My Meeting Notes: Week of May 9, 2024

Think of a deep intimate, heartfelt connection—how can good not emerge? The phrase itself all but guarantees it.

Sigh….not with this lout:  “Transgression speaks to the wicked one deep within his heart. Ps 36:1

“There is no fear of God before his eyes.” (vs 1b) That’s half of the problem.

“For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect and hate his error.” (vs 2) That’s the other half.

1b and 2: Therein lies the remedy. If he learns to fear God and gains a realistic view of himself, even this character can turn around.

 

Peter entering Cornelius’ home after three times having the vision of unclean foods descending from heaven. (Acts 10:9-16)

This is like Ananias being directed to bring Saul in. ‘No way, Lord—the guy’s an animal!’

“Be on your way” (9:15) says the Lord. The man is a chosen vessel to me.

“Be on your way”—Andy Laguna the CO’s said long ago at the Pioneer School—Andy loved this scripture that typified his own life. He didn’t say it, but he may as well have: ‘Don’t give me any bunk! Be on your way!’

I remember working with him in service one 10 degree day on an endless street. Didn’t take a break. Only a handful answered. When they did, they may as well not have because I was too cold to speak coherently.

 

They’re all rather trivial things—all these updates of late. Still, they are changes to long-standing policy, so many make a big fuss over them. A bro at our hall, commenting on fast-moving changes we all must adjust to, mentioned “sisters wearing pants,” (did he also mention no ties?) as though aghast that someone had run the chariot into a ditch.

 

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My Meeting Notes: Week of March 25, 2024 - Psalm 22

Just a single psalm for the Bible reading this week: 22. There are verses in this psalm that NT writers later apply to Christ. Read 1 and 8, for example. They sound awfully familiar. 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (1)

And at the ninth hour, Jesus called out with a loud voice: “Eʹli, Eʹli, laʹma sa·bach·thaʹni?” which means, when translated: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)

The April 2021 Study Watchtower suggests 7 possible ways that cry might be understood. (Questions from Readers) Click on the Research Guide for Psalm 22:1

****

All those seeing me mock me; They sneer and shake their heads in derision: “He entrusted himself to Jehovah. Let Him rescue him! Let Him save him, for he is so dear to Him! (7-8)

”In the same way also, the chief priests with the scribes and the elders began mocking him, saying: “Others he saved; himself he cannot save! He is King of Israel; let him now come down off the torture stake, and we will believe in him. He has put his trust in God; let Him now rescue him if He wants him, for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.’” (Matthew 27:41-43)

One verse not cited by any NT writer is Pslam 22:16. Almost alone, the New World Translation renders that verse (the last phrase): “Like a lion they are at my hands and feet.” Almost all other translations pick up a corruption of the Septuagint and render that phrase: “they pierced my hands and my feet.” The NWT sticks with the earlier Masoretic version. Frankly, they’d love for it to say ‘pierces my hands and feet’ too—it fits better with the program—but it doesn’t say that originally. It says ‘like a lion they are at my hands and feet.’ This was not brought out at the meeting, but I knew it anyway from when the Lutheran evangelical tried to convert the rabbi.

It was our circuit overseer this week. In showing a video, he was all excited that when Jade says ‘Oh, I get it!’ in the coffee shop setting, at that same moment the cash register bell goes off. ‘Ka-Ching’ and he is convinced it is deliberate. Ha! It probably is. I can see it being slipped in as a cute little joke, as though to see how long it would take for anyone to pick up on it. Who would have thought it? Maybe, Governing Body members themselves don’t know about it.

Next day, I told him that, for his talk, I and some others had brought little bells that we would ring every time he made a point that we understood.

Then, there was Transgender Visibiltiy Day, proclaimed by the President for that Sunday—Easter Sunday. Now, Witnesses don’t do Easter, and there was no mention of either Easter or the Visibility Day, but you should have heard the uproar on social media! Carrying on about the desecration of a sacred holiday and all.

Ah, well. Doesn’t it proves that it is not possible to dress up a pig?

