My Spiritual Journey – Addendum
I originally wrote this paper around one decade ago. Notwithstanding that timeframe, it only struck me suddenly just a few days ago, that the period between my deciding to leave the Jewish faith at the tender age of 19 years old and getting baptised into the 4th True Christian Church of the Lords’ Witnesses at the not-so-tender age of 58 years old was a period of exactly 40 years. This, for me, was a period of wandering in the wilderness searching for my expectation that, somewhere out in that wilderness that is our world, there must be a true Christian Church sanctioned by Jehovah God as such. So this raised the questions of whether there is a greater (or rather a lesser!) meaning to the 40 year wilderness period, meant at a more personal level, and why did this thought only just occur to me at this particular time no doubt courtesy of the Holy Spirit? Is there something special about the 40 year period for all or some or one of us or the whole Church of the Lords’ Witnesses?
Well to answer the first question I turned to the book of Joshua:
2 At that time Jehovah said to Joshua, Make for yourself flint knives, and again circumcise the sons of Israel, the second time.
3 And Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins.
4 And this [is] the reason Joshua circumcised: All the people who had come out of Egypt, who were males, all the men of war, had died in the wilderness, in the way, as they came out of Egypt.
5 For all the people who had come out were circumcised. And all the people who [were] born in the wilderness, in the way, as they came out from Egypt, had not been circumcised.
6 For the sons of Israel had walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, the men of war who had come out of Egypt were consumed, [those] who did not listen to the voice of Jehovah, to whom Jehovah had sworn to them not to show them the land which Jehovah swore to their fathers, to give to us, a land flowing with milk and honey; [these] were consumed.
7 And He raised their sons up in their place. Joshua circumcised them, for they had been uncircumcised; for they had not been circumcised in the way. (Joshua 5 GLT)
If I am today’s lesser meaning substitute for the sons of Israel then I was to be circumcised a second time as per verse 2. The Egypt of verse 4 represented my spiritual slavery in the Jewish faith into which I was born. The ‘nation…who…were consumed’ of verse 6 is also my previous Jewish faith but as represented in my original fleshly circumcision. But how could I have been circumcised a second time? I clearly needed to look at the New Testament scriptures for this answer:
28 For he is not a Jew that [is one] outwardly, nor [is] circumcision that outwardly in flesh;
29 but he [is] a Jew that [is one] inwardly, and circumcision [is] of heart, in spirit, not in letter; of whom the praise [is] not from men, but from God. (Romans 2 GLT)
Paul makes it clear to me in his epistle to the Roman congregation that my first circumcision was that of the flesh but my second circumcision, upon my LW baptism, was that of my spiritual heart.
But is there also a parallel account to that of Christ’s time in the wilderness that has personal significance for me?
8 But let not this one thing be hidden [from] you, beloved, that one day with [the] Lord [is] "as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." [Psa. 90:4] (2 Peter 3 GLT)
Well we are certainly not talking about one thousand years here but if a thousand years is as one day then it does not seem to be too much of a stretch to equate 40 days to 40 years? Let us have a look at the gospel of Matthew in this regard:
1 Then Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit, to be tempted by the Devil.
2 And having fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards He hungered.
3 And coming near to Him, the Tempter said, If You are [the] Son of God, speak that these stones may become loaves.
4 But answering, He said, It has been written: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every Word going out of [the] mouth of God." [Deut. 8:3]
5 Then the Devil takes Him to the holy city, and he set Him on the wing of the temple.
6 And [he] said to Him, If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it has been written: "He shall give His angels charge concerning You, and they shall bear You on [their] hands,lest You strike Your foot against a stone." [LXX-Psa. 90:11, 12; MT-Psa. 91:11, 12]
7 Jesus said to him, Again it has been written: "You shall not tempt [the] Lord your God." [Deut. 6:16]
8 Again the Devil takes Him to a very high mountain, and shows to Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
9 And [he] said to Him. I will give all these things to You if falling down, You will worship me.
10 Then Jesus said to him, Go, Satan! For it has been written: "You shall worship [the] Lord your God, and you shall serve Him only." [Deut. 6:13]
11 Then the Devil left Him. And behold! Angels came near and ministered to Him. (Matthew 4 GLT)
Well starting with the first verse in Matthew 4 I believe that both Jesus and myself were led into the wilderness by the Spirit. I suppose my temptation was whether I could stay the course for the forty years of my search for the true church without succumbing to all of Satan’s attempts to knock me off the correct path. My fasting and certainly a part of my resistance to Satan’s temptations was to spend time on studying the scriptures whereas I could have spent more of my life building and enjoying worldly riches rather than spiritual ones. The whole of that time in the wilderness I do not think I considered any deity to be the true God other than Jehovah and His Son Jesus Christ, although I am sure I lapsed into ungodly behaviour from time to time being only human.
