“Jehovah will always lead you.”
1, 2. (a) How are Jehovah’s Witnesses different from other religions? (b) What will we learn in this article and the next?
PEOPLE often ask Jehovah’s Witnesses, “Who is your leader?” They wonder about this because many religions have a man or woman who is their leader. However, we are proud to say that our Leader is not an imperfect human. Instead, our Leader is Jesus Christ! And he obeys his Father and Leader, Jehovah.
2 There is also a group of men, called “the faithful and discreet slave,” who take the lead among God’s people on earth today. (Matthew 24:45) But how do we know that it really is Jehovah who is leading us through his Son? We will see three reasons why we can be sure of that. And although Jehovah has been using certain humans to lead his people, it will be clear that Jehovah was and still is the true Leader of his people.
HOLY SPIRIT EMPOWERED THEM
3. What empowered Moses to lead Israel?
3 Holy spirit empowered God’s representatives. God chose Moses to be the leader of the Israelites. What helped him to care for this very important assignment? Jehovah gave Moses “His holy spirit.” (Read Isaiah 63:11-14.) So Jehovah was actually leading his people, because it was his spirit that was helping Moses.
4. What proved that Moses had God’s spirit? (See opening picture.)
4 Could people see that Moses had God’s spirit? Yes! Jehovah’s holy spirit gave Moses the ability to perform miracles and to make God’s name known to Pharaoh, the powerful Egyptian ruler. (Exodus 7:1-3) Holy spirit also helped Moses to be a loving and patient leader. He was very different from the harsh and selfish leaders of other lands! (Exodus 5:2, 6-9) Clearly, Jehovah had chosen Moses to be the leader of His people.
5. To whom else did Jehovah give holy spirit to lead his people?
5 To whom else did Jehovah give holy spirit to lead his people? The Bible says: “Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom.” (Deuteronomy 34:9) “Jehovah’s spirit came upon Gideon.” (Judges 6:34) And “the spirit of Jehovah began to empower David.” (1 Samuel 16:13) All those men relied on God’s spirit to help them do things that they could not have done in their own strength. (Joshua 11:16, 17; Judges 7:7, 22; 1 Samuel 17:37, 50) Clearly, Jehovah was the one who gave them the power to do great things, so only he deserved the praise.
When God’s people obeyed Moses, Joshua, Gideon, and David, they were actually following Jehovah as their Leader
6. Why did God want his people to respect the leaders in Israel?
6 What should the Israelites have done when they saw that God’s holy spirit had empowered Moses, Joshua, Gideon, and David? They should have respected them. When the people complained about Moses, notice what Jehovah asked: “How much longer will this people treat me without respect?” (Numbers 14:2, 11) Clearly, Jehovah chose those men to lead His people. When the people obeyed them, they were actually following Jehovah as their Leader.
ANGELS HELPED THEM
7. How did angels help Moses?
7 Angels helped God’s representatives. (Read Hebrews 1:7, 14.) God used angels to guide Moses. First, an angel “appeared to him in the thornbush” and gave him the assignment to free the Israelites and to lead them. (Acts 7:35) Second, God used angels to give Moses the Law in order to instruct the Israelites. (Galatians 3:19) Third, Jehovah told him: “Lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you. Look! My angel will go ahead of you.” (Exodus 32:34) The Bible does not say that the Israelites saw an angel do those things. However, from the way Moses instructed and guided the people, it was clear that the angels helped him.
8. How did angels help Joshua and Hezekiah?
8 Whom else did the angels help? The Bible says that “the prince of Jehovah’s army,” an angel, helped Joshua to win a battle against the Canaanites. (Joshua 5:13-15; 6:2, 21) Later, when King Hezekiah led God’s people, the huge Assyrian army threatened to destroy Jerusalem. In one night, “the angel of Jehovah went out and struck down 185,000 men.”
9. Even though God’s representatives were imperfect, what were the Israelites expected to do?
9 The angels are perfect. However, the men whom they helped were not. For example, Moses once did not honor Jehovah. (Numbers 20:12) Joshua did not ask God what to do when the Gibeonites wanted to make an agreement with him. (Joshua 9:14, 15) At one point, Hezekiah became proud. (2 Chronicles 32:25, 26) Even though these men were imperfect, the Israelites were expected to follow their lead. The Israelites could see that Jehovah was using the angels to support these men. Clearly, Jehovah was leading his people.
GOD’S WORD GUIDED THEM
10. How was Moses guided by God’s Law?
10 God’s Word guided his representatives. The Bible refers to the Law given to Israel as “the Law of Moses.” (1 Kings 2:3) But the Bible makes it clear that Jehovah was the one who gave Israel the Law. And Moses also had to obey it. (2 Chronicles 34:14) For example, after Jehovah told him how to build the tabernacle, “Moses did according to all that Jehovah had commanded him. He did just so.”
11, 12. (a) What were Joshua and the kings who ruled God’s people required to do? (b) How did God’s Word guide the men who took the lead?
11 Joshua had a portion of God’s Word when he became leader, and Jehovah told him: “You must read it in an undertone day and night, in order to observe carefully all that is written in it.” (Joshua 1:8) The kings who later ruled God’s people also had to read the Law every day, write a copy of it, and obey “all the words of this Law and these regulations by carrying them out.”
12 How did God’s Word guide the men who took the lead? Think about the example of King Josiah. After the Law of Moses was found, Josiah’s secretary began to read it to him. * (See footnote.) “As soon as the king heard the words of the book of the Law, he ripped his garments apart.” God’s Word then motivated Josiah to destroy all the idols in the land and arrange for the largest Passover celebration ever held. (2 Kings 22:11; 23:1-23) Because Josiah and other faithful leaders followed God’s Word, they were willing to adjust the direction they gave to God’s people. Those changes helped God’s people to obey Him.
