A Generation Pure In Its Own Eyes
"There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes but that has not been washed from its own excrement." ―Proverbs 30:12, NWT.
Jesus asked: "Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time?" (Matthew 24:45) He thus indicated that there would be a household that would have a slave appointed to feed and take care of the members of that household. Eventually Jesus, as the master, would hold the appointed slave accountable for how he carried out the responsibility he was entrusted with. The apostle Peter also clearly indicates that God has a household, and Paul told the Ephesians that they were members of God's household. (1 Peter 4:17; Ephesians 2:19) Jesus promised his disciples that he would be with them until "the end of the age", therefore his household would survive until the time of its inspection.―Matthew 28:20; 24:46-51.
Where today do we find God's household? Is it made up of all those who profess to follow Jesus? Jesus himself said that there would be many who would claim to belong to him, but he would tell them, "I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness." (Matthew 7:22-23) None of us want to be among such ones. Is it possible today to identify God's household? Indeed, does belonging to God's household guarantee that a person has God's approval?
Lessons from History
Is it possible for
God's people ever to be wrong or wicked? A better question might be, is it
actually possible for them ever to be true and righteous? The pages of history tell us that although
Jehovah has always had individuals who loyally loved and obeyed him, yet time and
again his people as a whole rebelled against his true worship and
followed the way of the nations around them.
Consider the example of God's chosen people, the nation of Israel, who we are told were "stubborn and rebellious," "whose spirit was not trustworthy with their God." "They did not keep the covenant of God, and in his law they refused to walk." Yes, "they began to speak against God," "they did not put faith in [him]," "they tried to fool him with their mouth and lie to him." Whereas Jehovah was "merciful" and "cover [their] error," keeping in mind that they were flesh, they would "make him feel hurt" and "pained even the Holy One of Israel." They kept on "offending him, and inciting him to jealousy." Although he is a God "slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, pardoning error and transgression and sin," yet he does not "give exemption from punishment;" which resulted in their repentance again and again, "until there was no healing."―Psalms 78:8, 10, 19, 22, 36, 38-41, 58, 65-67; Exodus 34:6-7; 2 Chronicles 36:15-16.
What about the disciples of Jesus? Surely they must have learned from the terrible examples of the Israelites. Concerning some of the Christians in the first century the disciple Jude wrote: "Beloved ones, though I was making every effort to write you about the salvation we hold in common, I found it necessary to write you to exhort you to put up a hard fight for the faith that was once for all time delivered to the holy ones. My reason is that certain men have slipped in who have long ago been appointed by the Scriptures to this judgment, ungodly men, turning the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for loose conduct and proving false to our only Owner and Lord, Jesus Christ."―Jude 1:3-4.
The apostle Peter likewise drew attention to the ungodly within the congregations, when he wrote: "However, there also came to be false prophets among the people, as there will also be false teachers among you. These very ones will quietly bring in destructive sects and will disown even the owner that bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves. Furthermore, many will follow their acts of loose conduct, and on account of these the way of the truth will be spoken of abusively. Also, with covetousness they will exploit you with counterfeit words. But as for them, the judgment from of old is not moving slowly, and the destruction of them is not slumbering."―2 Peter 2:1-3, 10-22.
It's sobering when one considers the many scriptures that reveal how quickly God's people deflected from the true teachings of Jesus and his apostles within a few short years. For that reason Jesus sent letters to the seven congregations, as recorded in the book of Revelation, to help us today understand what the situation was like by the end of the first century.―Revelation 2:1-3:22.
"A Generation that is Pure in its Own Eyes"
Surely, we today have learned the
lessons of history by now and taken them to heart. Since we
believe that we are living deep in the time of the end, Paul's words in
1 Corinthians 10:11 have special meaning for us: "Now these things went
on befalling them as examples, and they were written for a warning to
us upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived."