As any Witness knows, Easter is an example of slapping a Christian label on a pre-existing sordid holiday, in this the celebration of the goddess Ashtarte—always coinciding with the rebirth of the earth every springtime, once again the explosion of life, and so carried out with orgies and fertility rites. Hence, the bunnies and eggs which clearly have nothing to do with Jesus. Then along come the church fathers much later, hoping to hijack and redirect an already-wildly popular holiday by pasting a Christian label on it!

Witnesses seem to never tire of revealing the unsavory roots of holidays such a Christmas, Halloween, and Easter. My response is to say, ‘Give it a rest already. Nobody cares. If people haven’t given them up by now, they’re not going to.’ It’s like what my brother, who is vaccinated against Covid-19 but drew the line at the frequent boosters, said about the State’s incessant vaccine ads; ‘Sheesh! You’d think they’d realize that if people haven’t gotten it by now, they’re not going to.’

But, in this case, those Witnesses are right on the money and I am wrong. Transgender Visibility Day (as though they were invisible before) is no more than the holiday reverting closer to its origin. I mean, there have been people misgendered at birth. Occasionally, sexual organs are not distinct. Yet, we all know that when small children are queried at school or the pediatricians office as to whether they are really a boy or a girl (as happened with a young mother in our congregation)—question that perhaps they were ‘assigned’ the wrong sex—something is seriously out of whack.

As to the rededication of the day to celebrate Christ’s resurrection, good as it is, Jesus never said to celebrate it. Same with his birth. It’s a good thing, plainly, but Jesus never said to celebrate it. Churches celebrate both. The one event Christ did say to celebrate, the commemoration of his death, they do not do—at least not in the way we typical celebrate great events, as an annual occurrence. Instead, they attach a level of mystery to it and do it routinely so that nobody knows just what it is they are doing. I mean, the Lord’s evening meal, the first memorial of his death, was held on Passover night, Jesus giving it new significance. You would think that fact would dictate how often the Memorial was to be celebrated. “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us,” Paul says. (1 Corinthians 5:7)

 

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My Meeting Notes: Week of March 17, 2024. Psalm 19 and the Origin of Simony

Psalm 19 was the one to focus on this week. 20 and 21 were also included in the week’s assigned material. They’re fine, but 19 is where its at.

You can almost divide the psalm into two parts: 1-6 is of Jehovah’s created works: “The heavens are declaring the glory of God.” 7-14 is how He turns his attention toward humans, putting those works at his disposal. It is almost like a ‘What is mortal man that you keep him in mind?’ (Psalm 8, also of David) scenario.

For example, (vs 6) “It [the sun] emerges from one end of the heavens, And it circles to their other end; And nothing is concealed from its heat.” A pinhead sized piece of it—you’d still have to stand 90 miles away so as not to fry, the speaker said. And then, He uses that power, that nothing can be concealed from, to examine humans—don’t think you can keep any secrets from him. But his purpose is not to grill anyone—give them the third degree. It is to benefit with laws and reminders far beyond what they might come up with on their own—as though providing an owner’s manual for the product that is us:

The commandment of Jehovah is clean, making the eyes shine. The fear of Jehovah is pure, lasting forever. The judgments of Jehovah are true, altogether righteous. They are more desirable than gold, Than much fine gold, And sweeter than honey, the honey that drips from the combs. By them your servant has been warned; In keeping them, there is a large reward.” (8-11)

Back up to 3-4 about the heavens which “night after night declare knowledge:’ “There is no speech, and there are no words; Their voice is not heard. But into all the earth their sound has gone out,” How can one not like the imagery of Psalm 19? “The skies above proclaim the work of his hands.”

Speaking of imagery, get a load of this one, depicting the power of the rising sun: “It is like a bridegroom emerging from the bridal chamber.” Anyone recall how that guy feels?

