The Traitorous “Evil Slave” and His Prototypes
“‘AXIS SALLY’ to Be Paroled in July.” Thus read a headline in the New York Times, April 8, 1961. Who is this Axis Sally? She is an American artist who went to Germany to study music in the 1930’s. When World War II broke out she nightly sang over the radio a sex-laden siren song to the American soldiers, tempting them to quit fighting and to return home. Why? Had she become converted to the Nazi ideology? Not at all! She sang for a price, being the highest-paid performer on the Nazi network.
This present-day example of perfidy calls to mind America’s first notorious traitor, one Benedict Arnold. A proud and arrogant man who continually was at loggerheads with the governing bodies of the colonies and fond of lavish living and material gain, he sold his services to the enemy of his people at the time they were fighting for their independence. He spent his closing days in a foreign land, socially ostracized and most unhappy.
While our concern here is not with political but with religious traitors, these political traitors throw light on the two basic traits of traitors, namely, pride and greed. They stifle wisdom, justice and love for the sake of selfish gain. Since man must live with himself and it is not good for him to be alone, the traitor is bound to make life miserable for himself.
In the Holy Bible three traitors stand out: Ahithophel, the one-time companion of King David; Judas Iscariot, the one-time companion of Jesus Christ, and the “evil slave,” one-time companion of the “faithful and discreet slave” of our time, in this day of Christ’s second presence. The latter, however, is not a mere individual, but a class of traitorous individuals.
The term “traitor” is one of the most loathed expressions of the English language, even worse in connotation than the word “hypocrite.” It comes from a Latin root meaning “to give up, to deliver, to betray.” A traitor is one who is treacherous, perfidious, faithless, false, disloyal. The term itself appears only once in the Revised Standard Version and the New World Translation; at Luke 6:16, where the list of the twelve apostles closes with the words, “and Judas Iscariot, who turned traitor.”
What causes a person to become a traitor is well illustrated by proud and greedy Ahithophel. A traitor is often uncommonly brilliant; what he lacks is honesty and love. Such a traitor was Ahithophel, counselor of King David, concerning whom it was written: “The counsel of Ahithophel, with which he counseled in those days, was just as when a man would inquire of the word of The true God. That was the way all the counsel of Ahithophel was both to David and to Absalom.” Why did he turn traitor? The record does not state, but the inference is clear that Ahithophel joined the insurrection of Absalom against his father King David because it seemed quite certain that Absalom would win out. But Jehovah saw to it that things turned out differently.—2 Sam. 16:23.
Absalom, a favorite son of King David, was a most handsome man. At one time he had been banished for having murdered one of his half brothers for having violated his sister Tamar. David mercifully forgave him and restored him to the court. In rank ingratitude for this mercy Absalom schemed to turn the hearts of the people away from his father and then hatched a conspiracy to usurp his father’s throne, succeeding in persuading even Ahithophel to join him. When David heard about this he prayed: “Turn, please, the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness, O Jehovah!”—2 Sam. 15:12, 31.
The blackness of Ahithophel is recorded for us in one of David’s psalms: “For it was not an enemy that proceeded to reproach me; otherwise I could put up with it. It was not an intense hater of me that assumed great airs against me; otherwise I could conceal myself from him. But it was you, a mortal man who was as my equal, one familiar to me and my acquaintance, because we used to enjoy sweet intimacy together; into the house of God we used to walk with the throng. He has thrust out his hands against those at peace with him; he has profaned his covenant. Smoother than butter are the words of his mouth, but his heart is disposed to fight. His words are softer than oil, but they are drawn swords.”—Ps. 55:12-14, 20, 21.
In addition to praying to God to thwart the counsel of Ahithophel, David did what he could do to that end, namely, he sent his counselor Hushai to feign loyalty to Absalom and offset the wise counsel of Ahithophel. In this way Jehovah answered David’s prayer, for when Ahithophel gave good advice, Hushai counseled otherwise and Absalom heeded Hushai. The result was that Absalom lost the initiative and in the end also lost his life. As for vain and proud Ahithophel, when he saw his good advice spurned, he returned home, “gave orders to his household and strangled himself and thus died.”—2 Sam. 17:14, 23.
Ahithophel was a fitting prototype of the most infamous, the most notorious traitor of all time, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for a paltry thirty pieces of silver. Judas Iscariot had been chosen to be one of the twelve apostles after Jesus had spent all night in prayer and so, without doubt, his heart was not bad at that time or Jesus would not have chosen him to be one of the honored twelve. But gradually this honored one let selfishness enter his heart. It appears that he was a Judean, whereas the rest of the twelve were Galileans, and Judeans did think themselves to be much better than the Galileans.
Judas Iscariot had been appointed treasurer of the group that followed Jesus, particularly the twelve, quite likely because of his having a better education. As time went on, however, he let selfishness get the upper hand. Being fully trusted, he saw how he could steal from the general fund without anyone knowing about it, and he did not scruple to yield to this temptation. As his heart went bad, Jesus noticed it, and so we read that “initially Jesus knew who were the ones not believing and who was the one that would betray him.” “I chose you twelve, did I not? Yet one of you is a slanderer,” or devil.—John 6:64, 70.
Here we see in Judas the two basic characteristics of the traitor: pride and greed. Jesus Christ had left heavenly glory to serve God and man unselfishly as a mere man; but Judas Iscariot followed him for self-gain. He was living a lie. Could anything be more perfidious? But Judas was not to get away with this. Sooner or later the truth would out. The occasion came when he found fault with Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, because she anointed Jesus with costly perfumed oil. Judas had objected: “Why was it this perfumed oil was not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” Jesus rebuked him, saying: “You have the poor always with you, but me you will not have always.”—John 12:5, 8.
