Pursuing Peace Through Increased Knowledge
“All you sons will be persons taught by Jehovah, and the peace of your sons will be abundant.”—Isa. 54:13.
1. Why is vision so vital?
MATERIAL food has much to do with healthy eyesight, which permits us to see beauty and dimensions of a multitude of things, and to know what is going on around us. How satisfying is good food, but how much more so is the use of keen vision! How enjoyable it is to see near and far, to appreciate dimension, to see colors, action of machines, architecture, to watch people at work and play, to travel to see new things, to relax with a book and journey with the mind’s eye into the past or future, to other lands, or to fly, to swim, to relive youth and to be part of an adventure! Vision enables us to look at past and present wars and division and to pursue peace. Vision is wonderful equipment to use in suing for peace with Jehovah God, the Creator of eyes and Maker of food to sustain vision.
2. What must be used to maintain spiritual vision?
2 Even more than material food is essential to healthy natural eyesight, spiritual food is essential to spiritual vision. Just as it is necessary to come to a chosen place at a definite time day after day to eat physical food prepared by one appointed to prepare it, so we find we must eat spiritual food regularly, and it too at a chosen place, at a definite time, and served by someone recognized as taking the lead in this important meal.
3. Regardless of varied circumstances, what is necessary as to place of study?
3 Regardless of the place where one chooses to partake of spiritual food, it must have the quality of peace, be a place where you can meditate, ponder and think things out. It is where you will discuss the Bible with others in the family, and so all attention must be allowed to focus on the subject being studied. Psalm 133:1, 3 points out the advantage of such an atmosphere: “Look! How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the dew of Hermon that is descending upon the mountains of Zion. For there Jehovah commanded the blessing to be.”
4. What should guide us in planning the time for study?
4 The time would vary with individuals, but for anyone to get the most out of spiritual food requires an alert mind to reason with, to make comparisons and to use the imagination in making pictures of the events examined in study. Study periods late at night, after long hours of overtime work, or after a day’s work followed by a few hours of TV bombardment of your mind will not prove as productive as you would want them to be. Rather, choose a period that you and your family will find most suited for making study productive. Keep in mind the admonition at Colossians 3:23, 24: “Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah, and not to men, for you know that it is from Jehovah you will receive the due reward of the inheritance.”
5, 6. (a) Who would be most qualified to take the lead in a group study? (b) Why are these same qualities essential for personal study?
5 The one taking the lead at these spiritual meals, whether these are attended by few or many, must be a peace-pursuing person, appreciating that spiritual food is as important as described at Proverbs 3:13-18: “Happy is the man that has found wisdom, and the man that gets discernment, for having it as gain is better than having silver as gain and having it as produce than gold itself. It is more precious than corals, and all other delights of yours cannot be made equal to it. Length of days is in its right hand; in its left hand there are riches and glory. Its ways are ways of pleasantness, and all its roadways are peace. It is a tree of life to those taking hold of it, and those keeping fast hold of it are to be called happy.” Our recognizing that true wisdom comes from Jehovah God will cause us to look forward anxiously to these occasions of family or group study.
6 Human creatures must make decisions every day, and they use a guide as a goal. It may be the rules of their religion or a conglomeration of men’s ideas past and present, coupled with their own selfish inclinations and emotions. Their belief will show up in their personality. What they take into their mind is going to govern their actions. That is why those desiring to serve God and use his Bible as their guide must study it daily. (Jer. 10:23; Prov. 3:5, 6) This must be done by each one so that the ideas of the Bible become the ideas of that person.
THE PRINCE OF PEACE AN EXAMPLE
7-9. (a) How does Jesus set the example for us in developing keen spiritual vision? (b) What kind of food was it that gave Jesus these abilities?
7 Christ Jesus is the outstanding example of one feeding regularly on God’s word. (John 17:3) He used Jehovah’s principles in making his decisions. (Matt. 19:3-6) This resulted in remarkable farsighted vision. Jesus from his youth regularly turned to the Scriptures: “Jesus went on progressing in wisdom and in physical growth and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:52) When you read the talk that Jesus gave and that is recorded at Matthew chapters 5-7, often called the Sermon on the Mount, did you consider how many Hebrew scriptures Jesus studied and quoted in that talk? He could also see into the future and foretell things to come. Remember when he told the disciples that Peter would disown him three times. (Matt. 26:34) He could see persecution coming. In proof of his correctness, just compare John 16:2 with Acts 8:1.
8 He was able to look even farther than that, for in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 we have prophecies given by Jesus that are being fulfilled today and that we can see if we have healthy spiritual eyesight.
9 Jesus had the best spiritual insight and saw the importance of putting his heavenly Father’s will first in his life. In fact, Jesus said: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34) Jesus enjoyed peace from Jehovah God. He taught others how to pursue and attain that same peace.
