The Great God Who Is “Doing Wondrous Things”
“For you are great and are doing wondrous things; you are God, you alone. Instruct me, O Jehovah, about your way. I shall walk in your truth. Unify my heart to fear your name.”—Ps. 86:10, 11.
1. With what meaning does the eighty-sixth Psalm come down to lovers of righteousness today?
THE eighty-sixth Psalm is a prayer of David. Though first uttered three thousand years ago, it carries a wealth of meaning for all lovers of righteousness today. It extols the One who alone has the solution to the distressing problems of this space age. Hear David’s petition as he pours out his heart to the great God who is worthy of all praise: “For you, O Jehovah, are good and ready to forgive, and the loving-kindness to all those calling upon you is abundant. In the day of my distress I will call upon you, for you will answer me. I laud you, O Jehovah my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify your name to time indefinite, for your loving-kindness is great toward me. . . . You, O Jehovah, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and trueness. . . . For you yourself, O Jehovah, have helped me and comforted me.”—Ps. 86:5, 7, 12-17.
2. In what respect does David’s prayer differ from those of many modern-day religionists?
2 What other God has ever called forth such heartfelt praise as Jehovah, the God of David? Let Catholics and Buddhists take their rosaries, and chant the Ave Maria or the O-Kyo a thousand times over. Let Protestant clergymen raise sanctimonious voices to a God whose name they do not know. Let the world’s thousands of religious sects petition, each according to its creed. Can any of their prayers even start to voice the depth of appreciation that David had for his God? David knew his God. His religion was alive and meaningful. It centered in dedicated service to Jehovah, the Creator of heaven and earth and the very Fountain of life.—Ps. 36:7-9.
3. What “wondrous things” did Jehovah perform with regard to David?
3 Out of the abundance of his loving-kindness, Jehovah began to do “wondrous things” for David when he chose him as a stripling youth and had him anointed to be king in Israel. “And the spirit of Jehovah began to be operative upon David from that day forward.” (1 Sam. 16:7, 11-13) See David confident in Jehovah’s power, as he hurries out with sling and stones to vanquish the champion Goliath! See Jehovah’s wondrous doings as David survives through years of pursuit by King Saul, finally to be exalted to Jehovah’s throne on Zion, the mountain “beautiful for loftiness, the exultation of the whole earth”! (Ps. 48:2) See him in later years as he praises Jehovah for the wondrous promise of an everlasting kingdom in the royal line of David, a kingdom that will yet bring untold peace and joy to all nations of men on this earth!—1 Sam. 17:38-51; 26:18-20; 2 Sam. 7:16, 18-24.
4. Why could David declare, “There is none like you among the gods, O Jehovah”?
4 ‘With all his heart’ David could declare: “There is none like you among the gods, O Jehovah, neither are there any works like yours.” (Ps. 86:8) In David’s day, as today, the earth was filled with a multitude of gods. Though Buddha, Brahma, Confucius and Christendom’s triune “God” had not yet appeared to add confusion to the religious scene, there were a host of gods to be worshiped in the religions of Philistia, Assyria, Babylon and other nations surrounding Israel. As they went out to war, these nations carried images of their gods on staves, from which also fluttered their national pendants. Some of these gods, such as Molech of Ammon and Chemosh of Moab, were known as “fire gods,” and exacted human sacrifices. Baal of Peor was worshiped with lewd sex rites. David not only maintained separateness from this cruel, immoral world of confused religionists, but he removed their contaminating influence by driving them right out from the God-given land of Israel.—Deut. 11:22-25; 2 Sam. 8:1-3, 14.
