Comments You Will Not Hear at the 12-4-05 WT Study (November 1, 2005 issue)
Review comments will be in redWT material from today's WT will be in black
Quotes from other sources will be in quotes boxesw = Watchtower
g = Awake
JEHOVAH IS OUR SHEPHERD "Jehovah is my Shepherd. I shall lack nothing." -PSALM 23:1.
For Christians, who is the shepherd? Jesus or Jehovah? Where is Jesus in this article? What did Jesus say about the sheep? My lambs...my little sheep...Jesus' sheep. Whose voice do the sheep listen to? Jesus. I (Jesus) give them everlasting life.
John 21:15-17) 15 When, now, they had breakfasted, Jesus said to Simon Peter: "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him: "Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you." He said to him: "Feed my lambs." 16 Again he said to him, a second time: "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him: "Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you." He said to him: "Shepherd my little sheep." 17 He said to him the third time: "Simon son of John, do you have affection for me?" Peter became grieved that he said to him the third time: "Do you have affection for me?" So he said to him: "Lord, you know all things; you are aware that I have affection for you." Jesus said to him: "Feed my little sheep.
(John 10:1-5) . . .. 2 But he that enters through the door is shepherd of the sheep. 3 The doorkeeper opens to this one, and the sheep listen to his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has got all his own out, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice.
(John 10:27-28) 27 My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 And I give them everlasting life, and they will by no means ever be destroyed, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
START OF ARTICLE
IF YOU were asked to describe the way Jehovah cares for his people, what would
you say? What comparison could you draw that would convey the tender care that
he gives his faithful servants? Over 3,000 years ago, the royal psalmist David
put in writing a beautiful description of Jehovah, using an analogy drawn from
the occupation of David's early life.
His people--only JWs
His faithful servants--only JWs
David--OT example--is there no NT example. Is it because the NT doesn't talk about God as a shepherd?
2 As a young man, David had been a shepherd, so he knew about caring for sheep.
He was well-aware that sheep, if left to themselves, easily get lost and become
prey for robbers or wild beasts. (1 Samuel 17:34-36) Without a caring shepherd,
they may not find their pasture and their food. In his later years, David no
doubt had fond memories of the many hours he had spent leading, protecting, and
feeding sheep. It is not surprising that the work of a shepherd came to mind
when David was inspired to describe the care that Jehovah shows for his people.
The 23rd Psalm, penned by David, begins with the words: "Jehovah is my Shepherd.
I shall lack nothing." Let us consider why this is a fitting statement. Then,
with the help of Psalm 23, we will see in what ways Jehovah cares for his
worshippers as a shepherd cares for his sheep. -1 Peter 2:25.
Prey for robbers or wild beasts--inside or outside the congregation?
(Matthew 7:15) 15 "Be on the watch for the false prophets that come to YOU in sheep's covering, but inside they are ravenous wolves.
Has the WTS given false prophecies?
1874, 1878, 1881, 1915, 1925, 1975
(Acts 20:28-30) . . .. 29 I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among YOU and will not treat the flock with tenderness, 30 and from among YOU yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.
Who have spoken twisted things? God and Jesus are the superior authorities, or are they? (1879-1929-1962). The people of Sodom and Gomorrah will be resurrected, or will they? People alive in 1914 will still be alive when Armageddon comes, or will they?
Who do you think the WTS feels are the shepherds that "lead," "protect" and "feed" the sheep?
3 It is not surprising that the work of a shepherd came to mind when David was inspired to describe the care that Jehovah shows for his people. The 23rd Psalm penned by David, begins with the words: "Jehovah is my Shepherd. I shall lack nothing." Let us consider why this is a fitting statement. Then, with the help of Psalm 23, we will see in what ways Jehovah cares for his worshippers as a shepherd cares for his sheep.--1 Peter 2:25. (implies that God is the shepherd mentioned here)
Jesus or God?
(1 Peter 2:25) . . ." For YOU were like sheep, going astray; but now YOU have returned to the shepherd and overseer of YOUR souls.
Cross-reference in the NWT
(John 10:11) I am the fine shepherd; the fine shepherd surrenders his soul in behalf of the sheep.