Judas Iscariot could have taken this rebuke, had his objection been sincere, but it was not. John tells us why he objected: “Not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief and had the money-box and used to carry off the monies put in it.” So in a malicious rage Judas Iscariot “went to the chief priests and said: ‘What will you give me to betray him to you?’ They stipulated to him thirty silver pieces. So from then on he kept seeking a good opportunity to betray him.”—John 12:6; Matt. 26:14-16.
The degree of Judas’ perfidy is further apparent when we note that he had the temerity to ask, “It is not I, is it, Rabbi?” when Jesus said that one of the twelve would betray him. And what blackness of heart conceived the idea of betraying his Master with a kiss, symbol of the devotion he feigned to have for Jesus, as well as serving to point him out unmistakably in case night or its shadows made it doubtful as to which one was Jesus Christ.—Matt. 26:25, 48, 49.
The arch traitor afterward felt remorse, but to no avail; he had gone to the point of no return. His traitorous act was not due to being momentarily overtaken in a fault, as was Peter’s denial of his Master. No, with Judas there were involved pride, greed, malice, hypocrisy, scheming and willful sticking to a predetermined course. Fittingly Jesus termed him “the son of destruction” and said that “it would have been finer for him if that man had not been born.” Finer, for not only does he not gain life himself but he covered himself with obloquy or disgrace.—John 17:12; Matt. 26:24.
THE “EVIL SLAVE”
Even as King David was a type of Jesus Christ, so the traitor Ahithophel proved to be a picture of Judas Iscariot. In turn, he and Judas Iscariot foreshadowed the “evil slave,” concerning whom Jesus prophesied: “But if that evil slave should say in his heart, ‘My master is delaying,’ and should start to beat his fellow slaves and should eat and drink with the confirmed drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day that he does not expect and in an hour that he does not know, and will punish him with the greatest severity and will assign him his part with the hypocrites. There is where his weeping and the gnashing of his teeth will be.”—Matt. 24:48-51.
We should expect to see this “evil slave” today. Why so? Because these words of Jesus regarding the evil slave are part of Jesus’ great prophecy that finds its fulfillment since 1914. Since that year we have seen the unprecedented wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes and the world-wide preaching of this good news of the Kingdom as foretold at Matthew 24:7-14.
However, as already noted, we are not to expect this evil slave to be a single individual but rather a group of individuals. Thus Jehovah, at Isaiah 43:10, speaks of his nation of witnesses back there and in our day not only in the plural form as “witnesses,” but also in the singular form as “my servant.” This is in keeping with the fact that the “faithful and discreet slave,” which Jesus mentioned at the same time, is also a group of persons. As has been noted time and again in the pages of this journal, that “faithful and discreet slave” consists of the remaining ones or the remnant of the body of Christ still on earth and is associated with Jehovah’s witnesses of the New World society.—Matt. 24:45-47.
From the words of Jesus it is apparent that the evil slave is a traitor. How does he show it? By beating his fellow slaves and by associating with those who are disreputable in God’s sight, “the confirmed drunkards,” spiritually so. Does he beat his fellows with a literal rod? No, for the laws of the land would not permit that. Rather, he seeks to cause pain to his fellow slaves by hard and bitter speech, by slander, false propaganda, by assertions for which no proof is given nor indeed can be given. This he does both by the spoken and the printed word. He is like Diotrephes, concerning whom the apostle John wrote: He “likes to have the first place among them, [and] does not receive anything from us with respect . . . chattering about us with wicked words.”—3 John 9, 10.
Those comprising the “evil slave” class feel they have a grievance. They may have been rebuked, as Judas was, or have been relieved of privileges of service, or may have been unable to fall in line with the progress being made in understanding the truth or in methods of carrying on God’s work. But if they were honestly to examine their hearts they would be forced to admit that for a long time their hearts have not been right and that now selfishness, in the form of pride or desire for selfish gain, is blindly goading them on.
That spiritual blindness and love of self-gain go hand in hand Jesus indicates: “The lamp of the body is the eye. If, then, your eye is sincere, your whole body will be bright; but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be dark. If in reality the light that is in you is darkness, how great that darkness is! No one can be a slave to two masters . . . You cannot be slaves to God and to Riches.”—Matt. 6:22-24.
Should the tactics of this “evil slave” class disturb us? Not at all. Was it not foretold that he would appear in our day? And, remember, Jesus also said: “Stumblingblocks must of necessity come, but woe to the man through whom the stumblingblock comes!”—Matt. 18:7.
So when we come across statements made by some who were at one time associated with us and now oppose, we should ask ourselves: What is the mental disposition? Is it in line with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8? Or does it breathe the spirit of malice, doubt and strife? Is it a joyful, constructive, peaceful message, or just the opposite? Is commercialism connected with it? Is there a consorting with the enemies of God’s people, as in the case of Ahithophel and Judas Iscariot?
The record made by the “faithful and discreet slave” is published for all to read in such publications as Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose and Faith on the March. Notice the joyful, loving and kind tone, the logic, the proofs, both scriptures and admitted facts. Note the fruits of the work being directed by the “faithful and discreet slave”: the magnifying of Jehovah’s name, the numerical expansion in Christian ministers, the clean New World society. If all this evidence is convincing, and indeed it should be, then heed Romans 16:17, 18 by having nothing to do with those that attack and seek to disrupt this noble work, for by their fruits they betray that they belong to the “evil slave” class.
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