Questions From Readers
● How are we to understand the meaning of the word “compel” as used at Luke 14:23, which reads: “Go out into the roads and the fenced-in places, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled”?—P.F., U.S.A.
The meaning of the word “compel” in Luke 14:23 can best be appreciated against the background of the parable of the “grand evening meal” of which this text is part. This parable is comparable to the parable of the wedding feast set forth in Matthew 22:1-14. There it is made clear that the “certain man” who made the grand evening meal and invited many was a king who had prepared a marriage feast for his son. He sent out invitations, but when the invitations to the marriage feast were turned down with varying excuses by the invitees, then the king turned to other means to have the feast well attended. Since he was king and all the people of the realm were his subjects, he had a right to send out his servants and now, instead of just asking indiscriminate individuals in the streets and lanes of the city, including the poor, crippled, lame and blind, to come to the feast, he as their sovereign lord compelled them to come. He doubtless compelled them because, being just ordinary people of the street, they would be wary of accepting an invitation, thinking themselves to be unworthy of attending such a great event, to which originally the elite of the land had been invited. This means that a lot of persuading had to be done.
This is what has taken place in the fulfillment of the picture. While each one is left to his own free will, there has had to be much persuading to be done and that with great vigor and expenditure of energy and effort on the part of those carrying the good news of the kingdom and inviting people with hearing ears to come to the great spiritual feast that Jehovah has arranged for in his kingdom. This urgent action toward these responsive people compares with the action of the angels who visited Lot in Sodom and who on the day of the destruction of the city had to take Lot and his lingering family by the hand and bring them out of the city and station them outside of it and then urge them to escape to the mountains in order that they might not be swept away into destruction.—Gen. 19:15-17.
Today the great King, Jesus Christ, is having a like urgent message given by the anointed remnant to the other sheep class, who in turn join in giving this message to still others. Realizing what is involved—the vindication of Jehovah’s name and the everlasting life of their hearers—those bringing this message make it as strong as they can, urging, constraining, obligating, compelling, as it were, their hearers to act and take their stand for Jehovah and his kingdom. Of course, while thus stressing the urgency and importance of their message, they do not override the free choice of such people whom they approach with the message of salvation. In this regard a comparison might be made with Lydia’s hospitality toward Paul and his companions and concerning which Luke wrote: “She just made us come.” She could not have coerced Paul and his companions had they in fact been determined not to accept her hospitality. So Christians in witnessing by not being easily discouraged do “compel” or “make” people come to the waters of life.—Acts 16:15; Rev. 22:17.
● Why did Jehovah allow the Israelites to suffer defeat twice before the tribe of Benjamin before he allowed them to mete out due punishment to this tribe for its crime at Gibeah? (Judges 20)—P. G., Scotland.
Judges, chapter 19, tells of certain scoundrels of Gibeah ravaging a woman all night so that by morning she was dead. The people of Gibeah then committed the atrocious crime of condoning this sin of the inhabitants of their city. The tribe of Benjamin was also guilty in this respect; it refused to hear the demands of the rest of the tribes that the scoundrels should be put to death. This immoral condition challenged the faithfulness of the rest of the tribes of God’s chosen people.
The slaughtering of so many of them in the beginning imposed a great test upon the faithful tribes, especially with regard to the rightness of their cause. By letting the faithful tribes suffer such losses, forty thousand men in two days, Jehovah was testing them to see whether they would be persistent in this determined effort to uproot this gross evil in Israel when it brought such great losses to themselves.
The thousands of faithful ones who died because of the punitive campaign died in a righteous cause. The survivors who gained the victory vindicated themselves before Jehovah God and before all the readers of his Word. This vindication was worth the cost, and the nation of Israel was purged of a very degrading moral evil.
● How should a dedicated Christian Scripturally view labor unions and participation in their activities?—S. B., U.S.A.
The Scriptures counsel Christians to “provide the right things in the sight of all men.” “Certainly if anyone does not provide for those who are his own, and especially for those who are members of his household, he has disowned the faith and is worse than a person without faith.” These texts have a bearing on labor unionism, because to obey them it may be necessary to join a labor union. An analogy might be drawn between one’s duties as a member of a labor union and those he has as a citizen of a country. For benefits received from the government the Christian pays taxes; similarly, he could properly pay union dues, since such would in effect be job insurance. There can, therefore, be no objection to a Christian’s merely belonging to a labor union, paying the dues and heeding the call to stop work in the event of a strike.—Rom. 12:17; 1 Tim. 5:8.
However, a Christian should not get involved in union activity to the extent of holding an official position in the union. Nor, in the event of a strike, should he take part in picketing or in other ways agitate for the cause of the strike. Above all, he should not engage in violence in labor disputes, for “a slave of the Lord does not need to fight.” “If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men.” Just as a Christian is neutral regarding politics and wars of his country, so the union member who is a Christian does not get involved in the governing activities and economic warfare of the union but must remain neutral.—2 Tim. 2:24; Rom. 12:18.