WHO'S AWAKE AT THE WATCHTOWER?
"WE WANT TO GO WITH YOU" - PART I
A Watchtower Commentary
Watchtower: January 2016
Study Article: “We Want to Go With You”
Study Date: March 21-27, 2016
“We want to go with you, for we have heard that God is with you people.”
– Zechariah 8:23
The second study article in the January 2016 Watchtower magazine (“WT”) continues the theme of scrutinizing those who accept the spirit anointing and the Christian hope of the heavenly inheritance. The first study article was primarily concerned with identifying the anointed, while this second study article is concerned with how the anointed should behave and how those who hold the Synagogue hope should treat those who confess union with Christ. Again, due to the extent of our commentary, we will provide our comments in parts, beginning with this Part 1.
WT Paragraphs 1 and 2:
“1 SPEAKING of the time in which we are living, Jehovah foretold: “In those days ten men out of all the languages of the nations will take hold, yes, they will take firm hold of the robe of a Jew, saying: ‘We want to go with you, for we have heard that God is with you people.’” (Zech. 8:23) Like the figurative ten men, those who have an earthly hope have taken “firm hold of the robe of a Jew.” They are proud to associate with the spirit-anointed “Israel of God,” knowing that Jehovah is blessing his anointed ones.—Gal. 6:16.
“2 As did the prophet Zechariah, Jesus highlighted the refreshing unity that is experienced by God’s people. He spoke of his followers as two groups, a “little flock” and “other sheep,” but he said that they would be “one flock” with “one shepherd.” (Luke 12:32; John 10:16) However, the relationship between these two groups raises some questions: (1) Do those of the other sheep need to know the names of all those who are anointed today? (2) How should anointed ones view themselves? (3) How should you react if someone in your congregation starts to partake of the emblems at the Memorial? (4) Do you need to be concerned about any increase in the number of those partaking? Let us consider the answers to each of these questions.”
The questions for paragraphs 1 and 2 ask:
"1, 2. (a) What did Jehovah say would happen in our time? (b) What questions will be answered in this article? (See opening picture.)
We have no comment on the picture. Paragraph 1 is leading the audience to believe that Zechariah recorded Jehovah as saying something in particular would happen “in our time.” This is an assumption. The scripture does not give a time frame for its fulfillment. If we consider the historical record, it is more likely to have had its fulfillment in the 1st century when large numbers of Gentiles joined with the Jewish Christians in following Jesus. Nevertheless, for purposes of this commentary, we will accept the assumption that it has its fulfillment in our time. And, if it does, then those who claim to represent the ‘ten men’ must not let go of ‘the robe of the Jew,’ but must go all the way with them into the Kingdom of the Heavens!
Paragraph 2 says that Jesus “spoke of his followers as two groups, a “little flock” and “other sheep,” but he said that they would be “one flock” with “one shepherd.” (Luke 12:32; John 10:16)." This is absolutely true. But Jehovah’s Witnesses must accept these scriptures for what they say, namely that while there were two separate groups, they would not remain separate:
“And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those too I must bring in, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.”
– John 10:16
When were the two folds united? Paul explained this to the Ephesians:
“Therefore, remember that at one time you, people of the nations by fleshly descent, were the ones called “uncircumcision” by those called “circumcision,” which is made in the flesh by human hands. At that time you were without Christ, alienated from the state of Israel, strangers to the covenants of the promise; you had no hope and were without God in the world. But now in union with Christ Jesus, you who were once far off have come to be near by the blood of the Christ. For he is our peace, the one who made the two groups one and destroyed the wall in between that fenced them off. By means of his flesh he abolished the enmity, the Law of commandments consisting in decrees, in order to make the two groups in union with himself into one new man and to make peace, and to reconcile fully both peoples in one body to God through the torture stake, because he had killed off the enmity by means of himself. And he came and declared the good news of peace to you who were far off, and peace to those near, because through him we, both peoples, have free access to the Father by one spirit.”
