[From ws4/17 p. 28 – June 26 – July 2]
“Because of the people’s volunteering, praise Jehovah!” – Judges 5:2
Is a volunteering spirit something desirable in the Lord’s eyes? We can be sure that it is. For instance, we have Isaiah’s eager willingness to serve immortalized in his words: “Here am I, send me!” (Isaiah 6:8) We also have the prophetic assurance from the Psalmist:
“Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day of your military force. In splendid holiness, from the womb of the dawn, You have your company of young men just like dewdrops.” (Ps 110:3)
“What Do You Give Him?”
Under this subtitle, the reader of this study article is helped to see the voluntary gifts and works that Jehovah values from his servants. High on the list are gifts of mercy to our fellow man.
“The one showing favor to the lowly is lending to Jehovah, And He will repay him for what he does.” (Pr 19:17)
Imagine lending to God and having the Almighty in your debt! This is in line with what Jesus taught us at Matthew 6:1-4. After telling us not to broadcast our merciful acts for all to see, he adds that our gifts of mercy should be made in secret, so that “your Father who looks on in secret will repay you.” (Mt. 6:4) The paragraph adds to this by citing a “read” scripture in Luke 14:13, 14.
Witnesses fail to obey this command every time they hand in a field service report, or accept a part on the platform that emphasizes their pioneer service, and the like.
Returning to the issue of gifts of mercy poured out upon the needy, we should ask ourselves if Witnesses are known for this type of volunteer work. They should be because they claim to be the one true religion that worships Jehovah as he requires, and he inspired James to write the following:
“The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world.” (Jas 1:27)
While such works of mercy may focus first on those related to us in the faith, they cannot be confined to them if we are to find favor with God. As Paul said:
“Really, then, as long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to [us] in the faith.” (Ga 6:10)
Unfortunately, Witnesses are not really known for this type of love. For example, when asked if they joined in with other religious groups by responding to the needs of the then-homeless residents who were victims of the Grenfell Tower Fire in London, they could only respond with stunned silence. Apparently, the thought had simply not occurred. The JW faith is so highly dependent on direction from top level leadership that there is simply no place for personal initiative and independent thought in such cases. In fact, it would likely be seen as evidence of prideful self-will; of running ahead of the Organization.
To be fair, when the Governing Body does organize disaster relief campaigns, as it did after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, many witnesses respond readily both with monetary and resource donations as well as with their personal time and expertise. But it seems they can only engage in acts of mercy when they are organized to do so.
A Contrast in Attitude toward Volunteer Service
According to Judges 5:23, Judge Deborah and Army Chief Barak condemned Meroz and its inhabitants for not offering assistance to those fighting for Jehovah. Paragraph 11, apparently wanting to flesh out this historical account to support the theme, engages in speculation which seems to, almost transparently, morph into fact. To illustrate:
Meroz was evidently cursed so effectively that it is difficult to say with certainty what it was. Could it have been a city whose inhabitants failed to respond to the initial rally for volunteers? If it lay on Sisera’s escape route, did its citizens have a chance to detain him but fail to seize the opportunity? [So we start out with speculation that it may have been a city or may not, but if it were it might have been on the escape route, or it might not.] How could they not have heard of Jehovah’s call for volunteers? Ten thousand people from their region had been assembled for this offensive. Imagine the people of Meroz catching sight of this vicious warrior as he ran right through their streets alone and desperate. This would have been a splendid opportunity to advance Jehovah’s purpose and experience his blessing. Yet, at that critical moment when given a choice between doing something and doing nothing, did they give in to indifference? [In a flash, we’ve gone from conjecture to reality. It will be interesting to hear your comments, gentle reader, of how the brothers answered this particular question.] What a contrast that would have been to Jael’s courageous action described in the very next verses!—Judg. 5:24-27. – par. 11
This contrast between those who volunteered and those who declined is made again in paragraph 12.
