Jehovah: Husband, Father and Teacher
“All thy children shall be taught of Jehovah; and great shall be the peace of thy children.”—Isa. 54:13, AS.
1. Who can best show Jehovah’s relationship to his servants, and how can we grow in appreciation of it?
NONE appreciate the relationship of the true God to his creatures as does Jehovah himself. He can describe it best, and he does so in varied terms that we can understand. By applying ourselves to God’s Word we can grow in appreciation of Jehovah’s relationship to those who serve him.—John 17:15-21, NW.
2. Show the propriety of Jehovah’s terming himself a “husband” to his organization.
2 If a man should form an organization, be devoted to its purposes, seek its interests, be faithful to it, look to the welfare of all its members, give it time and attention, rejoice in its productivity, and so be united with it intimately, can it not be properly said that such a person is “married” to that organization? Yes, because, figuratively, “marriage” means just such a close union. It is consistent and in all good taste for Jehovah God to designate himself as a husband to his organization. This may seem strange at first thought; but how would we describe this relationship of close union in a better way? We have in mind the good husbandly arrangement of marriage among Jehovah’s worshipers, as we see God’s own references to himself as a husband, to the nation of natural Israel as an example.
3, 4. In the illustrative case of the nation of Israel, how was Jehovah a husband?
3 How was Jehovah a husband to the nation of Israel? In that he conformed to the illustrative case of the man mentioned in the preceding paragraph. For one thing, toward Israel he was not a husband with many earthly wives. No; to the contrary, he stated to Israel: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” (Amos 3:2, AS) Jehovah was faithful to Israel, but that nation transgressed God’s law and turned away from him, and so we read at Jeremiah 3:14: “Return, O backsliding children, saith Jehovah; for I am a husband unto you.” (AS) Looking ahead prophetically through the years after having cast off the unfaithful “wife”, Israel: “Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith Jehovah.”—Jer. 31:31, 32, AS.
4 This relationship and Jehovah’s constancy as a husband and his justification in casting off the nation that became ungodly, turning against him, are shown prophetically by Hosea: “Contend with your mother, contend; for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband; and let her put away her whoredoms from her face, and her adulteries from between her breasts.” (Hos. 2:2, AS) In verse seven the original husbandship is shown in conjunction with this devastating denunciation of the unfaithful organization Ho 2:7 : “And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.”
5. Give Bible proof that Jehovah is as a husband to his universal organization.
5 The relationship of husband is not restricted to the organization of Israel. That nation, long ago cast off, was prophetic of greater, enduring things. “But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.” (Gal. 4:26; Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11, NW) Surely, Jehovah does hold the universal organization of his creatures as a wife, in loving relationship, and properly designates himself as its husband. Does he identify himself in some further capacity in relationship to his organization and its members? He does.
6. What is another capacity in which Jehovah reveals himself?
6 A reference to Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, confirms our general understanding of the meaning of “parent”. It is, as a noun: “one who begets, or brings forth, offspring; a father or a mother; a source; author; also, a cause”; as an adjective: “that constitutes the original source from which something springs or issues; that supports, protects, or controls others as subsidiaries; as, a parent organization.” Could we say that the God who makes the organization and is its husband is also the father of the individuals produced by that organization who become members of it? Yes, and Jehovah reveals himself as the great Father.
7, 8. Who are included as children of Jehovah?
7 Those to whom he gives life are his children. An example of this is the Logos. The “Logos”, or the “Word”, is shown to be Jehovah’s direct creation and the active agent of his in the creation of other spirit sons of God as well as of all other things. “Originally the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was originally with God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.”—John 1:1-3, NW.
8 Those creatures who are produced through the operation of his organization and are made members of his organization are likewise his children. Examples of such are the spirit sons of God. These angels, cherubim and seraphim, were included in the creations of God through the Logos. Such is true of Adam as well. Luke points this out at chapter 3, verse 38 Lu 3:38 (NW): “ . . . Adam, the son of God.” Not only was the Logos the only-begotten Son, as above mentioned, but being sent to earth as the human babe, Jesus, he is shown to be the “Seed” of God’s organization, which organization was apparently barren of the seed of promise until Jesus was born a man child.—Gal. 3:16, NW.
9. In Israel, who were God’s children?
9 The statement of Jeremiah chapter thirty-one, to which previous reference has been made, corroborates the fact that the individual members, individual Jews, in the nation of Israel, were children (in a secondary or typical way) of God, being children of the organization of Israel. “Thus saith Jehovah: If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, then will I also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith Jehovah.”—Jer 31 Vs. 37, AS.
