“Become holy yourselves in all your conduct.”
1, 2. (a) What does Jehovah expect from his people? (b) This article will answer what questions?
UNDER inspiration, the apostle Peter quoted the book of Leviticus and explained that Christians must be holy just as the Israelites had to be holy. (Read 1 Peter 1:14-16.) “The Holy One,” Jehovah, expects the anointed and the “other sheep” to do their best to become holy in all their conduct.
2 In this article, we will extract principles from the book of Leviticus that will help us to learn God’s standard of holiness and to apply it in our lives. We will also answer the following questions: How should we view compromise? What does Leviticus teach us about supporting Jehovah’s sovereignty? What can we learn from the sacrifices that the Israelites offered?
BEWARE OF COMPROMISE
3, 4. (a) Why must Christians avoid compromising on Bible laws and principles? (b) Why should we not take revenge or hold a grudge?
3 To please Jehovah, we must obey his laws and principles, never having an unholy, compromising attitude toward any of them. Today, we are not under the Law of Moses, but that Law helps us to understand what is acceptable or unacceptable to Jehovah. For example, the Israelites were told: “You must not take vengeance nor hold a grudge against the sons of your people, and you must love your fellow man as yourself. I am Jehovah.”
4 Jehovah does not want us to take revenge or hold a grudge. (Romans 12:19) If we were to ignore God’s laws and principles, Satan would be happy and we would dishonor God’s name. Even if someone hurts us, we should not become so angry that it consumes us. The Bible describes us as “earthen vessels,” or clay containers, that hold a treasure. This treasure is the ministry. (2 Corinthians 4:1, 7) We do not want to put resentment, which is like acid, in the same vessel as a valuable treasure.
5. What can we learn from the account of Aaron and the death of his sons? (See opening picture.)
5 At Leviticus 10:1-11, we read about a situation that caused Aaron’s family extreme pain. Jehovah sent fire from heaven to destroy Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu. God then told Aaron and his family that they could not show their grief in any way. What a test of faith! Are you proving yourself holy by not associating with family members or others who are disfellowshipped?
6, 7. (a) When deciding whether to participate in a church wedding, what must we think about? (See footnote.) (b) How might we explain why we would not participate in a church wedding?
6 We may not be tested the way that Aaron and his family were. But what if we were invited to attend and participate in a church wedding of a relative who is not a Witness? There is no law in the Bible that says we cannot attend, but there are principles that should affect our decision. *
7 Our decision to please Jehovah and remain holy may confuse our relatives. (1 Peter 4:3, 4) We do not wish to offend them, so we should speak with them in a kind but honest way. If possible, we should have this discussion long before the event. We can thank them for inviting us to be a part of the wedding. Then we might say that we want them to be happy on their special day and that we would not want to embarrass them and their guests by not participating in the religious ceremony. This is one way we can avoid compromising our beliefs and faith.
SUPPORT JEHOVAH’S SOVEREIGNTY
8. How does Leviticus emphasize Jehovah’s sovereignty?
8 The book of Leviticus emphasizes Jehovah’s sovereignty. More than 30 times, we read that the laws in Leviticus come from God. Moses knew this and did exactly what Jehovah commanded him to do. (Leviticus 8:4, 5) Like Moses, we should always do what our Sovereign, Jehovah, wants us to do. Even though God’s organization will help us, at times our faith is tested when we are alone, just as it happened to Jesus in the wilderness. (Luke 4:1-13) If we trust in God and support his sovereignty, nobody can cause us to compromise. We will not give in to fear.
Like Moses, we should always do what our Sovereign, Jehovah, wants us to do
9. Why are God’s people hated in all nations?
9 We should expect that God’s people around the world will be persecuted, because Jesus told his disciples: “People will hand you over to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be hated by all the nations on account of my name.” (Matthew 24:9) Even though we are hated, we continue to preach and remain holy in all our conduct. We are honest and physically and morally clean. We are also good citizens. So why do some people hate us? (Romans 13:1-7) Because we obey Jehovah as our Sovereign and no one else. We worship “him alone” and will never compromise on his righteous laws and principles.
10. What happened to one brother who compromised his neutrality?
10 We are “no part of the world,” so we are neutral and do not get involved in the world’s wars and politics. (Read John 15:18-21; Isaiah 2:4.) Some dedicated Christians have compromised their neutrality. Many of these repented and returned to Jehovah. (Psalm 51:17) However, a few did not repent. For example, during World War II, many brothers were unjustly put in prisons throughout Hungary. Officials gathered 160 of them who were under 45 years of age into one town and ordered them to join the army. Most refused, but nine took the military oath and accepted uniforms. Two years later, one who compromised was assigned to execute the faithful Witnesses. His own fleshly brother was one of them! However, the faithful Witnesses who were condemned were not executed.
OFFER JEHOVAH YOUR BEST
11, 12. What can we learn from the sacrifices offered in ancient Israel?
11 The Law specified what sacrifices the Israelites had to offer. (Leviticus 9:1-4, 15-21) The sacrifices had to be unblemished because they pointed to Jesus’ perfect sacrifice. Also, the Israelites had to follow a specific procedure with each type of sacrifice. Leviticus 12:6 describes what a mother of a newborn child was required to do: “When the days of her purification for a son or a daughter are completed, she will bring a young ram in its first year for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering to the entrance of the tent of meeting, to the priest.” Although Jehovah’s requirements were specific, the Law made it clear that he is loving and reasonable. For example, if the mother could not afford a sheep, she was allowed to offer two turtledoves or two young pigeons. (Leviticus 12:8) Even though she was poor, Jehovah loved and appreciated her just as much as those who could offer an expensive gift. What can we learn from this?