Have we heeded the warning? Is it impossible in this modern age for God's people to again find themselves in the situation of those mentioned as "warning examples"? We have put our trust in our leaders who are assuring us that we—Jehovah's witnesses—are a blessed people who have God's approval because we speak the "pure language" of truth. (Zephaniah 3:9) From our point of view it is unthinkable for Jehovah to find causes for complaint against us. Therefore we fail to acknowledge the prophecies of judgment which God has addressed to "my people" as applying to us; deflecting such ones as finding their fulfilment in the various churches of Christendom; although at the same time we don't allow that Christendom represents the true God Jehovah. If we claim to be God's people then certainly we must also accept God's words of denunciation as applying to us. The words recorded in Proverbs 30:12 well describe our present condition: "There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes but that has not been washed from its own excrement." (New World Translation)
Jesus denounced the hypocrisy of the Pharisees in his day, who he said resembled "whitewashed graves, which outwardly indeed appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men's bones and every sort of uncleanness." To the people the religious leaders appeared to be spiritual men, even holy, but Jesus exposed their "hypocrisy and lawlessness." (Matt. 23:27-28) The situation among God's people today closely resembles that of the Jews in Jesus' day. When the Watch Society consistently preaches that friendship with the world means enmity with God, how can they then at the same time join themselves to that which they also condemn, as was exposed in the Media in 2001? On October 15, 2001, Stephen Bates, religious affairs correspondent for The Guardian Newspaper, revealed the Watchtower Society's 10 year secret affiliation with the Department of Public Information (DPI) of the United Nations. Although the Society acknowledged having been an NGO member of the UN for the ten years, they minimized the significance of this adulterous relationship by claiming it was only for the purpose of gaining access to the extensive UN Library for their research. They joined themselves to the most powerful political organization on earth, of which Satan is the ruler, for a mere library card.―James 4:4. (See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,2763,574175,00.html)
The majority of Jehovah's people have not responded with alarm as they should have when they discovered these things, although they know full well that "the form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father" requires us "to keep [ourselves] without spot from the world." (James 1:27) Yet there are many others who were stumbled upon learning of this hypocrisy, and some among them have even come to question whether God has a household. Should we be surprised by these developments? Should we be puzzled over the growing loss of faith in our leaders who are regulating every aspect of our worship; resulting also in questioning the reliability of what has always been our principal guide, the Watchtower and its interpretation of Bible prophecies; including such teachings as the establishment of God's kingdom in 1914; that we have been living in the time of the end for the past hundred years, which included the promise made back in the 1960s that we would not grow old in this old system. Faith in such promises made by men have caused much hardship for anyone who had put his trust in them. It is as Proverbs 13:12 says, "Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick." (MSG) And many of God's precious sheep have become "heartsick" over their many disappointments in men's promises.
The reason we should not let all these things throw us off balance is knowing that these things were prophesied. (Matt. 26:54; Luke 21:22) Jesus indicated that the slave who was appointed to provide food for the master's household would include both, a faithful slave who would be pronounced happy by his master upon his arrival for having being faithful in carrying out his responsibility; and an evil slave who had exalted himself over his fellow slaves, eating and drinking with the confirmed drunkards of this world, and beating God's servants as if claiming ownership of them.―Luke 12:45-46; 22:25-26; Isaiah 26:13.
On account of the foretold troubling developments within God's household many have had their faith tested to the limit; but please reflect on what has already been stated above, ― has there ever been a time in the history of God's people when they did not turn aside from true worship and apostatize from God? The very fact that the Scriptures are finding their fulfilment in us provides strong evidence that Jehovah recognizes us as his people, although "on account of these things the way of the truth [is being] spoken of abusively." (2 Peter 2:2) Apostasy can only happen among God's people, for to apostatize means a turning away from Jehovah. (Jer. 17:13; 23:14-17; Isa. 9:15-17; 2 Thess. 2:3-4) Let us not trust the words of those who are misleading us with their promise of peace, that God's judgment will not come upon us, for it will come.―Isaiah 30:9-13; Jeremiah 6:13-15; 7:4, 8-10; Amos 9:10.