At Judges 5:9, 10, we see a further contrast between the attitude of those who marched with Barak and that of those who did not. Deborah and Barak commended “the commanders of Israel, who went as volunteers with the people.” How different they were from the “riders on tawny donkeys,” who were too proud to participate, and those “who [sat] on fine carpets,” loving a life of luxury! Unlike those “who walk[ed] on the road,” preferring the easy way, those who went with Barak were willing to do battle on the rocky slopes of Tabor and in the swampy valley of Kishon! All the pleasure-seekers were urged to “consider!” Yes, they needed to meditate on their missed opportunity to help Jehovah’s cause. So, too, should any who today are holding back from serving God fully. – par. 12
Then the same point is made in paragraph 13:
On the other hand, the tribes of Reuben, Dan, and Asher were each singled out at Judges 5:15-17 for giving more attention to their own material interests—as represented by their flocks, ships, and harbors—than to the work that Jehovah was having done. By contrast, Zebulun and Naphtali “risked their lives to the point of death” to support Deborah and Barak. (Judg. 5:18) This contrast in attitude toward volunteer service contains an important lesson for us. – par. 13
So the point is that we should be serving Jehovah not sitting on our “tawny donkeys and fine carpets”. Well and good, but what is meant by “serving Jehovah”? Are we speaking about helping the poor and engaging in charitable acts of mercy as referred to earlier in the study? Not so much.
What is actually meant—the lesson to be learned from the account of Judge Deborah and Army Commander Barak—is this: Do more for the organization!
A quick view of the images under this subtitle confirms what is said in paragraph 14:
The need for volunteers in Jehovah’s organization is greater than ever. Millions of brothers, sisters, and young people are offering themselves in various fields of full-time service as pioneers, as Bethelites, as Kingdom Hall construction volunteers, and as volunteers at assemblies and conventions. Think, too, of elders who carry weighty responsibilities with Hospital Liaison Committees and convention organization. – par. 14
The first sentence seems to be an odd statement given that the organization just dropped 25% of its worldwide volunteer workforce. Perhaps what they mean is that volunteers that in no way present a financial drain on the organization are needed.
While Witnesses will view all of these activities as facets of holy service to God, consider the fact that there is nothing in Christian Scripture to support them. This is why the Organization constantly goes back to the Old Testament—the former covenant arrangement—under Israel. They seem unwilling to accept that under the New Covenant, things have changed. There is, for instance, no “pioneer service” within the Christian congregation, so the organization draws parallels with the ancient Nazarenes under the now-defunct Israelite system of worship. There was no Bethel after Christ, so they go back to pre-Christian times and pick a place in Ancient Israel known as a site of false worship. (A strange, yet oddly appropriate choice as it turns out.) There was a king and priesthood in Israel—what might be called a governing body—but no such entity existed in the first century Christian congregation. Neither is there is a record of first century Christians building houses of worship, like our kingdom and assembly halls.
Paragraph 15 asks us: Like Barak, Deborah, Jael, and the 10,000 volunteers, do I have the faith and courage to use whatever is at my disposal to carry out the clear command of Jehovah?
Indeed! But just what is the clear command of Jehovah? To pioneer? To serve at Bethel? To build kingdom halls?
Jehovah gave Christians an express command. He did it in his own voice.
“For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when words such as these were borne to him by the magnificent glory: “This is my son, my beloved, whom I myself have approved.” 18 Yes, these words we heard borne from heaven while we were with him in the holy mountain.” (2Pe 1:17, 18)
Jehovah’s one command to Christians is to listen to his son. Interestingly, this article makes nary a mention of Jesus. All the attention is on the organization as the channel Jehovah uses. We are encouraged to have “loyal obedience” (par. 16), but not to Jesus. Rather, our obedience to the organization is expected, as we respond to their call for volunteers.
The title of the article suggests that our volunteer spirit will bring praise to Jehovah, but we cannot praise God under the Christian system without praising the Son. We honor God through the son.
“Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” John 5:23
If we try to do something that isn’t a direct instruction from the org, it is considered to be running ahead of it now? So how are we supposed to fine tune/exercise our bible trained conscience? I like para. 11-13. Those who live in comfort and have the ability to help others but can’t be bothered for selfish reasons deserve to have Jehovah upset with them. On the other hand if someone is struggling to make ends meet are they expected to put themselves into an even worse situation by helping others? Such a person would be giving under compulsion… Read more »
This is exactly how I feel about JW system. On the one side spiritual food like bad muffins and on the other side urging to do more, to sacrifice more for organization. There is little or nothing consideration on well being and real needs of R&F outside of organization interests. BTW world and people outside Org. is not always in good intention (often quite opposite!) There is really challenging to maintain spiritual balance and progress in Christian growth balancing between “JW world” and “outside world” In that challenge on mind, place like this is a really gem and I really… Read more »
Welcome Ludavid, and don’t worry about your English. We understand the spirit from which you speak.
Please accept also our warmest Christian love from South East Asia. 🙂
Hi Candace Bad muffins,couldn’t have said it better. From your posts I gather you are still in the pioneer work,congratulations for lasting this long after waking up. If it’s any help I have a field service intro that may give your ministry a lift and still give you a chance to speak real truth. One of the most common rejections is I have my own religion,I always ask is that a Christian religion? 9 out of 10 it’s yes.Or if they are wearing a cross for “informal” witnessing. I then ask “so as a follower of Christ,how do you minister… Read more »
Meleti, Please could you expand on your comment? “For example, when asked if they joined in with other religious groups by responding to the needs of the then-homeless residents who were victims of the Grenfell Tower Fire in London, they could only respond with stunned silence.” According to the official website newsroom, JWs HAVE been offering assistance to those affected by the tower block fire. Granted, it’s possible that the account is doctored to appear to be more than it was. It could refer only to help for those Witnesses who lived in the block and their immediate families. I’d… Read more »
My information came from a brother who was speaking to members of the congregation in whose territory that tower existed.
The Newsroom on JW.org reports as follows: “Witnesses that live near the now fire-gutted apartment building provided food, clothing, and monetary aid to their fellow members and their families that were affected. The Witnesses are also offering spiritual comfort to the grieving members of the North Kensington community.”
This is in line with next week’s study that directs Witnesses to help fellow witnesses, but as for needy non-witnesses, they get preached to.
Thanks Meleti, that makes sense.
The Newsroom on jw org appears to be a PR exercise. Do the writers believe that non JW readers will be impressed at the self serving accounts of assistance to other witnesses only? Surely people see through the cleverly worded trumpet blowing.
It doesn’t seem to be to be anything to be proud of.
Good review Meleti thank you. ?
The story on JW.ORG concerning the fire is shameful. They offered clothing, food, and money to FOUR PEOPLE TOTAL. I can’t imagine a scenario where Warwick burns to the ground and packs of young Mormon men come slinking in with – not help – but literature, and we’d find that at all charitable. I’m embarrassed by this “news” piece. We all should be. We don’t even really give to the needy, yet we announce it with trumpets. How can you fail Matthew 6:2 so spectacularly?
The jehovahs witnesses tend to place more importance on (spiritual ) assistance in spreading thier message than on charitable works , I’ve heard it said many times from the platform , “what is the best way to love our neighbours brothers isn’t it to share the good news with them ” I’m not sure how that tallies with Matthew 5 v46 and 47 though , in reality , I suppose if we are Christians then our compassion should automatically move us to help as individuals ,
Sadly, such teaching gives us a free pass. It was only after I began to learn the real truth about the Christ that my attitude changed toward those in need.
Lloyd Evans has exposed this JW attitude to help only the members in his analysis of the June 2017 JW Broadcast. Here’s the start of the 12 minutes clip.
