Courage Under Divine Protection
1. Is it just during all our days on earth during this old world that we will dwell in Jehovah’s house, or what are the prospects?
JEHOVAH’S house of worship is a protected place, and anyone dwelling there enjoys divine protection. Courageously dwelling in Jehovah’s house all our days on earth during just the existence of this old world is not all there is to the matter. Christians who are spiritual “living stones” will, by a resurrection from the dead, be transferred to the heavens to make up Jehovah’s completed temple up there with the Corner Foundation Stone Jesus Christ. The hundreds of thousands of other dedicated worshipers who are today coming to Jehovah’s temple will continue to dwell in His house all the days of their lives in the endless new world by carrying on His pure worship on the paradise earth.
2. For looking for what now do Jehovah’s witnesses show what they want for the future?
2 But what we want for the future we show by what we want and look for now. So even with the prospect of forever dwelling in the house of Jehovah in the future after Armageddon, we want to dwell there also now before Armageddon. Hence, despite all the tribulation and persecution that we undergo in this world, Jehovah makes it possible for us to enjoy this privilege now. In a number of lands both behind and outside the Communist Iron Curtain Jehovah’s witnesses are banned and are forbidden to meet together in Bible study, and they run great dangers in trying to do so. Yet with great courage they succeed in doing so, underground. By this they show what they want for the future.
3, 4. (a) How do we suffer persecution together, and despite it what must we do? (b) How did David, in Psalm 27:5-10, express his confidence about dwelling again in Jehovah’s house?
3 Whether directly so or indirectly so as sympathetic companions of others, we as Christian witnesses of Jehovah suffer persecution together. Despite it we must take courage and attempt to meet together as David did under the hostile fire of the enemy. He trusted in Jehovah’s protection and in His help and deliverance to enable him to resume dwelling in God’s house. Hence David said:
4 “For he will hide me in his covert in the day of calamity; he will conceal me in the secret place of his tent; high on a rock he will put me. And now my head will be high above my enemies all around me; and I will sacrifice at his tent sacrifices of joyful shouting; I will sing and make melody to Jehovah. Hear, O Jehovah, when I call with my voice, and show me favor and answer me. Concerning you my heart has said: ‘Seek to find my face, you people.’ Your face, O Jehovah, I shall seek to find. Do not conceal your face from me. Do not in anger turn your servant away. My assistance you must become. Do not forsake me and do not leave me, O my God of salvation. In case my own father and my own mother did leave me, even Jehovah himself would take me up.”—Ps. 27:5-10.
5. How were enemies trying to ruin David spiritually, but why was he certain that they would not succeed?
5 In those words of the persecuted David there rings a sureness of final victory over his enemies who interfere with his worship of Jehovah at his temple. Enemies would scheme spiritual calamity for him, especially by “framing trouble by decree,” legalizing the wicked persecution, and thus trying to force David to let drop his faith in God and his worship and service of God. (Ps. 94:20) But they would not succeed in ruining David as a servant and witness of Jehovah. Even calamity would not affect David spiritually, for he was hid in Jehovah’s covert place of safety, concealed in the unreachable “secret place” of Jehovah’s sacred tent, as if on a high rock unscalable by all his enemies. God would raise David’s head high in victory over the enemies of true worship. He would again have free access to God’s altar at his tent of worship in order to offer sacrifices and to sing and make melody in a public display of thanksgiving to Jehovah, who is loyal to his worshipers.
6. (a) To what divine invitation do we respond, and why so despite obstacles? (b) On whose assistance do we therefore count?
6 Take courage, then, all you persecuted witnesses of this loyal God. The evidences of his favor toward us will without fail come through to us in answer to our prayers, in spite of all the interferences and all the war against us by our ungodly enemies. Our hearts take up Jehovah’s own invitation to his people and remind us of his invitation by saying it within us, namely: “Seek to find my face, you people.” As his dedicated people we respond eagerly and seek to find his face of favor and pleasantness. (Zeph. 2:1-3) To succeed in doing so we have to overcome many obstacles put in our way by the enemies and by this materialistic world of enticement; but in love and loyalty to him we do so, for his favor means life to us. We do this although our assistance from all other sources may fail us. When we seem left and forsaken by everybody, Jehovah through Christ must become our assistance, for his assistance never fails the loyal. We can count on it if we seek his face.
7. (a) What did David suggest as the most extreme case of human abandonment? (b) In such a case, however, who could be depended upon?
