“Jehovah is close to the brokenhearted; he saves those who are discouraged.” Psalm 34:18
[Study 51 from ws 12/20 p.16, February 15 – February 21, 2021]
One assumes that the aim of this Watchtower Study article is to bolster the flagging spirits of the brothers and sisters, many of whom are despairing they will ever see Armageddon in their lifetime. Based on the theme, one would expect clear evidence to be presented that Jehovah intervenes to save discouraged ones.
The first two examples given in the Study article are Joseph, and Naomi and Ruth.
Now as the account of Joseph shows there is clear evidence that Jehovah was involved in the final outcome which was advantageous not only to Joseph, but also his family, both brothers, and father. However, what is not mentioned, is that it was Jehovah’s purpose that Jacob and Joseph survive and prosper so that not only a nation would come from them that would be God’s special possession for 1700+ years, but that the line of the promised Messiah would come. Given this important point, using the example of Joseph to suggest that God would deal with us in such a special way as he did with Joseph, just by us remaining in the Organization, (which they view as synonymous as serving God), is misleading and damaging. At the end of paragraph 7, the Organization appears to be trying to infer that young Witnesses unjustly imprisoned will have similar help from God as to that given to Joseph. Perhaps this is aimed particularly at younger Witnesses imprisoned in Russia. While God could personally intervene on their behalf, the chances are very slim. That is not the way God usually works according to the evidence of the scriptures.
With the account of Naomi and Ruth, there is no obvious intervention by God. It is basically an account relating how a good-hearted wealthy man ensured that justice and help was given to two individuals who while prepared to work hard, had fallen on hard times through no fault of their own. It is true, there were provisions made for needy ones in the Mosaic law given by God to the Israelites, but Witnesses today are not living in Israel under the benefits of that Mosaic law. Despite the book of Acts showing clearly how early Christians cared for one another, arguably, there are no such similar arrangements within the Organization today. Instead of sending contributions directly to the needy, we are expected to contribute to the Organization and accept their word that they have helped others with that money. Therefore, this raises the question, can the Organization truly qualify as God’s Organization even on this one point alone? Arguably not.[i]
This contrasts with the fact that practicing Muslims feel moved to make a minimum contribution each year in terms of money and property or goods to help others (admittedly, primarily Muslims). These acts of charity are described as “Zakat”, and “Sadaqah”. In large cities and towns, sometimes, such as in harsh winters especially, these Muslims will be found feeding the homeless (Muslim or not) and providing overnight shelter where possible. The author has personally worked with Muslim colleagues who have participated in this work and who stated how important it was to them. (NOTE: This statement should not be taken to infer that the Muslim faith is God’s Organization, merely that on this point, they would be a better candidate than the Organization).
Likewise, the accounts of the Levite priest and the apostle Peter give no hint of angelic intervention. The Levite encouraged himself, when he analyzed his blessings, while Peter was forgiven and encouraged by Jesus, particularly because Jesus wanted him to spearhead the spreading of Christianity to the Jews in the first century.
The theme promises encouragement, but rather turns out to be pretty empty of real solid encouragement and precedent that we can be saved from discouragement. Instead, the Organization misrepresents Jehovah by implying he will personally intervene on the behalf of any suffering discouragement. As a result, many Witnesses will expect Jehovah to bail them out of their predicament, (often the result of wrong decisions, heavily influenced by the Organization and its publications), but the reality is that he will not. Sadly, this could lead to a loss of faith in God by many of them.
[i] Occasional natural disaster relief, currently being scaled back, does not come close to filling the requirements of this attitude of mind.