Qualification of an Elder
Why Such Conflict in Marriages?
Gen. 3:16 By way of punishing the woman for her sin of disobedience, God pronounces that she will suffer pain (Hb. ‘itstsabon) in the bearing of children. This strikes at the very heart of the woman’s distinctiveness, for she is the “mother of all living” (v. 20). Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. These words from the Lord indicate that there will be an ongoing struggle between the woman and the man for leadership in the marriage relationship. The leadership role of the husband and the complementary relationship between husband and wife that were ordained by God before the fall have now been deeply damaged and distorted by sin. This especially takes the form of inordinate desire (on the part of the wife) and domineering rule (on the part of the husband). The Hebrew term here translated “desire” (teshuqah) is rarely found in the OT. But it appears again in 4:7, in a statement that closely parallels 3:16—that is, where the Lord says to Cain, just before Cain’s murder of his brother, that sin’s “desire is for you” (i.e., to master Cain), and that Cain must “rule over it” (which he immediately fails to do, by murdering his brother, as seen in 4:8). Similarly, the ongoing result of Adam and Eve’s original sin of rebellion against God will have disastrous consequences for their relationship: (1) Eve will have the sinful “desire” to oppose Adam and to assert leadership over him, reversing God’s plan for Adam’s leadership in marriage. But (2) Adam will also abandon his God-given, pre-fall role of leading, guarding, and caring for his wife, replacing this with his own sinful, distorted desire to “rule” over Eve. Thus one of the most tragic results of Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God is an ongoing, damaging conflict between husband and wife in marriage, driven by the sinful behavior of both in rebellion against their respective God-given roles and responsibilities in marriage. (See note on Eph. 5:21-33 for the NT pattern for marriage founded on the redemptive work of Christ.) —Notes on Genesis 3:16; the ESV Study Bible.
Is your marriage a source of happiness as God originally intended for it to be? Then you will no doubt agree that “a truly good wife is the most precious treasure a man can find!" Yes, "a prudent wife is from Jehovah.” (Prov. 19:14, CEV; Prov. 18:22; 31:10, ASV) On the other hand, it is "better to live in a wilderness than with a nagging and hot-tempered (contentious) wife." (Prov. 21:9, 19, HCSB) We can enjoy God's blessing upon our marriage if both partners obey him and heed his counsel regarding the marriage arrangement. Doing so honors him! (please consider 1 Cor. 7:3-5, 10-16; Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Peter 3:1-7)
Who Raised the Issue of Job's Integrity?
“Now it came to be the day when the sons of the [true] God entered to take their station before Jehovah, and even Satan proceeded to enter right among them. 7 Then Jehovah said to Satan: “Where do you come from?” At that Satan answered Jehovah and said: “From roving about in the earth and from walking about in it.” 8 And Jehovah went on to say to Satan: “Have you set your heart upon my servant Job, that there is no one like him in the earth, a man blameless and upright, fearing God and turning aside from bad?” 9 At that Satan answered Jehovah and said: “Is it for nothing that Job has feared God? 10 Have not you yourself put up a hedge about him and about his house and about everything that he has all around? The work of his hands you have blessed, and his livestock itself has spread abroad in the earth. 11 But, for a change, thrust out your hand, please, and touch everything he has [and see] whether he will not curse you to your very face.” 12 Accordingly Jehovah said to Satan: “Look! Everything that he has is in your hand. Only against him himself do not thrust out your hand!” So Satan went out away from the person of Jehovah. . .”—Job 1:6-12; 2:1-8.
Although there is a scripture which says that “there is no man righteous in the earth that
keeps doing good and does not sin,” yet Jehovah considered Job to be “blameless
and upright, fearing God and turning aside from bad.” (Eccl. 7:20) In fact,
Jehovah had such confidence in Job’s integrity that he in effect challenged
Satan to prove otherwise.
Job suffered and endured, although he did not understand why. But we know why, for it was recorded for our benefit! (Rom. 15:4) We can be confident that Jehovah will notice our integrity also, when we cling to our faithfulness no matter what anguish and pain we suffer at this time, because of our love for him and faith in his promises. Like in Job’s case, our reward will be in proportion to our suffering. “Look! We pronounce happy those who have endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome Jehovah gave, that Jehovah is very tender in affection and merciful.” (James 5:11) Jehovah blessed Job by restoring to him double what he had lost; and even after these four thousand years we are still talking about his integrity. Likewise, your integrity will continue with you forever! (Rev. 3:5) If you are suffering to the point of wanting to give up, remember Job! May Jehovah take notice of you in your distress and comfort you, and ease your pain so that you can bear it and endure as you cry out to him, for "Jehovah is very tender in affection and merciful."
