Monday, March 20 2023You must not steal.—Lev. 19:11.
Someone might conclude that as long as he was careful not to take anything that did not belong to him, he would be obeying that command. Yet, he might be stealing in other ways. For example, a merchant who used inaccurate scales or measurements in order to deceive his customers would in a sense be stealing from them. Leviticus 19:13 connects stealing with dishonest business practices, saying: “You must not defraud your fellow man.” So fraudulent business practices are linked with stealing and robbery. While the eighth commandment set out the law on stealing, the details found in Leviticus help us understand how to apply the spirit of that law. We can benefit from reflecting on Jehovah’s view of dishonesty and stealing. We might ask ourselves: ‘In the light of Leviticus 19:11-13, is there something in my life that merits attention? Do I need to make adjustments in my business dealings or work habits?’ w21.12 9-10 ¶6-8
Examining the Scriptures Daily—2023
Will a mere man rob God?
As we near the end of the 2020 Service Year (September) there is no indication that Jehovah’s Witnesses will resume their public ministry any time soon, which has been suspended for nearly a half year now. Nor is there any apparent move to reopen the thousands of shuttered
August 23rd, 2020 Part 1
As we near the end of the 2020 Service Year (September) there is no indication that Jehovah’s Witnesses will resume their public ministry any time soon, which has been suspended for nearly a half year now. Nor is there any apparent move to reopen the thousands of shuttered kingdom halls around the world.
This is especially odd given the fact that most churches in the United States are reopening following recommended safety guidelines. Given the extraordinary emphasis the Watchtower has placed on the importance of meeting attendance over the years it is astounding that Bethel seems content to pretend Zoom fulfills the mandate not to forsake meeting together, as some have the custom, but all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.
Even more astonishing, the worldwide work, the very reason for the existence of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, has been shut down, even though it is not mandated by the state either. Just think, Vladimir Putin liquidated the Watchtower throughout the Russian federation. He closed every kingdom hall and outlawed the preaching work —impacting maybe 200,000 of Jehovah’s Witnesses and interested persons. And now the Governing Body has pretty much done the same thing —only their decision has effected 8 million Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide and millions of others besides.
Suspending the house-to-house ministry is especially tragic now that millions of people that would ordinarily be at work or school are at home. And many folks are in desperate need of help. Alcohol and drug use are skyrocketing among the unemployed and shut-ins. There is great anxiety about the future. Suicides are on the rise. It is quite likely that some would be receptive to a visit by one of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
But the Governing Body has declared that meeting together and going out in service is just too risky. In the JW Broadcast of Coronavirus Update #4 Anthony Morris acknowledged that even though the lockdown restrictions are being lifted by authorities he implied that it would be stupid and reckless for JW’s to put themselves at risk by going out in service or meeting together at the kingdom hall.
Just what are the risks in terms of numbers? According to this website worldwide there have been 19 COVID-related deaths per million —probably about the same odds as winning the million-dollar lotto. In the USA the ratio is somewhat greater —about 0.5% of the population has died from COVID. By comparison, about 0.1% die every year in automobile accidents. However, there are millions of people on the streets and freeways who routinely take the risk. Avoiding travel is not even a consideration.
But not all people face the same risk factor from COVID. Unlike the much more deadly Spanish Flu that struck down young adults in the prime of life, by far the elderly and those with underlying health issues are most affected by this particular virus. Obesity is also considered a co-morbidity. Young people are largely unaffected by the disease and if they do contract it they recover quickly.
So, why are all of Jehovah’s Witnesses disallowed from meetings and field service? Why not protect those most at risk and allow those least at risk to carry on? What risk is involved if young and healthy pioneers take up the cart work while wearing masks and perhaps surgical gloves? What is the risk of young and healthy people knocking on someone’s door? Parcel and food delivery services are thriving during the lockdown —apparently facing minimal risks as they interact with householders.
Besides, since when is taking a certain level of risk to serve God reckless and stupid? In the past, the Watchtower has lauded Christians who risked their lives in God’s service. For example, an article from a 2003 Watchtower pointed to the courageous Hebrew midwives who defied the order of Pharaoh as examples for Christian women today:
Jehovah’s Witnesses have always been impelled by the love of neighbor to make every effort to reach as many as possible with the life-saving message of the Bible. And many of Jehovah’s Witnesses have risked their lives preaching in crime-infested and war-torn territories and in lands where the work is banned. Now, though, according to Anthony Morris, love of neighbor is why Jehovah’s Witnesses are staying at home. Now, not preaching the life-saving message is considered life-saving. What a stunning reversal!Are there women like Shiphrah and Puah today? Yes, indeed! Each year, thousands of such women fearlessly preach the Bible’s life-saving message in lands where “the order of the king” forbids it, thus risking their freedom or even their life. (Hebrews 11:23; Acts 5:28, 29) Impelled by love of God and neighbor, such brave women allow no one to stop them from sharing the good news of God’s Kingdom with others. Consequently, many Christian women contend with opposition and persecution. As with Shiphrah and Puah, Jehovah is fully aware of the deeds of such excellent, courageous women, and he will demonstrate his love for them by preserving their names in his “book of life,” provided they endure faithfully to the end.
Anthony Morris commends Jehovah’s Witnesses for their obedience to the dictates of the Governing Body. But what about obedience to Christ? Here is what the Lord Jesus said to his disciples that puts things in perspective: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and keep following me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” — Matthew 16:25-26
Jesus took risks in his ministry. For instance, Jesus knew that the Pharisees were fanatics about keeping the Sabbath and they attached all sorts of unreasonable laws to it. Nevertheless, Jesus seemed to make it a point to heal and expel demons on the Sabbath and that drove the Jews into a murderous rage.
Paul certainly disowned himself and hoisted his torture stake in following Christ. In his 2nd letter to the Corinthians, the apostle enumerated all the dangers he faced in carrying out his ministry. It was unthinkable for him to shrink from facing the risks involved in his traveling ministry. Paul exhorted Timothy, and by extension every Christian, to “Preach the word; be at it urgently in favorable times and difficult times…” Can Jehovah’s Witnesses honestly claim to be preaching the word with urgency in these difficult times?