Jehovah has a day of reckoning for his people. He says: "For the sake of my name I shall check my anger, and for my praise I shall restrain myself toward you that there may be no cutting you off. Look! I have refined you, but not in [the form of] silver. I have made choice of you in the smelting furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake I shall act, for how could one let oneself be profaned? And to no one else shall I give my own glory."―Isaiah 48:9-11.
The righteous among God's people recognize the reproach that we have brought upon God's holy name. We want Jehovah to act on behalf of his name, and show the whole world that not everyone that identifies himself with his name belongs to him. Therefore our heartfelt prayer is: "Even if our own errors do testify against us, O Jehovah, act for the sake of your name; for our acts of unfaithfulness have become many; it is against you that we have sinned."―Jeremiah 14:7; Ezekiel 36:22-23.
Jehovah is taking notice of the way of the righteous ones among his people; and according to his prophet Malachi, he is at this time identifying them and will separate them from among the wicked. Malachi wrote:
“You have said, ‘It is of no value to serve God. And what profit is there in that we have kept the obligation to him, and that we have walked dejectedly on account of Jehovah of armies? 15 And at present we are pronouncing presumptuous people happy. Also, the doers of wickedness have been built up. Also, they have tested God out and keep getting away.’”
16 At that time those in fear of Jehovah spoke with one another, each one with his companion, and Jehovah kept paying attention and listening. And a book of remembrance began to be written up before him for those in fear of Jehovah and for those thinking upon his name.
17 “And they will certainly become mine,” Jehovah of armies has said, “at the day when I am producing a special property. And I will show compassion upon them, just as a man shows compassion upon his son who is serving him. 18 And you people will again certainly see [the distinction] between a righteous one and a wicked one, between one serving God and one who has not served him.”―Malachi 3:14-18.
A Wicked Slave Makes his Appearance
Our sins go far
deeper than the apostasy of joining the UN as an
NGO; or the sin of manipulating the Scriptures for our own benefit,
resulting in "making the Word of God invalid, and our worship in vain,"
as Jesus said. (Matt. 15:6-9) There has been a lack of
understanding the many prophecies concerning "the time of the end"
because the "ones leading us on" have made them fit their own
self-serving agenda. Over
the decades a slave has become apparent within God's temple who has
exalted himself above all of God's people, dominating them for his own
selfish purpose. We should not be surprised for the apostle Paul
clearly foretold it.
Jehovah has warned us about his presence by revealing his position within his temple, and the danger of our following him into apostasy. We need to be aware of him because "his presence is according to the operation of Satan," and so he tries to win our trust and loyalty with "every unrighteous deception for those who are perishing." His presence within God's temple does not mean that God does not have a temple, which is his people, but rather that Satan has found a way to exert his influence over God's household by means of the wicked slave, just as he had managed to do with the religious leaders in Jesus' day.―2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.
Jesus anticipated this situation when he asked the question, "Who really is the faithful steward, the discreet one, whom his master will appoint over his body of attendants to keep giving them their measure of food supplies at the proper time?" If that slave would prove faithful in lovingly caring for his responsibility then he would also be rewarded by being appointed over all his master's belongings, at the time of the master's return. But if he were to "dominate," perhaps even beating those whom he was to feed and protect, then he would be punished with "the greatest severity," and rejected as unfaithful. (Matthew 24:45-51; Luke 12:42-46; 22:24-26) Since that slave is not one individual but made up of many members chosen and anointed by God, the reality of Jesus' illustration is that the possibility existed that some of the slaves would turn out to be wicked, while others would prove faithful.―Acts 20:29-30.
