11.20.2017

Protective Power-"God Is for Us a Refuge" -What Divine Protection Does Not Mean


The promise of divine protection does not mean that Jehovah is obligated to work miracles in our behalf.  No, our God does not guarantee us a problem- free life in this old system. Many faithful servants of Jehovah face severe adversities, including poverty, war, sickness, and death.  Jesus plainly told his disciples that as individuals they might be put to death because of their faith.  That is why Jesus stressed the need for endurance to the end.  (Matthew 24:9, 13) If Jehovah were to use his power to effect miraculous deliverance in all cases, there might be a basis for Satan to taunt Jehovah and to call into question the genuineness of our devotion to God. -Job 1:9, 10.  

Even in Bible times, Jehovah did not use his protective power to shield each of his servants from untimely death.  For example, the apostle James was executed  by Herod in about 44 C.E.; yet, shortly afterward, Peter was delivered "out of Herod's hand."  (Acts 12:1-11)  And John, the brother of James, outlived both Peter and James.  Clearly, we cannot expect our God to protect all his servants in identical ways.  Besides, "time and unforeseen occurrence" befall us all.  (Ecclesiastes 9:11) How, then, does Jehovah protect us today?  

Next time: Protective Power-"God Is for Us a Refuge" - Jehovah Provides Protection

From the book: Draw Close to Jehovah 

Protective Power-"God Is for Us a Refuge" -"Our God . . .Is Able to Rescue Us"


Jehovah has done more than just promise protection. In Bible times, he demonstrated in miraculous was that he is able to protect his people.  During Israel's history, Jehovah's mighty "hand" often kept powerful enemies at bay.  (Exodus 7:4)  However, Jehovah also used his protective power in behalf of individuals.  

When three young Hebrews -Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago-refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar's image of gold, the furious king threatened to throw them into the superheated furnace.  "Who is that god that can rescue you out of my hands?"  taunted Nebuchadnezzar, the most powerful monarch on earth. (Daniel 3:15) The three young men had complete confidence in the power of their God to protect them, but they did not presume that he would do so. Hence, they answered:  "If it is to be, our God whom we are serving is able to rescue us."  (Daniel 3:17) Indeed, that fiery furnace, even when heated seven times hotter than normal, presented no challenge to their all-powerful god. He did protect them, and the king was forced to acknowledge: "There does not exist another god that is able to deliver like this one." -Daniel 3:29. 

Jehovah also provided a truly remarkable demonstration of his protective power when he transferred the life of his only-begotten Son to the womb of the Jewish virgin Mary. An angel told Mary that she  would "conceive in [her]womb and give birth to a son."  The angel explained:  "Holy spirit will come upon you, and power of the Most High will overshadow you."  (Luke 1:31, 35)  Seemingly, God's Son had never been so vulnerable. Would the sin and imperfection of the human mother blemish the embryo? Would Satan be able to injure or kill that Son before He was born?  Impossible!   Jehovah formed, in effect,  a protective wall around Mary so that nothing-imperfection, no hurtful force, no murderous human, nor any demon-could damage the growing embryo, from the moment of conception on.  Jehovah continued to protect  Jesus during his youth.  (Matthew 2:1-15)  Until God's appointed time, his dear Son was unassailable.

Why did Jehovah protect certain individuals in order to protect something far more important:  The outworking of his purpose.  For example, the survival of the infant Jesus was essential to the fulfillment of God's purpose, which will ultimately benefit all mankind.  The record of so many displays of protective power is part of the inspired Scriptures, which "were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hop."  (Romans 15:4)  Yes, these examples strengthen our faith in our all-powerful God. But what protection can we expect from God today?

Next time: Protective Power-"God Is for Us a Refuge" - What Divine Protection Does Not Mean

From the book: Draw Close to Jehovah 



















Protective Power-"God Is for Us a Refuge" -The Promise of Divine Protection


Jehovah is certainly capable of protecting his servants.  He is "God Almighty"-a title indicating that he possesses irresistible power.  (Genesis 17:1) Like an unstoppable tide, Jehovah's applied power cannot be thwarted.  Since he is able to do anything his will directs, we may ask, 'Is it Jehovah's will to use his power to protect people?'

The answer in a word, is yes!  Jehovah assures us that he will protect his people.  "God is for us a refuge and strength, a help that is readily to be found during distresses," says Psalm 46:1: Since God "cannot lie," we can have absolute confidence  in his promise of protection.  (Titus 1:2)  Let us consider some of the vivid word pictures that Jehovah uses to describe his protective care.

