The Holy Scriptures Supply Spiritual Needs
“From Jehovah are the steppings of an able-bodied man.”—Prov. 20:24.
1. How has Jehovah magnified himself as the great Food Provider?
FOOD, shelter, clothing—all three are necessities of life. Man’s Creator, Jehovah God, is well aware of this and has really acted to supply such needs. He gave the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, vegetation and fruit as food. (Gen. 1:29) Later, in Noah’s day after the global Flood, God added animal flesh to mankind’s diet, though he prohibited the eating of blood. (Gen. 9:3, 4) To this day Jehovah “makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:45) Thus, earth’s cycles continue, plant and animal life abound and Jehovah is magnified as the great Food Provider.
2. What part does the atmosphere play in sustaining human life on earth, and how has shelter essential to life here been provided?
2 God had created the earth as a home for mankind, a sheltered and suitable place in a vast universe. Various features make it the only planet known to man today that is capable of sustaining human life. Regarding just one of these factors it has been said: “Among many other functions the atmosphere also maintains the temperature within safe limits for life; and carries the vital supply of fresh watervapor far inland from the oceans to irrigate the earth, without which it would become a lifeless desert.”* We can rejoice that “the Maker of heaven and earth” has given this planet “to the sons of men.” (Ps. 115:15, 16) But Jehovah also gave man intelligence. With it and the raw materials the earth supplies in abundance, it would be possible to construct suitable dwellings and so have the shelter essential to life.
3. How has Jehovah provided for needed clothing?
3 Adequate clothing is another human need. After Adam and Eve sinned, they became ashamed and sought to cover themselves. Mercifully, “Jehovah God proceeded to make long garments of skin for Adam and for his wife and to clothe them.” (Gen. 3:6, 7, 21) Furthermore, through divine arrangement, the earth itself furnishes the necessary materials so that man, gifted by his Creator with intelligence, can make needed clothing.
4. What should we acknowledge about the source of food, shelter, clothing and all good gifts?
4 Jehovah is therefore the great Provider of food, shelter and clothing. In fact, “every good gift and every perfect present is from above, for it comes down from the Father of the celestial lights.” (Jas. 1:17) Aged King David and his fellow Israelites contributed toward the temple to be constructed by Solomon, but David had to admit: “O Jehovah our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build for you a house for your holy name, from your hand it is, and to you it all belongs.” (1 Chron. 29:16) How grateful we should be that Jehovah, to whom “the beasts upon a thousand mountains” and “the productive land and its fullness” belong, has graciously supplied mankind’s physical needs!—Ps. 50:10-12.
JEHOVAH SUPPLIES A GREATER NEED
5. As respects worship, mankind was created with what urge? Can it be satisfied?
5 But, a greater human need must also be met. Mankind was created with an urge to worship God. In his book Man, God and Magic, Ivar Lissner remarks: “One can only marvel at the perseverance with which man has striven, throughout his history, to reach outside himself. His energies were never directed solely toward the necessities of life. He was forever questing, groping his way further, aspiring to the unattainable. This strange and inherent urge in the human being is his spirituality. It is constantly leading him on toward a goal which is just beyond his reach. And that goal is God.” (Pages 11, 12) Indeed, multitudes have groped for God and many have also found him. To his listeners on Mars Hill in ancient Athens, the apostle Paul once said: “The God that made the world and all the things in it . . . gives to all persons life and breath and all things. And he made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth, and he decreed the appointed seasons and the set limits of the dwelling of men, for them to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us.” (Acts 17:24-27) Almighty God, who is above all and is without equal, “is condescending to look on heaven and earth,” and of him it is said: “Jehovah is near to all those calling upon him, to all those who call upon him in trueness.” (Ps. 113:5, 6; 145:18) But how can those sincerely groping for God find him?
6. Besides providing material things for man’s benefit, in what other way has Jehovah distinguished himself as a Provider?
