Q: I'm taking this opportunity to ask you about the Memorial.  I have read through your sections dealing with this subject and am still not sure of the 'exactness' of what to believe.

Reading that the non heavenly group are included under the new covenant as having washed their robes in the blood of the lamb in Rev. Does this 'washing' in some way mean that they
 1. not only put their full faith in Jesus Christ's ransom
 2. also have partaken of the emblems during their lifetime here on earth?

Additionally, because this group is to live on earth, why should this prevent them from partaking of the emblems?

I have to say that this is perplexing, that each year, it's possible that thousands of people are excluded wrongly because of their ultimate destination. I attend the Memorial each year, and for the rest of the year I worry about it.

Many thanks if you can throw some spiritual light on this.


A: The Memorial this year is on Wednesday, April 12 (2006), and it's that time again to think about the significance of it and reflect on the events that took place that night when Jesus instituted it, and the events of the following day, and the meaning it has for each one of us.

Each year the Watchtower prints the invitation for all to attend the Memorial in this manner: "
In obedience to Jesus’ command, Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world will be gathering together on the evening of [Wednesday, April 12, 2006], to commemorate Jesus’ death."  (bold mine) (w03 4/1 p. 32, You Are Warmly Invited)

The question arises, though, if all are encouraged to attend the Memorial "in obedience to Jesus' command" why then are the vast majority attending only as observers? Did Jesus command his disciples to gather together on the anniversary of his death to simply observe a small number of his disciples celebrate the occasion, or was the command meant for all who exercise faith in him, thus benefiting from his sacrificial death? Is there any clear guidance in the Scriptures on this?

Why has there been so much confusion in regards to a particular group of people, the "non heavenly" ones, especially regarding the new covenant that Jesus mentioned on that night? (Luke 22:20) What is the new covenant? Who is in it? Are those, who have the original hope of living forever on earth, excluded from the new covenant? There was no such ambiguity about the Law Covenant that Moses mediated. Jehovah had everything clearly spelled out for his people and written down. That Law Covenant was meant to be "our tutor leading to Christ" and "a shadow of the good things to come." It was to be a "better" covenant than the one Jehovah made with his people at Mount Sinai. (Jer. Gal. 3:24; Col. 2:17; Heb. 8:6; 10:1)

The Contemporary English Version Bible reads at Hebrews 10:1-4, 8-12 regarding the old covenant: "The Law of Moses is like a shadow of the good things to come. This shadow isn't the good things themselves, because it cannot free people from sin by the sacrifices that are offered year after year. If there were worshipers who already have their sins washed away and their consciences made clear, there would not be any need to go on offering sacrifices. But the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins. It only reminds people of their sins from one year to the next . . . The Law teaches that offerings and sacrifices must be made because of sin. But why did Christ mention these things and say that God did not want them? Well, it was to do away with offerings and sacrifices and to replace them. That is what he meant by saying to God, ‘I have come to do what you want.’ So we are made holy because Christ obeyed God and offered himself once for all. The priests do their work each day, and they keep on offering sacrifices that can never take away sins. But Christ offered himself as a sacrifice that is good forever. Now he is sitting at God's right side."

How much clearer could Jehovah explain things in order to avoid any confusion on our part? We readily acknowledge that in Moses' time all of Jehovah's people were included in the Law covenant. The priesthood was only a part of it, who represented the people before Jehovah in the offering of sacrifices. Those sacrifices for sins were offered in behalf of the whole nation, all the people, not just the priesthood. It was not just the priests who needed their sins atoned for. (see Lev. 4:3-7, 13-21, 27-31) Paul tells us that those sacrifices, the blood of bulls and goats, could not take away sins. "It only [reminded] the people of their sins from year to year." For that reason "Christ offered himself as a sacrifice that is good forever," "in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

The reason that we have confusion today regarding the new covenant and those in it is not because of any lack of Scriptures, or perhaps that the Law covenant proved to be an obscure and inconclusive “shadow of the good things to come.” For us it has simply become a matter of having gone beyond the things written. (1 Cor. 4:6) Human reasoning has replaced Scriptural authority.