An Inspirational Example of
Assistance in Our Race
When you first set out on the narrow and cramped road leading to life did you imagine that the journey would be an easy one? (Matt. 7:13,14) The Scriptures often remind us that we would have need of endurance, which in itself indicates the need for us to put forth strenuous effort to continue and not give up. Paul encourages us to
Don't give up in the race you are running! Jehovah sees your struggle and will assist you to reach the finish no matter how impossible it may seem at present. If you should happen to stumble and fall, he will help you get back on your feet, even carry you, if you are determined not to quit. "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble." (Isaiah 40:11; Eccl. 4:9-10; New Living Translation) Stay close to Jehovah! The elders in their respective congregations have the responsibility to assist everyone to "run with endurance the race that is set before us." And you fathers, are you there to assist your children when they are struggling?
7/23/10Do You Make Sure of All Things?
Are You Stumbled Over the Wickedness in Your Congregation?
"Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. 13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still 'today,' so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. 14 For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. 15 Remember what it says:
'Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.'
16 And who was it who rebelled against God, even though they heard his voice? Wasn’t it the people Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And who made God angry for forty years? Wasn’t it the people who sinned, whose corpses lay in the wilderness? 18 And to whom was God speaking when he took an oath that they would never enter his rest? Wasn’t it the people who disobeyed him? 19 So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest." —Hebrews 3:12-19, NLT.
The apostle Paul's words above are especially meaningful to God's people today, "upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived." (1 Cor. 10:6-12) Although the entire nation of Israel witnessed the miracles Jehovah had performed on their behalf, to deliver them out of slavery in Egypt—and with whom he had made the covenant—the vast majority lacked any sort of sustained faith during the two years they wandered in the wilderness. For that reason, because of their continuous murmuring, complaining, and lack of faith, Jehovah pronounced that generation as wicked and was determined not to allow them to enter the promised land. His judgment upon them was: "In this wilderness they will come to their end, and there they will die." Therefore he had them wander in the wilderness for a total of forty years, until everyone of them, twenty years and older who had rebelled against him, had perished. (Num. 14:26-38; Deut. 2:14)
But not all of God's people had been complainers. Not everyone lacked faith. Two exceptions mentioned were Caleb and Joshua. Jehovah said: "You will not enter and occupy the land I swore to give you. The only exceptions will be Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun." (Num. 14:38, NLT) How would God bless these two loyal ones? Did Jehovah tell Caleb and Joshua to separate themselves from the rest of the people and perhaps allow them to enter the promised land on their own? The account shows that they too had to wander in the wilderness and suffer the same hardships along with the rest of the nation. They suffered, not because of their own sins, but because of the rebellion on the part of others. In spite of this, we know that they continued to keep their integrity to Jehovah throughout all those difficult years, holding on to their faith without complaining, and they were blessed for it. Yes, we still talk about these faithful servants three thousand years later. (1 Peter 2:19,20; Jude 16)
What about us today? Regarding "the last days" the Scriptures foretold "critical times hard to deal with." (2 Tim. 3:1-7) And we can expect this condition right among God's people. Have you found this to be true where you live, in your own congregation? To what extent are you affected and suffering on account of those "having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power"? Are you tempted to return to "Egypt," or are you like Caleb and Joshua? (Num. 14:1-4)
Is the Preaching Work from God or Man?
The preaching work we do is from Jehovah, not from any man or group of men. Paul called it the "holy work of the good news of God." (Rom. 15:16) We too should be engaged in the work of the Lord, "become steadfast, unmovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in connection with the Lord." (1 Cor. 15:58) Jesus sent forth his disciples to preach the good news of God's kingdom, and this preaching work was to continue even after Jesus' death. That is why his disciples said that "he ordered us to preach to the people." They did not need to understand all the details, such as whether it was a visible or invisible kingdom on earth or in heaven; when it would come into power; how many would rule with Christ; or other such matters. (Matt. 10:5-7; 28:19,20; Acts 10:42)
The preaching assignment comes from God, as already noted. Jesus himself was sent from God to "bear witness to the truth." (John 18:37) If someone tries to prevent us, or control the preaching work, we should have the same attitude as Jesus' disciples: "Whether it is righteous in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, judge for yourselves. But as for us, we cannot stop speaking about the things we have seen and heard." "We must obey God as ruler rather than men." (Acts 4:19,20; 5:28,29)
The Society has recognized the importance of preaching the good news of the kingdom. (Matt. 24:14) Judge Rutherford, as president of the Society, organized it around the world in every congregation, every member of which was required to report the amount of his participation in this preaching. Thus the Society came to not merely encourage sharing in God's work of preaching but also took control of it. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with assigning territory, or being interested in what is being accomplished, but we might easily confuse what is from Jehovah, what he requires of us; and what is from men and what they demand of us. The Society has replaced the role of the holy spirit. (Acts 13:2-4) We need to differentiate between what is from God or merely from men if we don't want to lose our joy!
