“God . . . energizes you, giving you both the desire and the power to act.”—Philippians 2:13.
[From ws 10/19 p.20 Study Article 42: December 16 – December 22, 2019]
The opening paragraph sets the theme for the thrust of this study article when it says “JEHOVAH can become whatever is necessary in order to accomplish his purpose. For instance, Jehovah has become a Teacher, a Comforter, and an Evangelizer, just to name a few of his many roles. (Isaiah 48:17; 2 Corinthians 7:6; Galatians 3:8)”.
This is where the Organization starts to play games with the English language. Yes, right in the very first paragraph. In the strictest sense, “Evangelizer” is a bearer of good news. As such Jehovah could be described as an evangeliser. However, in common use almost everyone would understand it to mean a religious preacher, which is how the Organization wants you to think of it.
Jehovah, as the creator of the universe, never preaches religious doctrine, although He does deliver good news. This is why the paragraph cited Galatians 3:8 which shows Jehovah declaring good news to Abraham. However, this good news given to Abraham is not identical to the good news to preached about Christ.
Paragraph 3 goes on to suggest the following: “Jehovah can give us the desire to act. How may he do this? Perhaps we learn of a particular need in the congregation. Or the elders read a letter from the branch office telling us of a need outside our congregation territory”.
The first question that needs an answer about this suggestion is:
Why, if Jesus is the head of the Christian congregation, and according to Matthew 28:18 Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, would Jehovah interfere? It does not make sense.
Secondly, why do we have to be told there is a need by other humans and then try to decide, do I or do I not? Is it from God or not?
When Jesus wanted a particular need filled, what did he do? Acts 16:9 indicates the Apostle Paul was sent a vision. This vision encouraged Paul to go to Macedonia. The Apostle Peter also was given a vision which meant he complied with the request of Cornelius to go to his house.
Thirdly, and by no means, less importantly, what proof is there that Jehovah is the one behind the message to the elders? Is it not men who have decided there is a need for their Organization?
Furthermore, Philippians 2:13 on which this paragraph is based, is taken out of context. The context is “keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Jesus Christ”, “doing nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with lowliness of mind”, that the Philippians could “keep working out YOUR own salvation with fear and trembling”. This could only be done with the aid of the Holy Spirit. It was God’s Holy Spirit with which they were anointed which was “acting within YOU in order for YOU both to will and to act.” It was not, as suggested by the Organization, one’s own decision to act on another human’s suggestion, masquerading as God’s direction, that moved the first century Philippians. Nor should it be for us.
Paragraph 4 states that “Jehovah can also give us the power to act. (Isa. 40:29) He can enhance our natural abilities with his holy spirit. (Ex. 35:30-35)”. Both of these statements are true. The real question though is, does Jehovah act this way today? And if so, does he do it with Jehovah’s Witnesses?
Undoubtedly, he could give his Holy Spirit to God fearing individuals, to act in a Christian manner or cope with severe emotional events. However, would he use his Holy Spirit to enhance a brother’s or sister’s skills being used to further the requests of the Organization? We are talking about an Organization that hypocritically claims to be God’s Organization and then which then takes out membership with the United Nations for 10 years, until the publicity about this makes it too difficult to remain.[i]
Surely this scenario is highly unlikely, as that would be like saying that God gave his Holy Spirit to Israelites to support the requests of Baal worshipping King Ahab, while he was the wicked ruler of the 10 tribes of Israel who by and large had left Jehovah.
At least the conclusion in paragraph is accurate when it says “What do we learn from how and when Jehovah used Moses? Jehovah uses those who display godly qualities and who rely on him for strength”. If only the Organization would help us to display godly qualities, instead of only qualities useful to the Organization.
Speculation continues – Barzillai
Next, in paragraph 6 we have another amazing piece of speculation and conjecture by the Watchtower article. Without any biblical evidence it is claimed that “Centuries later, Jehovah used Barzillai to provide for King David” based on 2 Samuel 17:27-29. There is not even a hint in the cited passage nor in the context to support this claim.
What does the scripture passage indicate? Beds and food “they brought forward for David and the people that were with him to eat, for they said: “The people are hungry and tired and thirsty in the wilderness.”. Therefore, it was the hospitality of those Israelites that motivated them. They were not motivated to do so by Jehovah’s Holy Spirit directly or indirectly according to these scriptures. In fact 1 Kings 2:7 finds King David on his deathbed giving his son Solomon instructions to return the favour to Barzillai’s sons that was given to him and he does not make any suggestion of Jehovah’s involvement in the matter at that later time. Nor does David mention Jehovah when meeting Barzillai a little later in 2 Samuel 19. As David saw Jehovah’s hand in many things and acknowledged these events, the fact he does not mention anything in connection with Barzillai adds weight to dismissing the Organization’s speculative claim.