So I think I can argue that I could be a symbolic substitution for the nation of Israel and Jesus in these two accounts but, as per one of my earlier questions, what do these parallels and the timing of my realisation at this particular juncture really mean? The only other thought that I can up with at this moment is whether I represent a second Joshua? Overall it could symbolise my leading a Messianic Jewish congregation into the 4th True Christian Church. But if this is what I am being told where are my instructions from the Great Book? Have I already prepared the way through my website? What is meant by my leading them across the Jordan? Who do the various native alien nations represent? Is there a further symbolism of the Jericho saga?
Only time and/or further research will tell. Amen.
After a year or two of studying we agreed that it would probably be appropriate for me to continue my studies with my local JW congregation since she lived a good hour's drive from our place. So I rang them up and, guess what, they are not used to people knocking on THEIR door since they only seem capable of knocking on others'. They did not appear to have a process in place to handle the unusual occurrence of answering a knock on their own door. I have subsequently come to think that this is symptomatic of some of their more significant shortcomings; if they are not listening they are therefore not really operating a true Watchtower so what else are they missing? The Watchtower's own bible translation, the NWT, has Matthew 7:7 as 'Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you.' Whilst the work of evangelising is the JW hallmark, I wonder how much knocking they do on the door of God's house, as the verse in Matthew requests of us all, rather than the doors of prospective new recruits? Anyway, after several weeks of dealing with their adjustment to these unprecedented circumstances, I ended up speaking with the overseer, Bruce, of the local congregation. I think he was so intrigued that I had 'knocked on the Watchtower door' that he offered to take me through a structured study personally himself during this period of my journey. I naturally felt very honoured so accepted his offer immediately. There is no doubt that this was a period when the spiritual side of my life grew enormously and several sacred truths started dawning on me for the first time. Acts 9:18 was applicable to me at this time: 'And immediately there fell from his eyes what looked like scales, and he recovered sight....'. Also over this period of study I made some warm friends among the congregation, Bruce being no exception. Despite my eventual misgivings with the Watchtower Society there is no doubt that, within their ranks, there are many devoted and sincere Christians.
Undoubtedly the worst year of my life but one in which I really grew up. I was a very naive twenty year old when my father died of a heart attack. I loved my father dearly and my world came crashing down around me. The Jewish custom, after 'sitting shiva' for a week to grieve with the rest of the family, is for the male blood relatives of the deceased to recite the mourners 'kaddish' prayer every day until the first anniversary of the loved one's death. Since I was not yet commited to the Christian faith I clung to what I knew and started going to the synagogue pretty much every sabbath for that year to pray in my father's memory. The stark difference between the weakness and mortality that are the trappings of the human soul compared with my expectation of the indestructibility of the human spirit hit me very hard during that period. There just had to be a God otherwise there was no meaning to life.
Discovered Jimi Hendrix and started wondering why there were so few physical Jews in the world and so many 'alleged' Christians. This coincided with my starting a new job working alongside a devout Anglican, Rob, who did a marvellous job of introducing me to Jesus. We stayed friends for many years but I have lost touch with him over the last decade or so. I am sure we will meet again in this or the next system of things. As a result of Rob's influence on me, I started reading the New Testament for the first time and came to the inescapable conclusion that Jesus was indeed the prophesied Messiah. Clearly, however, he was not the kind of saviour that many first century Jews had been expecting. As I have subsequently discovered it is the nature of our loving creator to present us with challenges to our expectations of his promises.
Started asking myself some scary philosophical questions like: 'Who am I?' 'What am I?' 'Where did I come from?' All this being coupled with the overall feeling that I just was not really part of this world and had little in common with most of its inhabitants.
My coming of age in the synagogue; my Barmitzvah.
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A Spiritual Journey
Got baptised as a Lords' Witness.
And now things start to get really interesting! Fairly shortly after I had commenced my personal study, I found that I had the need for a Hebrew interliner bible. I already had the Watchtower's own Greek interlinear of the New Testament but, for some reason, they have felt it unnecessary to give the same attention to detail to the Old Testament. On searching the web for this elusive tome, apart from the obvious Amazon site (from which I did eventually purchase an 'as new' Kohlenburger at something close to half price), guess what? That's right, Google (a.k.a. The Holy Spirit) lead me to the True Bible Code web-site. My JW training enabled me to appreciate what was on this site almost immediately.
For the scientists among you it is probably worth mentioning at this point the one item that really caught my attention early on. The Lords' Witnesses, as far as I am aware, are the only church that have identified that there are two creations of man described in Genesis 1:26-27. This understanding has enabled the LWs to reconcile the Evolutionists with the Creationists by demonstrating that the archeological record of mankind by no means runs contrary to Holy Scripture. For those interested please check out the following link:
The timing for my ability to accept the understandings of the True Bible Code web-site was perfect in that I had developed a bible-trained mind over the previous five years but had not committed myself to the Watchtower. I therefore did not have all the emotional baggage that would have gone with that particular baptism. It was no longer just a case for me of 'make the truth your own' as the Watchtower would have it but, significantly, became a case of 'And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.' (John 8:32). It could not have been planned better. Oh yes, it was well planned but despite me rather than by me. And the rest, as they say, is history....
