“This is the heritage of Jehovah’s servants.”—ISA. 54:17, Byington.
1. What has Jehovah lovingly preserved for the benefit of mankind?
JEHOVAH, “the living and enduring God,” has preserved his life-giving message for mankind. It is sure to last, for “the saying [or, “word,” Byington] of Jehovah endures forever.” (1 Pet. 1:23-25) How grateful we are that Jehovah has lovingly preserved such vital information in his written Word, the Bible!
2. In his written Word, what has God preserved for the use of his people?
2 In his Word, God has preserved for the use of his people the very name he chose for himself. The Scriptures first mention “Jehovah God” in “a history of the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 2:4) God’s name was miraculously inscribed several times on the stone tablets bearing the Ten Commandments. For instance, the first commandment began: “I am Jehovah your God.” (Ex. 20:1-17) God’s name lives on because the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has preserved his Word and his name despite all satanic efforts to eliminate them.—Ps. 73:28.
3. Though religious error abounds, what has God preserved?
3 In his Word, Jehovah has also preserved the truth. Though religious error abounds worldwide, how thankful we are that God has given us spiritual light and truth! (Read Psalm 43:3, 4.) Whereas the masses of mankind walk in darkness, we joyfully keep on walking in God-given spiritual light.—1 John 1:6, 7.
WE HAVE A HERITAGE TO BE CHERISHED
4, 5. What special privilege has been ours since the year 1931?
4 As Christians, we have a precious heritage. Says Collins Cobuild English Dictionary: “A country’s heritage is all the qualities, traditions, or features of life there that have continued over many years and have been passed on from one generation to another.” Our spiritual heritage includes the blessing of enjoying accurate knowledge of God’s Word and a clear understanding of the truth about him and his purposes. It also involves a very special privilege.
5 That privilege became part of our spiritual legacy at our convention in Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A., in 1931. The letters “JW” appeared on the printed program. One sister said: “Speculations were made as to what JW stood for—Just Wait, Just Watch, and the correct one.” We had been called Bible Students, but we adopted the name Jehovah’s Witnesses by resolution on Sunday, July 26, 1931. It was a thrill to receive that Scriptural name. (Read Isaiah 43:12.) “I will never forget the tremendous shout and applause that vibrated through that meeting place,” recalled one brother. No one else in the world wanted that name, but God has blessed us in the use of it for over eight decades. What a special privilege it is to be Jehovah’s Witnesses!
6. Our spiritual heritage includes what accurate information?
6 Our spiritual heritage includes a wealth of accurate and valuable information from the past. For example, consider Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These patriarchs and their families must have had discussions about how to please Jehovah. So it is not surprising that upright Joseph rejected sexual immorality so as not to “sin against God.” (Gen. 39:7-9) Christian traditions were also handed down orally or by example. Among these were points regarding the Lord’s Evening Meal that the apostle Paul passed on to Christian congregations. (1 Cor. 11:2, 23) Today, details needed for us to worship God “with spirit and truth” are part of his written Word. (Read John 4:23, 24.) The Bible is for the enlightenment of all mankind, but we as Jehovah’s servants especially appreciate it.
7. Our legacy includes what heartening promise?
7 In part, our spiritual heritage consists of more recently published accounts proving that ‘Jehovah is on our side.’ (Ps. 118:7) This makes us feel secure, even when we are persecuted. A heartening part of our ever-increasing spiritual heritage is this promise: “‘Any weapon whatever that will be formed against you will have no success, and any tongue at all that will rise up against you in the judgment you will condemn. This is the hereditary possession [or, “heritage,” By] of the servants of Jehovah, and their righteousness is from me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” (Isa. 54:17) Nothing in Satan’s arsenal of weapons can do us permanent harm.
8. What will we consider in this article and in the next?
8 Satan has tried to destroy God’s Word, eliminate the name Jehovah, and suppress the truth. But he certainly is no match for Jehovah, who has foiled all these efforts. In this article and in the next, we will see (1) how God has preserved his Word; (2) how Jehovah has seen to the preservation of his name; and (3) how our heavenly Father is the Source and Preserver of the truth we enjoy.
JEHOVAH HAS PRESERVED HIS WORD
9-11. What examples show that the Bible has survived various assaults?
9 Jehovah has preserved his Word against all odds. Says the Enciclopedia Cattolica (Catholic Encyclopedia): “In 1229, the Council of Toulouse prohibited laymen from using them [vernacular Bibles] in view of the fight against the Albigenses and the Waldenses . . . The assembly held in 1234 in Tarragona, Spain, under James I issued a similar prohibition. . . . The Roman See intervened in the matter for the first time in 1559, when Paul IV’s Index forbade the printing and possession of vernacular B[ibles] without the permission of the Holy Office.”
10 Despite various assaults on the Bible, it has been preserved. About 1382, John Wycliffe and his associates produced the first Bible translation in English. Another Bible translator was William Tyndale, who was put to death in 1536. Tied to a stake, he reportedly cried out, “Lord, open the eyes of the king of England.” Then he was strangled and burned.
11 The Bible has survived in the face of opposition. In 1535, for instance, the English translation of the Bible by Miles Coverdale came on the scene. Coverdale used Tyndale’s rendition of the “New Testament” and of the “Old Testament” from Genesis through Chronicles. He translated other parts of the Scriptures from Latin and from Martin Luther’s Bible in German. Today, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures is appreciated for its clarity, fidelity to the Bible text, and usefulness in our ministry. We rejoice that no demonic or human power will ever block the preservation of Jehovah’s Word.
