If you are one of Jehovah’s Witnesses you are well aware of the importance the Watchtower has placed upon meeting together and publicly preaching. As recently as 2016 the Watchtower published an article entitled: “Why Should We Meet Together for Worship?”
The article gives the experience of two young sisters in the former Soviet Union who were sentenced to a labor camp in Siberia. In order to attend a meeting, they walked 15 miles to a railway station and traveled all night, then walked another six miles to the secret meeting. What an outstanding example!
The Watchtower presents eight reasons why Christians should not forsake the gathering of themselves together. One reason presented in the sixth paragraph states:
And when we converse with our brothers and sisters before and after the meetings, we feel a sense of belonging and enjoy true refreshment.
No doubt many of Jehovah’s Witnesses would concur that meeting together in large or small groups promotes a sense of belonging to a brotherhood. The eighth paragraph offers another powerful reason to meet together:
Meetings give us opportunities to show our brothers that we love them. Think deeply about the challenges some brothers and sisters in your congregation must endure. No wonder the apostle Paul wrote: “Let us be concerned about one another”! Paul thereafter explained that we can show our concern by “not forsaking our meeting together.” (Heb. 10:24, 25; ftn.) Your presence at meetings shows that you deem your fellow worshippers worthy of your time, attention, and concern. In addition, your heartfelt comments and singing encourage your fellow Witnesses.
People need each other. Christians living in a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to Jesus sense the need for association with fellow believers. Love, being the vital quality we need most is cultivated by face-to-face interaction with others. However, the Watchtower points out that the foremost reason to gather together is because God has commanded it. It is the bedrock of Christian worship. Paragraphs 11-12 state the following:
Our meeting attendance gives Jehovah what he deserves. As our Creator, Jehovah deserves praise, glory, thanksgiving, and honor. When we pray, sing, and speak about Jehovah at our meetings, we are giving him what he so richly deserves —our worship. We cherish the privilege to honor the One who has done so much for us. Jehovah also deserves our obedience. He has commanded us not to forsake our meeting together, especially during this time of the end. When we willingly obey that command, Jehovah is pleased. He notices and values the effort we put forth to attend each meeting.
Since the Spring of 2020, the Governing Body has ordered Jehovah’s Witnesses to forsake the gathering of themselves together. It is simply too dangerous, foolhardy even, to risk spreading the contagion. It has been presented as the supreme act of love. After all, the whole world has been thrown into a state of lockdown. Businesses and restaurants have been shuttered. Many schools are closed, even though children are largely unaffected by the virus.
Whereas it used to be that Jehovah’s Witnesses demonstrated their love for fellow believers by regularly meeting together, now, upon direct orders from headquarters, brotherly love is shown by avoiding all direct association.
What has happened is astonishing. The leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses has repudiated what it once held as the most essential aspect of “pure worship.” But even if avoiding association with fellow breathers for fear of exchanging an airborne microbe is considered the most loving thing to do, what about giving Jehovah the honor he “so richly deserves”? Surely God cannot contract a disease.
I wonder, if the two sisters exiled to Siberia, who made such an extraordinary effort to honor God, would willingly comply with the Watchtower’s mandate to suspend meeting together? And to be sure, there are many, many other examples of brothers and sisters in modern times who have gone to extraordinary lengths to attend meetings and assemblies.
Is it really about saving lives? Is saving human life paramount? Are there perhaps more important issues? Jehovah’s Witnesses know that there are. How many Jehovah’s Witnesses have faced the life and death issue over blood transfusions? How many have died because they refused to take another soul’s precious blood into their own bodies? Why are Jehovah’s Witnesses honored who accept the risk of not transfusing blood and yet now are strictly forbidden from obeying and honoring God because it is too risky? How many Jehovah’s Witnesses have gone to prison for refusing military service? How many are in prison at this very moment because they accepted the risk of being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in a country where being a Christian is illegal?
The apostle Paul set the supreme example for all Christians. He listed some of his hardships in his second letter to the Corinthians: “I have done more work, been imprisoned more often, suffered countless beatings, and experienced many near-deaths. Five times I received 40 strokes less one from the Jews, three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I experienced shipwreck, a night and a day I have spent in the open sea; in journeys often, in dangers from rivers, in dangers from robbers, in dangers from my own people, in dangers from the nations, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the wilderness, in dangers at sea, in dangers among false brothers, in labor and toil, in sleepless nights often, in hunger and thirst, frequently without food, in cold and lacking clothing.” — 2 Cor. 11:23-27
Paul’s record of service to Christ stands as a blunt rebuke to the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, the reason the apostle was compelled to “reply like a madman” to tout his record was because the Corinthians were putting up with superfine apostles in the congregation, whom Paul exposed as agents of Satan who had cleverly donned the disguise of ministers of righteousness.
