“The reminder of Jehovah is trustworthy, making the inexperienced one wise.”
1. What subjects are regularly discussed by God’s people, and how do we benefit by reviewing them?
WHILE preparing for an upcoming Watchtower Study, have you ever thought, ‘Haven’t we considered this subject before?’ If you have been associated with the Christian congregation for some time, you likely have noted that some topics are discussed time and again. Studying about God’s Kingdom, the ransom, the disciple-making work, and such qualities as love and faith is a regular part of our spiritual diet. By reviewing these subjects, we are helped to remain healthy in the faith and to “become doers of the word, and not hearers only.”
2. (a) To what do God’s reminders often refer? (b) How do God’s reminders differ from man’s?
2 The Hebrew noun rendered “reminder” often refers to laws, commands, and regulations that God gives to his people. Unlike human laws, which often need to be amended or updated, Jehovah’s laws and regulations are always trustworthy. Though some of them are given for a particular time or situation, they never become faulty or inadequate. The psalmist said: “The righteousness of your reminders is to time indefinite.”
3, 4. (a) Jehovah’s reminders may include what? (b) How would the Israelites benefit if they heeded them?
3 You have perhaps noted that Jehovah’s reminders at times include messages of warning. The nation of Israel regularly received warnings through God’s prophets. For example, shortly before the Israelites were to enter the Promised Land, Moses warned them: “Watch out for yourselves for fear your heart may be enticed, and you do turn aside and worship other gods and bow down to them, and Jehovah’s anger does blaze against you.” (Deut. 11:16, 17) The Bible reveals that God gave his people scores of helpful reminders.
4 On many other occasions, Jehovah urged the Israelites to fear him, to listen to his voice, and to sanctify his name. (Deut. 4:29-31; 5:28, 29) If they heeded these reminders, they were sure to receive many blessings.
HOW ISRAEL RESPONDED TO GOD’S REMINDERS
5. Why did Jehovah fight for King Hezekiah?
5 Throughout Israel’s tumultuous history, God held true to his promise. For instance, when Assyrian King Sennacherib invaded Judah and threatened to overthrow King Hezekiah, Jehovah intervened by dispatching an angel. In just one night, God’s angel destroyed “every valiant, mighty man” in the Assyrian army, so that Sennacherib was forced to return home humiliated. (2 Chron. 32:21; 2 Ki. 19:35) Why did God fight for King Hezekiah? Because “he [Hezekiah] kept sticking to Jehovah. He did not turn aside from following him, but he continued keeping his commandments.”
6. How did King Josiah put trust in Jehovah?
6 Another example of one who obeyed Jehovah’s commands is King Josiah. Beginning at the tender age of eight, “he proceeded to do what was right in Jehovah’s eyes . . . He did not turn aside to the right or to the left.” (2 Chron. 34:1, 2) Josiah demonstrated his trust in Jehovah by cleansing the land of idols and restoring true worship. In so doing, Josiah brought blessings not only to himself but also to the entire nation.
7. When Israel disregarded Jehovah’s reminders, what was the result?
7 Sadly, however, God’s people did not always put their full trust in Jehovah’s reminders. Over the centuries, they vacillated between obedience and disobedience. When their faith waned, they were often, to use the apostle Paul’s words, “carried hither and thither by every wind of teaching.” (Eph. 4:13, 14) And as foretold, when they did not put their trust in God’s reminders, they reaped bitter fruitage.
8. How can we learn from Israel’s example?
8 In what way can we benefit from Israel’s example? As they did, God’s modern-day servants receive counsel and discipline. (2 Pet. 1:12) God’s inspired Word can serve as a reminder to us every time we read it. As free moral agents, we can choose to obey Jehovah’s directions or we can pursue what seems right in our own eyes. (Prov. 14:12) Let us consider some reasons why we can put our trust in Jehovah’s reminders and how we benefit by heeding them.
SUBJECT YOURSELF TO GOD AND LIVE
9. When the Israelites were in the wilderness, how did Jehovah assure them that he was backing them?
9 When the Israelites set out on what became a 40-year trek through a “fear-inspiring wilderness,” Jehovah did not give them specific details beforehand as to how he would direct, protect, and care for them. Still, he repeatedly demonstrated that they could trust in him and his instructions. Using a pillar of cloud by day and one of fire by night, Jehovah reminded the Israelites that he was backing them as he led them across that inhospitable terrain. (Deut. 1:19; Ex. 40:36-38) He also provided for their basic needs. “Their very garments did not wear out, and their feet themselves did not become swollen.” Indeed, “they lacked nothing.”
10. How is Jehovah guiding his people today?
10 God’s servants today are on the threshold of a righteous new world. Do we trust in Jehovah to provide what we need in order to survive the coming “great tribulation”? (Matt. 24:21, 22; Ps. 119:40, 41) True, Jehovah has not supplied a pillar of cloud nor one of fire to guide us into the new world. But he is using his organization to help us remain vigilant. For example, increased emphasis has been placed on building up our spirituality through personal Bible reading, having a Family Worship evening, as well as being regular in meeting attendance and in the ministry. Have we made adjustments in order to follow these instructions? Doing so will help us to build the kind of faith that will preserve us alive into the new world.
