[A Review of the November 15, 2014 Watchtower article on page 8]
“You must be holy.”—Lev. 11:45
This promised to be an easy review covering a non-controversial subject. It has turned out to be anything but. Any honest, astute Bible student is going to encounter a head-scratching moment right in the introductory paragraphs of this week’s Watchtower study.
“Aaron represents Jesus Christ and Aaron’s sons represent Jesus’ anointed followers….The washing of Aaron’s sons prefigured the cleansing of those selected to be members of the heavenly priesthood.” – Pars. 3, 4
What the article is introducing here is a series of typical/antitypical relationships. Our latest issue of The Watchtower will explain what that is.
The Watchtower of September 15, 1950, gave a definition of a “type” and an “antitype.” It explained that a type is a person, an event, or an object that represents someone or something greater in the future. An antitype is the person, event, or object that the type represents. A type was also called a shadow, and an antitype was called a reality. (w15 3/15 Simplified Edition, p. 17)
If the first thing you look for after reading these two paragraphs are the supporting scriptures, you will be disappointed. There are none. An obedient Beroean mentality will then move you to investigate further. Using your copy of the WT Library program on CDROM, you would likely run a search on “Aaron”, scanning all occurrences for any reference to a link between him and Jesus. Finding none, you may feel troubled and conflicted, for you will still have fresh in your mind the words of Governing Body member David Splane delivered at last October’s annual meeting of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
“We need to exercise great care when applying accounts in the Hebrew Scriptures as prophetic patterns or types if these accounts are not applied in the Scriptures themselves.” Wasn’t that a beautiful statement? We agree with it.” He then admonished us not to use them “where the scriptures themselves do not clearly identify them as such. We simply cannot go beyond what is written.”
Is the Governing Body going “beyond what is written” by applying a type or prophetic pattern which is “not applied in the Scriptures themselves”?
In an effort to be fair, you may at this point recall that Hebrews 10:1 calls the Law a shadow of things to come. So even though this type or prophetic pattern isn’t expressly stated in the Bible, it may be implied since Aaron’s role as High Priest is included as a feature of the Law, and we all know that Jesus is the High Priest appointed by Jehovah to make atonement for our sins.
Would this validate the application of High Priest Aaron as a type corresponding to the antitype of High Priest Jesus?
The March, 2015 issue of The Watchtower has this answer to that question:
However, even when the Bible shows that a person is a type, we should not assume that every detail or event in that person’s life represents something greater in the future. For example, Paul explains that Melchizedek represents Jesus. Yet, Paul does not mention the time that Melchizedek brought out bread and wine for Abraham after he defeated four kings. So there is no Scriptural reason to search for a hidden meaning in that event. (w15 3/15 Simplified Edition, p. 17)
Being obedient to this counsel, we realize that even though the office of High Priest is a specific type supported in Scripture, “we should not assume that every detail or event in [the life of the first man to hold that office] represents something greater in the future.” Therefore, even if there is a correspondence to Aaron, we would be violating the latest direction of the Governing Body be teaching that Aaron’s sons correspond to anything and that the ceremonial washing of Aaron and his sons has prophetic significance.
Does the problem end there? Is it only a matter of the Governing Body approving an article that directly violates its own directive? Alas, no. It would appear that this prophetic pattern, this typical/antitypical relationship contradicts God’s written word as well.
It is an interesting coincidence that the “Questions from Readers” in the March, 2015 issue of The Watchtower references Melchizedek. The book of Hebrews repeatedly refers to Melchizedek as the High Priest that prophetically corresponds to Jesus as God’s High Priest. (See Hebrews 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:11, 17.) Why is this? Melchizedek wasn’t born in the line of Aaron, he wasn’t a Levite, he wasn’t even a Jew! Does he correspond as High Priest to Jesus in one way, while Aaron does in another?
“If, then, perfection were really through the Levitical priesthood, (for with it as a feature the people were given the Law,) what further need would there be for another priest to arise according to the manner of Mel·chiz′e·dek and not said to be according to the manner of Aaron?” (Heb 7:11)
This one verse answers all our questions. Aaron was the beginning of the Levitical priesthood, which was a feature of the Law. Yet Paul acknowledges that there was need of a High Priest who was “not…according to the manner of Aaron”; someone who was beyond the law feature of the Levitical priesthood. The apostle here explicitly excludes High Priest Aaron and all his successors as a corresponding shadow of the reality that is High Priest Jesus Christ. He says repeatedly that the form of Jesus’ High Priesthood is according to the manner (or type) of Melchizedek.
In an article about being holy, why would we overlook a valid scriptural type like Melchizedek who was a holy man with no stain on his character? Aaron could also be called a holy man, though there were stains on his character. (Ex 32:21-24; Nu 12:1-3) Still, he is not a Scriptural type for Jesus. So why bypass the Scriptural type in Melchizedek for the fabricated one of Aaron?
The answer to this question becomes apparent when we reach paragraph 9 of the article and learn the true theme of this study. While the title may be about being holy, the real purpose is yet another call for obedience to the Governing Body.
With this, the reason for the fabricated type is evident. Melchizedek had no children. Aaron did. His children can therefore be used to prefigure the authority which the Governing Body invests in itself. Not directly, mind you. The children of Aaron are said to represent the anointed, but the voice of the anointed is the Governing Body.
