“You Can Share in Strengthening Our Christian Unity—How?” Watchtower Study for May 22, 2016
This study article is all about how you can share in strengthening the unity of a specific group of people. The theme scripture is Ephesians 4:16:
From him all the body is harmoniously joined together and made to cooperate.
It opens with an allusion to the creation account of the bible, citing Proverbs 8:30 with the claim that it applies to Jesus, while in heaven before all else was made, when he and God were working together to make all other things. Other examples of cooperation and unity are then provided, such as the building of Noah’s Ark, the procedure for moving the tabernacle while the Israelites moved through the wilderness and even just singing songs to God. As an aside, I’d like to take a moment to address two of these examples.
The Creation Account
If you’ve been studying with Witnesses long, or are baptized, you are well aware that they do not believe in the “Young Earth” scenario. This is the belief that everything was created in a literal seven-day period of time, approximately 6,000 years ago. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe this, they instead believe that the seven days mentioned in Genesis are an unmeasurable span of time and that we are actually still living in the seventh day.
Yet all six of them have ended, it being said with respect to the sixth day (as in the case of each of the preceding five days): “And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, a sixth day.” (Ge 1:31) However, this statement is not made regarding the seventh day, on which God proceeded to rest, indicating that it continued. (Ge 2:1-3)
-Insight on the Scriptures Vol. 1 p. 526-547
I do not believe, personally, in this creation account at all. But if you do that is certainly alright, it may very well be true. The point I would make is, why is it that Watchtower will not accept evolution? If you, like many, believe that evolution and God are mutually exclusive, then I implore you to do some research on the subject. I highly suggest the book, “Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation” by Bill Nye. It’s an extremely educational and easy to read book. Having read it, you will see that there is room for God and evolution to be true. Perhaps God sparked evolution and allowed it to play its course, who knows. The subject of God’s existence is not something that evolution has anything to say about, that is a different subject entirely. If you believe that the creative days were such a long period of time, there is certainly room for evolution to take place. Please read this book.
Before touching slightly on this subject I want to make it very clear that I am not making the claim that there was no flood. What I would like is if you would be willing to consider that perhaps whatever it was that happened wasn’t on such a grand scale as those who experienced it thought. There are many reasons that the flood as it is recorded could not have taken place. There is an upcoming article soon to be published here that is going to be very informative and will touch on this subject. For now, please consider the following video. I realize that the title of the video sounds very aggressive but remember, there is no reason not to believe that something did indeed happen – just perhaps not on such a scale.
Cooperate in Preaching
Revelation and the Apostle John
In talking about the Apostle John and the book of Revelation, I’d like to introduce the term “Confirmation Bias.”
Confirmation bias occurs from the direct influence of desire on beliefs. When people would like a certain idea/concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true. They are motivated by wishful thinking. This error leads the individual to stop gathering information when the evidence gathered so far confirms the views (prejudices) one would like to be true.
Again, being that these are sensitive subjects, I want to make clear I am not trying convince you there is no God or that the Bible is untrue. We are focusing only on Watchtower and what they are claiming is true.
So with this term in mind, consider the book of Revelation objectively – with all of it’s symbolic language and lack of specificity throughout. Confirmation bias is a confirmed psychological phenomenon that takes place in our minds. If you, as a reader of this particular book of the bible, are reading it with a mind to what you already believe is true and will happen (regardless of if what you have in mind is correct) – then the meaning of Revelation will seem to magically take shape around what you already believe it to mean before you ever read it.
Even before I had serious doubts about the truth that Watchtower proclaims, the subject of Revelation always bothered me. I often asked myself, and a few elders, “Why are we so concerned with the details of what is yet to happen when what matters is who we are today?” Now, even further, I wonder why you wouldn’t just do as you are supposed to now and wait for those things in faith? These are good questions which you should ask yourself as a member of the Watchtower organization with regard to the book of Revelation.
It seems strange that in the third paragraph they would choose to say this,
… Rather than ravage vegetation, the symbolic locusts swarm against “those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.” (Rev. 9:1-4) John no doubt knew how devastating a locust swarm could be. Had not locusts plagued ancient Egypt in Moses’ day? (Ex. 10:12-45) The figurative locusts that John saw well illustrate anointed Christians proclaiming Jehovah’s powerful judgement messages. They are joined now by millions of companions with an earthly hope. Little wonder that our united preaching undermines the authority Satan exercises through his worldwide empire of false religion.