Please consider, up until the early 1930's the Society taught that everyone goes to heaven but that only 144,000, who had been zealous proclaimers of the good news of the kingdom, would sit on thrones with Christ. At that time everyone celebrated the Lord’s Evening Meal by partaking of the bread and the wine. Then "
in 1932 it was explained that Jehonadab (Jonadab), King Jehu's associate, prefigured a class of persons who would enjoy everlasting life on earth. The Jonadabs, as they came to be known, counted it a privilege to be associated with Jehovah's anointed servants and to have some share with them in advertising the Kingdom. But at that time, there was no special effort to gather and organize these individuals with an earthly hope." Indeed, "at that time the Jonadabs were not considered to be 'Jehovah's witnesses.'" (Quoted from Jehovah's Witnesses, Proclaimers of God's Kingdom, page 83)

There has been much confusion regarding those “who would enjoy everlasting life on earth.” It was taught at one time that:

1.They were not considered to be Jehovah’s witnesses.”
Yet, in Revelation they are seen standing before the throne and before the Lamb crying, “Salvation [we owe] to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:10)
That untruth was corrected in the Watchtower of July 1, 1942.

They are not declared righteous until the end of the thousand year reign of Christ.
The fact that they are pictured “dressed in white robes” because of their faith in the ransom proves that God views them as righteous. (compare Rev. 19:8; Romans 4:5-8,11)
This error in understanding was also later corrected. (see the Watchtower, July 1, 1996, p. 20, #5)

3. They are not holy, for it was claimed that only the 144,000 are holy.
But that they are also holy is evident in that they are standing before the throne of God. (Rev. 7:15; Lev. 19:2)
After many decades of teaching this it was finally acknowledged in The Watchtower that they too are holy. (see March 1, 1999, p. 20)

4. They do not have holy spirit
Would it be possible to render God sacred service day and night in his temple without having his holy spirit? (Rev. 7:15)
Not long ago that understanding was also brought in line with what the Scriptures reveal, that they indeed have God's holy spirit. (See The Watchtower of February 1, 2002, p. 21)

5. They are not in the New Covenant
as are the 144,000.
The Scripture says that “they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” which is the “blood of the covenant,” and which, of course, was poured out also in their behalf “for forgiveness of sins.” That is why we are told that God spreads his tent over them. (Rev. 7:9, 14,15; Matt. 26:28) This "tent of God" was foreshadowed by the tent, or tabernacle, in the wilderness, and represented God's presence with his people, made possible by the covenant Jehovah had made with them. (Ex. 25:8; 29:44,45; Heb. 9:9; Rev. 21:3) see Insight on the Scriptures, vol. 2, page 1084.
Are they not obviously in the new covenant also?

This unscriptural view is still taught although it is interesting to note what The Watchtower, August 15, 2005, pages 24-29,
said in regards to the great crowd and the new covenant:

The two tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written were placed inside the ark of the covenant within the Most Holy compartment of the tabernacle and later the temple. The laws they bore set out the core principles of the Mosaic Law covenant and formed the basis for the theocratic administration of a national government. They gave evidence that Jehovah was dealing with a specific people, a chosen people.

6  Yes, those divine laws had great value. Did you know, though, that anointed Christians possess something far more valuable than laws written on stone? Jehovah foretold the making of a new covenant unlike the Law covenant made with the nation of Israel. “I will put my law within them, and in their heart I shall write it.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34) Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, did not personally impart a written code of law to his followers. He sounded down Jehovah’s law into the minds and hearts of his disciples by the things he said and did.

This law is called “the law of the Christ.” It was first given, not to the nation of natural Israel, who were the descendents of Jacob, but to a spiritual nation, “the Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:2, 16; Romans 2:28, 29) The Israel of God is made up of spirit-anointed Christians. In time, they were joined by a “great crowd” from all nations who also seek to worship Jehovah. (Revelation 7:9, 10; Zechariah 8:23) As “one flock” under “one shepherd,” both groups embrace “the law of the Christ,” allowing it to govern all that they do. —John 10:16.

