“Be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”—HEBREWS 6:12.
1, 2. Why is it vital that we build faith now? Illustrate.
FAITH. It is a beautiful word, one that names a very appealing quality. However, when we come across that word, we would do well to think of another one: “Urgent!” After all, if we do not have faith, we urgently need to acquire it. And if we do have faith, we urgently need to protect and nourish it. Why?
2 Imagine that you are traversing a vast desert. You are in critical need of water. When you find some, you have to protect it from the sun. Then you need to be able to replenish your supply so that it will last you until you arrive at your destination. Today, we all live in a spiritual desert, a world where genuine faith—like that water—is rare and tends to evaporate quickly unless it is protected and replenished. Our need is pressing; just as we cannot live without water, we cannot survive spiritually without faith.—Rom. 1:17.
3. What has Jehovah provided to help us build faith, and what are two things that we need to remember to do?
3 Jehovah knows how urgently we need faith, and he knows how hard it is to build and maintain faith today. No doubt, that is why he has provided examples for us to imitate. Jehovah inspired the apostle Paul to write: “Be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Heb. 6:12) And that is why Jehovah’s organization has encouraged us to work hard to imitate the examples of faithful men and women, such as those we have considered in these pages. What, though, should we do now? Let us remember two things: (1) We need to keep strengthening our faith; (2) we need to keep our hope clearly in mind.
4. How has Satan proved to be an enemy of faith, yet why should we not despair?
4 Keep strengthening your faith. Faith has a great enemy—Satan. The ruler of the world has turned this system of things into a kind of desert that is hostile to faith. He is far stronger than we are. Should we despair of developing and strengthening our faith? Never! Jehovah is the great Friend of all who seek genuine faith. He assures us that with Him on our side, we can oppose the Devil and even send him fleeing from us! (Jas. 4:7) We oppose him by taking time each day to strengthen our faith and build it up. How?
5. How did the Bible’s faithful men and women acquire their faith? Explain.
5 As we have seen, the Bible’s men and women of faith were not born faithful. They became living proof that faith is a product of Jehovah’s holy spirit. (Gal. 5:22, 23) They prayed for help, and Jehovah kept strengthening their faith as a result. Let us do as they did, never forgetting that Jehovah gives his spirit generously to those who ask for it and who work in harmony with their prayers. (Luke 11:13) Is there more that we can do?
6. How can we gain the most benefit from our study of Bible accounts?
6 In this book, we have discussed only a few examples of outstanding faith. There are many, many others! (Read Hebrews 11:32.) Each one—in its own way—offers a rich field for prayerful, heartfelt study. If we merely rush through Bible accounts about people of faith, we will not firmly establish our own faith. To benefit fully from our reading, we need to spend time digging into the context and the background of Bible accounts. If we always remember that those imperfect men and women had “feelings like ours,” their examples will become more real to us. (Jas. 5:17) With empathy, we can imagine how they might have felt as they faced challenges and problems similar to our own.
7-9. (a) How might some of the men and women of faith in Bible times have felt about worshipping Jehovah in the way that we do today? (b) Why should we strengthen our faith by actions?
7 We also fortify our faith through our actions. After all, “faith without works is dead.” (Jas. 2:26) Just imagine how the men and women we have discussed would rejoice if they were assigned to do the kind of work that Jehovah has asked us to do today!
8 For example, what if Abraham had been told that he could worship Jehovah, not at crude altars of stone erected in the wilderness, but among organized groups of fellow worshippers in pleasant Kingdom Halls and at large conventions, where the promises that he saw only “afar off” are discussed and explained in glorious detail? (Read Hebrews 11:13.) And what if Elijah had been told that his work involved, not executing wicked Baal prophets while he was trying to serve Jehovah under the rule of a wicked apostate king, but peacefully visiting people to deliver a message of comfort and hope? Really, would not the Bible’s men and women of faith have jumped at the chance to worship Jehovah as we do today?
9 So let us keep strengthening our faith by actions. As we do so, we will be making practical application of the examples of men and women of faith found in God’s inspired Word. As mentioned in the Introduction, we will come to feel ever closer to them as friends. However, such friendships may soon become far more substantial.
10. What joy will we have in Paradise?
10 Keep your hope clearly in mind. Faithful men and women have always drawn strength from their God-given hope. Do you? For example, imagine the joy of meeting faithful servants of God as they return to life in the “resurrection of . . . the righteous.” (Read Acts 24:15.) What are some questions that you would like to ask them?
11, 12. In the new world, what questions might you ask of (a) Abel? (b) Noah? (c) Abraham? (d) Ruth? (e) Abigail? (f) Esther?
11 When you meet Abel, will you be eager to ask him what his parents were like? Or you might ask: “Did you ever speak to those cherubs guarding the way to Eden? Did they answer?” What about Noah? You might ask him: “Were you ever frightened of the Nephilim? How did you care for all those animals during that year in the ark?” If you meet Abraham, you might ask: “Did you have any contact with Shem? Who taught you about Jehovah? Was it hard to leave Ur?”
12 Likewise, consider some questions you might want to ask the faithful women who are resurrected. “Ruth, what moved you to become a worshipper of Jehovah?” “Abigail, were you afraid to tell Nabal about how you had helped David?” “Esther, what happened to you and Mordecai after the story in the Bible ended?”
13. (a) What kind of questions might resurrected ones have for you? (b) How do you feel about the prospect of meeting faithful men and women of ancient times?
13 Of course, those faithful men and women may be brimming with questions for you too. What a thrill to tell them about the climactic last days and how Jehovah blessed his people during hard times! No doubt they will be deeply moved to learn how Jehovah fulfilled all his promises. In those days to come, it will no longer be a challenge to make God’s loyal servants in the Bible record come to life in our minds. They will be there with us, in Paradise! So keep doing everything you can now to make those people real to you. Keep imitating their faith. May you enjoy serving Jehovah along with them as your dear friends forever!