[A Review of the October 15, 2014 Watchtower article on page 7]
“Faith is the assured expectation of what is hoped for.” – Heb. 11:1
A Word About Faith
Faith is so vital to our survival that not only did Paul supply us with an inspired definition of the term, but an entire chapter of examples, so that we could fully comprehend the scope of the term, the better to develop it in our own lives. Most people misunderstand what faith is. To most, it means believing in something. Yet, James says that “the demons believe and shudder.” (James 2:19) Hebrews chapter 11 makes it clear that faith is not just believing in the existence of someone, but believing in the character of that person. To have faith in Jehovah means to believe he will be true to himself. He cannot lie. He cannot break a promise. Therefore having faith in God means believing that what he has promised will come to be. In each instance given by Paul in Hebrews 11, the men and women of faith did something because they believed in God’s promises. Their faith was alive. Their faith was demonstrated by obedience to God, because they believed He would keep his promises to them.
“Moreover, without faith it is impossible to please God well, for whoever approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” (Heb 11:6)
Can We Have Faith in a Kingdom?
What will the average Jehovah’s Witness conclude upon seeing the title for this week’s study article?
A kingdom isn’t a person, but a concept, or an arrangement, or a governmental administration. Nowhere in the Bible are we told to have unshakeable faith in such thing, because such things cannot make or keep promises. God can. Jesus can. They are both persons who can and do make promises and who always keep them.
Now, if the study is trying to say that we should have unshakable faith that God will keep his promise to set up a kingdom by which he will reconcile all humanity to him, then that’s different. However, given the repeated parts in the Kingdom Ministry, previous Watchtowers, as well as convention and annual meeting program discourses, it is more likely that the underlying message is to continue to believe that Christ’s kingdom has been reigning since 1914 and to have faith (i.e., believe) that all our doctrines based on that year are still true.
Something Remarkable About the Covenants
Rather than go through this study article paragraph by paragraph, this time we’ll try a thematic approach to get at a key discovery. (There is still much to be gained by a topic breakdown of the study, and that can be found by reading Menrov’s review.) The article discusses six covenants:
- Abrahamic Covenant
- Law Covenant
- Davidic Covenant
- Covenant for a Priest Like Melchizedek
- New Covenant
- Kingdom Covenant
There is a nice little summation of them all on page 12. You’ll notice when you see it that Jehovah made five of them, while Jesus made the sixth. That is true, but in fact, Jehovah made all six of them, for when we look at the Kingdom Covenant we find this:
“…I make a covenant with YOU, just as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom…” (Lu 22:29)
Jehovah made the Kingdom Covenant with Jesus, and Jesus—as the God appointed King—extended that covenant to this followers.
So really, Jehovah made each of the covenants.
Why would God make covenants with men? To what end? No man went to Jehovah with a deal. Abraham didn’t go to God and say, “If I’m faithful to you, will you make a deal (contract, agreement, covenant) with me?” Abraham just did what he was told out of faith. He believed God was good and that his obedience would be rewarded in some measure which he was content to leave in God’s hands. It was Jehovah who approached Abraham with a promise, a covenant. The Israelites weren’t asking Jehovah for the law code; they just wanted to be free of the Egyptians. They weren’t asking to become a kingdom of priests either. (Ex 19:6) All that came out of the blue from Jehovah. He could have just gone ahead and given them the law, but instead, he made a covenant, a contractual agreement with them. Likewise David wasn’t expecting to become the one through whom the Messiah would come. Jehovah made that unsolicited promise to him.
This is important to realize: In each case, Jehovah would have accomplished all that he did without actually making a promissory agreement or covenant. The seed would have come through Abraham, and through David, and the Christians would still be adopted. He didn’t have to make a promise. However, he chose to so that each one would have something specific to put faith in; something specific to work for and to hope for. Rather than believing in some vague, unspecified reward, Jehovah lovingly gave them an explicit promise, swearing an oath to seal the covenant.
“In this same way, when God decided to demonstrate more clearly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 in order that through two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to the refuge may have strong encouragement to take firm hold of the hope set before us. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, both sure and firm, and it enters in within the curtain,” (Heb 6:17-19)
God’s covenants with his servants give them “strong encouragement” and provide specific things to hope for “as an anchor for the soul”. How marvelous and caring is our God!
The Missing Covenant
Whether dealing with one faithful individual or a large group—even an untested one like Israel in the wilderness—Jehovah takes the initiative and sets up a covenant to demonstrate his love and to give his servants something to work for and to hope for.
So here’s the question: Why didn’t He make a covenant with the Other Sheep?
Why didn’t Jehovah make a covenant with the Other Sheep?
Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught that the Other Sheep are a class of Christian that has an earthly hope. If they put faith in God, he will reward them with everlasting life on earth. By our count, they outnumber the anointed (allegedly limited to 144,000 individuals) by well over 50 to 1. So where is God’s loving covenant for them? Why are they seemingly ignored?
Does it not seem oddly inconsistent for God to make a covenant with faithful individuals like Abraham and David, as well as groups like the Israelites under Moses and the anointed Christians under Jesus, while completely ignoring millions of faithful ones serving him today? Would we not expect Jehovah, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, to have placed some covenant, some promise of reward, for millions of faithful ones? (He 1:3; 13:8) Something?…. Somewhere?…. Buried in the Christian Scriptures—perhaps in the Revelation, a book written for the end times?
The Governing Body is asking us to put faith in a kingdom promise which has never been made. The kingdom promise made by God through Jesus was for Christians yes, but not for the Other Sheep as defined by Jehovah’s Witnesses. There is no kingdom promise for them.
Perhaps, when the resurrection of the unrighteous occurs, there will be another covenant. Perhaps this is part of what is involved in the ‘new scrolls or books’ what will be opened. (Re 20:12) It’s all conjecture at this point, of course, but it would be consistent for God or Jesus to make another covenant with the billions resurrected in the new world so that they too could have a promise to hope for and work toward.
Nevertheless, for now the covenant held out to Christians, including the real other sheep—the gentile Christians like myself—is the New Covenant which includes the hope of inheriting the kingdom with our Lord, Jesus. (Luke 22:20; 2 Co 3:6; He 9:15)
Now that is a promise made by God in which we should have unshakeable faith.