Hi Tyhik. I’m sure you meant no harm in posting that link as you may not see the man who for who he is, but I took a brief look only out of curiosity to see what it was about. Within the first few minutes, by his own words, the “John Cedars” in the video shows himself to be a ‘profitless talker and deceiver who would subvert entire households.’ He is a know it all, and yet does not know the Father, nor the Son. The internet is full of those that would use perhaps some accurate criticism of the… Read more »
Martha, A young brother in our congregation who has friends in that side of London informed me that there were 4 JWs involved. When the fire started, the sister on a lower floor sent her daughter to the floor above to get the other sister etc out. They all got out safely. That is good news. I was fascinated that they felt a need to only inform a fellow JW. Human kindness would surely have wanted to inform your neighbours. Also, the press release on the jw web site states “… are offering spiritual comfort to those grieving members of… Read more »
Thanks for the clarification Eleasar. I suppose it was natural to go to the sister in the flat above first, since there is a close, almost family like affection among some members of congregations, but I agree… You would bang on every door on the way through. Maybe they did. I hope so. One of the accusations against JWs years ago was that we are not community minded. Considering that we are told to be no part of the world and we viewed everyone who isn’t a JW as ” the world” it wasn’t surprising that we didn’t mix or… Read more »
Thanks Meleti, appreciate the breakdown of what Volunteers should be contemplating according to the article. I like Isaiahs words. To be honest, I never thought about Judges 5:23 and what it could mean. There are various interpretations of what it could mean. It’s seems other writers have fallen into the same trap as the watchtower writers have as you have highlighted nicely in your analysis. Gone from speculation to making applications based on speculation. Speculation if that was the reverse, that a publisher did that , he or she probably would be counselled. Or at least shot down for not… Read more »
Just a side point that ties in with the statement Meleti made re there been no building work done by the 1st century Christians. When one takes a look at the way Christianity degenerated,which by the 3rd century had well and truly become established “doctrine”,these are some of the false ideas that had taken hold. The separation of clergy and laity. The formation of a strong centralised hierarchy. The developement of the trinity doctrine.The immortal soul and hellfire The construction of buildings to “worship” in,yes religious buildings for Christians originate with apostate Christianity not the form of worship Jesus approved.… Read more »
Thanks Meleti for another well-written work that exposes the true intent of the article. After WT study on Sunday, the ultimate question would be: “How would the members of the Congregation feel after going through the study? Do they feel refreshed, enlightened, and encouraged? Or do they feel GUILTY or MORE GUILTY for not putting up more time to volunteer in the organization? Contrast the appeal of the Organization to our Master in Matthew 11:28-29 which says: Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and… Read more »
keep up the good work Meliti. It is keeping us all alert to what is behind the items being presented.
When JW.org starts honestly examining and presenting the truth of the scriptures and correctly interpreting it, we may all feel like willingly volunteering. Meanwhile we will be holding back until they can prove they really represent Jesus Christ.
The whole article is about getting the witnesses to prove thier righteousness by the work of supporting the organisation , they are claiming to be a christian religion , but I counted 25 references to the Hebrew scriptures , and just 2 to the NT in this article , in watchtower tradition READ , 1 TIMOTHY 1 V 7 , GALATIANS 2 AND 3 , ps, meleti , I don’t know how your coping reading this every week ,
It does get the dander up. 🙂
Thanks for the researchs, About helping other than JW you write “The JW faith is so highly dependent on direction … no place for personal initiative” , the system of reporting preaching hours each month kill a part of our humanity,in the past i was so focus of my report because it’s the highways to get attention of the organization in the hoping to have some recognition and calm my artificially generated WT guilt, when an authentic desire of helping people rise in me, my indoctrinated mind say “it’s a waste to do good actions that last a short time,convert… Read more »
We are so obedient that we won’t move unless the elders take the lead. What if a JW takes the first step or the initiative? He/She might be branded as “presumptuous” or out of order.