6 Jehovah has not only provided material things for man’s benefit. He has also distinguished himself as the Author and Preserver of the Bible, his own Word. Mankind needs this marvelous spiritual provision, for, quoting Moses, Jesus Christ said: “Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.” (Matt. 4:4; Deut. 8:3; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17) Imperfect man is unable to direct his own steps successfully by mere human wisdom. True indeed are these words of Proverbs 20:24: “From Jehovah are the steppings of an able-bodied man. As regards earthling man, how can he discern his way?” God’s favor rests with those acknowledging their dependence upon him and he directs them, supplying their spiritual needs, even as the psalmist David observed: “By Jehovah the very steps of an able-bodied man have been made ready, and in his way He takes delight.”—Ps. 37:23.
7. Give examples to show that men of various walks of life have viewed the Bible with respect.
7 Men of various walks of life have viewed the Bible with deep respect. Note what has been said about it: “The Bible is God’s communication, God’s letter, to man.” (Merlin Grant Smith, mathematician and astronomer) “There is Special Divine Revelation. Another name for that is the Bible.” (Oscar Leo Brauer, physicist and chemist) “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man.” (Abraham Lincoln, United States president) “The Bible is stamped with a Specialty of Origin, and an immeasurable distance separates it from all competitors.” (W. E. Gladstone, English statesman)* This is typical of the testimony of many thoughtful persons.
8, 9. What was the attitude of early Christians toward the Scriptures? Prove your answer.
8 Servants of Jehovah have prized the Scriptures. Hence, early Christians, for instance, desired to have them in the most useful form. Writing on the subject “The Earliest Christian Books,” C. C. McCown has said: “The simple, practical, nonliterary character of early Christianity is emphasized by what the recent discoveries have proved regarding their use of the codex. The Christians’ religious books, both the Old Testament and the new writings which were in process of becoming sacred, were not for the leisurely reading of the well-to-do. Hard-working business people wanted as much as they could get into a book. They and the earnest Christian missionaries wished to be able to refer to this or that proof text quickly, without having to unroll many feet of papyrus. They were not dominated by any snobbish literary pretensions. Like the contents of the books, the form in which they appeared was a product of the vital moral and religious spirit which in some two centuries conquered the Roman Empire.”—The Biblical Archaeologist Reader, page 261.
9 Like Jehovah’s witnesses of today, the early Christians were grateful for the Word of God. Because of the appreciative attitude displayed by those of Thessalonica, the apostle Paul was able to write to them: “Indeed, that is why we also thank God incessantly, because when you received God’s word, which you heard from us, you accepted it, not as the word of men, but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God, which is also at work in you believers.”—1 Thess. 2:13.
GOD-GIVEN GUIDE IN WORSHIP
10, 11. (a) How do the Scriptures supply a vital spiritual need in connection with the divine name? (b) By what means will Jehovah’s name be sanctified, and this will result in satisfying what human need?
10 Material creation itself bears silent witness to the existence of God. For instance, the heavens declare his glory. (Ps. 19:1) Yet, such inanimate things cannot reveal the name of the Universal Sovereign or tell of his purposes. On the other hand, the Scriptures, being God’s Word, are like a lamp that illuminates one’s surroundings and dispels darkness. (Ps. 119:105, 130) They reveal the greatest of all names, identifying the Most High as the One “whose name is Jehovah.” (Ps. 83:18) That God will sanctify his memorial name the Bible also makes clear, for therein Jehovah declares: “I shall certainly sanctify my great name, which was being profaned among the nations, which you [Israel] profaned in the midst of them; and the nations will have to know that I am Jehovah.” (Ezek. 36:22, 23) Jesus Christ taught his followers to pray, “Father, let your name be sanctified.” (Luke 11:2) To have God’s approval and life, a person must know His name, be concerned about its sanctification, and call on it, for “everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” (Rom. 10:13; Joel 2:32) The Holy Scriptures therefore supply a vital spiritual need in providing information regarding the divine name.
