NWT 2013)
Not wanting to be categorized as “naive persons”, let us review our spiritual diet over the past year to see if it has come as advertised.
w13 11/15 (December 30 – February 2)
THEME: Be obedient to our leadership because Armageddon is close.
Article 1: Advice on Prayer. The end is near.
Article 2: Don’t doubt. Be patient. The end is near.
Article 3: Obedience. Salvation depends on staying in the Organization.
Article 4: Obedience. Salvation depends on obeying the elders.
Article 5: Counsel to elders.
w13 12/15 (February 3 – March 2)
THEMES: Don’t doubt the Governing Body. Avoid apostates. Make sacrifices. You are not to partake.
Article 1: Beware apostates.
Article 2: Donate to and serve the Organization.
Article 3: We have the right date. Only the chosen few should partake of the emblems.
Article 4: Continuation of Article 3 themes.
w14 1/15 (March 3 – April 6)
THEMES: Don’t doubt the Governing Body. We are in the last days. The end is near. Make sacrifices.
Article 1: 1914 is true, Jehovah is king since then. (Christ too.)
Article 2: Authority of Governing Body reaffirmed. We must not doubt.
Article 3: Make sacrifices.
Article 4: Make sacrifices because the end is near.
Article 5: New proof that the end is near (“this generation” – Take 7).
w14 2/15 (April 7 – May 4)
THEMES: We are special. It’s good to be one of the other sheep. Stick to the Organization.
Article 1: Partial prophetic misapplication of Ps. 45 to reinforce role of anointed.
Article 2: Partial prophetic misapplication of Ps. 45 to reinforce role of other sheep.
Article 3: Stick with the Organization to get God’s protection.
Article 4: Reinforcing the false doctrine that other sheep are not God’s children.
w14 3/15 (May 5 – June 1)
THEMES: Make sacrifices. Do not doubt Governing Body. Provide for the Elderly and full-timers.
Article 1: Be self-sacrificing.
Article 2: Do not doubt nor be discouraged by failed expectations.
Article 3: Provide for elderly, but help full-timers avoid this duty.
Article 4: More instruction on helping the elderly.
w14 4/15 (June 2 – July 6)
THEMES: Make sacrifices. Rely on the Organization. Be obedient.
Article 1: Trust Jehovah to help you fulfill theocratic (i.e., organization) assignments.
Article 2: The end is near. Engage in JW preaching work zealously.
Article 3: Emigration to provide a better standard of living for your family is bad.
Article 4: Be willing to sacrifice creature comforts for the sake of the JW preaching work.
Article 5: Jehovah cares for and corrects us through his Organization.
w14 5/15 (July 7 – August 3)
THEMES: Good manners in JW preaching. Believe in, obey and support the Organization.
Article 1: How to respond to questions in the field ministry.
Article 2: Instructions on good manners for the JW field ministry.
Article 3: Jehovah only provides guidance to his people via an earthly organization.
Article 4: Our survival depends on obeying, being loyal to, and not doubting the Organization.
w14 6/15 (August 4 – August 31)
THEMES: Love God, obey the Organization. Show neighborly love throw the field ministry. Do not judge others. Encourage others to do more in the Organization.
Article 1: Love Jehovah and obey the Organization.
Article 2: Love our neighbors and show that love by preaching to them.
Article 3: Imitate Jehovah’s mercy in dealing with the weaknesses of others.
Article 4: Encourage others, young ones particularly, to reach out for greater ‘privileges’ in the Organization.
W14 7/15 (September 1 – September 28)
THEMES: Beware of apostates. We are the true Organization of God.
Article 1: There may be apostates among us, but these can’t hide from Jehovah.
Article 2: Those who disagree with the Governing Body are rebellious apostates like Korah.
Article 3: An attempt to scripturally justify our name, Jehovah’s Witnesses, while dismissing the scripturally appropriate name, Witnesses of Jesus.
Article 4: We are the Organization Jehovah has chosen to bear witness to this name.
W14 8/15 (September 29 – October 26)
THEMES: JW Preaching. Two-class system of salvation. Obey Governing Body or die.
Article 1: Women are a preaching force.
Article 2: Instruction on preaching with tracts.
Article 3: Separating the other sheep (God’s friends) from the anointed (His sons).
Article 4: Our everlasting life depends on obeying the Governing Body.
W14 9/15 (October 27 – November 30)
THEMES: We are the true Organization of God. Inculcate that belief in young ones. Hope for other sheep. Support full-time Organization appointees.
Article 1: Our Organization has the truth.
Article 2: We are God’s Organization because we are persecuted.
Article 3: Parents encouraged to train children to believe in the Organization.
Article 4: The other sheep are to look forward to life on earth.
Article 5: Support the Organization’s Bethelites, pioneers and missionaries.
W14 10/15 (December 1 – December 28)
THEMES: Support anointed. Support and stay inside the Organization.
Article 1: The Bible Covenants are used to prove the role of the anointed over the other sheep.
Article 2: Our salvation depends on our support for the anointed, particularly the Governing Body.
Article 3: Support the Organization’s construction program through financial and work donations.
Article 4: Keep separate from the world, avoid materialism, and engage yet more in JW preaching work.
Our Spiritual Diet
Let us begin by working under the assumption that everything the weekly Watchtower study has taught us is scripturally accurate; that we are in Jehovah’s one true earthly organization and that he has appointed the men making up the Governing Body as the faithful and discreet slave designated to feed us food at the proper time. Based on that, how does our diet measure up to the aforementioned claim that it is ‘an abundant feast of rich spiritual food’?