5. For what other wondrous works could David extol Jehovah?
5 David extolled Jehovah for all His mighty works of creation: “The heavens are declaring the glory of God, and of the work of his hands the expanse is telling.” (Ps. 19:1) Moreover, he praised Jehovah for all His wondrous doings recorded in His “book,” the record of the Bible that had been completed up to that time. The gods of worldly nations had left no such record; indeed, they had accomplished nothing worthy of praise or record. It is Jehovah alone, “the grand King” and who is “great and very much to be praised,” that has caused to be written down the record of his wondrous works and eternal purposes. (Ex. 17:14) David exulted, not only in the divine promise of an everlasting Kingdom, but in all the other glorious prophecies looking down to our day.
6. (a) What wondrous Kingdom purposes has Jehovah been accomplishing since 1914? (b) How have men of good will recognized God’s ‘signs and wonders’?
6 Now in this day of Jehovah, the great God of heaven is “doing wondrous things” unsurpassed in all history! It is the day to which David looked forward with joy. It is the day in which prophecy upon prophecy is coming to grand fulfillment. In the modern year of 1914 Jehovah established the everlasting kingdom of heaven in the hands of one greater than David, his Son Jesus Christ. In 1919 he brought forth on this earth a New World society to preach “this good news of the kingdom . . . for the purpose of a witness to all the nations.” (Matt. 24:14) As the nucleus of this New World society, the faithful remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses serve “as signs and as wonders,” to be seen by all men. (Isa. 8:18) And now, in their hundreds of thousands, men of good will, “the precious things of all nations,” are flocking to the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses, for they see in it a peace and joy that contrast sharply with the old world’s divisions and hatreds. (Hag. 2:7, AS; Isa. 2:2-4) Wondrous sight! It is even as David himself prophesied: “All the nations whom you have made will themselves come and they will bow down before you, O Jehovah, and will give glory to your name.”—Ps. 86:9.
7. What wondrous doings are in store for the immediate future?
7 Still more wondrous doings are in store. Jehovah will “set astonishing events on the earth” when he comes forth shortly to His war at Armageddon, where he will blot out “the present wicked system of things” with its politics and its militarism, its temples and its gods. (Ps. 46:8, 9; Job 38:22, 23) Incomparable the wonders that Jehovah will then perform in robing this earth with paradisaic beauty and peace. (Ps. 37:9, 11; 104:24) Indeed, the manifold works of Jehovah are “wonderful in our eyes,” causing all modern-day “men of loving-kindness” to cry out: “There is none like you among the gods, O Jehovah, neither are there any works like yours”!—Ps. 118:23, 24; 86:8.
SHUN THE FALSE GODS
8. (a) What does it mean to come to Jehovah in dedication? (b) Why is Jehovah not honored by the religions of Christendom and heathendom today?
8 The great God, Jehovah, will continue to do wondrous things toward all those who come to him in dedication. As “a God exacting exclusive devotion” he requires this dedication of all who receive of his loving-kindness. (Deut. 6:14, 15) They must separate themselves from the confused multiplicity of gods of heathendom and Christendom. Moreover, they must be positive in their support of Jehovah’s worship, as was his anointed Son Jesus on this earth, and as was David, who typified Jesus in saying: “Sheer zeal for your house has eaten me up.” (Ps. 69:9; John 2:17) They must appreciate the great gulf that separates Jehovah from all the false gods. “The God that made the world and all the things in it, being, as this One is, Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in handmade temples, neither is he attended to by human hands as if he needed anything, because he himself gives to all persons life and breath and all things.” (Acts 17:24, 25) God is not honored by the mighty religious temples of Christendom. He has no part with the ungainly, fearsome-visaged idols of heathendom, the reflection of gods who prey upon fear and superstition. Jehovah appeals to human hearts through Bible truth, and through his great love, which he has infused through all his New World society on earth. As the apostle says: “As for us, we love, because he first loved us.”—1 John 4:19.
9. What does it mean to “walk in your truth”?
9 “I shall walk in your truth,” declared David. (Ps. 86:11) How may one so walk today? By making Jehovah’s revealed truth the very center, the pivot point of his entire life. This means personal study. It means assembling regularly with the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses, not for formalistic religious exercises, but for sincere Bible study, ‘building one another up in the most holy faith.’ (Jude 20, 21) It means obeying Jesus’ command: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them . . . , teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) It means comforting with truth those who are distressed by this wicked world. “The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world.”—Jas. 1:27.