Then, there was the study from the Book of Acts. This week the focus was on Simon, the sorcerer who tried to buy the miraculous gifts that turned out to be free to people of right heart: 

Now when Simon saw that the spirit was given through the laying on of the hands of the apostles, he offered them money, saying: “Give me this authority also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive holy spirit.” But Peter said to him: “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could acquire the free gift of God with money. You have neither part nor share in this matter, for your heart is not straight in the sight of God. So repent of this badness of yours, and supplicate Jehovah that, if possible, the wicked intention of your heart may be forgiven you; for I see you are a bitter poison and a slave of unrighteousness.” In answer Simon said to them: “Make supplication for me to Jehovah that none of the things you have said may come upon me.” (Acts 8: 18-24)

The conductor, a man of kindness and empathy, spoke of how sometimes you have to give counsel, “even when it is difficult.” I dunno—it doesn’t look like Peter found it all that difficult. He roasted the fellow!

There was a paragraph that pointed out how Simon has become a word, simony, stemming from this account—trying to buy ecclesiastical things with money. My remark was that the account reminded me of the saying, ‘Don’t ever say a person is worthless. They can always be used as a bad example.’ Not that Simon was a worthless—he turned out okay, but there was a moment . . . I mean, his recovery wasn’t a slam dunk. Supplicate Jehovah that, if possible, this sin may be forgiven you, Peter said. 

In a way, he got what he wanted. Had he succeeded in buying miraculous gifts, he would have been one one many and nobody would recall him today. But because he flirted with being ‘worthless,’ he got a word named after him and thus lives on forever!

The conductor ended up saying how he wasn’t a bad man; his thinking just got screwy and had to be corrected. It happens today. There will be brothers who aren’t bad people, but their thinking gets askew over this point or that and must be readjusted.  The conductor is a good guy.

Then, there was that 3-minute part assigned to me on inviting someone to the Memorial. This I already wrote about here.

 

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My Meeting Notes: Week of 3/10/24–Psalm 18

Just one psalm for the weekly Bible reading this week. 18. It is longer than most. Following are a few aspects commented on: 

First, the visual: “flash floods of worthless men” (Psalm 18:4) Imagine getting caught up in one of them! David, the psalmist, was, and it “terrified” him. It would me, too.

He was also worried about “the faultfinding of the people.” (vs 43) He had to be rescued from it.   They are bad news, always with ‘You didn’t do this right! You didn’t do that right! Why isn’t this such-and-such? What about . .  Sheesh.

Then there is that long visual of Jehovah “bending the heavens” to descend and save the day, with “thick gloom was beneath his feet.” (vs 9) You science brothers can be forgiven for thinking of Einstein, who also bends heavens.

Those “flash floods of worthless men” have been encircling the loyal ones with whom God himself will act loyally (vs 25), to deliver from “ropes of death, (vs 4) “ropes of the Grave,” and “snares of death.” They call to Jehovah and he heeds them.

It’s all but target practice then. Thick gloom is beneath his feet as he descends, but he lights it up with “his lightning” to throw “them into confusion.” (vs 14) Things covered are uncovered: “The streambeds became visible; The foundations of the land were exposed by your rebuke. (vs 15) Things (like the psalmist) in danger of being covered over are uncovered: “He reached down from on high; He took hold of me and pulled me from deep waters,” like pulling a Floridian from Hurricane Ian. (the storm that destroyed Ft Myers Beach, where my relatives had a time share and we used to visit from time to time.)

Upon which, the psalmist is thankful. Would you not be too? “[Jehovah] rescues me from my angry enemies; You lift me high above those who attack me; You save me from the man of violence. That is why I will glorify you among the nations, O Jehovah, And to your name I will sing praises.” (48-49)

Only a minority of translations render Psalm 18:4 as “flash floods of worthless men.” Most don’t add any human element at all—a common rendering is “torrents of destruction.” But the fact that some do suggests to me that the ones that don’t are chickening out. Maybe they succumb to the modern trend that it’s okay to judge actions but not people, like the psalmist seems to do—so they soften it. “Rivers of wickedness” is a common choice, as though rivers themselves can be wicked.

