The annual Special Talk which the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses always schedules to follow on the heels of their commemoration of the memorial of Jesus’ death is being delivered around the world this weekend.
Here are a few key points from the outline which all Jehovah’s Witnesses would do well to apply to themselves:
- “Use the Bible to examine your current beliefs carefully.”
- “Jesus emphasized the need for our beliefs to be based on truth [Read John 4:23, 24]”
- “Like the apostle Paul, be willing to change your beliefs when presented with evidence (Ac 26:9-20)”
I’m sad to say that I have found very few of my JW brothers and sisters who have been willing to apply this last point.
However, let us assume that you, gentle reader, are not of that sort. With that in mind, let us consider what this year’s Special Talk is really about.
It is titled, “Are You on the Road to Everlasting Life?” In the Witness mindset, this is not the “everlasting life” Jesus referred to when he said: “He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I shall resurrect him at the last day;” (Joh 6:54)
No. What the speaker will be referring to is summed up in one of the outline points from the talk introduction.
“Millions look forward to enjoying everlasting life in Paradise on earth, as God originally purposed.”
This statement is true, but is it right?
It is true that God intended his human children to live forever. It is also true that he placed them in a garden or park; what we now call a “paradise”. In addition to this, we know that God’s word does not go forth without returning to him having fulfilled its mission. (Isa. 55:11) Therefore, it is a safe statement to say that eventually there will be humans living everlastingly on the earth. Since millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses believe this is the hope held out to them, it is also safe to say that “millions look forward to enjoying everlasting life in Paradise”.
So while the statement is true, is it right? For example, Jehovah wanted the Israelites to take possession of the Promised Land, but when they backed off in fear, he condemned them to 40 years of wandering in the Wilderness of Sinai. They then recanted and attempted to enter the Promised Land as God had purposed, but they were routed and returned home in defeat. They did what God wanted, but not when, nor in the way, he wanted it done. They acted presumptuously. (Nu 14:35-45)
In this context, it is interesting that the Special Talk outline makes the following antitypical assertion: “Our situation is similar to that of the nation of Israel when about to enter the Promised Land.”
Of course, no scriptural support is given—nor can be given—to support this assertion, but there is an interesting parallel to the attitude of those Israelites and what has been happening in the Organization for the past 80 years. If the Israelite entry into the Promised Land is representative of how Jehovah purposes to restore mankind to everlasting life on Earth, then we need to ask ourselves, are we doing it his way and on his timetable, or are we imitating those rebellious Israelites and following our own timetable and agenda?
To answer that question, let’s perform a little experiment. If you have at your disposal a copy of the WT Library program, do a search using the quoted phrase “everlasting life”. Check out where it occurs in the Christian Greek scriptures. Jump to each occurrence of the phrase using the Plus key and consider the context. Do you find that Jesus or the Christian writers are talking about the reward of everlasting life on a paradise earth?
The annual Special Talk this year is all about building appreciation for this earthly hope, but if you care to look up all the Bible references the speaker will cite from the platform, you may be surprised to learn that not one speaks of such a hope.
At this point, you may be objecting, telling me that I myself have just stated that “it is a safe statement to say that eventually there will be humans living everlastingly on the earth.” True, and I stand by that. However, are we running ahead of God by preaching that? That is the point we should be exploring!
Let’s look at this another way. Recently, I recall reading in one of our publications[i] that we need to be obedient to Jehovah’s earthly organization by following the direction regarding the new methods for preaching. That means, among other things, that we should support the cart work and use electronic aids in the field ministry to show the householders the latest videos on JW.org.
Well, if this counsel is valid, then shouldn’t the Governing Body be setting the example by obeying the direction from God as to what to preach? It is true that billions now dead will live again and that eventually the earth will be filled with righteous people living everlastingly. However, before that becomes a reality, the administration that will make it possible must first come into being. Please read the following carefully:
“It is according to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself 10 for an administration at the full limit of the appointed times, namely, to gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth. [Yes,] in him, 11 in union with whom we were also assigned as heirs, in that we were foreordained according to the purpose of him who operates all things according to the way his will counsels…” (Eph 1:9-11)
This administration at the “full limit of the appointed times” has not yet been completed. It is the administration that gathers all things together. Are we to start gathering things together before that administration comes into being? When does the Administration come into being? At the end, “the full limit of the appointed times.” And when is that?
“. . .they cried with a loud voice, saying: “Until when, Sovereign Lord holy and true, are you refraining from judging and avenging our blood upon those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And a white robe was given to each of them; and they were told to rest a little while longer, until the number was filled also of their fellow slaves and their brothers who were about to be killed as they also had been.” (Re 6:10, 11)
The number is not yet filled. So are we not running ahead of God by pushing a hope whose time has not yet come?
He has told us through his anointed Son that he is looking for humans to adopt as children. Shouldn’t we continue to work toward gathering them before we run ahead to the next phase of the program? (John 1:12; Ro 8:15-17)
Even if we accept the Organization’s interpretation of who the children of God are and how they are chosen, we have to acknowledge that recent events show that thousands more are partaking and acknowledging the calling to be children of God. This is a cause for concern to the Governing Body if we are to go by recent Watchtower studies. But why should that be the case? Shouldn’t this increase be a cause for rejoicing? Does it not mean—to the JW mindset at least—that the full number is close to being filled, thereby bringing the end? Why does the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses fear what is necessary, not only for their salvation, but that of the whole world? Why do they work so hard to block the way to everlasting life to which Jesus pointed? Whose work are they doing when they use the publications as well as oral and written instructions to elder bodies to dissuade others from partaking? (Mt 23:15)
The evidence is clear that the Governing Body and Jehovah’s Witnesses in general under their direction are promoting a way to everlasting life whose time has not yet come. This is the theme of the 2016 Special Talk.
[i] See “One Hundred Years Under Kingdom Rulership!“.
Par. 17 At that time, the life-saving direction that we receive from Jehovah’s organization may not appear practical from a human standpoint. All of us must be ready to obey any instructions we may receive, whether these appear sound from a strategic or human standpoint or not.
Par. 16 We can enter into Jehovah’s rest—or join him in his rest—by obediently working in harmony with his advancing purpose as it is revealed to us through his organization.
Par. 13 …all in the congregation view it as their sacred duty to follow and uphold the direction coming from the faithful slave and its Governing Body.
(Special thanks to Dajo and M. for finding these references)