10. (a) How are members of the body of Christ children of the great Father? (b) What about others who worship Jehovah?
10 How about Christians? They are children of God in a unique way if they are members of the body of Christ, the anointed Christian congregation: “God sent forth his Son, who was produced out of a woman and who came to be under law, that he might release by purchase those under law, that we in turn might receive the adoption as sons. Now because you are sons, God has sent forth the spirit of his Son into our hearts and it cries out, ‘Abba, Father!’ So, then, you are no longer a slave but a son; and if a son, also an heir through God.” (Gal. 4:4-7, NW) This does not have reference to the fiction of the “universal fatherhood” of God to all the world of mankind, but it is talking about individuals, no longer under the Jewish law covenant that terminated with the death of Jesus as a law covenant arrangement used by God, but who are in the new covenant through Christ Jesus as members of the body of Christ. (Heb. 8:7-13, NW) These are produced by Jehovah’s Word, which leads them to become servants of God, by his spirit, which is God’s power and includes his message as revealed in his Word, and by his righteous organization through Christ Jesus, and they are his children. With all prospects of life resting on God’s provisions, other Christians of good will, associated with those who are in the new covenant, properly address him as their Father, because he is to be their Grandfather through the Everlasting Father, Christ Jesus.—John 10:16, NW; Isa. 9:6, AS.
11. What is here observed relative to barrenness?
11 In the days of the nation of Israel under the law through Moses, it was a cause for sorrow for a wife to have no children. Barrenness brought reproach and distress. This picture embodied in the facts relative to literal wives in Israel also applies to symbolic “wives”, organizations, when they are actually or apparently unfruitful, unproductive of children, without increase and actually or apparently not accomplishing their purpose.
NOW, THE TEACHER!
12, 13. (a) What else is Jehovah toward his people? (b) What are his qualifications, and in whom are they reflected?
12 In this issue of The Watchtower we have considered Jehovah’s exclusiveness, that he has a name, that there are creatures who uphold his name. We have observed his identification as a great Maker, that, among other things, he creates organizations, and that to his organization he at times represents himself as a Husband and is likewise a great Father of the children of his righteous organization. Now we come to another capacity by which Jehovah shows his relationship to his people: he is the great Teacher.
13 Exclusive education belongs to him. He has the qualities of the best teacher. He has all knowledge, knows his purposes, has the interest of his creatures at heart, has complete patience and all ability to teach, and reflects these qualities through the one whom he has appointed as his great representative, the glorified Christ Jesus.—Heb. 1:1-3, NW.
14, 15. To whom has Jehovah given instruction?
14 He has not withheld proper information from his creatures at any time. To early man God gave his word. He spoke to Adam. (Gen. 1:28, 29; 2:16, 17, AS) “He did not hold back from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people.” (2 Pet. 2:5, NW) It was through Noah that Jehovah accomplished the preaching of righteousness at that time. Jehovah’s word and his spirit and his organization on earth were found in Noah and his family, and Jehovah was the teacher.—Gen. 6:8–9:29, AS.
15 To his nation of Israel God gave his word and his law, put his spirit upon them, gave them the teaching organization of the priesthood and of the prophets to look to the welfare of the entire organization of the nation. Said Jethro to Moses: “Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God be with thee: be thou for the people to Godward, and bring thou the causes unto God: and thou shalt teach them the statutes and the laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do.” (Ex. 18:19, 20, AS) Further: “And God spake all these words, saying.”—Ex. 20:1, AS.
16. How is this shown in the case of Jesus Christ?
16 His teaching is likewise shown in his dealings with and through Christ Jesus. He gave Christ Jesus his word. Jehovah put his spirit upon him, and in John chapter 12 we read: “However, Jesus cried out and said: ‘He that puts faith in me puts faith, not in me only, but in him also that sent me; and he that beholds me beholds also him that sent me. I have come as a light into the world, in order that everyone putting faith in me may not remain in the darkness. But if anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him, for I came, not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that disregards me and does not receive my sayings has one to judge him. The word which I have spoken is what will judge him in the last day; because I have not spoken out of my own impulse, but the Father himself that sent me has given me a commandment as to what to tell and what to speak. Also I know that his commandment means everlasting life. Therefore the things I speak, just as the Father has told me them, so I speak them.’”—Joh 12 Vss. 44-50, NW.
