Seven Letters to the Seven Congregations | Letter 5
Why Are Older Anointed Reluctant to Recognize the Younger Anointed?
In spite of the fact that the organization has attempted to correct its error of shutting the doors to the Kingdom in 1935, the organization and the older anointed are still somewhat reluctant to acknowledge anointed brothers and sisters called after 1935. Why the reluctance?
Again, we can find an answer by way of an illustration given by Jesus to warn and correct this attitude. Jesus provided at least two illustrations – the Workers in the Vineyard at Matthew 20:1-16 (already considered) and the Prodigal Son, recorded at Luke 15:11-32.
As mentioned in the consideration of Matthew 20:16, Jesus’ illustrations were given to publish things hidden – sacred secrets of the Kingdom of the Heavens. The real meaning would remain hidden from the people in general, but to those with an ear to hear what the spirit says, the understanding would shine forth like a bright light.
The illustration begins:
“A certain man had two sons.”
– Luke 15:11
Here we learn that the two individuals mentioned in this illustration are brothers. There is no indication that they do not have the same father and the same mother. Thus, they both are entitled to a share in the inheritance. It is important to note that this illustration is about anointed brothers – those with the heavenly hope.
Remembering that illustrations are given to reveal sacred secrets of the Kingdom of the Heavens, we can discern that the illustration is about anointed brothers whose father is Jehovah and whose mother is Jerusalem Above. (Galatians 4:26)
The first son addressed is the prodigal. He received his inheritance and squandered it. Coming to his senses, he humbly returns to his father’s house. But he does not presume to take his place as a son in his fathers household. (Luke 15:12-20) Rather, he request only to be treated as a hired man.
“Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Make me as one of your hired men.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quick! bring out a robe, the best one, and clothe him with it, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.”
– Luke 15:21-22
Here, the prodigal recognizes his sonship, but feels unworthy of it. If he had been granted his request to be as a hired man, he would then picture those who are valued members of the household, not true heirs. But the father disagreed with his son’s assessment of things and showed it by his actions. No hired man would have been given the best robe, a ring and sandals. These things picture the father receiving the son back into his household as a son.
Next, we learn about the older son. We often forget about him when we address him in our literature. He is also an heir, but he has a problem with the mercy his father has shown to his younger brother. The account states:
“Now his older son was in the field; and as he came and got near the house he heard a music concert and dancing. So he called one of the servants to him and inquired what these things meant. He said to him, ’Your brother has come, and your father slaughtered the fattened young bull, because he got him back in good health.’ But he became wrathful and was unwilling to go in.”
– Luke 15:25-28
The father noted his son’s reluctance to accept his younger brother, and so the father “came out and began to entreat him.” (Luke 15:28) The son replied:
“Here it is so many years I have slaved for you and never once did I transgress your commandment, and yet to me you never once gave a kid for me to enjoy myself with my friends. But as soon as this your son who ate up your means of living with harlots arrived, you slaughtered the fattened young bull for him.”
– Luke 15:29-30
The older son’s complaint was that he had been serving his father faithfully for many years, but the younger son, who only recently repented, was being made equal to him and was getting better treatment. He was jealous of the younger son, who the older son felt was ‘stealing the limelight.’ The father again entreated the older son:
“Child, you have always been with me, and all the things that are mine are yours; but we just had to enjoy ourselves and rejoice, because this your brother was dead and came to life, and he was lost and was found.”
– Luke 15:31-32
Thus, Jesus again reveals the reason why older anointed ones could be reluctant to accept the younger one – jealousy. By way of fleshly reasoning, they conclude that the younger anointed have not served long enough, and that their records are not as sterling. They would accept them as hired men, but not as brothers.
Jehovah makes clear that that is not his view and entreats, by way of this illustration, the older anointed brothers to accept their repentant younger ones. This is the same message of the illustration at Matthew 20:1-16. There, the workers called in the first hour were envious of the workers called at the eleventh hour. They are said to have murmured against the householder when these late workers were given equal pay. They said:
“These last ones put in one hour’s work; still you made them equal to us who bore the burden of the day and the burning heat!”
– Matthew 20:12
Similarly, the householder, representing Jehovah, entreated:
“Fellow, I do you no wrong. You agreed with me for a denarius, did you not? Take what is yours and go. I want to give to this last one the same as you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I want with my own things? Or is your eye wicked because I am good?”
– Matthew 20:13-14
Strong counsel to these older brothers. These two illustrations encourage these brothers to become one flock. We hope they will hear what the spirit says to the congregation.
We understand the dilemma the younger anointed present to their older brothers. It is an appointment that cannot be satisfactorily “proved” to men. But the truth is that no one can prove their anointing. Not anointed elders, not anointed traveling servants, not even the anointed members of the Governing Body. But just as those older one deserve our respect, so also the last ones. We are all members of the same Body.
“The eye cannot say to the hand: ‘I have no need of you;’ or, again, the head cannot say to the feet: ‘I have no need of you.”
– 1 Corinthians 12:21
So, these illustrations tell us why the older anointed have difficulty accepting their younger anointed brothers. Now, we need to understand why those not anointed – the earthly sons – are reluctant to accept us. This answer is given in the following letter, Letter No. 6.