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 STUDY ARTICLE 37

“Do Not Let Your Hand Rest”

“Do Not Let Your Hand Rest”

“Sow your seed in the morning and do not let your hand rest until the evening.”​—ECCL. 11:6.

SONG 68 Sowing Kingdom Seed

PREVIEW *

1-2. How does Ecclesiastes 11:6 relate to the preaching of the Kingdom good news?

IN SOME countries, people respond eagerly when they hear the good news. It is just what they have been waiting for! In other lands, people show little interest in God or the Bible. What is the common response where you live? Whatever it is, Jehovah expects us to keep right on preaching until the work is completed to his satisfaction.

2 At Jehovah’s set time, the preaching work will reach its conclusion and “the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14, 36) Meanwhile, how can we obey the words “do not let your hand rest”? *​—Read Ecclesiastes 11:6.

3. What will we consider in this article?

3 The preceding article considered four things we need to do in order to become effective “fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19) This article will discuss three ways in which we can strengthen our resolve to preach, no matter what circumstances we face. We will learn why it is important to (1) stay focused, (2) be patient, and (3) maintain strong faith.

STAY FOCUSED

4. Why do we need to stay focused on the work Jehovah has given us to do?

4 Jesus foretold events and conditions that would mark the last days and that could distract his followers from  accomplishing the preaching work. He admonished his disciples to “keep on the watch.” (Matt. 24:42) Today, we face distractions similar to those that prevented the people of Noah’s day from paying attention to the warning proclaimed by Noah. (Matt. 24:37-39; 2 Pet. 2:5) Therefore, we want to stay focused on the work Jehovah has given us to do.

5. How does Acts 1:6-8 describe the scope of the preaching work?

5 The work of Kingdom preaching deserves our careful attention today. Jesus foretold that this work would expand in scope and continue long after his death. (John 14:12) After Jesus died, some of his disciples went back to fishing. Following his resurrection, Jesus gave some of his disciples a miraculous catch of fish. He used that occasion to confirm that their assignment to be fishers of men was more important than any other endeavor. (John 21:15-17) Just before Jesus ascended to heaven, he informed his disciples that the witnessing work he had started would expand far beyond the borders of Israel. (Read Acts 1:6-8.) Years later, Jesus gave a vision to the apostle John to show him what would take place “in the Lord’s day.” * Among other things, John saw this awe-inspiring event: Under angelic direction, “everlasting good news” was being preached to “every nation and tribe and tongue and people.” (Rev. 1:10; 14:6) Clearly, Jehovah’s will for us today is to share in this grand witnessing work until it is finished.

6. How can we stay focused on the preaching work?

6 We can stay focused on the preaching  work if we reflect on how much Jehovah is doing to help us. For example, he is providing an abundance of spiritual food in the form of printed and digital publications, audio and video recordings, and Internet broadcasts. Just think: On our official website, information is available in over 1,000 languages! (Matt. 24:45-47) In a world fragmented by political, religious, and economic differences, more than eight million servants of God are truly united in a worldwide brotherhood. For example, on Friday, April 19, 2019, Witnesses around the world were united in a discussion of the daily text. That evening, a crowd of 20,919,041 gathered to observe the Memorial of Jesus’ death. We are moved to stay focused on the Kingdom work when we reflect on our privilege to see and to be a part of this modern-day miracle.

Jesus refused to be distracted from bearing witness to the truth (See paragraph 7)

7. How does Jesus’ example help us to stay focused?

7 Another way we can stay focused on preaching is by following Jesus’ example. He allowed nothing to distract him from bearing witness to the truth. (John 18:37) He was not enticed when Satan offered him “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory”; nor was he tempted when others wanted to make him king. (Matt. 4:8, 9; John 6:15) He was not swayed by a desire for material riches; nor was he deterred by fierce opposition. (Luke 9:58; John 8:59) When we face tests of our faith, we can stay focused if we remember the apostle Paul’s counsel. He urged Christians to follow Jesus’ example so that they would “not get tired and give up”!​—Heb. 12:3.

BE PATIENT

8. What is patience, and why is it especially needed now?

8 Patience is the ability to wait calmly for a situation to change. Whether we are looking forward to the end of an unpleasant condition or to the fulfillment of a long-awaited desire, we need patience. The prophet Habakkuk longed for an end to the violent conditions in Judah. (Hab. 1:2) Jesus’ disciples hoped that the Kingdom would “appear instantly” and rescue them from Roman oppression. (Luke 19:11) We yearn for the day when God’s Kingdom will remove wickedness and usher in the new world of righteousness. (2 Pet. 3:13) However, we need to be patient and wait on Jehovah’s appointed time. Consider some ways Jehovah teaches us to be patient.

9. What examples illustrate Jehovah’s patience?

9 Jehovah sets the perfect example of patience. He allowed Noah sufficient time to build the ark and to serve as “a preacher of righteousness.” (2 Pet. 2:5; 1 Pet. 3:20) Jehovah listened as Abraham repeatedly questioned him about His decision to destroy the inhabitants of the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. (Gen. 18:20-33) For centuries, Jehovah was extraordinarily patient with the unfaithful nation of Israel. (Neh. 9:30, 31) We see evidence of Jehovah’s patience today as he allows time for all whom he draws “to attain to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9; John 6:44; 1 Tim. 2:3, 4) Jehovah’s example gives us good reason to exercise patience as we continue to preach and teach. He also teaches  us patience through an illustration found in his Word.

Like a hardworking but patient farmer, we await results from our efforts (See paragraphs 10-11)

10. As recorded at James 5:7, 8, what is noteworthy about the example of the farmer?

10 Read James 5:7, 8. The example of the farmer growing crops teaches us how to be patient. True, some plants grow rapidly. However, most plants, especially those that bear fruit, take much longer to mature. The growing season in Israel was about six months long. The farmer planted his seeds after the early rain in the fall and reaped the grain after the late rain in the spring. (Mark 4:28) May we wisely imitate the farmer’s patience. However, this may not be easy.

