Moses Strikes the Rock and Draws Water in a Rebellious Age

“Finally, Moses cried out to Jehovah: “What should I do with this people? A little longer and they will stone me!” as the Israelites went online and complained 24/7 over everything under the sun. It is an update Exodus 17:4 into the present. Though the July 2018 Watchtower article entitled ‘Where are Your Eyes Looking?’ nowhere makes the connection, beyond a vague reference to those having ‘a measure of responsibility in God’s organization,’ which everyone took as a reference to congregation elders, I couldn’t help but think the ones of the Governing Body had themselves foremost in mind as beneficiaries of the counsel offered.

It is not as though I have any special insight. It is just that I hang out on the internet a lot and I hear all the grousing going on. It is not necessarily to my credit that I do this. It may be like the impression you get from hearing Trump and Obama people scream online at each other day and night but then you go into the real world and you find that people get along with each other tolerably well despite differences, and it is just the internet that gives a skewed picture.

Much was made of the instance in which Moses produced water from the rock at God’s direction. He did it twice, something that I had forgotten, if I ever knew it in the first place. The first was months after crossing the Red Sea, during a time when there was so much muttering over lack of water that Moses in frustration cried out the words above. It didn’t occur to them that the God who slammed Egypt with ten plagues and parted the waters, closing them upon the army in pursuit, could solve the problem of a drought. Jehovah told Moses to strike a rock. Moses did, and water gushed out. (Exodus 17)

The next instance was almost 40 years later, and the people seem to have worn Moses down, what with constant bellyaching and occasional rebellion throughout the interim. This time when they started complaining over the same thing, Moses lost it. “Hear, now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you from this crag?” and struck the rock twice, after which water again gushed out. But God didn’t like what Moses had shouted. Much later Psalm 106: 32-33 says, ‘They provoked him at the waters of Meribah, and it went badly for Moses because of them. They embittered his spirit, and he spoke rashly with his lips.”

Look, if you approach the speaker after a good talk and tell him it was a good talk, he will as often as not say something to the effect that it is not really him who should get the credit, but Jehovah. He says that even though people are capable of speaking all by themselves without any help at all from Jehovah. So what about someone who takes full credit for doing what no human in a thousand years could do? It is what Moses did. Yet that’s what can happen when the scoundrels are nipping at your heels day and night for forty years. This last bit of correction from God, that Moses as a result of his outburst would not be the one to take his countrymen into the promised land, strikes the average reader as pretty harsh. Yet it is entirely in harmony with ‘to whom more is given, more will be expected,’ and ‘he will finish your training; he will make you firm.’ Moses, like everybody else, is being trained for the real life, not this transitory one.

Notwithstanding that the internet is the perfect breeding ground for complainers, one has to ask. ‘What is it with all these malcontents?’ It is as though kicking against the goads is the order of the day, seen everywhere. Acquiescence to the authority of the parent, the teacher, the counselor, the coach, the boss, the consulted advisor, the party leader, the union steward, and those taking the lead in the congregation was once an entirely unremarkable fact of life; today it is selling out one’s soul. I begin to imagine the GB posting God’s rebuke to Moses as their own personal yeartext, in hopes that they do not also lose it one day kicking back at the grumblers.

God counted that complaining about Moses as complaining about Him. “When your forefathers tested me; They challenged me, though they had seen my works,” reads Psalm 96:6. ‘Yeah, well, they’re no Moses,’ I can hear the retorts already, ‘Where are their comparable works? What Red Sea did they lead anyone though?’

No, I think people should think very hard before they go there. The human component of the divine-human interface is always the sticking point. It is even so with Judas. He and God were tight; there were absolutely no problems there. But that fraud that claimed to be the Messiah! That was just too much for Judas.

Observing that literal food and drink prefigures the greater spiritual food and drink, the accomplishments of the Witness organization today are nothing short of amazing, The average person of a developing nation is stuck with some 200 year-old turkey of a translation that he can neither afford nor understand because those in the church world think it only natural that Big Business be entrusted with the distribution of God’s word. Only Jehovah’s Witnesses devise an entirely separate channel to place a modern understandable translation in his hands at minimal cost, even free. The Bible satisfactorily answers questions that are answered nowhere else, the deeper questions of life such as ‘Why would God permit suffering, why do people die and what is the hope afterward, and what is the ultimate purpose of life?’ Although this fellow may not have a nickel to his name, he has access to the answers no less than someone in more affluent lands, some of whom count it as nothing as they grouse about matters of personal inconvenience.