7 How terrible it is to be forsaken by one’s own father and mother! Persecuted David did not have that experience. His father and mother did not forsake him. When he went into hiding from his persecutor, King Saul, and took refuge in a cave near Adullam, his “brothers and the entire house of his father” heard of it and went out of Bethlehem to him there. Later David took his father and mother east of the Jordan River and said to the king of the land of Moab: “Let my father and my mother, please, dwell with you people until I know what God will do to me.” There his parents remained for the time being. (1 Sam. 22:1-3) If David’s father and mother did ever forsake him, it was forcibly when they died and left him behind in the land of the living. So in his psalm David merely suggested an almost unthinkable case of human abandonment, that by his own father and mother; and if parents did so, then it was to be expected that all other humans would do so. Then, in this extreme situation, there was one who could be expected not to fail David—oh, what a comfort! Jehovah God, whose face he continually sought, would take him up; and Jehovah does not die.—Hab. 1:12, Ro; NW.
8, 9. (a) What division, as foretold, does the choice of Jehovah’s worship cause in some cases? (b) In such a case, who shows ownership of us, and according to what promising assurance?
8 In the “time of the end” of Satan’s world the choice of Jehovah’s worship causes a division in many intimate family groups. Jesus Christ, when restoring his Father Jehovah’s pure worship on earth, said that it would do so. Jesus did not come to establish religious peace on earth: “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.” In the ensuing test of affections, parents were going to disown or abandon their own children who showed more affection for Jesus Christ and his heavenly Father. (Matt. 10:33-37) To face such an abandonment requires courage for one who desires to pursue the true, life-giving worship of Jehovah the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. But what if parents do disapprove of our choice of the heavenly Father Jehovah and disown and leave us? Our immortal heavenly Father will show his ownership of us and take us in, giving us a place within his organization. Expressing unbreakable loyalty to his organization Zion, he says:
9 “Can a wife forget her suckling so that she should not pity the son of her belly? Even these women can forget, yet I myself shall not forget you. Look! Upon my palms I have engraved you. Your walls are in front of me constantly.”—Isa. 49:15, 16; cf. Job 39:14, 15.
10. (a) How has Jehovah proved this prophecy to his Christian witnesses in recent times? (b) What has he built up to receive us, and how does he heal the wounding of our affections?
10 Since the close of World War I in 1918 Jehovah God has proved this prophecy of his unswerving loyalty. He did not permit the organization of his Christian witnesses to be wiped out by the vicious persecutions against them during that first world conflict. In 1919 he restored them from their religious captivity and took them up again into his favor, and his hands began rebuilding the walls of their dilapidated organization. He had not really forgotten them, as it had seemed. Neither did he forget them during the worse conditions of World War II. Since then, what a mighty walled or well-protected organization he has built up for them, as they apply themselves to the foretold work of preaching this good news of God’s established kingdom publicly and from house to house, in all the inhabited earth, for a witness to all the nations before the end of these political institutions comes in the threatening war of Armageddon! (Matt. 24:14) So, then, let our closest natural relatives—even our earthly father and mother—leave us because of our seeking Jehovah as God. He is glad to take us abandoned ones up. His lovingly taking us up heals the wounding of our hearts. He assures us of everlasting life in his new world, a life that our mortal, dying father and mother could never give to us.
11. Now that we have been taken up, what must we never do, and why not?
11 Now that he has taken us up into his theocratic organization, we must never leave it, never cease meeting with it. He never forgets his faithful organization and so cannot leave and forsake it. If Jehovah never abandons his organization, then for us to abandon it would be equal to abandoning him. If we abide in his unforgettable organization, he will never forget us. For him to forget and leave us would mean our eternal destruction. Never may that happen!
HOPE ON AND BE COURAGEOUS
12. Why are we facing the most faith-testing experience in all the history of Jehovah’s witnesses?
12 Now more than ever, let us remember that we, along with the whole world, are moving closer and closer to the “great day of God the Almighty,” which is to be marked by the war of the universe in which God will administer an Armageddon-like defeat upon all the “kings of the entire inhabited earth” and their totally mobilized nations. God’s own unchangeable time schedule calls for that in the near future. Therefore, we as his dedicated people are facing the most faith-testing experience in all the history of Jehovah’s witnesses from the time of Abel the first martyr for Jehovah down to the present “conclusion of the system of things.” (Rev. 16:14-16; Matt. 24:3; 28:20) The world population is increasing far faster than we are finding the “lost sheep” and bringing them into the safety of Almighty God’s organization. Since Satan is aligning all the nations of the world against God’s kingdom, our enemies are constantly increasing inside and outside of Christendom. Because we are no part of this satanically regimented world, their soulful desire is to destroy us, at least to undo us spiritually and ruin our hopes of Jehovah’s new world under Christ.