Jehovah is a Shepherd, and "we are his people and the sheep of his pasturage."  (Psalm 23:1; 100:3)  Few animals are as helpless as domestic sheep.  The shepherd of the Bible times had to be courageous to protect his sheep from lions, wolves, and bears, as well as from thieves.  (1 Samuel 17:34, 35; John 10:12, 13)  But there were times when protecting the sheep called for tenderness.  When a sheep gave birth far from the fold, the caring shepherd would guard the mother during her helpless moments and then pick up the defenseless lamb and carry it to the fold. 

By comparing himself to a shepherd, Jehovah assures us of his heartfelt desire to protect us.  (Ezekiel 34:11-16)  Recall the description of Jehovah found at Isaiah 40:11, discussed in chapter 2 of this book:  "Like a shepherd he will shepherd his own drove. With his arm he will collect together the lambs;  and in his bosom he will carry them."  How does the little lam come to be in the shepherd's "bosom"-the folds of his upper garment?  The lamb might approach the shepherd who must bend over, pick up the lamb, and gently place it in the security of his bosom.  What a tender  of the willingness of our Great Shepherd to shield and protect us!

God's promise of protection is conditional-it is realized only by those who draw close to him.  Proverbs 18:10 states:  "The name of Jehovah is a strong tower.  Into it the righteous runs and is given protection."  In Bible times, towers were sometimes built in the wilderness as safe places of refuge.  But it was up to the one in danger to flee  to such a tower and find safety. It is similar with finding refuge in God's name. This involves more than just repeating God's name; the diving name itself  is not magic charm.  Rather, we need to know and trust the Bearer of that name and live in harmony with his righteous standards.  How kind of Jehovah to reassure us that if we turn to him in faith, he will be a tower of protection for us!

Next time: Protective Power-"God Is for Us a Refuge" - "Our God . . . Is Able to Rescue Us"

From the book: Draw Close to Jehovah 





























11.19.2017

Chapter 7/Protective Power-"God Is for Us a Refuge"



THE Israelites were in danger as they entered the region of Sinai early in 1513 B.C.E. A fear-inspiring  trek lay before them, a journey through a "vast and terrible wilderness infested with poisonous snakes and scorpions."  (Deuteronomy  8:15, The New English Bible) They also faced the threat of attack by hostile nations. Jehovah had brought his people into this situation. As their God, would he be able to protect them?

Jehovah's words were most reassuring:  "You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, that I might carry you on wings of eagles and bring you to myself."  (Exodus 19:4)  Jehovah reminded his people that he had delivered them from the Egyptians, using eagles, as it were to carry them to safety. But there are other reasons why "wings of eagles" fittingly illustrate divine protection.

The eagle uses its broad, strong wings for more than soaring aloft.  In the heat of the day, a mother eagle will arch her wings-which may span over seven feet-to form a protective umbrella, shielding her tender nestlings from the scorching sun. At other times, she wraps her wings around her offspring to protect them from the cold wind. Just as the eagle safeguards its young, so Jehovah had shielded and protected the fledgling nation of Israel. Now in the wilderness, his people continue to find refuge in the shadow of his mighty wings as long as they remained faithful.  (Deuteronomy 32:9-11; Psalm 36:7) But can we today rightly expect God's protection? 

Next time: Protective Power-"God Is for Us a Refuge "

From the book: Draw Close to Jehovah 

Destructive Power-"Jehovah Is a Manly Person of War" -Draw Close to the "Manly Person of War"


Of course, the Bible does not in  each case explain all the details of Jehovah's decisions regarding divine warfare. But of this we can be certain:  Jehovah never wields destructive power in an unjust, wanton, or cruel manner. Oftentimes, considering the context of a Bible account or some background information can help us to put things into perspective.  (Proverbs  18:13)  Even when we do not have all the details, simply learning more about Jehovah and meditating upon his precious qualities can help us to resolve any doubts that might arise.  When we do this, we come to see that we have ample reason to trust our God, Jehovah. -Job 34:12.

Although Jehovah is "a manly person of war"  when the situation demands it, this does not mean that he is warlike at heart. In Ezekiel's vision of the celestial chariot, Jehovah is pictured  as being prepared to fight against his enemies.  Yet, Ezekiel saw God surrounded by a rainbow -a symbol of peace.  (Genesis 9:13; Revelation 4:3)  Clearly, Jehovah is calm and peaceable.  "God is love," wrote the apostle John.  (1 John 4:8) All of Jehovah's qualities exist in perfect balance.  How privileged we are, then, to be able to draw close  to such a powerful yet loving God! 

Next time: Chapter 7/ Protective Power-"God Is for Us a Refuge" 

From the book: Draw Close to Jehovah 

Destructive Power-"Jehovah Is a Manly Person of War" -Fighting in Behalf of His People


Does Jehovah's interest in defending his name mean that he is cold and self-centered?  No, for by acting in accord with his  holiness and love of justice, he protects his people.  Consider Genesis chapter 14. There we read of four invading kings who kidnapped Abraham's nephew Lot,  along with Lot's family.  With God's help, Abraham executed a stunning defeat of vastly superior forces!  The account of this victory was likely the first entry in "the book of the Wars of Jehovah," evidently a book that also documented some military encounters that are not in the Bible.  (Number 21:14)  Many more victories were to follow.