Jesus said, "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matt. 12:34) When we learn the truth about God—the reason for so much wickedness and suffering in the world; how Jesus' ransom has opened the way for everlasting life; how we can enjoy a close and intimate relationship with our Creator; etc. etc.—who can prevent us from talking about these things, when this knowledge and understanding brings us so much joy and we can't help but bubble over with expressing it!
No, we don't necessarily need to go knocking on doors in order to share in the "preaching work," although it may be an effective way of reaching people. (Matt. 10:11-14; Acts 5:42; 17:17) We have a share in "God's work" whenever we talk to someone about the wonderful good news. No one has the right to dictate to us when and where, or how and how much, we must do. Our own hearts motivate us, and it is God who decides what is or is not acceptable! (Rom. 14:10-13) Since this work is not from men but from God, our reward also comes from God. "If now, I am declaring the good news, it is no reason for me to boast, for necessity is laid upon me. Really, woe is me if I did not declare the good news! If I perform this willingly, I have a reward; but if I do it against my will, all the same I have a stewardship entrusted to me." (1 Cor. 9:16-18; 3:8,9) Instead of slaving for men, such as for the Society and its corporation, or even the elders in your congregation, we must slave for Jehovah and our master Christ Jesus, "for you know that it is from Jehovah you will receive the due reward of the inheritance. Slave for the Master, Christ." (Col. 3:24; Heb. 10:35,36)
Are Your Elders a "Hiding Place from the Wind"?
Does Isaiah 32:1,2 apply to our elders today? Isaiah foretold: “Look! A king will reign for righteousness itself; and as respects princes, they will rule as princes for justice itself. And each one must prove to be like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless country, like the shadow of a heavy crag in an exhausted land.”
In principle, this should be true of all elders in every congregation! (1 Peter 5:2-4) But the parallel scripture in Psalms 45 points to the 1,000 year reign of Christ Jesus, with his bride, the 144,000, and those who then represent that kingdom on earth. (Luke 22:29,30; Rev. 14:1; 20:6) The scripture in Psalms speaks prophetically of the traits of the anointed king, Christ Jesus, and of his marriage:
“My heart has become astir with a goodly matter. I am saying: ‘My works are
concerning a king. . .’
6 God is your throne to time indefinite, even forever; The scepter of your kingship is a scepter of uprightness. 7 You have loved righteousness and you hate wickedness. That is why God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of exultation more than your partners. . .
10 Listen, O daughter, and see, and incline your ear; And forget your people and your father’s house. 11 And the king will long for your prettiness, For he is your lord, So bow down to him.
14 In woven apparel she will be brought to the king. The virgins in her train as her companions are being brought in to you. 15 They will be brought with rejoicing and joyfulness; They will enter into the palace of the king.
16 In place of your forefathers there will come to be your sons, Whom you will appoint as princes in all the earth." (Psalms 45:5-16)
The superscription for
Psalm identifies it as “A Song Celebrating the
King's Marriage.” (NASB) Isaiah’s prophecy, like the Psalmist
(the sons of Korah), points to the righteous rule of the Messiah; but in Psalms
it also includes the marriage of the anointed king Christ Jesus. Christ's
of a thousand years
will not begin before "the marriage of the Lamb"
has taken place. (Rev. 19:7,8) The king’s Bride, his wife, will rule alongside
her Husband in the heavens. (John 14:2,3; 2 Cor. 11:2; Col. 1:5; 1 Peter 1:3,4;
During his 1,000 year reign, the king, as "Eternal Father" and "Prince of Peace," will appoint his "sons" as "princes in all the earth." (Isa. 9:6,7) This rule has not yet begun, and therefore the prophecy does not refer to the elders of today, most of them not proving at this time to be a “hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless country, like the shadow of a heavy crag in an exhausted land.” In fact, all too often the elders are a stumbling block to the flock, for many of God’s precious sheep have been scattered and are lost on account of the “bad shepherds.” Jehovah has foretold that he will soon replace such ones with caring ones. (Ezekiel 34:11-16)
Don't Give Up! Jehovah Sees Your Struggle and Endurance.
Are you discouraged because of stressful conditions in your congregation? Do you wonder at times why you even bother still attending meetings? You are not alone! Some have stopped altogether, feeling that the many problems—not the least of which is the lack of brotherly love—makes it advisable to worship Jehovah on their own, apart from those they no longer consider God's people. (John 13:35) But take courage! Jehovah is well aware of the situation you are confronting, and how it affects you. Don't give up! He is taking note of your patience and loyalty:
“YOU have said, ‘It is of no value to serve God. And what profit is there in
that we have kept the obligation to him, and that we have walked dejectedly
on account of Jehovah of armies?
