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This paper has been sparked off as a result of, what at first sight appeared to be, a similar retribution from God which has afflicted both myself and Gordon, the LW President, with regard to how we both spend our hours that remain on this earth.
In Gordon’s case, over the course of several years now, he has been spending much of his time on his pet engineering project. This is therefore time that has not been overtly spent on furthering the Church’s understandings of the scriptures and, thereby, preparing for the Church’s receiving of the First and Second New Covenant Kings and Lords that will be joining the Lords’ Witnesses as we approach Judgement Day. His punishment was a serious relapse in his diabetic condition which, I am pleased to relate, has subsequently subsided down to near normal levels. Gordon believes that this was a swift and sharp punishment from God to alter his priorities for the times ahead.
In my own case, I have ‘religiously’ put aside time each day, over the last twelve years, to carry out my personal bible research which feeds this web site. I have to say that this is one of many activities that I spend my time on; all the rest, however, are secular in nature. Whilst the topic of how a Christian should spend his time on this earth has been on my mind for some time, I recently took up the honorary post of Match Secretary for my local bowls club. This represents a further commitment on my time for non-spiritual activity. My supposed punishment has turned out to be a recent rotator cuff tear which, amongst othern things, is preventing my playing outdoor bowls for the coming summer season. The irony of spending time arranging the club’s matches while not being able to play in them is not lost on me and further demonstrates the beautiful justice that we can expect from our God beyond the final days of this system of things.
The following scripture also came to mind in my thinking this through:
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6 KJV)
I have to say that I do not consider the above verse applies to my situation since my bowls club position is strictly honorary with no financial reward and only the pleasure of helping out a sports club in need.
So let us examine how this all affected Gordon and myself both individually and in combination. Also, whilst I am writing about specific events in both our lives, I believe there are lessons for all Christians here and particularly those who would wish to become Lords’ Witnesses in the final days of this system.
The Forty Strokes
In Hebrew times, misdemeanours were punishable in Law with 40 strokes. Minding the Law expressly forbids a greater number than 40 to be applied, a factor which weighs heavy in this paper :
2 then it shall be, if the wrongdoer [is] a son of stripes, the judge shall cause him to fall down. And one shall strike him before his face, enough for his wickedness, by number.
3 He may give him forty [stripes]; he shall not add more, lest, if he should exceed and beat him above [with] many stripes, then your brother would be dishonored before your eyes. (Deuteronomy 25 GLT)
Jehovah, Himself, applied this punishment symbolically turning strokes into days, a day for a stroke, when He punished His prophet Ezekiel, who took the ‘strokes’ on behalf of the nation of Judah:
6 And when you complete them, even lie on your right side, the second. And you shall bear the house of Judah's iniquity forty days; a day for a year. I have set it for you, a day for a year. (Ezekiel 4 GLT)
This punishment is repeated in the New Testament writings of Paul with one subtle difference:
24 Five times I received forty [stripes] minus one from the Jews. (2 Corinthians 11 GLT)
In the above scripture, Paul is referring to his own punishments from the Jews for his ‘misdemeanours’ in supporting the Christ. The number here, though, is 39 which is obviously one less than the regulation 40 maximum. From my own upbringing, in the Jewish church, the Jewish custom is always to interpret God’s requirements with some degree of caution. A good example of this would be to start the Passover one hour before and/or finish one hour after sunset to ensure that the full measure of Passover observance over a twenty five or six hour period was catered for. In like manner I would expect that, where a punishment was deemed in Law to be no more than 40 strokes, then 39 would be administered to ensure that a mis-count would not likely result in the punishment exceeding the legal maximum. This would seem to be the case in Paul’s experience of being punished by the Jews.