We all appreciate those of the slave who are loyal to Jehovah, who have humbly helped us to know and love our heavenly Father, and who have taught us the truth about the identity of God and his only-begotten Son Jesus; about the soul; the resurrection hope; that Satan the Devil is the god of this world; along with many other scriptural truths. (John 5:28-30; 12:49-50; 2 Cor. 4:4) We have learnt about God's kingdom which will restore Jehovah's rightful sovereignty over his creation and undo the damage done by Satan's rebellion. (Matt. 6:10; 1 John 3:8) The truth of all this has united us into a wonderful worldwide brotherhood, and as such we are members of God's household. (Eph. 2:19-22) The Society has also organized the preaching of "this good news of the kingdom" in all the earth, but of course the accomplishment of this tremendous work does not mean for a moment that we lavish praise and honour upon those who have been taking the lead in this. After all, this is "the holy work of the good news of God," and it is to Jehovah that all praise goes.―Matthew 24:14; Rom. 15:16; Isaiah 42:8.
According to Jesus' constant reminders to his disciples, we are all brothers, none more equal than others. Yet, Jesus' disciples continuously argued over who was the greatest among them. Are we immune from this same desire to outshine our brothers? Note what Jesus said to them when they once again got into a heated discussion as to who was the greatest among them: "The kings of the nations lord it over them, and those having authority over them are called Benefactors. You, though, are not to be that way. But let him that is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the one acting as chief as the one ministering. For which one is greater, the one reclining at the table or the one ministering? Is it not the one reclining at the table? But I am in your midst as the one ministering.'"―Luke 22:24-27.
The world praises and bestows titles upon those who are given authority over others in acknowledgment of their position as Benefactors. In contrast, Jesus commanded his disciples: "You, though, are not to be that way." Could that be stated any clearer? Yet, those who have elevated themselves within God's household over their fellow brothers have not shied away from honoring themselves with the title, "Faithful and discreet slave," in harmony with their claim that they are the Benefactors of God's people. Other Bibles translate it as: "call themselves friends of the people" (GodsWord); "are given names of honor" (BBE); "called benefactors and well-doers" (AMP); "called good doers" (WYC); "call themselves Protectors" (NIRV). The Living Bible paraphrases it this way: "Jesus told them, 'In this world the kings and great men order their slaves around, and the slaves have no choice but to like it!'" And, according to The Message Bible: "Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It's not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant."
When Jesus asked: "Who is the faithful steward, the discreet one?" he never intended it to be a title for those to whom he had entrusted the feeding of the members of his household. None of the twelve apostles ever referred to themselves as the "faithful and discreet slave."―Luke 12:42-46; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4.
Jesus set the example in humility, he was in their midst as a servant. When on one occasion a man called him "good teacher," Jesus immediately replied, "Why do you call me good? Nobody is good, except one, God." He refused to be addressed as good, as a title. Thus, he told his disciples, "But you, do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, whereas all you are brothers." Jesus was the Son of God. How then could anyone of his disciples accept a title that Jesus himself rejected?―Matthew 23:8-10; Mark 10:17-18.
Jesus cautioned his disciples not to think too highly of themselves on account of the blessings they had received. He warned: "The person who thinks he is important will find out how little he is worth." (NLV) "If you put yourself above others, you will be put down." (CEV) "Anyone who lifts himself up will be brought down." (Matthew 23:12, WE) That faithful and discreet is equivalent to a title becomes readily apparent by how Jesus' words at Luke 12:42 are translated in other Bibles. Here are some examples:
faithful and sensible steward – NASB
faithful and intelligent – Wey
faithful, skilled – GodsWord
faithful and prudent – Darby
wise and responsible – BBE
the dependable manager, full of common sense – MSG
faithful steward, the wise man – AMP
a wise servant who can be trusted – WE
true dispenser, and prudent – WYC
The definition of
title, among other things, is: an appellation of dignity,
distinction, or pre-eminence given to persons or families; as, titles of
office, nobility, distinction, degree, etc. Also, "an informal
right to something," such as having the authority to dominate over
others as the "faithful and discreet slave."