(Hebrews 13:20) Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of an everlasting covenant, our Lord Jesus,
(1 Peter 5:4) And when the chief shepherd has been made manifest, YOU will receive the unfadable crown of glory.
His worshippers--only JWs
A Fitting Comparison
4 Jehovah bears many titles in the Scriptures, but the designation "Shepherd" is
among the most tender. (Psalm 80:1) To understand better why Jehovah is
fittingly called a Shepherd, it is helpful for us to know two things: first, the
disposition of sheep and second, the duties and qualities of a good shepherd.
Tender--are the elders "tender" in your congregation (or your old congregation)?
5 The Bible often alludes to the traits of sheep, describing them as readily
responding to a shepherd's affection (2 Samuel 12:3), unaggressive (Isaiah
53:7), and defenseless. (Micah 5:8) One writer who raised sheep for a number of
years noted: "Sheep do not `just take care of themselves' as some might suppose.
They require, more than any other class of livestock, endless attention and
meticulous care." To survive, these helpless creatures need a caring
One writer--who? where? when? the rest of the story?
Phillip Keller, an experienced shepherd, put it this way: "Sheep do not 'just take care of themselves' as some might suppose. They require, more than any other livestock, endless attention and meticulous care" (A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, p. 20-21).
Endless attention--when it comes to negative attention, most elders excel.
*** w00 8/1 p. 14 Presumptuousness Leads to Dishonor ***
That is why caring elders, while orderly, realize that the congregation is not a business that needs rigid management; instead, it is made up of a flock that needs tender care
*** w92 7/1 pp. 16-17 Elders, Judge With Righteousness ***
When a sheep becomes spiritually weak and falls by the wayside, what does he or she need-beating or healing, punishing or shepherding? (James 5:14, 15) Therefore, elders should regularly schedule time for the shepherding work. This may bring the happy result of less time spent in time-consuming judicial cases involving Christians who have been overtaken by sin.
unaggressive = submissive to the WTS organization
defenseless = against the "wolves" inside the organization
6 What was a typical day like for the ancient shepherd? One Bible dictionary
explains: "In early morning he led forth the flock from the fold, marching at
its head to the spot where they were to be pastured. Here he watched them all
day, taking care that none of the sheep strayed, and if any for a time eluded
his watch and wandered away from the rest, seeking diligently till he found and
brought it back.... At night he brought the flock home to the fold, counting
them as they passed under the rod at the door to assure himself that none were
missing.... Often he had to guard the fold through the dark hours from the
attack of wild beasts, or the wily attempts of the prowling thief."* (Footnote:
* See Genesis 29:7; Job 30:1; Jeremiah 33:13; Luke 15:4; John 10:3, 4.)
One Bible dictionary--which one? where? written when?
Easton's Bible Dictionary 1897 (Shepherd)
Are JWs encouraged to look up information in non-JW sources? What is wrong with the Insight Books?
7 There were times when sheep, especially the pregnant ewes and the young,
required extra patience and tenderness. (Genesis 33: 13) One Bible reference
work states: "The birth of offspring in a flock often occurs far off on the
mountain side. The shepherd solicitously guards the mother during her helpless
moments and picks up the lamb and carries it to the fold. For the few days,
until it is able to walk, he may carry it in his arms or in the loose folds of
his coat." (Isaiah 40:10, 11) Clearly, a good shepherd needed a blend of strong
and tender qualities.
Especially the pregnant ewes and the young required extra patience and tenderness
*** w02 3/1 p. 16 How Precious Is the Truth to You? ***
In Scotland some young lambs were grazing in a pasture when one of them strayed to the side of a hillock and tumbled onto a ledge below. It was uninjured, but it was frightened and unable to climb back. So it started to bleat plaintively. Its mother heard it, and she too began to bleat until the shepherd came and retrieved the young lamb.
Notice the sequence of events. The lamb called for help, the ewe added her voice to its cries, and the alerted shepherd sprang into action to rescue it.
When does the shepherd go looking for the sheep, when they call out or when he notices they are missing?
(Luke 15:4-7) "What man of you with a hundred sheep, on losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine behind in the wilderness and go for the lost one until he finds it? And when he has found it he puts it upon his shoulders and rejoices. And when he gets home he calls his friends and his neighbors together, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost.' I tell you that thus there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents than over ninety-nine righteous ones who have no need of repentance."