A Loving Father Corrects His Sons
In all this, if Gordon and/or I have, indeed, been chastened by God then we should both be well comforted with Solomon’s words:
11 My son, do not reject the chastening of Jehovah, and do not loathe His correction;
12 for whom Jehovah loves He corrects, even as a father [corrects] the son [with whom] he is pleased. (Proverbs 3 GLT)
Re-iterated with Paul’s words to the Hebrew congregation:
5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. (Hebrews 12 KJV)
And confirmed further by the apostle John:
19 I, as many "as I love, I rebuke and I chasten." Be zealous, then, and repent. [Prov. 3:12] (Revelation 3 GLT)
God’s Expectations of Us
I suppose the essence of what God wants from us is well expressed in Paul’s letter to the Roman congregation. Whilst we are IN this world we should not be OF this world. The greater the balance of our activities gravitate towards worldly activities the more are we risking the spiritual in our lives:
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12 KJV)
His letter to the congregation at Colossus puts the point very succinctly:
1 If, then, you were raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is sitting at [the] right of God; [Psa. 110:1]
2 mind the things above, not the things on the earth. (Colossians 3 GLT)
James’ letter makes it clear that faith without works is worthless. Whilst I believe that studying the bible and making one’s understandings of scripture available to all does truly represent God’s work, James gives no indication as to how much of our time should be spent in this way:
17 So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself. (James 2 GLT)
I would like to think that my whole life on this earth is spent with God in mind, even when I am not doing His work overtly. I try to carry God’s words with me at all times, even when carrying out secular activities. I think this helps me to accept that I cannot expect to carry out deep bible research at all times given my failing grey matter. Solomon’s words again help me in this respect:
3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
4 So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3 KJV)
This seems to be supported in Paul’s letter to the Hebrew congregation:
18 Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. (Hebrews 13 KJV)
Paul’s letter to the young Timothy could be taken to have a greater meaning of Christ’s requirements of Gordon and myself perhaps. Again, I would hope that we are meeting these criteria to at least a reasonable extent, although is it ever really enough?
13 Until I come, attend to reading, to exhortation to the doctrine.
14 Do not be neglectful of the gift in you, which was given to you through prophecy, with laying on of the hands of the elderhood.
15 Give care to these things; be in these things in order that your progress may be plain in all.
16 Give attention to yourself and to the doctrine; continue in them, for doing this, you will both deliver yourself and those hearing you. (1 Timothy 4 GLT)
However, when we are not explicitly doing God’s work, we must be sure that we are not fooling ourselves by getting involved in activities in ways that do not meet God’s requirements of us:
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Galatians 6 KJV)
So long as our secular activities do not lead to the evident signs of worldly contamination perhaps this may suffice:
19 Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies,
21 envyings, murders, drunkennesses, revelings, and things like these; of which I tell you beforehand, as I also said before, that the ones practicing such things will not inherit [the] kingdom of God. (Galatians 5 GLT)
Whilst Christians are judged by their faith or love and not by the Law, King David had some relevant words to say on our current theme. We are requested to meditate on God’s Law both day and night. If we do so then whatever we do shall be blessed. This, at first, gave me much comfort in that, in my thinking, if we carry Christ’s love in our hearts at all times, then I believe that we do not need to spend all our time working overtly on spiritual matters. However, when I came to reconsider the true meaning of ‘meditate day and night’, I became much less sure of myself. This does seem to indicate that a process of deep thought on God’s Word is necessary at all times; but how many of us are truly capable of that?
1 Blessed [is] the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (Psalms 1 KJV)
I hope that both Gordon and myself are seen by our Lords as ‘fighting the good fight and confessing before many witnesses’ through our work in the Church and our giving the fruits of our spiritual labours to all through our respective web sites, regardless of the amount of our time that we actually spend on their development:
12 Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and confessed the good confession before many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6 GLT)
Hopefully the work that we do for God will stand us in good stead:
58 So that, my beloved brothers, [you] be firm, immovable, abounding in the work of the Lord always, knowing that your labor is not without fruit in [the] Lord. (1 Corinthians 15 GLT)
When we carry out our bible research, I think we are well insulated from the wiles of Satan. However, I think as does Peter, that we do need to take extra care when we are dealing with earthly matters in that we must keep on our guard against the ways of the world:
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1 Peter 5 KJV)
Do I have a good conscience about my involvement in worldly matters? Well, I have to say that maybe I do not otherwise, I suspect, that I would not have been motivated to write this paper. However, the prospect of spending every waking hour carrying out deep bible research does not seem for me to be a realistic objective. Time is also required to reflect on what has been learned. I often find my best insights to the scriptures occur when they are not even in my conscious thoughts. God works in mysterious ways and to those with an open heart to God He gives without our always needing to ask:
32 Truly [He] who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up on behalf of us all, how will He not freely give all things to us with Him? (Romans 8 GLT)
I can only pray that Paul and the Holy Spirit pray for us today as they did on behalf of the congregation of Colossus some two thousand years ago:
9 For this cause also, from the day in which we heard, we do not cease praying on your behalf, and asking that you may be filled [with] the full knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,
10 [for] you to walk worthily of the Lord to all pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work and growing into the full knowledge of God; (Colossians 1 GLT)
I suppose the ultimate judgement on us is how we measure up to God’s test on us as Mark’s gospel reminds us. Interestingly the one requirement of ‘all your time’ is not explicitly stated, but is it implied?