What if the Governing Body, which requires our obedience, calls themselves the "dependable manager, full of common sense?" or the "true dispenser, and prudent" slave? or the "wise servant who can be trusted?" or "faithful and intelligent." Why not just call themselves the "good" slave, as Jesus himself refused to do? Since they believe that Jesus appointed them in 1918-19 as the faithful and discreet slave, (or skilled, wise, prudent, intelligent, dependable), they feel that they deserve to be honored accordingly. They fail to see that the term "slave" precludes any position of honor. (Compare Luke 17:7-10) That is why Jesus told his disciples this example: "Imagine this scenario. You have a servant—say he’s been out plowing a field or taking care of the sheep—and he comes in hot and sweaty from his work. Are you going to say, 'You poor thing! Come in and sit down right away'? Of course not! Wouldn’t you be more likely to say, 'First, cook my supper and set the table, and then after I’ve eaten, you can get something to eat and drink for yourself'? And after your servant has done everything you told him to do, are you going to make a big deal about it and thank him? [I don’t think so!] Now apply this situation to yourselves. When you’ve done everything I’m telling you to do, just say, 'We’re servants, unworthy of extra consideration or thanks; we’re just doing our duty.'”―Luke 17:7-10; The Voice.
Did Jehovah choose and appoint the president of a secular corporation, namely, J. F. Rutherford, as head over his household back in 1917 (succeeding C. T. Russell after his death), to whom he gave absolute authority over his people who in turn were required to be submissive and obedient to him in all things? When J. F. Rutherford and the members of the Board of Directors were sent to a federal penitentiary the following year in 1918, they failed to grasp the significance of this turn of events, that Jehovah was in fact expressing his anger upon them. And although they acknowledged that they were being disciplined, as they later wrote, yet they failed to discern the reason for it, because they did not repent! Since it was not yet the appointed time for Jehovah to judge his household, he did not immediately remove them from their self-assumed position. He allowed the passing of time to expose their presumptuous "rule by divine right" assertion, like in the case of the "superfine apostles" who were opposing the apostle Paul in Corinth back in the first century.―1 Corinthians 4:8; 2 Corinthians 11:5; 12:11; Revelation 2:2.
The Governing Body, as it has evolved over the years, has no more been appointed by Jesus or Jehovah to their position of honor within God's temple than were the presidents of earlier years. Their many failed prophecies and ever changing adjustments to their teachings and interpretation of the Scriptures provide ample evidence that Jehovah has not been supporting them. No one can rebel against God and his clearly stated commands and expect to be blessed. Rather, there is coming a day of reckoning!
The especially grave sin for which they will be held accountable by Jesus upon his arrival is the way they have abused their position within God's household, expelling God's sheep for whom Jesus died, and this for no other reason than for questioning the validity of their assumed authority over them, and the truthfulness of their uninspired teachings. (Ezek. 13:19, 22) When the Master, Christ Jesus, arrives unexpectedly, "at an hour that [they] do not think to be it," he will "punish [them] with the greatest severity and assign [them] a part with the unfaithful ones." (Luke 12:45,46; John 16:1-4) The Master will have caught them in the act of beating the ones they were supposed to have been feeding, according to their position, and he will promptly dismiss them from his household, assigning their portion "with the hypocrites."―Matthew 24:48-51; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10.
A Body of Governors
The Governing Body within God's temple is controlling every aspect of our worship. (1 Cor. 3:16-17) The function of a governing body, as one dictionary defines the word, is to:
1. bring into conformity with rules or principles or usage; impose regulations; 2. direct or strongly influence the behavior of; 3. exercise authority over, as of nations.
describes the functions of the men who make up the governing body of the
Was there such a body of governors in the Christian congregation in the first century? Concerning Governors in Bible times, Insight on the Scriptures (published by the Watchtower Society) says:
Bible times generally had military and judicial powers and were
responsible to see that the tribute, tax, or revenue to the king or
superior ruler was paid by the jurisdictional districts or provinces
that the governors ruled. (Luke 2:1-2) Many of them put a heavy load on
the people to supply food for themselves and their large body of
"Practically all the major powers of Bible times are spoken of as having rulers of the order of governors, either as local native rulers or as governors controlling occupied territories.
