Sunday, April 29, 2007
The study assignment for the first two weeks of May is chapter 13 of the Grand Climax book, which discusses Christ’s counsel to the congregation in Laodicea.
Like their commentary on Christ’s messages to the other congregations, the Watchtower applies Jesus’ words to both Christendom as well as to Jehovah’s Witnesses. But how can that be? The letters to the seven congregations are addressed to those who are actually part of Christ’s congregation – not those who merely claim to be part of Christ’s congregation. Elsewhere in their writings the Watchtower unequivocally states that Christendom is not, nor was it ever Christian. So, the question naturally comes to mind as to why Jesus would address himself to them. Obviously, he doesn’t. Jesus is speaking to those who have been called by God to rule with Christ but who are in danger of missing out on the final choosing of the chosen ones.
Although it may be hard for Jehovah’s Witnesses to accept, Jesus’ rebuke directed to the Laodiceans applies more to individuals within the leadership of the Watchtower Society then they would ever admit.
Consider the particulars of Christ’s rebuke of those whom he says are merely lukewarm in their service to God: “Because you say: ‘I am rich and have acquired riches and do not need anything at all,’ but you do not know you are miserable and pitiable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire that you may become rich, and white outer garments that you may become dressed and that the shame of your nakedness may not become manifested, and eyesalve to rub in your eyes that you may see.”
In the 8th paragraph the Society applies Jesus’ words to the rank and file Jehovah’s Witness who may become materialistic. But is that really who Jesus is speaking to? Are the imagines “acquired riches” necessarily material riches? That may be one aspect of the reason for the Laodiceans self-confidence, but Paul’s writings to the Corinthians show that more than likely Jesus meant that the Christians in Laodicea felt that they had already acquired spiritual riches. At 1 Corinthians 4:8-12 Paul wrote: “You men already have your fill, do you? You are rich already, are you? You have begun ruling as kings without us, have you? And I wish indeed that you had begun ruling as kings, that we also might rule with you as kings. For it seems to me that God has put us the apostles last on exhibition as men appointed to death, because we have become a theatrical spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools because of Christ, but you are discreet in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are in good repute, but we are in dishonor. Down to this very hour we continue to hunger and also to thirst and to be scantily clothed and to be knocked about and to be homeless and to toil, working with our own hands.”
As should be apparent, Paul intended to say that some of the Corinthians felt spiritually fulfilled. They didn’t need any more. On the other hand, Paul and the other apostles did not share their good fortune.
However, what about the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses today? Do they not claim to have possession of spiritual riches? Are they not honored and held in high esteem by the organization, like those Corinthians? And although Bethelites are now required to take a vow of poverty certainly the Governing Body live like kings, in that their every need and expense is taken care of by the organization.
Embarrassingly, the Governing Body even boasts of their imagined spiritual riches in the very lesson under discussion. In the 11th and 12th paragraphs the Society states that C.T. Russell and the Bible Students purchased refined spiritual gold from Christ, which is evidenced by their knowing, among other things, that God is not a trinity and that the Gentile Times ended in 1914! But does our merely knowing the basic doctrinal truths mean that we are no longer spiritually blind? The Society seems to think so, stating in the concluding sentence of the 14th paragraph that the pages of the Watchtower, and not Christ, is the source of the healing eyesalve.
Also, in the 21st paragraph the Society boasts of understanding the prophecies. They write: “As a result, from 1919 onward their eyes have been opened to the meaning of Bible prophecies. They have enjoyed a period of great enlightenment.” But alas, their eyes are not as opened as they imagine. For example, consider the Society’s ridiculous interpretation of Joel or their blasphemous interpretation of Habakkuk. Virtually everyone of the Society’s prophetic interpretations are in varying degrees of error – as can be seen by a critical analysis of their teachings, which numerous essays on e-watchman have undertaken to present. (See essay Who is Blind as the Servant of Jehovah? )
In view of the falsity of the foundation teaching of 1914 and a host of other prophecies that have been built upon it, it is the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses who are unaware that it is they who are pitiable, naked and blind.