Shortly before the Israelites entered the land of Canaan, Moses assured them:  "Jehovah your God is the one going before you. He will fight for you according to all that he did with you in Egypt."  (Deuteronomy 1:30; 20:1) Starting with Moses' successor Joshua and continuing on through the period  of the Judges and the reigns of the faithful kings of Judah, Jehovah indeed fought for his people, giving them many dramatic victories over their enemies. -Joshua 10:1-14; Judges 4:12-17; 2 Samuel 5:17-21. 

Jehovah has not changed; nor has his purpose to make this planet a peaceful paradise changed.  (Genesis 1:27, 28)  God still hates wickedness. At the same time, he dearly loves his people and will soon act in his behalf. (Psalm 11:7)  In fact, the enmity and violent turning point is expected to reach a dramatic turning point in the near future.  To sanctify his name and protect his people, Jehovah will once again become  "a manly person of war"! -Zechariah 14:3; Revelation 16:14, 16.  

Consider an illustration: Suppose that a man's family was being attacked by a vicious animal and that the man jumped into the fray and killed the violent beast.  Would you expect his wife and children to be repelled by this act?  On the contrary, you would expect them to be moved by his selfless love for them.  In a similar way, we should not be repelled by God's use of destructive power.  His willingness to fight to protect us should increase our love for him.  Our respect for his unlimited power should deepen as well.  Thus, we can "render God sacred service with godly fear and awe." -Hebrews 12:28. 

Next time: Destructive Power-"Jehovah Is a Manly Person of War" - Draw Close to the "Manly Person Of War"

From the book: Draw Close to Jehovah




























11.18.2017

Destructive Power-"Jehovah Is a Manly Person of War" - Fighting in Behalf of His Name


Because Jehovah is holy, his name is holy.  (Leviticus 22:32)  Jesus taught his disciples to pray:  "Let  thy heavenly Father be sanctified." (Matthew 6:9)  The rebellion in Eden profaned God's name, calling into question God's reputation and way of ruling.  Jehovah could never condone such slander and rebellion.  He was obliged to clear his name of reproach. -Isaiah 48:11.

Consider, again, the Israelites. As long as they were slaves in Egypt, God's promise to Abraham that by means of his Seed and all the families of the earth would bless themselves seemed empty. But by delivering them and establishing hem as a nation, Jehovah cleared his name of reproach. The prophet Daniel thus recalled in prayer;  "O Jehovah our God, you . . .brought your people out from the land of Egypt by a strong hand and proceeded to make a name for yourself." -Daniel 9:15. 

Interestingly, Daniel prayed this way at a time when the Jews needed Jehovah to act once again for the sake of His name.  The disobedient Jews found themselves in captivity, this time in Babylon.  They own capital city, Jerusalem, lay in ruins.  Daniel knew that restoring the Jews to their homeland would magnify Jehovah's name.  Daniel thus prayed:  "O Jehovah, do  pay attention and act. Do not delay, for your own sake, O my God, for your own name has been called upon your city and upon your people." - Daniel 9:18, 19. 

Next time: Destructive Power-"Jehovah Is a Manly Person of War - Fighting in Behalf of His People

From the book: Draw Close to Jehovah 

Destructive Power -"Jehovah Is a Manly Person of War"- God Acts to Remove Wickedness


The Deluge of Noah's day was  a case of such intervention. Says Genesis  6:11, 12: "The earth came to be ruined in the sight of the true God and the earth became filled with violence. So God saw the earth and look! it was ruined, because all flesh had ruined its way on the earth." Would God allow the wicked  to snuff out the last vestige of morality left on earth?  No.  Jehovah felt obliged  to bring a global deluge to rid the earth of those who were bent on violence and immorality.

It was similar to God's judgment against the Canaanites. Jehovah revealed that  out of Abraham would come a "seed" through which all the families of the earth would bless themselves.  In harmony with that purpose, God decreed that Abraham's offspring would be given the land of Canaan, a land inhabited by a people called the Amorites.  How could God be justified  in forcibly inflicting these people from their land?  Jehovah foretold that the eviction would not come for some 400 years-until "the error of the Amorites" had "come to completion.:  (Genesis 12:1-3; 13:14,15;  15:13, 16; 22:18) During that period of time, the Amorites  sank deeper and deeper into moral corruption.  Canaan became a land of idolatry, bloodshed, and degraded sexual practices. (Exodus 23:24; 34:12, 13; Numbers 33:52)  The inhabitants of the land even killed children in sacrificial fires.  Could a holy God expose his people to such wickedness?  No!  He declared:  "The land is unclean, and I shall bring punishment for its error upon it, and the land will vomit the people indiscriminately, however.  Rightly disposed Canaanites such as Rahab and the Gibeonites, were spared. -Joshua 6:25; 9:3-27.