And at present we are pronouncing presumptuous people happy. Also, the doers
of wickedness have been built up. Also, they have tested God out and keep
16 At that time those in fear of Jehovah spoke with one another, each one with his companion, and Jehovah kept paying attention and listening. And a book of remembrance began to be written up before him for those in fear of Jehovah and for those thinking upon his name.
17 “And they will certainly become mine,” Jehovah of armies has said, “at the day when I am producing a special property. And I will show compassion upon them, just as a man shows compassion upon his son who is serving him. 18 And YOU people will again certainly see [the distinction] between a righteous one and a wicked one, between one serving God and one who has not served him.” —Malachi 3:14-18.
3/10/10 Do We
Need to Understand All the Prophecies of the Bible at This Time?
What can we learn from the fact that Jesus explained to his disciples that he was going to be betrayed, handed over to his enemies, suffer, be put to death but be raised up on the third day, and yet they did not understand or believe it even when it happened? Also, did they not have the prophecies that foretold all these things? (Matt. 16:21; 17:22,23; 20:18,19; Luke 24:5-12; John 20:9, 24,25) Similarly, Jehovah foretold events that took place at Pentecost, yet could any of his disciples have understood and predicted what was about to happen even one day in advance? (Acts 2:1-4, 16-21; Joel 2:28-32) The Bible speaks of future events, which apply to the "time of the end," that were presented to the prophets in signs and symbolic language. Regarding the visions that the prophet Daniel received, he said that "I heard, but I could not understand; so that I said: 'O my lord, what will be the final part of these things?'" He was told: "Go, Daniel, because the words are made secret and sealed up until the time of the end." Only at God's appointed time will "the true knowledge become abundant," and his servants understand these things; at the time of their fulfillment or even shortly thereafter, as was the case with the disciples of Jesus. And we can be certain that "no wicked ones at all will understand." (Dan. 12:4, 8-10; Matt. 13:10,11; Rev. 1:1)
Today there are many who present themselves as having been given a key of special insight into prophecies that have been "made secret and sealed up," especially with regard to the book of Revelation. Each one offers his own unique interpretations. And since they all claim to be spirit directed, we can pick and choose whatever we personally prefer to believe, and then wait for things to happen. (Jer. 14:21,22) Some claim that the Bible foretold 9/11, pointing to certain scriptures. Yet, did these same ones predict it before it happened, publicly drawing attention to it, or are they interpreting events after the fact? It is the supposed need to understand details of prophecies regarding future events that has spawned the proliferation of self-appointed prophets in our time. (Jer. 23:16-32; 2 Peter 2:1-3) We do not want to become followers of men to have our "ears tickled," and turn our ears away from the truth to "false stories." Jehovah has provided us with enough information to help us keep our "senses in all things," enabling us to continue to "do the work of an evangelizer," and "fully accomplish [our] ministry." (Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:30; 2 Tim. 4:3-5) There is one thing, though, we can be certain of: The prophecies that apply to us, and require us to take action, these are not "made secret and sealed up." They can be easily understood without any help from anyone. Just compare Jesus' letters to the Seven Congregations with the rest of the revelation, to understand that simple fact. "Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations." (Rev. 2:1-3:22)
"Guard the Opening of Your Mouth
from a Confidential Friend" (Micah 7:5,6)
Should we share with others what we have learned about the reasons behind present developments within God's household, including our family members and close friends? The Scriptures foretold certain developments within God’s household prior to Christ’s return. As we become aware of these things taking shape we realize that it is now our time of being "inspected." (Luke 12:40; 19:44) When Jesus arrives in "his glory, and all the angels with him," he will separate God's people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. From what Jesus said, it is clear that by the time he arrives it will already have been determined whether someone is a sheep or a goat. What we do now is therefore important, in order that we won't be found among those who are told: “I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matt. 7:21-23; 25:31-46; 1 Thess. 5:4,5; 2 Thess. 1:7-9)
Our time is much like that of Jesus' day. Jehovah often does things in an unusual way, so different from what we would expect; and it catches the ungodly among his people unaware. (Isa. 55:8,9; 1 Cor. 3:18,19) For example, the Messiah did not arrive according to the expectations of God’s people in the first century, although an abundance of prophecies foretold details concerning him. (Acts 3:18) The Jews fully trusted their religious leaders and thus rejected any Scriptures that reflected in a negative way on them. And there was nothing that Jesus could do, no amount of amazing miracles, to convince them otherwise. (Matt. 15:7-9; John 7:47,48)
In much the same way, we today have rejected God's foretold coming judgment upon his people, refusing to make personal application of it, although Jehovah addresses "my people," and himself as "your God." Our influential leaders shrug such prophecies off as having either already been fulfilled, or applying them to the churches of Christendom, particularly the clergy. (Jer. 5:26-31; 6:13-15, 21, 27-29; Amos 4:12; 1 Peter 4:17,18) If, heaven forbid, someone suggests that these critical prophecies, including the one regarding "the man of lawlessness," applies to us as God's people—his temple—he will be quickly denounced as an apostate and dealt with accordingly. (compare Jer. 1:18,19; John 10:25-27, 31-33)
We can learn a painful lesson from a young brother I know, who has always been very studious, doing research in the Society’s publications and taking notes at the meetings and conventions. By comparing his notes he became aware of many inconsistencies and contradictions, even within the same talk. When he mentioned this to his wife she became upset with him for questioning the Society. When he discovered this website (Make Sure) he became enthused about what he was reading for he had reached many similar conclusions on his own. He couldn't hold back from sharing with his wife what he was learning, and she ended up leaving him, but not before turning him in to the elders as an apostate. (She has since divorced him.) The elders haven't dealt with him for he no longer attends the meetings. He is waiting for Jehovah to cleanse his people and remove the man of lawlessness from his lofty position before he returns.