One Bible reference work--who? when? what?
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915) (Shepherd)
Picks up the lamb--how many elders call when you are missing or offer a ride? I can remember one elder complaining about 2 sisters who had non-JW relatives with cars living with them. "I don't know why they don't get a ride with them?" Duh, why should a non-JW want to get up Sunday morning, drop off this person and come back 2 hours later, do the same on Tuesday night, coming back 1 hour later, and 2 hours later on Thursday. And, and, this non-JW wasn't too thrilled about them going in the first place.
8 "Jehovah is my Shepherd"-is that not a fitting description of our heavenly
Father? As we examine Psalm 23, we will see how God cares for us with the
strength and tenderness of a shepherd. In verse 1, David expresses his
confidence that God will make all necessary provisions for His sheep so that
they will "lack nothing." In the verses that follow, David cites three reasons
for this confidence: Jehovah leads, protects, and feeds His sheep. Let us
discuss these one at a time.
Tenderness--are the elders "tender" or Pharisical?
*** w03 8/15 p. 6 How Some Are Remembered ***
When Jesus was on earth, the Jewish people were weighed down with religious rules and regulations that went beyond the requirements of the Law. Their religious leaders were burdening people with heavy loads, while they themselves were not budging the loads with one of their fingers.
Jehovah leads--where's Jesus?
Jehovah protects--what is divine protection? or angelic protection?
Jehovah feeds--WT publications or the Bible
His sheep--only JWs and what about Jesus' sheep?
"He Leads Me"
9 First, Jehovah leads his people. David writes: "In grassy pastures he makes me
lie down; by well-watered resting-places he conducts me. My soul he refreshes.
He leads me in the tracks of righteousness for his name's sake." (Psalm 23:2, 3)
A flock lying down peacefully in the midst of abundance -David here paints a
scene of contentment, refreshment, and security. The Hebrew word rendered
"pastures" can mean "pleasant place." Likely, on their own, the sheep would not
find a refreshing spot to lie down in peace. Their shepherd must lead them to
such a "pleasant place."
His people--only JWs
Contentment, refreshment, security--not at the KH
10 How does Jehovah lead us today? One way he does so is by example. His Word
urges us to "become imitators of God." (Ephesians 5:1) The context of those
words mentions compassion, forgiveness, and love. (Ephesians 4:32; 5:2)
Certainly, Jehovah sets the finest example in displaying such warm qualities. Is
he being unrealistic in asking us to imitate him? No. That inspired counsel is
actually a marvelous expression of his confidence in us. In what way? We are
made in God's image, meaning that we are endowed with moral qualities and the
capacity for spirituality. (Genesis 1: 26) Hence, Jehovah knows that despite our
imperfections, we have within us the potential for cultivating the same
qualities that he exemplifies. Just think-our loving God is confident that we
can be like him. If we follow his example, he will lead us, as it were, to a
pleasant 'resting-place.' In the midst of this violent world, we will "dwell in
security," experiencing the peace that comes from knowing that we have God's
approval.-Psalm 4:8; 29:11.
Per the WTS does God lead the JWs, does Jesus, or does the WTS?
*** w00 3/15 p. 20 How Jehovah Is Leading Us ***
But only if we follow God's lead will we arrive at the destination that we are working so hard to reach.
*** w02 3/15 p. 8 Is Christ's Leadership Real to You? ***
"Do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, whereas all you are brothers. Moreover, do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One. Neither be called 'leaders,' for your Leader is one, the Christ." (Matthew 23:8-10) Clearly, Jesus Christ is the Leader of true Christians.
*** w91 9/15 p. 17 "Help Me Out Where I Need Faith!" ***
During the great tribulation, it will be just as imperative that we follow the leadings of the holy spirit and obey Jehovah's instructions through his organization.
*** w88 7/1 p. 25 "Jehovah Is My Shepherd" ***
Jehovah 'leads us in the tracks of righteousness' by guiding and instructing us through his Word and organization
*** w86 3/1 p. 27 Do You Effectively Reason From the Scriptures? ***
We want them to be worshipers of Jehovah, to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, and to appreciate the organization through which Jehovah is leading his servants today.
