“Wait on Jehovah” is a common phrase heard throughout congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are mimicking the instructions given by the Governing Body to those who question the Governing Body’s interpretation of scripture. Ostensibly, the phrase encourages a respectful attitude toward Jehovah’s timing of matters and His progressive revelation of truth. It is seemingly intended to discourage presumptuousness or thinking more of one’s knowledge than is appropriate. But, in reality, the phrase works to discourage Jehovah’s Witnesses from engaging in critical thinking. It causes stagnation of thought, inactivity of spirit and fosters the worst kind of disrespect for Jehovah and Christ Jesus.
We say this because the counsel to ‘wait on Jehovah’ only comes into play when someone reads the scriptures and sees a conflict between what the scriptures say and what the Governing Body teaches. In practically every instance when such conflicts are presented to Elders and other Overseers, all parties will either agree with, or have no argument against, the understanding of the person who presents the conflict. For if they did not agree, they would simply show the scriptural explanation as to why the presenter of the conflict is wrong, and leave it at that. Thus, whenever the counsel to ‘wait on Jehovah’ is given, it is an admission that the presenter is likely correct. But because the Governing Body has not come to that understanding or has not chosen to publish it, they believe it is error to accept the understanding as true. So, really, when someone says to ‘wait on Jehovah’ what they really mean is that one must ‘wait on the Governing Body.’
This raises the question: Is the Governing Body the spokesman for Jehovah? If they are, then we absolutely must wait for the Governing Body to publish a matter before we can believe it. But if they are not, then we would be guilty of ‘obeying men rather than God.’ We would not be just the blind following the blind, but we would be the seeing following the blind. There is no excuse for that:
“Jesus said to them: “If you were blind, you would have no sin. But now you say, ‘We see.’ Your sin remains.”
– John 9:41
Of course, the Governing Body is careful to say that they are not prophets and that their publications are not inspired by God. Yet they claim a divine appointment based on a narcissistic interpretation of a parable – The Parable of the Faithful and Discreet Slave. (Matthew 24:45-47) And they certainly imply that they speak for Jehovah based on their teaching that anything in opposition to them is apostasy, that those who do not agree with them must be shunned by family and friends, and that all must follow their directions “whether these appear sound from a strategic or human standpoint or not.” (The Watchtower, November 15, 2013 study edition, page 20, paragraph 17.) But according to a plain reading of the scriptures, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses is not the spokesman for Jehovah. There is another one who is:
“God, who long ago spoke on many occasions and in many ways to our forefathers by means of the prophets, has at the end of these days spoken to us by means of a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the systems of things.”
– Hebrews 1:1-2
There is no doubt as to Jesus’ appointment as God’s spokesman. The scriptures are clear who was ‘appointed heir of all things’ and the one ‘through whom he made the system of things.’
“Jesus approached and spoke to them, saying: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.”
– Matthew 28:18
“For this very reason, God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend—of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground— and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
– Philippians 2:9-11
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; because by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and on the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All other things have been created through him and for him.”
– Colossians 1:15-16
And this position as God’s spokesman has not been given away to others:
“For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst.”
– Matthew 18:20
“And look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”
– Matthew 28:20
“For it is said in witness of him: “You are a priest forever in the manner of Melchizedek.”
– Hebrews 7:17
“Furthermore, many had to become priests [in succession] because of being prevented by death from continuing as such, but he because of continuing alive forever has his priesthood without any successors. Consequently he is able also to save completely those who are approaching God through him, because he is always alive to plead for them.”
– Hebrews 7:23-25
“Furthermore, there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.”
– Acts 4:12
So when we want to know Jehovah’s will, all we need to do is look to the teachings of Jesus and listen to him:
“While he was still speaking, look! a bright cloud overshadowed them, and look! a voice out of the cloud said: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved. Listen to him.”
– Matthew 17:5
“And a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud: “This is my Son, the beloved. Listen to him.”
– Mark 9:7
“Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying: “This is my Son, the one who has been chosen. Listen to him.”
– Luke 9:35
If Jesus has stated something clearly and unambiguously, we must listen and obey Jesus’ words. No human has the authority to change Jesus’ clear messages. No prophetic interpretation by men can change the clear teachings of Jesus. Imagine how Jesus must feel when his followers are so confused by men that they decide they must ‘wait on Jehovah’ in order to know what to believe. We can illustrate it this way:
Imagine you are a supervisor at work and the employees who work under you refuse to follow your instructions. Instead, they say they will wait on the business owner to tell them what to do! How would you feel? Would you consider these employees to be ‘in union’ with you? Would you consider them as good employees? Hardly! It is more likely that you would fire them for their blatant disrespect. How can we expect Christ to feel any different? Those who refuse to listen to Jesus and demand for Jehovah to instruct them will be met with sure disappointment.