Floods “of ungodliness” or of “ungodly men” is the better choice of some. It’s like the Watchtower’s explanation that “the knowledge of Jehovah” being widespread throughout the earth is something that does not affect zebras and bears. Rather, it is a reference of humans who once lived as animals. While the Isaiah 11 prophesy of “the lion shall lay down with the lamb” may well find fulfillment in animals getting along, the real fulfillment lies in how persons who once ripped and devoured each other like wild beasts will no longer do so.

Similarly, waves don’t get ungodly all by themselves, but waves “of the worthless” (YLT) do.

***five of the Biblegateway translations had significantly different readings. NABRE is an example, which renders 18:4 as: ”Praised be the Lord, I exclaim! I have been delivered from my enemies.” There’s a note somewhere that it is a Masoritic correction. I have to research it further. It does have in common with the others that the trouble is with humans—enemies—and not just with some vague ‘forces of destruction,’ or ‘perdition’ as some translations say. 

***

Then there was the Watchtower Study article, “Conquer fear by trusting in Jehovah.” (January 2024 issue) At first glance, it doesn’t look like much. It’s like a recipe, that doesn’t look like much just to see it in print. But when you cook it, that is a different thing. The study itself at the Kingdom Hall amounts to “cooking it.” Most study articles are not designed to stand alone—they must be “cooked” with audience participation. 

Reference was made (paragraph 14) to a 2014 regional convention  which depicted how we might meditate on our hope. A father discussed with his family how 2 Timothy 3:1-5 might be worded differently if those verses foretold what it would be like in Paradise: “In the new world the happiest of times will be here. For men will be lovers of others, lovers of spiritual treasures, modest, humble, praisers of God, obedient to parents, thankful, loyal, having great affection for their families, open to agreement, always speaking well of others, self-controlled, mild, lovers of goodness, trustworthy, yielding, lowly in mind, lovers of God rather than lovers of pleasures, motivated by genuine godly devotion; and to these people stick closely.” 

Reversing the 19 negative attributes of 2 Timothy 3:1-5. I had not thought of that. But I raised my hand to comment that, for the most part, that reversal characterized the brotherhood today. It’s not flawless, people fall short, are imperfect, but in the main it is that way. That’s why they call it a “spiritual paradise.”

 

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My Meeting Notes: Week of March 4, 2024

When the Scriptural Gems portion came, five separate people commented on this verse, for the most part not repeating each other. The scripture was a hit

“Rescue me with your hand, O Jehovah, From men of this world, whose share is in this life.” (Ps: 17:14)

Imagine. You have to be rescued from them. Whatever they have rubs off, that determination to have it all, whereas any Christian knows the meaning of delayed gratification. You don’t want to overdose on people “whose share is in this life.” Alas, when one gives up on God completely, it is all that remains.

The contrast is in the very next verse (15): “I am satisfied to awaken in your presence.”

Then there was the student talk in which was quoted Mark 7:9: “Further, he said to them: ‘You skillfully disregard the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.’”

 

‘Skillfully disregard.’ They have to work at it.

 

And from the commentary on Acts (7:54-8:3):

“What can we learn from Stephen’s speech? . . .  We can also learn about graciousness and tact from Stephen. His audience could hardly have been more hostile! Yet, for as long as possible, he maintained common ground . . . he also addressed them with respect, calling the older men “fathers.” (Acts 7:2) We too need to present the truths of God’s Word with “a mild temper and deep respect.”​

How respectful can you be when you go on to call those religious high court members “obstinate men?” It recalls to me the quip that if you begin your remarks with, “With all due respect,” you can say any horrific thing you want.

 

“Which one of the prophets did your forefathers not persecute?” Stephen charges. (vs 52)

Now, the scribes and Pharisees were sensitive to that charge. They’d worked up a defense against it. Earlier, Jesus had said, (Matthew 23: 29-30) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you . . . say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have shared with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’”

Oh, hogwash, he says. You’re fully in that tradition. Keep on keeping on:

“Therefore, you are testifying against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Well, then, fill up the measure of your forefathers.” (31-32)

 

Someone commented on Stephen’s forgiveness: “Finally, Stephen prayed directly to God in a loud voice: “Jehovah, do not charge this sin against them.” After saying this, he fell asleep in death.​“—Acts 7:59, 60. Not his role to judge, apparently. Besides, maybe they were just being used.

