Israel & Judah – Whom do they Represent in Prophecy?

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Israel & Judah – Whom do they Represent in Prophecy? 2017-10-21T12:03:05+00:00

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  • SongofHannah
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    I remember 35 years ago, when I was searching for the truth, I explored several churches. But I was disgusted by the confusion of them all. Like all of you, I had an insatiable need to find God. However, given all that was said about Jehovah’s Witnesses, I refused to even consider them. But Jehovah answered my prayer, and showed up at my door one day. Finally, spiritual food I could sink my teeth into! Thus began my spiritual journey as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And to this day, I am humbled to have “Jehovah as my share” among those in the household of God.

    But things have changed since those many years ago, out in Christendom… I was sitting in a hospital waiting room a few months ago, and my eyes were drawn to a couple of impressively attractive religious magazines. One was “What Happens When You Die”? and “The End of the World”. Being curious, I decided to take a look. Well I was fascinated by what I read. Both magazines matched exactly what us Jehovah’s Witnesses teach on both these subjects, and they were chock full of scriptures! Although I was sure there had to be a falsehood somewhere, I honestly could not find even one. And they are Adventist magazines. (I’ll attached pics along with one of the impressive articles).

    The scripture “A worker is worthy of his wages” and “A worker deserves his food” came to my mind. (Luke 10:7, Matt 10:10, 1 Tim 5:18)  And I was reminded of what Paul wrote:

    Am I saying these things from a human viewpoint? Or does not the Law also say these things?  For it is written in the Law of Moses: “You must not muzzle a bull when it is threshing out the grain.” Is it bulls that God is concerned about? Or is it actually for our sakes that he says it? It was really written for our sakes, because the man who plows and the man who threshes ought to do so in the hope of receiving a share. (1 Cor 9:8)

    It made me wonder, will some of those of other religions who are also preaching, teaching and awaiting Christ’s return also be among the great crowd of survivors? (Rev 7:9) Or, because of a few erroneous beliefs, are they destined to the trash bin, as Brother Flodin so eloquently demonstrated for us in the February 2016 Broadcast?

    If they have erroneous beliefs, and yet so do we — why is only our sacrifice accepted, whilst they and theirs is headed for the trash heap?  Is knowing God & wearing his name the defining stamp for salvation?  Or as sinful humans does it subject us to even greater condemnation for the inevitable reproach we’ve brought upon it?

    After being plagued with these questions, and subsequently studying the scriptures regarding this subject, I believe the answer to this question is YES, they too will merit salvation. But does that undermine or invalidate the belief that Jehovah’s Witnesses are indeed within the “House of God”?  No, it absolutely does not!

    Is my answer supported by scripture?  Yes, I believe it is.  But following the advice not to isolate oneself, I’m aiming to share my research with my fellow brother & sisters, and submit it to scrutiny. I welcome your thoughts, and also your criticisms. As I am not looking to be right — but instead I am aiming to gain truth and understanding.

    The Good Samaritan

    First, I’ve been taking some notes down the path of the “Good Samaritan” and what this might mean, or represent, in scripture. We are all familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan, but let’s recap it for review.

    In Luke chapter 10, we have a man who was known to be “versed in the law” — so obviously a formal worshiper of Jehovah, perhaps even a lawyer of law — who asks Jesus “What do I need to do to inherit everlasting life?” Jesus answers back “What is written in the Law? How do you read?”

    Being “versed in the law”, the man answers correctly, and Jesus tells him so. However, the man goes further, and asks “Who really is my neighbor?” Why does he ask this?

    The scriptures reveal he was “wanting to prove himself righteous“. Let’s take a moment to review Jesus’ reply.

    In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell victim to robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went off, leaving him half—dead. Now by coincidence a priest was going down on that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the opposite side. But a certain Samaritan traveling the road came upon him, and at seeing him, he was moved with pity. So he approached him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. Then he mounted him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said: ‘Take care of him, and whatever you spend besides this, I will repay you when I return.’

    Jesus asked “Who of these three seems to you to have made himself neighbor to the man who fell victim to the robbers?” He said: “The one who acted mercifully toward him.” Jesus then said to him: “Go and do the same yourself.” (Luke 10:30—37)

    Who Are the Samaritans?

    To better understand this passage, we have to ask, who exactly were the Samaritans? And why did the Jews disdain them in the first place? Delving deep into these questions makes Jesus’ answer even more profound.

    The Insight vll says the following about them: “The term “Samaritans” … applied to those who lived in the northern kingdom as distinct from the foreigners later brought in from other parts of the Assyrian Empire.”

    So essentially, they are comprised of the Northern Kingdom — and if you remember, it was composed of the 10-Tribe kingdom of Israel that broke off from Judah. In the scriptures, the 10-Tribe Kingdom is often called “Ephraim” as it was the most prominent and influential tribe of the northern kingdom. (This fact become even more important further along in our discussion.)

    The Insight book continues:

    Although they learned something about Jehovah through instruction by a priest of the Jeroboam priesthood, yet, as Samaria had done with the golden calves, they continued to worship their false gods, generation after generation. (2Ki 17:24—41) Josiah’s extensive efforts to rid these northern communities of their idol worship, nearly a hundred years after Samaria fell, had no more lasting effect than similar reforms made by him in the southern kingdom of Judah. (2Ki 23:4—20; 2Ch 34:6, 7) At a still later period, the name carried more of a religious, rather than a racial or political, connotation. “Samaritan” referred to one who belonged to the religious sect that flourished in the vicinity of ancient Shechem and Samaria and who held to certain tenets distinctly different from Judaism.

    But their acceptance of the Pentateuch, by and large, gave the Samaritans the basis for believing that a prophet greater than Moses would come. (De 18:18, 19) In the first century Samaritans were looking for the coming of Christ the Messiah, and some of them recognized him; others rejected him. (Lu 17:16—19; Joh 4:9—43; Lu 9:52—56) Later, through the preaching of the early Christians, many Samaritans gladly embraced Christianity. (Ac 8:1—17, 25; 9:31; 15:3)

    Also of note, 2 Kings says of the Samaritans:

    Although they feared Jehovah, they appointed priests for the high places from the people in general, and these officiated for them at the houses of worship on the high places. Thus, they feared Jehovah, but they worshipped their own gods according to the religion of the nations from which they had been deported. To this day they follow their former religions. None of them worship Jehovah, and none follow his statutes, his judgments, the Law, and the commandment that Jehovah gave the sons of Jacob, whose name he changed to Israel. (2 Kings 17:32—34)

    So we learn that in essence, the ancient Samaritans were considered “fearers of Jehovah”. They accepted the Pentateuch, and believed in the coming of the Messiah. But they had one major flaw — they fell into idol worship. Thus they fell away from true worship and never came to truly know Jehovah (that is, until the Christ came —Acts 8:25).

    Now learning this, can we not compare the Samaritans to Christendom?  As they too accept the Bible and believe in the coming of the Messiah — yet just like the Samaritans — they fell away from true worship and never came to truly know Jehovah.

