[From ws3/16 p. 18 for May 23-29]
“This is the way. Walk in it.”—Isa 30:21
I have put all the doctrinal corrections at the end of the article so as not to detract from a discussion of what appears to be the real purpose of this article. From the title, one would assume the audience is going to learn how Jehovah guides us to everlasting life. However, that is not really the point the article wants to get across. There is an underlying theme; one which most Watchtower Study attendees will not be consciously aware of, but which will likely influence them all the same.
The key phrase to watch for is new or changed circumstances. It first occurs in paragraph 4.
New Circumstances in Noah’s Day
The (b) question for paragraph 4 reads: “How did new circumstances reveal God’s thinking?”
The answer: “There were new circumstances….Hence, new guidelines were required: “Only flesh with its life—its blood—you must not eat.” – Par. 4
So the new circumstances required new guidelines. Actually, new laws.
New Circumstances in Moses’ Day
Paragraph 6 states: “In Moses’ day, clear guidelines on proper conduct and manner of worship were needed. Why? Again, changed circumstances were involved.” – Par. 6
As in the case of the Flood, the formation of the nation of Israel was God’s doing. This created new circumstances that required Jehovah to provide new guidelines. Actually, they were more than guidelines. Disobeying a guideline doesn’t carry the death penalty. Nevertheless, the point is new circumstances require new guidelines or laws.
New Circumstances in Christ’s Day
The question from paragraph 9 is: “What new circumstances made new direction from God necessary?”
The answer is that “the arrival of Jesus as the Messiah made it necessary to have new divine direction and a further revealing of Jehovah’s purpose. This was because, once again, new circumstances arose.” – Par. 9
Again, new circumstances meant new laws.
New Circumstances in the Governing Body’s Day
We now come to the point of the study.
The question for paragraphs 15, 16 reads: “What new circumstances do we now have, and how does God guide us?”
If we accept the premise that there are new circumstances, then we must accept the corollary that new laws or guidelines from God are forthcoming.
In answer the paragraphs speak of the last days, the coming tribulation, the casting down of Satan, and the “historic and unprecedented preaching campaign that is reaching peoples and language groups as never before!” These are apparently the new circumstances.
But are they really new circumstances?
According to Acts 2:17, the last days started in the first century. We have no way of knowing if the tribulation is straight ahead as the article suggests. In fact, what the great tribulation refers to is very much a matter that is open to interpretation. As for Satan being cast down, we’ve already proven that 1914 is false, so while we can’t be sure when this occurred, there is no basis for assuming it was in that year.[a] And finally, there is the so-called “historic and unprecedented preaching campaign that is reaching people and language groups as never before”. Is this a new circumstance? Ignore all the other religious groups with missionaries around the world, like the 200 countries in which Adventists preach. Ignore the almost 3,000 languages in which Bible societies have made God’s word available to language groups. Instead, ask yourself where are we preaching? In what lands are 95% of all Jehovah’s Witnesses preaching? Are they not all Christian lands? So how did they become Christian before we got there? If our preaching work is historic, what historic work is responsible for bringing Christianity to these lands before us? How can our work be “unprecedented” if there is such a precedent already in place?
Nevertheless, let us accept for the moment that the premise is valid, that these are new circumstances. Where does that leave us? What conclusion should we draw?
- In the first new circumstances, angels spoke to Noah, and he spoke to his family.
- In the second, new circumstances angels spoke to Moses and he spoke to the Israelites.
- In the third new circumstances, God spoke to his son and he spoke to us.
Now we are in the fourth new circumstances, and we have the complete Bible to guide us, but apparently that is not enough. Keeping company with the likes of Noah, Moses and Jesus Christ, the Governing Body would have us believe that to instruct us to deal with these new circumstances, Jehovah speaks through them.
And just how does he go about doing that? Noah and Moses had angelic intermediaries. Jehovah spoke directly to Jesus. So how does He communicate His wants to the Governing Body? They are silent on that subject.
Moving on, we would naturally want to know what these new guidelines are. How are we to respond to the new circumstances of the last days, Satan’s rage, the approaching great tribulation, and the global preaching work? The past three times God imparted guidelines and laws to deal with changed circumstances, it resulted in life altering, world changing events. These laws continue to affect us down to this day. So what does Jehovah have to tell us now?
Paragraph 17 answers: “We need to employ the preaching tools provided by God’s organization. Do you desire to do that? Are you alert to the guidance given at our meetings on how we can use these tools and how to do so most effectively? Do you view these directions as guidance from God?” – Par. 17
Are we really putting the law on blood, the ten commandments, and the law of the Christ on a par with using the iPad in the field ministry? Does Jehovah really want me to show JW.org videos on my cell phone? If it sounds like I’m being facetious, or ridiculing, remember that I didn’t write this stuff.
These men would have us believe that their future instructions, also transmitted from God, will require our absolute obedience if we desire to be saved.
“Indeed, to keep receiving God’s blessing, we need to pay attention to all the directions provided through the Christian congregation. Having an obedient spirit now will help us to follow directions during the “great tribulation,” which will eliminate Satan’s entire evil system.” – Par. 18
Jehovah won’t bless us if we don’t follow “all the directions” we get from the Governing Body.