 

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Psalm 13 & 14. Correcting Oneself

I came to appreciate more the 13th psalm. I had that Bible reading last night.

“How long, O Jehovah, will you forget me? Forever?”

What’s with the ‘forever?’ Not a bit of complaint there, even sarcasm? 

It’s followed up with three other ‘how longs?’ and then — is it a plea or a demand?: ‘Look upon me and answer me, O Jehovah my God.’ I read it as more the latter than the former, with emphasis on the ‘Look’ and with the exclamation mark that seems to fit the entire line.

HQ narrators get stuck in ‘mildness mode’ and tend to play down the heat. I tried to crank it up. These are real serious complaints, not just pleas. Or so it seems to me.

The psalmist does self-correct, though, forcing upon himself the bigger picture: ‘As for me, I trust in your loyal love; My heart will rejoice in your acts of salvation.’ And even, ‘I will sing to Jehovah, for he has richly rewarded me.’ (I did a long pause before these verses, allowing for the complete reversal of sentiment.)

In its entirety:

Psalm13: How long, O Jehovah, will you forget me? Forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long will I have anxious concern, With grief in my heart each day?  How long will my enemy triumph over me? 3 Look upon me and answer me, O Jehovah my God. Give light to my eyes, so that I may not fall asleep in death, 4 So that my enemy will not say: “I have defeated him!”  Do not let my opponents rejoice over my downfall. 5 As for me, I trust in your loyal love; My heart will rejoice in your acts of salvation.  6 I will sing to Jehovah, for he has richly rewarded me.

Psalm 14, also in the reading, follows the same pattern of complaint followed by self-correction, only this time he makes God an ally in his complaint—even if an ally who takes his time in setting things straight.

The complaint: ‘Their actions are corrupt, and their dealings are detestable; No one is doing good.’

God as ally: ‘But Jehovah looks down from heaven on the sons of men To see whether anyone has insight, whether anyone is seeking Jehovah. They have all turned aside; They are all alike corrupt.  No one is doing good, Not even one.’

What’s he going to do about it? Not much, at the moment: ‘Do none of the wrongdoers understand? They devour my people as if they were eating bread.’

But then, the self-correction that eventually he will: ‘But they will be filled with great terror, For Jehovah is with the generation of the righteous. You wrongdoers try to frustrate the plans of the lowly one, But Jehovah is his refuge. O that Israel’s salvation may come from Zion! When Jehovah gathers back his captive people.’ (Uh oh—there’s that word ‘generation’ again. I’m not touching it.)

Both psalms are good for conveying that, lacking God’s timetable, it’s easy to become wound up too tight.

 

See: (with some repetition): Psalm 11 and Psalm 12, even more on Psalm 13, all to be integrated later

 

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My Meeting Notes, Week of 2/18/24–Psalms 8-10, Acts 6

“When I see your heavens, the works of your fingers, The moon and the stars that you have prepared, What is mortal man that you keep him in mind, And a son of man that you take care of him? You made him a little lower than godlike ones, And you crowned him with glory and splendor. You gave him dominion over the works of your hands; You have put everything under his feet:” (Psalm 8:3-6)

It is a good, appreciative, attitude for life, much better than ‘We pulled ourselves up from our own bootstraps!’ evolution.

Metaphorically, you can probably use it even if you do believe in evolution. After all, it is only ‘origin of life’ [happenstance or created?] at which one must absolutely draw the line. Should developing life incorporate elements of evolution, we can all live with that. Let scientists be scientists and Bible students be Bible students.

The psalmist’s attitude is harder to pull off if you are undergoing Job-like trials. Then again, such an attitude might better enable one to endure them while they last.

 

***When the nations get too big for their pants, which they are wont to do, the psalmist says,

“Rise up, O Jehovah! Do not let mortal man prevail. May the nations be judged in your presence. Strike them with fear, O Jehovah, Let the nations know that they are only mortal men.” (9:19-

 

***His eyes are watching for an unfortunate victim. He waits in his hiding place like a lion in its lair. He waits to seize the helpless one. . . . The victim is crushed and brought down.” (Psalm 10:8-10)

I don’t know anyone like this. Even of the mechanic who billed me for a new carburetor on my Tesla I didn’t go that far.

