[Watchtower study for the week of June 2, 2014 – w14 4/15 p. 3]

The topic elements for this Watchtower study are:

WHAT DOES MOSES’ EXAMPLE TEACH US ABOUT…

the difference between material and spiritual treasures?
(Consider how the publishers demonstrate their view of material treasures.)

how Jehovah will equip us to fulfill theocratic assignments?
(Not, equip us “to do his will”, but “to fulfill theocratic assignments”. Theocracy is a word we (and others) use to denote a human organization allegedly, but not demonstrably, run by God. Phrasing it this way indicates that what is really being referred to are organizational assignments.)

why we need to look intently toward our reward?
(The key question being, what reward specifically?)

Par. 1-6 – A summary of Moses’ early life showing what his great faith moved him to give up and how he truly made the right choice as the history of the Israelite nation shows.

Par. 7 – To make application of Moses’ life to our day, the article refers to the example of a sister named Sophie who gave up a career in ballet to become a full-time pioneer for Jehovah’s Witnesses. Having also given up a potential career so that I could pioneer where the need was greater, I can relate very personally to this sister’s sacrifice. So I will not condemn her nor praise her nor call into question her motives. What I would like to do is ask how you, as a reader of this study article, feel about this case history? Let us say that you feel very positively about it as I am sure many of our millions of brothers and sisters around the world will, upon studying this paragraph next weekend. Of course, we can find many similar testimonials in the journals of other religions—nuns who gave up fame and glamor to wear the habit; evangelical missionaries who left home and hearth to preach in deepest Africa. If Sophie were reporting from one of those faiths, would you feel the same about her sacrifice? If not, why? What difference would the particular Christian faith she professes make on the value of her life-style sacrifice? If you feel that the religion of her choosing does make a difference, that it might actually invalidate her sacrifice, then ask yourself, why? Again—and I think I’m speaking for the great majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses—the answer would be that her chosen religion was false. Since she would be teaching falsehood, her sacrifice would be without value. Okay, let’s run with that. If you’ve been reading the pages of this forum, you know that many of the core beliefs of our brotherhood are without scriptural foundation. They are, in a word, false.  So what now of our “Sophie’s choice”?

Par. 8 – Two weeks ago, we were instructed that the congregation could take care of elderly parents for children who had chosen the full-time ministry as their career, thus freeing them of the burden imposed by 1 Timothy 5:8. That seems to be the context for the exhortation of this paragraph. Addressing young ones directly, it says you should “choose a career that will enable you to love Jehovah and serve him “with all your heart and all your soul.”” It seems that the wrong career choice will not allow you to do this. Granted, there are careers which would severely hamper one’s ability to serve God whole souled. Mafia hit man comes to mind. However, I don’t think that is the point the article is making. This paragraph, following hot on the heels of Sophie’s choice, surely is intended to encourage young ones to take up a career in the full-time ministry.   What is a career? According to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, a career is:

  1. A racecourse; the enclosure at a tournament etc.; course, road
  2. A short gallop of a horse at full speed; a charge, an encounter on horseback.
  3. A (swift) running course; an act of careering; full speed, impetus.
  4. A course or progress through life or history; an occupation or profession engaged in a life-work, a way of making a livelihood and advancing oneself.

In a way, all four definitions apply to the full-time ministry as performed by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Now there is nothing wrong with whole souled self-sacrificing service to both our Lord and our God as long as it is done in spirit and truth. (Take away either of those two elements and it is of little value what you do.) However, our emphasis in the Organization is always on the work itself. When Moses penned the words at Deut. 10:12, 13 upon which this career call is based, he was not instructing the Israelites to take up a life-long profession as a way of advancing themselves. He was talking about the inner person, not outward works. Christianity is not a profession, but a state of being. We are saved by faith, not by works. True, the works flow from the faith. However, that just proves that we should always focus on the faith, and not on the works as is our constant tendency in the publications, meetings and convention parts.

Par. 9, 10 – Kudos to the writer for finally acknowledging in print that “I will become what I choose to become” is but one meaning of God’s name. Negative kudos for not giving us the reference to the “Bible scholar” mentioned in the footnote on page 5. By the way, it appears to have come from Whedon’s Commentary on the Bible, verses 14-15.

Par. 11-13 – Quote from the end of par. 13:“As Jehovah equips you to fulfill your assignments…”

Question: Who makes these assignments? Are these assignments from God or from men? Let us consider. If I’m moved by zeal to cut my work back to part-time and to dedicate many hours in the preaching work and being aware of the Organizational requirement to report time regularly report between 90 and 100 hours a month in the field service. Will I get praise from the Body of Elders? They may praise me but they will surely encourage me to put in a pioneer application. If I decline, stating that it isn’t necessary, but that Christ’s assignment at Matthew 28:18, 19 is enough for me, do you think things will go well for me? Truth be told, for us to consider the assignment as valid, it must come from men through the Organizational arrangement.

Par. 14-19 – “Moses “looked intently toward the payment of the reward.” (Heb. 11:26)…Do you look “intently toward the payment of” your reward?” The accompanying picture on page 6 illustrates graphically the point made which is to encourage us to envision life in the paradise where we will actually be able to speak to Moses (presumably pictured here in the tropics holding a staff and describing how he split the Red Sea).

It is good to picture our reward, but only if the reward we are picturing is the one we are promised. Otherwise, we are daydreaming about fiction. Since we are being encouraged to imitate Moses in this, let’s look at the context of Hebrews 11:26. Look up the following in particular: Hebrews 11:26, 35, 40

Verse 26 speaks about Moses considering “the reproach of the Christ to be riches greater than the treasures of Egypt, for he looked intently toward the payment of the reward.” Then in verse 35, Moses—along with the rest of the “great cloud of witnesses” described in chapter 11—is said to be wanting to “attain a better resurrection”. Verse 40 compares these ones, which would include Moses, with Christians showing that they should “not be made perfect apart from Christians.”

So what reward were these pre-Christian witnesses to receive? What is “the reproach of the Christ” that Moses considered of such great value? Romans 15:3 says, “For even the Christ did not please himself, but just as it is written: “The reproaches of those reproaching you have fallen upon me.”” So assuming the reproaches of Christ means disowning oneself, which Moses definitely did. Christians must also assume the reproaches of the Christ.

“Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the reproach he bore, 14 for we do not have here a city that remains, but we are earnestly seeking the one to come.” (Hebrews 13:13, 14)

This reproach means that Christians die as Christ did, but also share with him in the likeness of his resurrection. (Romans 6:5)

So Moses took on the reproach of Christ just as Christians with a heavenly hope do. Moses wanted to attain to a better resurrection, just as Christians with a heavenly hope do. Moses will be made perfect together with Christians having a heavenly hope.

It would appear that if we are to look intently are the reward, we should be looking heavenward. Is there some scriptural basis for considering that Moses and the rest of the faithful ones listed in Hebrews 11 are going to be resurrected on Earth?

Whether heaven or earth, if we attain to the better resurrection then we will be there with them. That is what counts. But our publications must restrict the reward to the earth so as not to give the rank and file ideas…ideas that have a firm basis in Scripture, I might add.