That meme floating about the internet that brothers will latch on to in a heartbeat—is it true?
“A brother named Hermann who is a bus driver in Central Berlin overheard two passengers talking: "This virus is just the beginning. Something big is going to happen, something extremely worrying. The proof is right in front of us. There are no more Jehovah's Witnesses around. They are usually everywhere, at the train station, walking around, at every public place with their carts and magazines. And now, nothing. Mark my words, something big is coming."
It’s not impossible that it really happened that way. The Jehovah’s Witness public ministry has been uninterrupted since its inception, so for it to be interrupted now—well, I can easily see how some might latch onto that as significant. On the other hand, our brothers are ever wont to dress up a story to add a pious twist to it. Perhaps what was said was: “Thank God those pain-in-the-neck Witnesses aren’t around anymore!” Time will tell.
At any rate, the JW organization puts forth no effort to make hay out of the pandemic. There is no effort to say: “Here it comes—it’s the Big One! We told you so!” No. Not a bit of it. (probably confounding the anti-cultists) Instead, its lead post is about how to cope with isolation and loneliness, with so many practical links as to win praise from mental health people—for it is mental health that is under assault today.
I don’t know about you, but it suggests for me some things about the ‘judgment message.‘ If you were going to launch an unprovoked ‘judgment message.’ wouldn’t now be a good time to do it, with a pandemic that nobody’s seen the like of for 100 years, that appears out of nowhere, that upends life worldwide, and that may crash the entire worldwide financial system—that greatest of all mountains that nonetheless has thus far proven as resilient as paper mache. Yet there is nothing but helpful pointers on coping with isolation, along with making use of the time to improve (or even begin) one’s spirituality.
The Regional Convention of 2016 made mention of a ‘judgment message.’ In one of the videos, we learned of how so-and-so gave out when he was too chicken to take part in that work. Maybe I hadn’t been paying attention, but for me it was the first specific reference in a long while—maybe ever. And—C’mon! face it—it’s hard to envision it per se. “Nyah Nyah—told ya so!”—no, I cannot picture it:
“Good morning, sir. My companion and I have just stopped by to deliver a message of judgement. Brother Silhouette, would you read Revelation 23:5?”
“Yes....um, that’s Revelation 23:5: ‘Your goose is cooked.’”
“Thank you, Brother Silhouette. Now—would you like that goose well-done, medium, or rare?”
No, it just cannot be. There is reference in Revelation to hard-hitting judgements from God. And there is reference to the message that is good news to believers—that same message triggers hostility in non-believers because they take it as judgment. Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians 2:15 of those, himself included, who preach the good news: “For to God we are a sweet fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the latter ones an odor of death leading to death, to the former ones a fragrance of life leading to life.” When malcontents went bonkers over the Governing Body’s first update of the pandemic, given in the person of Brother Lett—“How could they object to that?”—I had thought, it is not because they had read judgment into it?—even though that was not the intent of the message.
Maybe the ‘judgment message’ is something like that—reading judgment from the message that is good news for everyone else. But in view of the Regional video that seems to ramp it up a bit, combined with decidedly not going there in times of global plague, economic chaos, and governments hamstrung over how to cope—a scenario presents itself that what judgment message there is will be akin to the Witness organization’s telegram to Hitler: “Your ill- treatment of Jehovah’s witnesses shocks all good people of earth and dishonors God’s name. Refrain from further persecuting Jehovah’s witnesses; otherwise God will destroy you and your national party.”
Maybe it will be something like that. It is a possibility that presupposes an attack upon those keeping faith, but then the Bible foretells just that scenario.