JW Life and Ministry Workbook Review – October 28–​November 3, 2019

Link to the publication: https://www.jw.org/en/library/jw-meeting-workbook/october-2019-mwb/meeting-schedule-october28-november3/

TREASURES FROM GOD’S WORD

11 How, though, should we understand Jesus’ assurance that Jehovah will cause justice to be done “speedily”? God’s Word shows that “even though [Jehovah] is long-suffering,” he will quickly execute justice when the time is ripe. (Luke 18:7, 8; 2 Peter 3:9, 10) In Noah’s time, when the Flood arrived, the wicked were destroyed without delay. Likewise, in Lot’s day, when fire rained from heaven, the wicked perished. Jesus said: “The same way it will be on that day when the Son of man is to be revealed.” (Luke 17:27-30) Again, the wicked will experience “sudden destruction.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3) Indeed, we can be fully confident that Jehovah will not allow Satan’s world to exist for one day longer than justice requires.

w06 12/15 27 ¶11

The reference to “speedily” comes from paragraph 9:

The central theme of this vivid illustration stands out clearly. It is mentioned by both characters in the illustration as well as by Jesus. The widow pleaded: “See that I get justice.” The judge said: “I will see that she gets justice.” Jesus asked: “Shall not God cause justice to be done?” And of Jehovah, Jesus stated: “He will cause justice to be done to them speedily.” (Luke 18:3, 5, 7, 8) When in particular will God “cause justice to be done”?

In summary, the Watchtower is arguing that when judgment comes, it’s going to come quickly. In fact, they place a very specific time stamp on it: just one day. It’s both interesting and problematic that they cite Luke 17:27-30, which they argue elsewhere refers to Jesus’ rule and kingship beginning in 1914:

That Jesus’ pa·rou·siʹa is not simply a momentary coming followed by a rapid departure but is, rather, a presence covering a period of time is also indicated by his words recorded at Matthew 24:37-39 and Luke 17:26-30. Here “the days of Noah” are compared to “the presence of the Son of man” (“the days of the Son of man,” in Luke’s account). Jesus, therefore, does not limit the comparison just to the coming of the Deluge as a final climax during Noah’s days, though he shows that his own “presence” or “days” will see a similar climax. Since “the days of Noah” actually covered a period of years, there is basis for believing that the foretold “presence [or “days”] of the Son of man” would likewise cover a period of some years, being climaxed by the destruction of those not giving heed to the opportunity afforded them to seek deliverance.

it-2 pp. 676-679

The Watchtower would have us believe that Jesus’ presence is something that covers a long period of time, over 100 years thus far. At the end of Jesus’ presence, judgment will be executed and this will happen quickly. This can be compared to the judgment of Noah’s day whereby judgment was executed quickly. Likewise in Sodom.

The problem is, Luke 17:25-30 doesn’t jive with the Watchtower’s timeline, specifically the lengthy presence of Jesus Christ beginning in 1914. First, Luke 17:25-28 emphasize immorality and judgment. Whether they were explicitly warned or not, they were living immorally without concern of judgment. Then, judgment came. Luke 17:30 tells us that this is what the “revealing” of the Son of Man is going to be like.

If we compare this with the lengthy revealing of Jesus beginning in 1914, things start to break down. Consider: we are comparing a lengthy (over 100 years and counting) reign of Jesus that will someday end in judgment (just how long, we are not told, except “soon”) to the “day” that Noah entered the ark (Lk. 17:27) as well as the “day” that Lot went out from Sodom (Lk. 17:29). And so “it will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed” (Lk. 17:30). If Jesus was revealed in 1914, then a direct comparison to the timing of judgment for the flood and Sodom would be poor parallels. In other words, whenever you think Jesus was revealed, whether it’s 1914 or still future, judgement will come quickly in accordance with that event.

Digging for Spiritual Gems

1:19—Who is the “daystar,” when does he rise, and how do we come to know that this has happened? The “daystar” is Jesus Christ in Kingdom power. (Rev. 22:16) In 1914, Jesus rose before all creation as the Messianic King, heralding the dawn of a new day. The transfiguration provided a visionary foreview of Jesus’ glory and Kingdom power, underscoring the dependability of God’s prophetic word. Paying attention to that word illuminates our hearts, and we are thus made aware that the Daystar has risen.

w08 11/15 22 ¶2

There is absolutely nothing in 2 Peter 1:19 or Revelation 22:16 that even hints at such a timeline. Rather, the Watchtower views these verses through the lens of 1914. But notice, 2 Peter 1:19 tells us that the “morning star arises in your hearts.” Why think this has anything to do with a reigning that won’t happen for several thousand years? As for Revelation 22:16, Jesus is speaking of Himself in the present tense being the “bright morning star.” Furthermore, this could not be a prophetic future vision because Jesus speaks of having “sent” His angel to testify to John. Contrary to the Watchtower’s view, the “daystar” is not “Jesus Christ in Kingdom power…in 1914.” It is actually Jesus Christ in Kingdom power when He stated these words in the first century.

APPLY YOURSELF TO THE FIELD MINISTRY

2nd return visit

Isaiah 63:9 is read and discussed to comfort someone who has suffered greatly. Notice that the 63:8 places the thoughts of 63:9 in the context of God’s people, just just anyone. Back in those days, “God’s people” were a mixed bag of believers and unbelievers: “for they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel” (Romans 9:6) and “he is a Jew who is one inwardly” (Romans 2:29). The Watchtower’s position is that the only parallel for today is Jehovah’s Witnesses. These are God’s only people. Therefore, Isaiah 63:9 couldn’t just apply to anyone who is undergoing suffering. Rather, it is a verse that could only be for Jehovah’s Witnesses just as back in Isaiah day it was only applicable for the Jews.