    To fully understand what a Samaritan might represent if present in our day, I ask myself — what if Jesus came on the earth and gave us, as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, this same illustration regarding them?  If memorialized, would it not go somewhat as follows…

    In reply Jesus said: “A man was driving along near Bethel in Brooklyn, when he fell victim to carjackers, who mugged him, beat him, and stole his car, leaving him behind on the street, half-dead. Now by coincidence a Governing Body member was going down on that street, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise, a Bethelite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the opposite side. But a certain man of Christendom driving down the street came upon him, and at seeing him, he was moved with pity. So he approached him and bandaged his wounds, cleaning them with & alcohol and an antibacterial ointment. Then he loaded him into the back of his SUV and brought him to a hotel room and took care of him. The next day he took out $200, gave them to the Hotel Manager, and said: ‘Take care of him, and whatever you spend besides this, please put on my credit card.’

    Jesus asks “Who of these three seems to you to have made himself neighbor to the man who fell victim to the carjackers?” He said: “The one who acted mercifully toward him.” Jesus then said to him: “Go and do the same yourself.”

    Being the Great Teacher that he is, we see that Jesus not only shares an illustration that addresses exactly who our “neighbor” is, but in doing so also schools us on our own prejudices and motivations — and how one is “proved” to be truly righteous.  Well, what else does Jesus teach us regarding the Samaritans?

    The Samaritan Woman

    Now let us examine Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman.

    Jesus and his disciples are traveling through Samaria when they happen upon Jacob’s fountain at about the noon hour. Being tired from the journey, Jesus’ disciples leave him behind at the well, while they run into town for food. While resting there, Jesus notices a woman of Samaria drawing water, so he asks her for a drink. She is dumbfounded that he spoke to her, and replies “How is it that you, despite being a Jew, ask me for a drink even though I am a Samaritan woman?” The scriptures then offer this explanation for her comment: “For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” (John 4:5—9)

    After proving by his miraculous knowledge of her sinful past that he indeed has God’s spirit, she discerns he is a prophet. Perhaps because this doesn’t sit well with her beliefs as a Samaritan, she throws out a main bone of contention between the religions: “Our forefathers worshipped on this mountain, but you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where people must worship.” (John 4:10—20)

    Jesus answers her with these now famous words:

    “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, because salvation originates with the Jews. Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for indeed, the Father is looking for ones like these to worship him. God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.”

    The woman replied: “I know that Messiah is coming, who is called Christ. Whenever that one comes, he will declare all things to us openly.”

    Jesus then admits to her what he had not yet openly revealed to anyone: “I am he, the one speaking to you.” (John 4:21—26)

    Again, let’s take this into modern times. Would we not be aghast, if Jesus came and revealed his Messiahship — not first to one of Jehovah’s faithful Witnesses, but to the very equivalent of a Samaritan — a person of Christendom?  And one committing adultery, at that?  Would this not offend our very sensibilities regarding “pure worship”? No wonder so many Jews found Jesus to be a block of stumbling! It brings to mind Paul’s words regarding the Jews: “For what reason? Because they pursued [salvation], not by faith, but as by works. They stumbled over the “stone of stumbling”;  as it is written: “Look! I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, but the one who rests his faith on it will not be disappointed.” (Romans 9:32)

    The Anti-typical Samaritan

    After comparing these encounters, more questions started inundating my mind… Could it be possible that there is an even greater fulfillment in the significance of the Samaritans as a group? An anti-typical modern-day Samaritan?  And if there is, how would understanding this bring us comfort? (Romans 15:4, 2 Peter 1:19)

    And come to think of it — do not all the prophets repeatedly speak of two tribes — namely Israel (the Samaritans) and Judah?  And is not true that “all the prophets bear witness to Jesus”? (Acts 10:43, Luke 24:27, Rev 19:10)  Therefore, the prophets speaking of Israel & Judah must bear some sort of prophetic significance.  In the past, we have identified them as the Anointed along with their companions, “the Great Crowd”.  But is this truly accurate?  Might it be instead, that sincere individuals within Christendom are the anti-typical Samaritans — the modern day “Ephraim”? Right under our noses, all this time?

    Let’s recap and ponder the similarities:

    • Christians all originated from one “Christian Nation” formed by Jesus at the outset of the 1st century, but gradually after apostasy, they broke off into two “nations” — this certainly parallels the history of Christendom and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
    • In comparison to JWs and Christendom — the Southern “2-Tribe Kingdom” of Judah was much smaller than the “10-Tribe Kingdom” of Israel.
    • In the same way the Jews despised Samaritans, JWs despise Christendom and will have nothing to do with them.
    • Like the Samaritans, Christendom accepts the Bible, and believes in the future coming of the Messiah.

    But lastly, we may argue — how can this be possible if they believe in the Trinity? If they don’t even know Jehovah?  But did not Jesus say of the Samaritans — that “they worship what they do not know”?  Yet notice Jesus pointed not only to a unifying in his time — but a future time of uniting as well. He openly tells the Samaritan woman:

    ”Nevertheless, the hour is coming [in the future parousia], and it is now [during the first century parousia], when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for indeed, the Father is looking for ones like these to worship him. God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.”

    Indeed, when Jesus came, not only the Samaritans but even the Jews had fallen away from pure worship. And at that time, he gathered the all the flawed but faithful into a unity of pure worship based in spirit and truth — first gathering the Jews, and then the Samaritans. (Matt 10:5, Luke 9:52, John 4:39, Acts 8:25)  However, many of the Jews were so offended at this inclusion of the Samaritans, they told Jesus “Are we not right in saying, ‘You are a Samaritan and have a demon’?” (John 8:48)

    Israel & Judah: Two Anti-types

    For many years, when considering the prophetic significance of Israel & Judah, we as Jehovah’s Witnesses have followed an unusual formula. When the scriptures were condemning Israel & Judah, we applied it to Christendom. But when the scriptures spoke of God’s people in a more favorable light, we saw that as representing the entire “nation” of Jehovah’s Witnesses — explaining that anointed Christians symbolized the 2-Tribe Kingdom of Judah (including the Levites), and respectively, their trusted faithful companions of the “other sheep” comprised the 10-Tribe Kingdom of Israel. (For an example of this dichotomy please see the July 1, 1991 WT article “The Spiritual Drunkards—Who Are They?” vs the Sept 15, 1988 article “They Will Have to Know That I Am Jehovah”. Also more recently see the July 2016 WT Study Edition “Questions From Readers”)

    But is either interpretation truly accurate?  In order to make certain we have a correct understanding, like the ancient Beroeans we would need to examine all the prophetic scriptures regarding the Northern & Southern Kingdoms of Israel & Judah, and see which hypothesis truly fits. So I started to delve into what the prophets said about the Samaritans/Ephraim/Israel along with Judah/Jerusalem.

    As a backdrop, 2 Kings 17:33 reports of the Samaritans: “Thus, they feared Jehovah, but they worshipped their own gods according to the religion of the nations from which they had been deported.”

    Like Samaria, is it not true that Christendom claims to fear the God of the Bible, yet mixes her worship in with “religions of the nations”?