10-13. (a) Illustrate the need for preparation in order to become well balanced and to teach others effectively. (b) What knowledge is essential to us, and why must it be accurate?
10 These instructions Jesus gave are still in your Bible, and there is every reason for you to enjoy peace if you are the kind of person described at Matthew 5:6: “Happy are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, since they will be filled.” But to gain salvation, you cannot hold back from telling others of such wonderful things, even as it is pointed out at Romans 10:10: “For with the heart one exercises faith for righteousness, but with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.”
11 The taught ones will be teachers, and teachers must have knowledge. The teacher Paul told Timothy: “These things commit to faithful men, who, in turn, will be adequately qualified to teach others.” (2 Tim. 2:2) It is one thing for us to learn new and interesting things for ourselves. Like when preparing a meal for ourselves, we may take many shortcuts, perhaps resulting in only a light snack or sandwich. We do not get a strength-producing meal. Soon we wonder why we are lacking in physical well-being and happiness. So it is another thing for us to be strong enough to teach others.
12 But if we are to commit these things to others, we ponder, we think out ways of teaching these points to persons with various beliefs. We prepare food for many spiritual meals. Being concerned with others’ getting a well-rounded-out understanding of Bible truths, we ourselves become well balanced. We are in position to teach others the knowledge of God. We enjoy peace with Jehovah and can assist others to pursue peace with him.
13 Yet there is still another reason for making sure that our teaching will be accurate and effective. These ones whom we teach must be taught so as to “be adequately qualified to teach others.” What a difference there is between making a hasty snack for yourself and preparing a fine meal for a family of friends! Yet there is still a greater difference in teaching these friends to prepare such a dinner for their friends. The truths we teach these faithful men will be carried on to others, but such men must not take on the philosophies of men or water down the truth to allow compromise, or become just a school of new things. They must accurately relay Jehovah’s truth to all those meek ones anywhere on the earth, that these may know God’s will and enjoy peace that comes from him. We can therefore appreciate why, in seeking to find peace, we need to get knowledge, accurate knowledge, not only of Jehovah God, but also of his sacrificed son, Jesus Christ. The inspired Bible writer Peter, in expressing his prayer for the peace seekers to whom he wrote, said: “May undeserved kindness and peace be increased to you by an accurate knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, forasmuch as his divine power has given us freely all the things that concern life and godly devotion, through the accurate knowledge of the one who called us through glory and virtue.”—2 Pet. 1:2, 3.
14. Of what great value is the constant turning to the Bible in our teaching of men of goodwill?
14 The truth must be explained simply, as Jesus explained it in his earthly ministry, talking to people in language they could understand and in such a way that they could pass on the information. (John 4; Luke 24) Thorough knowledge is required to teach in a simple manner. To make sure of this we must show others where it is found in God’s Word, the Bible. Then when our words are forgotten, it can be looked up by others again, and there it is just as accurate and reliable as when Jesus said 1900 years ago: “Your word is truth.”—John 17:17.
15. What takes our study out of the dreary-task category and makes it an occasion to look forward to with anticipation?
15 To have this kind of knowledge, one must study. Getting knowledge should not be viewed as a dreary task, delving into dry facts and volumes of reading. Rather, it is a spiritual meal we look forward to. We are eager to pursue after these treasures of Jehovah. Material food is enjoyed to the full if by preparing it carefully every accent of flavor is brought out. Time is involved in the preparation and eating of it if it is to be appreciated and meet up with our expectations. So it is with spiritual food. We must search and dig if we want the rewards that Proverbs 2:4-6 promised: “If you keep seeking for it as for silver, and as for hid treasures you keep searching for it, in that case you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God. For Jehovah himself gives wisdom; out of his mouth there are knowledge and discernment.”
URGENT NEED OF KNOWLEDGE
16. (a) What reasons are there to impel us to study regularly? (b) Illustrate the need for spiritual food.
16 Many reasons urge us to get knowledge. We live at the time when it is possible to see the end of this wicked world. Pressure is increasing; “the days are wicked.” (Eph. 5:16) We need knowledge. Professed servants of God have been destroyed because they lacked knowledge. (Hos. 4:6, 9) We cannot fool the God of wisdom. He is the Maker of requirements for life in his future paradise world. Then we should not deceive ourselves into thinking that increased knowledge is only for a chosen few. Physical food and drink are absolutely essential for everyone to stay alive; there is no substitute that will keep the body alive. Neither can we find an alternative for study to gain knowledge. There is no question about it, “this means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) Yet another reason that urges us to get knowledge is that our “delight is in the law of Jehovah.” (Ps. 1:2) If this is our attitude we will be very useful to Jehovah God in assisting many others to growth in his organization and in making known the way of peace to our neighbors. Often we have to urge persons to eat material food. “My son, eat honey, for it is good; and let sweet comb honey be upon your palate. In the same way, do know wisdom for your soul. If you have found it, then there exists a future, and your own hope will not be cut off.”—Prov. 24:13, 14.
