Hiking Around the World
March 28, 2011
The District Overseer's going to walk around the earth. He told us so at the Circuit Assembly. He's not going now, of course. He'll go in the new system. Probably well into the new system, not on day one. He'll backpack, I guess. Go with his wife.
He doesn't worry that he may not get the time off. He will. He doesn't worry about problems crossing the border.* There won't be any borders. He doesn't worry about terrorists. They'll be gone. He doesn't even worry about nasty people. There won't be any of those, either. He's counting on Isa 11:6 taking place:
And the wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together; and a mere little boy will be leader over them. And the cow and the bear themselves will feed; together their young ones will lie down. And even the lion will eat straw just like the bull. And the sucking child will certainly play upon the hole of the cobra; and upon the light aperture of a poisonous snake will a weaned child actually put his own hand. They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.
So he won't get attacked by wolves or leopards or cobras or whatever, abundant and free-roaming though they will be. But he also won't be contending with people with personalities like those of wild beasts. After all, the “knowledge of Jehovah” is not something animals learn about. People do. Even now, there's plenty of people who've swapped animalistic personalities for peaceful ones upon applying Bible principles (and, alas, some who have gone the other way, abandoning faith to revert back to “this life is all there is” mode).
The District Overseer's not worried about money. You won't need any in the new system. (do we really know that?) He's not worried about where to stay. Everyone will be hospitable. He's not worried about much, is he? He's probably not even worried about the weather. This last item he did not specifically mention...I just threw it in...because weather is a big deal for us in Rochester this time of year. This has been a tough winter. But when March 1rst rolls around, it's like how you feel when you've finally called the cops to throw that drunk out of your house. You know he won't go quietly. He'll probably break a lamp or two on the way out. But he'll be gone soon. And so it is with this winter. Before you know it, the Lilac Festival will be here.
I like talks like the District Overseer gave. They're a little childlike, but let's face it, Jehovah's Witnesses have a lot of child in them. We haven't thrown that part of ourselves away. When we first learned of the Bible hope...living forever on a paradise earth....it resonated deep within us. So it's good to be reminded of that initial thrill from time to time. Otherwise, the aggravations of daily life can squeeze it out.
People nowadays get so cultured and refined and dignified and carry on about their business doings and the least turn of politics, that pretty soon you can hardly stand to be around them. But Jehovah's Witnesses....naw, we're not too sophisticated. We like the idea of walking around the earth in the new system. Not that the pull toward greatness and savvy can't take hold of anyone....it can. We, too, can get caught up in the minor skirmishes of business like everyone else, and start to carry on about it, if we don't ground ourselves in what's really important. Probably that's what's behind Jame's advice to certain characters he came across in the congregation:
Come, now, you who say: “Today or tomorrow we will journey to this city and will spend a year there, and we will engage in business and make profits,” whereas you do not know what your life will be tomorrow. For you are a mist appearing for a little while and then disappearing. Instead, you ought to say: “If Jehovah wills, we shall live and also do this or that. James 4:13-15
(sigh....Torre took this verse very literally, and you couldn't tell him you were doing anything without his correcting you: “IF Jehovah's wills, you will do.….,” he'd point out.)
Paradise earth is a tenet pretty much unique to Jehovah's Witnesses. Everyone else is just passing through, you understand, just doing their time. They're all heaven-bound! Though depending on a church's fundamentalist quotient, some won't quite make it. They end up in hell, burning forever and ever and ever, even though their misdeeds on earth spanned only a few decades! They also tell me of some fundamentalists who attempt to tack on paradise earth sort of as a vague afterthought, since several plain-as-day verses insist upon it. But it doesn't really fit in with their overall view, so the result is a kind of theological mush.
But the JW hope is everlasting life on a paradise earth. That's why the D.O. can carry on about walking the globe and strike a chord with all listening. After all, where, according to the Bible, did God put his human creation? Wasn't it on earth? And why did he put them there? Wasn't it because that's where he wanted them? They'd be there still were it not for an early rebellion. So how is it that God changed tactics somewhere along the line and decided to bring everyone to heaven?