*** w84 5/1 p. 21 Make Yourself Available! ***
How sensible to follow the Lord's lead as made manifest through his organization!" ***
w68 5/1 p. 275 Making Wise Use of the Remaining Time ***
This we will do if, to the best of our ability and circumstances, we follow the lead of Jehovah through his visible organization on earth today.
Despite our imperfections--only elders can use that imperfection clause
*** w00 5/1 p. 16 Hear What the Spirit Has to Say ***
"Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive." (Hebrews 13:17) True, all involved in this process are imperfect men. Still, Jehovah takes delight in using his human servants, though imperfect, to guide us in this time of the end.
*** w98 5/15 p. 18 The Quality of Your Faith-Tested Now ***
Furthermore, in each local congregation, there are men appointed to take the lead. They are imperfect men whose faults we may readily see; yet we are urged to respect such overseers and to be submissive.
11 In leading us, Jehovah is tender and patient. A shepherd considers the
limitations of his sheep, so he leads "according to the pace of the livestock."
(Genesis 33:14) Jehovah likewise leads "according to the pace of" his sheep. He
considers our abilities and circumstances. In effect, he adjusts the pace, never
asking more than we can give. What he does ask is that we be whole-souled.
(Colossians 3:23) But what if you are older and cannot do what you used to? Or
what if you have a serious illness that limits you? Therein lies the beauty of
the requirement that we be whole-souled. No two souls are exactly alike. Serving
whole-souled means using all your strength and energy to the fullest extent
possible for you in God's service. Despite the frailties that may affect our
pace, Jehovah values our wholehearted worship. -Mark 12:29, 30.
Limitations...circumstances...adjusts the pace...serious illness...no two souls are exactly alike...fullest extent possible for you--all determined by the elder body and "mature" JWs.
*** km 1/94 p. 1 Meeting Attendance-A Serious Responsibility ***
Some of our brothers walk for hours along dusty roads and cross crocodile-infested rivers in order to attend meetings. In your own congregation, there may be faithful ones who are "never missing" despite severe health problems, physical disabilities, crushing work loads at their place of employment, or demanding assignments at school.
*** w87 2/1 p. 15 Doing Our Utmost to Declare the Good News ***
"A FEW years ago, many of us thought that only those with special circumstances could pioneer," wrote a pioneer, or full-time minister, in Japan. "It seems we were wrong. We are learning that only those with special circumstances cannot pioneer."
God's approval--only through the organization
*** w90 1/1 p. 12 "Not Ashamed of the Good News" ***
So instead of being discouraged and disheartened by this, proclaimers of the good news are reassured that they have divine approval and belong to the approved organization of the Universal Sovereign, Jehovah.
12 To illustrate that Jehovah leads "according to the pace of" his sheep,
consider what is said about certain guilt offerings in the Mosaic Law. Jehovah
wanted fine offerings that were prompted by grateful hearts. At the same time,
the offerings were graded according to the offerer's ability. The Law said: "If
... he cannot afford enough for a sheep, then he must bring ... two turtledoves
or two young pigeons." And if he could not afford even two pigeons? Then he
could bring some "fine flour." (Leviticus 5:7, 11) This shows that God did not
demand what was beyond the offerer's reach. Since God does not change, we can
find comfort in knowing that he never asks more than we can give; rather, he is
pleased to accept what is within our reach. (Malachi 3:6) What a pleasure it is
to be led by such an understanding Shepherd!
Who decides the "pace," the individual or others in the congregation?
Who decides what is beyond the offerer's reach?
He never ask more than we can give--and who says they speak for God on earth? Who asks for God?
Blurb on page 18: Like a shepherd in Israel, Jehovah leads His sheep
"I Fear Nothing Bad, for You Are With Me"
13 David gives a second reason for his confidence: Jehovah protects his sheep.
We read: "Even though I walk in the valley of deep shadow, I fear nothing bad,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff are the things that comfort me."
(Psalm 23:4) David now speaks more intimately, addressing Jehovah with the
pronoun "you." This is not surprising, for David is talking about how God helped
him to endure adversity. David had been through many dark valleys-times when his
very life was in danger. But he did not allow fear to dominate him, for he
sensed that God-with His "rod" and "staff" at the ready-was with him. This
awareness of protection comforted David and no doubt drew him closer to
Jehovah.* (Footnote: * David composed a number of psalms in which he praised
Jehovah for delivering him out of danger.-See, for example, the superscriptions
of Psalms 18, 34, 56, 57, 59, and 63.)
