“Why should a living son of earth complain, let a man complain because of his sins? Let us search out our ways and examine them well, and let us return unto Yahweh.”—Lam. 3:39, 40, Ro.
1. What does Jehovah know about man’s mind, and how can man now be happy despite the world trouble?
JEHOVAH knows the mind of man. He knows that if a man does not train his mind to think correctly, he will be unhappy. The thoughts and ways of this old world are not right because they are not based on God’s way of thinking as expressed in his Word. But some of the human family know why we are born in sin and shaped in iniquity, and they have looked to Jehovah for relief from the conditions in which they find themselves. They understand that “a living son of earth” should not complain, because the trouble and distress he endures is due to Adam the first human father. Jehovah’s witnesses have searched the Scriptures and they know the truth about being born in sin and shaped in iniquity, but at the same time that is no license for wrongdoing now on the part of a Christian. As Christians they must look at themselves and make careful examination of the way they have lived and where it has led them up till now, and decide what they will do in the future. They have come to the conclusion: “Let us return unto Yahweh.” That is why they have dedicated their lives to Jehovah’s service. Knowing that sorrow, sickness and death were brought upon them by their first parents, Adam and Eve, they do not complain of their plight. Rather, there is every reason to be happy; they know the way out of this trouble, for God has made provision for salvation. You, too, can learn the way out from Jehovah, “the happy God,” and he wants his creation to be happy.
2. In the midst of this world, who is the happy person, according to Psalm 1?
2 You as an individual can be happy. You do not have to be in a large congregation to have happiness, although many happy people coming together make up a happy congregation. Wherever throughout the world there is one of God’s servants, even though he may be far away in a missionary home or in an isolated territory, he can have happiness. When an individual has the right viewpoint, he will feel like the man concerning whom the psalmist wrote. Using Rotherham’s translation, which gives the name-form Yahweh instead of Jehovah, we read: “How happy the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the lawless, and in the way of sinners hath not stood, and in the seat of scoffers hath not sat; but in the law of Yahweh is his delight, and in his law doth he talk with himself day and night.” (Ps. 1:1, 2, Ro) How true this is! For when one seats himself with sinners, he becomes unhappy. Just look at the world and consider its condition. The people are not really content. They cannot be, because the world is filled with evil. They ignore God and his provisions for life. As a result they are not happy either individually or collectively. One who shuns the world is happy.
3. In what way does such man talk with himself, and about what?
3 The psalmist says this man ‘talks to himself day and night’. This is an odd expression, is it not? But it means he meditates. What does he meditate about? He meditates on the provisions God has set forth for him in the Bible, just as Joshua meditated upon God’s Word. God said to him: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate thereon day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Josh. 1:8, AS) Joshua was to talk to himself day and night. He was to meditate on these truths that God had spoken to Moses and which were now in written form. Then, living according to them, he would be happy. Yes, happiness comes to the man who does what is right; and individual service to the Most High is right because it is the worship of God.
4. Who was the nation whose God used to be Jehovah, and why were there not too many occasions for happiness over this fact?
4 The Most High God does not restrict happiness to individuals. He will deal with a whole nation and make it a happy nation. “How happy the nation whose God is Yahweh, the people he hath chosen as his own inheritance!” (Ps. 33:12, Ro) That chosen nation was Israel. God had made a covenant with their forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. That nation had every reason to be happy, because its God was Jehovah, the Sovereign Ruler of all the universe. But often they turned away from following the wise counsel of their God. Instead they chose a sinful course and ignored God, and as a result the whole nation lost its felicity. We see from the Bible account of this nation that there were not too many occasions for happiness, because they were a stiff-necked race and a faultfinding people. They did not give true worship to Jehovah; therefore God’s blessing was not forthcoming. Jesus stated the matter truly when he said: “If anyone loves me, he will observe my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our abode with him.” (John 14:23, NW) Too often the Israelites did not want to make their abode with Jehovah, but their desire was to return to Egypt and to the worship of heathen gods.
5, 6. Who are the happy nation now, and what contributes to their happiness?
5 Today we see Jehovah’s witnesses as a nation that Jehovah has raised up, a chosen people taken out from all nations, kindreds and tongues; and they are a happy nation. Why is this? Because they have observed Jesus’ words; and therefore the Father loves them and has made his abode with them. They worship their Father in heaven in spirit and in truth. They are not thinking of doing things their own way but are anxious to do the Father’s will and to follow the commandments of Christ Jesus, the Son of God. They find happiness in preaching the gospel of Jehovah’s kingdom in all the world for a witness. God’s gift to them is a knowledge of the truth, and Jehovah’s witnesses are happy to be giving this truth to others throughout the world. They are not selfish, holding it to themselves. They publish Bibles, books, booklets and magazines, distributing these far and wide in many languages throughout all the world.