    Of note too, is how Ephraim (represented as Northern Kingdom) is likewise described by the prophet Hosea:

    “Ephraim mixes with the nations. Ephraim is like a round cake left unturned [half baked!]. Strangers have consumed his strength, but he does not know it. And his gray hairs have turned white, but he does not notice it. The pride of Israel has testified against him; Both Israel and Ephraim have stumbled in their error, And Judah has stumbled with them.” (Hosea 5:8—10)

    Now can it be said that the politically neutral “Other Sheep” of Jehovah’s Witnesses“mixes with the Nations”?  By no means!  But Christendom sure does — delving into politics to such an extent that Jehovah declares them “only half baked”. But eventually, Jehovah’s Witnesses stumble in their error, just as Judah did.

    Interestingly, Jehovah promises to discipline both groups:

    “What should I do with you, Ephraim? What should I do with you, Judah? For your loyal love is like the morning clouds, Like the dew that quickly vanishes. That is why I will cut them down by means of the prophets; I will kill them with the words of my mouth. And the judgments on you will shine as the light.’’” (Hosea 6:4—5)

    The Humiliation of Judah

    In Jeremiah 7:13, Jehovah swears to his people of Judah:

    “But you kept doing all these things,’ declares Jehovah, ‘and even though I spoke to you again and again, you did not listen. I kept calling you, but you would not answer. So I will do to the house that bears my name, in which you are trusting, and to this place that I gave to you and your forefathers, just as I did to Shiloh. I will throw you out of my sight, just as I threw out all your brothers, all the descendants of Ephraim.’

    Jehovah accuses Judah:

    “Not only did you walk in their ways and follow their detestable practices, but in a short while you were even more corrupt in all your conduct than they were… You must now bear your humiliation because you have justified the behavior of your sisters. On account of your sin of acting more detestably than they have, they are more righteous than you. So now, be ashamed and bear the humiliation of making your sisters appear righteous.” (Ezekiel 16:46—52)

    True to form, just as Christendom became wayward, as Judah’s modern-day counterpart, we have followed in her footsteps! Ezekiel prophesies that we have become even more of a reproach to God than they were! And is that not starting to occur, just as prophesied? Take the testimony at the Australian Royal Commission, add all the victims of molestation, include all the suicides due to a wrongful interpretation of shunning, and top it all off with the “Eye of Horus” Hall in Denmark! We are truly, by our blasphemous behavior, making Christendom appear more righteous than we are! How truly humiliating.

    To humble the House of Judah, Jehovah promises to turn his attention to wayward Samaria, proclaiming:

    “I will gather their captives, the captives of Sodom and her daughters and the captives of Samaria and her daughters; I will also gather your captives along with them” for the reason “that you may bear your humiliation; and you will feel humiliated because of what you have done by comforting them.” 

    Jehovah then reprovingly tells God’s people that they “will feel humiliated when you welcome your sisters… those older than you as well as those younger than you, and I will give them to you as daughters… Then you will remember and be too ashamed to open your mouth because of your humiliation, when I make an atonement for you despite all that you have done,’ declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.” (Ezekiel 16:46—63).

    How humiliating would it be, to have repentant idolaters out of Christendom be welcomed by Christ as equals among God’s people? It would surely be difficult cup for many to swallow.

    (But why does Jehovah call them “captives”?  Who are they captive to?  Perhaps it is the “Man of Lawlessness”, otherwise known as the Anti-Christ?  As I’ve heard it explained, any Christian group that places man as the head of the Congregation has an “Anti-Christ” structure. It is “against Christ” because Christ alone is the Head of the Congregation. That is why Jesus warned “Neither be called leaders, for your Leader is one, the Christ.” (Matt 23:10) And did not Paul warn us “Look out that no one takes you captive by means of the philosophy and empty deception according to human tradition, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ”? (Col 2:8) However, perhaps it simply means being held “captives to sin’s law”?  (Romans 7:23)  Seems difficult to know at this point.  Surely time and Holy Spirit will eventually enlighten us on this.)

    The Repentant “Watchmen of Ephraim”

    In researching all this, the 31st chapter of Jeremiah makes quite a case for this understanding. Fascinatingly, Jeremiah prophesied that a day will come when all the sincere “Watchmen in the mountains of Ephraim will call out: ‘Rise up, let us go up to Zion, to Jehovah our God.'” 

    In astounding mercy, Jehovah lovingly accepts these repentant idol worshipers back, saying:

    “I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning, ‘You have corrected me, and I have been corrected, Like a calf that has not been trained. Bring me back, and I will readily turn back, For you are Jehovah my God. For after my turning back I felt remorse; After I was made to understand I struck my thigh in grief. I was ashamed and humiliated, For I bore the reproach of my youth.’

    “Is Ephraim not a precious son to me, a beloved child? For as often as I speak against him, I do remember him still. That is why my emotions are stirred for him. And I will surely have pity on him,” declares Jehovah.(Jer 31:18—20)

    Who else could these repentant “Watchmen of Ephraim” be, other than those captive within Christendom, who although “worship what they do not know” still faithfully anticipate the Christ’s return? Because Jehovah says regarding them: “I will gather them together from the remotest parts of the earth… they will come weeping. I will lead them as they beg for favor. I will guide them to streams of water, On a level path that will not make them stumble.”

    Jehovah proclaims why he remains loyal to them: “For I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.” Indeed, Ephraim can be considered a firstborn in that these ones proceed the modern phenomena of Jehovah’s Witnesses, being instead born from the early roots of Christianity. (Jeremiah 31:8—9)

    United in Worship of the Only True God

    Isaiah prophesies of a future uniting of the 2 Kingdoms:

    “In that day Jehovah will again offer his hand, a second time, to reclaim the remnant of his people… He will raise up a signal for the nations and gather the dispersed ones of Israel, and he will gather together the scattered ones of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The jealousy of Ephraim will be gone, And those who show hostility to Judah will be done away with. Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, Nor will Judah show hostility toward Ephraim.” (Is 11:12—13)

    What a fascinating reversal of circumstance! No longer will these two groups despise one another!

    Interestingly, this also contradicts our previous interpretation that these two groups represent the Anointed along with their companions “the Great Crowd“.  As when have the two ever been at odds? Rather, the “Other Sheep” have always loyally supported their Anointed brethren. But Christendom has certainly been jealous of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Jehovah’s Witnesses have indeed shown great hostility towards Christendom.

    If this indeed applies to the future, it seems that after they have been reproved and cleansed by Christ, repentant “captives” from Ephraim (Christendom) along with the scattered captives from Judah (repentant Jehovah’s Witnesses), will join as one “remnant” of God’s people, into one Nation worshipping God “in Spirit and in Truth” — in even greater fulfillment of the unity of worship that resulted from Christ’s first coming!

    The joy all God’s people will experience in this uniting together as one is apparent when Jeremiah awakens from this prophetic vision and reports “At this I awoke and opened my eyes, and my sleep had been pleasurable to me.” (Jer 31:26)

    Jehovah Makes Holy what was Formerly Declared Unclean.