Protects his sheep--how in the 21st century?
*** w02 12/15 p. 15 "He Will Draw Close to You" ***
How, though, does Jehovah guard his people? His promise of protection does not guarantee us a problem-free life in this system; nor does it mean that he is obligated to work miracles in our behalf. Nevertheless, Jehovah does provide physical protection for his people as a group. After all, he would never allow the Devil to efface true worshipers from the earth!
How does God protect his sheep from pedophiles in the WTS? With a 2 witness-rule?
If David was protected, why did he flee from Saul?
(1 Samuel 19:9-10) 9 And Jehovah's bad spirit came to be upon Saul when he was sitting in his house with his spear in his hand, while David was playing music with his hand. 10 Consequently Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he dodged from before Saul, so that he struck the spear into the wall. And David himself fled that he might escape during that night.. . .
14 How does Jehovah protect his sheep today? The Bible assures us that no
opposers -demon or human-will ever succeed in eliminating his sheep from the
earth. Jehovah would never allow that. (Isaiah 54:17; 2 Peter 2:9) However, this
does not mean that our Shepherd will shield us from all calamity. We experience
the trials that are common to humans, and we face the opposition that befalls
all true Christians. (2 Timothy 3:12; James 1:2) There are times when we may, so
to speak, "walk in the valley of deep shadow." For example, we may come close to
death as a result of persecution or some health crisis. Or it may be that
someone dear to us comes close to or even succumbs to death. During what seem to
be the darkest moments, our Shepherd is with us, and he will safeguard us. How?
opposers -demon or human-will ever succeed in eliminating his sheep from the
earth--as a group not as individuals
his sheep--only JWstrue Christians--only JWs
15 Jehovah does not promise miraculous intervention.# (Footnote: # See the
article "Divine Intervention-What Can We Expect?" in the October 1, 2003, issue
of The Watchtower. See end of review) But of this we can be sure: Jehovah will help us to get
through whatever obstacles we may face. He can grant us the wisdom to cope "with
various trials." (James 1:2-5) A shepherd uses his rod or staff not only to ward
off predators but also to nudge his sheep in the right direction. Jehovah can
"nudge" us, perhaps by means of a fellow worshipper, to apply Bible-based
counsel that may make a big difference in our situation. In addition, Jehovah
can give us the strength to endure. (Philippians 4:13) By means of his holy
spirit, he can equip us with "power beyond what is normal." (2 Corinthians 4:7)
God's spirit can enable us to endure any test that Satan might bring upon us. (1
Corinthians 10:13) Is it not comforting to know that Jehovah is ever ready to
Jehovah does not promise miraculous intervention
Nudge sheep in the right direction--impose their conscience
Fellow worshipper--elders with their elders manual and body of elder letters; no scriptures are necessary (remember beards)
Strength to endure--another way to say "wait on Jehovah"
My father is sexually abusing me--wait on Jehovah
My husband is beating me--wait on Jehovah
My wife is an alcoholic--wait on Jehovah, no, wait, dump her
Brother Fraud stole from me--wait on Jehovah
But I thought the 1914 generation would see the end--wait on Jehovah
But the only job I can get to feed my family is working nights--wait on Jehovah
Add your own....
Jehovah is every ready to help us--WHERE IS JESUS?
16 Yes, no matter what dark valley we may find ourselves in, we do not have to
walk through it alone. Our Shepherd is with us, helping us in ways that we may
not fully perceive at first. Consider the experience of a Christian elder who
was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. "I must admit that at first I found
myself wondering if Jehovah was angry at me or even if he loved me. But I was
determined not to pull away from Jehovah. Instead, I voiced my concerns to him.
And Jehovah helped me, often comforting me through my brothers and sisters. Many
shared helpful insights based on their own experience of coping with serious
illness. Their balanced comments reminded me that there was nothing unusual
about what I was going through. Practical assistance, including some touching
offers of kindness, reassured me that Jehovah was not displeased with me. Of
course, I must continue to battle my illness, and I do not know what the outcome
will be. But I am convinced that Jehovah is with me and that he will continue to
help me through this trial."
