“Noah, Daniel, and Job . . . would be able to save only themselves because of their righteousness.”—EZEK. 14:14.
SONGS: 6, 54
1, 2. (a) Why can we take courage from the examples of Noah, Daniel, and Job? (b) Under what circumstances did Ezekiel write the words recorded at Ezekiel 14:14?
ARE you dealing with trials, such as ill health, financial problems, or persecution? Do you at times find it hard to maintain your joy in Jehovah’s service? If so, take courage from the examples of Noah, Daniel, and Job. They were imperfect, and they faced many of the challenges we face, including some that were life threatening. Yet, they held on to their integrity, becoming models of faith and obedience in the eyes of God.—Read Ezekiel 14:12-14.
2 Ezekiel wrote the words of our theme text in Babylonia in 612 B.C.E. * (Ezek. 1:1; 8:1) Apostate Jerusalem was nearing its foretold destruction, which occurred in 607 B.C.E. Only relatively few individuals reflected the qualities of Noah, Daniel, and Job and were thus marked for survival. (Ezek. 9:1-5) Among those few were Jeremiah, Baruch, Ebed-melech, and the Rechabites.
3. What will we consider in this article?
3 Likewise today, only those whom Jehovah considers blameless—people like Noah, Daniel, and Job—will be marked for survival when the present system of things comes to an end. (Rev. 7:9, 14) So let us consider why Jehovah used those men as examples of righteousness. As we discuss each one, we will focus on (1) what challenges the man faced and (2) how we can imitate his faith and obedience.
NOAH—FAITHFUL AND OBEDIENT FOR NINE CENTURIES
4, 5. What challenges did Noah face, and why was his endurance remarkable?
4 Challenges that Noah faced. By the time of Noah’s great-grandfather Enoch, people had become very ungodly. They were even saying “shocking things” against Jehovah. (Jude 14, 15) Violence was increasing. In fact, in Noah’s day, “the earth was filled with violence.” Wicked angels materialized as humans, took wives, and produced brutal, hybrid offspring. (Gen. 6:2-4, 11, 12) But Noah stood out as different. “Noah found favor in the eyes of Jehovah. . . . He proved himself faultless among his contemporaries. Noah walked with the true God.”—Read Genesis 6:8, 9.
5 Consider what those words say about that righteous man. For one thing, Noah did not walk with God in that wicked pre-Flood world for a mere 70 or 80 years—the life span of many today. He lived in that world for almost 600 years! (Gen. 7:11) And unlike us today, he did not have a congregation of fellow worshippers—evidently not even his siblings—to turn to for spiritual support. *
6. In what ways did Noah show great courage?
6 Noah was not content just to lead a good life. He also became a bold “preacher of righteousness,” publicly confessing his faith in Jehovah. (2 Pet. 2:5) “Through this faith he condemned the world,” wrote the apostle Paul. (Heb. 11:7) It stands to reason, therefore, that Noah faced ridicule and opposition, perhaps even threats of violence. But he was not “trembling at men.” (Prov. 29:25) Rather, he had the courage that Jehovah gives to his faithful servants.
7. When building the ark, what challenges did Noah face?
7 After Noah had walked with God for more than five centuries, Jehovah told him to build an ark for the saving of human and animal life. (Gen. 5:32; 6:14) How difficult that project must have seemed—and not just from the construction point of view! Noah surely knew that it would bring on even more ridicule and opposition. Still, he obediently went ahead in faith. “He did just so.”—Gen. 6:22.
8. In what ways did Noah trust in Jehovah as his Provider?
8 Another challenge for Noah was that of providing materially for his wife and children. Before the Flood, people had to work extra hard to grow food, and Noah was surely no exception. (Gen. 5:28, 29) Even so, he centered his life, not on material concerns, but on God. Even when building the ark, which may have taken as long as 40 or 50 years, Noah kept his spiritual focus. And he continued to do so for another 350 years after the Flood. (Gen. 9:28) What a fine example of faith and obedience!
9, 10. (a) How can we imitate Noah’s faith and obedience? (b) How does God view all who uphold his standards?