Everyone knows that Jesus, while dying impaled, was flanked by two wrongdoers, one on either side of him. And one said: “Jesus, remember me when you get into your kingdom.” to which he answered: “Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43
Search as you may, you will not find a translation that renders the subject of Luke 23:43 as anything other than “paradise.” (let me know if you find one; I couldn't) However, the Complete Jewish Bible renders the verse: Yeshua said to him, "Yes! I promise that you will be with me today in Gan-`Eden." That's as in Garden of Eden, as the word Eden itself means (in Hebrew) “park-like garden.” Right! A paradise earth.
As regards the heavens, to Jehovah the heavens belong, but the earth he has given to the sons of men. (Ps 115:16)
To be sure, humans today are rapidly “ruining the earth,” but doesn't the Bible point to a time when “God will bring to ruin those ruining the earth?” (Rev 11:18) Once that has taken place, once God's Kingdom rules over the earth, and we all get into swing of things, at that time the D.O's making his trek.
Oh, alright, alright! So there are some who are going to heaven. But in the overall picture for humans, it's but a tiny footnote. I should have a dollar for everyone on the internet who supposes he's found the hidden Achilles heal of Jehovah's Witnesses: “Only 144,000 are going to heaven, yet there's millions of JWs! HA! So that's why they go door to door looking for converts...they're competing with each other, trying to squeeze into a room not large enough for all of them!" Sheesh!
Look, life on a paradise earth is not second class for us. It's the fulfillment of God's original purpose. But the Bible also speaks of a "sacred secret," (Colossians 1:26) a "secret" first made known to the early Christian congregation, that there would be some from humankind, a comparatively tiny number, who would share in rulership of the heavenly government. Since this "secret" was made known shortly after Christ's resurrection, and there are only 144,000 of these who will serve as "kings and priests, very few of them are on earth today. Most, we maintain, have long since lived their lives and been resurrected to heavenly life.
Selection of the 144,000 didn't even begin until after Christ's resurrection. That's why Christ is called the “firstfruits” of the "harvest.” He was first. Thus, Matt 11:11 makes sense: “…....among those born of women there has not been raised up a greater than John the Baptist; but a person that is a lesser one in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he is.” When John was alive and active, the heavenly calling had not yet begun.
Ask them what they're going to do there....all those folks you meet who's churches say they're going to heaven. They haven't a clue. But Rev 5:10 says of all those with the heavenly hope: “…...with your [Jesus'] blood you bought persons for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth”
Now, not everyone can be a chief, can they? Not everyone can rule. Not everyone can be “inside the beltway.” There have to be some Indians. That's what the D.O. is, and all the rest of us with the earthly hope. And that's why he looks forward to hiking that great future Appalachian trail stretching around the globe.
*like I had returning from Canada.
You may be surprised to find out that many non-JW's believe that they will live forever on the new earth. In fact, I made a video recently showing 4 very prominent evangelical scholars/pastors saying exactly that.
The distinction for me is that paradise earth is for all true followers of Christ.
Posted by: Mike Felker | March 28, 2011 at 09:42 PM
Thanks, Mike. You made that point once before. It was actually you I was thinking of when I wrote "They also tell me of some fundamentalists who attempt to tack on paradise earth sort of as a vague afterthought, since several plain-as-day verses insist upon it. But it doesn't really fit in with their overall view, so the result is a kind of theological mush."
To the extent it's true, isn't it a Johnny-come-lately idea for them, or just an item buried somewhere in the fine print? Because the born-again churches certainly aren't known for it. It's not their reputation. Few people, I suspect even in their own ranks, would recognize a paradise earth componant to their beliefs.
Posted by: tom sheepandgoats | March 29, 2011 at 05:52 PM
"4 very prominent evangelical scholars/pastors..."
The Fantastic Four!
Better late than never, I guess.
How many prominent evangelical scholars/pastors are still talking about heaven?
I think it's more than FOUR.