The Apostle Paul is our guide in finding that answer to that question. He wrote:
“. . .For everyone who continues to feed on milk is unacquainted with the word of righteousness, for he is a young child. 14 But solid food belongs to mature people, to those who through use have their powers of discernment trained to distinguish both right and wrong.” (Heb 5:13, 14)
So the Hebrews were not eating solid food, let alone a feast. Instead they were consuming spiritual milk and food for children. What food? He continues:
“. . .For this reason, now that we have left the primary doctrine about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying a foundation again, namely, (1) repentance from dead works, and (2) faith toward God, (3) the teaching on baptisms and the laying on of the hands, (4) the resurrection of the dead and everlasting judgment.” (Heb 6:1,2)
He lists four things that qualify as the milk of the word. Now to our diet. Here is a month-by-month summary of the food we’ve been consuming for the past year.
January: Be obedient to our leadership because Armageddon is close.
February: Don’t doubt the Governing Body. Avoid apostates. Make sacrifices. You are not to partake.
March: Don’t doubt the Governing Body. We are in the last days. The end is near. Make sacrifices.
April: We are special. It’s good to be one of the other sheep. Stick to the Organization.
May: Make sacrifices. Do not doubt Governing Body. Provide for the Elderly and full-timers.
June: Make sacrifices. Rely on the Organization. Be obedient.
July: Good manners in JW preaching. Believe in, obey and support the Organization.
August: Love God, obey the Organization. Show neighborly love throw the field ministry. Do not judge others. Encourage others to do more in the Organization.
September: Beware of apostates. We are the true Organization of God.
October: JW Preaching. Two-class system of salvation. Obey Governing Body or die.
November: We are the true Organization of God. Inculcate that belief in young ones. Hope for other sheep. Support full-time Organization appointees.
December: Support anointed. Support and stay inside the Organization.
Converting this into a yearly summary, we end up with [numbers relate to Hebrews 6:1,2:
Stay free from the world and its works. (1)
Salvation depends on staying in the organization and not doubting but obeying the Governing Body. (2)
We must be self-sacrificing and make the JW door-to-door witnessing our main goal. The little flock of anointed has a special status. The rest of us are less privileged as other sheep who must support them. (3)
The end is near. The other sheep should hope for an earthly resurrection. (4)
It is not much of a stretch to see how these topics match up to the themes Paul exposes as the fundamental things, likened to the milk of the word. It should be evident from this that for the past year the food at the proper time has consisted not of a rich and varied bounty of nutritious food for mature people, but rather the milk and porridge intended for children.
It Gets Worse
The foregoing conclusion would be bad enough if it stopped there, but recall, we have been working on the premise that everything in the past year’s articles is scripturally accurate. Regular readers of the weekly Watchtower review will attest that this is simply not the case.
“. . .This is so that their hearts may be comforted and that they may be harmoniously joined together in love and may have all the riches that result from the full assurance of their understanding, in order to gain an accurate knowledge of the sacred secret of God, namely, Christ. 3 Carefully concealed in him are all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge. 4 I am saying this so that no one may delude you with persuasive arguments. 5 Though I am absent in body, I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.” (Col 2:2-5)
If we realize that “all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge” are concealed in Jesus Christ, we will not be deluded by persuasive arguments. Have we been deluded by persuasive arguments? If certain ones wanted to delude us persuasively, it follows that they would avoid talking much about Jesus, for in him are to be found both wisdom and knowledge. From the summary, it is clear that over the past year—52 hours of Watchtower studies—there has not been a single topic devoted to revealing the Christ. How can we repeatedly devote articles to knowledge about and devotion to the Governing Body and the Organization—neither entity mentioned even once in Scripture—while virtually ignoring the one who is central to the Christian faith? Are we not called “Christians” for a reason? Is salvation to be found in someone else? An Organization for example? If not, why have we beat the same drum over and over for the past year telling our brothers to obey the Governing Body and the Organization because their everlasting life depends on it? Why is the overriding theme for the year 2014 the Organization? Everything is viewed with that slant in mind. Even when dealing with preaching, we focus on publicizing our literature and web site while sidelining use of the Bible. We are actually told not to show the Bible on a street witnessing displays!
If we truly are enjoying a rich and abundant spiritual feast, why not a single article on even one of the fruits of the spirit? These are qualities that a mature Christian must develop. We barely touched on love and faith and in each instance, the topic was directed toward love for and faith in the Organization.
Healthy Nourishment or Junk Food.
One can live for some time on junk food. But those whose diet consists of it exclusively suffer ill health, pasty skin, obesity, premature aging, and early death. Nevertheless, it does fill the stomach and satisfy the appetite. This past year’s spiritual diet is typical fare for Jehovah’s Witnesses. We may leave feeling full and satiated, but we have not been nourished. Often, we have been taught falsehoods, as we’ve repeatedly proven from Scripture in our weekly reviews.
How many realize this? How many have come to love the Junk Food? Paul warned Timothy of the eventual predominance of such ones. (2 Timothy 3:3, 4) Evidence of this can be seen when some, recognizing how truly poor our current fare is, have demonstrated the courage to speak up. Time and again they are rebuked, shunned, and even persecuted. In a state of spiritual denial, many prefer to continue consuming their unwholesome and repetitive rations and punish anyone who might disturb their blissful state of ignorance.
It seems the only source open to us for healthy nutrition is the good, old-fashioned home cooked variety. Fortunately, the source of all nourishment has provided abundantly for us. Let us therefore feast daily on the manna from heaven found in God’s inspired Word.