30 and you shall love [the] Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul" and with all your mind, "and with all your strength." This is the first commandment. [Deut. 6:4, 5] (Mark 12 GLT)
Solomon confirms that doing works for God will establish your life purpose. Again no mention is made as to how much of one’s time should be spent on the works:
3 Roll your works on Jehovah, and your thoughts shall be established. (Proverbs 16 GLT)
In Paul’s letter to the congregation at Ephesus, he prays for their ability to fully comprehend God’s requirements of us. Therefore, I think we clearly have a duty to carry out and dispense our best efforts in researching God’s Word. However, one caveat here is the strength that we may be given for that task:
17 that through faith Christ may dwell in your hearts, having been rooted and founded in love,
18 that you may be given strength to grasp, with all the saints, what [is] the breadth and length and depth and height, (Ephesians 3 GLT)
These words from Christ Himself give me much comfort in that our web sites are wholly visible at all times to those that are drawn to them:
14 You are the light of the world. A city situated on a mountain cannot be hidden.
15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under the grain measure, but on the lampstand; and it shines for all those in the house.
16 So let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works, and may glorify your Father in Heaven. (Matthew 5 GLT)
Peter confirms the responsibilities of The True Christian Church which, again, I believe we are fulfilling:
5 you also as living stones are being built a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2 GLT)
9 But you [are] "an elect race," "a royal priesthood," "a holy nation," "a people for possession," so that "you may openly speak of the virtues" of the [One] who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; [LXX-Ex. 23:22; MT-Ex. 19:5, 6] (1 Peter 2 GLT)
So how far do our spiritual sacrifices mirror those from the Old Testament physical priestly sacrifices? One in the evening and one in the morning; I offer mine on a, more or less, daily basis through my bible research, albeit in one sitting not two. I would like to think that the New Covenant releases us from detailed requirements of the Law so long as we are serving God to the best of our less than perfect abilities:
39 The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the second lamb you shall offer between the evenings. (Exodus 29 GLT)
As always, I need not have worried about how exactly I should spend my time on this earth so long as my heart is in the right state:
26 And likewise the Spirit also joins in to help our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes on our behalf with groanings that cannot be uttered.
27 But the [One] searching the hearts knows what [is the] mind of the Spirit, because He petitions on behalf of [the] saints according to God.
28 But we know that [to] the [ones] loving God all things work together for good, [to] those being called according to purpose;
29 because whom He foreknew, He also predestinated [to be] conformed to the image of His Son, for Him to be [the] First-born among many brothers.
30 But whom He predestinated, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (Romans 8 GLT)
Again, more comforting words in that I would hope that our web sites are the fruit that Christ promises:
5 I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15 KJV)
Well I may not carry my cross all the day long but I try to take it up most days in my bible research (subject to my torn rotator cuff LOL):
23 And He said to all, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily. And let him follow Me. (Luke 9 GLT)
Here we have another ‘all your might…’ scripture but with the addition of a time element that these words should be on our hearts and actioned at all times. Again, I do not feel this is telling me that I need to carry out deep bible research in all my waking moments. However, it is telling me that God should not be very far away from my every thought and deed. Whilst I cannot, in all honesty claim that I meet this criterion for every minute of every day, I hope any omission of this principle is far more the exception than the rule:
5 And you shall love Jehovah your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
6 And these Words which I am commanding you today shall be on your heart.
7 And you shall teach them to your sons, and shall speak of them as you sit in your house, and as you walk in the way, and as you are lying down, and as you are rising up. (Deuteronomy 6 GLT)
If ever there was a scripture that talks about the time man spends on this earth, I think the writings of Solomon has it. Here it is clear that man has many things to spend his time on, all of which is understood and, indeed, expected by God. Whilst it does not specifically talk about bowls secretariat or bible study specifically, I think it is fair to say that both these activities can have their appropriate places in a balanced life:
1 To all [there is] an appointed time, even a time for every purpose under the heavens:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pull up what [is] planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to give up as lost; a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew together; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. (Ecclesiastes 3 GLT)
Another very short verse reminding us how to spend our time:
17 Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5 GLT)
And another slightly longer:
15 but according to the Holy One who has called you, you also become holy in all conduct; (1 Peter 1 GLT)
But the gospels also call us to be single-minded in our faith:
22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. (Matthew 6 KJV)
34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when [thine eye] is evil, thy body also [is] full of darkness. (Luke 11 KJV)
God’s Mysterious Ways
Now let us examine what has really taken place in all this hand-wringing angst on my part. If we consider God’s punishment on His children as I wrote about above, the Law says 40 strokes and no more. He punished Ezekiel for 40 days not 39 whereas the Pharisees punished Paul with 39 for the reasons stated in that previous section of this paper. We have to believe that God can count correctly compared with mankind’s feeble abilities.
So how does this apply to the current thesis? Well Gordon counted 39 days of his relapsed condition before his recovery which he had previously shared with me. So if Gordon was indeed being punished directly by the hand of God then my interpretation was that the count should be 40 not the 39 that Gordon had counted. I thought that I should advise him of this understanding. I called him and he accepted my thinking without any hesitation and with much relief. He had just suffered a further relapse as I called, taking his 39 count to 40, so he was concerned about the stroke count not being correct and what did that mean? He suffered no more than the one extra day before making a full recovery thereby making the count for his punishment 40 as I had predicted.
Well that was Gordon sorted; he knew now beyond any doubt that this was a punishment from God with that extra stroke as counted by yours truly. But what of me and my punishment? The more I thought about it the more bothered did I become. To reverse a punishment one has to undo the wrong previously committed. But was my misdemeanour really my putting my hand up to be a Bowling Club Match Secretary? In writing this paper, it struck me that I was Fixture Secretary at my previous bowls club, before I moved to my present home location, and this was without any noticeable penalty from God. So what is different this time? I could only think that this was a timing issue and that, perhaps, our current chronological predictions of the end times are finally now correct? This could also be the reason behind Gordon's being punished at this time since his engineering project has been going on for some years now. This prospective proximity to the end of this system will bring with it significant priestly duties on all Lords’ Witnesses in the near future. If that proves to be the case, I will need to be prepared to give up much in my life to exercise those responsibilities fully at the appropriate time. I hope my faith will allow me to carry those out without exception and that this is God’s early warning to me to be prepared for that eventuality. Amen.
As at the commencement of the writing of this part of the paper, I am currently on day 43 and I have had no noticeable improvement in my shoulder condition which would have indicated that my punishment ended as per God’s own Law. So I am now certain that I am not being punished by God since, if I were, He would make certain that I was very clear in my understanding of it. This has not been the case. However, I still have a disability that may yet require surgery although I am making good progress with my rehabilitation exercises.
As a result of this uncertainty, I found myself in a very dark place for several days while I tried to understand what was going on for me. I started to believe that I was under a curse again for some reason which again I had not been made aware. After several days of this dark period for me, I felt that I should discuss my feelings with Gordon on the subject. This was the diatribe to which I subjected our Church President:
‘Having thought about the situation there are some positives. My thinking that I was being punished by God did have the positive effect of my starting to write a paper (this paper) on our parallel experiences. This paved the way for me to correct your (Gordon’s) stroke count. Also this could be seen to be some sort of confirmation of our current chronology. Unfortunately everything else is very negative in my mind. It now feels that I was deceived into being used to help your situation whilst having mine eroded. It feels like I am nothing more than collateral damage in God’s plan for the Church. Writing the paper caused me to examine how I spend my time, hence our various conversations on the subject. However, now that I find myself in a very different place than I had hoped, nothing about this makes any sense in this respect when analysed in hindsight:
Giving up the Match Secretary job would take up far more of my time both quantitatively and qualitatively than continuing with the role. I hit the job hard when I started it, with the help of my predecessor, and it is now a low-level activity that is not taking up a great deal of my time overall. Resigning would require me to put in a great deal of effort to get things in good shape for a handover, an enormous amount of emotional stress in negotiating my way out of a commitment I had made (which does not seem to be a God-like thing to be doing anyway) and a long haul in finding a replacement and handing over to him/her. If that is God's expectation then I hope He does not expect me to do ANY bible research while all that is going on!!