It is becoming more and more obvious that Jehovah is in the process of identifying his true worshippers, and exposing those who have become mere followers of men; in advance of Christ's unexpected return. (Dan. 12:3, 9,10; Matt. 13:43) Unless a person has God's spirit he cannot possibly understand or appreciate the truth, nor what is happening within the congregations. (Dan. 11:35; Matt. 13:11-15) We are not under compulsion to bring upon ourselves unnecessary suffering (such as being expelled from the congregation as apostate) by sharing with everyone the things we have come to understand regarding present developments within God’s house. Our brothers and sisters are not ignorant of Jehovah's requirements for true worship! That is not the problem. After all, do they not take pride in teaching such things to others? The only ones who will respond favorably are those who are “sighing and groaning” over what is taking place in their congregations. (Psalms 37:5-7; Amos 5:13; Micah 7:5-7; Ezek. 9:4, 6; note James 5:19,20)
We could easily become discouraged, perhaps even tire out and give up, for we do not know how much longer we need to endure this time of distress, or “tribulation” as Jesus called it (not to be confused with the greatest of all tribulations still ahead of us), especially when your own marriage mate, family members and friends may turn against you. (Matt. 24:9-13) Therefore we should be discerning about what we share in the way of our new understanding, and with whom we share it. As Jesus warned: “Prove yourselves cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves.” (Matt. 10:16) Give it prayerful consideration! The time is close at hand when we will all, unitedly, worship Jehovah in spirit and truth, "for indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him." But first he has to identify and remove from the midst of his people "all things that cause stumbling and persons who are doing lawlessness." (John 4:23,24; Matt. 13:41,42; Gal. 6:9,10)
Should We Direct People to Our Meetings?
Are you struggling with conscientiously placing literature, or inviting someone to the Kingdom Hall or Memorial? Many among Jehovah's people who have come to understand that the "man of lawlessness" is present within God's temple, his household, now feel uncomfortable in inviting interested ones to the congregation meetings, or the Memorial, not wanting to share in exposing anyone to "inspired expressions of error." (1 John 4:1, 6) But why not leave that matter in Jehovah's hands! We direct individuals who are “rightly disposed for everlasting life” to God's kingdom. That is our privilege and responsibility. (Acts 10:42,43; 13:48) We don’t know yet how many of those with whom we study and invite to the meetings will be among the ones who survive the great tribulation. (Heb. 10:23-25; Rev. 7:9,10, 14-17) Could there be any greater joy than to see the ones we thus helped attain everlasting life? (1 Tim. 4:10, 16) Nothing that the man of lawlessness does can prevent that! Jesus foretold that in the conclusion of the system of things his angels would “collect out from his kingdom all things that cause stumbling and persons who are doing lawlessness.” (Matt. 13:40-43) We leave the weeding of the lawless ones out from God's kingdom to those whose assignment it is—the angels. We keep to our assignment of preaching the good news that we have been commissioned to do—no, not by men, but by God. (Rom. 15:16)
In order to fulfill our assignment we don’t need to understand everything as being absolutely correct in all the details, otherwise Jesus would never have sent out his disciples to preach, seeing how little they really understood about the kingdom. (Matt. 10:5-7; Luke 10:1,2; Acts 1:7) Neither do we need to make it difficult for ourselves by opposing everything we don't agree with. (Eccl. 7:16) Paul wrote: "Do not judge anything before the due time, until the Lord comes." (1 Cor. 4:5) When it comes to preaching "the good news of the kingdom" we can be certain of one fact: the reality of the kingdom. (Dan. 2:44) Once everything will have been accomplished, and all the prophecies fulfilled, only then will we have a complete and correct knowledge of everything. In the meantime, to help us endure and not give up in our preaching work, Jehovah has revealed to us the reason behind present developments within his household. (2 Tim. 4:2-5) It is his holy spirit that helps us in this. (1 Cor. 2:10-14) Therefore, at present we have the wonderful opportunity to demonstrate to our heavenly Father that we are obedient, that we love him and are truly loyal to him; and that our worship is genuine. (1 John 5:3,4)
