“Noah, Daniel, and Job . . . would be able to save only themselves because of their righteousness.”—EZEKIEL 14:14.
1, 2. (a) Why can examining the examples of Noah, Daniel, and Job encourage us? (b) What were the circumstances when Ezekiel wrote the words found at Ezekiel 14:14?
ARE you going through difficult times because you are sick, have money problems, or are being persecuted? Is it sometimes hard for you to stay happy in your service to Jehovah? If you feel this way, examining the examples of Noah, Daniel, and Job can encourage you. These men were imperfect and had the same kinds of challenges that we have today. At times, even their lives were in danger. But they remained loyal to Jehovah, and he viewed them as examples of faith and obedience.—Read Ezekiel 14:12-14.
2 Ezekiel wrote the words of our theme text in Babylonia in the year 612 before Christ. * (See footnote.) (Ezekiel 1:1; 8:1) That was not long before Jerusalem was destroyed in the year 607. Only a few people in Jerusalem were faithful and obedient like Noah, Daniel, and Job, and they survived. (Ezekiel 9:1-5) Jeremiah, Baruch, Ebed-melech, and the Rechabites were some of them.
3. What will we learn in this article?
3 Similarly today, only people whom Jehovah views as righteous, people who are like Noah, Daniel, and Job, will survive the end of this wicked world. (Revelation 7:9, 14) So let us learn why Jehovah used these three men as examples of people who did what was right in his eyes. We will discuss (1) the challenges each of them had and (2) how we can imitate their faith and obedience.
NOAH WAS FAITHFUL AND OBEDIENT FOR MORE THAN 900 YEARS!
4, 5. What were some of Noah’s challenges, and what was amazing about him?
4 What were some of Noah’s challenges? In the time of Noah’s great-grandfather Enoch, people were already very wicked. They said “shocking things” about Jehovah. (Jude 14, 15) The world then became more and more violent. By Noah’s time, “the earth was filled with violence.” Wicked angels came to earth, made human bodies for themselves, and married women. Their sons were cruel and violent. (Genesis 6:2-4, 11, 12) But everyone could see that Noah was different. The Bible says that “Noah found favor in the eyes of Jehovah.” Unlike the people around him, he did what was right. “Noah walked with the true God.”—Genesis 6:8, 9.
5 What do those words tell us about Noah? First, think about how long Noah served Jehovah faithfully in that wicked world before the Flood came. It was not just for 70 or 80 years but for almost 600 years! (Genesis 7:11) Second, remember that he did not have a congregation to help and encourage him as we have today. It seems that not even his brothers and sisters supported him. *—See footnote.
6. How did Noah show great courage?
6 Noah did not think that it was enough just to be a good person. He boldly told others about his faith in Jehovah. The Bible calls him “a preacher of righteousness.” (2 Peter 2:5) The apostle Paul said about Noah: “Through this faith he condemned the world.” (Hebrews 11:7) No doubt people made fun of him and tried to stop him. Perhaps they even threatened to hurt him. But Noah was not afraid of people. (Proverbs 29:25) Rather, he had faith, so Jehovah gave him courage. And he gives the same courage to all his faithful servants today.
7. What challenges did Noah have when he built the ark?
7 Noah had already been faithful to Jehovah for more than 500 years when Jehovah told him to build a large ark. It would be used to save some people and animals from the Flood. (Genesis 5:32; 6:14) Building such a huge ark must have seemed very difficult to Noah. And he surely knew that people would mock him even more and make his life very difficult. But Noah had faith and obeyed Jehovah. “He did just so.”—Genesis 6:22.
8. How did Noah trust in Jehovah to provide for his family?
8 Noah had another challenge. He had to provide for his wife and children. Before the Flood, people had to work extra hard to grow food. Noah did too. (Genesis 5:28, 29) Yet, he did not let the needs of his family become his biggest worry. Serving Jehovah was always most important in his life. Even though Noah was busy building the ark for perhaps 40 or 50 years, he remained focused on Jehovah. And he did that for another 350 years after the Flood. (Genesis 9:28) Noah was a fine example of faith and obedience!
9, 10. (a) How can we imitate Noah’s faith and obedience? (b) If you are determined to obey God’s laws, of what can you be sure?