13. How were the leaders of God’s people different from the leaders of other nations?
13 The leaders of other nations were guided by limited human wisdom. For example, Canaanite leaders and their people did terrible things, which included committing incest, homosexuality, bestiality, child sacrifice, and idolatry. (Leviticus 18:6, 21-25) Also, Babylonian and Egyptian leaders did not have the same rules for cleanness that God’s people had. (Numbers 19:13) However, God’s people could see how their faithful leaders encouraged them to keep their worship clean, to be clean physically, and to avoid sexual uncleanness. Clearly, Jehovah was leading them.
14. Why did Jehovah discipline some of the leaders of his people?
14 Not all the kings who ruled God’s people followed God’s instructions. Those unfaithful kings refused to follow the guidance of God’s holy spirit, his angels, and his Word. In some cases, Jehovah disciplined or replaced those leaders. (1 Samuel 13:13, 14) Later, Jehovah appointed someone who would be a perfect leader.
JEHOVAH APPOINTS A PERFECT LEADER
15. (a) How did the prophets show that a perfect leader was coming? (b) Who was the perfect leader?
15 For hundreds of years, Jehovah promised that he would appoint a perfect leader for his people. For example, Moses told the Israelites: “Jehovah your God will raise up for you from among your brothers a prophet like me. You must listen to him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15) Isaiah said that this One would become “a leader and commander.” (Isaiah 55:4) And Daniel wrote about the Messiah, who would become “the Leader.” (Daniel 9:25) Finally, Jesus Christ identified himself as the “Leader” of God’s people. (Read Matthew 23:10.) Jesus’ disciples willingly followed him, and they believed that he was Jehovah’s choice. (John 6:68, 69) What convinced them that Jesus Christ was the one whom Jehovah would use to lead his people?
Jehovah appointed Jesus to be a perfect leader
16. What proved that Jesus was empowered by holy spirit?
16 Holy spirit empowered Jesus. When Jesus was baptized, John saw “the heavens being parted and, like a dove, the spirit coming down upon him.” Soon after that, “the spirit impelled him to go into the wilderness.” (Mark 1:10-12) During Jesus’ ministry on earth, God’s holy spirit empowered him to teach and to perform miracles. (Acts 10:38) In addition, holy spirit helped Jesus to show qualities such as love, joy, and strong faith. (John 15:9; Hebrews 12:2) No other leader had such proof of having God’s holy spirit. Clearly, Jehovah had chosen Jesus as Leader.
17. What did angels do to help Jesus?
17 Angels helped Jesus. Shortly after Jesus was baptized, “angels came and began to minister to him.” (Matthew 4:11) Hours before his death, “an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” (Luke 22:43) Jesus knew that Jehovah would send angels to help him whenever he needed it.
18, 19. How did God’s Word guide Jesus’ life and teaching?
18 God’s Word guided Jesus. From the beginning of his ministry until his death on the torture stake, Jesus allowed the Scriptures to direct him. Even when he was dying, he referred to prophecies about the Messiah. (Matthew 4:4; 27:46; Luke 23:46) However, the religious leaders at that time were very different from Jesus. They chose to ignore God’s Word whenever it did not agree with their teachings. Jesus quoted God’s Word when he said about them: “This people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far removed from me. It is in vain that they keep worshipping me, for they teach commands of men as doctrines.” (Matthew 15:7-9) Jehovah could never choose men who did not follow his Word to lead his people.
19 Jesus also used God’s Word when he taught others. When religious leaders challenged him, he did not use his own wisdom or experience in life to answer them. Instead, he taught people from the Scriptures. (Matthew 22:33-40) Also, Jesus could have impressed others with many stories about his life in heaven or the creation of the universe. Instead, because he loved God’s Word, he was eager to share it with others, and “he opened up their minds fully to grasp the meaning of the Scriptures.”
20. (a) How did Jesus honor Jehovah? (b) What difference was there between the attitude of Jesus and that of Herod Agrippa I?
20 Even though Jesus’ listeners were amazed at the way he spoke, he always gave his Teacher, Jehovah, the honor. (Luke 4:22) When a rich man tried to honor Jesus with the title “Good Teacher,” Jesus was humble and said: “Why do you call me good? Nobody is good except one, God.” (Mark 10:17, 18) However, Herod Agrippa I, who became the leader of Judea about eight years later, had a very different attitude from that of Jesus. One day, at a special meeting, Herod put on very impressive and expensive royal clothing. When the people saw him and heard him, they shouted: “A god’s voice, and not a man’s!” Herod loved to be praised. But then what happened? “Instantly the angel of Jehovah struck him, because he did not give the glory to God, and he was eaten up with worms and died.” (Acts 12:21-23) Clearly, Jehovah had not chosen Herod to be a leader. However, Jesus proved that God had chosen him, and he constantly honored Jehovah as the Supreme Leader of His people.
21. What will we consider in the next article?
21 Jehovah wanted Jesus to be Leader for more than just a few years. After his resurrection, Jesus told his disciples: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.” He added: “And look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 28:18-20) But how can Jesus lead God’s people on earth when he is an invisible person in heaven? Whom would Jehovah use to represent Jesus on earth? And how would Christians be able to recognize God’s representatives? The next article will consider the answers to those questions.
^ par. 12 This may have been the original document written by Moses.