Betrayal​—An Ominous Sign of the Times!

“How loyal and righteous and unblamable we proved to be.”​—1 THESS. 2:10.

ISOLATE THESE MAIN POINTS:

What warning lessons can we learn from the betrayals committed by Delilah, Absalom, and Judas Iscariot?

How can we imitate the loyalty displayed by both Jonathan and Peter?

How can we remain steadfast in our loyalty to our marriage mate and to Jehovah?

1-3. (a) What is an ominous sign of the times, and what does it involve? (b) What three questions will we answer?

WHAT do Delilah, Absalom, and Judas Iscariot have in common? They were all disloyal​—Delilah to the man who loved her, Judge Samson; Absalom to his father, King David; Judas to his Master, Christ Jesus. In each case, their deplorable actions wreaked havoc on others! But why should this be of concern to us?

2 A modern-day author lists betrayal among today’s most common vices. That is to be expected. When giving the sign of “the conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus said: “Many . . . will betray one another.” (Matt. 24:3, 10) “To betray” means “to give up to, or place in the power of an enemy, by treachery or disloyalty.” Such a lack of loyalty confirms that we are living in “the last days” when, Paul foretold, people would be “disloyal, . . . betrayers.” (2 Tim. 3:1, 2, 4) Even though authors and screenwriters often dramatize and romanticize treacherous acts in literature and in the movies, in real life disloyalty and betrayal cause pain and suffering. Indeed, such acts are an ominous sign of the times!

3 What lessons can we learn from the Bible about those who were disloyal in the past? What examples of people who proved their devotion to others can we imitate? And to whom must we remain steadfast in our loyalty? Let us see.

WARNING EXAMPLES FROM THE PAST

4. How did Delilah betray Samson, and why was that so contemptible?

4 First, consider conniving Delilah, with whom Judge Samson had fallen in love. Samson was intent  on leading the fight against the Philistines on behalf of God’s people. Perhaps knowing that Delilah had no loyal love for Samson, the five Philistine lords offered her a large bribe to find out the secret of his superior strength so that they could eliminate him. Mercenary Delilah accepted their offer, but her attempts to uncover Samson’s secret failed three times. She then kept on pressuring him “with her words all the time and kept urging him.” Finally, “his soul got to be impatient to the point of dying.” So he told her that his hair had never been cut and that if it was, he would lose his power. * Knowing that, Delilah had Samson’s hair shaved off while he was asleep on her lap, and then she turned him over to his enemies to do to him whatever they wanted. (Judg. 16:4, 5, 15-21) How contemptible her action was! All because of her greed, Delilah betrayed someone who loved her.

5. (a) How did Absalom prove disloyal to David, and what did that expose about him? (b) How did David feel about Ahithophel’s having turned traitor?

5 Next, consider treacherous Absalom. Inflamed with ambition, he was determined to usurp the throne of his father, King David. Absalom first ‘stole the hearts of the men of Israel’ by ingratiating himself with them, using sly promises and insincere expressions of affection. He would embrace and kiss them, as if he were truly interested in them and their needs. (2 Sam. 15:2-6) Absalom even won over David’s trusted confidant Ahithophel, who turned traitor and joined the coup. (2 Sam. 15:31) In Psalms 3 and 55, David describes how such disloyalty affected him. (Ps. 3:1-8; read Psalm 55:12-14.) Absalom exposed his shameless disregard for God’s sovereignty by his ambitious scheming and blatant conspiracy against Jehovah’s appointed king. (1 Chron. 28:5) In the end, the uprising failed, and David continued to rule as the anointed of Jehovah.