Appropriately, Jesus concludes his message to the Laodiceans and all the congregations with the very similar admonition with which he concluded the parable of the wheat and the weeds: “Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations.”
Saturday, April 14, 2007
At Revelation 3:9 Jesus said: “Look! I will give those from the synagogue of Satan who say they are Jews, and yet they are not but are lying—look! I will make them come and do obeisance before your feet and make them know I have loved you.”
Who are those whom Jesus depicts as belonging to “the synagogue of Satan”? The Society says that they are simply Jews that become Christians. In the 11th paragraph we read: “Perhaps, as in Smyrna, the congregation has had problems with the local Jews. Jesus designates these as “the synagogue of Satan.” Nevertheless, at least some of those Jews are about to realize that what the Christians have been preaching about Jesus is the truth. Their ‘doing obeisance’ will likely be in the manner described by Paul at 1 Corinthians 14:24, 25, so that they actually repent and become Christians, fully appreciating Jesus’ great love in surrendering even his soul in behalf of his disciples.”
The Watchtower’s explanation makes absolutely no sense. Nowhere does Jesus say that those who fraudulently claim to be Jews are forced to do obeisance to the Philadelphian Christians by actually become converts. Why would Jesus force Satan’s agents to become Christians?
Secondly, the Society offers no explanation of what it means to falsely claim to be a Jew. Why would anyone try to pass themselves off as Jewish if they were not actually Jews?
Those who falsely claim to be Jews must claim to be spiritual Jews – that is to say, they lyingly claim to be anointed and participants in the new covenant. Like the symbolic weeds in Jesus’ harvest illustration that were over-sown by the enemy Devil, and like the evil and sluggish slaves that are thrown out of the master’s service, those of the synagogue of Satan must represent the agents of the Devil operating within Christ’s congregation at the moment the master arrives. They will cringingly do obeisance by being forced to recognize the true sons of God when the revealing of the sons of God takes place. That is where the weeping and gnashing of their teeth will occur.
Furthermore, the nations that offer themselves to the sons of God do so after Jehovah repurchases his people from the nations. That is destined to occur during the tribulation – not before.
Saturday, April 7, 2007
Jesus’ following message to the Christians in Sardis is the basis for the first part of this week’s book study: “Become watchful, and strengthen the things remaining that were ready to die, for I have not found your deeds fully performed before my God. Therefore, continue mindful of how you have received and how you heard, and go on keeping it, and repent. Certainly unless you wake up, I shall come as a thief, and you will not know at all at what hour I shall come upon you.”
Under the subheading “coming as a thief” the Society asserts that Jesus came as a thief in 1918, even though in the very same paragraph they acknowledge that no one knows the day and hour of his coming. One would think, though, that if that were really true then that would be the end of it. But no. The Watchtower goes on to insist that Jesus is coming as a thief, again. But how reasonable is it that Jesus comes as a thief on two occasions?
Furthermore, the Society goes on to boast: “The John class today is itself awake to the need for stimulating God’s people to keep spiritually alive.” They then cite timely articles that were written back in 1919, 1925 and 1942! But do articles written more than a half century ago prove that the would-be watchman class of today is still on the watch? Hardly.
In the 6th paragraph the Society declares that the parable of the wise and foolish virgins was fulfilled in 1919. If that were true, though, that would of necessity mean that the marriage of the Lamb has already taken place and that the calling of choosing of bride class ended back then. That’s because Jesus’ parable of the wise and foolish virgins illustrates the fact that once the wise virgins are allowed entry into the place of the marriage feast the door is then shut. Appropriately, Jesus concluded the parable of the ten virgins by warning his disciples to keep on the watch because they do not know the day or hour.
Now the question that begs to be asked is this: Does the Watchtower’s insistence that the parable of the ten virgins has already been fulfilled stimulate Christian wakefulness or does the 1914 teaching dull our sense of anticipation of things to come?
Please note that in Jesus’ illustration all the virgins nodded and went to sleep – even the wise virgins that took along extra oil for their lamps. More than likely, then, the Society’s 1914 teaching serves as a lullaby to that end.