11 The Bible also shows that Jehovah’s name will be sanctified and highly exalted by means of God’s kingdom in the hands of Jesus Christ. (Ps. 45:1-7; 110:1, 2; Isa. 9:6, 7; Dan. 2:44; 7:13, 14; Rev. 11:15-17; 12:5, 10; 19:11-16) Under its rule the spiritual and material needs of mankind will be completely satisfied. (Isa. 11:9; 65:20-25; Ps. 67:6; 72:16) Man will then be protected from the ravages of war, for swords and spears will be made into implements serving peaceful and constructive purposes. (Mic. 4:3, 4) Of Jehovah’s peace-making activities in the near future, Psalm 46:9 declares: “He is making wars to cease to the extremity of the earth. The bow he breaks apart and does cut the spear in pieces; the wagons he burns in the fire.” Surely, by this means the natural human desire and need for security and peace will be fully satisfied. There is certainly reason to express gratitude to God for the Scriptures, which provide the instruction one needs to gain eternal life under such blessed conditions.—John 17:3.
12. The Bible reveals what in connection with God’s love for man that furnishes a basis for real hope?
12 The Bible also reveals that Jehovah is a God of love and that “the love for man on the part of our Savior, God, was manifested” through Jesus Christ. From the Scriptures Christians have learned that God sent him forth “as a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins.” (Titus 3:4-7; 1 John 4:8-10) Yes, God’s Word clearly outlines Jehovah’s purpose in connection with the ransom sacrifice of Christ and thus it furnishes a basis for real hope.—John 3:16, 36; 1 Tim. 2:5, 6.
13, 14. (a) Give examples of religious practices of pagan nations surrounding Israel. (b) In what way has Jehovah supplied guidance that makes it possible to avoid false worship?
13 Now, consider the Israelites. They were surrounded by pagan nations giving devotion to many false gods. For example, Phoenician and Canaanite neighbors of Israel worshiped the goddess Ashtoreth, or Astarte, of whom it is said: “In Babylonia Ishtar, whose name is cognate with Astarte (Ashtart), was identified with Venus. She was the goddess of sexual love, maternity, and fertility. Prostitution as a religious rite in the service of this goddess under various names is widely attested.” (The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, page 46) The Ammonites worshiped Molech, in whose rites children were sacrificed.—1 Ki. 11:7; 2 Ki. 23:10.
14 But, Jehovah had supplied Israel spiritually with what the nation needed to avoid such false religious practices. He had given them his Word, in which they were told to shun religiously detrimental marriage alliances with pagans. (Deut. 7:3, 4) He also commanded: “You must not have any other gods against my face.” (Ex. 20:3) Furthermore, in the Ten Commandments Israel was also instructed to render exclusive devotion to Jehovah, as well as to avoid immorality, which would certainly include “prostitution as a religious rite.” (Ex. 20:4-6, 14) Then, too, through the prophet Jeremiah, Jehovah condemned impure worship that consisted of sacrificing children in fire to a false god such as Molech. Jehovah neither commanded such a thing, nor did it enter his heart. (Jer. 32:35) Of course, Israel did not always adhere to God’s requirements. But there were loyal worshipers of Jehovah in the nation and God’s Word guarded them from impure religion. The Bible does the same thing for righteously disposed persons today, enabling them to worship Jehovah God “with spirit and truth.”—John 4:23, 24.