6. How did Judas betray Jesus, and with what has Judas’ name become synonymous?

6 Now think of what traitorous Judas Iscariot did to the Christ. At the last Passover that Jesus celebrated with his 12 apostles, he told them: “Truly I say to you, One of you will betray me.” (Matt. 26:21) Later that night, Jesus announced to Peter, James, and John in the garden of Gethsemane: “Look! My betrayer has drawn near.” Immediately, Judas appeared in the garden with his coconspirators, “and going straight up to Jesus he said: ‘Good day, Rabbi!’ and kissed him very tenderly.” (Matt. 26:46-50; Luke 22:47, 52) Judas “betrayed righteous blood” and handed Jesus over to Christ’s enemies. And for what did money-loving Judas do that? For a mere 30 pieces of silver! (Matt. 27:3-5) The name Judas has been synonymous with “traitor” ever since, especially one who betrays another under the guise of friendship. *

7. What lessons have we learned from the lives of (a) Absalom and Judas and (b) Delilah?

7 What have we learned from these warning examples? Absalom and Judas both met a shameful end because of their having turned traitor against the anointed of Jehovah. (2 Sam. 18:9, 14-17; Acts 1:18-20) Delilah’s name will  forever be associated with treachery and feigned love. (Ps. 119:158) How vital it is that we reject any tendency we may have toward blind ambition or greed, which would cause us to lose Jehovah’s favor! Could any lessons be more powerful to help us reject the loathsome trait of disloyalty?

IMITATE THOSE WHO PROVED LOYAL

8, 9. (a) Why did Jonathan pledge his loyalty to David? (b) How can we imitate Jonathan?

8 The Bible also describes many loyal individuals. Let us consider two of these and see what we can learn from them, starting with a man who proved his loyalty to David. Jonathan, King Saul’s eldest son, would likely have been the heir to the throne of Israel​—except for one thing. Jehovah chose David to be Israel’s next king. Jonathan respected God’s decision. He did not jealously view David as a rival. Rather, Jonathan’s “soul became bound up with the soul of David” as he pledged his loyalty to him. He even gave David his garments, sword, bow, and belt, thus bestowing royal honors on him. (1 Sam. 18:1-4) Jonathan did all he could to ‘strengthen David’s hand,’ even to the point of risking his own life to stand up for David in front of Saul. Jonathan loyally told David: “You yourself will be king over Israel, and I myself shall become second to you.” (1 Sam. 20:30-34; 23:16, 17) It is no wonder that after Jonathan’s death, David expressed his sorrow and his love for him in a mournful song.​—2 Sam. 1:17, 26.

9 There was no conflict of loyalties on Jonathan’s part. He was completely submissive to the Sovereign, Jehovah, and he fully supported David as the anointed of God. Likewise today, even if we may not have been given a special privilege in the congregation, we should willingly support the brothers who have been appointed to take the lead among us.​—1 Thess. 5:12, 13; Heb. 13:17, 24.

10, 11. (a) Why did Peter loyally stay with Jesus? (b) How can we imitate Peter, and what should we be moved to do?

10 The other good example we will consider is that of the apostle Peter, who avowed his loyalty to Jesus. When Christ used graphic, figurative language to emphasize the importance of exercising faith in his soon-to-be-sacrificed flesh and blood, many of his disciples found his words shocking, and they left him. (John 6:53-60, 66) So Jesus turned to his 12 apostles and asked: “You do not want to go also, do you?” It was Peter who responded: “Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life; and we have believed and come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:67-69) Did this mean  that Peter fully understood all that Jesus had just said about His coming sacrifice? Probably not. Even so, Peter was determined to be loyal to God’s anointed Son.

11 Peter did not reason that Jesus must have the wrong view of things and that if given time, He would recant what He had said. No, Peter humbly recognized that Jesus had “sayings of everlasting life.” Likewise today, how do we react if we encounter a point in our Christian publications from “the faithful steward” that is hard to understand or that does not match with our thinking? We should try hard to get the sense of it rather than merely expecting that there will be a change to conform to our viewpoint.​—Read Luke 12:42.

REMAIN LOYAL TO YOUR MARRIAGE MATE

12, 13. How might betrayal find a niche in a marriage, and why is a person’s age not an excuse for that to happen?

12 Betrayal in any form is a vile act that must not be allowed to disrupt the peace and unity of the Christian family and the congregation. With that in mind, let us consider how we can be steadfast in our loyalty to our marriage mate and to our God.