I completed my structured study with Bruce and we agreed that it would now be appropriate for me to continue with my own personal studies for the time being. Over the previous 2-3 years I had compiled a list of difficult questions (I am known for it!) which had not been satisfactorily answered by Watchtower doctrine. The intention was that I would research the more significant topics and get back to Bruce with further questions, new understandings or whatever as my personal studies progressed. I would have to confess that, even at that stage in my spiritual education, I had a cold feeling running through my veins that I might not find the answers that I sought. This even though I deemed the Watchtower to be streets ahead of any other church that I had come across in terms of their scriptural understandings. For the record those key topics were as follows:
I entered this next phase with some considerable trepidation since I saw that my very faith may have been severely challenged at this stage if I did not find the answers. But, of course, I need not have worried because, unknown to me at the time (and indeed probably for the whole of my life), the Holy Spirit was leading me gently down the path that I needed to go.
A family friend had been studying with, and then joined, the Jehovah's Witnesses some five years previously. Local flooding in our village that winter caused me to start thinking that all of us are here under sufferance from the elements and the prospect of apocalyptic prophecy. I started studying the teachings of the Watchtower with her.
Much to my family's chagrin got married to a 'shiksa'. For the uninitiated that is Yiddish for gentile woman.
Enjoyed my salad days getting graduated, playing drums in various bands, going to rock concerts, mixing with some dubious characters, getting drunk regularly but still continuing to try to understand God's purposes for us albeit without making any kind of conscious commitment.
I always remember as a young scholar, having just arrived at grammar school, that I fell madly in love with the science of chemistry. The reason for this love affair was simple. I had not previously come across the periodic table of the chemical elements prior to my secondary education and I remember being mesmerised by the fact that the whole of the observable universe was made up of innumerable combinations of no more than 92 naturally occurring elements. Moreover these elements were also logically organised and ordered according to their nuclear and electronic structures in such a beautiful way; this beauty being in my mind’s eye not in terms of what I can actually see directly in our physical world. How anyone can imagine that such order, beauty and grace have occurred as a matter of some random process rather than as an intelligent creation actually beggars belief. This event in my first class in the chemistry laboratory at the start of my first year in secondary school was probably my first true spiritual experience. Whilst I did not realise it then, it has proved subsequently to be a wonderful start to my spiritual journey in providing evidence for my faith in God.
Born a physical Jew in North London. A Levite in fact.
The journey continues and becomes more compelling with every passing day...
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The journey that we all must make to find God. The early stages of my particular path towards God should prove interesting for the Jews who are knocking on the door whilst the latter stages should do likewise for those Jehovah's Witnesses and scientists who visit this web-site; some food for thought for all three groups here I think.
Jewish Lords' Witness
Informed Bruce of my decision. I worked through a carefully thought out script. He listened attentively and was clearly concerned about the UN NGO connection of which he claimed he knew nothing. Bruce usually brought me loads of Watchtower material to read when he visited me. This time he kept it in his bag and accepted the material that I had prepared for him in support of my position. Amazingly he promised to read it although he said he would only look at the material on the UN topic. He is an honourable man so I believe he did. We left on warm terms and he said that he hoped we would remain friends. I hope we do. I pray continually that I will get a phone call from him to discuss my spiritual journey further with him. This particularly given his senior role in the JW congregation. Maybe it is time I called him?
Moved out to Surrey and started breeding. During this period I decided that I wanted my children brought up in a Christian environment. So we got them christened into the Anglican variety, sent them off to a church school and started going regularly to Sunday service in a beautiful local church in the village square. Around this time a new curate, Richard, joined the church hierarchy; he could only be described as a beautiful man in the strictly spiritual sense. We formed a warm friendship and as a direct result, I decided to get confirmed as an Anglican. Very sadly Richard died only a few years later of a brain tumour well before his time in early middle-age. I keep thinking that God loved him so much that he wanted to take him out of this world before it got the chance to corrupt him; a little fanciful perhaps, and probably not scripturally sound, but that is still what I feel today.
The Web-Master's Equivalent of Abraham's Trip from Ur of the Chaldees to the Land of Canaan.
Raised the family, progressed my career in Information Technology, bought and sold several houses, stopped going to church (the Anglicans were not doing it for me any more), started going back to my roots in North London and became an Arsenal supporter all over again, started working out in the gym and took up Tai Chi. Generally became a solid citizen of the middle-class suburban variety. Whilst all this was going on I never lost the spiritual side of my life although it certainly got pushed into the background. However the quiet still voice of my conscience would not let up, thank God.