“Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.”
1. What need do humans have, and who can fill this need?
EVERYONE needs to feel close to other people. It makes us happy to have family and friends who really love, value, and understand us. But the closest relationship we need to develop is with our Creator, Jehovah.
2. What does Jehovah promise us, but why do many people not believe this promise?
2 Jehovah invites us to be his friends. He promises that if we draw close to him, he will draw close to us. (James 4:8) Knowing this makes us feel happy. But many people think that it is not realistic to believe that God wants to be close to them. They feel that they are not worthy of having a relationship with him or that he is too far away. Is it really possible to draw close to Jehovah?
3. What must we believe about Jehovah?
3 Yes, it is possible to know Jehovah because “he is not far off from each one” who wants to find him. (Read Acts 17:26, 27; Psalm 145:18.) Jehovah is ready and willing to accept us as his close friends, even though we are imperfect humans. (Isaiah 41:8; 55:6) As a result of his own experience, the psalmist said about Jehovah: “O Hearer of prayer, to you people of all sorts will come. Happy is the one whom you choose and bring near.” (Psalm 65:2, 4) Let us now see from the Bible how King Asa of Judah drew close to God and how God also drew close to Asa. *
LEARN FROM AN ANCIENT EXAMPLE
4. What example did King Asa set for the people of Judah?
4 Asa was zealous for true worship. He became king at a time when temple prostitution and idolatry were very common in the land, and he obeyed Jehovah by removing these bad things. (1 Kings 15:9-13) Because Asa himself had drawn close to Jehovah and obeyed His laws, he could tell the people “to search for Jehovah the God of their forefathers and to observe the Law and the commandment.” Jehovah then blessed the first ten years of Asa’s rule with complete peace. Asa knew that this peace came from Jehovah, and he told the people: “We have searched, and he has given us rest all around.” (2 Chronicles 14:1-7) So, what happened next?
5. In what situation did Asa prove that he relied on God, and what was the result?
5 Imagine that you are King Asa. Zerah the Ethiopian is leading 1,000,000 men and 300 chariots to war against your nation. (2 Chronicles 14:8-10) He has almost twice as many soldiers as your army does. How would you react? Would you ask why God has not stopped this invasion? Would you rely on your own wisdom? Or rather, would you trust in Jehovah to protect you? Asa clearly showed that he had a close relationship with Jehovah and that he trusted in him fully. Asa cried out: “Help us, O Jehovah our God, for we are relying on you.” How did God answer him? “Jehovah defeated the Ethiopians.” Not one of the enemy survived.
We need to serve God with a complete heart so that we can be close to him
6. How should we imitate Asa?
6 How was Asa able to trust fully that God would protect and guide him? The Bible says that “Asa did what was right in the eyes of Jehovah” and that his “heart was complete with Jehovah.” (1 Kings 15:11, 14) We too need to serve God with a complete heart so that we can be close to him now and in the future. We are grateful that Jehovah has taken the initiative to draw us to him and that he helps us to have a close relationship with him. Let us see two ways in which God has done so.
JEHOVAH USES THE RANSOM TO DRAW US CLOSE
7. (a) What has Jehovah done that draws us to him? (b) What is the greatest way in which God draws us close to him?
7 Jehovah showed his love for humans when he created a beautiful earthly home for us. He continues to show his love by keeping us alive each day. (Acts 17:28; Revelation 4:11) An even greater way Jehovah shows his love is by providing for our spiritual needs. (Luke 12:42) He also assures us that he personally listens when we pray to him. (1 John 5:14) But the greatest way Jehovah draws us close to him and shows his love for us is through the ransom. (Read 1 John 4:9, 10, 19.) Jehovah sent his own Son to sacrifice his life for us. Only by means of this sacrifice can we hope to live forever as perfect humans.
Jehovah assures us that he personally listens when we pray to him
8, 9. What is Jesus’ role in Jehovah’s purpose?
8 Jehovah intended the ransom to benefit all humans, even those who lived before the ransom was paid. How was this possible? When he gave the prophecy about our future Savior, Jehovah viewed the ransom as already paid because he knew that his purpose for mankind would not fail. (Genesis 3:15) Hundreds of years later, the apostle Paul thanked Jehovah for “the release by the ransom paid by Christ Jesus.” Paul explained that God “was forgiving the sins that occurred in the past.” (Romans 3:21-26) So we cannot draw close to God without Jesus.
The ransom was paid, not because we earned it, but because Jehovah and Jesus loved us so much
9 Jehovah allows humble people to enjoy a close relationship with him only through Jesus. The Bible says: “God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8) The ransom was paid, not because we earned it, but because Jehovah and Jesus loved us so much. Jesus said: “No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him.” He also said: “No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 6:44; 14:6) By means of holy spirit, Jehovah draws people to himself through Jesus and helps them to have a good relationship with Him, so that they can live forever. (Read Jude 20, 21.) Let us now see a second way in which Jehovah draws us close to him.