17-19. What will it be necessary to do in order to find time for keeping up with all there is to study in the congregations?
17 Now consider one of the obstacles to getting knowledge, time. When is the best time, how much time can I devote to study, and what time-improving method will bring me the greatest rewards of knowledge? Think of the time spent in study as being an investment that will bring you returns in abundance. Will you be careful and prudent about your time and yet not stingy so that you end up like the rich who die of malnutrition? Paul gives good advice at Ephesians 5:15, 16: “So keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, buying out the opportune time for yourselves, because the days are wicked.”
18 The time set aside needs to be sufficient to allow you to prepare for your Bible studies with your congregation every week. You want to read good upbuilding articles like those that appear in the Watchtower and Awake! magazines. Your desire for knowledge will lead you into study of Bible doctrines and questions that others ask you. All of this study requires time.
19 There are many persons who attend meetings three evenings a week with their congregation and conduct a Bible study with a newly interested person on another evening and still they have three evenings to invest in study or other pursuits. But why not spend one of them with your family in a study of God’s Word?
20. If we cancel or postpone study periods, what should guide us in making such a decision?
20 To accomplish something, these study arrangements have to be regular, established periods that are not postponed for everything else. Here we follow the principle outlined in Jehovah’s Word at Matthew 6:33: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom.” The only time to postpone these study periods is when something more important in Jehovah’s eyes demands attention.
21. What determines whether Jehovah will grant us knowledge of him and his will or not?
21 Probably the most asked question is: “How should I study?” At the very outset the most important thing is to study with a right attitude. The motive spurring our search for knowledge is what will determine whether we are going to have Jehovah’s continued assistance or not. This point is well illustrated at Matthew 13:23: “As for the one sown upon the fine soil, this is the one hearing the word and getting the sense of it, who really does bear fruit.”
22. Progress in knowledge is based upon recognition of what facts?
22 The following facts should be indelibly set in our mind, by reviewing them until they are a fixed part of our thinking. If we do this, we will never stop in our gaining of knowledge. Christians must increase in knowledge. (Heb. 5:12–6:2; 2 Tim. 2:15; Eph. 4:13) Jehovah is the Grand Instructor. (Isa. 30:20) Christ Jesus is the Master Teacher. (Matt. 5:2; 13:1-52; Mark 4:1, 2; 9:31; John 3:2; 13:13; 15:1-8; 20:16) In gaining knowledge we sit at the feet of divine heavenly teachers. (Isa. 54:13; John 6:45) Jehovah’s spirit is essential to gaining knowledge. (John 14:26; 4:24; Acts 1:16; 2 Pet. 1:21; 1 Cor. 2:10) Jehovah has revealed himself and his purposes through the Bible. It is a storehouse of divine wisdom. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; John 17:17; 2 Pet. 1:19, 21) Jehovah uses his organization to teach and feed his people. (Matt. 24:45-47) Hence believe without suspicion the truth set forth by the “faithful and discreet slave.” (Matt. 24:45; 1 Cor. 13:7) Jehovah teaches only meek ones. (Ps. 25:9) The teaching from Jehovah brings peace. (Isa. 54:13; Ps. 119:165) Acquire knowledge for the benefit of others. (Prov. 15:28; 20:5; 14:25) Knowledge is not all that Jehovah requires of his people. (2 Pet. 1:5-8) Our knowledge must be accurate. (1 Tim. 2:3, 4; Col. 3:2, 9, 10) Faith is developed according to accurate knowledge. (Eph. 4:13; Col. 2:6, 7) The student must express himself as he understands the truth. (Gal. 6:6) He cannot have independent thinking. Thoughts must be obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5) We need help to get knowledge. (Prov. 4:18; 1 Cor. 2:13; Luke 24:32) We are obligated to listen and learn. (Heb. 2:1) Firmness and discipline are needed to gain knowledge. (Matt. 16:21-23; Prov. 4:13; 17:10) Receive the truth with appreciation. (Jas. 1:21) Prayerfully seek knowledge. (Jas. 1:5-7; Matt. 7:7; Mark 11:24; Col. 1:9, 10) Be free of faultfinding. (Rom. 8:5; Acts 17:11) There are no shortcuts to gain knowledge, no substitutes for study. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17; Prov. 2:1-7) Review is essential to the retaining of truths. (John 14:26; 2 Pet. 1:12; 3:1, 2; Rom. 15:14, 15) Meditation is essential to holding knowledge. (Prov. 15:28; Ps. 77:12; Gen. 24:63; 2 Tim. 2:7) Knowledge means life. (John 17:3; Matt. 4:4) Thinking ability is guarded and developed by knowledge.—Prov. 3:21, 22; 2:1, 10-15.
