A discussion based on the July 15, 2014 Watchtower study article,
“Jehovah Knows Those Who Belong to Him.”
Over the decades, The Watchtower has repeatedly referenced Korah’s rebellion against Moses and Aaron in the desert whenever the publishers felt the need to put down any opposition to their teachings and authority.[i]
The first two study articles in the July issue of our flagship publication again refer to him, raising the question: Who indeed is the modern-day Korah? The Bible and our publications[ii] identify Jesus as the Greater Moses, so who correspondingly is the Greater Korah?
An Insightful Choice for the Theme Text
The article uses 1 Corinthians 8:3 as its theme text, and a most excellent choice it is.
“If anyone loves God, this one is known by him.”
This goes right to the heart of the matter. Whom does Jehovah recognize? Those claiming membership in some organization? Those following a set of rules? Those who simply call on his name? (Mt 7:21) The key to being known by God is to have genuine love for him. Anything else we need to do will be motivated by that love, but doing things—even the right things—without that love is of little to no value at all. Is this not the real point Paul is making to the Corinthians, a point he drives home later in his letter with these words?
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but do not have love, I have become a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal. 2 And if I have the gift of prophecy and understand all the sacred secrets and all knowledge, and if I have all the faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my belongings to feed others, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I do not benefit at all.” (1Co 13:1-3)
Without love, we are nothing and our worship is in vain. We often read his words and think he’s referring to love of neighbor, forgetting that love of God is even more important.[iii]
The Article’s Opening Thoughts
The article opens with a reference to the contest between Aaron and Moses on the one hand, and Korah with his 250 men on the other. A central point is made that Korah and his men “seemed to be loyal worshippers of Jehovah.” This same point is made when the article introduces a similar situation in the first century congregation in which Paul was being opposed by “professed Christians [who had] adopted false teachings”. It states that “these apostates might not have been different from others in the congregation”, yet they really were “wolves in sheep’s clothing” who were “subverting the faith of some.”
While the implication—no longer implied in the follow-up article—is that these hidden apostates are ones who oppose the direction of the Organization, the foregoing statements are still true. There are indeed professed Christians in the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses who have adopted false teachings and who have, like Korah, challenged the authority of the Greater Moses. The question is, who are they?
How Did Moses and Korah Differ?
The accreditation that Moses produced to show he was God’s channel of communication to the congregation of Israel was unchallengeable. He began with ten prophecies that came true in the form of the ten plagues on Egypt. God’s power continued to work through him at the Red sea. When he descended from the mountain, he was radiating a light that struck the Israelites with awe.[iv]
Korah was a chieftain, a prominent man, a chosen one of the congregation. As a Levite, he was separated by God for sacred service, but he wanted more. He wanted to secure the priesthood belonging to the family of Aaron. [v] Despite his prominence, there is no evidence that God commissioned him as his channel of communication apart or in place of Moses. That was a distinction he sought for himself. His shameless self-promotion was done without any authority from God.
How Do the Greater Moses and the Greater Korah Differ?
Jesus, as the Greater Moses, came with even more accreditation from God. The Father’s own voice was heard, declaring Jesus as his beloved son. Like Moses, he prophesied and his prophecies all came true. He performed countless miracles, even resurrecting the dead—something Moses never did.[vi]
The Greater Korah is identifiable when he shows the same characteristics of his ancient counterpart. He and those following him will be part of the congregation—very prominent ones. He will manifest a desire for more prominence than is due any Christian. He will try to replace the Greater Moses, self-proclaiming that he is the appointed channel of communication with God and that God speaks through him and no one else.
“I Am Jehovah; I Do Not Change”
Under this subtitle, the article refers to Paul’s words to Timothy about the “solid foundation” Jehovah has laid. As a building’s cornerstone is inscribed, this solid foundation has written on it two important truths: ‘Jehovah knows those who belong to him’, and 2) ‘Everyone calling on God’s name should renounce unrighteousness.’ These words were intended to strengthen Timothy’s faith that despite the appearance of Korah-like opposition in the first century congregation, Jehovah knows his own and those who would continue to have his favor would have to renounce unrighteousness.
You will notice that simply calling on God’s name is not enough. Jesus made this point most forcefully at Matthew 7:21-23. Calling on the name of Jehovah means far more than invoking it like some talisman. To a Hebrew like the apostle Paul, a name represented the character of the person. He truly loved the Father, so he made it his life’s work to defend and support his name—not simply the label YHWH, but the person and character it represented. Korah also called on God’s name, but he was rejected for unrighteousness, for he sought his own glory.
Paul understood that to love the Father and know the Father, he had to first love and know the Son, the Greater Moses.
