Tag Archives: Lord’s Evening Meal

Anointed Class Sighting at the Jehovah’s Witness Memorial!

Crikey

Pic Sourced From Someone’s Instagram

We interrupt my list of Top 10 Topics to Discuss With Jehovah’s Witnesses to bring you a special report from Steve Irwin, the crocodile hunter (imagine his voice narrating): “We’ve got a rare one here! It’s the very rare member of the anointed class! As you know, there are only 144,000 of these beauties in existence, and most of them have already died! That makes them an endangered species, and here’s one right in front of us! Just look at that one eating the bread and drinking the wine! Crikey!”

That’s right, I attended the recent Memorial at a Jehovah’s Witnesses kingdom hall not far from me, and for the first time observed someone actually eating the bread and drinking the wine! For those who are unaware of what takes place at the JW memorial, read the next paragraph. If you already know, then skip ahead.

Jehovah’s Witness only observe what Christian churches call communion, eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper once a year, and they call it the Memorial or the Lord’s Evening Meal. They also believe and teach that only the 144,000 anointed believers are part of the New Covenant, and so they are the only ones expected to eat and drink. The rest of the “great crowd” believers are expected to respectfully observe the ceremony. Weird, right? It gets weirder. The practical result is a room full of people passing the plates and the cups up and down the rows, with almost no one eating or drinking! It is truly bizarre. Occasionally you hear about one, usually an elderly member, who believes they are of the anointed heaven-bound class, and they alone eat and drink.

So, I have attended perhaps 6 memorial services over the years that I have been interacting with JW’s, and I wondered if I would ever see one of the “anointed” eat and drink the elements. Well, this last Friday, I saw one! An older lady nibbled and sipped, just across the aisle and a couple seats over. After the service, I recognized her as one with whom I had talked with in the past; she seems (then and now) most interested in talking about her medical conditions.

What’s so sad is that one of my favorite passages of scripture, Romans 8:16, which says “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children,” was quoted by the speaker, who then explained how that verse applies ONLY to the anointed 144,000. It makes me seethe inside! The great majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses are being denied all the blessings of being in the New Covenant:  Being born again, being adopted as Jehovah’s sons and daughters, being kings and priests, having Jesus as their mediator, the heavenly hope, and more.

One of the songs sung at that night’s memorial was their song #25, A Special Possession:

  1. God has a new creation,

His spirit-anointed sons.

He has bought them from mankind;

His approval they’ve won.

(CHORUS)

A special possession,

They’re a people for your name.

They love you. They praise you.

As one they declare abroad your fame.

  1. They are a holy nation,

Who handle the truth aright.

God has called them from darkness

To his wonderful light.

  1. Faithful to their commission,

They gather the other sheep.

To the Lamb they are loyal.

His commandments they keep.

 

This is the only JW song that I sing with them. But I change one thing. Every place the song says “they,” I sing “we.” This changes the application of the song’s words from the anointed class only, to all believers. Those standing around me hear me do that. I hope they think about the significance of what I’m singing. I can’t bring myself to do anything disruptive in the service; that’s just not me. But I imagine my little word-changing to be my subtle protest. Ooh, I’m such a rebel. Watch out! But I have to be subtle. Making a scene would shut them down, and they wouldn’t hear anything I had to say. I’m trying to make an impact, softly. It’s like beating on a concrete dam with one of those inflatable squeaky hammers. God, put your miraculous power in my stupid little hammer.

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Invitation to Jehovah’s Witness Memorial

 

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Last night I attended the regular midweek meeting at the local kingdom hall, and was given this invitation to the upcoming Memorial (sometimes called the Lord’s Evening Meal); that is, the annual JW communion service. Jehovah’s Witnesses observe what we call communion only once per year, because they believe that it’s proper practice to observe the event on the day of year upon which Passover would be celebrated. This is a BIG DEAL to JW’s, and is the closest thing they have to celebrating a holiday.

Notice their quotation of Luke 22:19, “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” I have a question I want to ask my JW friends. (And I likely will be asking them at the upcoming Memorial.) My question is, keep doing what? What is the this that we are to keep doing? Likely my JW friends will answer that we are to keep observing the memorial every year. But is that what Jesus had in mind when he said those words? Looking at the gospel narratives, it’s pretty obvious that Jesus was saying keep eating and drinking the bread and wine in remembrance of him. The strange thing is, the vast majority of JW’s don’t eat or drink the communion bread and wine. They just pass it without eating and drinking. Why? Because they believe that participating in the memorial is only for the 144,000 anointed class of believers. The rest, who are members of the “great crowd” class of believers, are only there to observe.

Sounds crazy to outsiders. Because it is crazy. But my JW friends and acquaintances don’t see it that way. It’s normal belief and practice to them. It’s likely that they have never even given it much thought; it’s just what they’ve always done. Our job, then, is to get them to think about it. But that’s not easy. While we’re uncomfortable just passing the bread and wine (last time I couldn’t do it; I had to get up and stand against the side wall), they would be uncomfortable with the thought of eating and drinking the symbols of a covenant belonging to someone else. So how do we talk with them about it? How do we get them to see how it looks to an outsider?