Give us your money!
Then the real reason for this claim is revealed. After mentioning fellow witnesses might be in need in other lands the paragraph suggests “Even if we cannot care for them directly, we may be able to contribute to the worldwide work so that funds are available to offer relief when and where it is needed.—2 Cor. 8:14, 15; 9:11”.
The sentiment, though this request looks innocent on the surface, is really “Yes, you might not know of any witnesses in need, but send us your spare money on the off chance that we might use a small proportion of it to help such ones. P.S. it will come in very handy to settle the millions of dollars we are paying in awards to molested children, and in gagging agreements with countless other victims.”
Never mind that in the first century, money was only collected for a specific defined need and usually personally administered to those who were needy by those to whom it was entrusted. Funds were not given for an undefined need to a faceless Organization, nor to an Organization which was secretly paying millions in compensation to victims of its own unscriptural policies.[ii]
More groundless speculation
Again, in paragraph 8 the Organization claims that “In the first century C.E., a generous man named Joseph made himself available to be used by Jehovah. (Acts 4:36, 37)”. However, the cited scripture shows that he had a reputation as a comforter, and he had the desire to help others. The scripture gives no evidence that he told Jehovah in prayer that he was available to be used and waited to be told. To gain the reputation he had, Joseph would have had to have been proactive, and spontaneous, seeing a need among his fellow Christians and filling it without the need to wait for direction. The key to his attitude is shown in Acts 11:24 where it says: “for he was a good man and full of holy spirit and of faith.”
“Brothers, if like Vasily you make yourself available to be used by Jehovah, he can give you the ability to care for greater responsibility in the congregation.” This is the claim made in Paragraph 9. By contrast, the real truth of the matter is that it depends on whether the body of elders likes you and how much of a ‘yes’ man one is prepared to be. If a brother dares to counsel an elder, even justifiably, and has a mind of his own, being prepared to stand up for the direction of the scriptures rather than Organizational direction, then he has as much chance of any appointment as an iceberg has of surviving in the Sahara desert!
Paragraphs 10-13 discuss “What women became”.
We are treated to the account of Abigail, Nabal’s wife, the daughters of Shallum, Tabitha, and a sister called Ruth who wanted to and became a missionary.
Why not use the account of Deborah? We find the account in Judges 4:4, which reminds us “Now Debʹo·rah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapʹpi·doth, was judging Israel at that particular time”. Was Deborah the first female head of state? Certainly, in the Bible record she is. So, how does that fact sit alongside the fact that no women are allowed to sit on a judicial committee, or not be told the sin her husband has committed if he is facing a judicial committee?[iii]
Certainly, a rather uncomfortable question that the Organization will avoid answering.
It would also be interesting to see how a sister who acted like Abigail would be treated in most congregations today. Probably many would view her as not submissive to her husband.
At least in this instance both Abigail and David believed Jehovah’s hand was in the matter, unlike all the other examples provided by the Organization so far.
Daughters of Shallum – Misapplication
We now move on to paragraph 11 where it states, “the daughters of Shallum were among those whom Jehovah used to share in repairing the walls of Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 2:20; 3:12)”. The Organization is quite open about the reason for this citation. They want sisters to offer themselves to build real estate for the Organization free of charge. The paragraph states “In our day, willing sisters are happy to help perform a special form of sacred service—the construction and maintenance of buildings that are dedicated to Jehovah”. What they leave out is that these days, at least in the developed world, is that those buildings they helped build may well be sold off to raise funds, with the excuse that they are now surplus to requirements. Also, they leave out the important fact that according to Jesus, in John 4:20-26, we are to worship in spirit and truth rather than in man-made buildings, dedicated to Jehovah or not.
At least the experience of Tabitha in paragraph 12 is conveyed nicely with the exception of restricting the application to only fellow brothers and sisters. The account in Acts 9:36-42 does not restrict the recipients of Tabitha’s kindness to her fellow Christians, although of course they were likely her primary area of concern.
‘Experience’ of Ruth – Misleading
In paragraph 13 the choice of experience of a sister called Ruth is somewhat strange, especially since the context indicates she was a single sister who pioneered and then was invited to Gilead. Single sisters ceased to be invited to Gilead some years ago. Only couples or single men are invited. Furthermore, in the past few years it was further restricted to circuit overseers and their wives (if married) or those serving in Bethels. A single pioneer sister would not be considered for missionary training and assignment these days. Hence, why give this experience (which as usual is unverifiable) and give sisters false hope of something that will not happen.
