Be Taught by Jehovah
BE TAUGHT by Jehovah. Why? What does he teach? How does he teach? What conditions must we meet if we are to be taught by Jehovah?
We should seek to be taught by Jehovah because he is God, the greatest Teacher of all and the original One. No one ever taught him: “How unsearchable his judgments are and past tracing out his ways are! For ‘who has come to know Jehovah’s mind, or who has become his counselor?’” No one! “Jehovah himself gives wisdom; out of his mouth there are knowledge and discernment.” He is the omniscient One, the all-knowing One, “the One telling from the beginning the finale.”—Rom. 11:33, 34; Prov. 2:6; Isa. 46:10.
Rightly Elihu exclaimed: “Who is an instructor like him?” For he is “the One teaching us more than the beasts of the earth, and he makes us wiser than even the flying creatures of the heavens.” Most fittingly he is termed “your Grand Instructor.”—Job 36:22; 35:11; Isa. 30:20.
To be taught by Jehovah means to have insight and enjoy peace; it means knowing how to benefit ourselves truly by being made to walk in the right ways: “I shall make you have insight and instruct you in the way you should go.” “All your sons will be persons taught by Jehovah, and the peace of your sons will be abundant.” “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk.”—Ps. 32:8; Isa. 54:13; 48:17.
WHAT JEHOVAH TEACHES
What does Jehovah teach those who are willing to be taught by him? First of all: “I am Jehovah. That is my name.” Also that “Jehovah is in truth God. He is the living God and the King to time indefinite.” Jehovah further teaches us what his purposes are. His transcendent purpose regarding himself is to vindicate his name by clearing it of reproach, so “that people may know that you, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.”—Isa. 42:8; Jer. 10:10; Ps. 83:18.
His purpose regarding the earth and humankind is to have the earth “filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.” Also to “wipe out every tear from their eyes,” for “death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be any more.” In other words, Jehovah’s purpose for earth and man is an earth-wide Paradise. By means of the kingdom for which Jesus taught us to pray Jehovah God accomplishes both purposes.—Isa. 11:9; Rev. 21:4; Matt. 6:9, 10.
Jehovah also teaches us what is his will for us. Since the Kingdom is his chief means for accomplishing his purposes, his will for us is: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” Otherwise stated, ‘You must love Jehovah with your whole heart, mind, soul and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.’—Matt. 6:33; Mark 12:30, 31.
How does Jehovah teach us? Since he is the great Spirit whom it is impossible for us to see and yet live, he uses various instrumentalities, such as the “book of nature,” his dealings and providences, his holy spirit, his visible channel or earthly organization and, chief of all, his Word, the Bible.—Ex. 33:20.
THE “BOOK OF NATURE”
Jehovah God’s “book of nature” is used by him to teach man ever so many things. Men of science are continually letting themselves be taught by this book, as when they imitate God’s handiwork in building airplanes, ships and countless other things. Parents would also do well to let themselves be taught by it by taking lessons from deer, monkeys and bears as to the importance of discipline in the rearing of one’s offspring.
Wise King Solomon showed that God teaches prudence and diligence by this book: “Go to the ant, you lazy one; see its ways and become wise.” The Greater-than-Solomon, Jesus Christ, likewise referred to God’s teaching by means of this book. For a lesson of faith and trust in our heavenly Father he called attention to the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. And said the apostle Paul: “Does not nature itself teach you that . . . if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her?”—Prov. 6:6; Matt. 6:26-30; 1 Cor. 11:14, 15.
But most important of all, by means of this book God teaches man as to His existence and attributes: “His invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are understood by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable.” Job also appreciated that fact, for he said: “Ask, please, the domestic animals and they will instruct you, also the winged creatures of the heavens and they will tell you. Or speak thoughtfully to the earth and it will instruct you, and the fishes of the sea will declare it to you. Who among all these does not well know that the hand of Jehovah itself has done this?” Truly God teaches by his book of nature!—Rom. 1:20; Job 12:7-10.
MIRACLES AND PROVIDENCES—EXPERIENCES
There is an old saying, “Experience is the best teacher.” But not so. Far better to learn without the costly and painful process of experience, which one may undergo without learning anything, as can be seen all about us. But God’s servants have an infallible and omniscient authority; and therefore knowledge of God, faith that his will is for the best, and obedience to it are far better than experience.
Still, at times, because of human frailty or some other valid reason, Jehovah does teach his servants by experience. That is, by means of miracles or his providences he indicates his will or drives home certain lessons. He let the Israelites go hungry in the wilderness and then fed them on miraculous manna ‘in order to make them know,’ that is, to teach them, “that not by bread alone does man live.”—Deut. 8:2, 3.
Because the Israelite Achan let covetousness overreach him God permitted the entire nation to suffer defeat at Ai to impress upon Joshua and all his people the seriousness of Achan’s offense. Thereafter God repeatedly let his people come under pagan subjection to bring them to their senses. This thought is inherent in the psalmists’ words: “Before I was under affliction I was sinning by mistake.” “Show us just how to count our days in such a way that we may bring in a heart of wisdom.”—Josh. 7:1-26; Judg. 10:9-16; Ps. 119:67; 90:12.
While God’s servants today cannot point to like miracles, God does, at times, indicate his will for them by means of his providences. Thus the wholly unexpected obtaining of an abundance of essential fuel back in 1919 indicated to them what was God’s will in a certain matter, even as their inability to find suitable accommodations in 1958 indicated that it was not God’s will to have certain camping facilities in connection with the Divine Will International Assembly.
