I was surprised to obtain this book with a number of other publications recently, as I had no idea that it even existed. It is an official Watchtower Society publication of 1907 that is entitled, Daily Heavenly Manna and Birthday Record.
This means of course that the Watchtower Society believed that you could receive heavenly manna and also celebrate birthdays. However, were not the Scriptures just the same then as they are now – yes? Had Jehovah not made His will plain – yes? Did Jehovah change His mind – No! The Watchtower Society made the change under Rutherford and tried to claim ‘new light’ but there was none.
Just two years later, according to current Watchtower teaching, Jehovah was going to choose His one true organisation and, again according to the Society, He chose them – when they celebrated birthdays! If it was okay with Jehovah then it is certainly okay with Him now!
Look at what the Society said in 1907,
“Our first edition of ‘Manna,’ 20,000, met with far better success than we dared hope for; and we have been greatly encouraged by the kind words of its many friends far and near. Some call it their ‘Heavenly Breakfast Food’ and tell that they feast upon its lessons as regularly as the sun rises… Some use them as birthday presents and holiday gifts… In this edition we have added the Autograph and Birthday record feature… To see the autographs of our friends daily is a pleasure, and to be reminded of their birthday is a great convenience. The book will last a life-time, and can be used year after year, for the sacred message never grows old…”
This is taken from the preface. It made me wonder what those Witnesses did with this book, still using it in their life-time, some 20 years later when birthdays were of Satan.
To prove just how much God accepts this remembrance in the space provided for February 16 the owner of this copy has written,
“‘Praise ye the Lord!’ Charles T Russell 1852 Alleghany.”
Notice too however, that this book is seen as messages from heaven – that is God speaking. Now God does not change and His message is always the same. We should, therefore, be able to reprint many if not all of these messages that were so uplifting and inspiring in a Watchtower Society Daily Reading Book today? Could we? Alas no, because the author would be disfellowshipped.
Today the Watchtower Society says of birthdays,
“Do Bible references to birthday celebrations put them in a favourable light? The Bible makes only two references to such celebrations…Jehovah’s Witnesses take note that God’s Word reports unfavourably about birthday celebrations and to shun these.” – Reasoning from the Scriptures, pp. 68-69.
We also read on the official Watchtower web site,
“Birthdays: The only two birthday celebrations spoken of in the Bible were held by persons who did not worship Jehovah. (Genesis 40:20-22; Mark 6:21, 22, 24-27) The early Christians did not celebrate birthdays. The custom of celebrating birthdays comes from ancient false religions. True Christians give gifts and have good times together at other times during the year.” – Web Site
Both of these comments lead to guilt by association and, indeed, they are not the whole story.
First, the Bible does not report unfavourably about birthdays it shows the acts of evil men. Indeed, the Bible does not comment about birthdays at all. We must, therefore, come to the conclusion that such days come under the jurisdiction of the following;
“Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.” – Colossians 2:16&17
“Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.” – Romans 14:4-6
These verses teach that, providing, what we do does not break another law of God, such as idolatry, we have freedom with regard to celebrating days and we should not judge each other.
Second, if true Christians give gifts at other times during the year what is wrong with giving gifts on the day of their birth? Their argument is illogical.
Third, they say that there are only two references to such celebrations but they seem to have overlooked the greatest birthday celebration of all – that of the Lord Jesus Christ. As such, then, if men doing evil things make it wrong to celebrate surely we can argue that the angels rejoicing and the Magi bringing gifts make it right to celebrate.
The Bible does not say one thing or another and wholesome celebration is obviously not condemned by the Scriptures.
How sad that the Watchtower Society, some 100 years after this book was published, have moved so far from the truth of God’s Word which this compiler, G.W.Seibert, seemed to have a grasp of. Here are a few examples with comment:
“January 12 (quoting Galatians 1:6) Let us learn well this lesson of reproving others very gently, very considerately, kindly, by a hint rather that a direct charge and details of the wrong… We are to be less careful for the punishments that will follow wrongdoings than for the recovery of the erring one out of the error of his way. We are not to attempt to judge and punish one another for misdeeds, but rather to remember that this is in the hands of the Lord.”
If this Biblical thought were to be applied to the Society today the majority of judicial committee hearings would be cancelled. The list of sometimes petty accusations would be torn up and the elders would visit to plead with the one to repent rather than simply tell them what decision was made by the committee. Family would not be told to shun the one being judged but, rather, to reach out to them in love and wisdom, to win them back to the Lord; not, as now, that they must return to the organisation and its procedures.
