[From ws 7/18 p. 22 – September 24-30]
“Happy is the nation whose God is Jehovah, the people he has chosen as his own possession.”—Psalm 33:12.
Paragraph 2 states, “Also, the book of Hosea foretold that some non-Israelites would become Jehovah’s people. (Hosea 2:23)”. Romans goes on to record the fulfillment of that prophecy as the paragraph highlights: “Hosea’s prophecy was fulfilled when Jehovah included non-Jews in his selection of prospective corulers with Christ. (Acts 10:45; Romans 9:23-26)”
Hosea says, “and I will say to those not my people: “You are my people”; and they, for their part, will say: “[You are] my God.””. This is logically what Jesus was referring to when he said in John 10:16 “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” A not insignificant portion of the Book of Acts deals with some of the issues that arose during this integration and the efforts made by the Apostles to smooth this process until they truly became one flock under one shepherd.
Contrary to the indication of Hosea’s prophecy and the matching description of John 10:16, paragraph 2 continues “This “holy nation” is Jehovah’s “special possession” in an outstanding way, its members having been anointed with holy spirit and chosen for life in heaven. (1 Peter 2:9, 10)”. This statement is accurate except the destination is unsupported by the scripture cited. Having a separate destination (to other sheep) would also be splitting the flock, rather than unifying it into one flock. (Whether it is supported by any scripture at all is a topic for a future article.)
Paragraph 2 then says “What about the majority of faithful Christians today who have an earthly hope? Jehovah also calls them his “people” and his “chosen ones.”—Isa. 65:22.”
At last we see an admission of the Biblical reality. That all faithful Christians are God’s people and can become chosen ones and become sons and daughters of God. The statement in this paragraph also leaves us pondering about the answer to the following question. How do we differentiate which of these two classes the scriptures are talking about when they mention “chosen ones”? The article doesn’t give any suggestions, surely a vital requirement for any convincing argument. Perhaps it is because the true answer is that there are not two groups.
Paragraph 3 tries to perpetuate the false teaching of a heavenly and an earthly destination when it says: “Today, the “little flock,” with a heavenly hope, and the “other sheep,” with an earthly hope, compose the “one flock” that Jehovah highly regards as his people. (Luke 12:32; John 10:16). Again, neither of these cited scriptures supports the different destinations stated.
A literal flock of sheep refers to a group of sheep kept together in one location. If you split the flock into two to go to different locations you end up with two flocks coming from one flock. If you join two different flocks from different origins together you get one larger flock. Was Jesus playing word games in referring to one flock that was to be split, yet remain one flock? We think not.
John 10:16 talks about another flock being brought to join the original flock. At the time of Jesus discussing this subject, there was one flock [natural Israel] out of which, ones were being chosen as individual Jews accepted Christ. To this flock, other non-Jewish sheep were be added, the Gentiles. Also note Jesus said about them “those I must also bring”. If we examine the events leading to the conversion of Cornelius, we see that Jesus personally brought this about through a vision given to the Apostle Peter. (Acts 10:9-16)
We dedicate our lives to Jehovah (Par.4-9)
Does Jehovah require a formal dedication for us to serve him?
The accounts of Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3 and Luke 3 do not even hint that Jesus formally dedicated himself to Jehovah beforehand. Neither John the Baptist nor Jesus himself gave instructions for such a formal dedication. However water baptism was required, and Jesus requested that he be baptised by John the Baptist even though it was not required. As Jesus said in Matthew 3:15 “Let it be, this time, for in that way it is suitable for us to carry out all that is righteous”.
Paragraphs 4-6 deal with Jesus’ baptism and the delight it brought to God.
Paragraph 7 contains the read scripture as Malachi 3:16.
Talking about the book of remembrance from Malachi 3:16, paragraph 8 says “Malachi specifically stated that we must ‘fear Jehovah and meditate on his name.’ Giving our worshipful devotion to anyone or anything else would result in our name being removed from Jehovah’s figurative book of life.“
So how could we give our worshipful devotion to anyone or anything else? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “devotion” is:
1a: religious fervor: piety
1b: an act of prayer or private worship —usually used in plural during his morning devotions
1c: a religious exercise or practice other than the regular corporate (see corporate 2) worship of a congregation
2a: the act of dedicating something to a cause, enterprise, or activity:
2b: the act of devoting; the devotion of a great deal of time and energy.
The second baptism question asks “Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization?”
In light of the baptism question and the definition of ‘devotion’ (2b), it is reasonable to ask, if by saying ‘yes’, are we “giving our worshipful devotion to anyone or anything else”? Certainly food for serious thought, given that this “would result in our name being removed from Jehovah’s figurative book of life.“.
We reject worldly desires (Par 10-14)
After talking about the examples of Cain, Solomon, and the Israelites, paragraph 10 states: “These examples clearly establish that those who truly belong to Jehovah must firmly take their stand for righteousness and against wickedness. (Romans 12:9)”. Romans 12:9 says “Let [YOUR] love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is wicked, cling to what is good.” To practice this advice from the Apostle Paul is important, no matter who perpetrated or allows the perpetration of wickedness, regardless of what is claimed. God’s laws and principles do not cover over or ignore wickedness, rather they expose it. Those with a righteous loving heart will not support the covering over of wickedness and lies.