TAUGHT BY HOLY SPIRIT
Jehovah God also uses his holy spirit to teach us. By holy spirit is not meant a third person of a mysterious trinity, but God’s active force, by means of which he carries out his purposes. Even as he used it to inspire men to write his Word, so by means of it he gives understanding of that Word. Thus only after receiving holy spirit at Pentecost did the early Christians understand God’s will for them, even as Jesus foretold: “The helper, the holy spirit which the Father will send in my name, that one will teach you all things and bring back to your minds all the things I told you.” As the apostle Paul also noted: “Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, neither have there been conceived in the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him.” But “to us God has revealed them through his spirit, for the spirit searches into all things, even the deep things of God.”—John 14:26; 1 Cor. 2:9, 10.
To receive this enlightening holy spirit requires knowledge of God’s Word, faith in it and works in harmony with that faith. We “receive the spirit . . . due to obedient hearing by faith.” Only then will God answer our prayers for the holy spirit. But more than that, it is also necessary for us to have contact or association with God’s visible channel or earthly organization—a fact driven home by the experience of the early Christians.—Gal. 3:2; Acts 8:15-17.
BY A VISIBLE ORGANIZATION
Jehovah as the great Teacher has ever used human instruments to teach his earthly children. Adam taught Eve; Noah taught his family; Abraham taught his household; Moses taught his people. In particular was the tribe of Levi, together with its priests, the teaching instrument in ancient Israel: “For the lips of a priest are the ones that should keep knowledge, and the law is what people should seek from his mouth; for he is the messenger of Jehovah.” When this teaching body failed to do its duty, God “kept sending against them by means of his messengers [the prophets], . . . because he felt compassion for his people.”—Mal. 2:7; 2 Chron. 36:15.
When on earth Jesus proved himself to be the greatest instrument or Teacher this earth had ever seen. He had more knowledge and teaching ability than any other human before or since. He taught his people on the mountainside, on the seaside, in their homes, synagogues and the temple. As he himself testified: “Day after day I used to sit in the temple teaching.”—Matt. 26:55.
He trained a nucleus of disciples to be teachers, who, in turn, taught others. Yes, God by Jesus “gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as missionaries, some as shepherds and teachers, with a view to the training of the holy ones for ministerial work.” And so we read of the teaching activities of the apostles throughout the book of Acts.—Eph. 4:11, 12.
We should not expect it to be different today, and it is not different. Just as the early Christian congregation had a governing body at Jerusalem that directed the teaching work, so today there is a governing body to be found in the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses that gives evidence of being used by Jehovah to teach his children. It uses legal societies for the purpose of publishing Bibles and Bible-study aids and for training ministers. It helps organize Christians into congregations so that they can discharge their obligations to be teachers of God’s Word. Today in 179 different lands and islands of the sea upward of 900,000 of these ministers are being taught of Jehovah and, in turn, teaching others.
HIS INSPIRED BOOK—THE BIBLE
Jehovah’s chief instrument for teaching his people is his inspired Word, the Bible; even as was implied in the references to it in considering God’s other instrumentalities for teaching his people. As we read: “The One correcting the nations, can he not reprove, even the One teaching men knowledge? Happy is the able-bodied man whom you correct, O Jah, and whom you teach out of your own law.”
We might say that there are four basic fields of knowledge covered in the Bible. First there is history and prophecy, telling us what has happened and what will yet happen. Beginning when God was alone, these carry us to at least a thousand years in the future.—Ps. 94:10, 12.
In addition to history and prophecy there is also much Bible teaching of basic truths or doctrines. Chief among these is that of the Kingdom by means of which God will vindicate his sovereignty. Second only to it is the Bible teaching of the ransom, why the Son of God died and how we can benefit from his death. Baptism and the resurrection are two other prominent Bible doctrines.
Further, the Bible contains God’s righteous principles, both explicitly stated and implied. It tells us what God requires of us, what is right and what is wrong; what our duties are toward God and our fellow man; duties of husbands, wives, parents, children, overseers and ministerial assistants.
God’s Word also gives us explicit instructions as to the commission of Christians to be teachers, ministers of God’s religion: how this preaching work is to be done, what is to be said and the manner in which to present it. In all this, God’s Word, by express commands, by showing us God’s example, and by the records made by the righteous and the wicked, teaches us what to do and what to avoid.
For us to be taught of Jehovah we must have the fear of Jehovah and be meek, for a meek person is teachable. “Who, now, is the man fearful of Jehovah? He will instruct him in the way that he will choose.” Jehovah will “teach the meek ones his way.” Our attitude must be one of wanting to be taught: “Make me know your own ways, Jehovah; teach me your own paths.” “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.”—Ps. 25:12, 9, 4; 143:10.
Truly this world gives evidence that it is not being taught by Jehovah. How foolish, in view of the fact that he has all wisdom and knowledge and is the greatest Teacher and Instructor in all the universe! Among his instrumentalities for teaching, as we have seen, are his “book of nature,” his providences, his holy spirit, his visible organization and his inspired Word. And he stands ready to teach all those who fear him and are meek.
Failure to be taught of Jehovah means destruction. Why die? Jehovah has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. (Ezek. 33:11) Be taught of Jehovah and you will make him, yourself and others happy. (Prov. 27:11) In view of the times in which we live, do not delay. Begin at once to be taught by Jehovah and live.