The whole psalm is about how the wicked one shakes you like a dog with a rat. This may be why Rosie said when she first read the psalms as a young girl, “Man, this guy sure whines a lot!” 

Could you apply it to machinations of humans, be they political parties, governments, or powers transcending governments who push schemes, sometimes will full knowledge they are making you trouble, doing so for their idea of the ‘greater good.’ That scenario fits the tone of the psalm. It’s not for nothing that the Bible likens governments to ‘the heavens.’ They drench you one moment, scorch you the next, freeze you after that, and there’s not a thing you can do about it.

Verses like #4 suggest it’s the atheists up to no good: “In his haughtiness, the wicked man makes no investigation; All his thoughts are: “There is no God.’” But other verses are to the effect that they acknowledge God but count him as a non-factor: “He says in his heart: “God has forgotten. He has turned away his face. He never notices.” (vs 11)

Besides, here’s a commentator (in connection with ‘the senseless one who says in his heart ‘there is no Jehovah’) who says there were no atheists back then, at least not enough to single out as a class: “It never occurred to any writer of the OT [Hebrew Scriptures] to prove or argue the existence of God. . . .It is not according to the spirit of the ancient world in general to deny the existence of God, or to use arguments to prove it. The belief was one natural to the human mind and common to all men.” Dr. James Hastings, A Dictionary of the Bible.

It matters little to say there is a God. What matters is what attributes you assign him. We diss the ancient peoples who worshipped different gods, but when people hold to radically different views of God, is it not in effect different gods they speak of? Just like you mention Oscar Oxgoad and I say ‘I know that guy!’ But further discussion reveals the attributes and physical qualities don’t line up, so you say, ‘Oh, I guess I don’t know him after all. It’s two people who share the same name.’

Who are these characters that assign him whatever attributes they find convenient? I’ll take the overall lesson of the psalm. They’re cocky as all get-out, but God will set matters straight—an underlying theme of the Bible. Humans insist upon self-rule, the underlying Genesis message of knowing ‘good’ and ‘bad’ God says, ‘Don’t try it—you’ll mess it all up.’ They do so anyway. God says, ‘Alright, I allot you such-and-such an amount of time to make good on your claim. When the time is up, we’ll see what kind of a world you’ve made.’

“[The wicked one] says in his heart: ‘I will never be shaken; For generation after generation I will never see calamity.’” (vs 6)

What says the psalmist of God? “Rise up, O Jehovah. O God, lift up your hand. . . . you do see trouble and distress. You look on and take matters in hand. To you the unfortunate victim turns. . . . Break the arm of the wicked and evil man, So that when you search for his wickedness, You will find it no more.” (vs 12-15)

 

***This is from the previous week, but the idea had to gel and be prompted by a question on Quora:

Q (from Quora): Its odd that 1 out of 9 men in the governing body is a person of color. How does that reflect their constituents?

A: 100% of the American presidency was a person of color for 8 years running. Did that result in a country where blacks and whites get along seamlessly, as with JWs? Pew Research reports that [in the United States] the makeup of Jehovah’s Witnesses is almost exactly 1/3 white, 1/3 black, 1/3 Hispanic, with about 5% Asian, mirroring the national population quite well. It is the biblical values taught that count, not the people who serve as placeholders. One should go for substance, rather than symbolism. As the stats show, Witnesses have all but solved racism.

It is pretty much as in Acts 6, when “the Greek-speaking Jews began complaining against the Hebrew-speaking Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution,” necessary because an annual pilgrimage for the Pentecost celebration unexpectedly turned into an extended stay with the formation of the Christian congregation. The apostles jumped on the problem right away, selecting “seven reputable men . . . full of spirit and wisdom, that we may appoint them over this necessary matter.”

