“This is the heritage of Jehovah’s servants.”
1. What did Jehovah give mankind for their benefit?
JEHOVAH lives forever, and he has told us what we need to do so that we can live forever. Those instructions have not changed. The Bible says: “The saying of Jehovah endures forever.” (1 Peter 1:23-25) We should be grateful that he has given us the Bible and its important message.
2. What does God want us to know about him?
2 Jehovah wants all of us to know his name. The Bible first mentions Jehovah’s name when describing how he made the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 2:4) God miraculously wrote his name several times on stone tablets when he gave Moses the Ten Commandments. For example, the first commandment began: “I am Jehovah your God.” (Exodus 20:1-17) The Devil has tried to destroy the Bible so that we would not be able to know God and His name. But Jehovah has not let that happen.
3. What else does God want us to learn from the Bible?
3 People have many wrong ideas about God. But Jehovah wants all of us to know the truth. We should be glad that the Bible clearly tells us what the truth is. (Read Psalm 43:3, 4.) It is as if we have light while the world is in darkness.
WE HAVE A SPECIAL HERITAGE
4, 5. What special privilege did we receive in 1931?
4 People living in the same area might have similar qualities, traditions, and ways of life that each generation teaches the next. This can be called their heritage. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we have something similar. Jehovah has helped his people to understand the Bible and the truth about him and his purposes. He has also given us the special honor to be called by his name.
We should appreciate the heritage Jehovah has given us
5 We received our name at a convention in Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A., in 1931. The letters “JW” were printed on the convention program. One sister said that the brothers and sisters thought it meant “Just Wait” or “Just Watch,” and some even guessed “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Before that time we had been called Bible Students, but all in the audience during a special talk on July 26, 1931, agreed to be called Jehovah’s Witnesses from then on. That was a very exciting day, because we received a new name that came from the Bible. (Read Isaiah 43:12.) “I will never forget the tremendous shout and applause,” said one brother. No one else in the world wanted that name, but God has allowed us to have that very special name for more than 80 years!
6. What information is part of our heritage?
6 Another part of our heritage is the accurate and important information in the Bible about God’s servants in the past. For example, it tells us what happened to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They must have often talked with their families about the way of life that was acceptable to Jehovah. Discussions such as these must have helped Joseph to refuse to commit adultery with Potiphar’s wife. (Genesis 39:7-9) In the first century, Christians shared information about God with one another. Paul told the congregation what Jesus had taught him about the Lord’s Evening Meal. (1 Corinthians 11:2, 23) All of this is in the Bible so that we can learn how to worship God. (Read John 4:23, 24.) The Bible can help all mankind, but as Jehovah’s people we should be especially grateful for it.
7. What promise is part of our heritage?
7 Jehovah helps his people in our day too. (Psalm 118:7) We can read in our publications about what he is doing to protect them. This makes us feel safe, even if we are persecuted. The Bible promises that any weapon, or effort to hurt us, will not be successful. And if others try to speak against God’s people in a court, they will later be proved wrong because our righteousness comes from Jehovah. This is part of our heritage. (Isaiah 54:17) Satan can do nothing that will hurt us forever.
8. What will we discuss in this article and in the next?
8 Satan has tried to destroy the Bible, prevent people from knowing Jehovah’s name, and hide the truth. But Satan has failed. In this article and in the next, we will talk about (1) how God has made sure that the Bible and its message have been protected; (2) how Jehovah has made sure that people can know his name; and (3) how God has made it possible for us to know the truth today.
JEHOVAH HAS PROTECTED THE BIBLE AND ITS MESSAGE
9-11. How has Jehovah protected the Bible?
9 There have been many efforts to destroy the Bible, but Jehovah has protected it. The Catholic Church has tried to prevent people from reading the Bible. In the year 1229, a church council in France made a law that said that it was wrong for people to read the Bible in their own language. In Spain, in the year 1234, a similar law was made. Later, in the year 1559, Pope Paul IV included the Bible on a list of books that a person could not print or own without the permission of the church.
10 Even though people have tried to destroy the Bible, Jehovah has protected it. In about 1382, John Wycliffe produced the first Bible translation in English. William Tyndale also translated the Bible into English. As a result, he was put to death in 1536. He was tied to a wooden pole, and he shouted: “Lord, open the eyes of the king of England.” Then he was strangled, and his body was burned.
The New World Translation uses God’s name and is clear and accurate
11 In 1535, Miles Coverdale also translated the Bible into English. Coverdale used Tyndale’s translation for part of his Bible, and he translated other parts from Latin and from Martin Luther’s Bible in German. In our day, we have the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. We are happy to have this translation because it is clear, accurate, and easy to use in our preaching work. Neither Satan nor humans have been able to destroy the Bible.
JEHOVAH HAS MADE SURE THAT WE CAN KNOW HIS NAME
12. How has the New World Translation helped people to know Jehovah’s name?
12 Jehovah God has made sure that his name has never been removed from all Bibles. When the New World Translation was produced, the brothers made sure to use God’s name, Jehovah, in every place it was written in the original Bible books. The name is in the Hebrew Scriptures 6,973 times and in the Christian Greek Scriptures 237 times. The New World Translation is now available in over 116 languages. More than 178,545,862 copies have been printed.