13 Adultery is one of the most devastating forms of betrayal. The adulterer has violated his fidelity to his marriage mate and shifted his attention to another person. The betrayed mate is suddenly left alone​—with a life that is turned upside down. How does that happen between two people who once loved each other? Often, a first step in that direction is taken when marriage mates become emotionally distant from each other. Professor of Sociology Gabriella Turnaturi explains that alternating “between being fully present in a relationship and not being fully present is where betrayal finds its niche.” This distancing of oneself from a marriage mate has happened to some even during middle age. For example, a 50-year-old married man divorces his faithful wife of 25 years in order to join up with another woman to whom he has become attracted. Some excuse this as a midlife crisis. However, rather than making it sound as though it were unavoidable, let us call it what it really is​—a midlife betrayal. *

14. (a) How does Jehovah feel about treachery in a marriage? (b) What did Jesus say about marital fidelity?

14 How does Jehovah feel about those who leave their mates without a Scriptural reason? Our God ‘hates a divorcing,’ and he has uttered strong words against those who abuse and abandon their marriage mates. (Read Malachi 2:13-16.) In heart harmony with his Father, Jesus taught that one cannot drive away or cast off an innocent mate and act as if nothing has happened.​—Read Matthew 19:3-6, 9.

15. How can those who are married strengthen their loyalty to their mates?

15 How can those who are married remain loyal to their mates? God’s Word says: “Rejoice with the wife [or husband] of your youth” and, “See life with the wife [or husband] whom you love.” (Prov. 5:18; Eccl. 9:9) As both mates grow older, they must be “fully present” in their relationship, both physically and emotionally. That means being attentive to each other, spending time with  each other, and drawing closer to each other. They have to focus on preserving their marriage and their relationship with Jehovah. To that end, couples need to study the Bible together, regularly work in the ministry together, and pray together for Jehovah’s blessing.

REMAIN LOYAL TO JEHOVAH

16, 17. (a) How might our loyalty to God be put on the line in the family and the congregation? (b) What example illustrates that obeying God’s command to quit associating with disfellowshipped relatives can lead to good results?

16 There are members of the congregation who committed serious sins and who were reproved “with severity, that they may be healthy in the faith.” (Titus 1:13) For some, their conduct has required that they be disfellowshipped. For “those who have been trained by it,” the discipline has helped them to become spiritually restored. (Heb. 12:11) What if we have a relative or a close friend who is disfellowshipped? Now our loyalty is on the line, not to that person, but to God. Jehovah is watching us to see whether we will abide by his command not to have contact with anyone who is disfellowshipped.​—Read 1 Corinthians 5:11-13.

17 Consider just one example of the good that can come when a family loyally upholds Jehovah’s decree not to associate with disfellowshipped relatives. A young man had been disfellowshipped for over ten years, during which time his father, mother, and four brothers “quit mixing in company” with him. At times, he tried to involve himself in their activities, but to their credit, each member of the family was steadfast in not having any contact with him. After he was reinstated, he said that he always missed the association with his family, especially at night when he was alone. But, he admitted, had the family associated with him even a little, that small dose would have satisfied him. However, because he did not receive even the slightest communication from any of his family, the burning desire to be with them became one motivating factor in his restoring his relationship with Jehovah. Think of that if you are ever tempted to violate God’s command not to associate with your disfellowshipped relatives.

18. After having reviewed the merits of loyalty versus the consequences of disloyalty, what is your resolve?

18 We live in a treacherous, disloyal world. Yet, all around us in the Christian congregation, we can find loyal examples to imitate. Their life course speaks for them, as if to say: “You are witnesses, God is also, how loyal and righteous and unblamable we proved to be to you believers.” (1 Thess. 2:10) May we all remain ever steadfast in our loyalty to God and to one another.

[Footnotes]

^ par. 4 Not the hair itself, but what it stood for, that is, Samson’s special relationship with Jehovah as a Nazirite, was the source of his strength.

^ par. 6 Hence, the term “Judas kiss” means “an act of betrayal.”

^ par. 13 For help in dealing with a marriage mate’s disloyalty, see the article “Coping With a Spouse’s Betrayal,” in the June 15, 2010, issue of The Watchtower, pages 29-32.

[Study Questions]

[Picture on page 10]

Peter was loyal to God’s anointed Son even though others rejected Him