11. How will patience help us in our ministry?

11 Imperfect humans tend to want immediate results from their efforts. Yet, if we want our garden to produce, we must give it constant attention​—digging, planting, weeding, and watering. The disciple-making work also requires continuous effort. It takes time for us to root out weeds of prejudice and indifference in those whom we teach. Our patience will help us to avoid becoming discouraged when we encounter difficulties. When we do receive some positive response, we must still be patient. We cannot force a Bible student to grow in faith. At times, even Jesus’ disciples were slow to grasp the meaning of what he taught. (John 14:9) Let us remember that we may plant and water, but God makes it grow.​—1 Cor. 3:6.

12. How can we exercise patience when witnessing to unbelieving relatives?

12 One area in which we may find it difficult to be patient is when witnessing to unbelieving relatives. The principle found at Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7 can help us. It states: “There is . . . a time to be silent and a time to speak.” We can let our  good conduct be a silent witness, yet we are always alert to opportunities to speak about the truth. (1 Pet. 3:1, 2) We are patient with all people​—including family members—​as we preach and teach with zeal.

13-14. What are some examples of patience that we can imitate?

13 We can learn patience from the examples of faithful ones in the Bible as well as in modern times. Habakkuk longed for an end to wickedness, but he confidently declared: “At my guardpost I will keep standing.” (Hab. 2:1) The apostle Paul expressed his heartfelt desire to “finish” his ministry. Yet, he patiently continued “to bear thorough witness to the good news.”​—Acts 20:24.

14 Consider the example of a married couple who graduated from Gilead and were assigned to a country where there are few Witnesses and where the predominant religion is not Christian. Not many people were inclined to study the Bible. In contrast, their Gilead classmates serving in other countries would send them glowing reports of conducting many fruitful Bible studies. Despite the slow progress in their territory, the couple patiently carried out their ministry. After preaching for eight years in what seemed to be an unproductive territory, they finally had the joy of seeing one of their Bible students get baptized. What do these ancient and modern-day examples have in common? These faithful ones did not become sluggish or let their hand rest, and Jehovah rewarded them for their patience. May we “be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”​—Heb. 6:10-12.

MAINTAIN STRONG FAITH

15. What is one way that faith strengthens our resolve to preach?

15 We have faith in the message we preach, so we are eager to share it with as many people as possible. We trust the promises found in God’s Word. (Ps. 119:42; Isa. 40:8) We have seen Bible prophecies fulfilled in our day. We have witnessed how people change their lives for the better when they start to apply the Bible’s counsel. This evidence bolsters our confidence that the good news of the Kingdom is a message everyone needs to hear.

16. In line with Psalm 46:1-3, how does faith in Jehovah and Jesus strengthen our resolve to preach?

16 We also have faith in Jehovah, the Source of the message we preach, and in the one whom he has enthroned as King of the Kingdom, Jesus. (John 14:1) No matter what circumstances we face, Jehovah will always be our refuge and strength. (Read Psalm 46:1-3.) In addition, we are confident that Jesus is directing the preaching work from heaven, using the power and authority Jehovah has given him.​—Matt. 28:18-20.

17. Give an example of why we should keep on preaching.

17 Faith builds our confidence that Jehovah will bless our efforts, sometimes in ways we do not expect. (Eccl. 11:6) For example, every day thousands of people walk by our literature displays and carts. Is this preaching method effective? Absolutely! The November 2014  issue of Our Kingdom Ministry reported on a young university student who wanted to write an essay on Jehovah’s Witnesses. She was unable to find a Kingdom Hall, but she did find our literature display on campus, and she also found the material for her essay. Eventually, she became a baptized Witness who now serves as a regular pioneer. Such experiences motivate us to keep preaching because they reveal that there are still people who need to find and hear the Kingdom message.

BE DETERMINED NOT TO LET YOUR HAND REST

18. Why are we sure that the Kingdom-preaching work will be completed as Jehovah wants?

18 We can be sure that the Kingdom-preaching work will be completed with no delay. Consider what happened in the days of Noah. Jehovah proved that he is the perfect Timekeeper. Some 120 years in advance, Jehovah fixed the time for the Flood to begin. Decades later, Jehovah commissioned Noah to build the ark. For perhaps 40 or 50 years before the Flood began, Noah continued to work hard. Despite facing an unresponsive audience, he kept preaching the warning message until Jehovah said that it was time to bring the animals into the ark. Then, right on time, “Jehovah shut the door.”​—Gen. 6:3; 7:1, 2, 16.

19. What can we look forward to if we do not let our hand rest?

19 Soon Jehovah will bring the Kingdom-preaching work to a conclusion; he will “shut the door” on Satan’s system of things and usher in a righteous new world. Until then, may we imitate Noah, Habakkuk, and others who have not let their hand rest. May we stay focused, be patient, and maintain strong faith in Jehovah and his promises.

SONG 75 “Here I Am! Send Me!”

^ par. 5 The preceding article encouraged progressive Bible students to accept Jesus’ invitation to become fishers of men. This article will discuss three ways that all publishers, both new and experienced, can strengthen their resolve to continue in the Kingdom-preaching work until Jehovah says it is finished.

^ par. 2 EXPRESSION EXPLAINED: In this article, the expression “do not let your hand rest” means that we need to be resolved to keep preaching the good news until Jehovah says that the work is finished.

^ par. 5 “The Lord’s day” began when Jesus was enthroned as King in 1914 and runs to the end of his Thousand Year Reign.