Last weekend I attended the Jehovah Witness Memorial. It’s the closest thing that Witness’ get to celebrating easter as we know it. The Memorial is mainly for the purpose of taking part of the Lords Supper. Unlike Christian churches that take communion once a month or more, Jehovah Witnesses only take communion once a year. That seems odd to us already, but I am not sure we would say it’s hugely objectionable at that point.
Where it does cross the line is that none of the Jehovah Witnesses actually eat the bread or drink the wine; well, only a very select few of them. Jehovah Witnesses have a belief that only the 144,000 talked about in Revelation 14 are those that should partake in communion. Their belief is that the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation are the only ones that will receive a heavenly hope, while everyone else will stay on the new earth, and only those with a heavenly hope should partake in the Lords Supper. There are a few reasons that this doesn’t make sense.
First, when it mentions the 144,000 in Revelation 14 it says ‘These are those who did not defile themselves with women for they remained virgins”. I talked with one Jehovah Witness afterword who said that some of their 144,000 have had children and even the one in the service I attended was married, though he had no kids. Witness’ wish to argue that this verse is talking about defiling themselves with false religions and idols. But this is a prime example of eisegesis, where they have inserted their theology in the text. There is really nothing in the text to indicate this is talking about idolatry. Why would the verse seem to clarify talking about sex by saying ‘for they remained virgins”? If it is talking about idolatry why didn’t Paul simply say they defiled themselves with idols like many other scriptures we see?
Second, the Witness’s make it very clear that the point of the Memorial is to ‘proclaim the Lords death until Christ returns’ as it says in 1 Corinthians 11:26. Some of the Kingdom Halls do not have any of the 144,000 in attendance, which means that at some Halls there is no one actually eating the bread and drinking the wine. But when we look at the first part of 1 Corinthians 11:26 it makes it clear to say that you proclaim Christs death “whenever you eat this loaf and drink this cup”. In other words, at best a Hall has a handful of members proclaiming Christs death, and at many halls that are not proclaiming his death at all.
Finally, JW.org also references Hebrews 8:10-13 to say that the new covenant replaces the covenant with Israel. Hebrews does mention a new covenant, but it does not mention the end of the old covenant, and the idea that the new covenant replaces the old goes against what Jesus says of not abolishing the law but fulfilling it. If the law isn’t replaced we need reason to think the covenant is, and the scripture in Hebrews does not give us that.