The Bible at Your Doorstep
THE Bible brims with proof that Jehovah God knows and protects those who belong to him. So relatively few have they been, so different have they seemed, because they have ever followed closely the written instructions of God’s Word, that such ones have always appeared as an oddity to the world. In the days of the prophet Isaiah that prophet and those with him were held up for “signs and for wonders” to the people.
It was likewise this prophet Isaiah that boldly indicated God’s people by their true name, ‘Jehovah’s witnesses’ (Isa. 43:10-12, AS), “my trusty witnesses” (Mo). Such a name in itself would seemingly say that a great period of witnessing or bearing of testimony about Jehovah and his purposes lay in store for this people. “‘Lord,’ I asked, ‘for how long?’ He answered, ‘Till they are ruined, till their towns are empty, and their houses uninhabited, and the land left desolate.’”—Isa. 6:11, Mo.
Still, for all of the preaching accomplished by Isaiah and a host of other prophet-witnesses for God, even the covenant people of Israel were not converted from their selfish transgressions of God’s laws. They were smarter than God and thought to improve upon his written Word with an intricate muddle of traditions. So that headstrong people were eventually abandoned as a nation. They were the only losers. Against this backdrop, Isaiah prophesied of an even worse condition of darkness over the world during the last days of this “system of things”.
But the nations cannot be glad with God’s people if they do not know God. They cannot know God unless they know His Word, his means of communicating with us, his ‘light for our feet’. (Ps. 119:105) And they cannot know his Word, the Bible, when their newspapers daily announce their wholesale violation of its principles, or when, as related recently by a librarian in Britain, a young man comes seeking “the book from which the film ‘Samson and Delilah’ was made”.
Yet, ironically enough, people who today sorely need Bible education may be turning it away from their very doorsteps. Still faithfully carrying out the divine instructions through Isaiah, Jehovah’s witnesses of this century go through the cities and to the houses, and will continue to do so while they have inhabitants. Housewives can testify authoritatively to the visits made by Jehovah’s witnesses. One did in the June 23, 1951, issue of the Catholic magazine America. In her interesting account, this Ohio Catholic woman, perhaps unwittingly, touched upon the main reason for the general Bible ignorance yet prevalent in even the great democracies.
This reason stood out in the writer’s own attitude toward her witness caller. Her item in America said in part: “With each remark she quoted me chapter and verse, as those who ignore Tradition are so wont to do.” The Catholic Church is well known for its heavy reliance upon the “traditions of the fathers”, by which she means the “fathers” of Christendom or of papal Rome. The writer goes on to reflect the impatience and indignation she felt at this call. She had opened her conversation by attempting to cut short her caller: “Before you go on—I am a Catholic and we are quite familiar with the Bible.” Was she so familiar with it? Then why run to “tradition” for defense? Her short article tells that she accepted a copy of The Watchtower from the witness. But she claimed she could not read it “in good conscience”, so it would go to her priest-moderator at her next study club meeting. But would the magazine likely be studied at the “study club meeting”? Of these club meetings, the writer reveals: “Our program consists of book reviews—Catholic, to be sure, but that is not studying our religion. It was too difficult for our priest-moderator to establish an interest in a textbook he recommended. Until we met in the homes and served light refreshments, practically no one came, although we meet only once a month.”
It is apparent that tradition-bound Romanism has not offered the people an incentive for Bible study. The writer tried to shield the church, blame the people and make Jehovah’s witnesses, though real Bible students, appear to be spiritually shabby by comparison. But she made honest admissions that demolish her pretensions. She went on: “Did I feel a trifle humiliated that this woman at the door could—and did—study her religion and, what is more, was willing to ‘hoof it’ from door to door in its interest? And here I was, a part of a ‘study’ group too mentally lazy to learn more, not about a man’s garbled version of the Word of God, but about Christ’s own Church.”
“A man’s garbled version of the Word of God”? How can she tell? She had said that she could not or would not read The Watchtower. Then what, besides her imagination, proves it is “a man’s garbled version”? But she concluded with a very important suggestion: “Would it not have been better to invite that woman into my home and, with as much quiet and dignity as the small children would allow, to answer her ‘arguments’?” Yes, it would have been much better, if this party is sincerely interested in Bible study. The Watchtower is a world-famous Bible-study journal. It invites, not blind acceptance, but careful study, to prove its every statement with the Bible. Unlike papal Rome, it makes no claims to infallibility. Rather than this Bible principle of ‘proving all things’, is it not the blind acceptance of traditions that makes possible the spread of human “garbled versions of the Word of God”? Jesus thought so. He said pointedly to the tradition-fed clergy of his day:
“You have made void the commandment of God for your tradition. Hypocrites, well hath Isaias prophesied of you, saying: This people honoureth me with their lips: but their heart is far from me. And in vain do they worship me, teaching doctrines and commandments of men.”—Matt. 15:6-9, Dy.
Isaiah called their religion “a mockery, a mere tradition learned by rote”. (Isa. 29:13, Mo) No, such tactics do not inspire interest nor cultivate knowledge or appreciation of God’s Word. But opening the Bible up for inspection, at the doors, in private home Bible studies, in halls, auditoriums and large stadiums as Jehovah’s witnesses frequently do at large conventions—this does hold interest and build confidence. Not once a month, but two or three times a week, do they fill their meeting halls. No idle boast is this. The Catholic writer observed the witnesses’ zeal and this is simply offered in explanation. Nor is this some mysterious secret for a select few. All are urged to try it, letting shine upon them the light from God’s Word.