Since being diagnosed with the rotator cuff tear, I am now spending the better part of ten hours a week on rehabilitation and additional weight training exercises to compensate. Those ten hours are largely in core working hours which is providing much more of a competitive block on my time available for bible research than the Match Secretary job. Again this does not sound like a very well laid out plan from God to aid me in doing His work.
When I analyse the way I do bible research, historically I work the way I do because I am trying to make sure that the quality and depth of my research is as good as it can be. That has always been more important to me than measuring the sheer volume of output. Spending more of the wrong kind of time, i.e. being stressed about how much more time I need to spend on it, would probably make me less rather than more productive and is beginning to sound like work rather than something that I enjoy spending my time on. I and God both know how I like to do His work to best effect.
I therefore do not believe this has anything to do with my time spent on research; God is testing my faith as He did with Job. Given how far I have come, I do not know why He needs to do this right now. I feel He is testing me beyond my limit to respond which is a promise He made not to do:
13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it]. (1 Corinthians 10 KJV)
13 πειρασμὸς ὑμᾶς οὐκ εἴληφεν εἰ μὴ ἀνθρώπινος πιστὸς δὲ ὁ Θεός ὃς οὐκ ἐάσει ὑμᾶς πειρασθῆναι ὑπὲρ ὃ δύνασθε ἀλλὰ ποιήσει σὺν τῷ πειρασμῷ καὶ τὴν ἔκβασιν τοῦ δύνασθαι ὑπενεγκεῖν (1 Corinthians 10 WHO)
(While the Greek word ’πειρασμὸς‘ is exclusively translated as ‘temptation’ it can also mean ‘trialling’ or ‘proving’ as I thought applicable to my situation)
Going back over my previous paper on Job, which was similarly sparked off by physical ailments, that last episode resulted in a large increase in my spiritual output. This time I am not just suffering from a physical ailment but, even worse, a spiritual one caused by the dilemmas identified above. This is causing a stoppage to my output until I can fight my way out of the pit I have been thrown in!’
Gordon’s response was succinct. With this input from me, he now believed that I was effectively playing the good Samaritan. Through my own dilemma, I had the thought to correct his stroke count which got both our President and the Church out of their own pit. Gordon stopped working on his engineering project completely and started to devote all of his time to bible research with some astonishing new revelations being made to us subsequently. As he put it, I had ‘taken a hit for my brother and the Church’ for which the only reward I sought was the knowledge of what God had intended through the pair of us working together to rescue the work of the Church:
33 But a certain traveling Samaritan came upon him, and seeing him, he was filled with pity.
34 And coming near, [he] bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. And putting him on his own animal, [he] brought him to an inn and cared for him.
35 And going forth on the morrow, taking out two denarii, he gave [them] to the innkeeper, and said to him, Care for him, and whatever more you spend, on my return I will repay to you. (Luke 10 GLT)
Or possibly more appropriate for two brothers in Christ working together for the common good:
9 Two [are] better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor.
10 For if they fall, this one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him, the one that falls, and there is not another to lift him up. (Ecclesiastes 4 GLT)
28 But we know that [to] the [ones] loving God all things work together for good, [to] those being called according to purpose; (Romans 8 GLT)
The following verse has some relevance here also although I am not trying to suggest that our Church President is an ass (at least not in this paper LOL!!):
4 Thou shalt not see thy brother's ass or his ox fall down by the way, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt surely help him to lift [them] up again. (Deuteronomy 22 KJV)
As you may imagine I felt like Saul having the scales instantly removed from my eyes:
18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. (Acts 9 KJV)
Now whilst David wrote Psalm 7 about the wicked ones (of which I hope that I do not number) the following verse is, nonetheless, very apposite in this situation for me:
15 He dug a pit and bored it, and has fallen into the ditch he made. (Psalms 7 GLT)
With God’s help, Gordon had dragged me out of a pit of my own making into God’s full-blown light. I guess this was also true for Gordon when he saw the count should be 40 not 39. We had effectively gotten each other out of a spiritual hole:
28 He has redeemed my soul from passing over into the Pit, and my life shall see the light. (Job 33 GLT)
My depression instantly turned into euphoria which is still with me.