17. What questions are posed, and what is the sum of their answers?
17 Here we are in 1953, and the days of Adam, of Noah, the time of the nation of Israel and the earthly ministry of Jesus long years ago are all past. What may be said concerning the teaching of Jehovah, the great Teacher, in this day? Is there anything in the present circumstances respecting God’s instructions for us? In this modern, arrogant, wicked civilization, what can be said concerning the teachings of Jehovah God? Much! And it is summed up in the fact that Jehovah teaches the children of his organization.
18. What corroboration does Isaiah 54:13 give?
18 The prophet Isaiah expresses it this way: “And all thy children shall be taught of Jehovah; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” (Isa. 54:13, AS) A reading of the context surrounding this verse shows that it is spoken to Zion (Jerusalem). Isaiah spoke both of the desolation of Israel and of its restoration. However, it is readily recognized that these words from the 54th chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy find their application and fulfillment, not alone in small-scale doings of old, but more so in the work of Jehovah God at a time long distant from the giving of the prophecy.—Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11, NW.
19. When and how did Jesus apply Isaiah 54:13?
19 Jesus himself made an application of Isaiah 54:13, and thereby he takes it out of a Jewish nationalistic setting as far as its fulfillment is concerned. In the sixth chapter of John the account shows Jesus identifying himself as God’s provision for the blessing of those who would serve Jehovah, and the necessity that everyone who would have everlasting life exercise faith in the Son. “Therefore the Jews began to murmur at him because he said: ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven,’ and they began saying: ‘Is this not Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it that now he says, “I have come down from heaven”?’ In answer Jesus said to them: ‘Stop murmuring among yourselves. No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him, and I will resurrect him in the last day. It is written in the Prophets, [Isa. 54:13] “And they will all be taught by Jehovah.” Everyone that has heard the Father’s teaching and has learned comes to me. Not that any man has seen the Father, except he who is from God; this one has seen the Father. Most truly I say to you, He that believes has everlasting life.’”—John 6:41-47, NW.
20. Did all accept Jehovah’s teaching through Christ Jesus?
20 This was a shocking message to those Jews who had long made their professed worship of Jehovah God a nationalistic thing. Although natural Jews, if they allowed themselves to be taught of God through Christ Jesus, they would have remained his disciples, or taught ones, even as he stated, at John 8:31, 32 (NW), to the Jews that had believed him: “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” So, in applying Isaiah 54:13, “these things he said as he was teaching in a synagogue at Capernaum. Owing to this many of his disciples went off to the things behind and would no longer walk with him.”—John 6:59, 66, NW.
21. How is exclusive teaching by Jehovah through Christ Jesus and the Christian congregation shown?
21 Among other things, this shows a casting off of the unfaithful Jewish organization to whom Jehovah was once a husband, and the exclusive teaching by Jehovah through the Christian congregation of which Christ Jesus was the head. Thus the internal evidence of the 54th chapter of Isaiah itself is conclusively supported by the application that Jesus made showing that the prophecy extends far beyond the bounds of natural Israel alone and that Israel itself was merely representative of things to come. No wonder, then, that the Christian congregation, since earliest beginning, accepted unquestioningly and relied wholeheartedly upon the Hebrew Scriptures, many prophecies of which saw fulfillment in Jesus Christ, in the Christian congregation, and in the dealings of Jehovah God with it.—1 Pet. 1:10-12; 2 Pet. 1:19-21, NW.
22. Does the passing of time weaken the word of prophecy?
22 Isaiah’s prophecy in the 54th chapter was recorded long before the apostle Paul addressed the Christian congregation in Rome, but, instead of weakening the force of the prophecies of old, the passing of the time testified to their preservation by their great Author. Coming out foursquare for God’s revealed word, recognizing Israel as itself prophetic, Paul says gratefully: “For 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. Now may the God who supplies endurance and comfort grant you to have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had, that with one accord you may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 15:4-6, NW) We are not left in doubt as to the time and manner of the application and fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah chapter 54. The Teacher supplies all needs; his organization produces in his due time!
RULERSHIP IS INVOLVED
23. What great need is recognized in ancient prophecy and Christian hopes?
23 History and today’s events make obvious the fact that the sanctification of Jehovah’s name, the operation of his righteous Kingdom laws, and the doing of his perfect and holy will, have not been the general order of the day on earth and are not now. No, Jehovah’s worship is not the product of this old system of things, and yet it is no small matter that he has been disregarded by men in general. So paramount in importance is the vindication of Jehovah’s name, with its resultant righteous rule and the blessing of those on the earth who worship him, that it is repeatedly and continually made the subject of Bible prophecy. Not only does Bible prophecy show Jehovah’s purpose to accomplish his will in these matters, but Christians have always made such a subject of prayer, the desire and longing of their hearts being sincerely for the accomplishment of Jehovah’s will. So fundamental are these matters in the life and hopes of a Christian that Christ Jesus embodied them in saying: “You must pray, then, this way: ‘Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will come to pass, as in heaven, also upon earth.’” (Matt. 6:9, 10, NW) When Jesus gave this counsel on prayer more than 630 years had passed since there had been upon the earth even a miniature or small-scale rule of Jehovah God through the theocratic organization of Israel, which was overthrown in 607 B.C. because of unfaithfulness to God.