GUIDANCE ON PROPER LIVING
15. Cite certain ways in which the Scriptures supply spiritual needs by giving a person proper direction in life.
15 The Scriptures also supply spiritual needs in giving one proper direction in life. For instance, they identify and warn against the works of the flesh, contrasting these with the spirit’s fruitage and showing that “those who belong to Christ Jesus impaled the flesh together with its passions and desires.” (Gal. 5:19-24) If a person heeds the Bible, he will not yield to such harmful emotions as rage or jealousy, for it says: “Let anger alone and leave rage; do not show yourself heated up only to do evil.” “A calm heart is the life of the fleshly organism, but jealousy is rottenness to the bones.” (Ps. 37:8; Prov. 14:30) By keeping on guard through applying God’s Word, an individual will also avoid immorality. (Ps. 119:9-16) He will realize that immoral conduct cannot be participated in by those desiring to please Jehovah and wishing to gain life everlasting. (1 Cor. 6:9, 10) From Proverbs chapter seven, he can learn how to guard against the cunning enticements of a prostitute, that chapter concluding with the admonition: “And now, O sons, listen to me and pay attention to the sayings of my mouth. May your heart not turn aside to her ways. Do not wander into her roadways. For many are the ones she has caused to fall down slain, and all those being killed by her are numerous. The ways to Sheol her house is; they are descending to the interior rooms of death.”—Prov. 7:24-27.
16. For what underlying reason do Jehovah’s servants heed the Scriptures?
16 Centuries ago Israel was urged: “Search for what is good, and not what is bad, to the end that you people may keep living; and that thus Jehovah the God of armies may come to be with you, just as you have said. Hate what is bad, and love what is good, and give justice a place in the gate. It may be that Jehovah the God of armies will show favor to the remaining ones of Joseph.” (Amos 5:14, 15) The underlying reason why Jehovah’s servants heed the Scriptures is not merely to avoid trouble or distress. They have actually come to ‘hate what is bad and love what is good.’ Also, they wish to please Jehovah and make his heart glad.—Prov. 27:11.
MEETING THE NEED FOR RELIABLE PROPHECY
17, 18. How do the Scriptures satisfy the desire for knowledge regarding the future? Give an example.
17 Today many men experience great fear and anxiety concerning the future. Hence, like King Saul, some seek knowledge of the future by consulting with spirit mediums, a course condemned by God. (1 Sam. chap. 28; Deut. 18:10-12) There would be satisfaction in knowing what tomorrow holds in store, however. Here again, the Scriptures supply a vital need. They contain reliable prophecy, a fact that can be demonstrated time and time again. Yet even brief examples are faith-strengthening.
18 Jehovah inspired the prophet Hosea to write: “Samaria will be held guilty, for she is actually rebellious against her God. By the sword they will fall. Their own children will be dashed to pieces, and their pregnant women themselves will be ripped up.” (Hos. 13:16) Despite its massive walls that must have seemed impregnable, Samaria did fall to the Assyrians in 740 B.C.E., fulfilling this prophecy.
19, 20. (a) Of what did Daniel’s vision of a ram and a male goat consist? (b) How did Gabriel explain this vision, and was his explanation correct?
19 In vision, the prophet Daniel beheld a two-horned ram, then a male goat with a conspicuous horn between its eyes. It assaulted the ram and struck it down, breaking its two horns. Subsequently, the goat’s great horn was broken and four horns came up in its place. (Dan. 8:1-8) What did this all mean? The angel Gabriel explained: “The ram that you saw possessing the two horns stands for the kings of Media and Persia. And the hairy he-goat stands for the king of Greece; and as for the great horn that was between its eyes, it stands for the first king. And that one having been broken, so that there were four that finally stood up instead of it, there are four kingdoms from his nation that will stand up, but not with his power.”—Dan. 8:20-22.
20 Was Gabriel right? Of course he was, as history has proved. The ‘two-horned’ ram, the Medo-Persian Empire, came to its end. How? The figurative he-goat, “the king of Greece,” with the one conspicuous horn, Alexander the Great, overthrew the Medo-Persian World Power. Furthermore, in keeping with the prophecy, after Alexander’s death, his four generals, the “four horns,” replaced him, the one “great horn,” by establishing themselves in power.*
21. Give examples to show how writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures applied Hebrew Scripture Messianic prophecies to Jesus Christ.
