You Can Make God Rejoice
CAN we actually affect the way God feels? Does God have the capacity to rejoice? One dictionary definition of the word “God” is “the supreme or ultimate reality.” What if that awesome reality were simply a force? Could we expect an impersonal force to rejoice? Hardly. Consider, though, what the Bible says about God.
“God is a Spirit,” said Jesus Christ. (John 4:24) A spirit is a form of life that differs from humans. Though invisible to human eyes, a spirit has a body—“a spiritual one.” (1 Corinthians 15:44; John 1:18) Employing figures of speech, the Bible even speaks of God as having eyes, ears, hands, and so forth. * God also has a name—Jehovah. (Psalm 83:18) The God of the Bible, then, is a spirit person. (Hebrews 9:24) “He is the living God and the King to time indefinite.”—Jeremiah 10:10.
As a real living person, Jehovah is capable of thought and action. He manifests qualities and feelings, likes and dislikes. The Bible, in fact, abounds in expressions that reveal what things please or displease him. Whereas man-made gods and idols merely mirror the traits or qualities of their human inventors, the almighty God, Jehovah, is the very Originator of the emotions that he planted in humans.—Genesis 1:27; Isaiah 44:7-11.
Jehovah is without a doubt “the happy God.” (1 Timothy 1:11) He not only rejoices in his creative works but also takes pleasure in accomplishing his purpose. Through the prophet Isaiah, Jehovah declares: “Everything that is my delight I shall do . . . I have even spoken it; I shall also bring it in. I have formed it, I shall also do it.” (Isaiah 46:9-11) The psalmist sang: “Jehovah will rejoice in his works.” (Psalm 104:31) But there is yet another source of joy to God. He says: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart rejoice.” (Proverbs 27:11) Think of what that means—we can make God rejoice!
How We Can Make God’s Heart Rejoice
Consider how the family head Noah made Jehovah’s heart rejoice. Noah “found favor in the eyes of Jehovah” because “he proved himself faultless among his contemporaries.” In stark contrast with the wicked people of that time, Noah’s faith and obedience were so pleasing to God that it could be said that “Noah walked with the true God.” (Genesis 6:6, 8, 9, 22) “By faith Noah . . . showed godly fear and constructed an ark for the saving of his household.” (Hebrews 11:7) Jehovah was pleased with Noah and blessed him and his family with survival through that turbulent period of human history.
The patriarch Abraham also had an acute awareness of Jehovah’s feelings. His intimate knowledge of God’s thinking was clearly evident when Jehovah informed him that Sodom and Gomorrah would be destroyed because of their depravity. Abraham knew Jehovah well enough to conclude that it was unthinkable that God would put to death the righteous man with the wicked one. (Genesis 18:17-33) Years later, in obedience to God’s direction, Abraham “as good as offered up Isaac,” for “he reckoned that God was able to raise him up even from the dead.” (Hebrews 11:17-19; Genesis 22:1-18) Abraham was so attuned to God’s feelings and displayed such strong faith and obedience that “he came to be called ‘Jehovah’s friend.’”—James 2:23.
Another man who endeavored to make God’s heart glad was King David of ancient Israel. Concerning him, Jehovah said: “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man agreeable to my heart, who will do all the things I desire.” (Acts 13:22) Before facing the giant Goliath, David put his implicit trust in God and told Israelite King Saul: “Jehovah, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, he it is who will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Jehovah blessed David’s confidence in Him, enabling David to slay Goliath. (1 Samuel 17:37, 45-54) David wanted not only his actions but also ‘the sayings of his mouth and the meditation of his heart to be pleasurable before Jehovah.’—Psalm 19:14.
What about us? How can we please Jehovah? The more sensitive we are to God’s feelings, the more we will become aware of what we can do to make God’s heart rejoice. As we read the Bible, then, it is essential that we make the effort to learn about God’s feelings so that we “may be filled with the accurate knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual comprehension, in order to walk worthily of Jehovah to the end of fully pleasing him.” (Colossians 1:9, 10) Knowledge, in turn, helps us to build faith. This is vital because “without faith it is impossible to please [God] well.” (Hebrews 11:6) Yes, by putting forth effort to build strong faith and by bringing our lives into harmony with Jehovah’s will, we can make his heart glad. At the same time, we must be careful not to make Jehovah feel hurt at heart.
Do Not Make God Feel Hurt
An example of how Jehovah’s feelings can be hurt is found in the account about the days of Noah. At that time, “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.” How did God feel as he surveyed the depravity and the violence? “Jehovah felt regrets that he had made men in the earth,” says the Bible, “and he felt hurt at his heart.” (Genesis 6:5, 6, 11, 12) God felt regrets in that the conduct of humans had become so evil that he had a change of attitude as regards the wicked pre-Flood generation. Because of his displeasure over their wickedness, God turned from the attitude of the Creator of humans to that of a destroyer of them.