Gordon believes that his sin of time-wasting on God’s work was far greater than mine and decodes himself alone to be in the greater meaning of this account:
12 When your days [are] fulfilled, and you lie with your fathers, then I shall raise up your seed after you, who shall come out from your bowels, and I shall establish his kingdom.
13 He shall build a house for My Name, and I shall establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
14 I shall be a father to him, and he shall be a son to Me. When he sins, then I will chasten him with a rod of men, and with strokes of the sons of men.
15 But My mercy shall not be taken from him, as I took [it] from Saul, whom I put away from before you.
16 And your house shall be established, and your kingdom before you forever. Your throne [shall be] established forever. (2 Samuel 7 GLT)
We then find a rather worrying scripture:
42 And the Lord said, Who then is the faithful and wise steward whom the Lord will set over his house servants, to give the portion of food in season?
43 Blessed [is] that slave [when] his Lord comes [and] will find [him] so doing.
44 Truly I say to you, He will set him over all His possessions.
45 But if that slave should say in his heart, My Lord delays to come, and should begin to beat the men servants and the female servants, and to eat and to drink and be drunk,
46 the Lord of that slave will come in the day in which he does not expect, and in an hour which he does not know. And He will cut him apart and will put his portion with the unbelievers.
47 But that slave knowing the will of his Lord, and not preparing, nor doing according to His will, will be beaten with many [stripes].
48 But he not knowing, and doing [things] worthy of stripes, will be beaten with few. And everyone given much, much will be demanded from him. And to whom much was deposited, more exceedingly they will ask [of] him. (Luke 12 GLT)
Who is the servant referred to here? Gordon, me, JW Governing body etc?? Well all three but with differing meanings here I think. The key here is the phrase 'many stripes' which from previous scriptures would mean a greater number than the statutory maximum of 40 which Gordon has received. While Gordon and myself have certainly been 'given much', at least we recognise that and are attempting to give back through our research websites and by retaining our loyalty to TCC4. So I would like to think Gordon (and myself) fall into the category of 'the faithful and wise steward' although how 'much will be demanded' of us is still to be discovered. I suppose whatever we give back, it seems that we could always do more. Anyway, despite our wayward tendencies we are still attempting to operate within the remit of TCC4. But what of the Watchtower Governing Body to whom much has been given and who, since the establishment of TCC4, have been ignoring the works thereof and, worse, hiding the Truth from their own congregation. These clearly can no longer represent that steward and will therefore receive the many stripes, at the appropriate time. Not a place I would want to be! This account could also be taken to further confirm our current chronology in that the rather less than 'faithful and wise servant' does not expect his Lord; could this therefore be taken to mean that His 'faithful and wise servant' does now know the time to expect his Lord and is currently preparing for that eventuality?
So not for the first time we find the workings of God well beyond our comprehension but, nonetheless, a glory to behold:
5 Our Lord [is] great and of great might; [there is] no limit to His understanding. (Psalms 147 GLT)
33 O [the] depth of [the] riches and of [the] wisdom and [the] knowledge of God! How unsearchable [are] His judgments and His ways past finding out! (Romans 11 GLT)
Oh, and by the way, God knows that also:
8 For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
9 For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55 KJV)
A true punishment from God will be made clear to the recipient that that is what he is being given. If, indeed that is the case, then he is truly a much-loved son of God.
Whilst for most of us (except the LW President!) we are not expected to carry out deep bible research every waking hour, we must carry God’s message in our hearts at all times and, when we are doing God’s work explicitly, we need to ensure as far as possible that we are making that work visible to all who are looking for it.
God works in ways that are well beyond our understanding. He sometimes allows us, even encourages us, to fall into the dark pits of our own making. If our hearts are right with God, He will always rescue us in ways that are unmistakably His and with a new lesson learned.
While this paper may, at first reading, appear to be somewhat self-indulgent it nonetheless represents real events that occurred within the Fourth True Church at a senior level. They are therefore not to be taken lightly by any prospective new member seeking a baptism into that Church.
A Lords' Witness's Responsibilities
Jewish Lords' Witness
The Good Samaritan