6 Adherents of false religions of the world cannot understand why all of Jehovah’s witnesses are so active; but their activity is their worship of the Most High. Jehovah’s witnesses are seeking life in happiness, and they are gaining happiness as they live now. They have found the secret of being happy even in this present evil world. They have proved to themselves that there is more happiness in giving the truths of God’s Word which they have received so abundantly to all the nations of the world; so they give constantly of what they have received. The organization of Jehovah’s witnesses is filled with a happy people. They are friendly, and they are anxious to have others join with them in their happiness and in their true worship of the Most High. That is why one finds them going from house to house, from city to city, from country to country, fulfilling Jesus’ command, ‘This gospel of the kingdom must be preached in all the world for a witness.’ Jehovah’s witnesses as a nation are happy because their God is Jehovah.
7. What is the reason that some in the organization slip back into the world and lose happiness?
7 Sometimes we see one here or there in the organization who slides back into the world. Why is this? The reason is simple. It is that he has stopped preaching; he has stopped giving. There is no place for a person in God’s organization unless he is worshiping God. If he stops worshiping, he takes himself out of the organization. When one stops studying the truth and forsakes Jehovah he has nothing to give to others any more. Then the truth is not in him. Study is essential to keep in Jehovah’s organization. If one does not continually take in the truths and the light that shines more and more until the perfect day, he will become indifferent toward his privileges of preaching the good news of the Kingdom. He will soon begin to feel that he has nothing to tell the people. The reason for that is that he has allowed his mind to go idle. In effect he says, I do not want any more food from Jehovah’s table. Then he stops using the knowledge he has; he does not give it out to others, and his happiness fades away. Happiness comes largely through giving.
8. Despite deliverance from Egypt why did Israel not keep happy?
8 Take a look at the children of Israel when they were in the wilderness. Consider what Jehovah had done for them in delivering them from Egypt. There they had been under an oppressive slave-driving organization, but now the God of heaven, Jehovah, had delivered them and led them into the wilderness. He had protected them by the use of his great power in guiding them through the Red sea from Egypt to the wilderness. He fed them for forty years as they wandered about this strange territory. Consider the greatness of God’s love for these people in leading them to the Promised Land. But with all of this and despite their deliverance the Israelites still were not content. They lacked love. They were not giving God true worship as a nation, and they were not happy.
9. Why do individuals at times feel the load too heavy for them, and how did Moses illustrate this?
9 However, there were many individuals within the nation who had the joy of serving God and who were faithful to the instructions given them. Sometimes even such faithful individuals feel that the load is too much for them to bear when responsibility is placed upon them. In such case they lack faith in God’s provisions. Moses, for example, served as mediator between God and the Israelites. But at one time he felt as though too much was required of him. The children of Israel were complaining, faultfinding and crying for flesh. They said in substance: ‘This manna that God is giving us and telling us to gather every morning does not satisfy us. What we want is flesh. We want meat.’ They were crying to Moses to supply it for them. They had complained often before and now were in an unhappy state of mind, and their murmurings finally got Moses in that same attitude of mind. To appreciate the full account read Numbers 11:11-15 (AT). Here we find Moses saying: “Why hast thou been so hard on thy servant? . . . Why have I not found favor with thee, that thou shouldst put the burden of all this people on me? Was it I who conceived all this people? Or was it I who gave them birth, that thou shouldst say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse would carry a sucking child, to the land which thou didst promise on oath to their fathers’? Where can I get flesh to give to all this people? For they weep on my shoulder, saying, ‘Give us flesh to eat.’ I am not able to carry all this people by myself, because they are too heavy for me. If this is the way thou art going to deal with me, pray kill me at once, if I find any favor with thee, and let me see no more of my trouble.”
10. Why was Moses not happy at that time of feeling so much responsibility?
10 That was not a very happy frame of mind in which to be. Moses’ faith was getting weak; his confidence in Jehovah was failing. It certainly must have been so depressing to Moses to be associated with those people that it brought him to the point where he wanted God to kill him that he might get away from them. Moses showed the wrong spirit under this heavy trial. He did not want to carry the responsibility that God had placed upon him. Then, too, he was not putting full trust in Jehovah God at that moment. Moses felt very bad; and as he looked at the great number of people, he really questioned God’s power. He should have reflected on the wonderful things that God had done in times past. It would have been much better for Moses to wait upon Jehovah and to pray to him, asking, “What shall I do? What will you do for this people?” Moses did not want to give to these people and thought no one else should either. He was not happy, that is sure.