"The Loyalty of God's Servants is Being Tested in Our Day"
The Daily Text for Wednesday, January 27, 2010 excerpted the following quote from The Watchtower (8/15/2008) article, “Jehovah Will Not Leave His Loyal Ones.” This is what it said regarding Jeroboam’s apostate calf worship:
It is the tenth century B.C.E. and a time of decision. Civil war has narrowly been avoided by granting Israel’s restless northern tribes a measure of independence. Their newly appointed king, Jeroboam, quickly moves to consolidate his power by establishing a new State religion. He demands complete allegiance from his subjects. What will faithful servants of Jehovah do? Will they remain loyal to the God they worship? Thousands do, and Jehovah watches over them as they maintain their integrity. (1 Ki. 12:1-33; 2 Chron. 11:13, 14) The loyalty of God’s servants is being tested in our day too. “Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone,” warns the Bible. Can we successfully “take [our] stand against him, solid in the faith”? (1 Pet. 5:8, 9) Jehovah did not leave his loyal ones then, and he will not do so today. w08 8/15 1:1, 2 (Bold mine)
Are we not shocked at how quickly God’s people often turn away from true worship! Even wise king Solomon would not remain loyal to Jehovah. He became apostate because his many foreign wives inclined him away from the true God, to go after their own gods. Therefore Jehovah told Solomon: “For the reason that this has taken place with you and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I laid in command upon you, I shall without fail rip the kingdom away from off you, and I shall certainly give it to your servant. However, in your days I shall not do it, for the sake of David your father. Out of the hand of your son I shall rip it away. Only it will not be all the kingdom that I shall rip away. One tribe I shall give to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.” (1 Kings 11:11-13)
True to God's word, during the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam, Jeroboam—whom Jehovah had chosen and anointed—became king over ten of the twelve tribes of Israel, while Rehoboam kept only the tribes of Benjamin and Judah. But just as soon as Jeroboam began his rule he too became apostate, setting up calf worship in Bethel and Dan. Why would he do such a horrible thing? The account tells us that he was afraid of losing his authority over the people and they would return to Rehoboam. He quickly consolidated his power and demanded complete allegiance from his subjects. (1 Kings 11:26-32, 20; 12:26-33)
Interestingly, the comments go on to say that “the loyalty of God’s servants is being tested in our day too.” Yes, today our worship and obedience can also be inclined away from Jehovah. The apostle Paul foretold an apostasy from true worship in connection with the coming of “Jehovah’s day”—New World Translation (“Lord’s day” most other translations, referring to Christ’s return). A “man of lawlessness” will sit within God’s temple, assuming power and authority over everyone who worships Jehovah. As was true of Jeroboam, this “lawless one” is "set in opposition" to those who are loyal to Jehovah. He may have originally been anointed by Jehovah to care for his sheep, but like Jeroboam he has also moved quickly to consolidate his power and "demands complete allegiance from his subjects." (2 Thess. 2:1-12; see "The Man of Lawlessness Gets Revealed")
It is now Jehovah’s due time to reveal the presence of this man of lawlessness, and the fact that his presence is “according to the operation of Satan,” our adversary the Devil. The Daily Text asks: “What will faithful servants of Jehovah do? Will they remain loyal to the God they worship? Thousands do, and Jehovah watches over them as they maintain their integrity. Jehovah did not leave his loyal ones then, and he will not do so today.”
What Benefit Does God
Derive From Our Obedience?
Why should we listen to God? Young Elihu posed this question to Job:
1 Then Elihu said:
2 “Do you think it is right for you to claim, ‘I am righteous before God’?
3 For you also ask, ‘What’s in it for me? What’s the use of living a righteous life?’
4 “I will answer you and all your friends, too.
5 Look up into the sky, and see the clouds high above you.
6 If you sin, how does that affect God? Even if you sin again and again, what effect will it have on him?
7 If you are good, is this some great gift to him? What could you possibly give him?
8 No, your sins affect only people like yourself, and your good deeds also affect only humans.
9 “People cry out when they are oppressed. They groan beneath the power of the mighty.
