QUESTION: Our Bible reading this week references Exodus 36:6,7. Proverbs 30:15 talks about those that have not said “enough.” In view of the latest move of the Society on collections, is there anything in prophecy that addresses this situation?
ANSWER: The account in Exodus concerns the occasion when Moses made an announcement to the Israelites, requesting that they not bring in any more contributions for the tabernacle construction project Jehovah had ordered. The account says that they had “more than enough”.
Conversely, Proverbs 30:15 says: “The leeches have two daughters that cry, “Give! Give!”
As regards the “latest move of the Society on collections,” it is my understanding that the Watchtower is now requesting that all congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses resolve to make a monthly pledge; basically, to commit to a sort of binding monthly tithe imposed on the whole congregation. This is certainly a major departure from the previous arrangement of individual contributions.
There is little doubt that Watchtower Society has departed from the vision of its founder, Charles Russell, who once stated that the Watchtower would never solicit for money – that if at some point operating funds were not made available, then he would understand that to mean that God was no longer supporting the printing operations and it was time to suspend publication.
While still boasting of not passing a collection plate like the money-grubbing churches of Christendom, over the years Bethel has devised more subtle ways of pressing Jehovah’s Witnesses to contribute. For example, every year around the last month of the year an insert appears in the Kingdom Ministry explaining various ways contributions can be made using deeded properties, bonds, stocks, and annuities. The reason this is done at the end of the year is to appeal to the self-interest of the potential donor in qualifying for a tax deduction for the year.
There is no question that a massive publishing operation such as the Watchtower Society sponsors requires a substantial amount of funding. Likewise, the global growth of Jehovah’s Witnesses places a huge demand on the organization to build kingdom halls and other facilities.
At the same time the Watchtower has been cutting costs; for example, going to cheaper paperback books, consolidating branch offices, downsizing the Bethel headcount, cutting the AWAKE! magazine to a monthly printing, having brothers download and print their own assembly programs, chopping district overseers from the theocratic hierarchy, and no doubt various other things.
But the biggest move, by far, is the sale of the prized Brooklyn Bethel properties, which is rumored to be worth about $ 1,000,000,000 on today’s real estate market!
As an outsider, though, I certainly am in no position to say with any authority if the Watchtower Society has enough or “more than enough” to do the work. However, even a casual observer cannot fail to notice the steadily increasing demands placed upon Jehovah’s Witnesses to give more and more. And this comes at a time when many families are under a greater financial burden than ever before.
As regards prophecy, though, Jehovah can speak with authority – and he does!
Although written long before any of us were born, long before there was any Watchtower Society, God knows human nature and therefore he can speak to the present. He knows, too, the Devil will always try to appeal to base human nature. He will especially use his wicked power to try to overreach men in positions of responsibility within Christ’s organization. And sadly, it is evident that Satan has had considerable success.
(Interestingly, before Judas was overreached by the Devil to betray Jesus he was in charge of the treasury box for the ministry of Jesus and his apostles, from which he stole.)
Specifically, take for example the opening words of the 2nd chapter of Micah, which reads: “Woe to those who scheme what is harmful, who work out evil on their beds! When morning light comes they carry it out, because it is in the power of their hand. They desire fields and seize them; also houses, and they take them; they defraud a man of his house, a man of his inheritance.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses would never assent to these words of God applying to the leadership of the Watchtower Society, but that is to be expected. Yet, as has been put forward in the commentary on Micah in Jehovah Himself Has Become King, there is ample reason to accept that they do apply.
Also, through the prophecy of Amos Jehovah condemns the leaders of his people for their defrauding the lowly one while they sprawl on their couches of ivory.
While it is highly unlikely that Bethel will ever say “enough,” Jehovah is going to in the near future. He is going to bring the operations of the Watchtower Society to a sudden, jolting halt. The coming catastrophe is described in vivid metaphoric terms in the prophecy of Joel.
Also the letter of James, which is not really a book of prophecy, but which is addressed to dedicated Christians, speaks to God’s coming fiery judgment during the last days. James wrote: “Come, now, you rich men, weep and wail over the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothing has become moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted away, and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh. What you have stored up will be like a fire in the last days. Look! The wages you have withheld from the workers who harvested your fields keep crying out, and the cries for help of the reapers have reached the ears of Jehovah of armies. You have lived in luxury and for self-gratification on the earth. You have fattened your hearts on the day of slaughter. You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous one. Is he not opposing you?”
So, while it may not be apparent to any human, from Jehovah’s lofty position it is revealed in prophecy that the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses have more in common with the daughters of the leeches than they do with Moses, which will become manifest to all in the near future.