[From ws 7/18 p. 12 – September 10 – 16]
“To you I raise my eyes, you who are enthroned in the heavens.”—Psalm 123:1
Where are your eyes looking? This is such a vital question.
If it is to Jehovah and Jesus Christ then that is commendable and vital. It will also be without disappointment. As Romans 10:11 states in context referring to Jesus Christ: “For the Scripture says: “None that rests his faith on him will be disappointed.”” (See also Romans 9:33).
If it is to men, whatever they claim to be, even if they claim to be God’s representatives on earth, then we need to remember the warning words of Jeremiah 7:4-11. In part it says “Do not put YOUR trust in fallacious words, saying, ‘The temple [earthly organization] of Jehovah, the temple [earthly organization] of Jehovah, the temple [earthly organization] of Jehovah they are!’ 5 For if YOU will positively make YOUR ways and YOUR dealings good, if YOU will positively carry out justice between a man and his companion, 6 if no alien resident, no fatherless boy and no widow YOU will oppress, ….. , I in turn, shall certainly keep YOU residing in this place, in the land that I gave to YOUR forefathers, from time indefinite even to time indefinite.”’” 8 “Here YOU are putting YOUR trust in fallacious words—it will certainly be of no benefit at all”.
Although Jeremiah was referring at that time to natural Israel the principle remains that any religion or individual that relies on claims to be God’s representative or God’s organization on earth is making a false claim. All the more so if injustice is to be widely found within that group in particular against the vulnerable ones such as children and widows and orphans.[i]
This article is also one for which it is difficult to understand the aim. Its theme is “Where are your eyes looking?” Yet 16 of 18 paragraphs are spent examining the mistake Moses made which led to him missing out on entry to the Promised Land. Arguably Moses was one outstanding individual who kept his focus on serving Jehovah when all around him with the exception of a few lost their focus. Focusing on the one slip-up he made seems disingenuous. It also is very negative, given that most of us would never contemplate that we could be as faithful as Moses, drawing so much attention to his slip up could easily discourage so many. It is human nature to reason, if Moses couldn’t keep his focus and failed to enter the promised land then there is no hope for me, so why bother to try? Furthermore, a distraction is a temporary distraction not a change of focus. It is humanly impossible to keep our physical eyes on one thing for any length of time without blinking or being temporarily distracted, but that does not negate that there is a subject of our concentration.
With these thoughts in mind let us consider this week’s article.
Paragraph 2 contains a good reminder when it says: “we daily need to search God’s Word to ascertain what Jehovah’s will is for us personally and then to follow that direction.” Indeed, that is the only place we will find God’s will accurately recorded.
Ephesians 5:17 (cited) implores us “Because of this, you should not be foolish (senseless ones), but you should be comprehending what the will of the Lord is.” (Interlinear).
A faithful man loses a privilege (Par.4-11)
This section discusses Moses and the events which lead up to him losing the privilege of entering the Promised Land.
Numbers 20:6-11 shows that Moses looked to Jehovah for direction, but despite being given clear instructions Moses allowed the irritation and frustration of dealing with the Israelites get to him and his resulting actions displeased Jehovah.
Paragraph 11 is completely speculation. At least it concludes by saying “we cannot be certain.” One serious problem with this speculation is that we do not know for sure where the places Israel camped during their wandering in the wilderness are situated. 3,500 years of climate change, erosion, decay and man’s changes have obscured what little evidence there was to begin with. As a result it is dangerous to speculate that ‘here he struck granite’ and ‘here he struck limestone’.
How Moses rebelled (Par.12-13)
The information we can be sure of is that in the Bible record. Talking about Moses and Aaron, Numbers 24:17 says “inasmuch as YOU men rebelled against my order in the wilderness of Zin at the quarrelling of the assembly, in relation to sanctifying me by the waters before their eyes. These are the waters of Merʹi·bah at Kaʹdesh in the wilderness of Zin.”
Therefore, according to the book of Numbers it was because Moses did not sanctify Jehovah before Israel. Psalm 106:32-33 which is quoted (par.12) also says about Moses “They embittered his spirit, and he spoke rashly with his lips.” Finally, Numbers 20:24 says regarding Aaron and Moses “that YOU men rebelled against my order respecting the waters of Merʹi·bah.”
The cause of the problem (Par.14-16)
Once again, we enter the land of speculation. After quoting Psalm 106:32-33 again, paragraph 15 speculates “Yet, it is possible that after dealing for decades with the rebellious Israelites, he had become tired and frustrated. Was Moses thinking mainly of his own feelings instead of how he could glorify Jehovah?” Yes, it is entirely possible he became tired and frustrated with the Israelites. Just like a parent would with a child like the nation of Israel. However, the question is pure conjecture. It could just as easily have been (note: my speculation) a moment of a rush of blood to the head, seeing red, the straw that broke the camels back, and he lost his self control. It is unlikely that thinking came in to it. Instead of speculation all of us should stick to the facts.
The issue is that the article needs such speculation to make its point and in doing so imputes actions and motives to Moses which it has no right to do.
