Faithful Ones of Old—Guided by God’s Spirit
“The Sovereign Lord Jehovah himself has sent me, even his spirit.”—ISAIAH 48:16.
1, 2. What do we need to have faith? What encouragement do we get from the examples of God’s faithful servants of the past?
EVEN though many have shown faith since the time of Abel, the Bible tells us: “Faith is not a possession of all people.” (2 Thessalonians 3:2) So why does a person have this quality, and what helps him to be faithful? We know that to have faith, we need knowledge from God’s Word because the Bible says: “Faith follows the thing heard.” (Romans 10:17) Faith is a part of the fruitage of God’s holy spirit. (Galatians 5:22, 23) So we need holy spirit to have strong faith.
2 People are not born with faith. The faithful men and women we read about in the Bible were people “with feelings like ours.” (James 5:17) They had doubts and weaknesses. They were not sure of their abilities. But God’s spirit gave them power to endure difficult situations. (Hebrews 11:34) When we learn about how Jehovah’s spirit helped them, we today will be encouraged to continue to serve God faithfully. This encouragement is especially important in our time when so many things can weaken our faith.
GOD’S SPIRIT GAVE MOSES POWER
3-5. (a) How do we know that holy spirit helped Moses to take care of his responsibilities? (b) What does Moses’ example teach us about the way Jehovah gives us his spirit?
3 Of all the people who were living in the year 1513 before Christ, Moses was “by far the meekest.” (Numbers 12:3) Still, Jehovah gave him the huge responsibility of taking care of the nation of Israel. With the help of God’s spirit, Moses was able to prophesy, judge, write, lead, and make miracles happen. (Read Isaiah 63:11-14.) But Moses once complained that taking care of the people was too difficult for him. (Numbers 11:14, 15) So Jehovah took “away some of the spirit” that he had given to Moses and gave it to 70 other men so that they might help Moses with the work. (Numbers 11:16, 17) Even though Moses thought that he was carrying a load that was too heavy, he really had not been carrying it alone. And the 70 men whom Moses chose to help him would not carry it alone either.
4 Jehovah had given Moses enough holy spirit to do the work. After Jehovah gave holy spirit to the 70 men, Moses still had all the spirit that he needed. Moses did not have too little, and the 70 older men did not have too much. Jehovah gives us as much of his spirit as we need in our situation. “He does not give the spirit by measure” but gives “from out of his fullness.”—John 1:16; 3:34.
5 Are you enduring trials? Do you feel that your responsibilities are increasing and taking more and more of your time? Are you trying hard to provide food, shelter, and Bible training for your family while your expenses are increasing or your health is getting worse? Do you have heavy responsibilities in the congregation? Whatever your situation may be, you can be sure that Jehovah can use his holy spirit to give you the strength you need.—Romans 15:13.
HOLY SPIRIT HELPED BEZALEL
6-8. (a) What did God’s spirit help Bezalel and Oholiab to do? (b) How do we know that Bezalel and Oholiab were guided by God’s spirit? (c) Why is Bezalel’s example encouraging for us today?
6 Another servant of Jehovah who lived at the time of Moses and also received the help of God’s spirit was Bezalel. His example teaches us a lot about the way God’s spirit can guide us. (Read Exodus 35:30-35.) Jehovah chose Bezalel to take the lead in making the necessary things for the tabernacle. Did Bezalel know how to make things before this big project began? Maybe. But his last job probably had been that of making bricks for the Egyptians. (Exodus 1:13, 14) So how would Bezalel take care of this difficult project? Jehovah “proceeded to fill him with the spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in every sort of craftsmanship and for designing devices.” This helped him “to make ingenious products of every sort.” God improved the natural ability that Bezalel and Oholiab may have had by giving them holy spirit. They were able to do the work and to teach others how to do it, so they must have learned well.
7 We also know that Bezalel and Oholiab were guided by holy spirit because of the excellent quality of their work. The things that they made lasted a long time. The people still used those things almost 500 years later. (2 Chronicles 1:2-6) Most people who make things today want others to honor them for their work. But Bezalel and Oholiab were not like that. They wanted Jehovah to receive all the honor.—Exodus 36:1, 2.