"Under Roman rule, Judea was an imperial province; the governors there were directly responsible to the emperor for their actions. Pilate was the fifth of the line of governors of Judea. . . These Roman governors had the power to order capital punishment, as we see in the case of Jesus, who was judged by Pilate.—Mt 27:11-14; Joh 19:10.
"Governors of the nations in general were referred to by Jesus when he told his followers that they would be brought before such men to give a witness. Christians should not fear such rulers, though powerful, nor be worried about what to say when giving testimony before them. (Mt 10:18-20, 26) All such governors are part of the superior authorities to which Christians owe relative, not total, subjection. . . However, in contrast with the apostles, who rendered respect and honor first to Jehovah, who governs all, the nation of Israel sank to the point where they accorded earthly governors more respect than they gave Jehovah. This circumstance was used by Jehovah in strong reproof to the nation through his prophet Malachi.—Mal 1:6-8; see SUPERIOR AUTHORITIES. —it-1 p. 992 Governor. (Italics and bold mine)
In the above
summary there is no mention of a body of governors in the Christian
congregation. Is it not apparent that governing was the way of
the nations, something that Jesus told his disciples not to
imitate? If Jehovah "strongly reproved" the nation of Israel through his
prophet Malachi because they were "according earthly governors more
respect" than him, will he not do likewise with us today?
When we put our trust in the governing body, especially when the teachings go contrary to what is contained in the Scriptures, are we not according our earthly governors more respect than Jehovah? (Psalms 146:3-5) Many will quickly respond though: "We don't do that!" "Our teachings are solidly based on the Scriptures." "We worship Jehovah!" Then why are there constant adjustments made to their teachings which are always presented as "new truths" coming from Jehovah, indicating that the previous understanding did not originate with God? Individuals are viewed with suspicion by the elders when they fail to whole heartedly adopt the "new light" because of not being able to harmonize it with God's Word of truth, although they may still express their trust in the "faithful and discreet slave." The apostle John says that if we love the truth, then we will not blindly believe everything that we are taught in the name of God, but that we must "test out the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God." Why? Because "many false prophets have gone forth into the world."―1 John 4:1, 6; Matthew 15:7, 9.
If we put our faith in men, in defiance of what God tells us, and we are made to believe that our salvation depends on us following them―then just in what way are we still worshippers of Jehovah? If we do not listen to God then we are no different from the world that is estranged from God and likewise does not give heed to him; and we have become like God's rebellious people in ancient times who turned away from the true God in order to worship their Baal idols. Surely we will reap the same consequence as they did.―Psalms 146:3, 5; Jeremiah 17:5-8; Romans 15:4.
Was There a Governing Body in the First Century?
In the first
century the apostles and older men did not meddle in the affairs of the congregations outside their jurisdiction.
As Paul explains, they were not "masters over their faith," but rather
"fellow workers." (2 Cor. 1:24) Once, when a problem arose
concerning the circumcision issue, it was dealt with by the mature elders
and apostles in Jerusalem where the problem originated, and the
decision they reached was relayed to all affected congregations.
(Acts 15:1-2) We could compare it to how things are done among Jehovah's
witnesses on a local level, where each
congregation has its body of elders who are expected to have scriptural
qualifications. (The amount of hours spent in preaching is not a
scriptural qualification. Titus 1:5-9) The elders have the
responsibility to feed and shepherd the members of their congregation.
When a problem arises, the elders in their own congregation deal with
it. If the problem affects congregations in the surrounding area then
mature brothers of the affected congregations will get involved,
sometimes on a circuit or even district level.
Elders must be qualified to handle whatever problems arise otherwise they would not scripturally qualify to be elders in the first place. In this way they are all led by holy spirit. There should be no need to seek from others, such as some branch office, permission or instructions as if such ones have greater authority over their congregations. All elders are equal before Jehovah and all will be equally held accountable for the carrying out of their responsibility within his household, which they willingly accepted for their congregation.―1 Corinthians 2:12-13; James 3:1; 1 Peter 1:17; 5:1-4.
