“Keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he comes”​—1 Corinthians 11:26

 [From ws 01/19 p.26 Study Article 5: April 1 -7]

For whenever you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he comes.”

Meeting attendance is an important part of the worship of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The preview to the article this week says that the article will consider what our attendance at the Memorial as well as weekly meetings says about us. So, let us indeed examine what it say about us.

Paragraph 1 opens with the statement “IMAGINE what Jehovah sees when millions around the world gather for the Lord’s Evening Meal”.

Indeed, what does he see? We can only imagine what he sees. But, more importantly what does Jehovah think about what he sees at this time?

What Jehovah really sees

In Luke 22:19-21 Jesus told his disciples including Judas, “keep doing this in remembrance of me”. What were they to keep doing? Matthew 26:26-28 shows it was to eat the bread and drink the wine, and it was a command to all (including Judas Iscariot). “Drink out of it, all of YOU” Jesus said. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (the read scripture in paragraph 4) says in part: “For whenever you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he comes.”.

By extension if we neither eat the loaf nor drink the cup, can it be truly said we are continuing to proclaim the death of the Lord?

What a contrast between Jesus instructions and the events occurring during the memorial celebration in congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Here close to almost all the 20 million or so in attendance, refuse to drink the wine and refuse to eat the bread in remembrance of Jesus. In fact, under 20,000 actually partake all because of the teachings of the Organization.[i]

Would Jesus and Jehovah be happy about this? Psalm 2:12 suggests not. There it says, “Kiss the son that He may not become incensed and YOU may not perish [from] the way”.

We then move into the realms of speculation, as we cannot discern if Jehovah is pleased or not. If what he sees is in accord with his will and Jesus request to his disciples then it would be accurate to suggest he is pleased. However, the opposite is also true. As shown above is it likely that Jehovah is pleased as Paragraph 2 claims? Paragraph 2 says, “Certainly, Jehovah is pleased to see that so many attend the Memorial. (Luke 22:19) However, Jehovah is not primarily concerned with the number of people who come. He is more interested in the reason for their coming; motive matters to Jehovah”. Where is the showing of proper respect for Jesus’ sacrifice by partaking?

In addition, if numbers are not Jehovah’s primary concern, why does it seem to be the Organization’s primary concern? Why does the Organization constantly focus on and publish the number of people attending the Memorial? Why does it frequently highlight the growth in the year-to-year attendance as if this is something of great importance?

““THERE IS NO WISDOM . . . IN OPPOSITION TO JEHOVAH”

Indeed paragraph 4 says that by attending the memorial we show we are humble, and “we attend this important event not merely because we feel it is a duty but also because we humbly obey Jesus’ command: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me” (Read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26)”

Did you notice the subtle misapplication of scripture? Here the Organization is teaching that it is the act of attending that is obeying the command of Jesus. Yet, the commandment (if such, rather than a request) was actually the partaking in remembrance. It was not the meeting together.

The next sentence states: “That meeting strengthens our hope for the future and reminds us of just how much Jehovah loves us”. However, it made no mention how much Jesus loves us. Would Jesus sacrifice his life on behalf of humankind if he did not love us? This led the author to check in this article about meetings and the memorial how often Jehovah is mentioned. Jehovah appears 35 times, but Jesus only 20 times. This seems rather unbalanced, especially when Jesus is the head of the Congregation and the one we should be encouraged to remember.[ii]

The paragraph continues: “So he provides us with meetings each week and urges us to attend them. Humility moves us to obey. We spend a number of hours every week preparing for and attending those meetings”. No suggestions are made as to how Jehovah provides us with meetings, nor why the meetings have to be in the particular format they are. Perhaps the reason is that there is no suggestion in the scriptures for either the mechanism, the content or the formal structure as practised by the Organization. Indeed, while the scriptural encouragement is to “not forsake the gathering of ourselves together” the form it should take is neither suggested, nor prescribed, nor given in an example or model to follow.

In particular, we also need to heed the advice of the Apostle Paul in connection with meetings. He warned “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” – Colossians 2:8 English Standard Version (ESV)

Another point made in the paragraph (4), is that “Proud people reject the idea that they need to be taught anything.”  The question is, would the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses accept any counsel or teaching from within its ranks or any other Christian organisation, if it could be demonstrated that such counsel was Scriptural or are they the proud ones?

For example, recently a Witness sent a letter to the Governing highlighting discrepancies and inconsistencies in the way they themselves interpret scriptures regarding Biblical chronology around the time period of 607 BCE. As it would have required a correction in the Watchtower and local elders do not have the authority to correct teachings, they were offered a 3 month period during which these points would remain confidential to them. This was to give them the opportunity to reply to the Witness as to what they would do. Sad to say, they did not bother to reply and yet at the time of writing (late March), local elders are now trying to bring that Witness to a judicial hearing. No doubt, it will be on trumped-up charges of apostasy. Who really are the proud ones?

How do Jehovah’s Witnesses view all other members of Christendom?