11. How did Moses here show some lack of faith, and what like attitude would correspond with it today?
11 God told Moses that He would give flesh to the Israelites, not one day, or two days, or five days, or ten or twenty days, but for a whole month, ‘until it comes out of your very nostrils and becomes loathesome to you—because you have spurned Jehovah who is in your midst.’ (Num. 11:18-20, AT; AS) Moses said to God in effect, ‘You cannot feed 600,000 footmen. You cannot supply flesh in order to feed all of these people, two million or more, including women and children. Why, there are not enough fowl in the heaven to feed these people; there are not enough cattle in the herds to satisfy them all. You do not know them, God. I know what kind of people they are. They are the most selfish, the most stiff-necked, the most unhappy people, the greatest complainers. Oh, it would be better if I were dead.’ However, Jehovah spoke to Moses in these words: ‘Is Jehovah’s power so limited? You shall see now whether my word will come true for you or not.’ (Num. 11:23, AT; AS) Can you imagine anyone’s questioning God and saying that he could not do what he said he would do? Moses questioned God’s power here. It is just like someone’s saying today that God cannot protect his people at the battle of Armageddon and take them through into the new world; that it is too great a task. Well, have you ever stopped to think that Jehovah did protect Noah and his family in the flood and brought them from the “world that then was” into this present, evil world? That is history, and it shows God’s power has already been proved. Do you not believe he can do it again? Where is your faith? Moses thought that God’s power was limited; but Jehovah has all power in heaven and in earth. He has even given such power to his Son.—Matt. 28:18.
12. Why did God’s miracle not result in happiness to many Israelites, and what purpose should this historical example serve for us?
12 Well, what happened in the wilderness should certainly impress us so that we may never doubt the Word of God. When we read God’s Word as he sets it forth in the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, we should accept it as absolutely true and right. He talks to us about real life as it existed many centuries ago and uses those things as examples of what is going to happen at the present time. Even though this great mediator Moses made a mistake, that is no reason why we today should doubt Jehovah and make a similar mistake. That is why these things were written beforetime, for our admonition and our learning. Anyway, later, outside the Israelite camp the quails they caught were stacked up in great quantities. Jehovah brought them in from somewhere and gave the people all they could possibly eat. But they did not appreciate what Jehovah had done, and God became displeased by the greedy way in which the Israelites used these provisions. Here Jehovah was the giver, an abundant giver; but lack of appreciation was shown by the Israelites. Jehovah proved to Moses that his word was right and dependable, and he showed Moses his power. His hand was not shortened. He proved his sovereignty. If only the Israelites had given praise to Jehovah for his goodness, then they would have had happiness in their living.—Num. 11:31-35.
13. Why should we not be complainers, as illustrated in the case of Aaron and Miriam?
13 Then there is an account in the Bible about the complainers Miriam and Aaron, who spoke against Moses. ‘Is it only through Moses alone that Jehovah has spoken?’ they said. “Has he not spoken through us as well?” (Num. 12:2, AT; AS) On a previous occasion Moses had saved the life of his brother Aaron when Aaron failed to follow true worship. At Deuteronomy 9:20 (AS), Moses said: “And Jehovah was very angry with Aaron to destroy him: and I prayed for Aaron also at the same time.” Now these two prominent persons among the Israelites, Moses’ brother and sister, showed that they were not satisfied with God’s provision to have Moses as the spokesman. They did not like God’s way of handling things, and as a result of their complaining Miriam was struck with leprosy. Moses interceded with prayer for his sister, and after she was sent outside the camp to be cleansed according to the law, she was saved from such a loathsome existence. (Num. 12:9-15) So we see that no one should complain against God because he does not do things as we want them done. Remember that Jehovah is the Sovereign Ruler of the universe. He knows how to handle his organization and his work much better than those who serve him. All should be happy where Jehovah places them in his organization and in his service. What God requires of us is integrity and faithfulness to him; and if we give him these we shall be happy.
LACK OF FAITH
14. On the return of the twelve from spying out the Promised Land, how was lack of faith displayed, and with what consequence?
14 Another striking example occurred when Moses sent the twelve spies into the land of Canaan to look over the inheritance God had promised the Israelites. Moses chose one of each of the twelve tribes and sent them forth to spy out the land. Remember that God had told them: ‘I am going to give it to you. It is the best land in that part of the earth, that you are inheriting.’ But when the twelve returned, ten of them said, ‘No, we don’t want to go up there. It is a terrible country inhabited by giants. It would be better to go back to Egypt and be slaves. All that will happen is that we will be destroyed, because the people of that land are mightier than we.’ It was a bad report that was given on the land that God had given to the Israelites. Out of the twelve spies only two, Joshua and Caleb, came back with a good report. They were grateful for what God had provided, and they brought back proof that it was a prosperous land. They advised: ‘Let us go up right now!’ But the majority said: ‘Ah, no, we will stay right here. We are satisfied with things the way they are.’ The Israelites and ten of the spies who looked over the land were too indifferent to work for the inheritance God had promised them. The ten spies of little faith influenced the whole nation, and as a result the older generation never got into the Promised Land. Instead it was their children who received the promise, and Caleb and Joshua accompanied them into the Promised Land because they were faithful and gave a true report.