10. (a) What is included in keeping oneself “without spot from the world”? (b) In what way are Confucianism and the Bible contrary in teaching and in fruitage?
10 How may one keep himself “without spot from the world”? Among other things, he must keep free from contamination by worldly religion. Since David’s time many new gods and religions have arisen to lead captive the minds and lives of humankind. There is, for example, the religion of Confucius, who is revered by the Chinese. Confucius pronounced the negative principle, “Do not do to others what you would not want them to do to you,” and tied this in with a formal regulation of all the ways and habits of life. As a result, there has been little progress in China for two and a half millenniums. How different from the positive love for God and man, as commanded in the Bible—a love that is alive, progressive and productive of good fruits!—Matt. 22:36-40; John 15:8-10.
11. Has Hinduism brought blessings to its adherents and in what ways does it contrast with the Bible?
11 Then there is Hinduism, with its 330,000,000 gods and goddesses, and temple rites that in many cases are shocking to those who appreciate decent, moral standards. Moreover, India’s backwardness, including the liability of her millions of starving sacred cows, testifies that Hinduism is not a religion that brings blessings spiritual or material to its adherents. Even Prime Minister Nehru “has chided his countrymen on their attitude to cows.”* Hinduism is far different from the worship of the one God and Creator, Jehovah, who owns “the cattle upon a thousand hills,” and who is able to provide the spiritual and material needs of all creation that serves in harmony with his purposes!—Ps. 50:10, AS; Ps 104:27, 28.
12. What can be said in favor of Shinto and Japanese Buddhism?
12 It was Shinto that inspired the fanaticism of Japan’s World War II drive into Asia and the Pacific, and to this day the traditional mirror, jewel and sword of Jimmu Tenno, Japan’s first emperor of 2,600 years ago, who is described as the great-grandson of the sun goddess herself, are revered in many Japanese temples. However, Shinto prayers did not bring victory to Japan, any more than Catholic or Protestant prayers brought victory to her Italian and German Axis partners. Nor did Buddha aid the Axis cause. Though the prayers of Nichiren, Buddhist zealot of the thirteenth century, are said to have brought on the typhoon that repelled a Mongol invasion of Japan, the prayers of Japan’s many Buddhist sects could not stave off the World War II invasion from the skies. No wonder that many in Japan have lost faith in their wartime “gods”! Japan is now a field ripe for the preaching of God’s kingdom of peace.—John 4:35, 36.
13. (a) Why is Christendom in confusion as to its “God”? (b) Contrast Christendom’s course with that of David.
13 However, what of Christendom’s “God”? The American coin of the realm bears the inscription, “In God we trust.” Which “God”? The God of “the church of your choice”? Surely the two hundred and more Catholic, Protestant and Jewish sects in the United States, together with their many related sects throughout the Western world, cannot be worshiping the same God. Their teachings are all mixed up and contrary to one another. They have not put up with the one, consistent “healthful teaching” of the Bible. They have followed man-made teachings instead. (2 Tim. 4:3, 4) They have not prayed ‘with all their heart’ as did David: “Instruct me, O Jehovah, about your way. I shall walk in your truth.” (Ps. 86:11, 12) Hence, they walk on in a labyrinth of confused doctrine. They not only scorn the pure doctrine of Jehovah, but even remove his name from its rightful place in their modern translations of the Bible, substituting an expressionless “Lord.”
14. (a) What are the fruits of Christendom’s religious confusion? (b) What fate awaits Christendom, and why?