– Ephesians 2:11-18
Yes, both the ‘other sheep’ and the ‘little flock’ were united long ago, in the 1st century. And they are to continue united as one flock, under one shepherd. There is no longer Jew or Gentile. (Galatians 3:26-29) The ‘one flock’ has a new identity. They are a new creation, “one new man.” Thus, it is wrong to continue to refer to Christians as either the ‘little flock’ or the ‘other sheep.’ That distinction is over.
However, one may ask: Could it be that while both folds serve the one shepherd, they have different hopes? Not according to Paul:
“Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, appeal to you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called, with all humility and mildness, with patience, putting up with one another in love, earnestly endeavoring to maintain the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace. One body there is, and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
– Ephesians 4:1-6
Honest Bible readers should take these scriptures for what they actually say. Those of the ‘other sheep’ were alienated from Christ until they joined with the ‘little flock’ of Jews to become united as the followers of Christ. Those who do not join this united flock and become a part of the one body “have no hope” and are “without God.” (Ephesians 2:12) How shameful that the Watchtower organization has convinced nearly 8 million people to remain separate from the united body of Christ. How shameful that the Governing Body perpetuates this “divided house” that will surely fall. (Matthew 12:25)
Nevertheless, for purposes of this article, we will continue our commentary based on the way the Watchtower organization views these two folds.
Paragraph 2 promises that this article will answer four questions: "(1) Do those of the other sheep need to know the names of all those who are anointed today? (2) How should anointed ones view themselves? (3) How should you react if someone in your congregation starts to partake of the emblems at the Memorial? (4) Do you need to be concerned about any increase in the number of those partaking?" It is sad that these questions arise in the minds of those who claim to be Bible readers and profess to be Christians. All in the congregation should be united in the same hope knowing that all of their brothers are anointed, all will partake of the emblems at the Memorial, and the number will continue to increase as John stated. (John 3:30) If this does not help, then Jesus’ simple admonition to ‘stop judging’ (Matthew 7:1) should be sufficient to prevent any Christian from raising questions like these.
Do We Need to Know the Names of all the Anointed Today?
WT Paragraph 3:
“3 Do those of the other sheep need to know the names of all those who are anointed today? The short answer is no. Why not? Because even if someone has received the heavenly calling, that person has received only an invitation, not a final confirmation of the reward. That is why Satan raises up “false prophets . . . to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones.” (Matt. 24:24) No one can know whether an anointed Christian will receive his heavenly reward until Jehovah judges that person to be worthy of such a prize. Jehovah makes this determination and gives him the final sealing either sometime before he dies faithfully or sometime before the outbreak of “the great tribulation.” (Rev. 2:10; 7:3, 14) It would be pointless, then, for anyone now living on earth to try to ascertain who among God’s servants will eventually be part of the 144,000. 
Footnote 1 states:
“ (paragraph 3) Psalm 87:5, 6 indicates that it is likely that in the future the names of all those who have been raised to rule with Jesus in heaven will be revealed.—Rom. 8:19.
With regard to this footnote, we agree that all the faith sons of God who attain the heavenly inheritance will be known to all those in heaven who want to know. However, the scriptures cited do not support the idea that all their names will be revealed to those on earth. “The revealing of the sons of God” refers to all mankind receiving the revelation that they are sons of God, not slaves, with the hope of all gaining the freedom of the children of God, as Paul explained:
“For I consider that the sufferings of the present time do not amount to anything in comparison with the glory that is going to be revealed in us. For the creation is waiting with eager expectation for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will, but through the one who subjected it, on the basis of hope that the creation itself will also be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that all creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together until now. Not only that, but we ourselves also who have the firstfruits, namely, the spirit, yes, we ourselves groan within ourselves while we are earnestly waiting for adoption as sons, the release from our bodies by ransom."
– Romans 8:18-23
We discuss the revealing of the sons of God in more detail in the article, “Who are Led By Spirit.”
