Treasures from God’s Word
Theme: “Humans can have success only with Jehovah’s guidance”.
Jeremiah 10:2-5, 14, 15
“This is what Jehovah says: “Do not learn the way of the nations, and do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens, because the nations are terrified by them.”
What was “the way of the nations”?
The Babylonians viewed the heavens this way:
“According to the holistic world view of the ancient Mesopotamians, everything in the universe had its firm place according to divine will. According to the incipit of the celestial omen series Enuma Anu Enlil, the gods Anu, Enlil and Ea themselves designed the constellations and measured the year thereby establishing the heavenly signs. Thus, the Mesopotamian divination was an all-embracing semantic system designed to interpret the universe (Koch-Westenholz 1995: 13-19).”[i]
The Babylonians in particular practised astrology, looking for and interpreting signs from the heavens, but they were by no means alone.
How could we today “learn the way of the nations”?
Could it be by continually speculating trying to interpret events in the world around us? By constantly trying to assess every world event as the immediate prelude to Armageddon? How often do you hear a comment such as “nation X is threatening to attack nation Y. Could this lead to Armageddon?” or “The end must be very close because look at the problems with climate change.”
What does the Bible say about such events?
“You are going to hear of wars and reports of wars; see that you are not terrified.” (Matthew 26:6)
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look Here is the Christ’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it”. (Matthew 24:23)
How would the presence of the Son of Man be? Jesus made it clear it would be undeniable, it would be seen everywhere. We would not have to speculate endlessly, worrying about every small turn in world events. Jesus said:
“For just as the lightning comes out of eastern parts and shines over to western parts, [lighting up the whole of the sky], so the presence of the Son of Man will be.” (Matthew 24:27)
“Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36)
“Keep on the watch” but “do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens” is Jesus’ wise counsel. We should follow it.
Digging for Spiritual Gems
What type of boasting and pride is good?
The reference we are guided to is the January 1, 2013 Watchtower (p. 20) “Keep Drawing Close to Jehovah”. In that article, paragraph 16 makes the claim “For example, we should always feel proud to be Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Jer 9:24)”.
While that may have been the case in the past, new revelations thanks to the wide availability of information via the internet have uncovered some shameful facts. Are we proud to be part of an organization that hypocritically disobeyed one of its most sacred precepts—separation from the World and its beast-like political entities—by becoming a secret member of the United Nations for 10 years until they were discovered? Are we proud that the stigma of hiding paedophiles from the secular authorities that we condemned the Catholic Church for is now something we are known for internationally?
Perhaps then, we should rather stick to applying the scripture itself which says “But let the one bragging about himself brag about himself because of this very thing, the having of insight and the having of knowledge of me, that I am Jehovah, the One exercising loving-kindness, justice and righteousness in the earth”.
Anyone can claim to be one of Jehovah’s Witness, but to truly bear witness about the Almighty God of the universe, we need the type of insight and knowledge that comes only from Him. Being called a Witness of Jehovah and bearing witness about Jehovah are two entirely different things in most cases. The fact is, the way to bear witness about Jehovah in the Christian era is to bear witness about Jesus. That is Jehovah’s way. (See WT Study: “You Will Be Witnesses of Me”)
Living as Christians
Once again the “Living as Christians” portion of the midweek meeting starts with how to place organisation literature. Surely, there is much more to living as a Christian than placing religious literature? ‘Nuf said.
The God’s Kingdom Rules
(Chapter 10 para 1-7 pp.100-101)
The Theme: “The King Refines his People Spiritually”
The introduction to Section 3 is entitled “Kingdom Standards – Seeking God’s Righteousness”
The 1st paragraph raises the fictitious scenario where your neighbour asks you, “What is it that makes you people so different?”
This is the self-congratulatory portion of the study. But does giving an outward appearance of morality really count for much? The Pharisees could and did make the same claim.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you resemble whitewashed graves, which outwardly indeed appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men’s bones and of every sort of uncleanness. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Mt 23:27, 28)
As a former elder I can testify that it is shocking just how many cases of various types of immorality and unchristian conduct come to the elders’ attention, to not even speak of spousal abuse. Are Witnesses really that different from Christians in other denominations? The unscriptural confidentiality afforded the sinner who reaches stage three of Christ’s judicial process (Mt 18:15-17) serves to protect the name of the Organization and keep up the façade that we are ‘a cut above the rest.’