Please consider: When Jesus wrote his letters to the Seven Congregations as recorded in the book of Revelation, if there was a governing body at that time why did he bypass them and deal directly with each congregation and its elders? (Revelation 1:20-3:22) If a governing body had been established by holy spirit should not that body of governors have been called to account by the Master as to the situation in the various congregations, since as we understand it today they would be the ones having authority over every aspect of the congregations including the appointment of elders? Would they be given authority over God's household and yet not be acknowledged and held accountable?
The twelve apostles have the distinction of being the "twelve foundation stones" of the New Jerusalem. (Revelation 21:14) They were the ones chosen by Jehovah to take the lead in carrying on the work that Jesus had started. Jesus told the apostle Peter they were to continue to "feed the sheep." (John 21:15-17) They were also strongly admonished by their Master not to imitate the nations in lording it over the sheep. By the end of the first century only the apostle John was still alive, many impostors had presented themselves as having apostolic authority. This is why, in his first letter to the congregation in Ephesus, Jesus addressed that situation and commended his faithful disciples for "weeding out apostolic pretenders." (Revelation 2:2) These craved the recognition and authority of the apostles and they are likened to Satan himself. (2 Corinthians 11:5, 12-14) These ones had no respect for their fellow believers even wanting to expel from the congregation anyone who did not submit to them; why even the aged apostle John became the target of such ones.―2 Corinthians 11:26; 12:11; Galatians 2:4; 3 John 1:9-10.
The apostle Paul foretold that "oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves." (Acts 20:29-30) This situation would become especially noticeable in the "last days" when this wicked slave's presence would become apparent during the short time leading up to the master's sudden and unexpected arrival.
The apostle Peter counselled shepherds of God's flock to "Shepherd the flock of God in your care, not under compulsion, but willingly; neither for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly; neither as lording it over those who are God’s inheritance, but becoming examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd has been made manifest, you will receive the unfadable crown of glory."―1 Peter 5:2-4.
Those elders, of whom it could be said that they were "appointed by holy spirit," did not "lord it over" "God's inheritance". In fact, an overseer who is appointed by holy spirit is identified by his love for God's word and always quoting it when teaching or correcting, thereby encouraging trust in Jehovah; whereas an elder who has been merely appointed by the Society and its governing body is known by his reliance on the Watchtower and other publications which he uses for his authority to teach and correct, for he recognizes his need to be loyal to the ones who have appointed him.―Acts 20:28; Titus 1:5-9.
Our body of governors have justified their lording it over their fellow slaves by their unique interpretations of the Scriptures, going beyond the things written. They have done this by teaching that:
1. Jesus appointed them in 1918-19 to their position of oversight, already having found them exclusively to be faithful and discreet. Therefore, they insist to have the right to govern, or rule, before actually sitting on their heavenly thrones. They have started ruling ahead of their time and apart of the holy ones. (1 Cor. 4:6, 8; Dan. 7:22)
2. Also, they claim to have a special relationship with God in connection with the New Covenant, which they say includes only them. Yes, they even say that Jesus is their mediator only and have made themselves the mediator of everyone else.
Over the decades this had not really been an issue, but when the year 1975 did not bring about the anticipated end of this system as they had led many to believe, they lost credibility, but especially among those who had planned their lives accordingly; and thus their God-claimed authority suddenly began to be seriously questioned. By then they had in subjection over two million worshipers. (Which has grown to over seven million today.) Fearful of losing authority over such a great crowd, a number of those highly placed in the organization began to flex their power in an attempt to keep their flock in subjection. Many articles on apostasy began to appear in the publications, and questioning the authority of "the faithful and discreet" slave became intolerable. The evil slave, the "man of lawlessness," was starting to make his presence felt.
