Congregation Book Study:

Chapter 2, par. 21-24

The juice in this week’s Bible study comes from the box on page 24, “Questions for Meditation”.  So let us follow that counsel and meditate on these points.

  • Psalm 15:1-5 What does Jehovah expect of those who want to be his friends?

(Psalm 15:1-5) O Jehovah, who may be a guest in your tent? Who may reside in your holy mountain?  2 The one who is walking faultlessly, Practicing what is right And speaking the truth in his heart.  3 He does not slander with his tongue, He does nothing bad to his neighbor, And he does not defame his friends.  4 He rejects anyone who is contemptible, But he honors those fearing Jehovah. He does not go back on his promise, even when it is bad for him.  5 He does not lend his money on interest, And he does not accept a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things will never be shaken.

This Psalm makes no mention of being God’s friend. It does talk about being his guest.  In pre-Christian times, the idea of being God’s son was more than one could hope for.  How man could become reconciled back into the family of God was a mystery, what the Bible calls a “sacred secret”. That secret was revealed in the Christ.  You will notice that this, and the next two bullet points in the box are taken from the Psalms.  The hope that God’s servants had when the Psalms were written was to be a guest or a friend of God.  However, Jesus revealed a new hope and a greater reward.  Why are we going back to the tutor’s teaching now that the Master is in the house?

  • 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 What conduct is essential if we are to maintain a close relationship with Jehovah?

(2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1) Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what sharing does light have with darkness? 15 Further, what harmony is there between Christ and Be′li·al? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement does God’s temple have with idols? For we are a temple of a living God; just as God said: “I will reside among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 “‘Therefore, get out from among them, and separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing’”; “‘and I will take you in.’” 18 “‘And I will become a father to you, and you will become sons and daughters to me,’ says Jehovah, the Almighty.”
7 Therefore, since we have these promises, beloved ones, let us cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Including these verses seems somewhat incongruous given that our lesson is all about becoming God’s friend.   Paul isn’t telling us how to gain friendship with God.  He says if we do these things we have the promise God made that we “will become sons and daughters” of God.  He’s apparently quoting from 2 Samuel 7:19 where Jehovah speaks of becoming a Father to David’s son Solomon; one of the few instances in the Hebrew Scriptures where He refers to a human as His son.  Paul is here using this promise and under inspiration extending it to all Christians who will comprise the seed of David.  Again, nothing about being God’s friend, but everything about being his son or daughter.[i]

Theocratic Ministry School

Bible Reading: Genesis 25-28  

If you are troubled by Jacob’s willingness to lie and deceive so as to rob his brother of his father’s blessing, remember that these men were without law.

(Romans 5:13) 13 For sin was in the world before the Law, but sin is not charged against anyone when there is no law.

There was the law that the Patriarch laid down, and he was the ultimate human authority within the clan.  What existed in those days was a culture of warring tribes. Each tribe had its King; Isaac was essentially the King of his tribe. There were certain rules of conduct which were accepted as tradition and which allowed the various tribes to work together. For example, it was okay to take a man’s sister without his permission, but touch a man’s wife, and there would be bloodshed. (Gen. 26:10, 11) It seems to me that the closest parallel we have in North America is that of urban gangs. They’ll live by their own rules and respect each other’s territory following certain mutually agreed-upon though unwritten rules of conduct. Breaking one of these rules results in gang warfare.

No. 1: Genesis 25:19-34
No. 2: Those Resurrected to Rule With Christ Will Be Like Him – rs p. 335 par. 4 – p. 336, par. 2
No. 3: Abhorrent Thing—Jehovah’s View of Idolatry and Disobedience—it-1 p. 17

Service Meeting

15 min: What Do We Learn?
Discussion of the account of Jesus with the Samaritan woman.  (John 4:6-26)
A decent part where we get to discuss the Scriptures.  Shame that the entire thing is slanted toward the ministry when there is so much more we could talk about here, but still, we’re reading and discussing the Scriptures directly without the “help” of a publication.

15 min: “Improving Our Skills in the Ministry—Making a Record of the Interest.”
How many times have we had a part about how to keep a good record of our calls on interested ones found in the field ministry.  There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this part, but having been in the ministry for over half a century, and been on the receiving end of this type of part probably hundreds of times (I’m not using hyperbole) I know there are better ways to use our time.  I have seen that brothers who are poor record keepers will continue to be so despite parts like this and those who are good ones, will be good ones.  The best way to teach this is on a personal level, not from the platform.  Yes, there are going to be some few who will benefit from this.  One in a hundred if I’m being generous.  So why not teach them personally so as not to waste the time of the other 99 and give us something truly upbuilding and Scriptural to chew on instead of “Record Keeping 101”?

 


[i] This is one of those instances where rather than quoting verbatim from the Hebrew Scriptures, the Christian writer is referencing the meaning or intent of the original.  That they would do this and feel free to change the Word of God is understandable since it is really God doing the writing here via inspiration. That this was common practice ought to alert us to the intrepid nature of our foray into textual emendation by inserting Jehovah’s name into NT texts that don’t use it, just because they reference OT texts where it does appear.