There are several things about this last half of the paragraph that are very strange. First, the notion that John, “no doubt” knew how devastating a locust swarm could be because of how locusts “devastated” Egypt in Moses’ day. They are alluding, of course, to the plague of locusts – a supernatural event caused directly by God himself as a punishment to an obstinate ruler. Has John ever seen a locust swarm in Egypt? Indeed, was he ever even in Egypt? More specifically, has he seen a supernatural locust swarm before? He certainly may have read of the event himself, but how does reading about it make it so that he “no doubt” understands perfectly what a supernatural event of locusts is like?
Another point is that we see a perfect example of what we have defined above, confirmation bias. Notice how these locusts are stated to, “well illustrate” the proclamation of judgement? I invite you to go and read Revelation chapter nine. Where is there mentioned in this chapter any message of judgement? The locusts next are said to be granted to, “…torment them five months, and their torment was like torment by a scorpion when it strikes a person. In those days people will seek death but will by no means find it, and they will long to die, but death will flee from them.”
As it reads, whatever these locusts are, they make people want to die. How exactly do these locusts and what they are doing in this chapter of Revelation compare to the message Watchtower is proclaiming? What has happened here is something that happens all to frequently in the magazines, a piece of a verse is taken completely out of context to suit the meaning of whatever message Watchtower desires to convey in their literature.
How do false teachers operate? Their methods reveal a cunning spirit. Apostates “quietly bring in” corruptive ideas. Like smugglers, they operate in a clandestine manner, subtly introducing apostate views. And just as a clever forger tries to pass phony documents, so apostates use “counterfeit words,” or false arguments, trying to pass their fabricated views as if they were true. They spread “deceptive teachings,” “twisting . . . the Scriptures” to fit their own ideas. (2 Pet. 2:1, 3, 13; 3:16)
-Watchtower July 15, 2011 p. 15-19
How is what is quoted here not exactly what Watchtower is doing with this verse in Revelation chapter nine? When you read the chapter in context, it doesn’t make sense at all to apply it to the message they spread. Their message doesn’t make people want to die. They are taking this scripture’s words and twisting it to fit a meaning they want it to have for the purpose of applying it as they do in this paragraph.
This Good News of the Kingdom…
There is one thing that must be said for Jehovah’s Witnesses world-wide, and that is that the preaching door to door that goes on is truly an impressive accomplishment. Whether you agree with their message or not, to have eight million people around the globe going door to door, business to business, making phone calls to strangers – how is that not an impressive thing to accomplish? I certainly would never say otherwise. What I would challenge, however, is both the claim that it is a commission from Jesus for all his followers to partake in, and the way that people are made to feel with regard to the door to door activities.
And this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.
-Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20
Remember how earlier it seems that Watchtower is purposely misusing a verse out of context from Revelation to apply it to themselves? Could it be that they have been doing the same with these verses? Let’s examine them both, along with their context.
In Matthew 24:14, the word here rendered, “witness” is, “marturion.” It is index number 3142 in Strong’s concordance. Lets consider what it says.
Marturion, as a noun, means “a testimony, witness,” and is translated “to be testified” in 1 Ti 2:6; (2) predominantly “testimony”; and (3) “Witness” in Mt 24:14; Acts 4:33; 7:44; Jas 5:6. (4) In 2 Th 1:10, “our testimony among you,” refers to the fact that the missionaries, besides proclaiming the truths of the gospel, had borne witness to the power of these truths (4a)Kerugma, “the thing preached, the message,” is objective, having especially to do with the effect on the hearers; marturion is mainly subjective, having to do especially with the preacher’s personal experience.
-The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
So the word, “marturion” as used in Matthew 24:14, and rendered, “witness” means that you personally bore witness. This word has the same sort of meaning as we would use today when a person testifies in the court of law. If you went to court as a witness and testified to something that you had not seen and did not experience, would there not be consequences to this? It most certainly would not end well at all. So here, no doubt, you are beginning to wonder if maybe this scripture even applies to you. How could it? Did you personally bear witness to the things that Jesus did and said with your own eyes?
Let’s move on and consider the next scripture cited, Matthew 28:19, 20. When you read it it certainly seems to apply to just about everyone doesn’t it? Yet, this is easily shown to only apply to the Apostles, which makes sense because they had personally borne witness to the things that would be testified about.