Our Shepherd--fine shepherd, great shepherd, shepherd and overseer of your souls, chief shepherd, all NT references to JESUS
Christian elder...brain tumor...comforting...through brothers and sisters...practical assistance--and if he had been a single mother with 3 children?
"Jehovah was angry...pull away from Jehovah...Jehovah helped me...Jehovah was not displeased...Jehovah is with me--WHERE IS JESUS?
"You Arrange Before Me a Table"
17 David now cites a third reason for his confidence in his Shepherd: Jehovah
feeds his sheep, and he does so in abundance. David writes: "You arrange before
me a table in front of those showing hostility to me. With oil you have greased
my head; my cup is well filled." (Psalm 23:5) In this verse, David describes his
Shepherd as a generous host who provides food and drink in abundance. The two
illustrations-a caring shepherd and a generous host-are not at odds. After all,
a good shepherd must know where to find rich pasture grounds and sufficient
drinking water so that his flock will "lack nothing." -Psalm 23:1, 2.
Here is the problem with using an OT example (David)...David never knew Jesus, he was not a Christian.
Feeds his sheep--now an opportunity to plug the FDS (really just the GB)
18 Is our Shepherd also a generous host? There is no question about that! Just
think of the quality, quantity, and variety of spiritual food that we now enjoy.
Through the faithful and discreet slave class, Jehovah has provided us with
helpful publications and rich programs at meetings, assemblies, and
conventions-all of which fill our spiritual needs. (Matthew 24:45-47) There is
certainly no shortage of spiritual food. "The faithful and discreet slave" has
produced millions of Bibles and Bible study aids, and such publications are now
available in 413 languages. Jehovah has provided this spiritual food in great
variety-from "milk," basic Bible teachings, to "solid food," deeper spiritual
information. (Hebrews 5:11-14) As a result, when we face problems or decisions,
we can usually find just what we need. Where would we be without such spiritual
food? Our Shepherd is truly a most generous provider!-Isaiah 25:6; 65:13.
Quality, quantity, and variety of spiritual food...through the FDS
Helpful publications--not to be confused with the Bible
Rich programs at meetings, assemblies, and conventions--rich in WTS propaganda, not truths from the scriptures
Bible study aids--can the Bible be understood without the FDS?
*** w94 10/1 p. 8 The Bible-A Book Meant to Be Understood ***
Even as Bible prophecy pointed forward to the Messiah, it also directs us to the close-knit body of anointed Christian Witnesses that now serve as the faithful and discreet slave. It helps us to understand the Word of God. All who want to understand the Bible should appreciate that the "greatly diversified wisdom of God" can become known only through Jehovah's channel of communication, the faithful and discreet slave.-John 6:68.
Find just what we need--in the Bible..........in the WTS Publication Index!
*** w03 9/1 p. 18 Trust in Jehovah Completely in Times of Distress ***
We can also show that we trust in Jehovah by searching his Word for help. Using a Bible concordance or the Watch Tower Publications Index, we can seek the answer to the question, 'How does Jehovah feel about the particular weakness that I am fighting?
"I Will Dwell in the House of Jehovah"
19 After contemplating the ways of his Shepherd and Provider, David concludes:
"Surely goodness and loving-kindness themselves will pursue me all the days of
my life; and I will dwell in the house of Jehovah to the length of days." (Psalm
23:6) David speaks from a heart filled with gratitude and faith-gratitude in
recalling the past and faith in looking to the future. This former shepherd is
secure, knowing that as long as he stays close to his heavenly Shepherd, as if
dwelling in His house, he will always be the object of Jehovah's loving care.
How can David show us how to stay close to the fine shepherd, great shepherd? Or how to listen to Christ's voice.
*** w04 9/1 p. 14 Beware of "the Voice of Strangers" ***
Just as a sheep's discerning ear enables it to stay close to its shepherd, so our spiritual discernment enables us to walk closely in the footsteps of our Fine Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
20 How thankful we are for the beautiful words recorded in the 23rd Psalm! David
could hardly have found a more fitting way to describe how Jehovah leads,
protects, and feeds his sheep. David's warm expressions have been preserved to
give us confidence that we too can look to Jehovah as our Shepherd. Yes, as long
as we stay close to Jehovah, he will care for us as a loving Shepherd "to the
length of days," even to all eternity. However, as his sheep, we have the
responsibility to walk with our great Shepherd, Jehovah. What this involves will
be discussed in the next article.