Aaron was High Priest. Jesus is High Priest. We are to obey High Priest Jesus. Aaron’s sons became high priests, replacing him. The antitypical sons of Aaron replaced him as High Priest. Whatever honor and obedience was accorded to Aaron would now be accorded to his sons. It follows that the antitypical sons of Aaron, embodied in the Governing Body, are to be given similar honor and obedience now that Jesus is gone to heaven.
Paragraph 9 contains the statements of three brothers who have served with the Governing Body for many years. (Incidentally, this is a good example of an “Appeal to Authority” Fallacy.) The third of these is quoted as saying: “Loving what Jehovah loves and hating what he hates, as well as constantly seeking his guidance and doing what pleases him, means obedience to his organization and to those he is using to advance his purpose for the earth.”
Most of our brothers, one fears, will fail to recognize these statements as nothing more than the opinions of men well invested in the hierarchical authority structure of the Organization. Though anecdotal, their accounts will be taken as evidence that obedience to the Governing Body is what pleases Jehovah. Are we to obey men because some unnamed brothers say we should? Where in the Bible do we find the proof to back up their statements?
We need look no further this very WT Study article to prove the kind of obedience these men are urging upon us would in fact displease our Heavenly Father.
Would Jehovah ever give us a catch-22 situation? One where you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t? Obviously not. However, the Organization just has. We are directed to reject false types and antitypes as going beyond the things written. Yet, in this study, we are expected to accept them, and to publicly proclaim them through our comments.
Holy Obedience to God’s Law on Blood
This study devotes about a third of its material to reinforcing the requirement to obey the Governing Body’s injunction against blood transfusions.
Whether or not someone chooses to accept or reject any medical procedure, including blood transfusions, should be a matter of personal conscience. Before you jump in to disagree, please read Jehovah’s Witnesses and the “No Blood” Doctrine.
Many Christian religions carry bloodguilt for inducing their members to participate in warfare in the name of God. Smaller sectarian groups have condemned the use of life-saving medicines and discouraged their followers with threats of shunning for engaging the services of a medical professional. They believe they are doing God’s will, but their commands are based on faulty interpretations of Scripture. Are we guilty of the same? Are we guilty of the shedding of innocent blood by enforcing a command of men as if it were a doctrine of divine origin. (Mk 7:7 NWT)
An Obvious Flaw in Reasoning
An example of our flawed reasoning on blood can be found in paragraph 14. It states: “Do you grasp the reason why God considers blood to be sacred? He essentially views blood as equivalent to life.”
Do you see the flaw in this reasoning? Let us illustrate it with something Jesus said: “Blind ones! Which, in fact, is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift?” (Mt 23:19) It was the altar that sanctified (made sacred) the gift, not the other way round. Likewise, if we are to apply the reasoning from The Watchtower article, it is the sacredness of life that makes the blood sacred, not the other way round. Therefore, how can we uphold the sanctify or sacredness of life, if we sacrifice it to preserve the sanctity of blood. It is the Scriptural equivalent of the tail wagging the dog.
Are We Missing What Is Missing?
Let us overlook for just a moment the fact there is no support for the “Aaron’s sons = anointed Christians” parallel. Let’s pretend it is Scriptural. Very well. What does that mean? Were the Israelites ever commanded to give obedience to Aaron’s sons on a par with Jehovah? In fact, the High Priest never ruled Israel in the time of the Judges nor in the time of the Kings. When was it that the High Priest, the sons of Aaron, ruled the nation? Was it not during the time of Christ, when the Sanhedrin was the highest court in the land? It was then that they assumed the ultimate authority over the people for themselves. It was the High Priest, a son of Aaron, who sat in judgment over Jesus, was it not?
The Governing Body claims to be the faithful and discrete slave. Was the faithful slave commissioned by Jesus to rule over his flock? Feed them, Yes! Like a servant waiting on table. But command them? Distinguish for them between right from wrong? Where in the Bible is such authority conferred upon men?
The word used at Hebrews 13:17 which we translate “obey” in the NWT is better rendered as “be persuaded by”. (See w07 4/1 p. 28, par. 8)
What we as Jehovah’s Witnesses are missing is that there is no provision in the Bible for a ruling class in the Christian congregation. In fact, who was it that first put forward the idea that humans could rule, deciding for themselves what is good and what is bad?
The Pharisees, scribes, and priests (sons of Aaron) during the time of Jesus were the ones telling the people what was good and what was bad; doing so in the name of God. Jesus rebuked them. At first, Christians did not do this, but then they began to go apostate and started to set themselves up as an authority on par with Jehovah. Eventually their laws and their doctrines took precedence over God’s. They began to do as they liked without regard for the consequences.
The disavowal of false types and antitypes or prophetic parallels was made in October of 2014. This study issue was published over a month later. True, the article may have been written some time before. One would imagine that the Governing Body also deliberated on the “new understanding” disavowing unscriptural types and antitypes some time before the annual meeting. Whatever the case, the Governing Body had over a month to fix the article, but did not. It could even have fixed the electronic copy after publication. It wouldn’t be the first time this has been done. But it did not.
Of even greater significance is the fact that the application of Aaron as a foreshadow of Christ directly contradicts what Hebrews 7:11 states. Is it for man to decide what is right and what is wrong? If he does, are we free from guilt if we obey him over God?
It seems that things are becoming increasingly more untenable for those of us who prize truth over conformity and obedience to God over the comfort of community and approval of men. How far this will go is anyone’s guess.