    Then we come upon a rather obscure passage. “And all the valley of the carcasses and of ashes and all the terraces as far as the Kidron Valley, clear to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, will be something holy to Jehovah.” (Jer 31:38—40a)

    Interestingly, the Insight book reports of this:

    “During the reigns of Judean Kings Asa, Hezekiah, and Josiah, the Kidron Valley was used as a place of disposal for appendages of idolatry. (1Ki 15:13; 2Ki 23:4, 6, 12; 2Ch 15:16; 29:16; 30:14) It also served as a place of burial. (2Ki 23:6) This made the Kidron Valley an unclean area, and it is therefore significant that Jeremiah’s prophecy pointed to a time when, by contrast, “all the terraces as far as the torrent valley of Kidron” would be “something holy to Jehovah.” (Insight p. 150). Thus, by Israel disposing of their last vestiges of idolatry, Jehovah promises to make a holy people out of what he formerly declared unclean.

    Lastly, regarding the restored city of worshippers, Jehovah swears “It will never again be uprooted or torn down.” (Jer 31:40b)

    The Two Sticks Become One

    This unity is brought out further by the symbolism of Ezekiel’s two sticks.

    “The word of Jehovah again came to me, saying: “And you, son of man, take a stick and write on it, ‘For Judah and for the people of Israel who are with him.’ Then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and all the house of Israel who are with him.’ Then bring them close to each other so that they become just one stick in your hand. When your people say to you, ‘Will you not tell us what these things mean?’ tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says:

    ‘I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel who are with him, and I will join them to the stick of Judah; and I will make them one stick, and they will become one in my hand.'” The sticks that you write on should be in your hand for them to see.

    “Then tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: “I will take the Israelites from among the nations where they have gone, and I will collect them together from every direction and bring them to their land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and one king will rule over all of them, and they will no longer be two nations; nor will they be divided any longer into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their disgusting idols and their detestable practices and all their transgressions. I will save them from all their unfaithfulness by which they have sinned, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I myself will be their God. (Ezekiel 37:15-23)

    We have to ask, under our old understanding, just when were the Anointed and their companions “the Great Crowd” ever divided into two opposing kingdoms? Rather, does it not more accurately describe the condition of which both Jehovah’s Witnesses and those within Christendom find themselves?

    Jehovah continues by adding this comforting promise:

    My servant David will be their king, and they will all have one shepherd. They will walk in my judicial decisions and carefully observe my statutes. They will dwell on the land that I gave to my servant, to Jacob, where your forefathers lived, and they will dwell on it forever, they and their children and their children’s children; and David my servant will be their chieftain forever. (Ezekiel 37:24—25)

    Interestingly, also through Hosea, Jehovah foretells regarding Ephraim, “Ephraim will say, ‘What more do I have to do with idols?’ I will answer and watch over him. I will be like a thriving juniper tree. From me your fruit will be found.” (Hosea 14:8) Yes — JWs can discern no fruit from these repentant “Watchmen of Ephraim”, but in astounding mercy, Jehovah does. (Compare Psalms 103:10—13)

    Hosea then asks quizzically “Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is discreet? Let him know them.” And then he emphasizes Jehovah’s true justice: “For the ways of Jehovah are upright, And the righteous will walk in them; But the transgressors will stumble in them.”

    The Anointed & the “Great Crowd”

    Now, I am of the thought, that because the Southern 2-Tribe kingdom of Judah consisted of both the Kingly tribe (Judah) along with the Levites (the priestly tribe) that likely the Anointed spring from this symbolic nation. I reason this also because, if they are truly “Christ’s brothers”, it is essential that they know the Father just as the Christ does. (The small tribe of Benjamin within the Southern Kingdom representing non-anointed ones from among Jehovah’s Witnesses.)

    Likewise then, this would leave the 10-Tribe Northern kingdom to symbolize the vast majority of “the Great Crowd” who will survive Armageddon. (Rev 7:9) This is bore out in the ancient prophecy uttered by Isaac regarding Ephraim:

    When Joseph saw that his father kept his right hand placed on Ephraim’s head, it was displeasing to him, and he tried to take hold of his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. Hence Joseph said to his father: “Not so, my father, because this is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.” But his father kept refusing and said: “I know it, my son, I know it. He too will become a people and he too will become great. But, just the same, his younger brother will become greater than he will, and his offspring will become the full equivalent of nations.” (Gen 48:17-19)

    The Household of God

    Does this mean that there is no advantage being baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?  And of dwelling within the House of God? Never may that be so! In the Book of Romans, Paul reminds the Jews of the benefits they received from being a part of God’s house. But was Paul actually writing only to the ancient Jewish Christians?

    Christian Author Robert King explains of Paul’s writings:

    However, Paul was not merely an apostle to first century Christians. Since the word of God is alive in all ages, for all time, it is as though Paul lives now too. To illustrate the matter, when discussing the resurrection Paul referred to himself as “we the living who survive to the presence of the Lord…” But Paul is no longer among the living. He will not be alive on earth when the parousia begins. But that he spoke of himself as among the living at that time speaks to the fact that much of Paul’s writings are prophetic. It is as though Paul is alive during the parousia, explaining it.
    — Jehovah has become King (http://jehovah-is-king.com/)

    As Brother King has so masterfully demonstrated to us, not only was Paul writing the Jews of antiquity, but he is also writing to the anti-typical Jews of today — namely, Jehovah’s Witnesses.

    Now that we understand that, we can delve deeper into the meaning of these scriptures. In the entire chap Romans 3, Paul outlines the superiority of being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses:

    What, then, is the superiority of the [anti-typical] Jew, or what is the benefit of the circumcision [the Law]?  A great deal in every way! First of all, because they [Jehovah’s Witnesses] were entrusted with the sacred pronouncements of God [namely, the Global Kingdom Preaching Work and the Heavenly Calling].

    “God did not reject his people, did he? By no means! God did not reject his people, whom he first recognized. What, then, is the case? If some [Witnesses] did not express faith, will their lack of faith perhaps make the faithfulness of God without effect? Never may that happen! But let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.” (Romans 3:1—4)

    Are we Declared Righteous by Our Works?

    Although we as Jehovah’s Witnesses have the honor of dwelling within God’s House and the privilege of spearheading the Kingdom preaching work, we also bear one huge, but fatal flaw. Paul exposes it to us:

    “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God; but not according to accurate knowledge; for, because of not knowing the righteousness of God [through Jesus] but seeking to establish their own [through works], they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the Law, so that everyone exercising faith may have righteousness.” (Romans 10:2—4)

    Regarding our tendency to pursue the righteousness of God through works, Christian author Perimeno addresses one of the most basic tenets of our faith, namely the overwhelming importance laid on “living up to our dedication”:

    Why the contradiction? If [the Watchtower states] we cannot “earn everlasting life by our imperfect efforts to do what is right,” and that our salvation is due to the “undeserved kindness of God,” then why the insistence on “living up to our dedication”? We may not be confused about the identity of Jesus and GOD, but when it comes to the ransom and salvation we ARE confused, and for the same reason that Christendom is about their Trinity; we have broken “the rule” about not going beyond what is written. (1Cor. 4:6; Deut. 12:32) Whereas Christendom’s Trinity deflects honor from Jehovah and bestows it upon his Son, our “Dedication” deflects the honor from Jehovah and his Son and bestows it upon ourselves…. Our trinity of dedication, baptism, and salvation has caused a great deal of suffering. It is the means by which we are judged by our brothers, and we judge them. (Matt. 7:1,2; Rom. 14:4) We measure and compare each other’s spirituality by it, seeing how well everyone is living up to their dedication; publishers within the congregations, congregations within their circuit, and the circuits with the national average. And yet, [living up to our dedication] is not from God,

      for it is nowhere taught in the Scriptures

    . What is taught though, is that we must NOT judge, measure, or compare. (Rom. 14:10; Gal. 5:26; 6:4) And so we have made God’s Word invalid by our traditions.
    —God’s View on Dedication (http://perimeno.ca/Dedication.htm)

    As Perimeno has so effectively demonstrated, we as Jehovah’s Witnesses have become a nation that has been seeking the righteousness of God through works — by insisting, yes even demanding, that we “live up to our dedication”.