Has anyone ever taken Belief-Net's test to see what religion you belong in? I could never understand why I always ended up an Orthodox Jew. With all the OT orientation and the almost complete absence of Christ in the WT publications, it is not a surprise.
Next week: Will You Walk With God?
Altogether now: WHERE'S JESUS?
Love, Blondie (snow is on the ground and on my head, but not in my heart)
1-3. Why is it not surprising that David compared Jehovah to a shepherd?
4, 5. How does the Bible describe the traits of sheep?
6. How does one Bible dictionary explain a typical day in the life of an ancient
7. Why did a shepherd at times need to show extra patience and tenderness?
8. David cites what reasons for his confidence in Jehovah?
9. What peaceful scene does David describe, and how would sheep come to be in
such a setting?
10. How does God show his confidence in us?
11. In leading his sheep, what does Jehovah consider, and how is this reflected
in what he asks of us?
12. What example from the Mosaic Law illustrates that Jehovah leads "according
to the pace of" his sheep?
13. At Psalm 23:4, how does David speak more intimately, and why is this not
14. What assurance does the Bible give us regarding Jehovah's protection, but
what does this not mean?
15, 16. (a) In what ways does Jehovah help us to handle the obstacles we may
face? (b) Relate an experience to show how Jehovah helps us in times of trial.
17. How does David describe Jehovah at Psalm 23:5, and why is this not at odds
with the illustration of a shepherd?
18. What shows that Jehovah is a generous host?
19, 20. (a) At Psalm 23:6, what confidence does David express, and how may we
share that confidence? (b) What will be discussed in the next article?
Do You Recall?
- Why is it fitting that David compared Jehovah to a shepherd?
- How does Jehovah lead us with understanding?
- In what ways does Jehovah help us to endure trials?
- What shows that Jehovah is a generous host?
***w03 10/1 pp. 4-7 Divine Intervention—What Can We Expect?
IN THE eighth century B.C.E., 39-year-old King Hezekiah of Judah learned that he had a terminal illness. Devastated by the news, Hezekiah beseeched God in prayer to cure him. God responded through his prophet: "I have heard your prayer. I have seen your tears. Here I am adding onto your days fifteen years."—Isaiah 38:1-5.
Why did God intervene on that particular occasion? Centuries earlier, God had promised righteous King David: "Your house and your kingdom will certainly be steadfast to time indefinite before you; your very throne will become one firmly established to time indefinite." God also revealed that the Messiah would be born in David’s line. (2 Samuel 7:16; Psalm 89:20, 26-29; Isaiah 11:1) When Hezekiah fell ill, he did not as yet have a son. Thus, the royal Davidic line was in danger of being broken. Divine intervention in Hezekiah’s case served the specific purpose of preserving the lineage leading to the Messiah.
To fulfill his promises, Jehovah was motivated to intervene in behalf of his people on numerous occasions throughout the pre-Christian era. Moses declared in connection with the deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt: "It was because of Jehovah’s loving you, and because of his keeping the sworn statement that he had sworn to your forefathers, that Jehovah brought you out with a strong hand."—Deuteronomy 7:8.
In the first century, divine intervention likewise served to further God’s purposes. For example, on the road to Damascus, a Jew named Saul received a miraculous vision in order to stop him from persecuting Christ’s disciples. The conversion of this man, who became the apostle Paul, played a vital role in the spreading of the good news among the nations.—Acts 9:1-16; Romans 11:13.
Was divine intervention the rule or the exception? The Scriptures clearly show that it was by no means the norm. Although God delivered the three young Hebrews from execution in a fiery furnace and the prophet Daniel from the lions’ pit, he did not act to save other prophets from death. (2 Chronicles 24:20, 21; Daniel 3:21-27; 6:16-22; Hebrews 11:37) Peter was miraculously delivered from the prison where Herod Agrippa I had confined him. Yet, this same king had the apostle James put to death, and God did not intervene to prevent this crime. (Acts 12:1-11) While God granted the apostles the power to cure the sick and even raise the dead, he did not consent to remove the "thorn in the flesh" that plagued the apostle Paul, which may have been a physical malady.—2 Corinthians 12:7-9; Acts 9:32-41; 1 Corinthians 12:28.
