Thursday, February 23
I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those too I must bring in, . . . and they will become one flock, one shepherd.
Do those of the other sheep need to know the names of all those who are anointed today? The short answer is no. Why not? Because even if someone has received the heavenly calling, that person has received only an invitation, not a final confirmation of the reward. That is why Satan raises up “false prophets . . . to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones.” No one can know whether an anointed Christian will receive his heavenly reward until Jehovah judges that person to be worthy of such a prize. Jehovah makes this determination and gives him the final sealing either sometime before he dies faithful or sometime before the outbreak of “the great tribulation.” It would be pointless, then, for anyone now living on earth to try to ascertain who among God’s servants will eventually be part of the 144,000.
The teaching that there are two separate destinies for God’s sheep, a heavenly and an earthly destiny —dependent upon God’s choosing —is unique to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Certainly, it is one of the most misunderstood and controversial doctrines as well.
It is amazing that more so-called Bible students cannot grasp what is a basic, fundamental, scriptural teaching; namely, that God intends to restore paradise to this earth and to that end it is his will that righteous people will survive the violent end of this present civilization and form the nucleus of a new world.
In the 10th chapter of John Jesus spoke of himself as the shepherd, and also of “other sheep” whom he will bring into the flock. Self-styled Bible teachers, including some from among Jehovah’s Witnesses, suppose that the “other sheep” of whom Jesus spoke were the non-Jewish Christians who began to be brought into the flock when Peter baptized Cornelius and his family. However, a careful consideration of the facts proves otherwise.
Jesus began his discussion of his shepherding by saying: “Most truly I say to you, the one who does not enter into the sheepfold through the door but climbs in by another way, that one is a thief and a plunderer. But the one who enters through the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens to this one, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”
The sheepfold that Jesus entered was the nation of Israel. It was the original sheep pen. And John the baptizer was the doorkeeper who opened to Jesus and introduced him to God’s sheep. However, Jesus led his Father’s sheep out of that enclosure and into a new arrangement to which Jesus is the door. He went on to say: “When he has brought all his own out, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice. They will by no means follow a stranger but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers…Most truly I say to you, I am the door for the sheep. All those who have come in place of me are thieves and plunderers; but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the door; whoever enters through me will be saved, and that one will go in and out and find pasturage.”
In his saying “that one will go in and out and find pasturage” indicates that Jesus was likening the Christian congregation to a sheep pen that contained his entire flock. Ultimately, the shepherd intends to lead the sheep to the green pastures of paradise —whether heavenly or earthly. That is where he intends to “bring” all his sheep, including the other sheep, whom he too “must bring in.”
Now, reasoning on the matter, what sort of protective enclosure were people of the nations in prior to their becoming Christians? The reason that question is pertinent is because Jesus stated that the other sheep comprised a separate fold prior to their being brought in to form one flock.
As stated already, the natural Jews were somewhat protected by the law and were in a state of readiness when the shepherding Messiah arrived. And the faithful ones responded to his voice. In contrast, Paul, the apostle to the nations, said that people of the nations were alienated from the state of Israel and were without God in the world. The point is, those gentile believers were not gathered into any sort of fold before they were taken into the one flock.
On the other hand, neither is it reasonable to suppose that the millions of persons who presently identify themselves as Jesus’ other sheep were at any time prior to their becoming Jehovah’s Witnesses in any sort of sheep fold either.
The question is: When does Jesus bring in those other sheep to form one flock? The 34th chapter of Ezekiel has the answer. In that portion of prophecy God addresses himself to the shepherds of his sheep, saying to them: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel, who have been feeding themselves! Is it not the flock that the shepherds should feed? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, and you slaughter the fattest animal, but you do not feed the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bandaged the injured or brought back the strays or looked for the lost; rather, you have ruled them with harshness and tyranny. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; they were scattered and became food for every wild beast of the field. My sheep were straying on all the mountains and on every high hill; my sheep were scattered over all the surface of the earth, with no one searching for them or seeking to find them.”
The prophecy of Ezekiel ostensibly speaks to the shepherds of Israel who were responsible for the national calamity that befell them when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and the Israelites and Jews were scattered. In reality, the prophecy is a judgment against Christian overseers at the time of Christ’s second coming. That is evident by reason of the fact that God turns over the responsibility of shepherding his scattered sheep to “David.” Verses 23-24 so state: “I will raise up one shepherd over them, my servant David, and he will feed them. He himself will feed them and become their shepherd. And I, Jehovah, will become their God, and my servant David a chieftain among them. I myself, Jehovah, have spoken.”