23. Illustrations serve what purpose?
23 Illustrations are an aid to understanding. In gaining the knowledge Jesus brought to us we will find many interesting illustrations used to make points forceful and clear. Matthew 13:34, 35; 15:15 indicate how Jesus used illustrations; he used ones easily understood by farmers, fishermen, housewives, and those in other walks of life. Today illustrations are freely used in the publications of Jehovah’s witnesses. Notice them in the book From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained and how they assist the reader to appreciate more fully the printed information.
LIVING WHAT YOU READ
24-30. What points illustrated in Judges 6-8 stick in your mind, helping you to remember this account and to gain in knowledge of Jehovah?
24 Having a fertile mind well cultivated now by these principles, we can launch off into a most captivating feast of Jehovah’s Word. To get the most out of the pictures unfolding before us we visualize mentally the happenings involved in the event. With Judges chapters 6-8, come with us into the past when judges ruled Israel and we will join ourselves to a farmer called Gideon. He has just been visited by Jehovah’s angel, who proves that Gideon has been chosen to save the Israelites from the Midianites. We are soon caught up in a chain of fast-moving happenings. In the night down comes the altar of Baal and up goes the altar of Jehovah, sending the city fathers looking for the blood of Gideon. You hear Gideon’s father send them on their way, with a challenge to their god Baal. Gideon’s messengers bring together 32,000 men, and now with two more signs from God that erase any doubts from Gideon’s mind we march to the well of Harod, under five miles from the massive camp of marauding Midianites in the Valley of Jezreel.
25 But now you can hardly believe your eyes. Gideon is doing what Jehovah long ago commanded the army officers to do. “The officers must . . . say, ‘Who is the man that is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, that he may not cause the hearts of his brothers to melt as his own heart.’” (Deut. 20:8) Does your heart nearly melt when you learn 22,000 men go home? What will be done, for the Midianites are like insects for numbers, and what if they should know of Gideon’s plan and the size of his army now reduced to 10,000?
26 Now they are led to water. They stop to drink! A few quickly scoop a handful of water to their mouth and almost immediately these are separated to one side to make just 300 in all. The 9,700 that went down on their knees to drink water are being sent home! You remember the angel’s words to Gideon: “You will certainly strike down Midian as if one man.” (Judg. 6:16) But with so few? No wonder this place, the name of the well of Harod, means “trembling.”
27 Consider yourself now as one of the three hundred. You conclude now that if we win it will be by Jehovah’s power, not ours, and we do well to follow his instructions through Gideon without any more anxieties. You now have the point that Jehovah is emphasizing to all present and future generations: follow instructions.
28 Night falls, Gideon scouts the enemy camp and is made strong by what he hears. He returns soon and organizes the 300 into three bands. Each man receives the strangest fighting equipment: trumpets, and torches in large opaque jars. Gideon teaches us how to use them and reveals the signal.
29 And now we start, at midnight; the darkness crowding in like a wall deadens the sounds of moving men. Suppose some one falls in the dark and awakens the enemy, or someone overly anxious does not wait for Gideon’s signal, but independently runs ahead of Jehovah’s arrangements. It is a tense time, you feel it in your bones; seconds seem like hours. You draw near, you can hear muffled voices of the enemy as they post sentries for the midnight watch. The camp sleeps. And then, three hundred and one resonant trumpets join in sonorous blast, three hundred and one water jars are smashed, three hundred and one torches are held high as three hundred and one male voices thunder out “Jehovah’s sword and Gideon’s!”
30 The Midianite camp breaks into destructive panic. The camp that was as the sand of the sea turns to a running disorderly mass. They turn on each other, killing in mad confusion. Blind flight takes them mile after mile over rugged territory, with one hundred and twenty thousand men killed by their own fellows and by the other Israelites that Gideon called to bottle up the way to escape at the crossing places at the Jordan.
31. (a) How can we file material to be remembered for future use? (b) But what really is the most essential point to be kept in mind?
31 It is a sight you will never forget. So you will not forget if you live what you read while you study. Use all your senses. Use description to create a picture. Stir up your imagination. Be a part of the event. Taste the food. Drive the horses. Climb the rocks. Blow the trumpets. Walk in the damp grass. Feel the occasion; get the sense of it. And while you do all of this, apply the counsel given to yourself. If you print on your mind the reasons for the actions taken and how Jehovah’s name and will are involved you will recall this knowledge readily for use. Notice how long remembered Gideon’s actions are in the Bible, and, more importantly, that Jehovah was the one that brought the victory.—1 Sam. 12:11; Ps. 83:9, 11; Isa. 9:4; 10:26; Heb. 11:32.