“I will never leave you, and I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5
[Study 46 from ws 11/20 p.12 January 11 – January 17, 2021]
This study article is another lost opportunity to provide real help to the brotherhood. Why do we reach this conclusion?
As this review is prepared, the global pandemic of Covid-19 continues apace. What situations may the brotherhood find themselves in that would require help and courage?
Would it not be the following? :
- Coping with the loss of a loved one from this unpleasant and potentially deadly virus.
- Coping with personal illness or illness of a family member, perhaps seriously ill from a Covid-19 infection.
- Coping with a drop or cessation of income due to a loss of employment, or if self-employed, a loss of clients due to their own drop in income.
- Coping with the resulting long-term issues due to the economic outlook.
Therefore, of course, one would expect that as the Governing Body claims to always provide “food at the proper time”, this study article will be discussing helpful and encouraging scriptures to help us deal with these immediate and potentially life-threatening situations.
How wrong you would be to think that!
Only 2 paragraphs out of the 20 paragraphs (paragraphs 6 & 19) in this study article even acknowledge that such problems may exist. No in-depth upbuilding study article here to help the immediate needs of not only brothers and sisters, but nearly everyone on the planet!
Rather 18 of the 20 paragraphs are devoted to the Apostle Paul’s trials in witnessing about Jesus to the Roman world of his time. Yes, yet another article about preaching! Is the example of the apostle Paul really helpful to us, when Jesus gave him a special commission because of his particular qualities and qualifications? He certainly was not the average first century or twenty-first century Christian! Not content with this, the Organization also conjecture wildly about what Paul may or may not have felt to make many of their points. Examples include:
Paragraph 3 “At that point, Paul may have wondered, ‘How much longer can I endure this treatment’.”(bold ours)
Never mind the fact that while the military commander feared for Paul’s life, there is no mention in the account that Paul suffered any injury other than being struck in the mouth. Most of the uproar was caused by the Pharisees and Sadducees arguing amongst themselves. Also, the suggestion is without any scriptural evidence as to what Paul was feeling at this time.
Paragraph 4 “Paul must have felt as secure as a child nestled in his father’s arms.”(bold ours).
A lovely thought and possibly true, but once again complete conjecture without scriptural evidence.
Paragraph 7 “God’s Word assures us that Jehovah helps us by means of his angels. (Heb. 1:7, 14) For example, angels give us support and guidance as we preach the “good news of the Kingdom” to people of “every nation and tribe and tongue.”—Matt. 24:13, 14; read Revelation 14:6”(bold theirs).
Another piece of conjecture, this time to support the Organization’s concept that the angels are helping the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses to preach. Quite apart from any discussion as to whether angels would be helped to spread lies, and half-truths, none of the scriptures cited or partially quoted, give any support to this concept. The read scripture in particular (Revelation 14:6) is applied completely out of context. The good news the angel had to declare in the vision is mentioned in verse 7, i.e. that God’s day of judgment had arrived. This good news is nothing to do with the good news of the Kingdom and putting faith in Christ as the means of salvation. The serving or ministering the angels perform mentioned in Hebrews 1:7,14 is not specified, but in the context of Hebrews 1, it is clearly nothing to do with preaching.
Paragraph 11 “While Paul was waiting to begin his voyage to Italy, he may well have reflected on a warning that the prophet Isaiah was inspired to give to those opposing Jehovah: “Devise a plan, but it will be thwarted! Say what you like, but it will not succeed, for God is with us!”” (bold ours).
Really? Conjecture again, and why? Despite being a very nice scripture that is quoted here from Isaiah, would the Apostle Paul really have brought to mind an obscure passage from Isaiah, while on an often-stormy journey at sea, or walking miles on land? Highly doubtful. Even with plenty of time for quiet study and the assistance of software to search the Bible text, which was unavailable to the Apostle Paul! it is doubtful most of us, including the reviewer, would easily find and pick this scripture to meditate upon.
Paragraph 12 “Likely, Paul discerned Jehovah’s guidance in the actions of that kindhearted officer”.
Conjecture! Luke’s account does not indicate Paul felt this way. Luke just records what happened. Luke, unlike the writer of the study article, resisted conjecture and dealt with facts.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but sufficient to mention.
The main paragraph in the study article with any relevance to what we all face today deserves to be reproduced in full. Paragraph 19 says:
“What can we do? Do you know of brothers or sisters in your congregation who are suffering distress because they are ill or are facing other challenging circumstances? Or maybe they have lost a loved one in death. If we become aware of an individual in need, we can ask Jehovah to help us to say or do something kind and loving. Our words and actions may be just the encouragement that our brother or sister needs. (Read 1 Peter 4:10.) Those whom we help may regain full confidence that Jehovah’s promise, “I will never leave you, and I will never abandon you,” applies to them. Would that not make you feel joyful?”.
However, even with this paragraph, it is important to add the following caveat. Why should we limit our words of compassion and love, or practical assistance just to fellow Witnesses? Did not the Apostle Paul himself say that we should “ … always pursue what is good toward one another and to all others.” (1 Thessalonians 5:15) (bold ours).
Therefore, let us as real Christians, act in a Christian-like way during this time, doing good toward all even as Christ did. We can do this by helping to care for the elderly and vulnerable. Also, by ensuring that we take all reasonable precautions to avoid infecting others, especially if we are or could be infectious. Yes, let us “ … always pursue what is good toward one another and to all others.” even if the Organization does not want us to. It is that attitude that will encourage atheists and non-Christians to want to know more about Christ, rather than calling on their door or sending unsolicited mail.