Next time: Destructive Power-"Jehovah Is a Manly Person of War" - Fighting in Behalf of  His Name

From the book: Draw Close to Jehovah


Destructive Power -"Jehovah Is a Manly Person of War" - Why the God of Peace Is Compelled to Fight


After praising God as "a manly person of war," Moses declared: "Who among the gods is like you, O Jehovah?  Who is like you, proving yourself mighty in holiness?  (Exodus 15:11) The prophet Habakkuk similarly wrote:"You are too pure in eyes to see what is bad; and to look  on trouble you are not able.:  (Habakkuk 1:13)  Although Jehovah is a God of love,  he is also a God of holiness, righteousness, and justice. At times, such qualities compel him to use his destructive power.  (Isaiah 59:15-19; Luke 18:7) So God does not blemish his holiness when he fights. Rather, he fights because he is holy. -Exodus 39:30.

Consider the situation that arose after the first human couple, Adam and Eve, rebelled against God.   (Genesis 3:1-6)  Had he tolerated their unrighteousness, Jehovah  would have undermined his own position as Universal Sovereign.  As a righteous God, he was obliged to sentence them to death.  (Romans 6:23) In the first Bible prophecy, he foretold that enmity would exist between his own servants the followers of the "serpent," Satan. (Revelation 12:9; Genesis 3:15) Ultimately, this enmity could only be resolved  by the crushing of Satan.  (Romans 16:20)  But that judgment act would result in great blessings for righteous mankind, ridding the earth of Satan's influence and opening the way to a global paradise.   (Matthew 19:28) Until then, those who sided with Satan would constitute an ongoing threat to the physical and spiritual well-being of God's people. On occasion, Jehovah would have to intervene.

Next time: Destructive Power-"Jehovah Is a Manly Person of War" -God Acts to Remove Wickedness

From the book: Draw Close to Jehovah 

11.17.2017

Destructive Power-"Jehovah Is a Manly Person of War" - Divine War Versus Human Conflicts


Nearly three hundred times in the Hebrew Scriptures and twice in the Christian Greek Scriptures, God is given the title "Jehovah of armies."  (1 Samuel 1:11) As Sovereign Ruler, Jehovah commands a vast army of angelic forces.  (Joshua 5:13-15; 1 Kings 22:19) The destructive potential of this army is awesome.  (Isaiah 37:36)  The destruction of humans is not pleasant to contemplate.  However, we must remember that God's wars are unlike petty human conflicts. Military and political leaders may try to attribute noble motives to their aggression.  But human war invariably involves greed and selfishness.

In contrast, Jehovah is not driven by blind emotion. Deuteronomy 32:4 declares:  "The Rock, perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice, righteous and upright is he."  God's Word condemns unbridled rage, cruelty and violence.  (Genesis 49:7; Psalm 11:5)  So Jehovah never acts without reason. He uses his destructive power  sparingly and as a last resort. It is as he stated through his prophet Ezekiel:  "Do I take delight at all in the death of someone wicked," is the utterance of Sovereign Lord Jehovah, 'and not in that he should turn back from his ways and actually keep living?' " -Ezekiel 18:23. 

Why, then, does Jehovah use destructive power?  Before answering, we might call to mind the righteous man Job.  Satan challenged whether Job-really, any human-would keep his integrity under trial.  Jehovah answered that challenge by allowing Satan to test Job's integrity.  As a result, Job suffered illness, loss of wealth, and loss of his children.  (Job 1:1-2:8) Unaware of the issues involved, Job mistakenly concluded that his suffering was unjust punishment from God. He asked God why He had made him a "target," an "enemy." -Job 7:20; 13:24.  

A young man named Elihu exposed the flaw in Job's  reasoning, saying:  "You have said, 'My righteousness is more than God's.' " (Job 35:2)  Yes, it is unwise to think that we know better than God or to assume that he has behaved unfairly." Far be it from the true God to act wickedly, and the Almighty to act unjustly," Elihu declared.  Later, he said:  "As for the Almighty, we have not found him out; he is exalted in power, and justice and abundance of righteous he will not belittle."  (Job 34:10; 36:22, 23;  37:23) We can be sure that when God fights, he has good cause for doing so. With that in mind, let us explore some of the reasons why the God of peace sometimes assumes the mantle of a warrior. -1 Corinthians 14:33. 

Next time: Destructive Power-"Jehovah Is a Manly Person of War" -Why the God of Peace Is Compelled to Fight

From the book: Draw Close to Jehovah