8 Today, we may have to do work that requires special abilities, such as building, printing, organizing conventions, helping our brothers after a disaster, and explaining to doctors and hospital workers what the Bible says about the use of blood. Sometimes, these things are done by some who have special abilities. But most of the time, they are done by volunteers who do not know much about that kind of work. But God’s spirit helps them to do the work well. Have you been afraid of accepting an assignment in Jehovah’s service because you think that others are more able to care for it than you are? Remember, Jehovah’s spirit can help you to use the knowledge and ability that you have to do any kind of work he gives you.
GOD’S SPIRIT HELPED JOSHUA TO LEAD GOD’S PEOPLE
9. What did the Israelites have to do shortly after they left Egypt? What question needed an answer?
9 God’s spirit also guided another servant of God who lived at the time of Moses and Bezalel. Shortly after the Israelites left Egypt, the Amalekites attacked God’s people. The Israelites were not used to fighting. Now they had to fight their first war as a freed people. (Exodus 13:17; 17:8) Someone had to lead them in battle. Who would it be?
10. Why did Joshua and the Israelites win the battle?
10 Jehovah chose Joshua, but it was not because Joshua had led armies before. What did he know about war? He had been a slave who made bricks. And in the wilderness he gathered manna for his daily food. It is true that Joshua’s grandfather Elishama was leader of the tribe of Ephraim and was in charge of an army of 108,100 men. (Numbers 2:18, 24; 1 Chronicles 7:26, 27) But Jehovah did not tell Moses to choose Elishama or Elishama’s son Nun. Jehovah said that Joshua should lead the army and defeat the enemy. The battle lasted most of the day. Because Joshua obeyed God and accepted the guidance of God’s spirit, Israel won the battle.—Exodus 17:9-13.
11. How can we do well in God’s service as Joshua did?
11 After Moses’ death, Joshua led the Israelites. Joshua was “full of the spirit of wisdom.” (Deuteronomy 34:9) Holy spirit did not give him the ability to prophesy or to make miracles happen as it had given Moses. However, it helped Joshua to lead Israel in the many battles they had to fight to conquer Canaan. Today, we may feel that we do not have the knowledge or ability to do certain things in our service to God. But we can be sure that God will help us to do well if we obey him and accept his guidance, just as he helped Joshua.—Joshua 1:7-9.
“JEHOVAH’S SPIRIT ENVELOPED GIDEON”
12-14. (a) What does the victory of the small Israelite army over the large Midianite army teach us? (b) How did Jehovah strengthen Gideon’s faith? (c) What help can we expect God to give us today?
12 After Joshua’s death, Jehovah continued to use his spirit to give strength to his faithful people. In the book of Judges, we can read about many people who “from a weak state were made powerful.” (Hebrews 11:34) God used his holy spirit to help Gideon to fight for Israel. (Judges 6:34) Gideon’s army was small compared with the Midianite army. There were four Midianite soldiers to each Israelite soldier. But Jehovah thought that the Israelite army had to be even smaller. Twice he told Gideon to send more men home. Finally, there was 1 Israelite soldier to every 450 Midianite soldiers. (Judges 7:2-8; 8:10) Jehovah approved of that number. That way, if the Israelites won the battle, no one could say with pride that it was by human strength or wisdom.
13 Gideon and his troops were almost ready. Think about this: If you had been part of that small army, would you have felt safe knowing that those who were afraid or not alert to danger had been sent home? Or would you have felt a little scared when thinking about what the results would be? We can be sure that Gideon trusted in God. He did what he was told to do! (Read Judges 7:9-14.) Jehovah did not get angry when Gideon asked him for a sign to prove that God would be with him. (Judges 6:36-40) Instead, he strengthened Gideon’s faith.
14 There is no limit to Jehovah’s power to save. He can save his people from any difficult situation. He can even use those who seem to be weak or helpless to do that. Sometimes we may feel that many people are against us or that we are in a desperate situation. We do not expect God to give us visible signs like the ones he gave Gideon. But he can give us guidance and comfort through the Bible and the congregation, which is led by his spirit. (Romans 8:31, 32) Jehovah’s loving promises strengthen our faith and our trust in Jehovah’s power to help us.