Although he has not been elevated to his lofty position by Jehovah, yet Jehovah tells us that it serves his purpose to allow this "son of destruction" to remain a short time while he is also revealing his presence to his people who are listening to him. Paul writes that "the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will do away with by the spirit of his mouth an bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence." In the meantime we can expect the situation in God's household to go from bad to worse, until the sudden arrival of the master.―2 Thessalonians 2:8-12.
Many are of the opinion that since Jehovah has allowed all these things to take place within his household, then he must be in agreement with it; but our God has always been patient with the rebelliousness of his people. Because of a seeming lack of action on God's part, like his people in ancient times, we too are in danger of becoming fully set in our wayward course for we may imagine that as his people we can do no wrong. After all, are we not "the temple of Jehovah"? (Jer. 7:4; 1 Cor. 6:19-20) The Scripture cautions us, saying: "Because sentence against a bad work has not been executed speedily, that is why the heart of the sons of men has become fully set in them to do bad."―Ecclesiastes 8:11.
Instead of being overly disturbed by the presence of the wicked slave among us for all these many years, let us find comfort in what Ecclesiastes goes on to say: "But even though a person sins a hundred times and still lives a long time, I know that those who fear God will be better off. The wicked will never live long, good lives, for they do not fear God. Their days will never grow long like the evening shadows. And this is not all that is meaningless in our world. In this life, good people are often treated as though they were wicked, and wicked people are often treated as though they were good. This is so meaningless!" ―Eccl. 8:12-14, New Living Translation.
"Keep Silent Before Jehovah and Wait Longingly for Him"
We must make a
distinction between the things taught by men and the things that belong
to God. (1 John 4:6) We do not "put [our] trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling
man, to whom no salvation belongs." But, rather, we "trust in Jehovah with
all [our] heart and [we] do not lean upon [our] own understanding. In all
ways [we] take notice of him, [for] he himself will make [our] paths
straight."―Psalms 146:3; Proverbs 3:5-6.
The time is fast approaching when everyone will face the fact that not everything we have been taught was what it seemed, and many "strongly entrenched things" will be overturned. It will be very difficult for many to discard their previous strong convictions of what they believed to be "truth," especially if it might mean being expelled from the congregation, from their friends and even families, as apostates. Will your faith survive such a severe test?―Matthew 10:37-38; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.
Jesus spoke of the coming "hour of test, which is to come upon the whole inhabited earth." (Revelation 3:10) This test is not about how much physical pain we can endure, but rather how our faith will remain intact. (Luke 18:8; 1 Peter 1:6-7) Because of the operation of this wicked slave among us, Jesus said, "it is unavoidable that causes for stumbling should come." (Luke 17:1) Yes, sadly, "many will be stumbled and betray one another." (Matthew 24:10) May we not stumble, nor be stumbling others, because of not understanding the time of our testing.―Psalms 7:8-9; Luke 8:13.
Through the words of the apostle John, Jehovah is encouraging us all to "test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with [him]." (1 John 4:1) That means that Jehovah expects us to compare what we are being taught by our teachers with what his Word actually teaches, doing so would be a safeguard to us. The Watchtower of March 1, 2004, on page 6, actually encourages us to do that. It reads: "Like Timothy, true Christians today are keeping their senses by rejecting human reasoning and by accepting only Scriptural authority for their doctrinal beliefs."
That is good advice! Jesus said that "the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for, indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him." (John 4:23) If we truly are lovers of truth and are to stand firm in our faith, we will have to look solely to God for salvation, by sticking to his Word of truth and by considering his commandments, for "they are not burdensome." (John 17:17; 1 John 5:3-4) "Look! God is my salvation. I shall trust and be in no dread; for Jah Jehovah is my strength and [my] might, and he came to be the salvation of me."―Isaiah 12:2.
"Good is Jehovah to the one hoping in him,
to the soul that keeps seeking for him.
Good it is that one should wait, even silently,
for the salvation of Jehovah." ― Lamentations 3:25-26.