    Yes, we have learned to earn our salvation by flawlessly attending meetings, reading every publication, faithfully underlining every Watchtower, and making certain we report our required number of hours in field service every month. (And as the recent September Broadcast has taught us, we can now add being punctual to the list!) It has truly become just as Isaiah prophesied — God’s people being burdened by “command after command, and measuring line by measuring line”! (Is 28:10)

    Yet Paul explains that the resulting salvation through Christ is so, so much simpler! He continues:

    But the righteousness resulting from faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ that is, to bring Christ down, or, ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ that is, to bring Christ up from the dead.” (Romans 10:6—7)

    Paul is helping us to understand that salvation is not made through arduous efforts — as if we had to traverse heaven and hell to obtain it. Rather, he explains:

    But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your own mouth and in your own heart”; that is, “the word” of faith, which we are preaching. For if you publicly declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and exercise faith in your heart that God raised him up from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:8—9)

    And Isaiah agrees, saying “He once told them: “This is the resting-place. Let the weary one rest; this is the place of refreshment,” but they refused to listen.” (Is 28:12)

    While asserting that we ourselves are the wiser, we of God’s Household have failed to learn the same lesson God’s ancient Household failed to discern!  That we cannot and will not earn our salvation due to our works.

    Is God Unjust?

    But it must be asked, if we as Jehovah’s Witnesses, even through all our works, still cannot make the grade, then how is it even possible that any from Christendom will gain salvation? Paul reasons with us:

    However, if our unrighteousness highlights God’s righteousness, what are we to say? God is not unjust when he expresses his wrath, is he? (I am speaking in human terms.)  By no means! How, otherwise, will God judge the world?

    But if by my lie [1914, 1975 etc] the truth of God has been made more prominent to his glory [God’s Kingdom was preached throughout the entire earth], why am I also being judged as a sinner?  And why not say, just as some men falsely claim that we say, “Let us do bad things that good things may come”? The judgment against those men is in harmony with justice. (Romans 3:5—8)

    What then? Are we in a better position [as Jehovah’s Witnesses]? Not at all! For above we have made the charge that [anti-typical] Jews as well as Greeks are ALL under sin;  just as it is written: “There is not a righteous man, not even ONE;  there is NO ONE that has any insight, there is no one that seeks for God.” All men have deflected, all of them together have become worthless; there is no one that does kindness, there is not so much as one.”  “Their throat is an opened grave, they have used deceit with their tongues.” “Poison of asps is behind their lips.”  “And their mouth is full of cursing and bitter expression.”  “Their feet are speedy to shed blood.”  “Ruin and misery are in their ways,  and they have not known the way of peace.”  “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”(Romans 3:9—18) 

    Now here on E-Watchman, each and every one of you who participate, have a deep love for God. Otherwise who would waste such precious time here? Yet we see the above statement of Paul’s has proved true even in our case, has it not? Even “when we wish to do what is good, what is bad is present with us”. (Romans 7:21—24)

    Paul summarizes his argument:

    Now we know that all the things the Law says it addresses to those under the Law, so that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become liable to God for punishment. Therefore by works of law no flesh will be declared righteous before him, for by law is the accurate knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:19—20)

    So ALL of us, regardless of all our works, are in no better position. We ALL still stand solidly condemned before Jehovah. In fact, just before Jesus uttered his famous words at John 3:16, he described our predicament: “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of man must be lifted up, so that everyone believing in him may have everlasting life.” (John 3:14-15).

    In that account, the Israelites had sinned against Jehovah and were as good as dead! Sin’s bite of death was trailing at their heels, and they could do nothing — absolutely nothing to stop it. Yet the only path to salvation was to simply gaze upon a copper snake lifted up on a pole! (Numbers 21:4—9)

    Could looking intently at Jesus be just as qualifying? Jesus concludes:

    “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life. For God did not send his Son into the world for him to judge the world, but for the world to be saved through him. Whoever exercises faith in him is not to be judged.” (John 3:16—18)

    What a masterful teacher our Lord and Savior Jesus is, is he not?

    I will incite you to Jealousy

    Paul explains how Jehovah would make us jealous over another “nation”:

    But I ask, They [anti-typical Israel] did not fail to hear, did they? Why, in fact, “into all the earth their [preaching] sound went out, and to the ends of the inhabited earth their [Kingdom] message. But I ask, [anti-typical] Israel did not fail to know, did they? First Moses says: “I will incite you to jealousy through that which is not a nation; I will incite you to violent anger through a foolish nation.”  But Isaiah becomes very bold and says: “I was found by those who were not seeking me; I became known to those who were not asking for me.” But he says regarding Israel: “All day long I have spread out my hands toward a disobedient and obstinate people.” (Romans 10:19—21)

    Might this “nation” Paul is speaking of, be the symbolic nation of Ephraim? The “full equivalent of the nations”? (Gen 48:19) It sure seems so!

    The 11th Hour Workers

    Might these ones who “God incites us to Jealousy with” also be the 11th Hour Workers that Jesus described?  In his illustration, Jesus described workers who went out into the Master’s vineyard to work, all at varying hours of the day:

    ”When evening came, the master of the vineyard said to his man in charge, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last and ending with the first.’ When the 11th hour men came, they each received a denarius. So when the first came, they assumed that they would receive more, but they too were paid at the rate of a denarius. On receiving it, they began to complain against the master of the house  and said, ‘These last men put in one hour’s work; still you made them equal to us who bore the burden of the day and the burning heat!’  But he said in reply to one of them, ‘Fellow, I do you no wrong. You agreed with me for a denarius, did you not? Take what is yours and go. I want to give to this last one the same as to you. Do I not have the right to do what I want with my own things? Or is your eye envious because I am good?’ In this way, the last ones will be first, and the first ones last.” (Matt 20:8—16)

    It certainly gives one pause for thought, does it not, to have other Christians paid an equal wage as us who have born the greatest burden of the day’s work, and suffered the greater share of the burning heat of persecution!