The Law made it clear that Jehovah is loving and reasonable
12 The apostle Paul urged Christians to offer to God “a sacrifice of praise.” (Hebrews 13:15) We offer a sacrifice of praise when we speak to others about Jehovah’s name. Brothers and sisters who are deaf use sign language to praise God. Christians who are unable to leave their homes praise Jehovah by letter writing, telephone witnessing, and preaching to visitors. How much we are able to do in praising Jehovah will depend on our health and ability, but what we offer should always be our best.
13. Why should we report the time we spend in the ministry?
13 Because we love Jehovah, we willingly offer him sacrifices of praise. (Matthew 22:37, 38) But what should be our attitude when we are asked to report the time we spend in the ministry every month? We should be willing to do it because in this way, we show our godly devotion. (2 Peter 1:7) Still, no one should feel that he must spend many hours in the ministry just to turn in a larger report. In fact, if a publisher is unable to do much in the ministry because of his age or health, he can report as little as 15 minutes. Since this is the best he can do, Jehovah is happy with that. Jehovah also knows that our brothers and sisters love him and really want to be his Witnesses. Just like those in ancient Israel who although poor could still offer a gift to God, today those who are limited can still turn in a report with which they can be happy. Our report is included in the total world report, which helps the organization to plan for the needs of the field. This is the reason why we report the time we spend in the ministry.
OUR STUDY HABITS AND SACRIFICES OF PRAISE
14. Explain why we should examine our study habits.
14 After learning these valuable lessons from the book of Leviticus, do you have a deeper appreciation for the reasons why this book has been included in God’s inspired Word? (2 Timothy 3:16) Are you more determined to remain holy? Jehovah requires that we give him our best, and he deserves it. You may also want to study the rest of the Bible more deeply. (Read Proverbs 2:1-5.) Examine your study habits prayerfully. Ask yourself: ‘Am I giving Jehovah my best? Or do I allow television programs, video games, sports activities, or hobbies to keep me from making progress in the truth?’ If so, it may be good to think seriously about what Paul said in the book of Hebrews.
15, 16. Why was Paul so direct when he wrote to the Hebrew Christians?
15 Paul was very straightforward when he wrote to the Hebrew Christians. (Read Hebrews 5:7, 11-14.) He told them: “You have become dull in your hearing.” Why was he so direct? Like Jehovah, he loved them and was concerned that they were trying to survive on only milk, or a basic knowledge of the Bible. Even though understanding basic teachings is important, we need to take in “solid food,” that is, deeper Bible teachings, if we want to make progress in the truth.
16 Instead of being able to teach others, the Hebrews needed someone to teach them. Why? They avoided “solid food.” Ask yourself: ‘Do I have the right attitude toward deeper Bible teachings? Am I eager to study them? Or do I avoid deep study and prayer? If so, are my study habits part of the problem?’ We not only must preach to people but also teach them and make disciples.
17, 18. (a) Why should we regularly take in “solid food”? (b) How should we view the use of alcohol before our meetings?
17 Jehovah does not use guilt to make us want to study the Bible. Even if Bible study is not easy for us, we should continue to take in “solid food” no matter how long we have been in the truth. This is essential if we want to remain holy.
18 To be holy, we must examine the Scriptures carefully and do exactly what God asks of us. Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu were executed for offering “unauthorized fire,” perhaps while they were under the influence of alcohol. (Leviticus 10:1, 2) Note what God then told Aaron. (Read Leviticus 10:8-11.) Does this passage mean that we must not drink anything alcoholic before going to a Christian meeting? Think about these points: We are not under the Law. (Romans 10:4) In some lands, our fellow believers use alcoholic beverages in moderation at meals before attending meetings. Four cups of wine were used at the Passover. When instituting the Memorial, Jesus had his apostles drink wine that represented his blood. (Matthew 26:27) The Bible condemns heavy drinking and drunkenness. (1 Corinthians 6:10; 1 Timothy 3:8) And because of their conscience, many Christians may not drink any alcohol before worshipping Jehovah. However, circumstances are different from one country to another, and the important thing is for Christians to “distinguish between the holy thing and the profane” so that they can remain holy and please Jehovah.
19. (a) How can we make our family worship and personal study meaningful? (b) How can you show that you are determined to remain holy?
19 There are many beautiful Bible principles that we can discover if we make a careful search of God’s Word. Use the research tools available to make your family worship and personal study meaningful. Get to know Jehovah and his purposes better. Draw close to him. (James 4:8) Pray to God as the psalmist did who sang: “Open my eyes so that I may see clearly the wonderful things from your law.” (Psalm 119:18) Never compromise on Bible laws and principles. Willingly obey the law of “the Holy One,” Jehovah, and zealously participate in “the holy work of the good news of God.” (1 Peter 1:15; Romans 15:16) We need to remain holy during these wicked last days. May all of us be holy in our conduct and support Jehovah’s sovereignty.
^ par. 6 See “Questions From Readers” in The Watchtower of May 15, 2002.