It is not nothing. However, when people become obsessed with their own immediate needs and wants, it can become as nothing. I don’t dare do it: simply become a whiner over present inconveniences. There are some inconveniences, of course, in pursuing a united service to God today, but to carry on excessively about them seems to me a reality not too far off from Moses in Sinai. In any organization there is a chance that a given decision will not go your way. Should organization be jettisoned on that account? It is exactly what opposers would wish. That way individuals flail away, accomplish little, and can likely be absorbed in time by the popular cause.

Obviously if you take away the upside there become nothing left other than to bitch about the downside. The rage today of the young is to go atheist. Who smoothed that path for them? However, when they come around complaining about the ‘restrictions’ they have broken free from, always ask them what they have found that is better. What is it that they have to offer? Are they not just ‘promising them freedom’ while existing as ‘slaves of corruption’? What do they have to offer? Simply the freedom to do whatever one wants without check? History shows that freedom has not worked out particularly well for humankind.

Poussin _Nicolas_-_Moses_Striking_Water_from_the_Rock_-_1649

 

 


Ben Franklin Gets Jilted and Flip-Flopping on the Resurrection

Ben Franklin courted the widow of his good friend, but the woman turned him down flat: ‘I could never be untrue to my husband.’ Then, in a dream, he went to heaven and met his good friend. They exchanged pleasantries until the friend presently said: “You must meet my new wife. She’ll be along soon.” Ben Franklin couldn’t believe it. ‘Your earthly wife is more loyal than you!’ he said. She turned me down cold on your account!’ ‘That’s too bad for you,’ the friend said. ‘She is an excellent woman and I missed her terribly at first, but now it is time to move on.’

As Ben Franklin grumbled, the ‘new’ wife showed up and it was Ben’s own deceased wife! Ben Franklin turned his rebuke on her, but she said: ‘I was a good and loyal wife to you for 50 years. Let that be enough for you!’

It is a mangling of Luke 20: 34-36, most likely, botched, but nonetheless used as a starting point. No need to say what is wrong with it. Suffice that it addresses the changed nature of relationships after death:

“Jesus said to them: ‘The children of this system of things marry and are given in marriage, but those who have been counted worthy of gaining that system of things and the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. In fact, neither can they die anymore, for they are like the angels, and they are God’s children by being children of the resurrection.’”

For the longest time Jehovah’s Witnesses took those verses to mean that those who lost a spouse in death would not reunite in the earthly resurrection. The words were in response to a beef of the Saduccees, who did not believe in the earthly resurrection. Jesus went on to speak of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who will benefit from it.

After a certain public talk years ago that had mentioned the verse, a sister raised her had during the chairman’s remarks, something I had never seen before and have not seen again. She was new in the faith, widowed, and she looked forward to reuniting with her husband in the resurrection. She quizzed the chairman until the speaker himself raised his hand and said he would clarify the verse for her afterwards.

About 30-40 years ago, the Witness organization looked at the verses anew and said maybe she could reunite. They didn’t want to be dogmatic. Maybe the verses just applied to those having the heavenly hope, as they were the ones in abundance back then. It can’t even be said of earthly ones “neither can they die anymore.” They can, and surely will, if they show a rebellious spirit. I mean, if you were raised up to life on a paradise earth, would you grumble about the ground rules? And who is the that is "counted worthy" of an earthly resurrection? Essentially, all you have to do to qualify is to show up; it is "the righteous and the unrighteous" who benefit.

Grousers who say that Jehovah’s Witnesses flip-flop on doctrine miss the point. They’ve never said they didn’t. They do it all the time, re-examining verses in the face of accumulating knowledge. It has been called ‘the light getting brighter.’ (Proverbs 4:18) It has also been called tacking. The only ones who say they can’t do it are the grousers themselves.

That said, the major teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses regarding the nature of God (no Trinity), the nature of the soul (not immortal), who goes to heaven (not everybody good, but only a minority), have been firmly in place for over a century. Ridding the false doctrines that make knowledge and a close relationship with God all but impossible is part of the job of ‘the messenger preparing the way.’ The first thing you do in preparing the way for a building project is to take out the trash.

(the Ben Franklin writing is called 'A Proposal to Madame Helvetius')

Franklin-Benjamin-LOC-head


Not in Any Manuscript I Know

Never agian will I include dogs on a Bible translation team! Just look at what they did to Matthew 15:27!

