Re: JWs, please reconcile these verses.
Originally posted by JAYMZ
I am by no means a JW and cannot, therefore, speak for one. I can, however, offer “reconciliation” for those verses and I believe that any JW who does a little research will stand with me in it.
In my experience, and in this case in particular, it is the case that those who know the Hebrew Bible and ancient Jewish world-view, beliefs, and social systems understand, and those who do not have to retreat to a special, inner, spiritual, non-verifiable, existential, gnostic “understanding.”
In your argument, you set up a false dichotomy between worshiping or serving a human and worshiping or serving YHWH. The ancient world—and the ancient Jewish world in particular—did not share your false dichotomy. As just one example from ancient Israel, for instance, there was the concept of an agent:
A man’s agent is like to himself.
--Mishnah, Tractate Berakoth 5:5
In all circumstances do we find that a man’s representative is equivalent to himself.
--Babylonian Gemara, Tractate Nazir 12b
We find in the whole Torah that a man’s agent is as himself.
--Babylonian Gemara, Tractate Nedarim 72b
A man’s agent is as himself.
--Babylonian Gemara, Baba Mezi’a 96a
It is logical that the hand of a slave is as the hand of his master.
Babylonian Gemara, Baba Mezi’a 96a
The ancient Jewish people had another saying which, translated, goes “when the agent speaks, it is as if the one who sent was speaking.” In other words, if a person did something to or for the agent, it was considered to be done to or for the sender and if the agent did something, it was considered to be done by the sender. If someone is the agent of YHWH, what that person does or what is done to that person is considered done to or by YHWH. This agent concept was common in the ancient world and even exists in modern societies. Today, for example, if someone designates another person as their agent for something and their agent does that thing on their behalf, it is considered done by the sender and can be legally upheld in a court of law. So also, if something is said or done to an agent and the agent-sender relationship is understood by the outside party, it is considered done to the sender. Moving back to ancient times then... This is one proof among many that it is fallacious reasoning to say that worshiping or serving someone must be to that person “alone” and cannot involve any other person or party. We find numerous instances in the Hebrew Bible that show this to be flat-out wrong. As one example, when the three “men” come to Abraham in Gen 18, Abraham rushes from his tent to them and worships them (18:2 – וישׁתחו). There is no indication that they have a problem being worshiped and no indication that YHWH had a problem with Abraham for doing so—rather, YHWH shows favor to Abraham following his worship of the three.
The subtle distinction that has escaped you and that is the thing which makes the worship or service wrong is not that it is someone other than YHWH alone that is being worshiped or served, but that the person being worshiped or served is someone whose actions, will, or words do not represent or outright conflict with YHWH. In other words, if a true prophet of YHWH told you in the name of YHWH to do something, if you did so, this would mean you were serving YHWH. However, if a false prophet came to you and told you in the name of YHWH to do something, if you did so, you would NOT be serving YHWH. You would be serving the false imaginations of the so-called prophet. The thing that made you serve or not serve YHWH was whether you were acting in accord with or contrary to YHWH's will, words, or activity—not whether it involved someone else.
So let's take this back to Matthew 4:8-10 and Luke 4:8, the examples you provided. There, the Satan is asking Yeshua to worship and serve him. You say that what makes this wrong is the Satan is not YHWH and only YHWH alone can be worshiped or served. Unfortunately, this completely misses the point. The reason it would be wrong is because the Satan is wanting to make Yeshua king over the earth and to provide Yeshua with worldly power and wealth (see context of those verses), but that is not YHWH's will (see the rest of the gospels). YHWH did not send Yeshua to become great, to be in power over all people, to have people serve him, and to grow rich with earthly gain. Rather, YHWH sent Yeshua to become nothing, to become the servant of all, to lose everything, to be destroyed by worldly power. The throne that YHWH wanted for Yeshua was the one in heaven, not the one on earth. The Satan, therefore, was asking Yeshua to do something that was contrary to YHWH, and that is why Yeshua responded that one should worship and serve YHWH only—because to go against YHWH would be to serve or worship someone other than YHWH. The point is not that the Satan isn't YHWH, the point is the Satan was trying to get Yeshua to not follow YHWH.
So one can apply this also to Yeshua. Whether Yeshua himself is literally YHWH has nothing to do with whether worshipping or serving Yeshua is right or wrong (and now we address the other verses you quote). What makes it right or wrong is whether Yeshua is or is not following YHWH! If Yeshua had chosen to go against YHWH and to pursue the way of earthly wealth and power that the Satan offered him, then to worship or serve Yeshua would have been wrong!
He whose wisdom is more abundant than his works, to what is his like? To a tree whose branches are abundant but whose roots are few; and the wind comes and uproots it and overturns it (as it is written, “He shall be like a tamerisk in the desert and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness"). But he whose works are more abundant than his wisdom, to what is he like? To a tree whose branches are few but whose roots are many; so that even if all the winds in the world come and blow against it, it cannot be stirred from its place (as it is written, “He shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out his roots by the river, and shall not fear when heat cometh, and his leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit”).
--Mishnah Aboth, 3:18 (with Jeremiah 17:6, 8)