Direction or teaching that calls for compliance. The Hebrew verb ya·rahʹ means “instruct; direct; teach.” The Hebrew term leʹqach (instruction) basically means “a taking.” (De 32:2; compare Jer 9:20, where the related verb occurs in the expression “may your ear take the word of his mouth.”) The same term is rendered “persuasiveness” in Proverbs 16:21. The Greek pai·deuʹo means “instruct; chastise; discipline,” and the Greek ka·te·kheʹo means “teach orally; instruct.”
Jehovah is the “Grand Instructor” of his people (Isa 30:20), and those who receive his instruction are under obligation to act in harmony with it—they “will walk in his paths” and “will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears.” (Isa 2:3, 4; Mic 4:2, 3) Appreciating the value of Jehovah’s instruction and having a desire to comply with it, his servants pray: “Instruct me, O Jehovah, about your way. I shall walk in your truth. Unify my heart to fear your name.”—Ps 86:11; 27:11; 119:33.
In ancient Israel, Jehovah assigned the priests as instructors of his people. Emphasizing the importance of compliance with instruction received through this channel, Moses said: “You must do in accordance with the word that they will hand down to you from that place which Jehovah will choose; and you must be careful to do according to all that they instruct you. In accordance with the law that they will point out to you, and according to the judicial decision that they will say to you, you should do. You must not turn aside from the word that they will hand down to you, to the right or to the left.” (De 17:10, 11; 24:8) To those in the Christian congregation, the apostle Paul wrote: “All the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Ro 15:4) We do well, therefore, to search out the commandments, take note of the underlying principles, and learn well the lessons that are set forth throughout God’s inspired Word and then comply with these in our own lives.—See PUBLIC INSTRUCTOR.
Instruction can be received even from the domestic animals and from the earth, as stated at Job 12:7-10. (Pr 6:6) In these, wise persons will see evidence of the handiwork of God and of the fact that all life is dependent upon God. Humans who fail to act in harmony with this abundant evidence are, as the apostle Paul wrote, “inexcusable.”—Ro 1:20.
Those who became disciples of Jesus Christ addressed him as Instructor, thus acknowledging his authority and their responsibility to comply with his directions. (Lu 5:5; 9:33) A group of ten leprous men who implored Jesus for mercy likewise addressed him in this manner.—Lu 17:13.
Although instruction calls for compliance and is not merely for entertainment, it can be imparted in a refreshing way. Jehovah directed Moses to teach Israel a song in which he said: “My instruction will drip as the rain, my saying will trickle as the dew, as gentle rains upon grass.” (De 32:2) To the Christian overseer Timothy, Paul wrote about “instructing with mildness those not favorably disposed; as perhaps God may give them repentance leading to an accurate knowledge of truth.” (2Ti 2:25) Instruction can, however, involve discipline in the form of chastisement. Such discipline is not always easy to take, but when one responds to it, it will yield “peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness.”—Heb 12:7-11.
Not all instruction is given by one whose motivation is proper, nor is the objective necessarily beneficial for the one who receives it. “Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians,” but at the age of 40 he openly identified himself with the Hebrews and left behind what could have been his inheritance in the royal courts of Egypt. (Ac 7:22) Isaiah spoke of prophets in Israel who gave false instruction, and Micah wrote regarding priests who instructed “just for a price.” (Mic 3:11; Isa 9:15) Some persons foolishly turned to molten statues for instruction. (Hab 2:18) The soldiers who had been guarding Jesus’ tomb were willing, after they had been bribed, to comply with the instruction given them to lie regarding what had happened to Jesus’ body.—Mt 28:12-15.