“The hand of Jehovah will become known to his servants.”
1, 2. What do some people think about God?
MANY people think that there is little connection between what they are doing and what God is doing. In fact, some believe that God has little interest in what is happening to humans. After Super Typhoon Haiyan wreaked destruction on the central Philippines in November 2013, the mayor of one large city said: “God must have been somewhere else.”
2 Other people act as if God cannot see what they are doing. (Isa. 26:10, 11; 3 John 11) They are like those whom the apostle Paul described when he said: “They did not see fit to acknowledge God.” Such people “were filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, and badness.”
3. (a) What questions may we want to ask ourselves about God? (b) As used in the Bible, what does Jehovah’s “hand” often refer to?
3 What about us? Unlike those mentioned above, we realize that Jehovah observes everything we do. But do we also perceive his interest and supporting hand in our life? Moreover, are we among those whom Jesus referred to as ones who “will see God”? (Matt. 5:8) To learn what that means, let us first take a look at Bible examples of those who saw God’s hand in action and of those who refused to do so. Then we will learn how we can clearly see Jehovah’s hand in our life through our eyes of faith. As we consider these points, keep in mind that the Bible often speaks of God’s “hand” when referring to his applied power, which he uses to help his servants and to defeat his opposers.
THEY FAILED TO SEE GOD’S HAND
4. Why did Israel’s opponents fail to see God’s hand?
4 In Israel’s early history, people had the opportunity to see and hear about how God acted in Israel’s behalf. Jehovah miraculously delivered his people out of Egypt, and then king after king fell before them. (Josh. 9:3, 9, 10) Despite what almost all the kings on the west side of the Jordan heard and saw, “they formed an alliance to fight against Joshua and Israel.” (Josh. 9:1, 2) Even after those kings started to fight, they had every reason to see God’s hand. At Jehovah’s direction, “the sun stood still and the moon did not move until the nation could take vengeance on its enemies.” (Josh. 10:13) But Jehovah “allowed their [the opponents’] hearts to become stubborn so that they waged war against Israel.” (Josh. 11:20) Israel’s opponents refused to acknowledge that God was fighting for Israel, and that led to their defeat.
5. What did wicked King Ahab refuse to acknowledge?
5 Later, wicked King Ahab had every opportunity to see God’s hand in events. Elijah told him: “There will be no dew or rain except by my word!” (1 Ki. 17:1) Jehovah was obviously behind those words, but Ahab refused to accept the evidence. Later, Ahab saw fire come down from heaven when Elijah prayed for his offering to be consumed. Elijah then indicated that Jehovah would bring the drought to an end, telling Ahab: “Go down so that the downpour may not detain you!” (1 Ki. 18:22-45) Ahab saw all of this happen but still refused to acknowledge that it was a mighty display of God’s power. This and the preceding examples teach us an important lesson
THEY SAW JEHOVAH’S HAND
6, 7. What did some in Joshua’s time clearly perceive?
6 In contrast with those wicked kings, others saw God’s hand, even though they were in the same situation as those mentioned above. For example, unlike most of the nations who fought against Israel in Joshua’s time, the Gibeonites made peace with Israel. Why? They said: “Your servants have come . . . out of regard for the name of Jehovah your God, because we have heard about his fame and about all he did.” (Josh. 9:3, 9, 10) They wisely recognized Israel’s backer to be the true God.
7 Rahab too perceived God’s hand in the events of her day. After learning about how Jehovah rescued his people, she told two Israelite spies: “I do know that Jehovah will give you the land.” Even though taking such a stand was fraught with danger, she expressed faith that Jehovah could deliver her and her family.
8. How did some Israelites recognize God’s hand?
8 Unlike Israel’s wicked King Ahab, some Israelites who witnessed Jehovah’s response to Elijah’s fire test recognized God’s hand in matters. When they saw the fire from Jehovah consume the offering, they exclaimed: “Jehovah is the true God!” (1 Ki. 18:39) To them, that was an obvious conclusion!
9. How can we see Jehovah and his hand today?
9 Both the positive and the negative examples we have considered help us to understand what it means to see God or to see his hand in matters. As we come to know him, we too can see his hand because we perceive his qualities and actions with “the eyes of [our] heart.” (Eph. 1:18) Surely we want to be like those past and present who have clearly seen Jehovah supporting his people. Nonetheless, do we really have evidence that God is active in people’s lives today?
EVIDENCE OF GOD’S HAND TODAY
10. What evidence do we have that Jehovah is helping people today? (See opening image.)
10 We have ample reason to believe that Jehovah continues to help people. Time and again, we have heard experiences of how individuals prayed for spiritual help and then received it. (Ps. 53:2) While preaching from house to house on a small island in the Philippines, Allan met a woman who started to cry. He states: “Just that morning, she prayed to Jehovah that his Witnesses would find her. As a teenager, she had studied the Bible with the Witnesses but had lost contact with them when she got married and moved to that island. God answered her prayer so quickly that she was visibly moved.” Within a year, she dedicated her life to Jehovah.
