Jehovah Will Not Leave His Loyal Ones
“[Jehovah] will not leave his loyal ones. To time indefinite they will certainly be guarded.”—PS. 37:28.
1, 2. (a) What developments in the tenth century B.C.E. tested the loyalty of God’s servants? (b) In what three situations did Jehovah guard his loyal ones?
IT IS the tenth century B.C.E. and a time of decision. Civil war has narrowly been avoided by granting Israel’s restless northern tribes a measure of independence. Their newly appointed king, Jeroboam, quickly moves to consolidate his power by establishing a new State religion. He demands complete allegiance from his subjects. What will faithful servants of Jehovah do? Will they remain loyal to the God they worship? Thousands do, and Jehovah watches over them as they maintain their integrity.—1 Ki. 12:1-33; 2 Chron. 11:13, 14.
2 The loyalty of God’s servants is being tested in our day too. “Keep your senses, be watchful,” warns the Bible. “Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” Can we successfully “take [our] stand against him, solid in the faith”? (1 Pet. 5:8, 9) Let us examine certain events surrounding King Jeroboam’s inauguration in 997 B.C.E. and see what we can learn from them. During those critical times, Jehovah’s faithful servants were oppressed. They were also exposed to apostate influences while they carried out challenging assignments. In each of these situations, Jehovah did not leave his loyal ones then, and he will not do so today.—Ps. 37:28.
When Under Oppression
3. Why was the reign of King David not oppressive?
3 Let us first examine the circumstances under which Jeroboam came to be king. Proverbs 29:2 states: “When anyone wicked bears rule, the people sigh.” Under the reign of King David of ancient Israel, people did not sigh. David was not perfect, but he was loyal to God and trusted in him. David’s rulership was not oppressive. Jehovah made a covenant with David, saying: “Your house and your kingdom will certainly be steadfast to time indefinite before you; your very throne will become one firmly established to time indefinite.”—2 Sam. 7:16.
4. Upon what did the blessings experienced during Solomon’s rulership depend?
4 The rulership of David’s son Solomon was initially so peaceful and prosperous that it could rightly foreshadow the future Millennial Reign of Christ Jesus. (Ps. 72:1, 17) Not one of the 12 tribes of Israel back then had reason to revolt. However, the blessings that Solomon and his subjects enjoyed were conditional. Jehovah had told Solomon: “If you will walk in my statutes and perform my judicial decisions and actually keep all my commandments by walking in them, I also shall certainly carry out my word with you that I spoke to David your father; and I shall indeed reside in the middle of the sons of Israel, and I shall not leave my people Israel.”—1 Ki. 6:11-13.
5, 6. What resulted from Solomon’s disloyalty to God?
5 In his old age, Solomon became unfaithful to Jehovah and began to engage in false worship. (1 Ki. 11:4-6) Gradually, Solomon ceased to obey Jehovah’s laws and became increasingly oppressive. This happened to such an extent that after his death, people complained about him to his son and successor, Rehoboam, and requested relief. (1 Ki. 12:4) How did Jehovah respond when Solomon became unfaithful?
6 The Bible tells us: “Jehovah came to be incensed at Solomon, because his heart had inclined away from . . . the God of Israel, the one appearing to him twice.” Jehovah told Solomon: “For the reason that . . . you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I laid in command upon you, I shall without fail rip the kingdom away from off you, and I shall certainly give it to your servant.”—1 Ki. 11:9-11.
7. Although Solomon was rejected, how did Jehovah care for His loyal ones?
7 Jehovah then sent the prophet Ahijah to anoint a deliverer. That deliverer was Jeroboam, a capable man who worked in Solomon’s government. Although Jehovah remained loyal to the Kingdom covenant made with David, He approved a governmental division among the 12 tribes. Ten tribes would be given to Jeroboam; two would remain with the family line of David, now represented by King Rehoboam. (1 Ki. 11:29-37; 12:16, 17, 21) Jehovah told Jeroboam: “It must occur that, if you obey all that I shall command you, and you do walk in my ways and actually do what is right in my eyes by keeping my statutes and my commandments, just as David my servant did, I will also prove to be with you, and I will build you a lasting house, just as I have built for David, and I will give you Israel.” (1 Ki. 11:38) Jehovah acted in behalf of his people and provided a way of bringing them relief from oppression.