11. What are ways in which God shows his care for us?
11 In addition to helping us stay awake spiritually, the directions that we have received help us with matters of everyday life. Examples include maintaining a balanced view of material things and keeping a simple eye in order to reduce anxiety. We have also benefited from guidance regarding our dress and grooming, choosing wholesome entertainment, and deciding on the appropriate amount of education. And think of the safety reminders we have received as to our homes, automobiles, Kingdom Halls, and preparing for possible emergencies. Such counsel shows that God cares about our well-being.
REMINDERS HELPED EARLY CHRISTIANS TO REMAIN FAITHFUL
12. (a) What is one subject that Jesus repeatedly spoke to his disciples about? (b) What act of humility left a lasting impression on Peter, and how should it affect us?
12 In the first century, God’s people received regular reminders. Jesus repeatedly spoke to his disciples about the need to cultivate humility. However, he did more than simply tell his disciples what it meant to be humble
13. Jesus reminded his disciples about the need to develop what essential quality?
13 The need for strong faith was another topic that Jesus often discussed with his disciples. Following their failed attempt to cast out a demon from a demon-possessed boy, the disciples asked Jesus: “Why is it we could not expel it?” Jesus answered: “Because of your little faith. For truly I say to you, If you have faith the size of a mustard grain, . . . nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:14-20) Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he taught his disciples that faith is an essential quality. (Read Matthew 21:18-22.) Are we taking advantage of the opportunities available to us to strengthen our faith through the upbuilding instruction provided at conventions, assemblies, and Christian meetings? These are much more than happy gatherings; they are occasions for us to demonstrate trust in Jehovah.
14. Why is it important to cultivate Christlike love today?
14 The Christian Greek Scriptures are replete with reminders for us to show love for one another. Jesus said that the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:39) Similarly, Jesus’ half brother James called love “the kingly law.” (Jas. 2:8) The apostle John wrote: “Beloved ones, I am writing you, not a new commandment, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning.” (1 John 2:7, 8) To what was John referring as the “old commandment”? He was referring to the command to love. It was “old” in the sense that Jesus had given it decades earlier, “from the beginning.” But it was also “new” in that it called for self-sacrificing love, which the disciples might need as they faced new circumstances. As disciples of Christ, do we not appreciate warnings that help us to guard against developing the selfish spirit so characteristic of this world, which can erode our love of neighbor?
15. What was Jesus’ primary mission on earth?
15 Jesus showed personal interest in people. We see his loving concern when he healed the sick and infirm and when he resurrected the dead. However, Jesus’ primary mission was not that of healing people physically. His preaching and teaching had a far more enduring impact on people’s lives. How so? We know that those whom Jesus healed and resurrected in the first century, for example, eventually grew old and died, whereas those who responded favorably to the message he preached put themselves in line for everlasting life.
16. How extensive is the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work today?
16 The preaching work that Jesus started in the first century is being done on an even grander scale today. Yes, Jesus commissioned his disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations.” (Matt. 28:19) Indeed they have, and we can say, indeed we have! More than seven million active Witnesses of Jehovah are zealously proclaiming God’s Kingdom in more than 230 lands, and the Witnesses regularly study the Bible with millions. This preaching gives evidence that we are living in the last days.
TRUST IN JEHOVAH TODAY
17. What counsel did Paul and Peter provide?
17 Clearly, reminders helped early Christians to remain firm in the faith. Imagine the encouragement that Timothy must have received when the apostle Paul, who was then a prisoner in Rome, told him: “Keep holding the pattern of healthful words that you heard from me.” (2 Tim. 1:13) After encouraging fellow Christians to cultivate such qualities as endurance, brotherly affection, and self-control, the apostle Peter said: “I shall be disposed always to remind you of these things, although you know them and are firmly set in the truth.”
18. How did first-century Christians view reminders?
18 Yes, the letters that Paul and Peter wrote conveyed “sayings previously spoken by the holy prophets.” (2 Pet. 3:2) Did our first-century brothers resent receiving such direction? No, for it was an expression of God’s love, which helped them to “go on growing in the undeserved kindness and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
19, 20. Why should we trust Jehovah’s reminders, and how do we benefit from doing so?
19 Today, we have ample reasons for putting trust in Jehovah’s reminders, contained in his infallible Word, the Bible. (Read Joshua 23:14.) Within its pages, we find God’s dealings with imperfect humankind over thousands of years. This historical narrative was recorded for our benefit. (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11) We have seen the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Prophecy could be likened to reminders that are told in advance. For example, millions have flocked to the pure worship of Jehovah, as was prophesied would occur in “the final part of the days.” (Isa. 2:2, 3) Worsening world conditions also fulfill Bible prophecy. And, as mentioned, the extensive preaching campaign going on worldwide is a direct fulfillment of Jesus’ words.
20 Our Creator has built up a record that we can put our trust in. Are we benefiting from it? We need to put faith in his reminders. That is what Rosellen did. She relates: “As I began to put my full trust in Jehovah, I began to see more clearly his loving hand sustaining and strengthening me.” May we likewise benefit from keeping Jehovah’s reminders.