Obviously the greater David did not begin shepherding the Israelites after their return from Babylon. Nor does the prophecy apply to the first century. How do we know? Because the gathering of the sheep is preliminary to the attack of Gog of Magog upon the restored “Israel.”
The point is, all of God’s sheep are in a flock prior to Christ’s coming, or at least they were at one point. However, the sheep are abused and scattered because of the incompetence of the shepherds to whom they were entrusted. And eventually all are scattered.
Amazingly, the Watchtower claims that God entrusted his sheep to the political rulers and worldly tyrants and actually expects them to minister to them. Franz even concocted the phrase “governmental shepherds” to describe them. His justification for doing so was that the negligent shepherds of Israel were the kings and princes, hence “governmental shepherds,” if you please. However, it seems to have alluded the brilliant Bible scholar that all the kings of both Israel and Judah were bound by the covenant that Moses mediated and were required by law to read the law daily so as to successfully shepherd God’s nation.
But even though the would-be interpreters acknowledge that the sheep are not even genuine sheep, only claiming to be such by virtue of their being nominal churchgoers, it is mystifying why God would expect the wicked tyrants of this world to search for lost sheep who only pretend to be his sheep anyway. And what would happen if they actually found one of these lost fake sheep? Could they possibly be expected to bind their wounds or care for them? Let Jehovah’s Witnesses try to make sense of it.
Needless to say, God would not entrust his precious sheep, for whom Christ died, to just anyone. As the apostle noted God provided apostles, prophets, teachers and shepherds for the building up of the body. However, there is a judgement yet to come. The letter of James cautions would-be teachers that they will receive a heavier judgment. And in connection with the slaves who are appointed to feed his sheep, Jesus said of them: “Indeed, everyone to whom much was given, much will be demanded of him, and the one who was put in charge of much will have more than usual demanded of him.”
Yes, all of those who are put in charge of caring for God’s sheep will be held accountable, but especially the slaves charged with providing the sheep their food at the proper time.
Look at the situation today. Can it not be said that the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses fit the description of the negligent shepherds? How so?
Do they not feed themselves with the best? Like the kings of Israel, they have even erected a grand palatial headquarters for themselves from the sweat of thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their sumptuous appetite for worldly accruements testifies against them; luxury cars, paid healthcare, first-class travel around the world. They enjoying privileges and comforts that many ordinary witnesses cannot afford.
Whereas, Paul labored day and night, sometimes in hunger and nakedness, suffering persecution from false brothers, working with his own hands so as not to impose an expensive burden on the brothers, the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses are treated like kings —nay, gods! But any who do not agree with them they slaughter —judicially executing any and all who run afoul of them. They have spent millions of dollars surpassing the plaintive cry of abused children. All the while persecuting those who are sickened over the Watchtower’s rampant hypocrisy.
Some sheeplike persons who wish to be baptized are prevented because they cannot in good conscience confess belief in the Watchtower’s artfully contrived invisible parousia. Indeed, it is impossible to be one of Jehovah’s Witnesses if you do not give glory to the Governing Body. Like the prophecy states, “for with your flank and shoulder you kept pushing, and with your horns you kept shoving all the sick ones until you had scattered them abroad.”
In this way, and in many other ways, the shepherds feed on the sheep. Consequently, the judgment of Jehovah has already been pre-determined: “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says: ‘I am against the shepherds, and I will demand an accounting of them for my sheep, and I will dismiss them from feeding my sheep, and the shepherds will no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouth, and they will no longer be food for them.’”
But while, so far, it is only a relative few who have been skinned and lost, in the immediate future the entire flock will be scattered. This happened in the first century as well, when the shepherd was struck and the sheep were scattered. But the coming of Christ will be far more tumultuous, which is why the 34th chapter of Ezekiel describes it as “the day of clouds and thick gloom.” (See essay: Woe to the Shepherds Who Have Become Feeders of Themselves.)
The point is, as regards the other sheep who are not of this fold, the two will be made one flock under Christ after the tribulation is cut short. That is when the re-gathering takes place. That is when the blessed enter into spiritual paradise. That is when the scripture will be fulfilled: “And I will make a covenant of peace with them, and I will rid the land of vicious wild beasts, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the forests. I will make them and the area around my hill a blessing, and I will cause the rain to fall at the proper time. Blessings will pour down like the rains. The trees of the field will yield their fruit, and the soil will give its produce, and they will dwell securely on the land. And they will have to know that I am Jehovah when I break their yoke bars and rescue them from those who enslaved them. They will no longer become something for the nations to prey upon, and the wild beasts of the earth will not devour them, and they will dwell in security, with no one to make them afraid.”