Avoid being distracted by others (Par.17-20)
We finally get to what the article wants to get across in the last three paragraphs.
Paragraph 17 discusses putting up with frustration.
The questions asked include “When faced with frustrating situations or recurring personality conflicts, do we control our lips and our temper?” We are then told “If we keep looking to Jehovah, we will show him due respect by yielding to his wrath, patiently waiting for him to take action when he deems it necessary”. It is true that for the greater part we can only make changes to our own attitude not that of others. It is also true that we should allow Jehovah to take revenge for us when we are wronged. But that is not an excuse for keeping silent and allowing wrongdoing and injustice to continue, especially among an organization that claims to be God’s Organization. Would Jehovah allow injustice to continue because he had not communicated a simple instruction to his representatives? A loving God would not do that, and God is Love. Therefore, it stands to reason that the problem must be with the ones claiming to be his representatives. How can we be “disrespecting Jehovah” by raising awareness of the teaching of a wrong understanding of his word. How can it be “disrespecting Jehovah” to respectfully ask the organization for a correction in teaching to be made? After all the organization claims to be God’s Organization on earth teaching only truth.
Paragraph 18 deals with the old chestnut of following the latest directions from the Organization.
It says “Do we faithfully follow the latest directions that Jehovah has given us? If so, we will not rely on always doing things the way we have done them in the past. Rather, we will be quick to follow any new direction that Jehovah provides through his organization. (Hebrews 13:17).” Where does the Bible say there will be an almost continual stream of new directions, many contradicting previous instructions? Jehovah does not have inspired prophets today that transmit his instructions. So how does Jehovah give us instructions today?
The mechanism by which they claim to receive this instruction is shrouded in mystery, perhaps deliberately so. But when they write “Jehovah” they want the reader to mentally substitute “God’s Organization” which is what they claim to be. Allegedly the instruction is somehow mysteriously given when the Governing Body pray for guidance at their meetings. However the article’s they consider are written by the writing department (which at least in the past included non-anointed women)[ii] and have already been written. The Holy Spirit was given out to young and old, male and female in the first century, not just the 12 disciples. Yet today the Organization would claim we are continuing the work start back then. If this is the case then surely the Holy Spirit would be distributed in a similar way. To everyone, not a handful of men.
The final sentence of this paragraph reminds us “At the same time, we will be careful that we “do not go beyond the things that are written.” (1 Corinthians 4:6)”. As Jesus said about the Pharisees and scribes of his day, “Therefore all the things they tell YOU, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds.” (Matthew 23:3) The modern-day Governing Body tell us not to go beyond what is written, yet in this very Watchtower article they do exactly that by blatantly speculating and the building their main point on that very speculation. It is even more cynical when they know full well that most Witnesses will accept the speculation as fact. Listening to the audience’s answers when this article is studied in the congregation will prove this assertion to be true. See paragraph 16 for this example.
Paragraph 19 is about not letting others actions stop us from serving Jehovah by which they mean the Organization.
As many of our readers are slowly awakening, or now awake to the errors and erroneous claims of the Organization, nonetheless we need to endeavor not to turn our backs on Jehovah and Jesus Christ as a result, something that would be easy to do with all the disappointment and mixed emotions, and the treatment by those we counted as friends.
The paragraph concludes “But if we truly love Jehovah, nothing will stumble us or separate us from his love.—Psalm 119:165; Romans 8:37-39.” Romans 8:35 actually asks “Who will separate us from the love of the Christ?” Romans 8:39 says “nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So, this passage of scripture is talking about God’s love for mankind as manifested in Christ Jesus. Yes, we should not forget that we cannot love God without showing love for his son Jesus who reflects God’s love in all his actions on behalf of mankind.
Even as Jesus said in John 31:14-15 “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of man must be lifted up, that everyone believing in him may have everlasting life.” Likewise, as in Moses day looking at the copper serpent was necessary for life, so believing in the Christ and looking to him as our savior is required to gain everlasting life.
So, who are our eyes looking to? Should we not answer, Jesus Christ? Especially if we do not want to show disrespect for Jehovah’s arrangement of things for salvation through faith in Jesus.
[i] Injustice abounds with regards to the judicial committees and their rulings. There is no requirement to stand aside from a judicial committee even if the elder has a vested interest in a particular outcome of the proceedings whether in favor or against the accused. Yet even the world has a requirement in most countries for Judges and jurors to declare conflicts of interest and step aside. As repeatedly mentioned the sexual abuse of a child requires two witnesses to take action, yet circumstantial evidence is all that is required for ‘proof’ of adultery or fornication. (See question from readers: July 2018 Watchtower Study Edition p32). The list can go on and on.
[ii]The writer is not objecting to women writing articles or researching for them, simply that the reality is not what is suggested by the implication of the projection that the Governing Body are responsible for ‘new truths’. They are often only responsible in as much as they pass articles for publication.
Barbara Anderson, writer and researcher, 1989-1992. See also this abridged story by Barbara Anderson herself.