“We Have Heard That God Is With You People”
1, 2. (a) What does Zechariah 8:23 foretell for our day? (b) Who is the God here referred to, and how does the Bible emphasize his personal name?
“WE WILL go with you people, for we have heard that God is with you people.” That is what the Bible foretold that people out of all nations would be saying in our day. (Zechariah 8:23) And who is this God to whom the prophecy of Zechariah refers? We are left in no doubt. In this one relatively small book of the Bible his personal name appears 135 times. It is JEHOVAH!
2 He himself said of his personal name, Jehovah: “This is my name to time indefinite, and this is the memorial of me to generation after generation.” (Exodus 3:15) The importance of that name is indicated by the fact that it appears nearly 7,000 times in the complete Hebrew Bible text—far more than the combined total for such titles as Lord and God. As foretold, in these “last days” that name has come to be associated outstandingly with one group of people.
“WE WILL GO WITH YOU PEOPLE”
3. As foretold at Zechariah 8:20-23, (a) who would seek Jehovah? (b) and by associating with whom?
3 Concerning this, the prophet Zechariah, at the time of the rebuilding of Jehovah’s temple in ancient Jerusalem, was inspired by God to write: “This is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘It will yet be that peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will come; and the inhabitants of one city will certainly go to those of another, saying: “Let us earnestly go to soften the face of Jehovah and to seek Jehovah of armies. I myself will go also.” And many peoples and mighty nations will actually come to seek Jehovah of armies in Jerusalem and to soften the face of Jehovah.’ This is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘It will be in those days that ten men out of all the languages of the nations will take hold, yes, they will actually take hold of the skirt of a man who is a Jew, saying: “We will go with you people, for we have heard that God is with you people.”’”—Zechariah 8:20-23.
4. Why does this prophecy not apply to Judaism or to Christendom?
4 The limited fulfillment that this prophecy had in connection with the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, starting in the days of Zerubbabel, pointed forward to a far grander fulfillment in our day. In connection with what people? Surely it would not be reasonable for those who “seek Jehovah” to turn to people who superstitiously refuse even to pronounce God’s name, as do the natural Jews who cling to their traditional worship. Nor to Christendom, which imitates the Jewish custom of avoiding the use of the divine name. It is not to earthly Jerusalem that people in our day are turning to worship Jehovah. As Jesus foretold, God abandoned his temple there, and it was destroyed in 70 C.E., never to be rebuilt down to this day. This indicates to any reasonable person that God is not with non-Christian Israel.—Matthew 23:37, 38; compare 1 Kings 9:8, 9.
5. How do the Scriptures identify (a) the “Jerusalem” that represents Jehovah today? (b) the “man who is a Jew” concerning whom Zechariah prophesied?
5 The “Jerusalem” that today represents Jehovah is described at Hebrews 12:22 as “a city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem.” Even as ancient Jerusalem was a visible symbol of Jehovah’s rulership, the “heavenly Jerusalem” is God’s Messianic Kingdom in which Jesus Christ was enthroned as King at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914. (1 Chronicles 29:23; Luke 21:24) That government has representatives here on earth, those who are loyally proclaiming it as the only sure hope of mankind. The first ones to announce that the Kingdom had been established in 1914 were the remaining ones of the “little flock.” These are “the Israel of God,” spiritually speaking. They are the spiritual ‘Jews’ concerning whom Zechariah prophesied. (Luke 12:32; Galatians 6:16; Romans 2:28, 29) Since 1931, because of their love for God and their appreciation of the responsibility to make known that Jehovah is the true and Almighty God, they have adopted the name Jehovah’s Witnesses.—Isaiah 43:10-12.
6. (a) What has convinced millions of persons as to the identity of the people that God is with today? (Consider one point at a time; read the scriptures.) (b) Which point(s) have been most impressive to you personally?
6 As a result of the fact that these spiritual Jews have faithfully fulfilled their responsibility as Jehovah’s Witnesses, millions of sincere persons around the globe have been helped to “seek Jehovah.” They have come to realize that Jehovah is truly with these people who bear his name. What convinces them of this? Many things, among which these are prominent:
(1) The beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses are all based on the Bible—not simply on isolated texts but on the entire Word of God. Instead of teaching things that are of their own originality, Jehovah’s Witnesses answer questions by pointing out what the Bible says. They honor Jehovah by letting him speak. (Compare John 7:16-18.)
(2) The Bible states that God himself would take out of the nations “a people for his name.” (Acts 15:14) They personally would call upon his name and would exert themselves to make it known in all the earth. (Isaiah 12:4, 5) Worldwide, Jehovah’s Witnesses are the people who are significantly associated with God’s personal name, Jehovah.
(3) Jehovah’s Witnesses have an abundance of satisfying spiritual food. What they learn from the Scriptures and the effect that this has on their outlook on life make them a happy people, in contrast to the world in general. This is what Jehovah said would be true of his servants. (Isaiah 65:13, 14; compare Matthew 4:4.)