“JEHOVAH’S SPIRIT NOW CAME UPON JEPHTHAH”
15, 16. Why was Jephthah’s daughter willing to make sacrifices? How should this encourage parents?
15 We have another example of someone who was guided by God’s spirit. When the Israelites had to fight against the Ammonites, Jehovah’s spirit “came upon Jephthah.” Because he wanted to win the battle to Jehovah’s praise, Jephthah made a vow. To pay that vow to Jehovah, he would have to give up something that was very precious to him. He vowed that if Jehovah helped him to defeat the Ammonites, he would give to Jehovah the first person who came out of the house when he returned home. Jephthah’s daughter was the first person who came running to meet him after his victory. (Judges 11:29-31, 34) Was this a surprise to Jephthah? Probably not. He had only one child. He paid his vow by having her serve at Jehovah’s sanctuary at Shiloh. She was a loyal worshipper of Jehovah, and she believed that her father should do exactly as he had vowed. (Read Judges 11:36.) Jehovah’s spirit gave both of them the strength they needed.
16 Why was Jephthah’s daughter willing to make sacrifices to serve Jehovah? Her father’s zeal and godly devotion certainly helped to strengthen her faith. Parents, your children are watching your example. Your decisions show that you believe what you say. Your children listen to your sincere prayers, pay attention to your teaching, and see all the efforts you make to serve Jehovah with a complete heart. All of this will likely help them to have a strong desire to serve Jehovah. This will make you very happy.
“JEHOVAH’S SPIRIT BECAME OPERATIVE UPON” SAMSON
17. What did Samson do with the help of God’s spirit?
17 Another example of someone who was helped by God’s spirit is Samson. The Bible tells us that “Jehovah’s spirit started to impel” Samson to save the Israelites from the Philistines. (Judges 13:24, 25) God gave Samson amazing strength that no one else had. When the Philistines influenced other Israelites to capture Samson, “Jehovah’s spirit became operative upon him, and the ropes that were upon his arms came to be like linen threads that have been scorched with fire, so that his fetters melted off his hands.” (Judges 15:14) Later, Samson made bad decisions that caused him to lose his strength. But even when he was physically weak, Samson was made powerful “through faith” one last time. (Hebrews 11:32-34; Judges 16:18-21, 28-30) Because of the situation, Jehovah’s spirit helped Samson in a special way. Even though Jehovah is not going to give us the power to do what Samson did, Samson’s example can greatly encourage us. How?
18, 19. (a) How does Samson’s example encourage us? (b) How have the examples in this article helped you?
18 We trust in the help of the same holy spirit that helped Samson. We trust that it will help us to do the work that Jesus gave us, that is, “to preach to the people and to give a thorough witness.” (Acts 10:42) It may be difficult for us to do this work. So we are happy that Jehovah gives us his spirit to do everything that he asks us to do in his service! We agree with the prophet Isaiah: “The Sovereign Lord Jehovah himself has sent me, even his spirit.” (Isaiah 48:16) It is really God’s spirit that has sent us! Jehovah will continue to help us to do the work by improving our abilities just as he did for Moses, Bezalel, and Joshua. We use “the sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word,” and trust that he will give us power, just as he did for Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson. (Ephesians 6:17, 18) If we trust that Jehovah will help us, he can give us the strength to do his work, just as he gave Samson physical strength.
19 Clearly, Jehovah blesses his courageous worshippers. Our faith becomes stronger when we allow ourselves to be guided by God’s holy spirit. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, there are also examples of those who were guided by God’s spirit. We will enjoy learning in the next article how Jehovah’s spirit helped his faithful servants in the first century, both before and after Pentecost of the year 33.
SOME WORDS EXPLAINED
▪ Guided by God’s spirit: To be guided by God’s spirit means to follow the direction of holy spirit
▪ Godly devotion: Loyal worship and service to God
WHAT IS YOUR ANSWER?
Why are you encouraged to know how holy spirit helped these servants of God:
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Jehovah will give you as much holy spirit as you need
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Jehovah’s spirit can help you to do any kind of work he gives you
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God gives us guidance through the Bible and the congregation
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Jehovah’s spirit can give us stronger faith
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Parents, your good example will help your children to want to serve Jehovah