When going from house to house, do Jehovah’s Witnesses accept any teaching material or literature from other religious organisations? An obedient Witness would not do so, although some perhaps accept the literature and throw it away without reading it. Yet we expect those we meet to read our literature. Who is proud?

Any Jehovah’s Witness would openly admit to not being willing to listen to any other Christian group. Is that not the prideful attitude the Watchtower was referring to?

At least it is good that the article says: “And during the days before the Memorial, we are urged to read Bible accounts about the events surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection” (Par.7).

The heading on paragraph 8 is “Courage helps us attend”. This paragraph reminds us of the courage Jesus showed during his last days before his death. The following paragraph applies it to Witnesses meeting in countries where they are under ban. However, they would not necessarily need such courage if they met like early Christians rather than in the Organization’s prescribed regularity and format, and dress code. More importantly for those who do wish to obey Jesus and partake, they need courage. If you started partaking in your local congregation, would you still be welcomed or would you be viewed with suspicion? That would take more courage than simply attending.

LOVE COMPELS US TO ATTEND

Having ignored the elephant in the room as to whether meetings in their prescriptive Organization defined format are required, these paragraphs go on to claim benefits from obeying the Organization’s commands.

These include:

  • what we learn at the meetings deepens our love for Jehovah and his Son.” (Par. 12). Yet Jesus importance is continually played down, and the quality of material provided is reducing. The main themes that come out of the meetings today are “obey the Governing Body”, “carry on preaching, preaching, preaching with our literature” and the emphasis on Jehovah with Jesus powerful position being minimised.
  • We can show the depth of our love for Jehovah and his Son by being willing to make sacrifices for them.” (Par. 13) This is good counsel. If love is the motivation for any sacrifice we make in the worship of Jehovah, Jehovah and Jesus appreciate the sacrifice we make. However, it is vitally important that our sacrifices are not directed or to support a man-made Organization. The phrase “religion is a snare and a racket” comes to mind. All religions ask for money, something not authorised by the scriptures.
  • “Does Jehovah notice that we attend our meetings even though we are tired? Certainly he does! In fact, the greater our struggle, the more Jehovah appreciates the love we show for him.​—Mark 12:41-44.” Words failed me over this paragraph (13). The message from this quote (and the previous sentences) is, that even though most Witnesses will be tired when going to an evening meeting, and non-Witnesses will be resting while Witnesses attend a meeting at the weekend, we are still expected to effectively flagellate ourselves and go to the meetings. Then to cap it all, according to the paragraph, Jehovah allegedly notices with appreciation this self-flagellation to meetings he did not prescribe, “in fact, the greater our struggle, the more Jehovah appreciates” it! (Par.13)
  • However, we are particularly interested in helping those who are “related to us in the faith” but who have become inactive. (Gal. 6:10) We prove our love for them by encouraging them to attend our meetings, especially the Memorial.” (Par.15). What hypocrisy! The Organization encourages partial shunning of those who are weak, and most Witnesses blindly follow these instructions.[iii] Even if these weak ones attend, very few would speak to them, also any attempts to comment would be limited. Yet, love is allegedly proved by encouraging those considered weak to attend the meetings!

In conclusion, attendance at the Organization’s meetings on a regular basis in reality says the following about us:

Humility?

  • To the dictates of the Governing Body? Yes. (Jeremiah 7:4-8)
  • In obeying God’s word? No. (Acts 5:32)

Courage?

  • To attend meetings while awaken to the false teachings being promoted? Yes. (Matthew 10:16-17)
  • To partake as Jesus requested? (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) Yes.
  • To leave the Organization knowing you will be shunned by your Witness family members? Yes. (Matthew 10:36)
  • To attend the Organization’s formal meetings while the Organization is under ban? No, foolhardy.

Love?

  • To look after Widows and Orphans in their tribulation? Yes. (James 1:27)
  • To love-bomb when someone first attends the meetings? No. (Romans 12:9)
  • To shun weak or disfellowshipped ones? No. (Acts 20:35, 1 Corinthians 9:22)

 

[i] There is estimated to be about 9,000 who believe they are of the ‘anointed class’ according to the Organization’s teachings (based on figures of partakers from a few years back before the increase. From information gleaned from comment, blogs and You Tube videos it seems a large proportion of the majority of the rest are made up of those who have awoken to the truth about Jesus request and hence partake as they wish to comply with Jesus request to all.

[ii] This is not a rare occurrence. This imbalance is to be found in nearly every Watchtower article and publication. Yet Jesus said “Come be my followers” I.e. Christians, not Witnesses of Jehovah.

[iii] The Organization appears to be careful about putting this policy of attitude in print. This was the closest I found.“Admittedly, though, a negative view of those in need may at times hold us back from assisting them.”  Where might they get this negative attitude? How about this on JW Broadcasting? This contradicts their written message and makes it clear that weak ones are not good company in the eyes of the Organization. See https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=745aXHQWrok for a very good example.

Tadua