(4) Jehovah’s Witnesses use God’s Word to set their standard of conduct and to guide their decisions in everyday affairs of life—in their families, at work, in school, in choice of recreation, in identifying practices to be shunned, in determining the most worthwhile activities in which to engage. Jehovah promised that ‘he himself would make straight the paths’ of those doing this. (Proverbs 3:5, 6)
(5) The oversight of the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses is patterned after that of the first-century congregation of God, in which elders were examples to the flock and fellow workers for the Kingdom of God instead of being an exalted clergy class. (1 Peter 5:2, 3; 2 Corinthians 1:24)
(6) Jehovah’s Witnesses are not involved in the political affairs of the world but are doing the work that the Bible sets out for true Christians, namely, preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom in all the world for a witness before the end comes. (Matthew 24:14; compare John 17:16; 18:36.)
(7) Jehovah’s Witnesses really love one another, as Jesus said his true disciples would do. Skin color, tribal origin, economic circumstances, nationality, language—none of these cause one to look down upon the other. Despite human imperfections, they are all truly united as an international brotherhood, and for this they give all credit to God. (John 13:35; compare Acts 10:34, 35.)
(8) Like the early Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses in modern times keep right on serving God in spite of persecution. Trusting in God, they do not retaliate against opposers. As was true in the past, God has proved to be with his servants to deliver them. (Jeremiah 1:8; Isaiah 54:17)
7. (a) Who are the “ten men”? (b) How do they give evidence that Jehovah really has become their God?
7 These are just a few of the reasons why, as foretold, “ten men out of all the languages of the nations” are saying with genuine conviction to the remnant of Kingdom heirs: “We will go with you people, for we have heard that God is with you people.” (Zechariah 8:23) The Scriptures use “ten” to represent completeness as to earthly matters, so these “ten men” represent all who are taking up true worship now in company with Christ’s spirit-anointed “brothers.” They do not merely associate with the remnant at their meetings but identify themselves as worshipers of their God, Jehovah. They dedicate their lives to him through Jesus Christ and symbolize this by water baptism, thus demonstrating that they want to “become joined to Jehovah.” Then they share gladly in the work being done earth wide by his witnesses.—Zechariah 2:11; Isaiah 61:5, 6.
EXAMPLES WORTHY OF IMITATION
8. (a) What caused the queen of Sheba to travel to Jerusalem? (b) What did she do when she arrived, and with what outcome? (c) How have there proved to be people like her in our day? (Psalm 2:10-12)
8 Some who take this action are like the queen of Sheba in the days of Solomon. From far away she “was hearing the report about Solomon in connection with the name of Jehovah.” She had never personally spoken with Solomon nor had she been to Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem. She had some doubts as to whether it could all be as good as she had heard. But she put forth the effort to find out, traveling perhaps 1,400 miles (2,250 km) by camel to do so. She found answers to all of her “perplexing questions” and exclaimed: “Look! I had not been told the half.” She could not help but conclude that Jehovah loved his worshipers. (1 Kings 10:1-9) Some who have been prominent in the world have imitated her example today, and many from more humble circumstances have done so. They see evidence that Jehovah’s Witnesses look to no man but to Jesus Christ, the Greater Solomon, as their King. The answers they are given from God’s Word satisfy their minds and hearts, and they feel moved to join their voices in blessing Jehovah.—Compare Luke 11:31.
9. (a) In what way was Rahab’s attitude different from that of the queen of Sheba? (b) What was noteworthy about the events leading to the preservation of Rahab and her household? (c) What identifies persons who are like Rahab today?
9 Others are like Rahab of Jericho, who already was convinced from reports received that the God of Israel was “God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” (Joshua 2:11) When spies from Israel entered the land, she welcomed them, concealed them and endangered her life to protect them. She had faith and gave evidence of it by her works, taking her stand with Jehovah’s people. (Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25) She carefully followed the instructions given for her preservation. Rahab also showed loving concern for her father and mother, her brothers and sisters, opening the way for them to be spared if they would obey the requirements for survival. (Joshua 2:12, 13, 18, 19) As a result she and her household were delivered when Jericho and its Baal-worshiping inhabitants were annihilated. (Joshua 6:22, 23) This has powerful significance in our day. It demonstrates that Jehovah will spare persons who are like Rahab. What shows them to be like her? They put faith in Jehovah, identify themselves with the members of spiritual Israel, closely follow the directions given through this channel and earnestly endeavor to help close family members and other relatives to see the wisdom of doing the same.
10. (a) As Zechariah’s prophecy shows, what is really attracting people so that they associate with Jehovah’s Witnesses? (b) How can we show, in attitude and in actions, that love for Jehovah is truly what fills our hearts?
10 Of course, the real attraction, what is drawing people of all nations into association with Jehovah’s Witnesses, is Jehovah God himself. His Word appeals to them. The fruitage of his spirit in the lives of his servants is inviting to them. As they become well acquainted with his qualities and his dealings with mankind, they long for the time when God’s name will be vindicated of all the reproach heaped upon it by Satan and by faithless humans. They themselves endeavor to conduct their affairs in a way that will be pleasing to their Creator and that will move others to glorify him. (1 Peter 2:12) With all their hearts they pray, as Jesus taught his disciples: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matthew 6:9, 10) And, in harmony with their prayer, they render sacred service to God in full unity with those who give unmistakable evidence that they are the “people for [Jehovah’s] name.”