Paragraph 12 contains strongly worded counsel and indicates that a not-insignificant minority have been disobeying the counsel given in the magazines and meetings. It says “For example, despite all the counsel that has been given on the subject, some still prefer styles of dress and grooming that are immodest. They wear tight-fitting and revealing clothing, even to Christian gatherings. Or they have adopted extreme haircuts and hairdos. (1 Timothy 2:9-10)….when they are in a crowd, it may be difficult to tell who belongs to Jehovah and who is “a friend of the world.”—James 4:4.” It gets worse. “Their dancing and actions at parties go beyond what is acceptable for Christians. They post on social media photos of themselves and comments that are unbecoming to spiritual people.”
Given how very little the Christian Scriptures have to say on the topic of dress and grooming and given how much the Governing Body has to say on the topic, it would appear that the foregoing protestation has more to do with the pique the leadership feels that they are not being obeyed.
If, now their confidence in the teachings of the Governing Body has been shaken and if they never developed a love for God’s principles in the Bible, then they just start doing what everyone else around them does as they are no longer blindly obeying the Governing Body.
If one is to expect to be obeyed when spouting moral counsel, one had better be talking from a position of strength, a platform of recognized moral rectitude. Jesus’ counsel could not be questioned for he was without sin. However, the moral record of the Governing Body has been stained of late, what with the false spin and denials they made to cover the cutbacks in staff, and the seizing of Kingdom hall property ownership from the local congregations. Additionally, one can only guess at the damage done to their reputation by the ongoing revelations of systematic mishandling of child sexual abuse cases. It would be hard to listen to and obey the moral counsel from men coming from such a tainted background.
Pharisees made everything about rules. Love did not factor into the equation, nor for that matter, common sense. What matters was that the people obeyed their leaders. What was being sought was submission to a higher human authority. The emulation of the Pharisaical mindset is evident in the picture for this section.
The couple on the left are–according to the caption–“not taking a firm stand on Jehovah’s side”. What remarkably extreme thinking! True, the brother has no jacket, his sleeves are rolled up, and he has a modern hairstyle; and his companion is wearing a form-fitting dress, cut above the knee, with a revealing slit. The strained smile of the “correctly dressed” brother in front of them completes the telling of the story. These two just don’t belong.
Are we to believe Almighty God is looking down from on high and saying, “This couple of interlopers are showing by their dress that they do not stand with me. Off with them!” This is what we come to when we put the commands of men above the teachings of God. Like the Pharisees who condemned the killing of a fly on the Sabbath as hunting (therefore work), these men would condemn their brothers and sisters for not being obedient and for failing to conform to the standard set by the Organization. Love simply does not enter into their thought process making the next heading all the more ironic.
We have intense love for one another (Par.15-17)
Instead of giving the brotherhood a collective pat on the back, the theme of this section should have been: ‘We should have intense love for one another’. It is not a given fact that Witnesses have intense love for one another. In fact many cannot stand some of their fellow brothers. Others take advantage of their trust or naivety and defraud them, use them as near slave labour, gossip about and even slander them.
Paragraph 15 reminds us that we should “always treat our brothers and sisters with kindness and love. (1 Thessalonians 5:15)” That is true, but being a true Christian goes beyond showing love to our brothers (and sisters). The latter part of 1 Thessalonians 5:15 says not only to “always pursue what is good toward one another”, but also “to all others.”
As paragraph 17 continues “When we are hospitable, generous, forgiving and kind to one another, we can be sure that Jehovah takes notice of that as well. Hebrews 13:16, 1 Peter 4:8-9.”
While this is true and to be commended, real hospitality is to strangers, not close friends or acquaintances. Being truly generous likewise is to assist those in need rather than just our friends or family. (See principle from Luke 11:11-13, 2 Corinthians 9:10-11). Colossians 3:13 reminds us to “continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely”.
Jehovah will not forsake his people (Par.18-19)
Paragraph 18 states “Even while living “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation,” we want people to see that we are “blameless and innocent…shining as illuminators in the world. (Philippians 2:15)”. What is missed out is also important, namely “children of God, without a blemish …”
Surely having a shunning policy that goes against the UN Human Rights charter, and the continued refusal to make important changes to the handling of child abuse cases, such as complying with Caesar’s law to report such allegations, does not qualify as either “blameless nor innocent”, nor does it qualify as being “without a blemish”. Rather it is blameworthy and guilty, with an increasingly noticeable blemish on a once-good reputation.
The official line of “We take a firm stand against badness” rings hollow when taken against the foregoing as well as when viewed against the all-too-frequent permissive attitude toward erring relatives of elders that allows many to escape censure for actions clearly condemned in the Bible. By contrast, let a witness simply try to give his children a better education and watch how the elders pounce.
Finally paragraph 19 quotes Romans 14:8 where once again we find the unjustified substitution of ‘Lord’ by ‘Jehovah’, when the context does not demand it, and in fact does not support it.
We need to remember that we are followers of Christ (Christians) and in that context Romans 14:8 should read “for both if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore both if we live and we die, we belong to the Lord” as per most translations. For the context continues in Romans 14:9 “For to this end Christ died and came to life again, that he might be Lord over both the dead and the living.” (NWT). Clearly the Lord (Christ) must be the subject of verse 8 for verse 9 to read the way it does, otherwise the passage does not make sense.
In conclusion it is best to reflect on the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:35-39 where it says, “Who will separate us from the love of the Christ? Will tribulations or distress or persecution, … To the contrary, in all these things we are coming off completely victorious through him that loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels … nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Yes, if we do not forsake them, neither Jesus Christ our Lord, nor Jehovah our God and Father, will forsake us.