The question on paragraph 3 asks:
“3. Why is it not possible for us to know for sure who will be part of the 144,000?
The reference to the 144,000 is found in the book of Revelation. Since the Revelation is given in signs, we cannot be certain who this group is. The best we can know about them is that they are said to be sealed from every tribe of Israel, they have the name of the Father and the lamb on their foreheads, and they are master singers who are ‘bought from earth.’
“And I heard the number of those who were sealed, 144,000, sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel.”
– Revelation 7:4
“Then I saw, and look! the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who have his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads.”
– Revelation 14:1
“And they are singing what seems to be a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders, and no one was able to master that song except the 144,000, who have been bought from the earth.”
– Revelation 14:3
Nothing else is revealed about this group, thus it is presumptuous to assume that the 144,000 represent the total number of Christians who can lawfully partake of the Memorial emblems, the only ones who can rightfully be called ‘sons of God, and the only ones who would be taken from earth to heaven to rule as kings and priests. This is especially true since earlier in Revelation, John described an unnumbered multinational group who were also ‘bought from the earth’ who would actually serve as kings and priests.
“When he took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb, and each one had a harp and golden bowls that were full of incense. (The incense means the prayers of the holy ones.) And they sing a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, for you were slaughtered and with your blood you bought people for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.”
– Revelation 5:8-10
In spite of these words of John, the Watchtower organization continues to teach that the 144,000 are the only sons of God who are destined for the heavens. And how sad that so many Jehovah’s Witnesses read these words of John and continue blinded to what John actually wrote. Nevertheless, because we want to reach the hearts and minds of Jehovah’s Witnesses, we will respond in this commentary according to the way most Jehovah’s Witnesses view the 144,000.
Paragraph 3 mischaracterizes the anointing and the sealing. First, the spirit anointing is never referred to in scripture as an “invitation” such that it is tentative and revocable. It is referred to as “a guarantee,” something we can rest assured of, one that we can ‘cash in’ when we reach the end of our earthly career. Notice Paul’s words:
“But the one who guarantees that you and we belong to Christ and the one who anointed us is God. He has also put his seal on us and has given us the token of what is to come, that is, the spirit, in our hearts.”
– 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
Clearly, the token IS a guarantee of our inheritance. Every person who receives the gift of the spirit is guaranteed to attain the heavenly inheritance. And, as with any guarantee, the person who wants to ‘cash in’ the guarantee needs only to show up with the ‘token.’ Of course, this means that the Christian has to maintain the token, but it is wrong to infer that the spirit anointing is temporary, probationary or tentative.
Second, anointed ones do not need to wait until the end of their lives or the start of a great tribulation in order to be sealed:
“But you also hoped in him after you heard the word of truth, the good news about your salvation. After you believed, you were sealed by means of him with the promised holy spirit, which is a token in advance of our inheritance, for the purpose of releasing God’s own possession by a ransom, to his glorious praise.”
– Ephesians 1:13-14
Yes, the token of the spirit IS the anointing, the sealing and the guarantee! And we are sealed immediately. That is the nature of a guarantee! And, yes, a person can turn his back on the token and throw it away, but no other person can take it away from anyone who desires it.
We note that Revelation 7:3, also speaks of a sealing. Again, it is given in signs so we cannot be certain what it is referring to. But it would not be unreasonable to conclude that this is simply saying that there are more sons to be anointed and sealed even at that late date.
We emphasize the guaranteed and sealed nature of the gift of the spirit to give comfort to the faith sons of God so that they can put their attention on serving others instead of being overly self-conscious of whether they will attain the heavenly career or not. For a further discussion on the surety of our reward, see Everlasting Life Now!