The first account, O The·ophʹi·lus, I composed about all the things Jesus started to do and to teach until the day that he was taken up, after he had given instructions through holy spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After he had suffered, he showed himself alive to them by many convincing proofs. He was seen by them throughout 40 days, and he was speaking about the Kingdom of God. While he was meeting with them, he ordered them: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but keep waiting for what the Father has promised, about which you heard from me; for John, indeed, baptized with water, but you will be baptized with holy spirit not many days after this.”
Who does this passage say that Jesus gave the command do before he ascended? It says it was to the apostles. Remember that there is a difference between a disciple and an apostle. At this point, after the betrayal of Judas, there were only 11 apostles. So to whom was this commission to preach given? Only to the apostles.
How often are you made to feel poorly, feeling that you aren’t doing enough in the ministry? Be it from a public talk or an Assembly or Convention part, many are often left discouraged and feeling like they aren’t living up to God’s expectations. But now, after just a little research, it appears they are making people feel this way for no reason. Preaching is not your responsibility.
There could easily be an entire post about this subject, instead if you are interested in learning more I invite you to use our contact form to send me a message me. I’ve researched this topic very extensively and will gladly provide you with all my notes and sources for your own consideration.
Was it Nisan 14?
In 2016, Watchtower set the date for the Memorial of Christ’s death on March 23rd. Was this Nisan 14? No. There is no scenario where this was the date that Christ commanded for the passover. Why?
In 2016, Nisan 14 (Passover) can fall on March 22, the first opportunity for the 14th day of a Biblical month to occur after the equinox. But the Jewish calendar sets Nisan 14 at April 22nd. Why? Because the Jewish year 5776 (the spring months of 2016 fall within the Jewish year 5776) happens to be the 19th year of the 19-year calendar cycle and is then, by Judaic definition, a leap year (the 13th month must be added). This forces the first month to begin one month later than it normally would. Unfortunately, their calendar leap year tradition is so rigid that they fail to follow what we agree is the correct interpretation of the scriptures listed above, that God gave them, which strongly imply that the Passover must be kept at the first opportunity on or after the spring equinox.
It is confusing to me that Watchtower chose March 23rd, when even by the regular calendar it should have been March 22nd. Yet, that doesn’t even matter because, since it was a leap year, an extra month would have been added and it would actually have been April 22nd. Isn’t it supposed to be important that the memorial happen on Nisan 14 as Jesus instructed?
Cooperation in the Congregation
Elders: Appointed by Jesus?
Have you ever wondered if elders are really appointed by holy spirit? Allusion is made to this belief in paragraph nine. While pondering this possibility I invite you to consider another article here, Does Watchtower Really Have a Problem with Child abuse? Remember, Jesus is supposed to be able to read our hearts. So how could Jesus possibly chose a child molester, or one with an inclination to become one, to a position of trust? This article about child abuse amongst Jehovah’s Witnesses will show you how prevalent this problem is truly. It is a horrible thing that has been allowed to continue among the Jehovah’s Witness religion because of the polices that they have in place. Along with this article please Google this issue. Again, how could Jesus (a reader of hearts) be responsible for promoting such men to positions of trust that allow them to do such terrible things?
Young Ones: What are your Life Goals?
Paragraph eleven sets the goal for young men to reach out for more responsibility, to seek to serve as ministerial servants or elders. As a young person, what goals do you have in life? Does it feel right to you that others your age may be planning for college or focusing on their education while Watchtower tells you that you should be focused on being a ministerial servant or an elder? In the article about last weeks study (Study 5/15/16, “Young Ones—How Can You Prepare for Baptism?”) we discussed whether or not you should set baptism as a goal. Let’s consider a similar question to one asked in that article, can you think of any accomplishments that are better than becoming a ministerial servant or an elder? Would getting a scholarship for school be better? Focusing on your education? When considering these things Watchtower says, I encourage you to temper them with thoughts of what you would like your life to be like.
I can tell you from personal experience that your life will be better if you first focus on education and going to college. Do you want to be able to provide for a family? For your aged parents when the time comes? These are important questions (and there are many more) which you should ask yourself about what you want from your future. Does becoming an elder or a ministerial servant help your future in any way?
The end of the paragraph cites Ecclesiastes 12:1.
Remember, then, your Grand Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of distress come and the years arrive when you will say: “I have no pleasure in them”;
Watchtower is trying to get you to think that God would want you to spend your youth serving them and therefore serving God. But do you know what else Ecclesiastes says?