10 Yet they don’t ask, ‘Where is God my Creator, the one who gives songs in the night?
11 Where is the one who makes us smarter than the animals and wiser than the birds of the sky?’
12 And when they cry out, God does not answer because of their pride.
13 But it is wrong to say God doesn’t listen, to say the Almighty isn’t concerned.
14 You say you can’t see him, but he will bring justice if you will only wait.
15 You say he does not respond to sinners with anger and is not greatly concerned about wickedness.
16 But you are talking nonsense, Job. You have spoken like a fool.” —Job 35:1-16, New Living Translation.
When we obey Jehovah it is really for our own benefit. He is "teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk." Because of his great love for us, like a concerned father he pleads, "O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments. Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea." —Isaiah 48:17,18.
Not Everyone is Permitted to Know the Truth
Contrary to what we might think, not everyone is permitted to understand “the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven.” After having spoken another one of his many illustrations, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?’” Jesus replied: “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use these parables, for they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand. This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says, ‘When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’” (Matt. 13:10-15, NLT)
It is a person’s own attitude in regard to spiritual matters that determines whether or not he will understand the "sacred secrets of God," or rather, whether God permits him to understand such things; for without God’s spirit no one can come to an accurate knowledge of the things pertaining to God. In harmony with Jesus’ words, the apostle Paul explained: “No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.” (1 Cor. 2:11-15, NLT)
Accordingly, can you see why not everyone comprehends that God has a household, although the Scriptures not only speak of it but also give ample evidence on how to identify it? (2 Cor. 6:14-18; Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Tim. 3:15; Heb. 3:6) The “natural, nonspiritual man” (AMP) stumbles over present conditions and developments within God’s household, not discerning that these things must take place in order for the Scriptures to be fulfilled. (Luke 21:22) These prophecies are not understood by the “nonspiritual” man, for as the Amplified Bible translates Paul’s above words, “they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated.” Such a person is "always learning and yet never able to come to an accurate knowledge of truth." (2 Tim. 3:7)
Therefore, because of your understanding of these things, you have reason to rejoice for “happy are the eyes that behold the things you are beholding.” It is evidence that you have God’s spirit, and this will enable you to endure, even with joy, this present time of tribulation! (Luke 10:21, 23; James 5:11)
10/29/09Everlasting Life Does Not Depend on Obedience to the Society
Was Moses a Greater Mediator than Jesus?
The greater Moses: The apostle Paul compares the role that Moses served in God's purpose with the superior position of Jesus, God's Son. Moses "was faithful in all the house of [God]," as an attendant; whereas Jesus is "faithful as a Son over the house of that One." The nation of Israel was the house of God at that time, while today "we are the house of that One." Moses was the mediator of the old covenant, and Jesus is the mediator of the new and "better" covenant. Also, just as Aaron was the anointed high priest under that first covenant, Jesus became the greater high priest under the new covenant. He is the "merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, in order to offer propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of the people." Of course, the sacrifice that Christ offered, his own flesh and blood body, is far superior to any sacrifices that the former high priests offered to God. That is why Paul writes: "For if the blood of goats and of bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who have been defiled sanctifies to the extent of cleanness of the flesh, how much more will the blood of the Christ, who through an everlasting spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works that we may render sacred service to [the] living God?" —Heb. 2:17; 3:2, 5,6; 8:6; 9:11, 13-15.
Our publications, such as the Watchtower, argue that only a limited number, namely 144,000, are parties to the new covenant, and that Jesus is the mediator exclusively of them. This is how one article put it: "Only Christians referred to as 'The Israel of God' are taken into this covenant with Jehovah God. (Galatians 6:16) Jesus spoke of this limited number of Christians as a 'little flock.' (Luke 12:32) However, there is a 'great crowd' of other Christians, referred to by Jesus as his 'other sheep.' (Revelation 7:9, 10, 14; John 10:16) Although these enjoy benefits from the new covenant, they are not included in it." —w83 3/15 p. 9 Who Should Partake? (Bold mine)
The Watchtower of April 1, 1979, similarly explained in Questions From Readers: "The term 'mediator' occurs just six times in the Christian Greek Scriptures and Scripturally is always used regarding a formal covenant. Moses was the 'mediator' of the Law covenant made between God and the nation of Israel. (Gal. 3:19, 20) Christ, though, is the 'mediator of a new covenant' between Jehovah and spiritual Israel, the 'Israel of God' that will serve as kings and priests in heaven with Jesus. (Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24; Gal. 6:16) At a time when God was selecting those to be taken into that new covenant, the apostle Paul wrote that Christ was the 'one mediator between God and men.' (1 Tim. 2:5) Reasonably Paul was here using the word 'mediator' in the same way he did the other five times, which occurred before the writing of 1 Timothy 2:5, referring to those then being taken into the new covenant for which Christ is 'mediator.' So in this strict Biblical sense Jesus is the 'mediator' only for anointed Christians.