11, 12. (a) In what ways is Jehovah helping his servants? (b) Relate an experience of someone who received God’s help.
11 Many of God’s servants have seen evidence of his help when they broke free from such addictive habits as smoking, drug abuse, or the viewing of pornography. Some say that they repeatedly tried to stop on their own but were not successful. However, when they turned to Jehovah for help, he supplied “the power beyond what is normal,” and they finally conquered their weakness.
12 Jehovah has helped many of his servants cope with personal challenges. For example, Amy struggled when she was assigned to help build a Kingdom Hall and missionary home on a small Pacific island. She says: “We stayed in a small hotel, and every day we walked through flooded streets to the work site.” She also had to adjust to local customs, and frequently there was no electricity or water. Amy adds: “To make matters worse, I lashed out at one of the sisters working with us. I went home feeling like a failure. In my dark hotel room, I poured my heart out to Jehovah, asking for help.” When the electricity came back on, Amy picked up a Watchtower magazine with an article on a Gilead graduation program that discussed all the things she was struggling with: new culture, homesickness, new people to get along with. She says: “I felt that Jehovah was speaking to me that night. It gave me the motivation to continue in my assignment.”
13. What proof do we have that Jehovah supports his people in “defending and legally establishing” the good news?
13 The fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses have been successful in “defending and legally establishing” the good news is another proof of support from Jehovah’s mighty hand. (Phil. 1:7) Some governments have tried to stop the work of God’s people completely. But when we look back and see that Jehovah’s Witnesses have received at least 268 high-court victories, including 24 cases won in the European Court of Human Rights just since the year 2000, it becomes clear that no one can hold back God’s hand.
14. How do we see God’s hand in our preaching work and in the unity that we enjoy?
14 The preaching of the good news worldwide is accomplished only with God’s help. (Matt. 24:14; Acts 1:8) Add to that the unified, multinational brotherhood of Jehovah’s people today
DO YOU SEE JEHOVAH’S HAND IN YOUR LIFE?
15. Explain why we at times may not clearly see Jehovah’s hand in our life.
15 What are some reasons why we may not clearly see God’s hand in our affairs? Life’s challenges can overwhelm us. When this happens, we may forget to keep focused on how Jehovah has already helped us. When Queen Jezebel threatened the prophet Elijah’s life, even Elijah momentarily forgot how God had acted in his behalf. Regarding Elijah, the Bible says: “He asked that he might die.” (1 Ki. 19:1-4) What was the solution to Elijah’s problem? He needed to look to Jehovah for encouragement.
16. What can we do to see God as Job did?
16 Job got so distracted by his own concerns that he neglected to see things from God’s viewpoint. (Job 42:3-6) Like Job, we too may need to put forth greater effort to see God. How can we do that? In the light of the Scriptures, we need to meditate on what is happening around us. As we become aware of how Jehovah supports us, he will become more real to us. Then, like Job, we can say: “My ears have heard about you, but now I do see you with my eyes.”
17, 18. (a) In what ways might we discern that Jehovah is helping us? (b) Relate an experience that demonstrates how God is helping us today.
17 How might we see Jehovah’s hand? Here are some examples: Perhaps you feel that the way you received the truth was clearly at God’s direction. Have you ever attended Christian meetings, heard a part, and said: “That was just what I needed”? Or you may have experienced an answer to a prayer. Maybe you decided to expand your ministry and were amazed at how Jehovah helped to work things out for you. Or have you ever experienced leaving a job for spiritual reasons and then seen the truth of God’s promise: “I will never abandon you”? (Heb. 13:5) By being spiritually alert, we can discern how Jehovah has helped us in many ways.
18 Sarah from Kenya relates this experience: “I prayed about a student who I felt did not appreciate her Bible study. I asked Jehovah if I should stop the study. Immediately after I said ‘Amen,’ my phone rang. The Bible student called to ask if she could attend the meeting with me! I was awestruck!” By being alert, you too may see ways that God is active in your life. Rhonna, a sister who lives in Asia, says: “It takes some experience to discern Jehovah’s guidance. But once you do, it’s amazing to discover how much interest he has in us!”
19. What more is needed to be among those who see God?
19 Jesus said: “Happy are the pure in heart, since they will see God.” (Matt. 5:8) How can we be “pure in heart”? We must be clean on the inside and stop any wrong conduct. (Read 2 Corinthians 4:2.) As we cultivate stronger spirituality and manifest upright conduct, we put ourselves among those who can see God. The next article will examine what can help us to perceive Jehovah’s influence even more clearly in our life
THE WATCHTOWER—STUDY EDITION