9 How can we imitate Noah’s faith and obedience? We do this when we defend Jehovah’s view of what is right, when we are no part of Satan’s world, and when we put Jehovah first. (Matthew 6:33; John 15:19) Of course, for those reasons, the world does not like us. For example, because we are determined to obey God’s laws about sex and marriage, people may say negative things about us in the media. (Read Malachi 3:17, 18.) Like Noah, we are not afraid of people. We fear Jehovah, that is, we have deep respect for him and do not want to disappoint him. We know that he is the only One who can give us everlasting life.—Luke 12:4, 5.
10 Ask yourself: ‘Will I keep doing what is right in God’s eyes, even when others make fun of me or criticize me? Do I trust that Jehovah can provide for my family, even when it is hard to make a living?’ If you trust in Jehovah and obey him as Noah did, you can be sure that Jehovah will take care of you.—Philippians 4:6, 7.
DANIEL WAS FAITHFUL AND OBEDIENT DESPITE LIVING IN A WICKED CITY
11. What big challenges did Daniel and his three friends have in Babylon? (See opening picture.)
11 What were some of Daniel’s challenges? Daniel was forced to live in Babylon, a foreign city that was full of false gods and spiritism. People there disliked the Jews and mocked them and their God, Jehovah. (Psalm 137:1, 3) This must have greatly hurt Daniel and other Jews who loved Jehovah! Also, many people were closely watching Daniel and his three friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah because they were going to be trained to work for the king of Babylon. They were expected to eat the king’s food, which included things that Jehovah did not want his people to eat. But Daniel did not “defile himself with the king’s delicacies.”—Daniel 1:5-8, 14-17.
12. (a) What kind of person was Daniel? (b) How did Jehovah view Daniel?
12 Daniel had another challenge, which at first might not have looked so difficult. He was very capable, and because of that, the king gave him special privileges. (Daniel 1:19, 20) Still, Daniel did not become proud or think that his opinion was always right. He remained humble and modest. He always said that Jehovah was the reason for his success. (Daniel 2:30) Just think: Jehovah mentioned Daniel along with Noah and Job as a good example to follow. At that time, Noah and Job had already served Jehovah faithfully all their lives, but Daniel was still a young man. Jehovah truly had confidence in Daniel! And rightfully so, because Daniel stayed faithful and obedient to God all his life. When Daniel was almost 100 years old, God’s angel said these kind words to him: “O Daniel, you very precious man.”—Daniel 10:11.
13. What could be one reason why Jehovah helped Daniel to get a high position?
13 Because of Jehovah’s support, Daniel became a very important official, first in the Babylonian Empire and then in the Medo-Persian Empire. (Daniel 1:21; 6:1, 2) Perhaps Jehovah made sure that Daniel got this high position so that he could help his own people, just as Joseph did in Egypt and Esther and Mordecai did in Persia. * (See footnote.) (Daniel 2:48) Can you imagine how Ezekiel and the other Jewish captives felt when they saw how Jehovah used Daniel to help them? It must have greatly encouraged them!
14, 15. (a) How is our situation similar to Daniel’s? (b) What can parents today learn from Daniel’s parents?
14 How can we imitate Daniel’s faith and obedience? The world we live in today is full of immorality and false worship. People have been influenced by Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, which the Bible calls “a dwelling place of demons.” (Revelation 18:2) But we are like foreigners in this world. As a result, people can see that we are very different, and they may make fun of us. (Mark 13:13) Yet, like Daniel, let us draw close to our God, Jehovah. When we are humble, trust in Jehovah, and obey him, he will view us as precious too.—Haggai 2:7.
15 Parents can learn important lessons from Daniel’s parents. When Daniel was a small boy in Judah, most people around him were very wicked. Yet, he grew to love Jehovah. Did this just happen by chance? No. His parents must have taught him about Jehovah. (Proverbs 22:6) Even Daniel’s name, which means “My Judge Is God,” shows that his parents loved Jehovah. (Daniel 1:6, footnote) So parents, be patient when you teach your children about Jehovah. Do not give up. (Ephesians 6:4) Pray with them. Pray for them. Do your very best to teach them to love what Jehovah says is right, and Jehovah will greatly bless you.—Psalm 37:5.