So where would a non-Christian find comfort in such a verse? We find ourselves in a very different situation today. In 63:10 we see that God becomes the enemy of His people and fights against them when they rebel. For Jehovah’s Witnesses, this can’t happen because there is nothing in their prophetic understandings that JW’s as a people could rebel and have God fight against them. But if you are a Christian non-JW, God is not going to fight against you if you are one of His.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peach with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

If you have peace with God, you aren’t in a war undergoing a temporary cease fire. Rather, everyone has put their weapons away and gone home in true peace. Christians today should not be worried about becoming God’s enemy if they have been justified by faith. The Old Covenant area was very different than the New Covenant because you had God rejecting and opposing His people when they disobeyed. The New Covenant descriptions in Scripture leave no room for this. While God will reject and oppose so-called Christians today, He will not reject those in the New Covenant.

And here the Scriptures are at odds with JW theology. It’s the JW’s who make these parallels with Jehovah’s people as described in the Hebrew Scriptures and the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses today. Isaiah 63:10 simply cannot happen to Jehovah’s Witnesses (according to their theology). Therefore, the parallels break down when we try to use texts like Isaiah 63:9 to provide comfort to non-Christians. What non-Christians need more than comforting words taken out of context to make them feel special is the gospel of Jesus Christ, who “knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

LIVING AS CHRISTIANS

They Valued the Bible​—Excerpt (William Tyndale)

This was a great video, but I suspect it was not produced by the Watchtower. The problem is, the video screams for self-reflection on the part of JW’s and the required obedience to the leadership. I’m sure JW’s watching this video would cheer on someone like Tyndale for not only opposing the religious leaders of his day, but also risking his life. Otherwise, we would have a very different Bible history today.

Let’s look at the big principle here. Do we cheer on those who oppose the religious leaders of their day? Perhaps there are some we do and others we don’t. Each situation needs to be evaluated and ask ourselves what was right or wrong about it. However, as a Christian I can say in full confidence that there is nothing inherently wrong about opposing your religious leaders if you have justification for doing so. For the JW, there is never a justification for doing so. The Governing Body can never be opposed. In other words, if you want to be the next William Tyndale and do something equally heroic to change something that is very broken, you may find yourself before a judicial committee of elders and disfellowshipped. While you won’t be burned on a stake, you’ll lose all contact from any friends and family that are faithful JW’s. In conclusion: a JW can cheer on someone like Tyndale all they want, but there is no equivalent to a Tyndale in the JW religion.

Congregation Bible Study

This next section would warrant a full post of its own, but I will try to be brief. Here is the link to the full citation: jy chap. 88 ¶12-19

Jesus goes on to describe this dramatic change in circumstances. “Now in the course of time,” he says, “the beggar died and was carried off by the angels to Abraham’s side. Also, the rich man died and was buried. And in the Grave he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and he saw Abraham from afar and Lazarus by his side.”​—Luke 16:22, 23.

Whether Jesus is describing a historical event or making an illustration really isn’t an issue for me. The real issue is whether Jesus borrowing from pagan concepts to make his point. The Watchtower has been very clear that this is where the “immortality of the soul” was derived:

“It is true that theologians adopted the ideas of pagan philosophers to formulate the immortal-soul doctrine.”

w90 5/1 p. 22

What’s worse is that this same article takes it a step further to describe it as an idea developed by Satan himself. Would Jesus be using an idea developed by Satan to illustrate something? It would be like a Jehovah’s Witnesses giving a talk and using scenes from Harry Potter to illustrate a theological point.

Those listening to Jesus know that Abraham is long dead and in the Grave. The Scriptures make it clear that no one in the Grave, or Sheol, can see or speak, including Abraham. (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10) What, then, do these religious leaders think that Jesus means with this illustration? What might he be indicating about the common people and the money-loving religious leaders?

jy chap. 88 ¶12-19

Ecclesiastes 9:5 says nothing against dualism or the intermediate state. Solomon is speaking still of those things “under the sun.” That’s why he can also say “nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten.” Obviously, JW’s don’t believe that because those faithful to Jehovah will certain have a reward even after they die. But because of their misunderstanding of Ecclesiastes 9:5, they assume that Luke 16 cannot be teaching anything regarding the intermediate state.

Jesus has just pointed to a change by saying that ‘the Law and the Prophets were until John the Baptist, but from then on the Kingdom of God is being declared as good news.’ Hence, it is with the preaching of John and Jesus Christ that both Lazarus and the rich man die to their former circumstances, or condition, and they experience new positions relative to God.

Specifically, those of the humble or poor class have long been spiritually deprived. But they are being helped by and are responding to the message about the Kingdom presented first by John the Baptist and then by Jesus. Formerly, they had to get by with what amounted to little ‘things dropped from the spiritual table’ of the religious leaders. Now they are being fed with essential Scriptural truths, particularly the wonderful things Jesus is explaining. It is as if they finally are in the favored position in the eyes of Jehovah God.

jy chap. 88 ¶12-19

Would Jesus have to use a false doctrine developed by Satan to illustrate any of this? Again, it would be like a JW using Harry Potter to illustrate something in a talk. There are several additional paragraphs in the reference, which are essentially just meanings of the illustrations. At this point, i’m not going to dispute the WT’s application of Jesus’ illustration. What’s at issue is the illustration itself and how it could be appropriate for Jesus to use it.

In conclusion, Jesus uses illustrations based on fictitious events all the time, such as the good Samaritan. But was the story of the good Samaritan based on ideas developed by Satan? Of course not. Nor was the story of the rich man and Lazarus.


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