14 The fruits of Christendom’s religious confusion are to be seen in its rising rate of crime, its juvenile delinquency and its alarming increase in divorce and godlessness. It is all what Jehovah foretold for ungodly Christendom in these “last days.” (Matt. 7:15-23; 2 Tim. 3:1-7; Jer. 5:29-31) Christendom denies Christ both in her doctrine and in her way of life. Her proclaiming the United Nations to be the hope of the world, or her competing with the communistic “king of the north” by stockpiling nuclear arms, will not save Christendom from her Armageddon destruction by Jehovah and his now-reigning King, the Christ that she professes to serve.—Dan. 11:38; Luke 6:46-49.
HIGH TIME TO FLEE
15. What warning must all lovers of righteousness now heed?
15 This world and its polyglot religions stand condemned before Jehovah and his Executioner, Christ Jesus. How must men ‘agreeable to Jehovah’s heart,’ as David was, act at this time? (Acts 13:22) The prophet Jeremiah speaks of this religious world under the symbol “Babylon,” and says, “Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and provide escape each one for his own soul. Do not be rendered inanimate through her error. For it is the time of vengeance belonging to Jehovah. There is treatment that he is paying back to her. Babylon . . . [is] making all the earth drunk. . . . That is why the nations keep acting crazed.”—Jer. 51:6, 7.
16, 17. (a) What is involved in fleeing out of modern Babylon? (b) How does Jeremiah emphasize the need for fleeing from the “sheer falsehood” of modern religion?
16 Do you see the modern-day nations “acting crazed”? Then flee! says the prophet. But how? By separating from their noisy politics, their heartless militarism, their degraded morals and their stupefying religion. Drunk with false religion, whether this be churchianity, the exalting of military might or the worship of the Communist state, the nations have ignored God’s warning. Their saber-rattling has brought them not only to the brink of a nuclear “hot war” but more than this, to the brink of terrible and wondrous destruction by the great God, Jehovah. However, within those nations, peace-loving men of good will are awakening to the emptiness of the nationalistic gods of their forefathers. They are fleeing from support of the “sheer falsehood” of the religions of Christendom and heathendom, and dedicating themselves to Jehovah, the true God and Creator of the enduring new world of sanity and peace.
17 These are the men of good will that David foresaw at Psalm 86:9, and who are also described at Jeremiah 16:19, 20: “O Jehovah my strength and my stronghold, and my place for flight in the day of distress, to you the nations themselves will come from the ends of the earth, and they will say: ‘Indeed our forefathers came to possess sheer falsehood, vanity and things in which there was nothing beneficial.’ Can earthling man make for himself gods when they are no gods?” Jehovah’s anger will soon blaze against the false gods of the nations, and concerning this he declares: “At this one time I shall cause them to know my hand and my mightiness, and they will have to know that my name is Jehovah.”—Jer. 16:21.
18. Why will Jehovah bring the nations and their religions to ruin?
18 Is it not a terrible thing for Jehovah to wipe out the nations and their religions? It would be a terrible thing if Jehovah permitted the braggart nations to continue desecrating his handiwork, the earth, even to destroying all life with their nuclear devices. Happily, he purposes to bring them to ruin first. (Rev. 11:18) Moreover, since he purposes a clean earth and one true, clean religion for all mankind, he will also destroy all false gods and religions. (Zeph. 2:11, AS) Flee out of Babylonish religion now. Provide escape for your soul by removing all spots of false religion, and henceforth keep clean from its spots!
19. What does it mean to say, “Instruct me, O Jehovah, about your way”?
19 Do you say ‘with all your heart,’ as did David, “Instruct me, O Jehovah, about your way”? Is it your resolve that “I shall walk in your truth”? To do so means to dedicate oneself to Jehovah and to keep on continually studying and walking in his doctrine. It calls for continued progress. The religions of Christendom have bogged down in formalistic creeds for centuries. However, in Jehovah’s New World society, there is not even a momentary standing still. Said Paul: “Now that we have left the elementary doctrine about the Christ, let us press on to maturity.” (Heb. 6:1) As King David was required ‘to read in the book of God’s law all the days of his life, so as to learn to fear Jehovah his God,’ so the man of God today must study God’s Word daily, so that he “may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.”—Deut. 17:19; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17.
