“He will crush your head…” (Ge 3:15)
I can’t know what went through Satan’s mind when he heard those words, but I can imagine the gut wrenching feeling I’d experience if God pronounced such a sentence on me. One thing we can know from history is that Satan didn’t take this denunciation lying down. History shows us that the rest of that verse came true: “…and you will bruise him in the heel.”
As the woman’s seed has been progressively revealed, Satan has consistently made war on it, and with considerable success. He succeeded in corrupting the Israelites through whom the seed was prophesied to emerge, finally achieving the breakup of the covenant between them and Jehovah. However, a New Covenant came into being even as the former one was dissolved and the seed was finally identified with the long-anticipated revelation of God’s sacred secret. (Ro 11:25,26; 16:25,26)
True to his new name, Satan[A] now attacked the principle component of this seed. Three times he tempted Jesus, but when that failed, he didn’t give up but went off until another convenient time presented itself. (Lu 4:1-13) In the end, he failed utterly and only ended up in cementing the New Covenant which was made possible by the faithful death of Jesus. Still, despite this, his greatest failure, Satan would not give up. He now turned his attention to those who were called to be part of the woman’s offspring. (Re 12:17) As with the physical Israelites before them, these spiritual Israelites succumbed to Satan’s insidious machinations. Only a few down through the centuries stood firm against him. (Eph 6:11 NWT)
When Jesus instituted what we now call the Lord’s Evening Meal he said to his apostles: “This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in your behalf.” (Lu 22:20) It could be argued that Satan’s most despicable tactic was to corrupt the very ceremony which symbolizes each Christian’s membership within the New Covenant. By perverting the symbol, he got Christians to unwittingly mock that which it represented.
Corrupting the Blessed Ceremony
The Catholic Church became the first organized Christian religion.[B] Up until the changes introduced by Vatican II, the laity did not partake of the wine, but only the bread. Since then, partaking of the wine by the laity is optional. Many still don’t. The Lord’s Evening Meal was subverted. But it didn’t stop there. The church also teaches that the wine is transmuted into blood in the mouth of the partaker. Drinking actual blood is prohibited in Scripture, so such a belief violates God’s law.
During the reformation, the Protestant religion appeared. This gave the opportunity to break away from the Catholic practices that had perverted the Lord’s Evening Meal for centuries. Unfortunately, the corrupting influence of Satan persisted. Martin Luther believed in sacramental union, meaning that “the Body and Blood of Christ are “truly and substantially present in, with and under the forms” of consecrated bread and wine (the elements), so that communicants eat and drink both the elements and the true Body and Blood of Christ himself in the Sacrament of the Eucharist whether they are believers or unbelievers.”
During the 18th and 19th centuries there was a great religious awakening because of the greater religious and political freedom made possible in the world, in part due to the discovery of the New World and in part due to the power granted to the masses by the industrial revolution. As different Christian sects appeared, each had the opportunity to restore the sacred ceremony of the Lord’s Evening Meal to its proper state, so that Christians could once again commemorate it as Christ intended. How sad that time and again the opportunity was missed.
The ceremony itself is so simple and so clearly explained in scripture that it is hard to understand how it could be so readily corrupted.
The way the Methodists perform it is to have laymembers go up to the altar and receive the bread from the clergy and then dip it into the cup of wine. Dunking a donut into one’s coffee may be suitable for a quick breakfast, but what possible symbolism could dunking the bread (Christ’s flesh) into the wine (his blood) possibly have?
There are many Baptist sects who believe that alcohol is prohibited by God, so for them the wine in the Lord’s Evening Meal is replaced with grape juice. In this they are like the Adventists who believe that the wine must be the unfermented or unspoiled fruit of the vine, ergo, grape juice. How silly this is. Put two corked bottles side by side, one filled with “unspoiled grape juice” and one with wine. Leave both for several days and see which one ferments and pops its cork. The purity of the wine is what allows it to be stored for years. Substituting grape juice for it, is substituting an impure symbol to represent the pure blood of Jesus.
How delighted Satan must be.
While using the wine and bread, the Church of England perverts the Last Supper by turning it into a ritual full of rites and chants as prescribed in its Book of Common Prayer. Thus the Lord’s Evening Meal is used as an occasion for the indoctrination of Christians into false religious beliefs and the support of an ecclesiastical power structure.
Like the Catholic Church, the Presbyterian religion supports the practice of infant baptism. As baptized church members, children too young to understand the significance and responsibilities of membership in the New Covenant are allowed to partake of the symbols.
There are more examples, but these serve to show a pattern and illustrate how Satan has taken this holiest of ceremonies and perverted it to his own ends. But there is more.
While all of these churches have deviated to a greater or lesser degree from the true and simple ceremony our Lord instituted to seal his disciples as true members in the New Covenant, there is one which has surpassed all the rest. While some only allow members to partake of the bread, or wine-soaked bread, while others replace the wine with grape juice, there is one Christian faith that does not allow its laity to partake at all. Church members are denied the right to do more than handle the emblems as they pass them down the row.
The worldwide congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses has managed to completely eradicate obedience to Jesus’ command in its eight million members. Only a tiny minority—about 14,000 at last count—partake of the emblems. Officially, anyone can partake, but powerful indoctrination is used to dissuade them and that, coupled with the murmured opprobrium all know will accompany any display of obedience to the Lord, is more than sufficient to keep the many from taking a stand. Thus, they are like the Pharisees of old who “shut up the kingdom of the heavens before men; for [they] do not go in, neither do [they] permit those on their way in to go in.” One must remember that the Pharisees were viewed by all as the most religious, the most godly, of men. (Mt 23:13-15 NWT)
These Christians have rejected the idol worship of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. They have freed themselves from enslavement to such corrupting false doctrines as the Trinity, Hellfire, and the immortality of the human soul. They have kept themselves clean from the bloodguilt that comes from fighting the nations’ wars. They do not worship the governments of men. Yet all of that is for naught it would appear.
Let us be generous and overlook everything else but this one thing for the moment. In that light, the worldwide congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses might be likened to the congregation of Ephesus. It had good deeds and labor and endurance and perseverance and did not tolerate bad men nor false apostles. Yet all of that was not enough. There was one thing missing and unless corrected, it was to have cost them their place before the Lord. (Re 2:1-7)
This is not to suggest that this is the only thing that Jehovah’s Witnesses have to fix to gain the favor of the Christ, but it is perhaps the most important thing.
I grew up as Jehovah’s Witness and I know the many good things we have done and are doing. Yet, if the congregation of Ephesus would have had its lampstand removed for leaving off the one thing, their first love for Christ, how much worse for us who deny millions the hope of being God’s children and Christ’s brothers? How angry will Jesus be upon his return to see that we have countermanded his order and told millions not to partake; not to join his New Covenant; not to accept his loving offer? How delighted Satan must be now. What a coup for him! Well, his laughter will be short-lived, but woe to all Christian denominations that have corrupted the sacred ceremony of the Lord’s Evening Meal.
[A] Satan means “resister”.
[B] Organized religion is a pejorative term intended to describe a religion that is organized under the authority of a centralized ecclesiastical hierarchy. It does not refer to a group of sincere worshippers who engage in their sacred service to God in an organized way.