God did not intervene to prevent a wave of persecution perpetrated against Christ’s disciples by the Roman Emperor Nero. Christians were tortured, burned alive, and thrown to wild animals. However, this opposition did not surprise the early Christians, and it certainly did not weaken their faith in God’s existence. After all, Jesus had warned his disciples that they would be brought before the courts and that they should be ready to suffer and even die for their faith.—Matthew 10:17-22.
Just as he did in the past, today God is certainly able to deliver his servants from dangerous situations, and those who feel that they have benefited from his protection are not to be criticized. However, it is difficult to say conclusively whether God did or did not intervene in such cases. Several faithful servants of Jehovah were injured by an explosion in Toulouse, and thousands of faithful Christians died in Nazi and Communist camps or under other tragic circumstances without God’s stepping in to prevent it. Why does God not systematically intervene in behalf of all those who have his approval?—Daniel 3:17, 18.
"Timeand Unforeseen Occurrence"
When a catastrophe strikes, anybody can be affected, and faithfulness to God is not necessarily a factor. During the explosion in Toulouse, which Alain and Liliane escaped, 30 people died and hundreds were injured, even though it was not their fault. On a larger scale, tens of thousands of people are victims of crime, reckless driving, or wars, and God cannot be held responsible for their misfortune. The Bible reminds us that "time and unforeseen occurrence befall" everyone.—Ecclesiastes 9:11.
What is more, humans are subject to sickness, old age, and death. Even some who have thought that God miraculously saved their life or who credited him with an unexpected recovery from their illness eventually came face-to-face with death. The removal of sickness and death and the ‘wiping out of every tear’ from human eyes are yet in the future.—Revelation 21:1-4.
For that to happen, something far more extensive and radical than an occasional intervention is needed. The Bible speaks of an event called "the great day of Jehovah." (Zephaniah 1:14) During this large-scale intervention, God will do away with all wickedness. Mankind will be offered the opportunity to live forever in perfect conditions, in which "the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart." (Isaiah 65:17) Even the dead will be brought back to life, thereby reversing what is certainly the greatest of all human tragedies. (John 5:28, 29) God in his infinite love and goodness will then have solved mankind’s problems once and for all.
HowGod Intervenes Today
This does not mean, however, that God in the meantime simply observes indifferently while creation agonizes. Today, God is holding out to all humans, regardless of their ethnic or social background, the opportunity of getting to know him and of developing a personal relationship with him. (1 Timothy 2:3, 4) Jesus described this process in these words: "No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him." (John 6:44) God draws honesthearted people to him by means of the Kingdom message proclaimed worldwide by his servants.
In addition, God takes direct action in the life of those who are willing to be guided by him. By means of his holy spirit, God is ‘opening their hearts’ to understand his will and to put into practice what he requires. (Acts 16:14) Yes, by providing the opportunity of getting to know him, his Word, and his purposes, God gives proof of his loving interest in each and every one of us.—John 17:3.
Finally, God helps his servants today, not by delivering them miraculously, but by giving them his holy spirit and "the power beyond what is normal" to cope with whatever situation they may face. (2 Corinthians 4:7) The apostle Paul wrote: "For all things I have the strength by virtue of him [Jehovah God] who imparts power to me."—Philippians 4:13.
We thus have every reason to be grateful to God each day for life and for the hope that he extends to us of living forever in a world free of all suffering. "What shall I repay to Jehovah for all his benefits to me?" the psalmist asked. "The cup of grand salvation I shall take up, and on the name of Jehovah I shall call." (Psalm 116:12, 13) Regularly reading this magazine will help you to understand what God has done, is doing, and will yet do that can bring you happiness now and a solid hope for the future.—1 Timothy 4:8.
[Blurbon page 6]
"The former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart."—Isaiah 65:17[Pictures on page 5]
In Biblical times, Jehovah did not prevent the stoning of Zechariah . . .
nor the massacre of innocents by Herod[Picture on page 7]
The time is at hand when suffering will be no more; even the dead will live again