20. (a) What mistake have some made? (b) What is necessary in order to fully walk in the truth?
20 Some persons have contented themselves with a superficial knowledge of God’s purposes. They have learned something of the blessings of God’s new world, or they have formed a personal liking for the minister of Jehovah’s witnesses that calls on them. For a time they join themselves to the New World society “with flatteries.” (Dan. 11:34) They say, “I think you are wonderful people,” but go no farther. They do not study the Bible so as to discern its real meaning and power. They do not let it take root in their hearts, so that they can dedicate themselves to Jehovah and bear fruit with endurance. (Luke 8:15) How necessary, not only to learn the “first principles” of Jehovah’s teaching, but also to be “carefully examining the Scriptures daily,” by digging down into the Bible with all provided study aids! In this way one will become convinced in his faith and equipped to confidently explain all the wonderful facets of the truth to others. Make the truth your own, and walk in it.—Acts 17:11.
21. To what extent should one know the Bible?
21 To free heart and mind for dedicated service to the true God, one must know the Bible. In such matters as neutrality in time of peace or of war, honoring flags, patriotic ceremonies, politics, the sanctity of blood, making offerings to idols and paying homage at the tombs of one’s ancestors, each must take his personal stand according to what he has studied in God’s Word and knows to be right. He must know the principles that God sets out in His Word and be minded to please God, even at great personal sacrifice, by living according to these principles. It is not simply a matter of knowing isolated texts in the Bible that may prove one’s stand. He who ‘walks in Jehovah’s truth’ must be mature in knowing the whole grand theme of the Bible, the depth of meaning behind Jehovah’s Kingdom promises and the reality of leading a dedicated life in separateness from Satan’s world. He has to have deep discernment as to what is Jehovah’s will for all occasions, and he must do that will.—Heb. 5:14; Col. 1:9, 10.
22. (a) Illustrate how one may apply Bible principles. (b) What powerful encouragement does the Bible give to those who hold fast their integrity?
22 A family may require its children to put out food and drink before an idol each day or to make periodic pilgrimages to the ancestral tombs. May one who walks in Jehovah’s truth do these things? Probably he will recall the scripture at 2 Corinthians 6:16: “And what agreement does God’s temple have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said: ‘I shall reside among them and walk among them, and I shall be their God, and they will be my people.’” Rejoicing in this privilege of walking with the living God, he will examine the Scriptures diligently to establish in his heart God’s principles regarding idolatry. However, if the family objects, and even becomes demanding in its opposition, what course will he then take? He will, of course, show his desire to co-operate in all the ordinary affairs of life. In love, in kindness and in pleasantness, he will be a living testimony to the change that has taken place in him since dedicating himself to the true God. However, in matters of worship his stand must be firmly with the principles that Jehovah expresses in His Word. Even if it should come to bitter persecution, he will find courage in Jesus’ words foretelling the situation: “Do not think I came to put peace upon the earth; I came to put, not peace, but a sword. For I came to cause division, with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a young wife against her mother-in-law. Indeed, a man’s enemies will be persons of his own household.” (Matt. 10:34-36) Have courage! Though one may lose friendships in this old world, the course of integrity will win many genuine friends in Jehovah’s New World society, and also the friendship of Jehovah and his King, which leads to refreshing peace and eternal life in the new world!—Matt. 19:29.
23. How may Jehovah’s worshipers overcome the world? Illustrate.
23 He who holds fast to theocratic principles in prayer will gain “the peace of God that excels all thought” and an inner strength that overcomes the world. (Phil. 4:6, 7) During World War II, the stand of Jehovah’s witnesses in Germany in refusing to salute the Nazi swastika or heil Hitler, and their neutrality as regards his war of aggression, brought upon them one of the cruelest persecutions in history. One writer describes it: “When the witnesses did not give up the struggle for their religious convictions, a campaign of terror was launched against them which surpassed anything perpetrated against other victims of Nazism in Germany. . . . The sufferings of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the camps were even worse than those meted out to Jews, pacifists or Communists. Small as the sect is, each member seems to be a fortress which can be destroyed but never taken.”* Walking with God in his true doctrine, you too can become such a fortress!