    Further substantiating this thought, Jesus says “Furthermore, people will come from eastern parts and western, and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. And, look! there are those last who will be first, and there are those first who will be last.” (Luke 13:29-30)

    Does this mean then, that all of our works, have been for naught? Paul comforts us with these words: “For God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name by ministering and continuing to minister to the holy ones.” (Heb 6:10)

    Further, he reassures us

    “Therefore, do not throw away your boldness, which will be richly rewarded. For you need endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the fulfillment of the promise. For yet “a very little while,” and “the one who is coming will arrive and will not delay.” “But my righteous one will live by reason of faith,” and “if he shrinks back, I have no pleasure in him.” Now we are not the sort who shrink back to destruction, but the sort who have faith for the preserving of our lives. (Heb 10:35—39)

    Is it really that simple then? As Paul reasons, no human can earn any salvation through works done in God’s name — even the works done in God’s name under the Law of Moses did not qualify or bring any advantage to the Jews.  (Romans 3:21—26) And just like that Law — our Theocratic “Law” has only more glaringly highlighted our sin! We are ALL equally sinful. Therefore, a man is judged, not under law — but only upon his love and faith in Jesus.

    So is there any room at all to boast, then, of being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?

    Paul chastises us for this:

    Where, then, is the boasting? There is no place for it. Through what law? That of works? No indeed, but through the law of faith. For we consider that a man is declared righteous by faith apart from works of law. Or is he the God of the [anti-typical] Jews only? Is he not also the God of people of the nations [Ephraim]? Yes, also of people of the nations. Since God is one, he will declare circumcised people righteous as a result of faith and uncircumcised people righteous by means of their faith. (Romans 3:27—30)

    Salvation by Faith

    This is why the scriptures teach again and again, that rather than works, love and faith in the Christ would be the defining factor of Salvation.  Notice this in the following scriptures:

    “Everyone that denies the Son does not have the Father either. He that confesses the Son has the Father also.” (1 John 2:23)

    “Whoever makes the confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, God remains in union with such one and he in union with God.” (1 John 4:15)

    “I say, then, to you, Everyone that confesses union with me before men, the Son of man will also confess union with him before the angels of God.”  (Luke 12:8)

    “Everyone, then, that confesses union with me before men, I will also confess union with him before my Father who is in the heavens” (Matt 10:32)

    “Love is the law’s fulfillment” (Rom 13:10)

    “By this all will know that you are my disciples—if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35)

    “To all who did receive him [Jesus], he gave authority to become God’s children, because they were exercising faith in his name.” (John 1:12)

    Faith Perfected by Works

    So if we are judged by faith and not by works, are we to believe that no works at all, are necessary? Seems even some of the early Christians started to mistakenly conclude that simply “having faith” would save them. So much so, that the Apostle James felt it necessary to adjust their thinking:

    Of what benefit is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but he does not have works? That faith cannot save him, can it? If a brother or a sister is lacking clothing and enough food for the day, yet one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but you do not give them what they need for their body, of what benefit is it? So, too, faith by itself, without works, is dead. (James 2:14—17)

    Interestingly, James uses the example of an immoral woman — Rahab the prostitute — to sound down his argument:

    You see that a man is to be declared righteous by works and not by faith alone. In the same manner, was not Rahab the prostitute also declared righteous by works after she received the messengers hospitably and sent them out by another way? Indeed, just as the body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:24—26)

    Speaking of Rahab, the Apostle Paul demonstrates how Rahab’s faith saved her, and lists her with other outstanding examples of faith:

    By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who acted disobediently, because she received the spies in a peaceable way. (Hebrews 11:31)

    Yet, at the time that she acted on her faith, Rahab — strikingly similar to our Samaritan at the well — was also an immoral woman. Yet neither of these women can be said to have “lived up to their dedication”. Neither were keeping the Law, nor were they offering sacrifices at the temple. If it were today, they studied no books, nor had they attended any meetings — yet their faith was recognized by both Jesus and Jehovah! And perhaps Jesus was alluding to the Samaritan woman who gave him a drink, when he said:

    “And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water to drink because he is a disciple, I tell you truly, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Matt 10:42)

    Interestingly, the Word of God being alive, in Jehovah’s eyes, Rahab is still counted among those living in the Household of God today:

    Only Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her were spared by Joshua; and she lives in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent out to spy on Jericho. (Joshua 6:25)

    Since those without Law were considered righteous, does that mean we have no responsibility towards God’s laws? No! As the Apostle Paul told the Jews:

    True, God has overlooked the times of such ignorance; but now he is declaring to all people everywhere that they should repent. Because he has set a day on which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has provided a guarantee to all men by resurrecting him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30—31)

    So again, we come to the crux of the matter: When we truly see that we cannot earn our righteousness, and that we must instead turn to Christ in repentance over our sinful state, that is when faith is truly born! And then true works — motivated not by need to absolve ourselves of our sin — but out of love bursting from an appreciative heart, perfect our faith.

    James gives us the outstanding example of Abraham, whose faith was perfected by his love. For he was motivated by the same love Jehovah had for him:

    Was not Abraham our father declared righteous by works after he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that his faith was active along with his works and his faith was perfected by his works, and the scripture was fulfilled that says: “Abraham put faith in Jehovah, and it was counted to him as righteousness”. (James 2:21-23)

    Wow. No wonder he came to be called “Jehovah’s friend”! (Isaiah 41:8)

    Lastly, Paul warns us not to judge another Christian’s faith:

    Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for Jehovah can make him stand. One man judges one day as above another; another judges one day the same as all others; let each one be fully convinced in his own mind.

    The one who observes the day observes it to Jehovah. Also, the one who eats, eats to Jehovah, for he gives thanks to God; and the one who does not eat does not eat to Jehovah, and yet gives thanks to God. Not one of us, in fact, lives with regard to himself only, and no one dies with regard to himself only. For if we live, we live to Jehovah, and if we die, we die to Jehovah. So both if we live and if we die, we belong to Jehovah. For to this end Christ died and came to life again, so that he might be Lord over both the dead and the living.

    But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you also look down on your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says Jehovah, ‘to me every knee will bend, and every tongue will make open acknowledgment to God.’” So, then, each of us will render an account for himself to God. (Romans 14:2-12)

    The Refining of the Sons of Levi

    Paul closes his arguments in Romans by addressing the people of the Nations — those of Christendom who put faith in Christ:

    For I do not want you to be unaware of this sacred secret, brothers, so that you do not become wise in your own eyes: A partial dulling of senses has come upon [anti-typical] Israel until the full number of people of the nations has come in, and in this manner ALL Israel will be saved. Just as it is written: “The deliverer will come out of Zion and turn away ungodly practices from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them, when I take their sins away.” True, with respect to the good news, [anti-typical Jews] are enemies for your sakes; but with respect to God’s choosing, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God [of the anti-typical Jews] are not things he will regret. For just as you were once disobedient to God but have now been shown mercy because of their disobedience, so also these now have been disobedient with mercy resulting to you, so that they themselves may also now be shown mercy. For God has confined ALL of them together in disobedience so that he might show all of them mercy. (Romans 11:25—32)

    When the Holy Spirit enlightens the Anointed to see the value of all those who call upon Christ in faith, Malachi 3:3—5 will finally come to fulfillment:

    “And he will sit as a refiner and cleanser of silver and will cleanse the sons of Levi; and he will clarify them like gold and like silver, and they will certainly become to Jehovah people presenting a gift offering in righteousness. And the gift offering of Judah and of Jerusalem will actually be pleasing to Jehovah, as in the days of long ago and as in the years of antiquity.”