JEHOVAH USES THE BIBLE TO DRAW US CLOSE
10. How does the Bible help us draw closer to God?
10 So far in this article, we have used scriptures from 14 Bible books. Using his holy spirit, Jehovah inspired the writing of the Bible to draw us close to him. Without the Bible, how would we know that we can draw close to our Creator? Without it, how could we learn about the ransom and about the way Jesus helps us draw close to Jehovah? It is in the Bible that we learn about Jehovah’s beautiful personality and his purpose for mankind. For example, at Exodus 34:6, 7, Jehovah described himself as “merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and abundant in loyal love and truth, showing loyal love to thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin.” Who would not be drawn to someone like that? Jehovah knows that when we learn more about him, he will become more real to us and we will feel closer to him.
Jehovah had the Bible written in a way that is easy to understand
11. Why is it important to learn about Jehovah? (See opening picture.)
11 The beginning of the book Draw Close to Jehovah says that as we build a close friendship with someone, we get to know our friend and admire his qualities. So in order to have a close relationship with God, we need to learn who he really is by studying his qualities in the Bible. We can be very thankful that Jehovah had the Bible written in a way that is easy to understand.
12. Why did Jehovah use humans to write the Bible?
12 Jehovah could have used the angels to write the Bible. They are very interested in who we are and what we do. (1 Peter 1:12) They could have written Jehovah’s message to mankind perfectly. But angels are not like humans. They have never had the feelings, needs, and weaknesses that we have. Jehovah knows that angels are very different from us, so he wisely chose humans to write the Bible. When we read about the disappointments, doubts, fears, and mistakes of the Bible writers and others, we can feel their pain. And when we read about their happy times, we can feel their joy. Like the prophet Elijah, all the Bible writers had “feelings like ours.”
13. How does Jonah’s prayer make you feel?
13 For example, God gave Jonah an important assignment, but Jonah ran away. If an angel had written this story, he could not have fully described Jonah’s feelings. It was much better that Jehovah chose Jonah to write his own story, including his prayer to God from the depths of the sea. Jonah said: “When my life was ebbing away, Jehovah was the One whom I remembered.”
14. Why can you understand what Isaiah wrote about himself?
14 We can find another example in what Isaiah wrote about himself. When a vision of Jehovah’s glory helped him realize how sinful he was, he said: “Woe to me! I am as good as dead, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of armies himself!” (Isaiah 6:5) An angel could never have said that about himself, but Isaiah could and did. Because we are imperfect like Isaiah, we can imagine how he must have felt.
15, 16. (a) Why can we understand the feelings of other humans? Give examples. (b) What will help us to draw closer to Jehovah?
15 Angels could not have called themselves “unworthy,” as Jacob did, or “sinful,” as Peter did. (Genesis 32:10; Luke 5:8) They would not have been “fearful,” as Jesus’ disciples were at times. Angels would not have needed boldness to preach the good news while being persecuted, as Paul and others did. (John 6:19; 1 Thessalonians 2:2) This is because angels are perfect in every way and are much stronger than humans. Like the humans Jehovah used to write the Bible, we too are imperfect, so we can understand their feelings. When we read what they wrote, we can “rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.”
16 By meditating on how Jehovah treated his faithful servants in the past, we will discover many wonderful things about our God. We will see that he drew close to those imperfect humans in a patient and loving way. As we get to know Jehovah very well and come to love him deeply, we will draw closer to him.
By meditating on how Jehovah treated his faithful servants in the past, we will discover many wonderful things about our God
BUILD AN UNBREAKABLE BOND WITH GOD
17. (a) What good counsel did Azariah give Asa? (b) How did Asa ignore Azariah’s counsel, and what was the result?
17 There is more that we can learn from King Asa. After he defeated the Ethiopian army, the prophet Azariah gave him wise counsel. Azariah said: “Jehovah is with you as long as you remain with him; and if you search for him, he will let himself be found by you, but if you abandon him, he will abandon you.” (2 Chronicles 15:1, 2) Later, though, Asa did not obey this good counsel. When the northern kingdom of Israel came to fight Judah, Asa became afraid. He did not ask Jehovah for help but made an alliance with the Syrians, who were pagans. Jehovah told him: “You have acted foolishly in this matter; from now on there will be wars against you.” And this is just what happened. (2 Chronicles 16:1-9) What is the lesson for us?
18, 19. (a) What should we do if we are not as close to Jehovah as we used to be? (b) How can we continue to draw closer to Jehovah?
18 We should never draw away from Jehovah. If we are not as close to him as we used to be, let us immediately do what Hosea 12:6 says: “Return to your God, maintain loyal love and justice, and always hope in your God.” When we meditate on the ransom and carefully study the Bible, we can draw closer and closer to Jehovah.
19 The psalmist wrote: “Drawing near to God is good for me.” (Psalm 73:28) It is good for each of us too. Let us make it our goal to continue to learn new things about Jehovah. As we do, we will love him more and more. When we draw closer to him, Jehovah will draw closer to us now and forever!
^ par. 3 See the article about Asa entitled “There Exists a Reward for Your Activity,” in the August 15, 2012, issue of The Watchtower.