15. Hence what pertinent questions face us today, and how will we answer them?
15 Do you have faith in God’s provisions today? Are you willing to go ahead under God’s direction? Is it your preference to stay in this old, dying, corrupt world? or would you rather associate with people like Caleb and Joshua, forward-looking men who are fighters for the new world? If you prefer to follow Jehovah’s direction, then you will preach this gospel of the Kingdom in all the world for a witness and practice the true worship of the Most High.—Num. 13:1-33; 14:1-3.
16. How did the Israelites complain at Kadesh, and why?
16 Listen once more to the complaining Israelites at Kadesh in the fortieth year of their journey: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt, to bring us to this wretched place, since it is no place for grain, or figs, or vines, or pomegranates, nor is there any water to drink?” (Num. 20:5, AT) The Israelites had not starved thus far on their journey. Their shoes had not even worn out, and they had not died of thirst. But there they were complaining again. No, they could not wait for Jehovah. The big issue was water. They wanted plenty of water, and they wanted it right away for themselves and for their cattle. And so they complained.
17. How do some today a short time with the truth show a lack of faith, and why are they not happy?
17 We find people like that today, even associated with God’s organization. Some have been with the organization for six months, others for a year, when soon we hear them complain and begin to say: ‘Nothing is happening. I thought you said Armageddon was just a little way off. Why, I have known about this for a whole year now and Armageddon has not come yet. Do you think I am going to stick with this organization all my life?’ A few have the attitude that unless God runs things their way, they will not stay with it. But God has not asked us to advise him. We should be grateful to Jehovah for what he has given us. We understand his truths and appreciate his promises, and we believe them. We are happy in our worship and service and have the privilege of bringing much comfort to people of good will. Those who can see this are rejoicing in their work at the present time, whereas the novice or critical person may not have learned it yet; perhaps he has not even taken the time to study. He just wants to complain. Such ones are very much like the Israelites who were never able to wait on Jehovah. As a result they have no happiness, nor do they appreciate the provisions God made in times past and is still making. They want things their way, not God’s.
18. Why did Moses not enter the Promised Land, and with what warning to us today?
18 Going back to the account of the Israelites again as they complained about the lack of water: Moses then told them they would get the water all right, but he neglected to give the praise to the One who gave him the power to produce water. Read the account in Numbers 20:10-13 (AT; AS): ‘Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly in front of the rock, and he said to them, “Listen, you rebels; is it from this rock that we have to produce water for you?” And raising his hand, Moses struck the rock with his staff twice, whereupon water in abundance gushed out, and the community and their cattle drank. But Jehovah said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me by paying me due honor in the presence of the Israelites, that is why you shall not bring this community into the land which I have given them.” These are the waters of Meribah [finding fault], where the Israelites found fault with Jehovah, but where he vindicated himself among them.’ For failing to sanctify Jehovah before the Israelites who complained at this time Moses did not receive the inheritance the Lord Jehovah had promised them. Neither will those who complain today about God’s way of handling things and who do not give God the glory inherit the blessings of the new world. They will lose out before that, even though so near.
19, 20. What should be, and is, the attitude of Jehovah’s witnesses toward God’s giving further “water of truth” to the people?
19 Moses as God’s servant for the congregation certainly had a wonderful opportunity here to honor Jehovah and to direct the minds of the Israelites to the only true God. But Moses was very much displeased with the people; he looked at them as rebels and forgot that God was dealing with them. He should not have rebuked them in the manner he did. Even though they were complainers, still they were God’s organization and it was up to Jehovah to handle them the way he wanted. If He wanted to give the Israelites water, that was his responsibility, and it was not Moses’ place to leave God out of the transaction. If Jehovah today wants to give more people the opportunity of hearing the truth so that they may learn the way to life before Armageddon strikes, then it is not good for anyone of us to complain. Rather, we should rejoice that there is more time in which to preach the gospel. Of course, some will say that God is slow; but is it not due to Jehovah’s patience in these last days that thousands of people have learned of salvation? Read the account at 2 Peter 3:15 for yourself.
20 There are always some who will complain and find fault. But why associate with complainers and get in their frame of mind? If God wants to give the truth to more people and gather together yet more of the other sheep, then we should be glad. Jehovah’s witnesses in these days are certainly happy that they still have the opportunity of preaching the good news. There is no reason for Jehovah’s witnesses to complain because they have more time to preach, but rather they should be happy to be permitted to continue in true worship. With joy they should say, ‘We received free, let us give free.’