JOB WAS FAITHFUL AND OBEDIENT WHETHER HE WAS RICH OR POOR
16, 17. What challenges did Job have at different times of his life?
16 What were some of Job’s challenges? Job went through big changes in his life. At first, Job was “the greatest of all the people of the East.” (Job 1:3) He was very rich, and many people knew him and highly respected him. (Job 29:7-16) Despite this, Job did not think that he was better than others or feel that he did not need God. We know this because Jehovah called him “my servant” and said about him: “He is an upright man of integrity, fearing God and shunning what is bad.”—Job 1:8.
17 Suddenly, though, Job’s life changed completely. He lost everything, and he became so depressed that he wanted to die. Today, we know that it was Satan who caused Job’s problems. He said that Job served Jehovah only for selfish reasons. (Read Job 1:9, 10.) Jehovah took this wicked accusation very seriously. What would he do to show that Satan is a wicked liar? He gave Job the opportunity to prove his loyalty to God and to show that he served him out of love.
18. (a) What impresses you about Job? (b) What do we learn about Jehovah from the way he treated Job?
18 Satan viciously attacked Job over and over again and made him think that these attacks were coming from God. (Job 1:13-21) Then three men who claimed to be Job’s friends said cruel things to Job. They said that he was wicked and that God was punishing him. (Job 2:11; 22:1, 5-10) Despite all of this, Job remained loyal to Jehovah. It is true that Job sometimes said foolish things. (Job 6:1-3) But Jehovah understood that Job did this only because he was hurt and depressed. Jehovah saw that Job never abandoned him, even though Satan, like a big bully, attacked and insulted Job again and again. After this terrible situation ended, Jehovah gave Job double what he had before and 140 more years of life. (James 5:11) During that time, Job continued to serve God with all his heart. How do we know that? Because Ezekiel 14:14, our theme text, was written hundreds of years after Job died.
19, 20. (a) How can we imitate Job’s faith and obedience? (b) How can we show compassion toward others as Jehovah does?
19 How can we imitate Job’s faith and obedience? No matter what our circumstances are, we want to make sure that Jehovah is always the most important Person in our life. We want to trust in him completely and obey him with all our heart. In fact, we have even more reasons to do so than Job had. Think about what we know today. We know a lot about Satan and his methods. (2 Corinthians 2:11) Because of the Bible, especially the book of Job, we know why God allows suffering. From Daniel’s prophecy, we know that God’s Kingdom is a real government ruled by Jesus Christ. (Daniel 7:13, 14) And we know that this Kingdom will soon rule over the whole earth and end all suffering.
20 Job’s experience also teaches us to show compassion when our brothers are suffering. Like Job, they may say foolish things. (Ecclesiastes 7:7) But we should not think badly of them or accuse them of having done something wrong. Instead, we should try to be understanding. If we are, then we will be like our Father, Jehovah, who is loving and merciful.—Psalm 103:8.
JEHOVAH “WILL MAKE YOU STRONG”
21. How do the words at 1 Peter 5:10 remind us of what Noah, Daniel, and Job experienced?
21 Noah, Daniel, and Job lived at different times in history and had very different circumstances. Yet, they all endured their challenges. Their experiences remind us of what the apostle Peter said: “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all undeserved kindness . . . will himself finish your training. He will make you firm, he will make you strong, he will firmly ground you.”—1 Peter 5:10.
22. What will we learn in the next article?
22 The words at 1 Peter 5:10 are also true for God’s people today. Jehovah assures us that he will make his servants firm and strong. We all want Jehovah to make us strong, and we want to remain firm and stay faithful to him. That is why we want to imitate the faith and obedience of Noah, Daniel, and Job. In the next article, we will learn that these men were able to remain faithful to Jehovah because they really knew him. In fact, they were able to “understand everything” that he wanted them to do. (Proverbs 28:5) And we can do the same.
^ par. 5 Noah’s father, Lamech, had faith in God but died about five years before the Flood. If Noah’s mother and brothers and sisters were still alive when the Flood began, they did not survive.