As a final point, the paragraph says: “It would be pointless, then, for anyone now living on earth to try to ascertain who among God’s servants will eventually be part of the 144,000.” This sentence destroys the whole premises of the Watchtower article. By discounting the ‘guarantee’ and the ‘sealing,’ and claiming that no one can know who truly have the heavenly hope, this Watchtower has made it impossible for the ‘ten men’ to find a spiritual Jew! Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot even be certain that the Governing Body will eventually be part of the 144,000!
WT Paragraph 4:
“4 If it is not possible to know with certainty the names of all spiritual Israelites on earth today, how can members of the other sheep “go with” them? Notice what the prophecy in Zechariah states concerning the figurative ten men. These ones would “take firm hold of the robe of a Jew, saying: ‘We want to go with you, for we have heard that God is with you people.’” Although only one Jew is mentioned here, in both instances the pronoun “you” refers to more than one person. This spiritual Jew must, then, be a composite person, not just one individual! So it is not necessary to identify every spiritual Jew and then go with him or her. Rather, we need to identify these ones as a group and then support them as such. In no way do the Scriptures encourage us to follow an individual. Jesus is our Leader.—Matt. 23:10.
The question on paragraph 4 asks:
“4. If it is not possible to know the names of all anointed ones on earth today, how can we “go with” them?
Good question! According to paragraph 3, it is not possible to know who will be a ‘spiritual Jew,’ not even the members of the Governing Body qualify as ‘spiritual Jews’ yet. So, indeed, how can the ‘ten men’ go with an unknowable group? And of course, if it is not possible to know one ‘spiritual Jew,’ then it certainly is not possible to know who makes up a ‘composite’ unknowable group. Poor ‘ten men!’ There are no ‘spiritual Jews’ to grab hold of or support!
In their efforts to make the heavenly hope elusive and unstable, the Watchtower organization has destabilized itself. It has made Zechariah 8:23 inapplicable to “our times,” and has demoted the Governing Body, along with all our brothers and sisters worldwide who accept the token of the spirit, to mere insecure wannabes.
And we want to remind our audience that the whole concept of there being a separate group of Christians who represent the ‘ten men’ is a fallacy. The ‘ten men’ represent those who do not yet serve God. Recall they say: “We want to go with you, for we have heard that God is with you people.” (Zechariah 8:23) All who believe themselves to be the ‘ten men’ are saying that God is not with them, but they want to serve God in association with those who are in a relationship with God. The ‘ten men’ are truly the “other sheep” according to Paul’s definition who are alienated from God.
This subheading in the Watchtower article accurately reveals the situation of those who claim the Synagogue hope. God is not with them. God is with the anointed faith sons. All so-called “other sheep” must join with the anointed faith sons and ‘go with them’ if they want a relationship with God. This fact is poignantly revealed in this first subheading.
This also shows the absurdity of the Watchtower reasoning and elevates the plain and open teachings of Jesus. According to the Christian Bible writings, an anointed one is sealed and guaranteed “after they believe.” So, anyone who wants to ‘take hold of their robes’ knows whose robe to grab, just like those at Pentecost 33 C.E. knew to grab hold of Peter and the 119 disciples. They were once separated from God, but when they joined with the 120, they became partakers of the heavenly gift.
However, if the ‘ten men’ in this 21st century are still unable to identify the actual ‘spiritual Jews,’ there remains hope for them. Remember that Jesus was a Jew. Perhaps those who view themselves as the ‘ten men’ should grab hold of the Jew from Nazareth. Go with Jesus. Surely you have heard that God is with Jesus. And, of course, that means ... becoming a part of the body of Christ, the anointed children of God!
This should give the so-called ‘other sheep,’ as well as those who view themselves as the ‘little flock’ meaty food to chew on. Their separation was done away with in the 1st century. Those two groups are now defunct! Never again should a Christian refer to themselves as members of these now defunct groups! All who wish to be in the Christian congregation are a united flock of the sons of God, “one new man” with one hope – the heavenly one.
We will continue our review of the second study article in our next commentary which we will post in the next day or two. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to write us as we always welcome your comments. Continue to Part 2.