24. How is rulership involved with Jehovah’s worship?
24 At all times in Jehovah’s dealings with men there is shown the fact that his worship and his rulership are inseparable. That is to say, those who worship God are his subjects; as their God he is their Ruler. Jesus recognized this, and Jesus preached it, doing so upon the foundation of the prophets. Believing what they observed in the law and the prophets concerning the restoration of the Kingdom rule over earth, the personal associates of Jesus looked to him to display kingly power in some way. “While they were listening to these things he spoke in addition an illustration, because he was near Jerusalem and they were imagining that the kingdom of God was going to display itself instantly. Therefore he said: ‘A certain man of noble birth traveled to a distant land to secure kingly power for himself and to return.’”—Luke 19:11, 12, NW.
25. What confidence and what question did the early Christians manifest, and how is this shown?
25 Following his impalement and his being raised from the dead, Jesus for a time had association with his followers: “To these also by many positive proofs he showed himself alive after he had suffered, being seen by them throughout forty days and telling the things about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3, NW) There was no question that eventually Jehovah’s worship throughout the earth, and inseparably with this his rule through his Kingdom organization, would be established, but the question was, When? “When, now, they had assembled, they went to asking him: ‘Master, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?’ He said to them: ‘It does not belong to you to get knowledge of the times or seasons which the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction.’” (Acts 1:6, 7, NW) That his associates and followers would come to a clearer understanding of God’s purposes in this regard is assured by his words: “But you will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon you, and you will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NW) Thereafter Jesus ascended to heaven, and there was left with the early church the promise of his future coming.—Acts 1:11, NW.
26. How did preaching and signs work toward answering the question as to when Jehovah’s worship and rulership would be fully restored?
26 After Jesus’ ascension to heaven God’s spirit of power came upon the members of the early church, and they identified the Christian organization they formed as the instrument that Jehovah was using. This identification was certain through their preaching of the truths of the Kingdom and by means of the signs that they performed by God’s power. The third chapter of Acts gives the account of Peter and John being requested by a lame beggar to give him material help, and Peter’s reply: “Silver and gold I do not possess, but what I do have is what I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!” (Acts 3:6, NW) The lame man was made well by God’s power, to the surprise and amazement of the people who became aware of the miraculous cure. Then Peter gave a powerful testimony concerning Christ Jesus as God’s agent of life, and the fulfillment of prophecies in him, and said further to those persons: “Repent, therefore, and turn around so as to get your sins blotted out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the person of Jehovah and that he may send forth the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven, indeed, must contain within itself until the times of restoration of all things of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets of old time. In fact, Moses said: ‘Jehovah God will produce for you from among your brothers a prophet like me. You must listen to him according to all the things he speaks to you. Indeed, any soul that does not listen to that Prophet will be completely destroyed from among the people.’ And all the prophets, in fact, from Samuel on and those in succession, just as many as have spoken, have also plainly declared these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God covenanted with your forefathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth will be blessed.’ To you first God, after producing his Servant, sent him forth to bless you by turning each one away from your wicked deeds.” (Acts 3:19-26, NW) Like the seed of the serpent or the children of the Devil, which they were, and, as is their custom at all times, the false religious priests were “annoyed” at the teachings of Peter and John and had them arrested.—Acts 4:1-3, NW.
27. How is time an important factor in connection with the fruitfulness of Jehovah’s “wife”?
27 This powerful entreaty to repentance made by Peter points to Christ Jesus as Jehovah’s appointed one, shows that heaven must contain him until a certain time from then, the time of restoration, and that of these things God spoke through the mouth of his prophets, all the prophets, in fact, including Isaiah. Jesus being a heavenly king, of course, would not and did not establish an earthly kingdom. Time is an important factor, and that is true respecting the fulfillment of Isaiah chapter fifty-four. The time of Jehovah’s rulership is the time for the fruitfulness of his organization and the teaching of Zion’s children; but when? how? by whom? Consider the foregoing, both articles, as a basis for the further pursuit of this subject in our next issue.