Readily Submit to Jehovah – Why and How? – Study 2019/37
““Should we not more readily submit ourselves to the Father?”—Hebrews 12:9
[From ws 9/19 p.14 Study Article 37: November 11 – November 17, 2019]
This Watchtower study article is aimed at getting the rank and file brother and sister to be more compliant with the Organization and its policies by making them synonymous with Jehovah and their interpretation of his requirements as we shall see.
Another plug of the anti-education, anti-well-paying job agenda.
According to the context and reading of paragraphs 6 and 7 and the unverifiable “experience” of Mary, to have “a high-paying job in a respected profession” is “in conflict with Jehovah’s will”. What is the only scripture given to backup this claim? Matthew 6:24 which says in part “You cannot slave for God and for Riches”. The inference the Watchtower article is thereby giving is that “a high-paying job in a respected profession” is slaving for riches. Yet it is blatantly exaggerating to portray these two things as synonymous with each other.
A brother well known to the reviewer (who needs to remain anonymous), currently has a reasonably well-paying job in a profession. He has virtually never had to work overtime in that job, and it has been always because of employer emergency request. On the other hand, when he was in a lower paid, non-professional post, he frequently needed to work overtime. Why? Because he could not fulfill his family responsibilities on a basic level without receiving the extra income it provided. He like so many other young witnesses did not get qualifications for reasonable well-paying jobs because he believed the Organization’s propaganda that Armageddon was coming soon in the 1980’s. As a result, he came to regret that decision when he married and more so when children came along.
Why is this so-called experience given? No doubt it is because when Mary says “I have to beg Jehovah to help me resist the temptation to accept work that could take me away from my service to him”, the reality is that a well-paying job might just take her away from service to the false message of the Organization, as a pioneer, or giving free labour to increase the Organization’s property portfolio. It is very doubtful whether she spends much time helping elderly or sick ones. Indeed, the reviewer knows a pioneer sister who has been a pioneer for over 30 years, with hardly any results, but is too busy to spend much time caring for an elderly parent.
Submit to the authority of the elders
This is the theme of Paragraph 9 which claims “Jehovah has entrusted elders with the important responsibility to shepherd his people” and then references 1 Peter 5:2. The current NWT (silver grey) reads “Shepherd the flock of God under your care, serving as overseers, not under compulsion, but willingly before God; not for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly;” whereas the NWT Reference Edition reads as follows “Shepherd the flock of God in YOUR care, not under compulsion, but willingly; neither for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly;”. Do you notice the differences? Yes, the additions in the latest NWT are in bold. They are not in the original Greek text, but rather the Organization’s inserted interpretations.
Let us read the same verse in an Interlinear translation , with no intentional bias added to try and impose its authority on the flock. It reads as follows: “Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, and not for base gain, but eagerly.”
Do you notice how different a flavour of understanding this translation gives the reader? It is an appeal to shepherd (guarding, guiding), looking at with real concern, the flock around you, on a voluntary basis, not for money, but with a passion shown in advance.
Would not a concerned friend do this for a fellow friend? A friend has no authority over oneself, but if they care about you, they would perhaps warn you if they thought you were making a wrong decision, but they would not expect you to obey them.
What a contrast from the Organization’s “serving as overseers”, “under your care” with all its implied authority. Also, the inserted phrase “before God” to try and add legitimacy to the authority as being God-given or arranged by God. The articles’ phrase “Jehovah has entrusted elders” is all part of the claim of divine authority on the part of the Organization. In the past did not Kings claim to rule by Divine Right? Yet, there is no evidence either physical or written in the Bible that God gave any King a right to rule, or any Elder a right to exercise authority over the congregation.
By contrast, Jesus view was as recorded in Matthew 20:25-27 “You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them and the great men wield authority over them. This must not be the way among you; but whoever wants to become great among you must be your minister [Greek “diakonos” – servant] and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.” A slave or a servant wields no authority over nor acts as an overseer over non slaves.
In paragraphs 10-13 there is some lightweight counsel for elders and some comments from elders. “Another longtime elder, named Tony, comments: “I try to apply the counsel found at Philippians 2:3 and constantly work at viewing others as superior to me. This helps me to avoid acting like a dictator.””.
It is difficult to know for sure if this is a ‘manufactured’ opinion or a genuine comment. Either way, it betrays the underlying issue of pride that most elders these days have. What genuine slave would even dare to think, let alone say, that “this helps me to avoid acting like a dictator”? He needs a serious attitude adjustment and he will not be helped by this Watchtower article attempting to enforce his authority over his fellow brothers whom he is meant to be serving rather than ruling over.
Paragraph 13 contains a self-righteous sounding comment from an elder called “Andrew, quoted earlier, says: “At times, I have felt like responding unkindly to a brother or sister who seemed to be disrespectful. However, I have meditated on examples of faithful men in the Bible, and that has helped me learn the importance of being humble and meek”. Clearly, Andrew still has a lot to learn about humility and meekness, but he (if real) is the norm in terms of the superior attitude many elders have.
For Paragraph 15 words fail me. While King David was a good example in many ways, he could hardly be called a good example for fathers. Let us remind ourselves what good results he had with his children!
Some of His sons were:
- Absalom: He created a civil war by rebellion against his father and seized the kingship for a very short while and raped his father’s concubines and murdered his brother Amnon. (2 Samuel 16)
- Amnon: raped his half-sister Tamar. (2 Samuel 13)
- Adonijah: Repeatedly challenged Jehovah’s declaration that Solomon would succeed David as king. (1 Kings 1, 1 Kings 2)
- Solomon: This son was okay until when King he later began ignoring Jehovah’s command not to marry foreign women, who then turned him from worshipping Jehovah.
While their sins cannot all be blamed on David as his sons were adults when committing those wrongs, surely their upbringing or lack of it, had to be at least partially laid at the feet of David.
Paragraphs 17-20 discuss the example of Mary, Jesus earthly mother. It states “Mary knew the Scriptures very well. She had developed a deep respect for Jehovah and had formed a strong personal friendship with him. She was willing to submit to Jehovah’s direction, even though it involved changing her entire life course.—Luke 1:35-38, 46-55”.
All the points made in this quote are accurate except for the statement in bold (bold ours). This is solely conjecture and is not automatically a by-product of knowing the scriptures well, having deep respect and being willing to follow the Angel’s direction. This point is likely put in the paragraph to emphasise the Organization’s teaching about the great crowd being able to be friends of God. Especially as the Watchtower is suggesting Witnesses who are mothers imitate her example. If so, it is a strange choice, given that according to the Organization, Mary became one of the anointed and hence a daughter of God! (Please note, Jesus held out the hope of being sons and daughters of God to all. See Galatians 3:26).
“Today, we can see the contrast between those who submit to Jehovah and those who reject his loving counsel. Those who do submit to Jehovah “shout joyfully because of the good condition of the heart.”—Read Isaiah 65:13-14”. This statement in paragraph 21 sounds like a feel-good sound bite said without feeling and conviction. None of the local congregations I know have any joy at all. They appear to be simply going through the motions hoping against hope that Armageddon will come soon, with many trapped who would like to leave but dare not. What joy these congregations once had has evaporated.
In conclusion, yet another very poor Watchtower article, totally lacking in any real substance that will do nothing to address the spiritual desert the Organization has become. Definitely one to miss.