And yet many are stumbling over Jesus’ authority. Many simply will not listen to Jesus. For example, Jesus was very clear in stating that everyone who wants to follow him must ‘eat and drink’ of him in order to be in union with him, in order to have life, and in order to be resurrected.
“So Jesus said to them: ‘Most truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. WHOEVER feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him.”
– John 6:53-56
Yet each year, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and various offshoot groups, refrain from participating in the annual Memorial Supper. Jesus said ‘whoever.’ But the Governing Body teaches that only a very, very small number of people may partake at the Supper. So rather than go against this body of men, they decide they must ‘wait on Jehovah.” They allow men to confuse their minds and place them in conflict with Jesus. In this controversy of The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses vs. Jesus, it is pretty clear who will prevail.
But instead of siding with Jesus or being ‘in union’ with Jesus, many demand that Jehovah speak so they will know whom to obey! But even if this was not the height of disrespect, we wonder, how do they expect Jehovah to speak and clarify matters? Do they expect a voice to come out of heaven? What are they waiting for? In the past, whenever Jehovah had something to say, he revealed it to the prophets. (Amos 3:7) Who is a greater prophet than Jesus? Until the Father makes another clear indication that He is now speaking through someone other than Jesus, all those who seek to please the Father must obey and side with Jesus in all matters of controversy.
Today, if Jehovah Himself were to speak, we are certain He would say, “What are you waiting for? I have given all authority to My Son. You cannot circumvent him. When he speaks, I have spoken.” This is the meaning of these scriptures:
“Therefore, in response Jesus said to them: “Most truly I say to you, the Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things that One does, these things the Son does also in like manner.”
– John 5:19
“I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative. Just as I hear, I judge, and my judgment is righteous because I seek, not my own will, but the will of him who sent me.”
– John 5:30
“I and the Father are one.”
– John 10:30
“Jesus said to him: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
– John 14:6
In the 1st century, the Jews also questioned Jesus’ authority. Their controversy was The Sanhedrin v. Jesus. They too, were ‘waiting on Jehovah’ to clarify whether to believe the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees or the teachings of Jesus. Here is what happened:
“Jesus said to them: ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I have not come of my own initiative, but that One sent me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? Because you cannot listen to my word. You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. That one was a murderer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie. Because I, on the other hand, tell you the truth, you do not believe me. Who of you convicts me of sin? If I speak truth, why is it that you do not believe me? The one who is from God listens to the sayings of God. This is why you do not listen, because you are not from God.”
– John 8:42-47
We believe that Jesus continues to have the same view today of those who challenge his authority and his message. All who refuse to obey his clear, unambiguous, plain and open teachings will find themselves the recipients of this message:
“Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of the heavens, but only the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day: ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them: ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!’”
– Matthew 7:21-23
This is a serious matter. This is a salvation issue. Those who refuse to honor and obey Christ Jesus, and who demand that Jehovah speak instead of Jesus, will be turned away from the kingdom. To those who are ‘waiting on Jehovah,’ we ask, Are you willing to risk this outcome? Do you think Jehovah will excuse you for waiting instead of obeying? This is certainly food for thought! As for the Governing Body, they have an interest in keeping our brothers confused and in darkness. They have the same mental attitude that was displayed by the Sanhedrin.
“So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Sanhedrin together and said: ‘What are we to do, for this man performs many signs? If we let him go on this way, they will all put faith in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.’ But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them: ‘You do not know anything at all, and you have not reasoned that it is to your benefit for one man to die in behalf of the people rather than for the whole nation to be destroyed.’”
– John 11:47-50
This is the fear of the Governing Body – that they will lose their place and the control of the nation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Thus, they believe it is better to silence those who speak out on Jesus’ behalf than to allow the nation of Jehovah’s Witnesses to be destroyed. How foolish! By listening to Jesus, the nation of Jehovah’s Witnesses will be saved!
That is what we are working for. That is why we continually impress upon our brothers the need to openly confess union with Jesus by accepting his offer of sonship with God and partaking of the Memorial emblems ‘as often as’ they come together, and especially on the anniversary of the Memorial Supper.
There is no greater obligation than to come into union with Christ Jesus. Do not let the error of arrogant men cause our organization of God-seeking individuals to fall into the pit. (Matthew 15:14) We pray that our brothers among Jehovah’s Witnesses stand up for Jesus and abandon the paralyzing counsel to ‘wait on Jehovah.’ For there is no need to wait. The Savior and the ‘personification of truth’ (John 14:6) has already come!