    In an amazing way, God has taught us that in even a greater fulfillment than the past, will unite all human under his Theocracy, the spiritual House of Israel. It is then we will see the true fulfillment of the ancient prophecy reiterated for us in Hebrews:

    “‘For this is the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel after those days,’ says Jehovah. ‘I will put my laws in their mind, and in their hearts I will write them. And I will become their God, and they will become my people.

    “‘And they will no longer teach each one his fellow citizen and each one his brother, saying: “Know Jehovah!” For they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful toward their unrighteous deeds, and I will no longer call their sins to mind.’” (Hebrews 8:10—12, Jer 31:31-34)

    This is fulfilled when the remnant unite as one under the Christ, and and become the true Spiritual Israel. No wonder Paul declared:

    “O the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable his judgments are and beyond tracing out his ways are! For “who has come to know Jehovah’s mind, or who has become his adviser?” Or, “who has first given to him, so that it must be repaid to him?”Because from him and by him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:33—34)

    Magazine Cover

    • This topic was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by  SongofHannah. Reason: Correction in terminology: "Spiritual Jew" corrected to the more accurate term "Anti-typical Jew"
    3+
    Anderiega
    Participant
    Post count: 4

    Wow!!! All I can say is this resonates with what I’ve been feeling for some months now, but thank you for supplying these scriptures which validate my feelings. I find this so logical and comforting! God is so merciful.

    3+
    rlong9000
    Participant
    Post count: 9

    Richard Long here, in case the Disqus user name was confusing.

    Hannah, this is as fine as piece of research as I have ever seen.

    As you are aware I am currently in a state of perplexity regarding the absolute arrogance we JW’s exhibit in our wholesale condemnation of Christendom and my belief we cannot say we are not part of her.

    Your treatise has given me pause to reflect on how it could possibly be not a mistake that I, like so many, are drawn to the JW message, only to find such bitter disappointment in the practice of the JW religion.

    To think of JW’s and Christendom as warring factions of the same family seems to satisfy both faith and reason. To understand from scripture a prophetic framework for what we observe brings much comfort.

    If we follow on from the point you left off, and accept as given that upon commensuration of his ministry, Jesus was initiating a process for selection of a royal priesthood, do we still have to accept that all first century Christian’s were given the token in the spirit to signify that (possible) destiny? Or should we consider those Christians gathered from “Ephraim” excluded from the bride class? And how on earth would we be able to carry that distinction down to now and on until the parousia?

    Are we able to continue supporting the JW line that the royal priesthood must come from only within their ranks, or are we forced to now concede the expansion of the house of God, the ecclesia, to include Christendom.

    Also, I wondered if you were given any impression on the significance of Ephraim being the second son of Joseph, but receiving the blessings of firstborn when adopted by Jacob, even over the protest of Joseph.

    Look forward to hearing your thoughts, and again, nice work.

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  rlong9000.
    4+
    Burt Reynolds.
    Participant
    Post count: 15

    Hello Hannah, food for thought as Kevin would say. What you say seems not only reasonable, but quite plausible. It is certainly the best article that I have seen that includes the element of Christendom and the role it has to play with the watchtower. It also supplies a biblical argument for non-exclusivity of the watchtower which has of late, been perplexing me.

    But you say that all this does not mean that the witnesses, or watchtower, are not representative of Jehovah but nonetheless, a part of a greater picture. Why then should we assume that, as Robert points out, the judgement will be coming first against the watchtower? Why not all of Christendom at the same time. In some respects, I am not convinced that some parts of Christendom have ANY inkling of the god they claim to represent. Some do. Some ignore God altogether and worship men, or animals, or figments of imagination.

    In the end analysis, you say that it is love alone that carries the path to salvation and quote the words of Jesus. I can believe that, agree it, applaud it. But what of the Knowing of Jehovah? How can you love something you do not know, and which, incidentally, is a scriptural fact also, but where, I’m sorry to say, I cannot recall.

    I do think your thoughts on the non-exclusivity of the watchtower is valid though as I have said. I think the connections you have made to show that are very solid too and impart the sense of ‘why hasn’t anyone else seen this?’ and which is often a good pointer to truth. But I don’t pretend to understand all you have written. I’m just not on that level….I wish I was. Yet what it does do, is put an entirely different approach to the tribulation. Can you just say then, what should we be arming ourselves with scripturally….? If all this is correct, what should we do about it? What is the criteria for salvation if those in Christendom are to be treated equally? Can it just be love of righteousness? Your article is a wonderful piece of work. Thank you for it.

    5+
    SongofHannah
    Keymaster
    Post count: 67

    Hannah, this is as fine as piece of research as I have ever seen.

    As you are aware I am currently in a state of perplexity regarding the absolute arrogance we JW’s exhibit in our wholesale condemnation of Christendom and my belief we cannot say we are not part of her.

    Your treatise has given me pause to reflect on how it could possibly be not a mistake that I, like so many, are drawn to the JW message, only to find such bitter disappointment in the practice of the JW religion.

    To think of JW’s and Christendom as warring factions of the same family seems to satisfy both faith and reason. To understand from scripture a prophetic framework for what we observe brings much comfort.

    Thank you Richard, it gives me much comfort too! And it helps me understand why we need Christ’s ransom, all the more!

    If we follow on from the point you left off, and accept as given that upon commensuration of his ministry, Jesus was initiating a process for selection of a royal priesthood, do we still have to accept that all first century Christian’s were given the token in the spirit to signify that (possible) destiny? Or should we consider those Christians gathered from “Ephraim” excluded from the bride class? And how on earth would we be able to carry that distinction down to now and on until the parousia?

    Are we able to continue supporting the JW line that the royal priesthood must come from only within their ranks, or are we forced to now concede the expansion of the house of God, the ecclesia, to include Christendom.

    Also, I wondered if you were given any impression on the significance of Ephraim being the second son of Joseph, but receiving the blessings of firstborn when adopted by Jacob, even over the protest of Joseph.

    These are all excellent points! This is why, I felt the need to qualify my thoughts on this subject by saying “I am of the thought” rather than “I am of the belief”. As I am not quite sure either. However, I do believe, that JWs were entrusted “with the sacred pronouncements of God”. Perhaps, like the Jews, such ones are given the first consideration? But then, as Paul says, “their false step means riches to the world and their decrease means riches to people of the nations”? (Romans 11:12)

    I think you may be on to something here, as it makes the words Paul spoke to the Nations that much more meaningful:

    However, if some of the branches were broken off and you, although being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became a sharer of the richness of the olive’s root, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If, though, you are arrogant toward them, remember that it is not you who bears the root, but the root bears you. You will say, then: “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true! For their lack of faith, they were broken off, but you are standing by faith. Do not be haughty, but be in fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Consider, therefore, God’s kindness and severity. There is severity toward those who fell, but toward you there is God’s kindness, provided you remain in his kindness; otherwise, you too will be lopped off. And they also, if they do not remain in their lack of faith, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them back in. For if you were cut out of the olive tree that is wild by nature and were grafted contrary to nature into the garden olive tree, how much more will these who are natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree! (Romans 11:17-24)

    Certainly, this topic certainly deserves further scriptural exploration! 🙂

    1+
    SongofHannah
    Keymaster
    Post count: 67

    But you say that all this does not mean that the witnesses, or watchtower, are not representative of Jehovah but nonetheless, a part of a greater picture. Why then should we assume that, as Robert points out, the judgement will be coming first against the watchtower? Why not all of Christendom at the same time. In some respects, I am not convinced that some parts of Christendom have ANY inkling of the god they claim to represent. Some do. Some ignore God altogether and worship men, or animals, or figments of imagination.