“March 15 (quoting Hebrews 10:38) It is not enough that, by faith, we receive the first impulse of life, but, having passed from death to life, by the same means, we must continue to receive and appropriate spiritual nourishment, that we may grow thereby: we must walk by faith, following the leading of the Holy Spirit through the Word of Truth. The life of faith is an individual matter, as well of the heart as the head. It is far more than an acceptance of doctrines which we consider scriptural and therefore true; it is the assimilation of that which we have proved to be the Truth, so that its principles become our principles…”
Almost a hint of the Trinity there! Certainly the Holy Spirit is given His full title and not just ‘holy spirit’ as it would be these days. However, notice that ‘taking in knowledge,’ which is the primary aim of the Society today, is not enough – it must be of the heart and not just the head. However, the greatest change that has taken place over these true words is the fact that no longer, according to the Society, is the life of faith an “individual matter,” you can only live such a life in union with the organisation.
“March 29 (quoting Ephesians 2:8) As members of the fallen race we were incapable of doing any work which our holy God could accept. Our present standing, therefore, as New Creatures, is not the result of anything that the old creature did, or could have done. It is not of ourselves; it is the gift of God… We were created in Christ Jesus, God’s workmanship – prepared for good works, but not by good works.”
I never thought I would see such an admission in an official Watchtower publication. How tragic it is that they have moved away through ‘new light’ (could this be the ‘angel of light’ of 2 Corinthians 11:14?) to a salvation by works. Taking in knowledge, staying part of a man made organisation, treating properly the ‘anointed ones’ etc. Yet there is nothing we can do: It is not by good works but rather prepared for good works.
“April 12 (quoting 1 Corinthians 10:16,17) It is one cup, though it be the juice of many grapes, even as it is one loaf, though it be from many grains… There is no other way that we can attain the new nature than by accepting the Lord’s invitation to drink his cup, and be broken with him as members of the one loaf, and to be buried with him in baptism into his death, and thus to attain with him resurrection glory…”
No distinction, only one body and cup of which all partake. Indeed, not to partake would be showing that we are not part of that salvation that Christ has won. How sad, therefore, that the majority of Witnesses on earth today are forbidden to take of the bread or wine.
“May 21 (quoting 2 Timothy 3:16,17) It will be well for us all to remember that all the graces of the Spirit, all the progress in the knowledge of divine things to which we have already attained, that may have helped us nearer to God and to holiness have come to us through the Scriptures of the Old Testament and through the words of our Lord and inspired apostles: nor will it be necessary to go to other channels for the true wisdom which would prepare us for the salvation promised.”
No other channel is needed! This is not true today, we must have the teachings of the Watchtower Society, which, surely, is about as far as you can possible get way from the original truth.
“October 13 (quoting James 2:18) While the Lord’s people of the present age are not to be judges by their works but their faith, nevertheless works will be required. By our works we can demonstrate our faith… that faith will be acceptable to him and we will be counted perfect and be granted a share in the Kingdom.”
I never thought I would see this verse explained in its context by a Society publication. Indeed, works demonstrate the faith we already have – works do not lead us to faith.
Although there could be many other entries worthy of comment I will restrict myself to just one more,
“December 25 (quoting Luke 2: 10,11) Although we cannot agree that this is the proper day for celebrating the birth of our dear Redeemer… nevertheless, since he did not intimate his desire that we should celebrate his birthday, it is quite immaterial upon what day the event, of so great importance to all, is celebrated. Upon this day, so generally celebrated, we may properly enough join with all whose hearts are in the attitude of love and appreciation toward God and toward the Saviour. The habit of giving little remembrances one to another at this time of year seems to us specially appropriate. God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. He is continually giving and we are continually receiving from him; but, amongst all his gifts, the one greatest importance to us is the gift of his Son to be our Redeemer.”
Such a sensible and indeed Biblical position to take, how sad that the Watchtower Society today do not mark the greatest birth of all time. They never consider what it means for the Christ to come into the world and overcome the darkness. They do not give thanks for the greatest gift ever given.
Am I saying that everything in this book is in line with mainstream Christian teaching today? No. But what I am saying is that at this time there could have well been some who truly knew the Lord through the Biblical relationship of grace, not works, with Jesus Christ. It would, however, be difficult to feel that this was the case today with the teachings that have moved so far away from the original truth.