8. What trials oppress God’s people today?
8 Oppression and injustices abound today. “Man has dominated man to his injury,” states Ecclesiastes 8:9. Greedy commerce and corrupt rulership may result in harsh economic conditions. Leaders in government, business, and religion often set a poor moral example. Like righteous Lot, therefore, God’s loyal ones today are “greatly distressed by the indulgence of the law-defying people in loose conduct.” (2 Pet. 2:7) Moreover, as we quietly strive to live by godly standards, we often become the target of persecution by arrogant rulers.—2 Tim. 3:1-5, 12.
9. (a) What has Jehovah already done to deliver his people? (b) Why can we be sure that Jesus will always be loyal to God?
9 We can be certain, though, of this fundamental truth: Jehovah will not leave his loyal ones! Just think of the steps he has already taken to replace the world’s corrupt rulers. God’s Messianic Kingdom in the hands of Christ Jesus has already been established. Jesus Christ has been ruling in heaven for close to a hundred years. Soon he will bring complete relief to those fearing God’s name. (Read Revelation 11:15-18.) Jesus has already proved himself loyal to God to the point of death. He will never disappoint his subjects, as Solomon did.—Heb. 7:26; 1 Pet. 2:6.
10. (a) How can we show that we appreciate God’s Kingdom? (b) When undergoing trials, of what can we be confident?
10 God’s Kingdom is a real government that will end all oppression. Our allegiance belongs to Jehovah God and his arrangement. With full confidence in the Kingdom, we repudiate the world’s ungodliness and zealously pursue fine works. (Titus 2:12-14) We strive to remain without spot from this world. (2 Pet. 3:14) Whatever trials we may face at present, we can be confident that Jehovah will protect us from spiritual harm. (Read Psalm 97:10.) Moreover, Psalm 116:15 assures us: “Precious in the eyes of Jehovah is the death of his loyal ones.” Jehovah’s servants are so precious to him that he will not allow them to perish as a group.
While Exposed to Apostate Influences
11. How did Jeroboam become disloyal?
11 King Jeroboam’s rule could have brought some relief to God’s people. Instead, his actions further tested their loyalty to God. Not content with the honor and privilege already given him, Jeroboam began to seek ways to strengthen his position. “If this people continues going up to render sacrifices in the house of Jehovah in Jerusalem,” he reasoned, “the heart of this people will also be bound to return to their lord, Rehoboam the king of Judah; and they will certainly kill me and return to Rehoboam the king of Judah.” So Jeroboam established a new religion centered on two golden calves. “Then he placed the one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. And this thing came to be a cause for sin, and the people began to go before the one as far as Dan. And he began to make a house of high places and to make priests from the people in general, who did not happen to be of the sons of Levi.” Jeroboam even invented his own day of “festival for the sons of Israel,” and he proceeded “to make offerings upon the altar to make sacrificial smoke.”—1 Ki. 12:26-33.
12. What did God’s loyal ones in the northern kingdom do when Jeroboam set up calf worship in Israel?
12 What would God’s loyal ones in the northern kingdom do now? Like their faithful forefathers, the Levites living in cities given to them in the territory of the northern kingdom lost no time in reacting. (Ex. 32:26-28; Num. 35:6-8; Deut. 33:8, 9) Leaving their inheritances behind, they moved their families south to Judah, where they could continue to worship Jehovah without interference. (2 Chron. 11:13, 14) Other Israelites who had been living temporarily in Judah chose to remain there permanently instead of moving back home. (2 Chron. 10:17) Jehovah saw to it that the way back to true worship was kept open so that in later generations others from the northern kingdom could abandon calf worship and return to Judah.—2 Chron. 15:9-15.
13. In modern times, how have apostate influences tested God’s people?
13 Apostates and their influences threaten God’s people today. Some rulers have tried to set up their own form of State religion, pressuring their subjects to comply. Christendom’s clergy and other presumptuous ones have tried to claim the spiritual priesthood for themselves. However, only among true Christians do we find genuine anointed ones, making up “a royal priesthood.”—1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 14:1-5.
