Congregation Book Study:

Chapter 4, par. 10-18
Paragraph 10 makes the unsupported assertion that Jesus is the archangel.  In the Bible, Jesus is never called the archangel.  Only Michael is.  If Jesus is Michael, then he is only one of the foremost princes. (Dan. 10:13)  That means there are others in the group of foremost princes with Jesus.  It is hard to imagine Jesus as having equals. It is certainly inconsistent with everything John reveals about him.

Paragraph 16 states that now is not the time for performing miracles.  I think we have to be careful with sweeping statements like this. The time for performing miracles is whenever Jehovah says it is.  We are preaching the greatest war of all time, the supernatural destruction of our human system of things.  The things prophesied to happen before and during that time fall very much into the category of miracles. We have no idea how Jehovah may choose to use his power in the near future.  For all we know, miracles could happen again any day now.

Paragraph 18 quotes Lord Acton who said, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  The paragraph then states that “many people see [this] as undeniably true.  Imperfect humans often abuse power…”  How many of our brothers and sisters will read these words and nod their heads in agreement as they think of worldly rulers, all the while subconsciously excluding our leadership?  Yet have we not seen the corrupting influence of power exhibited at the local level, the traveling overseer level, the branch level and now even at the top of our ecclesiastical hierarchy?  There is a reason that Jesus told us not to be called “leader”.  We dance around that by never referring to the Governing Body members as leaders. But if they deny the name, but live the role, can they really say they are obeying Jesus’ command?  What is a governing body if not a body that governs.  And what is governing if not leading.  A Governor is a leader.  If they are not our leaders, then we can disregard any non-scriptural or unscriptural direction they gives us with impunity.

Those who would deny that there is any abuse of power need only compare us to worldly leaders.  If I openly criticize in print or by spoken word the decisions of the president of the United States, what will happen to me?  Nothing.  I won’t lose my job.  My friends won’t refuse even to say hello to me in the street.  My family will not cut off all association with me.  Now if I do the same thing with regard to some teaching or action of the Governing Body, what will happen to me?  ‘Nuf said.

Theocratic Ministry School

Bible Reading: Genesis 43-46
I find it curious that roughly the same amount of space in the Bible is devoted to telling this story of Joseph as is used to cover the first 1,600 years of human history.  There are tera-volumes of data concealed from us about the pre-flood days while significant detail is revealed about this one man’s life.  Obviously, the purpose of the Bible isn’t to record human history.  Its purpose to a very great extent is to record the development of the seed or offspring by which mankind will be redeemed.  The rest we will learn in the “sweet by and by” when the billions of dead are restored to life.  One more thing to look forward to.

No. 2 Who Will Be Included in the Earthly Resurrection?—rs p. 339 par. 3—p. 340 par. 3

No. 3 Abijah—Do Not Stop Leaning Upon Jehovah—it-1 p. 23, Abijah No. 5.
We like to think in absolutes.  Don’t give me grey; I want black and white.  We like to think that all other religions are condemned by God, while we have his favor. We are the true faith; all others are false. Therefore, Jehovah blesses us, but does not bless others.  If we meet someone in the territory who believes God helped them through some crisis, we smile patronizingly, because we know—we know—that cannot be true, because they are part of false religion.  Jehovah God helps us, not them.  Oh, he may answer their prayers if they are praying for help in understanding the truth.  He’ll answer them by sending us to their door, but beyond that, no way.

Abijah’s situation shows another reality however. Abijah leaned upon Jehovah and was victorious in war.  Nevertheless, he went walking in the sins of this father, allowing sacred pillars and male temple prostitutes to continue in the land.  Jehovah helped him even though his heart was not complete toward God.  (1 Kings 14:22-24; 15:3)

For many of us that degree of mercy and understanding is uncomfortable.  The thought that people who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses might be saved is unacceptable.  Many people in other religions have similar attitudes toward those who are not of their faith.  It seems we all have a lot to learn about mercy, judgment and Jehovah’s way.

Service Meeting

15 min: Demonstrate Tactfulness When Preaching

15 min: “Will You Seize the Opportunity?”
From paragraph 3: “Will gratitude for the ransom move us to share zealously in the campaign to publicize the Memorial?  Auxiliary pioneering…is another fine way to demonstrate thankfulness.”

They have been reading off the names of those who have filled out auxiliary pioneer applications in our hall.  Each name is greeted with a round of applause.  Such accolades have long troubled me.  Whatever time we devote to God in the preaching work is between Him and us.  Why do men have to get involved?  Why are we expected to complete a form requesting men to grant us “the privilege” of putting in extra hours?  Why not just put in the extra hours?

I recall years ago when we were reviewing a brother for the appointment of elder, the Circuit Overseer noticed that he frequently put in auxiliary pioneer hours without actually applying to be an auxiliary pioneer.  He just put in the hours as a publisher.  The C.O. was concerned that this might indicate a bad attitude.  I was so appalled that I didn’t know what to say.  Fortunately, the discussion moved on quickly and the brother was appointed, but it gave me a brief glimpse into the organizational mindset of what is truly important to them.  It is not submission to God but to man that carries weight in our organization.

Paragraph 4 opens with the now infamous question: “Will this Memorial be our last?”  Given the subject matter of next week’s Watchtower, it seems that the Governing Body is once again stirring the pot and getting the faithful hyped up on “end of times” hysteria.  Having lived through 1975, I am appalled that we are starting to beat this drum once again.  It seems that Jesus’ warning—“At an hour that you think not to be it, the Son of man is coming”—means nothing to us. (Mat. 24:44)

To be clear, I have nothing against maintaining a wakeful and waiting attitude.  How could I? That’s the command of Jesus.  However, creating an artificial sense of urgency based on speculative prophetic interpretations has always led to discouragement and stumbling.  We do this to encourage loyalty to men.  (See “State of Fear“)