“So if we STOP to consider God’s Word, LOOK to understand its meaning for us, and LISTEN by obeying God’s guidance now, we can look forward to surviving the great tribulation and enjoying an eternity of learning about our all-wise and loving God, Jehovah.” – Par 20
We can survive the great tribulation and live eternally only if we obey the Governing Body’s directions now!
There it is. You decide.
In the introductory paragraphs of this week’s study, an opportunity to adjust our minds to the truth is missed.
“Jehovah…acts like a loving shepherd to his flock, calling out to the sheep proper direction and warnings so that they can avoid dangerous paths.—Read Isaiah 30:20, 21.” – Par. 2
For proof of this statement, the article refers to a Scripture directed to the Israelites under the old covenant. However, Christians are not under the old covenant, so why refer to it when something has replaced it?
“Consequently if anyone is in union with Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away, look! new things have come into existence.” (2Co 5:17)
The old things have passed away! Jehovah was both shepherd and instructor to the nation of Israel, but in the New Covenant Scriptures—what we commonly call “the Christian Greek Scriptures”—Jehovah is never depicted as a Shepherd. Why not? Because He has raised up a Shepherd and an instructor, and told us to listen to him. He now instructs us.
“Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of an everlasting covenant, our Lord Jesus,” (Heb 13:20)
“And when the chief shepherd has been made manifest, YOU will receive the unfadable crown of glory.” (1Pe 5:4)
“I am the fine shepherd; the fine shepherd surrenders his soul in behalf of the sheep.” (Joh 10:11)
“. . .because the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life. . . .” (Re 7:17)
“This is my son…listen to him.” (Mt 17:5)
Why would someone claim to be Christ’s “faithful and discreet slave” while continually marginalizing his divinely appointed role?
We run into some confusing reasoning when contrasting the question asked in paragraph 8 with the answer provided.
Question: “Why should we be guided by the principles of the Mosaic Law?”
Answer: “Listen to what Jesus said: “You heard that it was said: ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Thus, we need to avoid not only the act of adultery but also the sexual craving to share in immorality.”
This is not an example of being guided by the principles of the Mosaic Law. This is an example of how we are guided by the principles of the Christ which transcend the Mosaic Law. The answer doesn’t really fit the question.
Paragraphs 10 & 11
Under the heading, “Guidance for a New Spiritual Nation”, we are told that “devoted servants of God were under a new covenant.” (Par. 10) The article then goes on to show that the old covenant under the Mosaic Law included all of Israel, but the new nation of spiritual Israel is governed by “the law of the Christ” that “would apply to and benefit Christians wherever they lived.” Would that not imply that like the old covenant, the new one applies to all Christians? That is what paragraph 11 seems to be saying:
“These directives were for all Christians; thus they apply to all true worshippers today, whether their hope is heavenly or earthly.” – Par. 11
Yet, according to JW theology, those with an earthly hope are not in the New Covenant. They do not make up the “Spiritual Nation” to which the subtitle refers. Where is the Scriptural evidence for this seemingly contradictory reasoning? Apparently, this new 20th Century class of Christian is the first “people” Jehovah has called to himself since Abraham with whom he has not entered into any form of covenant.
There is no Scriptural support for this teaching.
Paragraphs 13 & 14
These paragraphs speak of the new commandment Jesus gave Christians to love one another as he loved us.
“That commandment involves a call not just to love one another in normal aspects of everyday life but to be willing even to surrender our life in behalf of our brother.” – Par. 13
Many of us have seen the videos and/or read the transcripts of the testimony from JW officials before the Australia Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. After reviewing these, would you feel that there is evidence that these brothers were willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of the child victim? True, life and limb were not in danger in this instance, though Jesus words imply that such a sacrifice might ultimately be called for. No, we’re just talking about putting the welfare of the child victim above any thought of self, of one’s position or standing in the Organization. True, reporting such a hideous crime to the authorities would have inevitably brought some shame on the Organization and the local congregation, perhaps even on the Body of Elders had they not handled the case properly, but Jesus despised shame. (He 12:2) He was not afraid to suffer the greatest shame that existed within Jewish society because he was motivated by love. So again, do we see evidence of that in the deeds of the officials at all levels of the Organization with regard to the handling of child sexual abuse? Do you feel that John 13:34-35 applies to us?
“Especially since the appointment of “the faithful and discreet slave,” Jesus has provided his people with spiritual food at the proper time.” – Par. 15
According to the most recent interpretation of the Governing Body, there was no fulfillment of Matthew 24:45-47 until 1919.[b] So until 1919 there was no slave feeding God’s people. Yet, the paragraph says that especially since that 1919 appointment Jesus has been feeding his people. The use of “especially” indicates that while he was feeding them before 1919, he is doing so even more since then.
Pray tell, through who, if not the slave, was Christ feeding his people prior to 1919?
[a] In fact, the weight of evidence, both Scriptural and historical, suggests that it occurred in the first century.