13. What are our enemies framing against us, and what is the Devil’s aim in this?
13 As in the case of flag-salute legislation, blood-transfusion legislation, dictatorial decrees against the existence of Jehovah’s witnesses, and so forth, our enemies are knowingly or unknowingly “framing trouble by decree” against us. The Devil’s aim in this is to enable them to accuse us of lawbreaking, since they are unable to find a pretext to take action against us except they find it against us in the law of our God. As in Daniel’s case, they know we will not break God’s law even if man’s law is contrary to it. (Ps. 94:20; Dan. 6:5-9) Will our God leave us and give us over to the soulful desire of our adversaries who now wield authority? Not if we refuse to compromise, not if we keep his way even at cost of suffering.
14. As expressed by David, for what do we have urgent need, and why?
14 Our urgent need is for continued instruction in the principles of God’s righteous way, that we may have his leading in the way in which our foes cannot rightly accuse us of lawbreaking toward God. Even if our earthly father and mother abandon us religiously and will not give us such instruction and leading, God will. The prayer of the persecuted, hated David is most suitable for us to offer now: “Instruct me, O Jehovah, in your way, and lead me in the path of uprightness on account of my foes. Do not give me over to the soul of my adversaries; for against me false witnesses have risen up, and he who launches forth violence.”—Ps. 27:11, 12.
15, 16. (a) In trying to make us compromise, to what lengths will our enemies go? (b) Under like circumstances what did David say for himself and to us fellow witnesses of Jehovah?
15 The uncompromising course for us is not to fear the violence that enemies launch or threaten to launch against us when the symbolic Gog of Magog makes his final, total assault upon the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses around the earth. They will try to make it so hard for us that the ordinary person of this old world would lose all hope for the future. They want to break down our faith in the ultimate fulfillment of God’s good promises for the future beyond this world of tribulation. That was how hard they made it for David, who was a prophetic type of Jesus Christ, the Son of David. Under the circumstances did David furnish us a good and correct example? He did. What did he say for himself and then say to each one of us as fellow witnesses of Jehovah? This:
16 “If I had not had faith in seeing the goodness of Jehovah in the land of those alive—! Hope in Jehovah; be courageous and let your heart be strong. Yes, hope in Jehovah.”—Ps. 27:13, 14.
17. (a) How did David see the goodness of Jehovah in the land of the living? (b) What was he himself doing that he told us to do?
17 Was David’s faith rewarded by later seeing Jehovah’s goodness in the land of the living? It was. Despite many hard battles and trials David reigned for forty years and got ready the temple materials and turned his throne over to the temple builder, his beloved son, wise Solomon. But even while he was in the midst of a faith-testing situation he urged us to keep on hoping in Jehovah. By advising others to do so, he proved that he himself was doing so when such hoping was needed to uphold him in his godly integrity. He kept courageous.
18. (a) According to David’s Hebrew expression, what does being courageous mean? (b) How may courage be demonstrated?
18 Faith and hope help us to be courageous. Being courageous, according to the Hebrew expression used by David, means to keep an internal strength, to hold together as if tightly bound together and so not to crumble under pressure, not to fly to pieces under the impact of tribulation or enemy attacks. Doing this, we can bear up with faith and hope under stress of difficulties and dangers. We do not need to make any daring display of ourselves, such as is usually associated with bravery. “Courageous,” says The American College Dictionary (page 146), “implies a higher and nobler kind of bravery, especially as resulting from an inborn quality of mind or spirit which faces or endures perils or difficulties without fear and even with enthusiasm.” Our steadily keeping on in the way of faithfulness to God, even though it be quiet and inconspicuous, denotes courage. We seek no admiration by a display of daring.
19. (a) How will courage affect our hearts? (b) Of what hope should we never let go, and why not?
19 Our courage will help our hearts to keep strong. They will not melt in fear, but will be unwavering in the love of God and will throw fear and distrust outside. (1 John 4:18) Thus we shall also have love of Jehovah God and of his Son Jesus Christ as the active force pushing us ahead through the trials, difficulties, persecutions, troubles and dangers, yes, through Gog’s attack that provokes God’s war of Armageddon. Always faithful to God, we will keep our faces turned ever toward His new world of victory over all that is wicked. Since it is Jehovah God himself that has given us this hope of the new world under the righteous kingdom of his Son Jesus Christ, then that hope is nothing to be thrown away. We may safely and profitably throw away all other hopes, but not that one from the God who gives hope. “Yes, hope in Jehovah.” He did not disappoint David, nor Jesus Christ the Son of David. He will not disappoint us. In the strength of our hope and faith we can be, yes, we will be courageous in the face of the world’s Armageddon, where Jehovah will triumph gloriously in vindication of his universal sovereignty.