OK Felker, 4 is definitely an improvement on 0, but have those scholars/pastors been passing on this info, are the people buying it?
If I go for a short walk down to my local C of E and have a chat with the folks there, what do you think they will say about this, what are they being taught?
Posted by: Nick | March 29, 2011 at 06:05 PM
Tom, you are absolutely right that few rank-and-file evangelicals would know anything more about the afterlife than some mystic "heaven" that they will go to. But this stems from a much larger and foundational issue: biblical literacy. Most evangelicals are extremely illiterate of the Bible.
However, when it comes to those who really study the Bible (such as the ones in the video I edited), it is a different story. And the more I delve into theological works, the more I realize it.
With that, I commend JW's for being correct on their view of the new earth and seeking to dispel the "heaven" myth. Of course, there are some major difficulties I have with the two-class system. But at the least, I think JW's should be more careful to recognize that they are not unique in their paradise earth view. In fact, you will find that most "biblical unitarian" groups, by and large, are in complete unity on paradise earth and emphasize it regularly. Just to name someone; Anthony Buzzard is a major voice in this group.
Posted by: Mike Felker | March 29, 2011 at 07:48 PM
Well....I may back down a little, but not too much.
If these four evangelical scholars are truly pastors, then they should rectify your observation that "most evangelicals are extremely illiterate of the Bible." That statement could not be made of Jehovah's Witnesses. Why should it be true of evangelicals?
That Jehovah's Witnesses are advanced in Bible knowledge compared to evangelicals and others, I attribute to an effective and dedicated organization which recognizes an obligation to "feed the flock", an organization which you regularly discredit. Until the rank and file come to appreciate the spiritual things at present enjoyed only by the four evangelical scholar/pastors, how can one not regard them as the rank and file of Jesus day: skinned and thrown about, like sheep without a shepherd? (Matt 9:36)
Posted by: tom sheepandgoats | March 29, 2011 at 11:41 PM
The fact that there are 4 of among the most prominent evangelical voices in theology and pastorship should say something. Would you like for me to provide more? Would it take a thousand? The point is, this view is not unique to JW's.
Biblical illiteracy is a plague that has seeped into evangelicalism in addition to other "diseases" like relativism. Why should this be true of evangelicals? Because the Bible has taken a back seat, among a whole host of other reasons.
While I admit JW's are collectively more advanced in biblical literacy, I can't say this really matters in the end. Are JW's organized? Absolutely. Is their theology correct? Not at all.
Posted by: Mike Felker | March 30, 2011 at 09:28 PM
I am Building a 40 footer , 2 masted Ketch , with smallish windows , a nice Galley , and enough room for at least 4 people with storage and will be spending a LOT of time going from Port to Port, drinking some Port , and Trading some !! If Jehovah is kind enough to allow a fool like me thru that gate at the end of the Road that leads off to Life that "So Few" are finding ..... Indeed I will sail the seven or eight or however many seas there will be ! And Tom , There will be room on that Ketch for a week or two for you , ( so Practice yer Swabbin ya Land Rat !
Posted by: TC | June 28, 2011 at 07:53 AM
Cool! Of course, I will want to bring my llamas.
Posted by: tom sheepandgoats | June 28, 2011 at 05:55 PM
@Mike Felker- I think you would .... enjoy... the two most recent DVD's released by us dealing with the history of Jehovah's Witnesses.
They are entitled"
Faith In Action - Part 1 and 2!
In them both- much credit is given to the men from other religious faiths, who were courageous enough to step away from the status quo of the day, and not to follow the mainstream churches of Christendom but to seek and format themselves to Bible Truth!
I believe if it is credit you are seeking for our organization to give, and seeking for us to perhaps relinquish our claim to being UNIQUE in following the bible with integrity- this may be enlightening.
It is no way an admittance to other religious faiths possessing all the truthful understanding and applications of bible teachings, but it acknowledges that many have and ARE trying to do that.
Just a recommendation- you are familiar with us enough to know how to receive one!
Posted by: BeReasonable | August 02, 2011 at 12:15 AM