I have found the best approach is to express your puzzlement, which is not hard to do. Here’s what I asked a JW friend last year, and what I’ll likely ask again, and what you too can ask your JW friend, acquaintance, or relative:

“This is so strange to me. Can you tell me again why no-one here seemed to eat or drink the bread and wine? I’m puzzled.”

Then just let them try to explain. Some will be good at explaining it, while others will have a hard time explaining. But let them verbalize it and own it. Then repeat what they say, adding what you have learned about the practice. Something like, “So, if I understand correctly, Watchtower teaches that only the 144,000 anointed believers are in the New Covenant, and so only they can eat and drink. Can you tell me where in the Bible they are getting that from?” Show them the invitation, and ask, “I thought Jesus said ‘Keep doing this in remembrance of me.’ Wasn’t he saying that to all believers?” Then let them respond however they will. They might try to explain it away. Or they might change the subject. Their response is less important than their interacting with the truth as you have quoted in scripture and have explained to them. You have planted seeds that may need to germinate invisibly in the soil of their heart and mind for a while. Keep praying for them. They can be set free. I know it’s true, because I have met former JW’s! (If you need that encouragement, see my previous post here.)

God bless your ministry to those in bondage!

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Thank you, Jesus, for Jehovah’s Witnesses

Over the weekend I was thinking about my involvement with Jehovah’s Witnesses the last few years, and I found myself talking with God about it. Have you ever prayed something, then realized the import of what you just prayed, after praying it? That’s what happened to me. What I prayed was, “Thank you, Jesus, for Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

By the way, yes, I talk to Jesus, praying directly to him, because along with Thomas I can say to Jesus “My Lord and my God” (literally, “The Lord of me and The God of me”). The practice of addressing Jesus in prayer is second nature to me, and has been from the early days of my Christian journey.

So as I prayed that simple prayer to Jesus, I realized something. I realized that my attitude toward JW’s had changed over the years.

It used to be that I would reluctantly talk with my friend Mark. At times I even avoided him, if I didn’t feel like talking. At that time, I was not thankful for Jehovah’s Witnesses. More like, I just tolerated them, reluctantly. Now, I’m eager to meet with Mark and others, even going out of my way to connect with them. So what changed? The answer is: I did. Over the last few years, The Lord changed me. And He used at least two things to accomplish that change.

The first thing that changed my attitude was seeing God at work as I conversed with Mark and other JW’s. Seeing Mark open to what I had to share, and realizing that only God could cause that openness (see John 6:44), was highly encouraging. And seeing God protect my conversations with him and others from the intervention of JW elders and overseers was exciting, something like being a secret agent for Jesus.

Secondly, my study of scripture in preparation for my conversations with JW’s has been nothing less than transformational for me. When I researched the benefits of being a believer in Christ, which scripture says are available “to all who believe,” rather than only to the 144,000 as taught by Watchtower, the result has been a re-vitalization of my faith. Doctrines that in the past have been limited to rational understanding (head knowledge) are now felt by me emotionally, and experienced by me directly. Here are some, but not all, of those scriptural truths that have for me a new-found significance:

Adoption: When I put my trust in Jesus, Jehovah adopted me as his son. I’m his legally adopted child, and have a relationship with him where I can even call him “Dad.” (John 1:12, Romans 8:15, Galatians 3:26 and 4:6.)

Heirs: Because I am Jehovah’s legally adopted child, I’m also his heir. I inherit from him a heavenly home, as well as access to his authority now, and rewards in the life to come. (Romans 4:14 and 8:17, Galatians 3:29 and 4:7, Titus 3:7, Ephesians 3:6 and James 2:5.)

Mediator: Having Jesus as my mediator between me and Jehovah means that Jesus redeemed me by his ransom, and intercedes in prayer for me, giving weight and meaning to the concept of praying “in Jesus’ name.” (First Timothy 2:5-6, Hebrews 8:10-12.)

Kings and Priests: Jehovah makes all of his adopted children (even me) kings and priests, from the moment of faith (aka belief). (First Peter 2:7-9, Revelation 5:9-10.)

Rebirth: All who believe, that is, putting their trust in what Jesus did for them (including me) are born again, experiencing a new life in Christ. (First John 5:1. Note: this verse in the New World Translation app, published by the Watchtower, provides a cross-reference to John 3:3, about being born again.)

New Covenant: All who believe (not just 144,000), again including me, are grafted into the New Covenant, which is JEHOVAH’S ARRANGEMENT WITH HIS PEOPLE. (See what I did there with the all-caps and italics? That’s the emphasis we need to be using when we speak about it.) This New Covenant is the legal contract that Jehovah signed with Jesus’ blood, committing himself to many promises, some of which are listed here. (Hebrews 8:10-12, 9:15, and 12:24, Ephesians 2:12.)