Jehovah also felt distressed when his own people, the ancient nation of Israel, persistently ignored his feelings and his loving direction. The psalmist lamented: “How often they would rebel against him in the wilderness, they would make him feel hurt in the desert! And again and again they would put God to the test, and they pained even the Holy One of Israel.” Yet, “he was merciful; he would cover the error and not bring ruin. And many times he made his anger turn back, and he would not rouse up all his rage.” (Psalm 78:38-41) Even though the rebellious Israelites rightly suffered the consequences of their own sinfulness, the Bible tells us that “during all their distress it was distressing to [God].”—Isaiah 63:9.
Regardless of the ample evidence of God’s tender feelings for them, the people of Israel “were continually making jest at the messengers of the true God and despising his words and mocking at his prophets, until the rage of Jehovah came up against his people, until there was no healing.” (2 Chronicles 36:16) Ultimately, their stiff-necked pattern of rebellion “made his holy spirit feel hurt” to such an extent that they lost Jehovah’s favor. (Isaiah 63:10) The result? God justly withdrew his protection, and calamity befell them when the Babylonians conquered Judah and destroyed Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 36:17-21) How sad when people choose to pursue a sinful course of life that is offensive and distressing to their Creator!
The Bible leaves us in no doubt that God is deeply pained by unrighteous conduct. (Psalm 78:41) Things that are offensive—even detestable—to God include pride, lying, murder, practicing magic, fortune-telling, ancestor worship, loose morals, homosexuality, marital unfaithfulness, incest, and the oppression of the poor.—Leviticus 18:9-29; 19:29; Deuteronomy 18:9-12; Proverbs 6:16-19; Jeremiah 7:5-7; Malachi 2:14-16.
How does Jehovah feel about idolatry? Exodus 20:4, 5 states: “You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in the heavens above or that is on the earth underneath or that is in the waters under the earth. You must not bow down to them nor be induced to serve them.” Why? Because an idol “is a thing detestable to Jehovah.” (Deuteronomy 7:25, 26) The apostle John warned: “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21) And the apostle Paul wrote: “My beloved ones, flee from idolatry.”—1 Corinthians 10:14.
Seek God’s Approval
God’s “intimacy is with the upright ones.” Those “blameless in their way are a pleasure to him.” (Proverbs 3:32; 11:20) On the contrary, those who persist in offending God by stubbornly ignoring or defying his righteous feelings will shortly become the objects of his displeasure. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10) Indeed, he will soon bring an end to all the wickedness so prevalent today.—Psalm 37:9-11; Zephaniah 2:2, 3.
The Bible makes it very clear, however, that Jehovah “does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) He would much rather display his affection for righteous people who love him than express his displeasure upon those who choose to be irreformable. Jehovah finds pleasure, “not in the death of the wicked one, but in that someone wicked turns back from his way and actually keeps living.”—Ezekiel 33:11.
So no one needs to become the object of Jehovah’s anger. “Jehovah is very tender in affection and merciful.” (James 5:11) With full confidence in God’s feelings, you can “throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Be assured that those who make God’s heart rejoice have the wonderful prospect of enjoying his approval and friendship. Hence, it is now more urgent than ever before to “keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord.”—Ephesians 5:10.
How marvelous that God in his undeserved kindness has revealed his glorious qualities and feelings! And it is within your power to make his heart rejoice. If you desire to do so, we urge you to contact Jehovah’s Witnesses in your area. They will be happy to show you what they have found to be practical and attainable in their endeavor to please God.
^ par. 3 See the box entitled “Why Does the Bible Describe God in Human Terms?”
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Why Does the Bible Describe God in Human Terms?
Since “God is a Spirit,” we cannot see him with our physical eyes. (John 4:24) The Bible therefore uses figures of speech, such as similes, metaphors, and anthropomorphisms to help us comprehend God’s might, majesty, and activities. Anthropomorphism (Greek, “man-form”) is the attributing of human characteristics to a nonhuman subject. So even though we do not know what God’s spirit body looks like, the Bible speaks of God as having eyes, ears, hands, arms, fingers, feet, and a heart.—Genesis 8:21; Exodus 3:20; 31:18; Job 40:9; Psalm 18:9; 34:15.
Such descriptive language does not mean that God’s spirit body has the same kind of members that human bodies have. Anthropomorphisms are not to be taken literally. They merely help humans to have a better understanding of God. Without such figures of speech, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for any description of God to be comprehensible to mere humans. However, that does not mean that Jehovah God’s personality has been fabricated by humans. The Bible clearly explains that man was created in God’s image—not God in man’s image. (Genesis 1:27) Because Bible writers were “inspired of God,” their depiction of God’s personality is in reality his own description of his personal qualities—the very qualities that he has implanted to varying degrees in his human creation. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) Rather than being man’s qualities in God, they are really God’s qualities in man.
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Noah found favor in God’s eyes
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Abraham was attuned to God’s feelings
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David put his complete confidence in Jehovah
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As you read the Bible, you can learn how to make God rejoice
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Courtesy of Anglo-Australian Observatory, photograph by David Malin