Five of the seven are Greek, judging by their names. (vs 5). Good. The Greek names would build confidence among the Greek persons who were agrieved, no doubt. But the apostles saw no need to change their own makeup, incorporating some Greeks among themselves. It’s the same with the Governing Body themselves. With Branches, the governing arrangements start out heavily foreign but as locals advance spiritually a greater load shifts to them, very much like the appointment of the Greek speaking disciples.

 

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Midweek Meeting Notes, Wk of 2/11/24, Psalms 5-7)

“For nothing they say can be trusted; Within them is nothing but malice; Their throat is an open grave; They flatter with their tongue.” (Psalm 5:9)

How’s that for an image? We’re bowled over by bad breath. Imagine what a throat like an ‘open grave’ must smell like.

“Return, O Jehovah, and rescue me; Save me for the sake of your loyal love.” (Ps 6:4)

No Witness of Jehovah wants to die. It’s inconvenient and it make people feel bad, though death itself holds know terror for them, since they know what it is. And then there is this: “For in death there is no mention of you; In the Grave, who will praise you?” (vs 5)

“Look at the one who is pregnant with wickedness; He conceives trouble and gives birth to lies.” (Ps 7:14) Another image I like: imagine someone ‘pregnant with wickedness.

“He excavates a pit and digs it deep, But he falls into the very hole he made. The trouble he causes will return on his own head; His violence will fall on the crown of his head.” (vs 15-16)

Exactly right, though it may take a while.

 

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Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

What Means Psalm 2:2-3? ‘Let us tear off their shackles And throw off their ropes!’’

Ps 2:2-3: “The kings of the earth take their stand And high officials gather together as one against Jehovah and against his anointed one. They say: ‘Let us tear off their shackles And throw off their ropes!’

The terminology of ‘shackles’ and ‘ropes’ suggests reigning people in. Isn’t that what applied Christianity does? reigning people in from the belligerencies that inevitably lead to wars, reigning people in from the moralities that ignore the monogamous marriage model? Temp is okay. Gay is okay. Hookup is okay. Enough of the shackles and ropes! they say. The ‘kings’ and ‘high officials’ tire of them, particularly when it goes against their priorities.

In a relatively new twist, even to teach Bible values, even within the congregation, even to your own children, is viewed as imposing ‘shackles’ and ‘ropes’ on them. After all, the public ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses can hardly be seen as shackling people; all you have to do is tell them no and they go away. But within the congregation—Psalm 2:3 can also, maybe even primarily, be a reference to anti-cult zealots who say Jehovah’s Witnesses ‘shackle’ their own people. Such ones attempt to divide the Witnesses into two factions and paint an ‘us versus them’ scenario of a manipulative HQ controlling the minions, ‘forbidding’ them all that this world has to offer.

Paul wrote about how Christians “at one time walked according to the system of things of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:2) The anti-cult contention is that nobody must be denied the ‘right’ to breathe in this air to the full. Stand aside and let the air of this system do its thing! Resistance is futile and only a cult would try it. Thus, in Russia, an anti-cult faction accused the Witness organization of denying its own members their civil rights! 

The situation is not presented as the Witnesses themselves would present it, that they organize in order to get things done, to carry out things they view as core to being a Christian. Instead, it is presented as an oppressive authority that ‘steals’ the time and energy of its members and ‘makes’ them (through brainwashing!) do their own bidding. The public ministry, the building of their own places of worship, the caring of their own in times of disaster—all this is viewed as evidence of ‘enslavement,’ ‘unpaid labor,’ as though only money ought be allowed to make the world go round.

It is just a crazy way of thinking to the Witnesses themselves, and they are slow to get their heads around it. If they want to organize and take some direction from the organization they have formed, why should that be anyone’s concern but theirs? Apparently, Paul had to contend with those playing that same ‘victimization’ card, for he writes to the Corinthians that, ‘we have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one,’ as though to counter murmuring that they had. (2 Corinthians 7:2) ‘We are regarded as deceivers and yet we are truthful,’ is how he put it. (2 Corinthians 6:8) Nothing has changed. Follow one path and the people that want you to follow the other will regard you as deceived.