The study then gives us the pat-on-the-back by asking, “What is it that makes you people so different in so many ways?” The reply is that “We live under the rulership of God’s Kingdom. As King, Jesus is ever refining us.”
Just stop and think for a moment about those two statements. Assume just for one moment we are actually living under God’s Kingdom since 1914.
Firstly, does living under the rulership of a particular Kingdom make you a particular type person?
If you live under a good government, does that make you good? Does living under a cruel dictatorship mean you are a bad person? In fact, Christians have been living under the Kingdom of our Lord since the first century and those who obey our Lord are going to be different, and have been down through the ages. (Col 1:13) What this paragraph really means is that Jehovah’s Witnesses are different because they are living under the rulership of JW.org.
That leads us into the second claim: “As King, Jesus is ever refining us”.
Jesus, through the holy spirit, does refine us individually. (Eph 4:20-24) But that is not what is being referred to here. No, this refinement is organizational.
Is there evidence that Jesus has been refining JW.org?
Paragraph 1-3 deals with Matthew 21:12, 13 which records the account where Jesus cleansed the Temple, throwing out the money changers and the buyers and sellers in the Temple.
At the end of paragraph 3 comes (predictably) the claim that Jesus cleansed a temple centuries later after the incident in Matthew, one that involves us today.
Paragraph 4 refers us to Chapter 2 of the God’s Kingdom Rules book for its support of this bold claim. Is it valid? Rather than cover old material here, please see the Clam Review for Oct 3-9, 2016 for a review of Chapter 2 para 1-12 and the Clam Review of Oct 10-16, 2016 for a review of Chapter 2 para 13-22.
The first area to be examined is spiritual cleanness.
The first error is the statement “that Jehovah spoke to Jewish exiles as they were about to leave Babylon in the 6th century B.C.E.” and points us to Isaiah 52. Unless there has been a very recent change, the Table of Bible books from the New World Translation shows Isaiah was completed around 732 B.C.E., and was therefore written nearly 200 years before they returned from exile. But then what is a 200 year time shift when you want to make a point? It should be qualified at least as “Jehovah spoke prophetically in advance to Jewish exiles”.
The second error is in quoting Isaiah 52:11 as applying to spiritual cleanness to support their conclusion, when the verse and context clearly makes the point prophetically that the returning exiles were not to touch unclean things, to leave Babylon to return to Judah and keep themselves clean as per the Mosaic Law. There is no evidence in Isaiah to indicate that spiritual cleanness was what was meant. For the priests to handle the utensils they had to be clean physically and clean from other things that Jehovah proscribed, such as touching dead bodies and unclean foods, something that they may have been doing in Babylon as they were not serving as priests there. If they were to serve again as priests they had to refrain from these things again, and leave Babylon and return with the other exiles.
The third error is to then apply the false conclusion. Of course the principle can be applied, but then why not simply state that. It is misleading to say otherwise. All that was needed was to say something along the lines of, “Of course, Jehovah prophetically commanded them to be physically and ceremonially clean according to the requirement of the Mosaic Law, but the principle would surely also have applied to spiritual cleanness, and likewise, we today would want to be both physically and spiritually clean”.
The statement that “spiritual cleanness involves keeping free of the teachings and practices of false religion” is accurate, but that has nothing to do with the points being made at Isaiah 52. Engaging in misapplication and loose logic only undermines their narrative.
(Most of our readers will not fail to notice the irony of an organization whose unique doctrines have all been shown to be false, making such a self-condemnatory statement.)
Paragraph 7 makes the unsubstantiated claim we are all too familiar with, that “Jesus put in place a clearly recognisable channel.” The claim is that that channel is the faithful and discreet slave, which Christ allegedly appointed in 1919. The falsehood of this claim was covered in the 2016, Oct 24-30 – Clam Review.
A careful read of Matthew 24:45-47 and Luke 12:41-48 shows that Jesus appointed a slave before he left. That slave was unidentified. That slave had the option to perform well or badly. The slave that was to be appointed over all his belonging was judged as faithful and discreet, but only at the time of the Lord’s return which has yet to happen.
The slave is not judged on whether it feeds the Lord’s domestics, but on whether it does so in faith and wisdom. Constantly reinterpreting the same Bible prophecies only leads to disillusionment and disappointment among the domestics. That can hardly be described as wise or discreet. Promoting false doctrine and persecuting those who point out your error is hardly the course of faith.
[i] Quoted from The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago under fair use policy, from the summary of a seminar themed “Science and Superstition: Interpretation of Signs in the Ancient World” 2009.