"She replied, 'Yes Lord, but really, the little dogs do eat of the steaks and hamburgers falling from their master's table. They are Dogs-2712045_960_720
partial to sausage, too. Oh, and pork chops go down nice. Um, pass the ketchup please. And, by the way,.."

#NotInAnyManuscriptIKnow

 

He Messed up the Lord!

Jesus healed the leper and specifically told him to keep a lid on it. Show yourself to the priests, thank God, and go about your business.
 
What did the fellow do? He shouted it out everywhere. He messed up the Lord! Jesus wanted to keep visiting the city. He no longer could do it. He had to hole up out in the wilderness!
 
What could he do? Apart from divinely muzzling the guy or handing him back his leprosy, he was stymied! The Lord!
 
He adapted, though. The cured fellow raised such a ruckus that everyone had to go out in the wilderness to check Jesus out. Maybe it even worked out better this way; they had to do something.
 
I think there’s a lesson for us. You want your companions in service to be discreet and to behave in a certain way, and they don’t. You want them to be like the silhouetted fellow in the videos and they are the exact opposite. It’s enough to drive a guy crazy. It was enough to drive Jesus crazy, too, yet he didn’t go crazy. He just adjusted tactics and it all turned out okay. And maybe at a later date he even ran across the fellow and said: “You know, you really should have kept your mouth shut. But it all worked out.”
 

Just How Does One Evade a Lynch Mob?

Why did Jesus turn on them anyway in that Bible account at Luke 4? They (his hometown's people) had been very nice to him: "And they all began to give favorable witness about him and to be amazed at the gracious words coming out of his mouth." (vs 22) And then he turns around and insults them! - comparing them to lowlife Israelites that the prophets ignored so they could lavish attention on the widow of Zarephath and General Naaman,

It seems to be because they were patronizing him. He was the hometown boy what done good...he'd become a sensation...they'd heard great reports abroad, and they wanted a piece of him. In fact, they were put out that he had done his miracles elsewhere, and not started at home where they would drag out everyone with phyical complaint and he could do his vaudeville trick on them and make them well....just like he did in those others towns, only more so.

And here they are carrying on (same vs: 22) that "is this not the carpenter's son?" It can't have been easy for them to hear him stand up to give his talk at the synagogue, like he'd done many times before, quote Isaiah 61:1,2:

"The spirit of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah is upon me,
Because Jehovah anointed me to declare good news to the meek.
He sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And the wide opening of the eyes to the prisoners,To proclaim the year of Jehovah’s goodwill*
And the day of vengeance of our God,
To comfort all who mourn,"

and say: 'Right here. Right now. It's me,' even though he had the record and works to back it up; he was a nobody, a 'carpenter's son.' Alright, so he had learned some cool tricks abroad somehow...use them here! with your childhood townspeople!...but to go 'Messiah' on us is just too much.

As one brother pointed out last night at the meeting, they did get their miracle: When they sought to hurl the ungrateful upstart off a cliff, he got away by "passing through the midst of them." Just how does one pass through the midst of a mob seeking one's execution? I'll bet it's like that scene from Ben Hur (the Charlton Heston version) where the Roman soldier challenges Jesus (a fictional account) and then falls back at something he sensed in his manner or countenance. INTRO-BEN-HUR


He Walked Through Their Midst

Evereyone wants bragging rights from a favorite son - a local person who goes on to make something of himself. It didn't work with Jesus, though, who went on to tell his sponsors that they were the worst of all Israelites. (Luke 4:23-27)

They were also a bit touchy about it:

"Now all those hearing these things in the synagogue became filled with anger, and they rose up and rushed him outside the city, and they led him to the brow of the mountain on which their city had been built, in order to throw him down headlong. But he went right through their midst and continued on his way." (28-30)

How did he do that?

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He Messed Jesus Up!

Okay, let's cut through the pious tape: The "I want to - be made clean" fellow that Jesus cured went on to mess him up!

1. Jesus cured him.

2. He said 'keep a lid on it.'

3. The fellow told everyone under the sun.

4. Jesus could no longer come and go openly and had to from that point on slink in the back door.

It's a good thing he was not like that last pointy-headed boss that you had. Otherwise, he might have thrown the guy's leprosy right back at him.