Victimization is a stronger force today than in biblical times, so it ought not be too surprising that some select that for their identity. But, Witnesses are very much in the mode of thinking themselves ‘free agents’ choosing for themselves the path to follow. If that path includes selecting from themselves a tour guide, they don’t see why anyone should get all up in arms over it.

To be sure, people are easily influenced by others. There would not be advertising were this not so. You would almost think the anti-cultists would raise the cry against this ‘manipulative’ practice, since head-over-heels debt has destroyed many a person and relationship. But, as long as the manipulation is in accord with the greater goals of ‘rulership by man’ as opposed to the ‘rulership of ‘God’s kingdom,’ they are generally okay with it. In a sense, those who decry brainwashing are not primarily concerned about brainwashing, but brainwashing that is not theirs.

That people are easily influenced is incorporated into that Ephesians 2:2 verse; the ‘air’ has ‘authority.’ It molds people. For that reason, Christians want to stay away from it, to remain, per Jesus, ‘no part of the world.’ This, however, becomes increasingly challenging. As the greater world gets farther and farther from Christian values, it notices and takes umbrage at those not following suit, those ‘shackling’ and ‘roping’ others even within the congregation they have chosen.

You sons of men, how long will you turn my honor into humiliation?” David says two psalms later. (4:2) It is an honor to align oneself with God and His revealed values, but as the bulk of humanity move farther away, they attempt to portray that honor as humiliation. It is a contest of values. David’s next words to these ones are, How long will you love what is worthless and search for what is false?

 

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Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'

Psalm 76

It almost starts out as though a legend and his home base:

“God is known in Judah; In Israel his name is great. His shelter is in Saʹlem, And his dwelling is in Zion.” (Psalm 76:1-2)

From that home base he has built a reputation:

“There he broke the flaming arrows of the bow, The shield and the sword and the weapons of war. You shine brightly; You are more majestic than the mountains of prey.” (vs 3-4)

Some have messed with him in the past. They’ve come to regret it:

“The courageous of heart have been plundered. They have fallen asleep; The warriors were all helpless. From your rebuke, O God of Jacob, Both the charioteer and the horse have fallen fast asleep.” (Psalm 5-6)

In death, that is. Yet one more passage likening death to sleep, the most well-known being John 11. Horses, updated to the present, would be the modern vehicles of war.

Okay, so say it already:

“You alone are awe-inspiring. Who can withstand your intense anger? From heaven you pronounced judgment; The earth was afraid and was silent.” (vs 7-8)

This next bit is reassuring. For what does he use his power?

“When God rose up to execute judgment, To save all the meek of the earth.” (vs 9)

Does this next passage tell a “hooks in the jaw” scenario? The nations gather up for attack on the great day?

“For the rage of man will serve to your praise; With the remnants of their rage you will adorn yourself.” (vs 10)

Is that what verse 10 is? The final battle of Revelation 19?

“I saw heaven opened, and look! a white horse. And the one seated on it is called Faithful and True, and he judges and carries on war in righteousness. His eyes are a fiery flame, and on his head are many diadems. He has a name written that no one knows but he himself, and he is clothed with an outer garment stained with blood, and he is called by the name The Word of God. Also, the armies in heaven were following him on white horses, and they were clothed in white, clean, fine linen. And out of his mouth protrudes a sharp, long sword with which to strike the nations, and he will shepherd them with a rod of iron. Moreover, he treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his outer garment, yes, on his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” (11-16)

For now, the Research Guide goes light, confining itself to when God has used nations to discipline his people to the proper degree and they end up refined by the experience. Probably you could extend it to when human courts of justice put on the squeeze, and in adapting to it the copper becomes gold, the iron silver, the wood copper, the stones iron—making for better “peace” and “righteousness.”

At any rate—another reference to bringing one’s gift to the altar:

“Make your vows to Jehovah your God and pay them, Let all who are around him bring their gift in fear.” (vs 11)

“He will humble the pride of leaders; He inspires fear in the kings of the earth.” (vs 12)

******  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'