Surely, anyone in authority, regardless of the seemingly noble purpose of saving precious human life, no matter how many years of faithful service they have on their service record, anyone who presumes to order Christians not to obey Jesus is a false brother and an opposer of Christ —an antichrist.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are rightly perplexed. What used to be the sacred obligation —the mission of every true Christian —the very reason for the existence of the Organization, has been unceremoniously dissolved. No more door-knocking. No more street witnessing. No more meeting together in the local kingdom hall. No more throng of assemblies. Thousands of kingdom halls, built by the loving hands of tens of thousands of volunteers and dedicated to Jehovah, sit empty. And all of this because of a virus that has a survival rate of 99.9%!
OTHER MASTERS BESIDES YOU
Back in 2009 the Watchtower suggested that the inner rooms of Isaiah 26:20 had to do with the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses —implying that even the kingdom halls might be the sheltering place. Here is what they said:
In our day, the “interior rooms” of this prophecy could be closely associated with the more than 100,000 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world. Such congregations play an important role in our lives. They will continue to do so through “the great tribulation.” (Rev. 7:14) God’s people are commanded to go into their “interior rooms” and hide themselves “until the denunciation passes over.” It is vital that we develop and maintain a wholesome attitude toward the congregation and be firmly resolved to stay in close association with it. We can take to heart Paul’s exhortation: “Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as [we] behold the day drawing near.”
With the battle brewing for the continuance of the American republic and Europe already bubbling in turmoil, the heart of Christendom is under assault by godless political forces. Surely, Jehovah’s Witnesses behold the day drawing near. Is it really the time to be in isolation substituting Zoom for actual “gathering”? What if the Internet is taken down? Such a development is not far fetched. What shall the congregations do then? Will the brothers have to bust the locks off the kingdom halls in defiance of their masters?
Unfortunately, those who publish their interpretations of Isaiah as if they were the genuine pronouncements of God are the very ones of whom God says: “For Jehovah has poured a spirit of deep sleep on you; He has closed your eyes, the prophets, and he has covered your heads, the visionaries. Every vision becomes for you like the words of a sealed book. When they give it to someone who can read, saying: “Read this out loud, please,” he will say: “I cannot, for it is sealed up.” And when they give the book to someone who cannot read, saying: “Read this, please,” he will say: “I cannot read at all.” — Isaiah 29:10-12
The Governing Body has seemingly handed the scroll of the prophecy to their helpers, but alas, they cannot read at all!
The 26th chapter of Isaiah is one of the most profound revelations. It pertains to the coming of Christ for his inspection and as Jesus said of the desolation of Jerusalem, it is a “time for meting out justice.” Did not Jesus reveal that both the faithful and evil slaves will be subjected to his whip? The erring but ignorant slave will be beaten with a few strokes and the wicked slave with many.
The 26th chapter of Isaiah confirms this very outcome, saying: “O Jehovah, during distress they turned to you; they poured out their prayer in a whisper when you disciplined them.” (vs 16)
The 19th verse says this: “Your dead will live. My corpses will rise up. Awake and shout joyfully, you residents in the dust! For your dew is as the dew of the morning, and the earth will let those powerless in death come to life.”
Both Daniel and the apostle John had visions wherein they stood before Christ in his glory. Both men collapsed in a heap and became as dead men. In both instances, they were called to their feet and made to stand before the Lord of heaven and earth. Those accounts foreshadow the manifestation of Jesus to his chosen ones —after they are disciplined. They become as dead in God’s eyes but for a moment and then receive the full measure of holy spirit as enlivening as the “dew of the morning.” They will come to life as full-fledged sons of the Kingdom. Imperfect humans suddenly becoming immortal spirits even in the flesh. That is a miracle of miracles! All that remains at that point is for them to put off the “tabernacle” of flesh, as Peter called it. (See article: Daniel and the Parousia)
In that context, the wicked slaves do not behold the majesty of Jehovah. How could they when they are not spiritual men? They are animalistic. Driven by greed for power and riches. Speaking for the chosen ones Isaiah states: “O Jehovah our God, other masters besides you have ruled over us, but we make mention of your name alone. They are dead; they will not live. Powerless in death, they will not rise up. For you have turned your attention to them to annihilate them and destroy all mention of them.”
The Governing Body act like the masters. They are shepherds who feed themselves. They presume to countermand Jesus Christ, all under the guise of saving lives. They have for certain ruled over God’s people. They live like kings in their palace in Warwick and demand the absolute obedience of everyone calling upon the name of Jehovah. But as the letter of Jude indicates: “These are the rocks hidden below water at your love feasts while they feast with you, shepherds who feed themselves without fear; waterless clouds carried here and there by the wind; fruitless trees in late autumn, having died twice and having been uprooted; wild waves of the sea that cast up the foam of their own shame; stars with no set course, for which the blackest darkness stands reserved forever.”
What a shameful thing, to stand up like a modern Korah and defy the authority of Jesus. “Fruitless trees” is an apt description. What insight do they have? Their having died twice means they have been sentenced to the second death. That is why Isaiah said, “They are dead.”
The wrath is coming, my friends. It will soon come upon the Watchtower like a hurricane tempest. “Trust in Jehovah forever, for Jah Jehovah is the eternal Rock.” — Isaiah 26:4 Good advice!