    I hope I haven’t given the wrong impression – I do believe the WT as an organization has it’s place, for in these last days they were entrusted “with the sacred pronouncements of God”, and “in fact, into all the earth their sound went out, and to the ends of the inhabited earth their message” – So much so that many in Christendom now have a much more accurate understanding of the Bible. Yet you bring up a very excellent question about the judgment, and it certainly deserves further delving. If there is anyone that can scripturally enlighten us on this, I am all ears!

    In the end analysis, you say that it is love alone that carries the path to salvation and quote the words of Jesus. I can believe that, agree it, applaud it. But what of the Knowing of Jehovah? How can you love something you do not know, and which, incidentally, is a scriptural fact also, but where, I’m sorry to say, I cannot recall.

    I realize now, that I need to amend my ending. Because I seem to give the impression that works of no sort are required. I make the argument for works in the beginning, but I lose the reader by not referring to them once again at the end. So I’m going to add a paragraph reiterating that thought. I will also address the issue of “knowing Jehovah”.

    I do think your thoughts on the non-exclusivity of the watchtower is valid though as I have said. I think the connections you have made to show that are very solid too and impart the sense of ‘why hasn’t anyone else seen this?’ and which is often a good pointer to truth. But I don’t pretend to understand all you have written. I’m just not on that level….I wish I was. Yet what it does do, is put an entirely different approach to the tribulation. Can you just say then, what should we be arming ourselves with scripturally….? If all this is correct, what should we do about it? What is the criteria for salvation if those in Christendom are to be treated equally? Can it just be love of righteousness?

    That was my question too! I am planning to address this question next, in my personal study. If I come up with anything solid, I will share it here.

    {quote]Your article is a wonderful piece of work. Thank you for it.[/quote]

    Thank you Burt! I just couldn’t understand why the prophets kept referring to Israel & Judah. It plagued me for months! But it all flooded in when I saw those magazines at the hospital. (I just realized, I forgot to attach them! I will do that now.) 🙂

    1+
    SongofHannah
    Keymaster
    Post count: 67

    Okay, for clarification regarding “faith through works” I added the following section below the section “Salvation by Faith”. Thanks again Burt! 🙂


    Faith Perfected by Works

    So if we are judged by faith and not by works, are we to believe that no works at all, are necessary? Seems even some of the early Christians started to mistakenly conclude that simply “having faith” would save them. So much so, that the Apostle James felt it necessary to adjust their thinking:

    Of what benefit is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but he does not have works? That faith cannot save him, can it? If a brother or a sister is lacking clothing and enough food for the day, yet one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but you do not give them what they need for their body, of what benefit is it? So, too, faith by itself, without works, is dead. (James 2:14—17)

    Interestingly, James uses the example of an immoral woman — Rahab the prostitute — to sound down his argument:

    You see that a man is to be declared righteous by works and not by faith alone. In the same manner, was not Rahab the prostitute also declared righteous by works after she received the messengers hospitably and sent them out by another way? Indeed, just as the body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:24—26)

    Speaking of Rahab, the Apostle Paul demonstrates how Rahab’s faith saved her, and lists her with other outstanding examples of faith:

    By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who acted disobediently, because she received the spies in a peaceable way. (Hebrews 11:31)

    Yet, at the time that she acted on her faith, Rahab — strikingly similar to our Samaritan at the well — was also an immoral woman. Yet neither of these women can be said to have “lived up to their dedication”. Neither were keeping the Law, nor were they offering sacrifices at the temple. If it were today, they studied no books, nor had they attended any meetings — yet their faith was recognized by both Jesus and Jehovah! And perhaps Jesus was alluding to the Samaritan woman who gave him a drink, when he said:

    “And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water to drink because he is a disciple, I tell you truly, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Matt 10:42)

    Interestingly, the Word of God being alive, in Jehovah’s eyes, Rahab is still counted among those living in the Household of God today:

    Only Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her were spared by Joshua; and she lives in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent out to spy on Jericho. (Joshua 6:25)

    Since those without Law were considered righteous, does that mean we have no responsibility towards God’s laws? No! As the Apostle Paul told the Jews:

    True, God has overlooked the times of such ignorance; but now he is declaring to all people everywhere that they should repent. Because he has set a day on which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has provided a guarantee to all men by resurrecting him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30—31)

    So again, we come to the crux of the matter: When we truly see that we cannot earn our righteousness, and that we must instead turn to Christ in repentance over our sinful state, that is when faith is truly born! And then true works — motivated not by need to absolve ourselves of our sin — but out of love bursting from an appreciative heart, perfect our faith.

    James gives us the outstanding example of Abraham, whose faith was perfected by his love. For he was motivated by the same love Jehovah had for him:

    Was not Abraham our father declared righteous by works after he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that his faith was active along with his works and his faith was perfected by his works, and the scripture was fulfilled that says: “Abraham put faith in Jehovah, and it was counted to him as righteousness”. (James 2:21-23)

    Wow. No wonder he came to be called “Jehovah’s friend”! (Isaiah 41:8)

    Lastly, Paul warns us not to judge another Christian’s faith:

    Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for Jehovah can make him stand. One man judges one day as above another; another judges one day the same as all others; let each one be fully convinced in his own mind.

    The one who observes the day observes it to Jehovah. Also, the one who eats, eats to Jehovah, for he gives thanks to God; and the one who does not eat does not eat to Jehovah, and yet gives thanks to God. Not one of us, in fact, lives with regard to himself only, and no one dies with regard to himself only. For if we live, we live to Jehovah, and if we die, we die to Jehovah. So both if we live and if we die, we belong to Jehovah. For to this end Christ died and came to life again, so that he might be Lord over both the dead and the living.

    But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you also look down on your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says Jehovah, ‘to me every knee will bend, and every tongue will make open acknowledgment to God.’” So, then, each of us will render an account for himself to God. (Romans 14:2-12)

    1+
    SongofHannah
    Keymaster
    Post count: 67

    A brother contacted me privately and very kindly reminded me that a “Spiritual Jew” is “not a Jew who is one on the outside, nor is circumcision something on the outside, on the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one on the inside, and his circumcision is that of the heart by spirit and not by a written code. That person’s praise comes from God, not from people.” Rom 2:28,29 NWT

    Well of course he is entirely correct! I was inaccurately referring to the term “spiritual Jew” in my description of JWs that try to obtain their righteousness “through works of Law”. Well of course I thanked him profusely for being kind enough to alert me to such a glaring error!

    Anyhow, I updated the post above, and replaced every reference of “spiritual Jew” with “anti-typical Jew” – which makes much more sense, and the whole thought comes together much better. I am so thankful that brother wrote me about it!

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