13. How do we know that people have known God’s name since mankind was first created?
13 The first humans, Adam and Eve, knew Jehovah’s name and used it. Noah too used the name. He said: “Blessed be Jehovah, Shem’s God.” (Genesis 4:1; 9:26) God used his own name when speaking to people. He said: “I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to no one else shall I give my own glory.” God also stated: “I am Jehovah, and there is no one else. With the exception of me there is no God.” (Isaiah 42:8; 45:5) Jehovah has made sure that people around the earth can know his name. We should feel honored to use the name Jehovah and to be his Witnesses! This is what the Bible means when it says: “In the name of our God we shall lift our banners.”
14. In addition to the Bible, where else does God’s name appear?
14 God’s name does not appear only in the Bible. For example, it appears on the Moabite Stone, which was found at Dhiban (Dibon), 21 kilometers (13 miles) east of the Dead Sea. On the stone was written a story that mentions Israel’s King Omri and that includes what Moabite King Mesha said about his battle against Israel. (1 Kings 16:28; 2 Kings 1:1; 3:4, 5) The Moabite Stone includes God’s name, written as the Tetragrammaton. The Tetragrammaton also appears many times in the Lachish Letters, which were pieces of pottery found in Israel.
15. What is the Septuagint, and why was it needed?
15 More than 2,000 years ago, the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek and published as the Septuagint. Why was a translation into Greek necessary? The Jews had been prisoners in Babylon for 70 years. When they were released in the year 537 before our Common Era, some chose to stay in Babylon. But in time, many Jews moved to Alexandria, Egypt, where people spoke Greek. These Jews needed a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. Some copies of the Greek Septuagint contain God’s name in Hebrew.
16. How did the Bay Psalm Book use God’s name?
16 The first book published in the American colonies was a translation of Psalms that contains the divine name. It was translated from Hebrew into English. It is called the Bay Psalm Book and was first printed in 1640. One of the places it uses God’s name, spelled Iehovah, is at Psalm 1:1, 2. It says that a blessed man does not listen to the wicked, but he longs for “the law of Iehovah.” For more information about God’s name, see the brochure The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever.
JEHOVAH HAS MADE SURE THAT WE CAN KNOW THE TRUTH
17, 18. (a) What is truth? (b) What facts are part of “the truth of the good news”?
17 We joyfully serve “Jehovah the God of truth.” (Psalm 31:5) What is truth? It involves the facts about something. In the original Bible languages, the words that are often translated as “truth” refer to something that is true, right, and worthy of our trust.
18 Jehovah has made sure that we can know the truth today. And he keeps helping us to learn more about the truth. (2 John 1, 2) This is what we learn from Proverbs 4:18, which says: “The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.” Jesus said in a prayer to God: “Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) The Bible has “the truth of the good news,” which is all the facts that we believe as Christians. (Galatians 2:14) What are some of these facts? The truth about Jehovah’s name, his rulership, the ransom sacrifice of Jesus, the resurrection, and the Kingdom. We will now learn how God has protected the truth even though Satan has tried to hide it.
JEHOVAH STOPS SATAN FROM HIDING THE TRUTH
19, 20. Who was Nimrod? What did humans try to do when he was ruling?
19 After the Flood, there was a mighty hunter named Nimrod, who opposed Jehovah. (Genesis 10:9) Because Nimrod opposed Jehovah God, he was really serving Satan. Nimrod was like the ones who later opposed God’s Son. Jesus said to them: “You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father,” who “did not stand fast in the truth.”
20 Nimrod ruled over Babel and other cities between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. (Genesis 10:10) He may have been the one who started to build Babel and its tower about the year 2269 before our Common Era. Jehovah did not want mankind to stay in one place, but the builders of Babel said: “Come on! Let us build ourselves a city and also a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a celebrated name for ourselves, for fear we may be scattered over all the surface of the earth.” They were not able to finish this tower because God “confused the language of all the earth.” So the people moved away from Babel. (Genesis 11:1-4, 8, 9) Satan wanted to destroy true worship and to make everyone worship him. But Jehovah protected true worship, and now each day more and more people begin to worship him.
21, 22. (a) Why has true worship never actually been in danger? (b) What will we learn about in the next article?
21 True worship has actually never been in danger. Why? Because our Grand Instructor, Jehovah, has made sure that we have the Bible, that we know his name, and that we know the truth. (Isaiah 30:20, 21) When we worship God the way he wants us to, we have real joy. But we have to be careful to believe only what is true and to follow the guidance we receive from his holy spirit.
True worship has actually never been in danger
22 In the next article, we will learn how some churches started to teach wrong things about God. We will learn that the Scriptures do not teach these wrong things. And we will see that Jehovah has blessed us by giving us true information about himself. All of this is a very special heritage.