JEHOVAH’S PRESERVATION OF HIS NAME
12. What role has the New World Translation played in the preservation of the divine name?
12 Jehovah God has seen to it that his name is preserved in his Word. In this regard, the New World Translation is playing a major role. In the introduction, its committee of dedicated translators wrote: “The foremost feature of this translation is the restoration of the divine name to its rightful place in the English text. It has been done, using the commonly accepted English form ‘Jehovah’ 6,973 times in the Hebrew Scriptures and 237 times in the Christian Greek Scriptures.” The New World Translation is now available, in whole or in part, in over 116 languages, and more than 178,545,862 copies have been printed.
13. Why can it be said that people have known God’s name since the creation of mankind?
13 People have known God’s name since the creation of mankind. Adam and Eve were aware of it, and they knew exactly how to pronounce it. When Ham showed disrespect for his father after the Flood, Noah said: “Blessed be Jehovah, Shem’s God, and let [Ham’s son] Canaan become a slave to him.” (Gen. 4:1; 9:26) God himself declared: “I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to no one else shall I give my own glory.” God also stated: “I am Jehovah, and there is no one else. With the exception of me there is no God.” (Isa. 42:8; 45:5) Jehovah has seen to it that his name has been preserved and made known to people around the earth. How privileged we are to use the name Jehovah and serve as his Witnesses! In effect, we cry out: “In the name of our God we shall lift our banners.”—Ps. 20:5.
14. Other than in the Bible, where can God’s name be found?
14 God’s name does not appear only in the Bible. Consider the Moabite Stone, found at Dhiban (Dibon), 13 miles (21 km) east of the Dead Sea. The stone mentions Israel’s King Omri and gives Moabite King Mesha’s version of his revolt against Israel. (1 Ki. 16:28; 2 Ki. 1:1; 3:4, 5) But the Moabite Stone is of special interest because God’s name appears on it in Tetragrammaton form. The Tetragrammaton also appears repeatedly in the Lachish Letters, earthenware fragments found in Israel.
15. What is the Septuagint, and how did it come about?
15 Early Bible translators had a part in the preservation of the divine name. After their exile in Babylon from 607 B.C.E. to 537 B.C.E., many Jews did not return to Judah and Israel. By the third century B.C.E., Alexandria, Egypt, had become the home of numerous Jews who needed a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, then an international language. Completed by the second century B.C.E., that version is the Septuagint. Some copies of it contain the name Jehovah in its Hebrew form.
16. Give an example of the use of God’s name in a book first published in the year 1640.
16 The divine name is found in the Bay Psalm Book, the first piece of literature published in England’s American colonies. Its original edition (printed in 1640) contains the Psalms, translated from Hebrew into the English of that day. It uses God’s name in such passages as Psalm 1:1, 2, which says that a “blessed man” does not walk in the advice of the wicked, “but in the law of Iehovah, is his longing delight.” For more information about God’s name, see lesson 20 of Bible Teach—On DVD.
JEHOVAH PRESERVES SPIRITUAL TRUTH
17, 18. (a) How would you define the word “truth”? (b) “The truth of the good news” consists of what?
17 We joyfully serve “Jehovah the God of truth.” (Ps. 31:5) “The truth about something is all the facts about it, rather than things that are imagined or invented,” says Collins Cobuild English Dictionary. In Biblical Hebrew, the term often translated “truth” pertains to something that is true, trustworthy, faithful, or factual. The Greek word rendered “truth” denotes that which conforms to fact or to what is proper and right.
18 Jehovah has preserved spiritual truth and has made knowledge of it available to us in ever-increasing abundance. (2 John 1, 2) Our comprehension of the truth steadily becomes clearer, for “the path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established”! (Prov. 4:18) Of course, we fully agree with Jesus, who said in prayer to God: “Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) God’s written Word contains “the truth of the good news,” which consists of the whole body of Christian teachings. (Gal. 2:14) In part, these include facts about Jehovah’s name, his sovereignty, Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, the resurrection, and the Kingdom. Let us now consider how God has preserved the truth despite Satan’s attempts to suppress it.
JEHOVAH FOILS AN ASSAULT ON THE TRUTH
19, 20. Who was Nimrod, and what endeavor failed in his day?
19 After the Flood, there was a saying: “Just like Nimrod a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah.” (Gen. 10:9) As an opposer of Jehovah God, Nimrod in effect worshipped Satan and was like those opposers to whom Jesus said: “You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. That one . . . did not stand fast in the truth.”—John 8:44.
20 Nimrod’s domain included Babel and other cities between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. (Gen. 10:10) It was possibly under his direction that the building of Babel and its tower began about 2269 B.C.E. Contrary to Jehovah’s will that mankind spread throughout the earth, those builders said: “Come on! Let us build ourselves a city and also a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a celebrated name for ourselves, for fear we may be scattered over all the surface of the earth.” But that scheme had to be abandoned when God “confused the language of all the earth” and scattered the would-be tower builders. (Gen. 11:1-4, 8, 9) If Satan had thus planned to start one religion with everyone worshipping him, his plot was an utter failure. Throughout human history, the worship of Jehovah has prevailed and is gaining momentum with each passing day.
21, 22. (a) Why has false religion never posed a serious threat to true worship? (b) What will we consider in the following article?
21 Never has false religion posed a serious threat to true worship. Why? Because our Grand Instructor has seen to the preservation of his written Word, has kept his name before mankind, and has been the limitless Source of spiritual truth. (Isa. 30:20, 21) Worshipping God in accord with the truth brings us joy, but doing so requires that we remain spiritually vigilant, relying fully on Jehovah and following the guidance of his holy spirit.
22 In the next article, we will trace the development of certain false doctrines. We will find that these crumble when tested in the light of the Scriptures. Moreover, we will see how the incomparable Preserver of truth, Jehovah, has blessed us with true teachings that we cherish as part of our spiritual heritage.