21 The Scriptures also meet a vital need by identifying the Messiah. And let it be noted that there have been many false Messiahs. M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopæedia says regarding them: “No less than twenty-four such impostors have been enumerated as having appeared in different places and at different times; and even this does not exhaust the list.” (Vol. VI, page 141) Scores of Messianic prophecies recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures could be cited as having been fulfilled in connection with Jesus Christ. However, some of them were directly applied to him under divine inspiration by writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures themselves. Consider some examples. Matthew was inspired by Jehovah God to show that Jesus was born of a virgin, as Isaiah 7:14 foretold (Matt. 1:18-23), that the killing of babes after his birth fulfilled Jeremiah 31:15 (Matt. 2:16-18), that he was called out of Egypt, in harmony with Hosea 11:1 (Matt. 2:14, 15), that he had a forerunner, in keeping with Isaiah 40:3 (Matt. 3:1-3), and that Jesus carried our sicknesses, as Isaiah 53:4 prophesied. (Matt. 8:16, 17) Acting under divine inspiration, the apostle John showed that Zechariah 9:9 found fulfillment when Jesus entered Jerusalem on the colt of an ass (John 12:12-15), that the prophecy of Psalm 22:18 was fulfilled after Jesus’ impalement when the soldiers apportioned his clothing among themselves and cast lots for his inner garment (John 19:23, 24) and that the fact that Jesus’ bones were not broken and he was pierced also fulfilled prophecy. (Compare Psalm 34:20 and Zechariah 12:10 with John 19:33-37.) These are but examples of Hebrew Scripture Messianic prophecies applied to Jesus by inspired Bible writers themselves. But even these alone suffice to identify Jesus Christ as the Messiah in the minds of those accepting the entire Bible as God’s Word. We can be thankful to Jehovah that the Scriptures supply such information.
22. Why can it be said that the Bible has not fallen short in the field of prophecy?
22 Prophecies recorded by Hosea, Daniel and other prophets of God have proved true indeed. Surely, therefore, one can have confidence in those uttered by the very Son of God, Jesus Christ. Pointing to our day and the final generation living in this system of things, Christ foretold such things as increased wars, food shortages and earthquakes. These are now in evidence, proving that Christ’s second presence in Kingdom power is a reality. (Matt. chap. 24) Conditions foretold by the apostle Paul as sure to mark the “last days” also exist. (2 Tim. 3:1-5) These prophecies, borne out by the facts of current history, are just as reliable as Scriptural prophecies fulfilled in the past. So the Bible has not fallen short. It has supplied the vital modern-day need for reliable information concerning the future. It discloses the divine purpose for our day and gives insight into the marvelous future events and blessings Jehovah has lovingly purposed for mankind.
23. (a) In what ways, then, do the Holy Scriptures supply spiritual needs? (b) If a person believes God’s Word, he can enjoy what blessing in this unhappy world?
23 Truly, the Holy Scriptures supply spiritual needs. They are a God-given guide in worship. They furnish guidance on proper living. And they meet the need for reliable prophecy. Hence, just as Jehovah has proved to be the great Supplier of material needs—such as food, shelter and clothing—so he has magnified himself as the Provider of valued and essential spiritual things. How grateful all lovers of God should be for his unspeakable goodness to mankind in providing the Holy Scriptures. If you believe God’s Word, you can also enjoy the blessing of telling others about Jehovah’s purposes. Doing so will make you happy, for in a world filled with distress and sorrow, you will thus be declaring “the glorious good news of the happy God.” (1 Tim. 1:11) Yet, to do this joyfully, it may be necessary for you to cope with certain personal problems in life. This you can do by drawing direction and comfort from the Scriptures.
Frank Allen, biophysicist, writing on “The Origin of the World—By Chance or Design?” in The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, page 21.
The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, edited by John Clover Monsma, 1958, pages 150, 84; Halley’s Bible Handbook, by Henry H. Halley, page 22 (Twenty-third Edition, Fourth Printing, 1964).
See “Your Will Be Done on Earth,” published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, chapter 9.
[Picture on page 428]
The male goat assaulted the ram, breaking its two horns