Mark 1:41-45

Pointyhairedboss

photo: Scott Adams (hopefully he won't mind)


The Wicked and Sluggish Slave Strikes Again

I like the parables of Jesus where every word may convey meaning and none of it should be quickly dismissed as "filler" For example, the excuse proffered by the wicked and sluggish slave, and the master's rebuke:

"Finally the slave who had received the one talent came forward and said: ‘Master, I knew you to be a demanding* man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you did not winnow.So I grew afraid and went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ In reply his master said to him: ‘Wicked and sluggish* slave, you knew, did you, that I reaped where I did not sow and gathered where I did not winnow? Well, then, you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my coming I would have received it back with interest." (Matthew 25:24-27)

The master does not deny the slave's allegation that he 'reaps where he does not sow,' letting pass without comment only the slave's perception that he is thereby 'demanding.' The slave has a bad attitude, for the master does not expect to make his own disciples personally - he expects his slaves to pull with him, and the slave ought to have gotten his head around that.

Nonetheless, it seems that even with that bad attitude, the master could have worked with it. All it took was to deposit the money with the bankers - essentially a one-time only trip - and the master would have rolled with it. He may not have jumped for joy, but he would not have rebuked the slave - who worked up a sweat to thwart what would have occurred automatically.

So there are be ones today who don't have the greatest attitude. They don't have to. It is better if they do, for immersing oneself in the kingdom work as it exists is the best way to strengthen faith and be happy, they surely build up the brotherhood more, and they may be heading for shipwreck if they do not, but it is only by actively opposing and 'beating his fellow slaves' (from Matthew 24:48) that the master gets riled - burying the money in the ground, which is the exact opposite of setting the lamp on a lampstand so all will see the light.

Still pondering if I have the right read on his one. I am not sure it has been commented on in detail.

 

Pay Them All a Denarius

If we accept the usual take that Matthew 20:1-15, about paying all workers a denarius, is about time spent in the Christian congregation and those arriving to it late have the same reward as those early, with its object lesson: 'don't gripe about it,' then how serious are we to take the questions within the parable? Do they mean anything or do they just flesh out the story?
 
I'll opt for the former.
 
The master's question smacks of a reproof: "Why have you been standing here all day unemployed?" Yet he accepts the laggards' answer: "Because nobody has hired us" and sends them also into the vineyard.
 
Why shouldn't that be applied to the preaching work? At first glance, the master is taken aback that there yet are, at such a late date, so many just hanging around unemployed. But their answer is unassailable - nobody 'hired' them.
 
It's not an exhortation to be active in the ministry and not to write off people as unresponsive? The master apparently agrees that it is just a matter of their not yet being reached.
 
April_Patina_Vosges_Die_Vogesen_France_-_Master_Alsace_magic_Elsaß_Photography_2014_Color_de_Vins_-_panoramio
 
I think the exchange of the master with the 11th hour ones serve as an exhortation to preach, and even to step it up where possible. 'Get out there so those ones know they are hired. They won't know it otherwise.'
 

There is another application of Matthew 20:1-15 - 'pay them each a denarious' - that has nothing to do with time spent in the Christain way, which I like as much, or even better.

It is: In any circumstance of life, you cut the best deal that you can and then you look ahead to the next deal You DO NOT look around, envious, at someone who may have gotten a better deal. Think of how much heartburn THAT would solve if we managed to internalize it.

Neither do you gripe, like the initial vineyard workers, that the 'master' was unfair. Life will be fair in the new system. It is not typically so today.

Maybe it is there in print somewhere. I haven't come across it. No matter. It is enough to stay within 'the pattern of healthful words' It is not necessary to but repeat the healthful words oneself.

 
photo: Master Alsace Magic ElsaB Photography

It Really Does Seem Like a Big "Duh!"

As much as Bethel tries to convey the point that Jesus wasn't smart-mouthing his parents when he asked "Why did you have to look for me? Did you not know I must be in the house of my father?" so that kids in the Kingdom Hall do not start smart-mouthing their parents, it really does seem like a big 'Duh!' And he was right. They should have known.

Especially in view of the study note on Luke 2:46: "Historians say some of the foremost religious leaders would customarily remain at the temple after festivals and teach at one of the spacious porches there. People could sit at the feet of those men to listen and to ask questions."

Where did his parents think he was going to be? Off in some alley shooting dice with the delinquints? They knew of his miraculous birth, even if he did not at that time. Holy spirit is said to descend upon him 'like a dove' after being baptized, presumably recalling to him all his heavenly past.

He begins to minister in accord with what is revealed at his baptism and his relatives think he has gone nuts. "...they went out to seize him, for they were saying: "He has gone out of his mind." (Mark 3:21) But not his parents. They knew, so they should have known then, when he was 12.