9 How we can imitate Noah’s faith and obedience. We do so by upholding God’s righteousness, by being no part of Satan’s world, and by keeping Kingdom interests in first place. (Matt. 6:33; John 15:19) To be sure, our way of life does not win us the world’s approval. Indeed, even now, our firm stand for God’s laws, such as those concerning marriage and sexual morality, has led to negative publicity in some lands. (Read Malachi 3:17, 18.) Like Noah, however, we fear Jehovah, not men. We know that he alone gives everlasting life.—Luke 12:4, 5.
10 But what about you personally? Will you keep ‘walking with God,’ even when others mock or criticize you or when economic pressures test your faith in your Provider? If you imitate the faith and obedience of Noah, you can be confident that Jehovah will care for you.—Phil. 4:6, 7.
DANIEL—FAITHFUL AND OBEDIENT IN A WICKED CITY
11. What big challenges did Daniel and his three companions face in Babylon? (See opening picture.)
11 Challenges that Daniel faced. Daniel lived as a captive in Babylon, a city filled with idolatry and spiritism. Moreover, the Babylonians looked down on the Jews, mocking both them and their God, Jehovah. (Ps. 137:1, 3) How this must have hurt faithful Jews like Daniel! Also, he and his three companions—Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah—were in the spotlight, as it were, because they were to be trained in the king’s service. Even their diet was set for them. In fact, food and drink soon became an issue because Daniel did not want to “defile himself with the king’s delicacies.”—Dan. 1:5-8, 14-17.
12. (a) What fine qualities did Daniel display? (b) How did Jehovah view Daniel?
12 A more subtle challenge for Daniel could have involved his exceptional abilities, which led to his receiving special privileges. (Dan. 1:19, 20) But instead of becoming arrogant and opinionated, he remained humble and modest, always giving due credit to Jehovah. (Dan. 2:30) In fact, it was while Daniel was still a young man that Jehovah counted him worthy of being mentioned as an example of righteousness, along with Noah and Job. Was God’s confidence in Daniel misplaced? Not at all! Daniel stayed faithful and obedient to the very end of his life. Indeed, he was likely in his late 90’s when God’s angel warmly said to him: “O Daniel, you very precious man.”—Dan. 10:11.
13. How may Daniel have been a blessing to his fellow Jews?
13 As a result of divine favor, Daniel was made a high official under both Babylonian and Medo-Persian rule. (Dan. 1:21; 6:1, 2) Perhaps Jehovah maneuvered matters this way so that Daniel could be a blessing to his own people, as were Joseph in Egypt and Esther and Mordecai in Persia. * (Dan. 2:48) Imagine how comforting it must have been for the Jewish captives, including Ezekiel, to see Jehovah’s hand in matters in this way!
14, 15. (a) In what ways are our circumstances similar to those of Daniel? (b) What can parents today learn from Daniel’s parents?
14 How we can imitate Daniel’s faith and obedience. Today, we live as foreigners, as it were, in a world that has been morally and spiritually corrupted by Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, “a dwelling place of demons.” (Rev. 18:2) Hence, we too stand out as different, even becoming targets for ridicule. (Mark 13:13) Like Daniel, therefore, let us draw close to Jehovah, our God. When we humbly and obediently trust in him, we too will be precious in his eyes.—Hag. 2:7.
15 Parents can learn from the example of Daniel’s parents. How so? Despite the wickedness that prevailed in Judah during Daniel’s early childhood, the boy grew to love God. This, of course, was no accident. It reflected good parental training. (Prov. 22:6) Even Daniel’s name, which means “My Judge Is God,” points to God-fearing parents. (Dan. 1:6, ftn.) So parents, do not give up on your children, but teach them patiently. (Eph. 6:4) Also, pray with them and for them. When you strive to impress Bible truth on their hearts, you invite Jehovah’s rich blessing.—Ps. 37:5.
JOB—FAITHFUL AND OBEDIENT WHETHER RICH OR POOR
16, 17. What contrasting challenges did Job experience?
