Friday, April 23
The one who endures to the end will be saved. —Matt. 24:13, ftn.
Our endurance does not depend on favorable circumstances. We can strengthen our endurance by relying on Jehovah. (Rom. 12:12) Jesus’ promise in today’s text means that we must remain faithful despite any challenges we face. By enduring each trial now, we can become stronger before the outbreak of the great tribulation. As with endurance, true courage comes from relying on Jehovah. How can we strengthen our reliance on him? By reading his Word every day and meditating on how Jehovah saved his people in the past. (Ps. 68:20; 2 Pet. 2:9) When the nations attack us during the great tribulation, we will need to be courageous and to trust in Jehovah as never before. (Ps. 112:7, 8; Heb. 13:6) If we rely on Jehovah now, we will have the courage we need to face Gog’s attack. We are convinced that we can remain ever safe under Jehovah’s loving protection. —1 Cor. 13:8. w19.10 18 ¶15-16
What the Watchtower says is true—as far as developing endurance. Reading the Bible every day is undoubtedly the single most faith-strengthening thing we can do—that, and prayer.
However, all of us must be tested. Jesus certainly was. In fact, Paul said that Jesus was tested in every respect, but without sin.
For a test to actually be a test it must present a temptation or a challenge to our belief—typically, from an unexpected source. The frontal assault is not very effective. Christians invariably rally around each other and take courage when they are attacked. We saw that in Germany when Hitler vowed to exterminate the “Bible worms,” as he called Jehovah’s Witnesses. He failed spectacularly.
By far the most severe test is when the basis of our faith is shaken.
It is an indisputable fact that the faith of Jehovah’s Witnesses is inextricably bound to the Watchtower and its Governing Body. It is Jehovah’s earthly organization, after all. And I do not say that sarcastically. I absolutely believe that it is. I have no doubt that Christ has nurtured, protected, guided and used the Watchtower in a marvelous way in order to complete the work he started nearly 2,000 years ago.
However, I also wholeheartedly believe the Bible. Jehovah’s Witnesses will confess the same belief. The difference is, though, I examine the prophetic Scriptures without the Watchtower’s filter. Is that wrong? For example, as I stated above, I believe that the Watchtower is Jehovah’s earthly organization—as advertised. And because it is, the leadership of Jehovah’s earthly organization—also known as Christ’s congregation—comes in for special consideration. In what way? According to the prophecy of Isaiah, “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.”
In the modern era, God no longer imparts visions or speaks directly to his servants. Anyone who claims otherwise is either lying or under a demonic delusion. Quite the opposite. Instead of imparting information to those who function as prophets and visionaries—his spokesmen—God intentionally conceals matters from them. For what purpose? In order to impose a test upon all.
Going on, God explains the problem and the solution: “Jehovah says: ‘This people approaches me with their mouth and they honor me with their lips, but their heart is far removed from me; and their fear of me is based on commands of men that they have been taught. Therefore, I am the One who will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men will perish, and the understanding of their discreet men will be hidden.”’ — Isaiah 29:13-14
Because the Watchtower stands as the focal point of the spiritual lives of Jehovah’s Witnesses and it has been deeply inculcated into all that the Governing Body is the very mouthpiece of God, there is no real distinction between one who actually has faith in God and one who is merely following men. That condition is easily provable by the mere act of questioning the Governing Body. It is considered a grave act of unfaithfulness. Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot deny what I say is true.
As far as following the commands of men, look no further than the Watchtower-imposed lockdown—now beginning the second year. A couple of years ago it would have been inconceivable that Jehovah’s Witnesses would no longer knock on doors or be visible on city streets and that every kingdom hall in the world would be closed. Now, though, Jehovah’s Witnesses accept it without question because it has been so-ordered by Bethel. It is the new normal. Not going out in service or meeting together at the kingdom hall—once regarded as vital Christian activities and commands from God—is the new way to salvation. The Governing Body claim that Jehovah’s Witnesses are saving lives by not doing what previously had been regarded as essential, lifesaving work.
Jesus once purposely touched a man who was eaten up with highly contagious leprosy. Yet, Jehovah’s Witnesses are told it is too risky to even venture out on the street or visit a Bible student in their home or gather even in small groups. All because of a virus that has a 99.9% survival rate. Are you not following the commands of men who claim to speak for God but who have blatantly contradicted everything they have previously stood for?
Jehovah’s Witnesses boast of knowing the truth, of being in the truth, or even of some leaving the truth. That being true, what exactly has God concealed from the faithful and discreet men? What has been hidden is profound. It has to do with the revelation of Jesus Christ. The presence of Jesus is the “wonderful thing,” the “wonder upon wonder” that is to be revealed.
The Watchtower has been instrumental in hiding the truth about the Second Coming of Christ. That is what it means that God has poured the spirit of a deep sleep upon them and closed their eyes. The sleeping visionaries claim the Second Coming has already occurred. It has not. And although the Scriptures plainly teach that the parousia, revelation, and manifestation are the same thing and that when Jesus returns he will manifest himself to the chosen and they will see him as he is, Jehovah’s Witnesses are convinced that the wondrous presence of Christ is no different than his absence.
No doubt there will be persecution. However, the real test will involve our faith. It will require the faithful to break with the Watchtower. Imagine that! Jehovah’s Witnesses have been led to believe that the Watchtower is the ark of salvation when in reality, salvation will only be possible for those who flee when the disgusting thing stands where it ought not. Or, as Jesus advised: “Let the man on the housetop not come down to take the goods out of his house, and let the man in the field not return to pick up his outer garment.”