24. How does living up to Bible principles act as a testimony to others?
24 Those who live up to Bible principles will come to appreciate that most opposers are at heart cowards. When they see an unshakable stand for right principles, they will, in many cases, give up the fight. They will acknowledge the Christian’s reasonable freedom to worship the true God. If they have been sincere in their opposition, the greater sincerity and the greater conviction of the dedicated Christian may even persuade them to take an interest and, in time, to embrace the same precious faith. (1 Pet. 3:1, 2) Remember that the apostle Paul, whom Jehovah used to explain many of the divine principles, was himself once a belligerent persecutor of God’s true people.—Gal. 1:13-16, 23, 24.
25. (a) When particularly, is an all-conquering faith necessary? (b) What strong assurance does Jesus give to men of faith?
25 In some Eastern countries religion is closely identified with almost every activity of life. The person who abandons the national or tribal religion is regarded not only as an outcast by his family, but also as an outcast from all society. In some places every male is required to become a priest for part of his life. Recently, in Burma, former premier U Nu illustrated this custom by donning the orange robe of Buddhist priesthood for a month. Where a local religion is so deeply ingrained into the lives of the people, strong faith, an all-conquering faith, is needed to break free into Jehovah’s ways of truth and to maintain that stand. But it can be done and it is being done! As the apostle says, “And this is the conquest that has conquered the world, our faith.” (1 John 5:4) All who treasure this faith and the privilege of continued association in God’s New World society will grow strong! Though they may become outcasts of worldly societies, Jesus assures them: “All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life.”—John 6:37, 40, RS.
26. (a) What must be carefully watched, as to thoughts and attitudes? (b) What habits must the Christian form, in harmony with the divine will?
26 All who gain the freedom of God’s New World society must watch carefully that their newly acquired Christian way of thinking is not tainted by pagan thoughts and ways. “‘For the thoughts of you people are not my thoughts, nor are my ways your ways,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” (Isa. 55:8) The new Christian often has to get rid of local attitudes. In many Oriental countries it is not the custom to go to a temple for religious instruction. Likewise, in Western lands religion is often regarded as incidental to living, and is called in only for weddings, funerals, “Easter” parades and the like. Hence, the one who makes his mind over to Jehovah’s thoughts must form the habit, at first strange to him, of regularly attending Bible study meetings several times a week. But go he must, if he is to become thoroughly versed in the ways of the great God of truth. Attitudes toward national feast days, holidays and leisure hours must change. It is not Jehovah’s way to squander time in these wicked days, but rather he tells Christians to walk as wise persons, “buying out the opportune time for yourselves” and “perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.” (Eph. 5:15-17) Hours are too precious to be wasted on the old world. At “Christmas,” at New Year, on feast days or on free weekends, there is time to be bought out for New World service. Use it wisely.—Eph. 4:22; Col. 4:5.
27. Where and how will the true and praiseworthy things be found today?
27 “Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.” (Phil. 4:8) These are the things with which to fill mind and heart. Where will these true and praiseworthy things be found today? Nowhere in Satan’s world! They will be found only in God’s Word, the Bible, and they may be considered in precious association with others of the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses. The most important hours of each week are those hours that you spend at meetings, considering the wondrous Kingdom purposes of the great God of truth, and the hours that you devote to preaching and teaching from door to door. In all of your dedicated life and with all your heart continue to laud Jehovah, for he is “doing wondrous things.” Jehovah—he alone—is THE GREAT GOD.
The New York Times, August 5, 1956.
The Nazi State, Professor Ebenstein, Princeton University.