As indicated by the experiences of the apostle Paul, our ministry may result in “sleepless nights” and “times without food.” These expressions paint a vivid picture of self-sacrifice and may well remind us of pioneers who give their ministry first place in life while supporting themselves financially. Consider, too, our devoted missionaries ‘who pour themselves out like a drink offering’ to serve people in foreign lands. What about our hardworking elders who miss meals or lose sleep to care for Jehovah’s sheep? We also have our older ones and those in poor health who do their best to attend Christian meetings and participate in the field service. Our hearts swell with appreciation when we think of all these self-sacrificing servants of God. Such efforts affect how others view our ministry.
Personally, I never knew a pioneer that involuntarily went without food. That is not to say that perhaps some have, but it would certainly be a rarity.
The apostle Paul certainly did though.
And because of the disrespect shown him by those in Corinth whom he dubbed the “superfine apostles,” Paul was compelled to boast of his credentials as a minister and apostle. Reminding them of his service record, the apostle wrote: “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.”
Now consider the Governing Body, which as an institution, is presumably modeled after the apostles. Obviously, there is no comparison though. None of the present Governing Body has been imprisoned. None of them could possibly be aware of being “in dangers among false brothers” since that would require them to acknowledge that false brothers exist in the organization. And certainly, none of them are “in hunger or thirst …in cold and lacking clothing.”
However, Jesus said that the sheep and the goats will be judged based upon whether or not they attended to the needs of his spiritual brothers, who are imprisoned, hungry, sick and homeless.
How is that possible?
People tend to look to the future as a continuation of the present. Jehovah’s Witnesses are no exception, except that we expect to live in a new system someday. But between this world and the next, there is a great tumult, which is unexpected — at least insofar as its inevitable impact upon the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses is concerned. It is destined to be.
The prophecy of Daniel foretold that during the time of the end a fierce-looking king will arise and not only bring the mighty ones to ruin but the holy ones as well. The Watchtower claims this took place during World War Two, although they are skimpy on the details.
In truth, the time of the end has not begun. The fierce-looking king, undoubtedly corresponding to the eighth king of Revelation, has yet to bring the holy ones to ruin. That means that those who presently are well-fed may soon find themselves going hungry. Anointed Witnesses who have enjoyed the freedoms afforded to them by democracies like America and most nations in Europe and throughout the British Commonwealth, may find themselves imprisoned for being leading members of a destructive cult.
The world can change very quickly. Look back at Russia. Before the First World War, the sprawling nation was ruled by the Czar. Then there was the Bolshevik revolution and Czar Nicholaus and his whole family were slaughtered. Russia came under communist control. Religion was outlawed.
The world’s present political order is just as precarious as was Russia’s prior to 1917. The entirety of Europe and the Americas teeters on financial collapse. Concurrent with the inevitable crash of money, the nations are drawing up sides in preparation for war — a war in which the major prospective participants all possess nuclear weaponry.
As soon as the missiles begin flying we may expect the present climate of relative freedom to disappear —probably overnight.
Then the judgment will begin.