14. What should be our response to apostate thinking?
14 Like the faithful Levites back in the tenth century B.C.E., God’s loyal ones today are not deceived by apostate ideas. Anointed ones and their Christian associates are quick to avoid and reject apostate ideas. (Read Romans 16:17.) While we gladly submit to governmental authorities in secular matters and remain neutral in worldly conflicts, our loyalty goes to God’s Kingdom. (John 18:36; Rom. 13:1-8) We reject the false claims of those who profess to be serving God and at the same time dishonor him by their conduct.—Titus 1:16.
15. Why does “the faithful and discreet slave” deserve our loyalty?
15 Think also of the fact that Jehovah has made it possible for honesthearted ones to move out of the wicked world, figuratively speaking, into the spiritual paradise that he has created. (2 Cor. 12:1-4) With hearts full of gratitude, we stay close to “the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time.” Christ has appointed this slave “over all his belongings.” (Matt. 24:45-47) Therefore, even if we as individuals do not fully understand a certain position taken by the slave class, that is no reason for us to reject it or return to Satan’s world. Instead, loyalty will move us to act humbly and wait on Jehovah to clarify matters.
While Carrying Out God-Given Assignments
16. What assignment did a prophet from Judah receive?
16 Jehovah condemned Jeroboam for his apostate ways. He assigned a prophet from Judah to travel north to Bethel and appear before Jeroboam while he was officiating at his altar. The prophet was to deliver a devastating judgment message to Jeroboam. Undoubtedly, that was a challenging assignment.—1 Ki. 13:1-3.
17. How did Jehovah protect his messenger?
17 Jeroboam flew into a rage upon hearing Jehovah’s condemnation. He thrust out his hand at God’s representative, screaming to men nearby: “You men, grab hold of him!” But instantly, before anyone could act, the “hand that he had thrust out against him became dried up, and he was not able to draw it back to himself. And the altar itself was ripped apart so that the fatty ashes were spilled out from the altar.” Jeroboam was forced to ask the prophet to soften the face of Jehovah and pray that the dried-up hand be restored. The prophet did so, and the hand was healed. Thus Jehovah protected his messenger from harm.—1 Ki. 13:4-6.
18. How does Jehovah guard us as we fearlessly render sacred service to him?
18 As we loyally engage in the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work, we at times encounter an unfriendly, or even a hostile, response. (Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20) But we must never allow the fear of rejection to dampen our zeal for the ministry. Like the unnamed prophet in Jeroboam’s day, we have “the privilege of fearlessly rendering sacred service to [Jehovah] with loyalty.” * (Luke 1:74, 75) Although we do not expect miraculous intervention today, Jehovah is still guarding and backing us as his Witnesses by means of his holy spirit and the angels. (Read John 14:15-17; Revelation 14:6.) God will never abandon those who fearlessly continue to speak his word.—Phil. 1:14, 28.
Jehovah Will Guard His Loyal Ones
19, 20. (a) Why can we be sure that Jehovah will never leave us? (b) What questions will be discussed in the following article?
19 Jehovah is our loyal God. (Rev. 15:4; 16:5) He is “loyal in all his works.” (Ps. 145:17) And the Bible assures us: “He will guard the very way of his loyal ones.” (Prov. 2:8) When faced with trials or apostate ideas or when carrying out a challenging assignment, God’s loyal ones can be confident of Jehovah’s guidance and support.
20 What we individually need to reflect on now is this: What will help me to maintain my loyalty to Jehovah regardless of the trials or temptations that may come my way? In other words, how can I strengthen my loyalty to God?
How Would You Answer?
• How has Jehovah shown that he does not leave his loyal ones when they experience oppression?
• How should we respond to apostates and their ideas?
• How does Jehovah guard his loyal ones as they engage in the Christian ministry?
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NORTHERN KINGDOM (Jeroboam)
SOUTHERN KINGDOM (Rehoboam)
Jehovah did not abandon his loyal ones when Jeroboam introduced calf worship
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The blessings that Solomon and his subjects enjoyed were conditional