“. . .Then they said to him: “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered: “You know neither me nor my Father. If you did know me, you would know my Father also.”” (Joh 8:19)
“. . .In turn he that loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will plainly show myself to him.”” (Joh 14:21)
“. . .All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one fully knows the Son but the Father, neither does anyone fully know the Father but the Son and anyone to whom the Son is willing to reveal him.” (Mt 11:27)
By removing the Greater Moses from the equation, the Greater Korah actually cuts us off from the Father.
A “Seal” that Builds Faith in Jehovah
Under this subtitle, we learn that apostates may continue to exist in the congregation for some time, but that Jehovah recognizes the hypocritical form of worship of such ones and he cannot be fooled. Like Korah and his followers, such ones may even be among the most prominent within the congregation of God. They may very well call on his name, yet not in righteousness, but in hypocrisy. Jehovah knows those who truly love him, and like Korah, the false Christians will eventually be removed. As Timothy was undoubtedly encouraged by Paul’s words that the apostates promoting a false teaching regarding the resurrection would be removed in time by God, so we should also take heart that those promoting false teachings about the resurrection and other things today will eventually be dealt with by God.
Genuine Worship Is Never in Vain
Paragraph 14 provides this interesting quote: “’Jehovah detests a devious person,’ says Proverbs 3:32, such as one who deliberately puts up a front, feigning obedience while practicing sin in secret.” Keeping with the theme of apostasy, we must understand that the obedience here referred to must be to God, not to man. Today, there are prominent Korah-like individuals who are striving to give the illusion of godly obedience to all onlookers while practicing sin. These are the ministers of righteousness that Paul warned the Corinthians about. They are the ones who transform themselves into apostles of Christ, but really they are doing the work of the Devil who masquerades as an angel of light.[vii]
Paragraph 15 has some very sage advice:
“Should we, however, be suspicious of our fellow Christians, second-guessing the genuineness of their loyalty to Jehovah? Absolutely not! It would be wrong to entertain baseless suspicions about our brothers and sisters. What is more, having a tendency to distrust the integrity of others in the congregation would be harmful to our own spirituality.”
Sadly this is more honored in the breach than in the practice. One only has to ask for the scriptural support—often completely lacking—for some of our more controversial teachings so see one’s loyalty being questioned. Almost before one can draw breath, the “A” word gets hurled about.
Paragraph 16 returns to the theme scripture about loving God.
“So from time to time, we might examine our motives for serving Jehovah. We may ask ourselves: ‘Do I worship Jehovah out of love for him and in recognition of his sovereignty? Or do I place more emphasis on the physical blessing I hope to enjoy in Paradise?’”
There is a good deal of hypocrisy in this question, for if our brothers place too much emphasis on physical blessings, it is only because the “food at the proper time” that’s been dished out to us over the years has over-emphasized the physical. It is not uncommon to hear a witness lament that he (or she) doesn’t have the kind of personal relationship with God he would like. What Jehovah’s Witness doesn’t yearn for an intimacy with the Father, but few know quite how to attain it. Many have tried by increasing their field service activity and reaching out for more “privileges of service”, yet have been disappointed at the results. They love God, and believe he supports them as a friend.[viii] Yet that intimate Father/son or Father/daughter relationship eludes them. How can we love God as a father when we are constantly told that he is just a really good friend? (w14 2/15 p. 21 “Jehovah—Our Best Friend”)
Since Jehovah knows those who love him, and those who love him belong to him, this is a rather important issue, is it not? We, as an Organization, have missed the point of Jesus’ words at John 14:6:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The question is: Why have we missed such an obvious truth?
Perhaps this has much to do with the discussion at hand. Jesus is the Greater Moses. Jesus is Jehovah’s channel of communication with us. Korah could provide no proof of his divine appointment. He had to self-promote. He had to make claims and hope that others would buy into them. He wanted to be God’s appointed channel of communication, supplanting Moses. Is there a group in the Organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses who have laid claim to being God’s appointed channel of communication? Notice, not Jesus’ appointed channel of communication, but Jehovah’s. By claiming that God communicates through them, they have displaced Jesus from this role. Has the Greater Korah had more success displacing the Greater Moses than his ancient counterpart?
The following illustration, taken from page 29 of the April 15, 2013 Watchtower, graphically depicts what has become an alarming trend in our Organization.
Where is Jesus? The head of the Christian congregation…where is he depicted in this illustration? We see an earthly ecclesiastical hierarchy, and at the top the Governing Body who claim to channel God’s communication to us, but where is our King?
For years we have been marginalizing Jesus and trying to go to the Father directly. While acknowledging his role as redeemer, prophet and King, our emphasis is overwhelmingly on Jehovah. Use the WT Library program and search on this (include quote marks): “love Jehovah”. Now try—again include the quote marks—“love Jesus”. Quite a difference, isn’t it. But it gets worse. Scan through the 55 occurrences of the latter in The Watchtower and see how many refer to ‘the “love Jesus” displays’ rather than exhorting us to “love Jesus”. Given that the Father loves those who love the son, we should be emphasizing the blazes out of this truth.