Why has there been such confusion? Why did the holy spirit not give them a clear understanding from the beginning about these important basic truths regarding the new covenant and those who will enjoy everlasting life on earth? Because, as the apostle Paul foretold, God let an “operation of error go to them, that they may get to believing the lie, in order that they all may be judged because they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thess. 2:11,12)

Certain prominent ones of his anointed servants back in the early 1900s rejected Jesus’ command to not be imitating the rulers of the world and bring their way into the Christian congregation, by lording it over and govern the members of God’s household, while at the same time demanding obedience and respect, giving themselves titles such as "faithful and discreet." (Luke 22:25,26) Therefore, Jehovah did not give them the understanding, in harmony with the course they had embarked upon, in order that they would eventually be exposed and judged, not just for their rebellious course of setting themselves up as kings or governors, but even more importantly for the bad consequences that such lording it over his inheritance would bring upon his sheep. In God's due time this would develop into an issue of obedience, a cause for stumbling and testing for all his people, whether they would put their trust in "nobles" or in Jehovah their God. (Psalms 146:3-5; Dan. 11:35; Rev. 3:10) It has been highly presumptuous on the part of these unfaithful shepherds to have excluded a great crowd of faithful sheep from having an intimate relationship with their Owner within the arrangement of the new covenant. They have reserved for themselves the exclusive right to obey Jesus’ command to observe the Lord’s Evening Meal the way he had instructed all his disciples to do. (1 Cor. 11:23-26) And shockingly, many within God's household have taken pleasure in this unrighteousness to the point of defending their course of action. These shepherds will eventually be held accountable for their contumacious course. (2 Cor. 11:5)

So, what should we individually do in the meantime, until these things are rectified? It seems that for many of Jehovah's people the partaking at the memorial of Christ's death becomes an issue each year. On the one hand Jesus commanded his disciples to keep doing this in remembrance of him, and on the other hand we are strictly reminded that it is meant only for the small remnant of the 144,000 still with us. With the old covenant Jehovah always clearly stated who was and who was not allowed to partake of certain things that were considered holy, along with any penalty for disregarding his word. Even restrictions regarding God's formula for making holy anointing oil and incense for personal use were clearly stated and so was the penalty for disobedience. (Ex. 30:31-38; Lev. 24:5-9)

There is no such stated restriction concerning the partaking at the Memorial anywhere in the Scriptures. Jesus simply commanded to "keep doing this in remembrance of me," just as he had done with his disciples, and Paul adds, "for as often as you eat this loaf and drink this cup, you keep proclaiming the death of the Lord, until he arrives." (1 Cor. 11:25, 26) Since this is a command we can be sure that the time will come when obedience to it will become an issue, for Jehovah will make it such. For some it has become an issue already, for were they not to act in harmony with the leading of God's spirit at this time they would lose out altogether on their relationship with Jehovah. For others, though, the matter will become an issue later, when the time comes for Jehovah to judge his household and set matters straight. (Isa. 1:18)

We have not been required to rise up and rebel against those who have seated themselves in the seat of Moses. (Matt. 23:3,4) To the extent possible, we all need to exercise patience and wait on Jehovah for his time to come to rectify everything. It would only bring unnecessary hardship and ostracism upon those who go against the established procedure as being practiced within the congregations, for it is impossible not to be conspicuous by going contrary to it. But where it becomes an issue for someone personally then he/she should obey Jesus' command without any regard for consequences, such as being thought of as being crazy, self-important, rebellious, starving for attention, spiritually weak, immature, and so forth.

Before the great tribulation comes at Armageddon, Jehovah will already have cleansed his people. Obedience to him and faith in him will have become the great issue, including the proper observance of the Memorial, which the great crowd will then joyously share in. He will have removed all causes for stumbling, including those teaching us doctrines and commandments of men, along with persons who are doing lawlessness. "At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." (Matt. 13:41-43; 15:8,9)