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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Witnessing to Witnesses [Part 5]

Jehovah’s Witnesses acknowledge the Bible’s inspiration and accuracy but not its testimony about the deity of Jesus Christ.

That’s both intellectually vacuous and spiritually dangerous.

You may or may not encounter JWs in your travels, but the scriptural parallels between Jesus and Jehovah are worth considering regardless. John wrote that the Father has given all judgment to the Son in order that “all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father”.

That’s the aim of this series.

II.  JESUS CHRIST SHARES THE OFFICES OF JEHOVAH (cont’d)

An office is a position of responsibility to which one is appointed. Spiritual offices are not determined by vote: God is sovereign and appoints those he pleases to fulfill his purposes.

3.  The Law-Giver / Mediator

Five times in four verses the writer of Exodus tells us Jehovah mediated the original covenant with God’s people. Jehovah gave the law to Israel:
“Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because [Jehovah] had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. [Jehovah] came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And [Jehovah] called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.”

And [Jehovah] said to Moses, ‘Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to [Jehovah] to look and many of them perish.’ ”
Hebrews tells the same covenant people this:
“But you have come … to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ ”
On the basis of this passage it would be hard to avoid the implication that the covenant of which Jesus is mediator is greater than the original. But elsewhere the writer to the Hebrews explicitly says this:
“But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.”
Now of course, the fault in the original covenant was not with the covenant itself or with its Mediator, but with the people, as Hebrews immediately states. Still, it is clear that Jesus is in this aspect declared to be at very least Jehovah’s equal.

I’m not sure exactly what JWs do with the book of Hebrews. I can’t imagine they like it a whole lot.

4.   Judge

Asaph reminds us in the Psalms that Jehovah is judge:
“The Mighty One, God [Jehovah] … calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people. The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge!”
In doing so, Jehovah distinguishes between Israelites who are genuine servants of God, though corrupted in their ways, and those who are wicked and have forgotten God. This is the essential task of judgment. He rebukes the first group and testifies against them, but ends his correction with these words:
“Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
But to the wicked, he says:
“Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!”
As Abraham well understood, the office of Judge can only be filled by One perfectly qualified to make this necessary distinction between righteous and wicked. Jehovah is appropriately qualified.

Isaiah extends Jehovah’s sphere of judicial responsibility from Israel to the entire earth:
“Behold, the day of [Jehovah] comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger … I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity.”
Not only punishment, but reward, recompense and salvation are part of the Judge’s mandate:
“Behold, [Jehovah] has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.’ ”
But when we come to the New Testament, it is clear that the judgment both Asaph and Isaiah speak of and attribute to “Jehovah” is to be fulfilled by the Son of God, Jesus Christ himself. John gives us his own words:
“The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him …

And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.”
Again, this is relevant not only to Jews as God’s covenant people, but to the entire world, as Peter declared to Cornelius, a Gentile:
“God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.”
And Paul tells the Thessalonians:
“God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”
Indeed, justice could hardly be considered complete until the verdict has not only been rendered but actual punishment carried out. Part of the Lord Jesus’ judicial office involves directly punishing those he judges.

In the book of Revelation, John sees the Judge coming:
“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.”
Today, getting one’s day in court rarely guarantees justice. In the coming day, justice will not just be verbally affirmed, but fully and perfectly enforced.

And as the New Testament tells us, it is not to Jehovah but to Jesus Christ that this office is entrusted.

Unless, of course, you’re prepared to concede that they are one and the same.

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