1. Identifying Babylon the Great
How do we know that “Babylon the Great” represents all false religion? (Revelation 17:5) Consider these factors:
She operates worldwide. Babylon the Great is said to be sitting on “crowds and nations.” She has “a kingdom over the kings of the earth.”—Revelation 17:15, 18.
She cannot be a political or commercial power. “The kings of the earth” and “the merchants” survive her destruction.—Revelation 18:9, 15.
She misrepresents God. She is called a prostitute because she forms alliances with governments for money or other favors. (Revelation 17:1, 2) She misleads people of all nations. And she is responsible for the death of many.—Revelation 18:23, 24.
2. When Would the Messiah Appear?
The Bible foretold that there would be 69 weeks until the Messiah arrived.—Read Daniel 9:25.
When did the 69 weeks start? In the year 455 B.C.E. At that time, Governor Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem “to restore and to rebuild” the city.—Daniel 9:25; Nehemiah 2:1, 5-8.
How long did the 69 weeks last? In some Bible prophecies, a day represents a year. (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6) Each week, then, represents seven years. In this prophecy, 69 weeks add up to 483 years (69 weeks x 7 days).
When did the 69 weeks end? Counting 483 years from 455 B.C.E. brings us to the year 29 C.E.a This is the exact year when Jesus was baptized and became the Messiah!—Luke 3:1, 2, 21, 22.
3. Medical Procedures Involving Blood
There are medical procedures that make use of a patient’s own blood. Some of these—such as a person donating blood or having his own blood stored in advance of surgery—are not acceptable for Christians.—Deuteronomy 15:23.
However, other procedures may not be objectionable. These include blood tests, hemodialysis, hemodilution, or the use of a cell-salvage or heart-lung bypass machine. Each Christian must decide for himself how his own blood will be handled in the course of a procedure, medical test, or current therapy. Each doctor may perform these procedures slightly differently. So before accepting any surgical procedure, medical test, or therapy, a Christian needs to find out exactly how his own blood will be handled. Consider the following questions:
What if some of my blood would be diverted outside my body and the flow might be interrupted for a time? Does my conscience allow me to view this blood as still part of me, thus not requiring that it be poured “out on the ground”?—Deuteronomy 12:23, 24.
What if during a medical procedure some of my own blood would be withdrawn, modified, and directed back into (or onto) my body? Does it trouble my Bible-trained conscience, or could I accept such a procedure?
4. Marital Separation
God’s Word discourages separation and makes it clear that separation does not give either mate the right to remarry. (1 Corinthians 7:10, 11) However, there are situations in which some Christians have considered separation.
Willful nonsupport: A husband refuses to provide for the family materially, to the point that the family is left without the basic necessities of life.—1 Timothy 5:8.
Severe physical abuse: Abuse can lead to the point that a mate’s physical health or life is in danger.—Galatians 5:19-21.
Absolute endangerment of a person’s relationship with Jehovah: A spouse makes it impossible for the mate to serve Jehovah.—Acts 5:29.
5. Holidays and Celebrations
Christians do not participate in holidays that displease Jehovah. But each Christian must use his Bible-trained conscience to decide how to handle certain situations regarding such holidays. Consider a few examples.
Someone wishes you a happy holiday. You may simply say, “Thank you.” If the person wants to learn more, you can explain why you do not celebrate the holiday.
Your marriage mate, who is not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, invites you to have a meal with relatives during a holiday. If your conscience allows you to go, you could explain to your mate beforehand that if pagan customs are part of the meal, you will not participate in them.
Your employer offers you a bonus during the holiday season. Should you reject the bonus? Not necessarily. Does your employer view the bonus as part of the celebration, or does he view it as simply a way to show appreciation for your good work?
Someone gives you a gift during the holiday season. The gift-giver may say: “I know that you don’t celebrate the holiday, but I want you to have this.” Perhaps the person is just being kind. On the other hand, is there reason to think that he is trying to test your faith or involve you in celebrating the holiday? After considering this, it is up to you to decide whether to accept the gift. In all our decisions, we want to have a good conscience and be faithful to Jehovah.—Acts 23:1.
6. Infectious Diseases
Because we love people, we are very careful not to transmit infectious diseases to others. This is true whether we are suffering from an infectious disease or have reason to believe that we might be a carrier of one. We act this way because the Bible commands: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”—Romans 13:8-10.
What does obeying this command mean in practical terms? An infected person should not initiate displays of affection, such as hugging or kissing. He should not react negatively if some feel that, for the protection of their family, they cannot invite him into their home. And before getting baptized, he should inform the coordinator of the body of elders of his condition so that arrangements can be made to protect others who are also getting baptized. Before beginning a courtship, someone who may have been exposed to an infectious disease should voluntarily have a blood test. By doing this, you show that you care about others “as you look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.”—Philippians 2:4.
7. Business and Legal Matters
We can prevent many problems by putting all financial agreements in writing—even if the agreement is with another Christian. (Jeremiah 32:9-12) Still, Christians may sometimes have minor differences with each other about money or other matters. They should be able to settle such differences quickly and peaceably, and in private.
How, though, should we settle serious matters such as fraud or slander? (Read Matthew 18:15-17.) Jesus gave us three steps to follow:
Try to settle the matter between yourselves.—See verse 15.
If that does not work, ask one or two mature ones in the congregation to go with you.—See verse 16.
If the matter is still unresolved, only then should you approach the elders.—See verse 17.
In most cases, we should not take our brothers to court because that could reflect badly on Jehovah and on the congregation. (1 Corinthians 6:1-8) However, there are some situations that may need to be settled legally: divorce proceedings, child custody, alimony payments, insurance claims, bankruptcy cases, or probating wills. A Christian who uses the court to settle such matters as peaceably as he can is not violating the Bible’s counsel.
If a serious crime is involved—such as rape, child abuse, assault, major theft, or murder—then a Christian who reports it to the secular authorities does not violate the Bible’s counsel.
a From 455 B.C.E. to 1 B.C.E. is 454 years. From 1 B.C.E. to 1 C.E. is one year (there was no zero year). And from 1 C.E. to 29 C.E. is 28 years. This gives us the total of 483 years.