16 Challenges that Job faced. The life of Job is a study in contrasts. Before his trial, he was “the greatest of all the people of the East.” (Job 1:3) He was wealthy, well-known, and highly respected. (Job 29:7-16) Yet, despite all of this, Job did not develop a lofty view of himself or feel that he did not need God. In fact, Jehovah called him “my servant,” adding: “He is an upright man of integrity, fearing God and shunning what is bad.”—Job 1:8.
17 In a very short space of time, Job’s life changed dramatically. He was driven to the depths of poverty and despair. The cause, we know, was the slanderer Satan, who lyingly accused Job of worshipping God out of self-interest. (Read Job 1:9, 10.) Jehovah did not sweep aside that wicked accusation. Instead, he gave Job the opportunity to prove his integrity, to show that his worship stemmed from a pure, unselfish heart.
18. (a) What impresses you about Job’s integrity? (b) What do Jehovah’s dealings with Job reveal about Him?
18 Satan launched a series of vicious attacks against Job, leading Job to assume that God was to blame. (Job 1:13-21) Then three false comforters arrived and attacked Job with cruel words, basically saying that God was giving him what he deserved! (Job 2:11; 22:1, 5-10) Yet, Job maintained his integrity. Yes, he spoke rashly at times, but Jehovah understood the pain Job felt. (Job 6:1-3) God saw a deeply depressed man who never turned his back on Him, even though Satan, in effect, threw Job to the ground and then verbally kicked him with lying insults. When the trial was over, Jehovah gave Job double what he had before the trial began, as well as an added 140 years of life. (Jas. 5:11) During that time, he continued to give Jehovah exclusive devotion. How can we be sure? Job had been dead for many centuries when Ezekiel recorded the words of our theme text.
19, 20. (a) How can we imitate Job’s faith and obedience? (b) In our dealings with others, how can we reflect God’s compassion?
19 How we can imitate Job’s faith and obedience. No matter what our circumstances may be, let us always keep Jehovah at the center of our lives, trusting him fully and obeying him with a complete heart. Indeed, we have even more reason to do so than Job had! Consider: We know a lot about Satan and his tactics. (2 Cor. 2:11) Thanks in part to the book of Job, we know why God permits suffering. From Daniel’s prophecy, we understand that God’s Kingdom is a world government in the hands of Christ Jesus. (Dan. 7:13, 14) And we know that this Kingdom will soon bring a permanent end to all suffering.
20 Job’s experience also highlights our need to show compassion to fellow Christians who may be enduring hardships. Like Job, some may even speak rashly at times. (Eccl. 7:7) But instead of judging them, let us show insight and compassion. In this way, we imitate our loving and merciful Father, Jehovah.—Ps. 103:8.
JEHOVAH “WILL MAKE YOU STRONG”
21. How do the words at 1 Peter 5:10 reflect what occurred in the lives of Noah, Daniel, and Job?
21 Although Noah, Daniel, and Job lived at different times and under very different circumstances, they endured the challenges they faced. Their life stories call to mind the words of the apostle Peter, who wrote: “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.”—Read 1 Peter 5:10.
22. What will we consider in the next article?
22 Through Peter’s inspired words, Jehovah assures us that he will make his servants firm and strong. These words also apply to God’s people today. All of us desire to be made strong by Jehovah and to remain firm in our worship. Therefore, we want to imitate the faith and obedience of Noah, Daniel, and Job! As we shall see in the next article, the key to their integrity was that they truly knew Jehovah. In fact, they ‘understood everything’ he required of them. (Prov. 28:5) The same can be true of us.
^ par. 2 Ezekiel was taken into exile in 617 B.C.E. Ezekiel 8:1–19:14 is dated “in the sixth year” of that exile, or 612 B.C.E.
^ par. 5 Noah’s God-fearing father, Lamech, died about five years before the Flood. If Noah’s mother and siblings were alive when the Flood began, they did not survive it.
^ par. 13 The same may have been true of Daniel’s three companions, who were also given positions of authority.—Dan. 2:49.