Complete failure to meet the burden of proof
Under the heading “allow Jehovah to use you” in paragraph 14 we are treated to the claim that “Throughout history, Jehovah has caused his servants to fulfill many different roles.”. Now this may be true, but only three of the eleven examples given (Moses, Simeon and Abigail) are confirmed from the scriptures. Only around 25%, meaning nearly 75% of the examples are invalid. This can only mean poor research by the Organization’s writer’s, or delusional thinking due to years of reading the same type of indoctrination, or more likely trying to prove something that normally simply is not true.
When paragraph 14 states, “If you make yourself available, Jehovah can cause you to become a zealous evangelizer, an effective teacher, a capable comforter, a skilled worker, a supportive friend, or whatever else he needs to accomplish his will” the case made by the Organization is far, far from proven. We have also seen how in most of the examples Jehovah’s influence on the matter is complete conjecture.
At this point the reviewer would categorically like to make it clear that he is not suggesting that Jehovah cannot help someone to be used by him. Only that there is no evidence that Jehovah does so in the ways and cases given by the Watchtower article writer and hence the Organization.
Indeed, a careful reading of the scriptures and reflection on the scriptures would probably lead to one concluding that Jehovah and Jesus Christ do not use humans except in rare instances in association with the outworking of his purposes.
Also, as we discussed, the key is the persons attitude to do Jehovah’s will as laid out in the scriptures is the important thing, not Jehovah using some undescribed mechanism to move us to do his will. Even in the three good examples given of Moses, Simeon and Abigail, in case of Moses and Simeon, Jehovah communicated with them, so they were left in no doubt. They did not have undefined feelings of being moved to do Jehovah’s will, which is what this whole article implies will happen to us.
Designed to benefit the Organization
Also, we cannot help but draw attention to the fact that all the suggested ways we could allow Jehovah to use us are to directly benefit the Organization in the way of more recruits, free building labourers, free administrators (elders), and helping discouraged ones to remain hoping against hope that Armageddon will come soon, when they want Armageddon to come to solve their problems. None of these ways helps the real good news to be delivered to people, in fact arguably the reverse. Those brothers and sisters enticed into compliance with the Organization’s suggestions will be so busy carrying out the Organization’s will, that they will have little or no time to find out for themselves what Jehovah’s will for them really is.
Paragraph 15 cannot resist another plea for men, in particular “There is a great need for energetic men to take on added responsibility as ministerial servants”. This highlights that the decline in young men wanting to serve the church or congregation is also affecting the Organization. Surely, if it were God’s Organization then the young men would have reached out of their own accord already. In fact, the real problem is that in most areas most young men are leaving the Organization as soon as they are able to leave home legally.
The statement in paragraph 16 is true that “Jehovah can cause you to become whatever he needs to accomplish his will. So ask him for the desire to do his work, and then ask him to give you the power you need. Whether young or old, use your time, energy, and assets to honor Jehovah now. (Ecclesiastes 9:10)”.
However, before doing that why not take time to study God’s word for yourself, with nothing other than a scripture concordance and find out what the Bible says is God’s will. Do this in preference to find out for yourself rather than taking the reviewers word or the Organization’s word for what it is. Then you will see for yourself what is needed of you and what you are capable of giving; and will have the desire because of your personal convictions rather than other’s convictions.
[i] Please see the following article on this site among other reviews and articles here discussing this issue.
[ii] As discussed before on this site, in essence, the two witness rule as applied is applied in a pharisaic and inconsistent way to other sins, and in addition, the Organization is not giving sufficient weight to the fact that as abuse of a child is a criminal act and therefore any accusations should be directed to the secular authorities in the first instance, not the last or never instance as is usual practice.
[iii] See the “Shepherd the Flock of God” elders handbook. Previously quoted in another review.
Tadua you said about the opening paragraph that this is where the org starts playing games with the English language. Why is it they capitalized every letter in the name Jehovah, is that some sort of subtle play with letters to try and emphasize some sort of mind control? I would assume it is.
I see your point in older times, but nowadays with all the education and punctuation it would seem proper to capitalize only the first letter, otherwise some could consider the entire capitalized name/word an acronym. That would be interesting, “JEHOVAH” being an acronym, I wonder what it would stand or wind up standing for? The Org does try to think of everything, and one should always remember that they always try to stay a step ahead of the law, not really ever fully complying if you know what I mean?
For those interested in the Organisation’s finances, may I recommend a visit to the UK Companies House website (just use your search engine to find “Companies House”). A little searching, and it is not hard, and you will find accounts for the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society for the latest year end to August 2018. You will see their net income was over £17 million, while cash at bank and in hand alone stood at comfortably over £100,000,000, a significant increase on the year before. Is there an equivalent place to go to if we wanted to check out the… Read more »