This is what I have seen to be good and proper: that one should eat and drink and find enjoyment for all the hard work at which he toils under the sun during the few days of life that the true God has given him, for that is his reward. Also, when the true God gives a man riches and material possessions along with the ability to enjoy them, he should take his reward and rejoice in his hard work. This is the gift of God. For he will hardly notice the passing days of his life, because the true God keeps him preoccupied with the rejoicing of his heart.
Cooperate in the Family
This heading talks a bit about family worship, which is not something I’ll elaborate on here. If you and your family believe in God and want to study the bible together in some form of worship, that’s nobodies business. It also opens talking a bit about practicing for the field ministry, but we’ve already touched on that above.
Satan’s Attack on the Family?
Paragraph fourteen talks about becoming “unevenly yoked” and speaks about situations where you may have a religiously divided home. They apply 2 Corinthians 6:14 to any who are not believing Witnesses, thus calling them “lawless” and “darkness.” The point is made that you should not “compromise” unity with the congregation for unity with your family. Oh no, of course they don’t word it that way, but that is exactly what they are saying. They even say that it may be “challenging” but that it can be done, giving examples of people who have done it.
The paragraph even ends with the example of Mary and David. David wasn’t attending meetings and Mary, “…felt very much alone.” Why? What about Christian Unity? Shouldn’t Mary feel all the love and unity from the congregation? For some reason she apparently doesn’t feel this, but notice the last sentence.
David is now happily serving Jehovah, and Mary is filled with joy that they are doing so together.
Is this not sending a mixed message? Mary is only happy once she has her family, when all along she had her congregation. Is it true or not that when you join God’s people you gain mothers and fathers and brothers? This is what they teach correct? Yet here, we see poor Mary, who only after David begins serving with her is, “filled with joy.” Why not put family first. Your family is the only family that you have, do you really want to separate yourself from them? Do you really want to irreparably damage your relationships with the only real family you have?
Paragraph fifteen opens making reference to, “Satan’s attack on the family.” What attack are they referring to? They don’t really specify what they mean by this but if it is the conventional meaning – then they likely have in mind the subject of gay marriage. This is not an out of the blue inference given their recent insult to the LGBT community (see How Watchtower is Insulting the LGBT Community). This is the only real inference to be made from their meaning based on their own actions and the common opinion of Christians as to how Satan is attacking the family. But, they don’t elaborate. What do you think they mean by this?
Certainly, strengthening your marriage is a very good thing to do. I am happily married, and I love my wife very, very much. I love spending time with her and I try my hardest to make sure that she knows how I feel about her. I agree that we should all try to strengthen our marriages. The difference is that I also include anyone who is gay or transgender in this opinion. Is it not hypocritical to teach that we should not judge others, that only Jesus will judge by what he reads in our hearts, and then to use innuendo to infer that gay marriage is an attack from satan himself? Just because a person is attracted to others who are the same-sex as them doesn’t make them evil, it doesn’t mean they are from Satan. Does not the example of Jesus teach love, not judging others and treating others as you would like to be treated? How would you feel if someone said you were from Satan?
Let Us Go Up to the Mountain of Jehovah
In conclusion, a picture is painted from the Old Testament of the Israelites praising God during a festival. They say that the people would have prepared for the journey and taken care of one another during the trip. This is then compared to Jehovah’s Witnesses making their “journey toward the new world.”
Think of the billions of people all over the world. What do you think, do you believe they deserve to die just because they aren’t Jehovah’s Witnesses? Paragraph seventeen opens comparing the Watchtower Organization with the rest of the world, saying Witnesses have left behind the, ” disunity and confusion” of the rest of the world. This vilification of the world is, to be blunt, untrue. What you are reading in this magazine is likely the product of a group of uneducated individuals putting together what they believe the bible is saying (remember confirmation bias). The world is full of college educated individuals who disagree with much of what Watchtower says. It’s full of real, verifiable knowledge—not knowledge you have to take for granted as true because it comes from the mouth of people who claim, without proof, that they were chosen by Jesus. Watchtower quotes college educated people all the time to support their views, often out of context and with intellectual dishonesty. Recently, one professor wrote them a letter demanding a retraction and apology. Watchtower is known to frequently twist the words of prominent figures to support their claims in publications. Does this not make you think twice about trusting the things that they say?
Please do not trust the things you read in their publications. Do real research on their claims, check up on their citations and their quotes of figures in the world community. But most importantly, having read this Watchtower study article – do not sacrifice your family and your loved ones for an organization that so clearly resorts to twisted words and tricks of language.