"The new covenant will terminate with the glorification of the remnant who are today in that covenant mediated by Christ. The 'great crowd' of 'other sheep' that is forming today is not in that new covenant. However, by their associating with the 'little flock' of those yet in that covenant they come under benefits that flow from that new covenant. During the millennium Jesus Christ will be their king, high priest and judge. For more detailed information, see Aid to Bible Understanding, pages 1129 and 1130 under 'Mediator'; also God’s 'Eternal Purpose' Now Triumphing for Man’s Good, page 160, paragraph 10; also The Watchtower issues of February 15, 1966, pages 105 through 123; November 15, 1972, pages 685 and 686, under the subheading 'Leading the Way to a New Covenant'; and April 1, 1973, pages 198 and 199, under the subheading 'The New Covenant.'"'—w79 4/1 p. 31 Questions From Readers. (Bold added)
Please consider: Paul said that the features of the old covenant "has become our tutor leading to Christ." (Gal. 3:24; Heb. 8:5) If we are to accept the above Watchtower claims, that is, if Jesus is the mediator only of "anointed Christians" (144,000), then Moses was a greater mediator than Jesus, for Moses was the mediator between God and the entire nation of Israel, numbering into the millions. And if Jesus is the high priest of only this "little flock," then Aaron proved to be a greater high priest than Jesus, for the high priest under the old covenant represented before Jehovah, not merely other priests serving under him, but all the people, including the alien residents.* Have we not made God's word invalid by our traditions? Should we be surprised? (Matt. 15:6-9)
* The alien resident who had become a circumcised worshiper was bound to one law with the Israelites, that is, to obey all the terms of the Law covenant. (Le 24:22) A few examples are: He was required to keep the Sabbath (Ex 20:10; 23:12) and to celebrate the Passover (Nu 9:14; Ex 12:48, 49), the Festival of Unfermented Cakes (Ex 12:19), the Festival of Weeks (De 16:10, 11), the Festival of Booths (De 16:13, 14), and the Day of Atonement (Le 16:29, 30). He could offer sacrifices (Nu 15:14) and had to do so in the same manner as prescribed for the natural Israelite. (Nu 15:15, 16) His offerings were to be unblemished (Le 22:18-20) and brought to the entrance of the tent of meeting just as was done by the natural Israelite. (Le 17:8, 9) He could not engage in any false worship. (Le 20:2; Eze 14:7) He was required to drain blood out of game killed in hunting and would be “cut off” if he ate it undrained. (Le 17:10-14) He could receive forgiveness along with natural Israel for community responsibility for sins. (Nu 15:26, 29) He had to observe the purification procedures, for example, if unclean by touching a human corpse. (Nu 19:10, 11) The alien resident who could be given the body of an animal that had died of itself was evidently one who had not become a full-fledged worshiper of Jehovah.—De 14:21. —Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 1, page 72, Alien Resident. (Bold mine)
10/5/09Do You Consult Your Map as You Travel the Road Leading to Life? (Matt. 7:13,14)
"And it shall come to pass in the end of days, [that] the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples shall go and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths." —Isaiah 2:2, 3, Darby Translation.
9/28/09Should You Quote the Watchtower as Your Authority?
Is the Society's Governing Body the
"Faithful and Discreet Slave"?
The above article also stated: Someone may argue that the way the Witnesses speak about the Watch Tower Society—or more often just “the Society”—indicates that they view it as more than a legal instrument. Do they not consider it to be the final authority on matters of worship? The book Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom clarifies this point by explaining: “When The Watchtower [June 1, 1938] referred to ‘The Society,’ this meant, not a mere legal instrumentality, but the body of anointed Christians that had formed that legal entity and used it.” The expression therefore stood for “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45) It is in this sense that the Witnesses generally used the term “the Society.” Of course, the legal corporation and “the faithful and discreet slave” are not interchangeable terms. Directors of the Watch Tower Society are elected, whereas Witnesses who make up ‘the faithful slave’ are anointed by Jehovah’s holy spirit. —w98 3/15 pp. 18-19, par. 3, Living Up to Christian Dedication in Freedom. (Bold added)
This gives us some insight on how the Governing Body members receive their position. They, as "the Society," which stands for "the body of anointed Christians" (and "final authority on matters of worship"), claim to be "anointed by Jehovah's holy spirit;" yet they, as directors of the same Society, the corporation and legal entity, are "elected" according to the democratic process of a corporation. It has nothing at all to do with being appointed by holy spirit. (Matt. 20:25-27)
(10/1/09 - 11/05/10)
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