Another of the seemingly countless examples demonstrating this de-emphasizing of the role of the Greater Moses can be seen in our recent push on “100 Years Of Kingdom Rule”. The focus is on God’s kingdom having been ruling for a 100 years. Scant mention is even made of Jesus as King anymore.[ix]
The Governing Body claims that in 1919 Jesus appointed them as the Faithful Slave, making them not Jesus’ but Jehovah’s channel of communication. They themselves bear witness about themselves that this is true.
Jesus once bore witness about himself and was accused of lying.
“. . .So the Pharisees said to him: “You bear witness about yourself; your witness is not true.”” (Joh 8:13)
His answer was:
“. . .Also, in your own Law it is written: ‘The witness of two men is true.’ 18 I am one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.”” (Joh 8:17, 18)
There were those among his accusers who had heard God’s voice speak from heaven acknowledging Jesus as his son. There were also the miracles he performed to prove he had God’s backing. Likewise, Moses had an unbroken string of prophetic fulfillments and miraculous displays of divine power to prove he was God’s channel of communication.
Korah, on the other hand had none of the above. The apostates Paul wrote to Timothy and the Corinthians about likewise had no proof. All they had were their words and their interpretations. Their teaching that the resurrection had already occurred proved to be false, branding them as false prophets.
The Governing Body alleges their appointment by succession in 1919 by Jesus as his Faithful and Discreet slave. If so, then they prophesied that millions then living would never die, because the end could come on or shortly after 1925. Like the first century apostates Paul wrote about, this alleged 20th century “faithful slave” prophesied that the ancient worthies—men like David, Abraham, and Moses—would be resurrected at the start of that great tribulation. Their prophecies failed to come true, marking them as false prophets. Today, they continue to promote many failed prophecies surrounding 1914, 1918, 1919 and 1922. Despite overwhelming scriptural evidence to the contrary, they will not separate themselves from the tents of their prophetic doctrine. (Nu 16:23-27)
Any group claiming to be God’s channel of communication fits the mold of the Greater Korah, for while Jesus is the Greater Moses, there is no Greater Jesus. Jesus is the pinnacle of God’s communication with mankind. He alone is called “the Word of God”.[x] He is irreplaceable. We have no need of another communication channel.
The study ends on a most encouraging note:
“In due time, Jehovah will expose all who practice badness or who lead a double life, making a clear “distinction between a righteous person and a wicked person, between one serving God and one not serving him.” (Mal. 3:18) In the meantime, it is reassuring to know that “the eyes of Jehovah are on the righteous, and his ears listen to their supplication.”—1 Pet. 3:12.”
We all wait anxiously for that day.
[i] While there are more references to Korah in other publications, this list shows the number of times The Watchtower has referred to him as an object lesson against rebellion in our day. (w12 10/15 p. 13; w11 9/15 p. 27; w02 1/15 p.29; w02 3/15 p. 16; w02 8/1 p. 10; w00 6/15 p. 13; w00 8/1 p. 10; w98 6/1 p. 17; w97 8/1 p. 9; w96 6/15 p. 21; w95 9/15 p. 15; w93 3/15 p. 7; w91 3/15 p. 21; w91 4/15 p. 31; w88 4/15 p. 12; w86 12/15 p. 29; w85 6/1 p. 18; w85 7/15 p. 19; w85 7/15 p. 23; w82 9/1 p. 13; w81 6/1 p. 18; w81 9/15 p. 26; w81 12/1 p. 13; w78 11/15 p. 14; w75 2/15 p. 107; w65 6/15 p. 433; w65 10/1 p. 594; w60 3/15 p. 172; w60 5/1 p. 260; w57 5/1 p. 278; w57 6/15 p. 370; w56 6/1 p. 347; w55 8/1 p. 479; w52 2/1 p. 76; w52 3/1 p. 135; w50 8/1 p. 230)
[ii] The Greater Moses is Jesus – it-1 p. 498 par. 4; Heb 12:22-24; Ac 3:19-23
[iii] Mt 22:36-40
[iv] Ex 34:29, 30
[v] Nu 16:2, 10
[vi] Mt 3:17; Luke 19:43, 44; John 11:43, 44
[vii] 2 Co 11:12-15
[viii] “What a joy it has been to love Jehovah while being sustained by him as a friend!” – Maria Hombach, w89 5/1 p. 13
[ix] While we do not accept the teaching that 1914 was the start of God’s Kingdom in the heavens, this example is being used to make the point that Jesus is being sidelined in our worship. For a discussion on the scriptural evidence—or lack thereof—regarding the teaching of 1914, click here.
[x] John 1:1; Re 11:11-13