Citizenship: We are made legalized, naturalized citizens of Jehovah’s kingdom, with all the responsibilities and benefits pertaining thereto. Just as the foreign residents in Old Testament times could become naturalized citizens of Israel, and could participate in all the festivals and feasts, including the Passover, we now are entitled to full participation in all the benefits of the New Covenant, including the Lord’s Evening Meal, among many others. (Ephesians 2:19, Philippians 3:20, Exodus 12, Numbers 15, Isaiah 56:6-8.)

This list is not exhaustive; there are others including, but not limited to, eternal security, immortality, being able to please Jehovah, being declared righteous, being Abraham’s seed, and receiving/having/being sealed with the Holy Spirit. Learning about all these benefits that are given to little ol’ me has injected my faith journey with a new-found power and joy. So I thank you, Jesus, for Jehovah’s Witnesses!

May Jehovah touch your life in the same way as you study in preparation for your conversations with JW’s and other pre-Christians.

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The Five Most Important Watchtower Articles to Download Now

I recommend downloading the following Watchtower articles, to use as talking points with Jehovah’s Witnesses.

July 2013 Study Edition

“Tell Us, When Will These Things Be?”

“Look, I Am with You All the Days”

“Feeding Many Through the Hands of a Few”

“Who Really Is the Faithful and Discreet Slave?”

These articles are the presentation of the “new light” of 2012 regarding the time of Jesus’ return (future rather than 1914) and the identity of the “faithful and discreet slave” (governing body rather than anointed class). Ask: In the past Matthew 24 was used to prove that Jesus’ “coming” or “arrival” had taken place in 1914, translating the word parousia as “presence.” Now it is being taught that Jesus’ arrival will be future. What scriptural support is now being given that Jesus came to earth in 1914?

October 2014: “When Did God’s Kingdom Begin Ruling? (Part 1)” and

November 2014: “When Did God’s Kingdom Begin ruling? (Part 2)”

These articles attempt to explain the “greater interpretation” of Daniel 4, as well as describing the “interruption of God’s rulership” between the death of the apostles and 1914. Ask: How could Jehovah’s rule be interrupted? When did Jehovah stop ruling?

May 2015 Study Edition

“Questions From Readers”: “Who is Gog of Magog mentioned in the book of Ezekiel?”

This article reveals the teaching that Michael who stands up in Daniel 12 is Jesus in Revelation 19, neglecting the fact that both are mentioned in Revelation 19. Michael is standing, while Jesus is seated on a white horse the whole time. Politely ask your JW friend to explain that detail in Revelation 19 to you.

October 2014, Simplified Edition

“Have Unshakable Faith in the Kingdom”

This article lists 5 covenants in scripture, including Abrahamic, Davidic, Melchizedek, New, and Kingdom Covenants. All are applied to the anointed class exclusively. (Some JW’s think that the Great Crowd is in the Abrahamic covenant.) Ask: If the anointed class (the 144000) is in the New Covenant, what covenant is the Great Crowd in?

November 2014, Simplified Edition

“The People Whose God Is Jehovah,” and

“Now You Are God’s People”

In these articles the Great Crowd is likened to the “foreign residents” (non-Israelites) of the Old Testament. The scriptures referenced in the second article (from Exodus 12, Leviticus24, Numbers 15, and Deuteronomy 10), when read in context, indicate that the foreign residents would be considered “the same as” the natural-born Israelites, living under the same laws and receiving the same benefits. The Watchtower article even says “Jehovah was happy to allow them to be a part of his chosen people.” See also Numbers 9:14, where the foreigners could fully participate in the Passover, the precursor to the Lord’s Evening Meal (Memorial). Ask: If the resident aliens could eat the Passover meal, why can’t the Great Crowd eat the Lord’s Evening Meal?

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Citizens of the Kingdom

Recently I approached a group of JW’s as they stood at their display in the train station. I began by asking them if they were citizens of Jehovah’s kingdom. “What do you mean by citizens?” one of the men asked. I explained that both Ephesians 2:19 and Philippians 3:20 mention citizens of the kingdom. Once the man saw that Phil 3 states that “our citizenship is in heaven,” he immediately concluded that it was for the anointed class (the 144,000) only. So my next question was, “If only the 144,000 are citizens, then what are the great crowd in the kingdom?” They said they didn’t know. I then brought up a recent Watchtower article (Nov 2014, simplified) about the great crowd being like the resident aliens in the Old Testament, which they immediately recognized and agreed to. Then, going to Isaiah 56 and Exodus 12, I showed that the foreigners were to have the same status as the natural born Jews, even to being able to participate in the sacrifices, and being able to eat the Passover meal. “If the resident aliens could eat the Passover, then why can’t the great crowd eat the Lord’s Evening Meal, the present-day equivalent of the Passover?” The response to that question by the two men was the glazed-over look as the wall came up between them and me. The woman was more honest, though, saying that she would have to research the subject more. I like it when I get her response, rather than the men’s, because it at least shows an openness to continue to think about the subject. I’m always trying to improve my interaction, with the goal of arriving at the woman’s response rather than the men’s.

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