Questions From Readers
● How would one explain the fact that while the temporary resident had to be obedient to many of Jehovah’s laws and requirements the same as the Israelites, yet the temporary resident could eat “any dead body” while the Israelites could not, and it also could be sold to a foreigner, as mentioned at Deuteronomy 14: 21? If it was unclean for the Israelites, why was it not also for the temporary resident and the foreigner?—L. R., United States.
True, Jehovah repeatedly stated that there was to be one law for the Israelite and the foreign-born, but invariably this rule appears in certain contexts and settings, applying to certain laws, such as those relating to talion, the passover and the unintentional manslayer. See Exodus 12:49; Leviticus 24:22; Numbers 15:29. Justice required that there be no discrimination.
Still, Jehovah, as the Supreme Lawgiver, chose to consider the Israelites in a class by themselves and so placed certain restrictions upon only them and gave them corresponding advantages he did not give to others. Thus, “because you are a holy people to Jehovah your God,” they were not permitted to eat that which had died of itself. Then again, interest could be exacted from others but not from one’s Israelite brothers. Further, only one born as an Israelite could be chosen to be king over Israel.—Deut. 14:21, NW; De 17:15; 23:20.
Modern lands, such as the United States, recognize the justice of this principle. All living within its borders benefit from its constitutional guarantees and are expected to obey its laws. Still, citizens have certain peculiar benefits and obligations, while only a native citizen is eligible for the presidency.
● What is the meaning of Paul’s words at Hebrews 12:13 (NW): “Keep making straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather that it may be healed”?—K. K., United States.
This counsel is in line with Paul’s determination: “If food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat flesh at all, that I may not make my brother stumble.” (1 Cor. 8:13, NW) It is also in line with Paul’s admonition: “All things are lawful; but not all things are advantageous. All things are lawful; but not all things build up. Let each one keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.”—1 Cor. 10:23, 24, NW.
A person with sound limbs may walk in rough terrain and in crooked or devious paths without suffering harm. But one who is lame must be careful where he walks or he can easily suffer from a limb’s being put out of joint. So some, because of being spiritually sound and mature, might allow themselves certain liberties that involve a risk or danger and yet not suffer harm because of their maturity. But those not so mature or who are spiritually lame, as it were, might see the example of such strong ones and try to follow it, only to come to grief; requiring their being put on probation by the congregation or causing them to be ‘drowned in the sea’ of materialism.
So brotherly love indicates that “we, though, who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those not strong, and not to be pleasing ourselves.” That is, we should be willing to deny ourselves so that others who are not as strong as we are may not be tempted to follow us in a perilous course and suffer shipwreck, loss of faith and integrity. Yes, “let each of us please his neighbor in what is good for his upbuilding.”—Rom. 15:1, 2, NW.
Futility of Modern Preaching
● A professor of theology at Chicago’s Federated Theological Faculty, Marcus Barth, son of the European theologian Karl Barth, was quoted in Time magazine, February 18, 1957, as saying regarding modern preaching: “In Europe the preaching is on a deeper and more dogmatic level than here, but the churches are empty all too often. Here the preaching is close to the people, the churches are full, but the problem is whether the congregation hears anything in the sermon which its members have not already read in their morning newspapers and have already told themselves.”