We begin with a familiar scripture:
Matthew 24:45-51 (New International Version)
45 "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Is this passage a question that can be answered?
"Who then is.....?"
Let's pretend, for a moment, we've never read this before and are coming to the scripture for the first time.
How would we solve the identity suggested by the question?
Is there a description which follows?
1.There is a servant
2.The servant is faithful and wise
3.This unidentified servant is in charge of other servants
4.A household is involved which belongs to the Master of the house.
5.The Head servant has duties to oversee which must be faithfully discharged because the Master (who is away) depends on it.
Our futher investigation tells us there is an EITHER/OR consequence involved in the Master of the house returning and inspecting the condition of his possessions.
a. The head servant is running the household exactly the way the Master has instructed
b. The head servant is not. Further, the head servant has become abusive to the other household servants. Additionally, the malfeasance of the head servant extends to eating and drinking with drunkards.
The above either/or scenario applies at the point where the Master of the household returns for inspection.
Two consequences can obtain depending on the status quo at the time of inspection.
1.A head servant who is found faithful will be appointed over all the possessions of the Master.
2.The abusive head servant is cut to pieces and ostracised with hypocrites where the condition of weeping (grief and suffering) ensues.
What is the CENTRAL ISSUE this passage highlights as the percipitating factor in "faithfulness vs abusive neglect"?
The "day and the hour" of the Master's inspection!
a. The faithful head servant is too busy taking care of all his duties to worry about being merely seen to be doing his job correctly. (Superficial diligence.)
b. The abusive servant is preoccupied with appearances and "when" even to the point of becoming angry, oppressive and drunk with power.
The KEY ISSUE is a fine point of CHRONOLOGY.
Don't miss the finesse of this argument. It is crucial.
A clockwatcher is eager for the reward aspect of his duty. Being "right" about the time is the focus. Like a hungry dog waiting to be fed the impatience kicks in. It is all about "payday" and not about caring about the trust and
The head servant in the scripture regards the others under his supervision as annoyances.
They will continue to ask questions, look for answers, require supervision and remain a burden WELL PAST the imagined payday!!
So much so the position of trust becomes a catalyst to regard TIME as oppressive until the reward is given.
The burden of TIME (the delayed payment) identifies the true nature of the Head Servant!
Let's apply this map of identity to the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses.
When Pastor C.T.Russell assumed the duty of shepherd of Jehovah's flock and allowed himself to be identified with the "faithful and wise servant" in the scripture (above) he BECAME A CANDIDATE for identification!
He would either prove to be (by his focus of attention and energies) a faithful custodian or one preoccupied with Time and Reward.
The facts of history identify Russell without question as a servant who....
1.Spent his entire focus on WHEN the Master would return so that the REWARD of heaven would obtain.
2.Wrote the better part of 7 volumes (Studies in the Scriptures/Divine Plan of the Ages) entirely devoted to PREDICTING the arrival (and subsequent reward) while THREATENING other servants with extinction should they not heed his Authority to speak on behalf of the Master
3.Abused his readers and fellow bible students by continually fiddling with corrections to his Charts and Pyramid calculations and vexing them with false expectations.
4.Embarrassed the "little ones" who believed him by holding them (and Jehovah) up to ridicule when predictions proved false.
5.Died in the aftermath of many personal and professional scandals which scattered his flock and left them ripe for the plucking by one who would follow.
Which brings us next to Judge Rutherford.
Rutherford set himself forward as candidate for Household Head Servant by wresting control of the Watchtower Society away from duly appointed named overseers of Pastor Russell's publishing corporation.
How can we identify Judge Rutherford's candidacy?
1.Rutherford immediately applied abusive tactics to the household of god and chased away any who would not obey his authority.
2.Rutherford set about to acquire further authority over the independant households of faith by appointing a travelling overseer and obtaining lists of names.
3.Rutherford created tests of obedience which were so harsh they sent many to prison, created legal crises, invited persecutions unnecessarily and led to health-related deaths.
4.Rutherford continued to make the thrust of his preaching and publishing TIME and REWARD and threats of annhilation.
5.Rutherford's abuse of the flock hardened the message into one of controversy, confrontation and personal sacrifice and jeopardy.
6.False PREDICTIONS led to embarassments for his followers and invited shame and abuse to be connected to Jehovah (for the Judge had named his new religion directly). All errors of chronology cast shame upon the designated name: JEHOVAH.
After Rutherford and Russell had identified themselves (through policies and actions) to be abusive Head servants focused on TIME and REWARD, the mantle passed yet again and again.
Nathan Knorr and Fred Franz exercised personal authority directing the work of the entire body of Jehovah's Witnesses.
But--toward WHAT END? Was it a teaching work that reflected on the qualities of Jesus Christ or was it the same old preoccupation with TIME, CHRONOLOGY, FALSE PREDICTIONS, REWARDS and punishments for those who didn't fear their authority?
The facts demonstrate the entire history of Jehovah's Witnesses is a preoccupation with TIME!
What is the preaching work, the magazine work, the bible studies, the books and public talks directing the attention toward?
The TIME of the end. Time for REWARD and punishment.
Carrot and stick.
Let us read again the words of scripture in the passage we began with.
48 "But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants..."
What are we being told?
Why does the bible writer WANT US TO IDENTIFY what kind of servant is the Head of the house?
Is it so that we can cling to the authority of a Governing Body who will wring the sweat out of us laboring to set dates for the Master's arrival only to be set back again and again with disappointment and a life wasted laboring for a reward that is delayed?
I say all the above that you might take a long pause and ask yourself perhaps the most important question of all.
Am I in a household that takes care of its own like Jesus carefully described when he said:
Matthew 11:30 (New International Version)
30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Am I dwelling under the authority of a seemingly "faithful and discreet slave" who is never satisfied with my efforts, always pushing for more, more, more?
Am I being led by leaders and authority who are obessed with WHEN the day of reward arrives rather than caring for the flock?
Can you answer the question contained in this scripture now?
When it comes to the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses......
WHO is this self-identified Servant who claims for itself to be the representative and spokesman?
Are they really shepherds or Chronologists? Is TIME and REWARD the central concern?
Do they have the welfare of struggling persons as their chief concern?
Or, is it their own authority which drives them roughshod over others? Are they drunk with their own power? Are they hypocrites constantly backtracking on previous statements of unassailable authority?
Time to think about it in a different way than you may be accustomed.
If you are doing a fine work as a follower of Jesus Christ what does it really matter WHEN he inspects his household?
Is it not a privilege to serve him regardless of further reward?
The answer identifies more than you might imagine!