“Many things you yourself have done, O Jehovah my God, even your wonderful works and your thoughts toward us; there is none to be compared to you. Were I inclined to tell and speak of them, they have become more numerous than I can recount.”—Ps. 40:5.
1. Why should an intelligent creature’s appreciation begin with Jehovah God?
FOR all intelligent creatures in this universe, their appreciation should begin with Jehovah God, the great Creator. Not a moment passes in the life of any creature when he is not personally benefiting by the loving-kindness of Jehovah, the great Life-Giver. Without life the creature has nothing.—Gen. 2:7; Ps. 36:9; 146:1-4.
2. What are some things around us that help us to appreciate the Creator?
2 Everything around us, the entire universe, would be a delight to man if it were all in harmony with Jehovah and parts of it had not been corrupted by the influence of Jehovah’s adversary Satan. But even in its present condition the creation around man is often very pleasant and beautiful in his eyes. Kings, rulers and persons of great wealth seek out places of natural beauty. Great homes or castles are built in locations well watered, where trees, plants and flowers are produced in abundance. Beautiful formal gardens are often created near these palatial homes and they are very enjoyable. In these surroundings the warm rays of the sun add comfort to man while doing their part in the growth and production of plant life. When the rain or snow comes to provide necessary water, these are refreshing to persons who enjoy good health. Air in the vicinity of the profuse plant life is very fresh and invigorating, containing the oxygen required by the human body. The trees and other plants produce delicious fruit, seeds and roots, which serve as food for both man and the animal creation. All of these things give evidence that on the earth everything was in the beginning made just right for the human family.—Gen. 1:31; Neh. 9:6; Psalm 104.
3, 4. (a) Why is it that some men fail to show appreciation for the Creator but others do? (b) What reasons can you give for man’s living on the earth rather than on the moon?
3 How strange, then, that so many rulers and persons of wealth who often reside in the most beautiful natural surroundings show little or no appreciation for Jehovah, the Creator. How infrequently men realize that the earth and man upon it, in fact, all the universe, fully depend upon the Maker. Perhaps because of pride and a desire to shine before men, they will put forth ideas contrary to what has been said by the Creator, the great fact that “to Jehovah the heavens belong, but the earth he has given to the sons of men.” Ignoring statements such as this, some men have theorized about man’s living on other heavenly bodies. However, as science makes it possible for men to investigate the heavens, and powerful telescopes give man a closer look, it becomes more and more clear that the earth alone as designed by the Creator is ideally suited to man’s existence.—Ps. 115:16; 19:1-4; Isa. 40:26; 45:18.
4 Even the nearest heavenly body, the moon, does not present conditions satisfactory to support human life. The lunar surface is pocked by craters, as evidence of its being struck by asteroids or flying objects from space. It does not have an atmosphere, which would serve to burn up such objects before they could strike the surface of the moon. Nor is there atmosphere to carry sound waves for communication, speech or warning. There is no air to breathe. There is no water; there is no food. It has been discovered that the long lunar day is hot enough to cause human blood to boil, the temperature reaching at least 212 degrees Fahrenheit. And yet if one were to pass into the shadow of a large rock or mountain he can expect to encounter freezing temperatures. In contrast, the lunar night reaches 270 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, certainly not a temperature suitable to human life.
5. (a) If the moon is not suitable for man to inhabit, what about some nearby planets? (b) Then how should thinking persons on earth react to the marvels of creation?
5 Nearby planets, which men have called Venus and Mars, likewise are found not fit to support human life as more and more exploratory thrusts are being made toward these bodies. Information already gained in space exploration should cause all deep-thinking persons to increase appreciation of the Creator and his wonderful works and thoughts toward us on earth. When one considers the creation with all of its marvels and intricacies, he can realize that God’s wonderful works have become more numerous than man can recount. And yet so many of the human race do not show appreciation toward Jehovah himself. Is there any excuse for this? The apostle Paul answers: “For his invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable.”—Rom. 1:20.
SACRED GUIDANCE FOR MAN
6. Besides these objects of creation, what else did God thoughtfully provide for man on earth?
6 Jehovah’s wonderful works of creation, especially with regard to the earth and all the suitable provisions made for man here, are some evidence of the fact that God has thoughts toward us, the human family. Even creation in itself is ample testimony to the existence of the Creator and his consideration for his creatures. However, when Jehovah thought about the creation of man and arranged to give man some intelligence and ability to think, he knew it would be good for man to have guidance for his life on earth. First of all, it would be important for man to know about his Creator and his relationship to God and his dependence upon God for life. Then he would need some good information about God’s laws and principles and how God wished man to conduct himself on this earth. Therefore, the first man Adam was given instruction and knowledge that should have built up in Adam a further appreciation of his Father and Creator in the heavens.
7. What provision of Jehovah is now available to us, and how should it be viewed?
7 That was only the beginning of God’s giving information to his creatures on earth. Over the centuries God in his loving-kindness provided a full set of laws and principles in the unique book that today is called the Holy Bible. By means of this book we have an opportunity to seek out knowledge of the Creator and his purposes for mankind. There is opportunity to gain knowledge of sacred things. The Bible contains sacred secrets, and we need them. How we use them shows our appreciation of the Giver of them and of these good things. Since appreciation implies sufficient understanding to admire and enjoy a thing’s excellence, as one grows in understanding of the value of the Bible he appreciates it as a prize and treasure, something to cherish. The Bible’s value grows as we use it. A wise man, such as the psalmist, gives thanks to Jehovah for his provision of the written Word and guide for man and all the evidence of loving-kindness Jehovah has shown: “O give thanks to Jehovah, you people, for he is good; for his loving-kindness is to time indefinite.”—Ps. 107:1.
8. Mention some things to be learned from the Bible.
8 Among many things we can learn from the Bible is information about men who showed appreciation and others who did not. Yes, the Bible contains the record about those who did wrong as well as those who did right. God had his good purpose in including all of this information, as Paul pointed out: “Now these things went on befalling them as examples, and they were written for a warning to us upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived.”—1 Cor. 10:11.
9. (a) What was done for Adam to help him appreciate Jehovah? (b) But what course did Adam pursue?
9 Looking back to the beginning when God placed the first man and woman on the earth in the Garden of Eden, we observe that every need was thought of and everything was provided. There was a very beautiful, comfortable paradise. Adam and Eve lacked nothing, because Jehovah is both wise and loving and a very good Father. Adam received God’s law concerning his way of life in the Garden and he was expected to be obedient to God’s arrangement. Certainly the Creator has a right to say what a creature should do or should not do. But Adam did not allow his beautiful natural surroundings to help him keep a strong appreciation of Jehovah’s provisions. He lacked appreciation of God’s sacred law, thinking too much of himself. In a way he showed the same attitude as so many today who live in the lovely countryside surrounded by Jehovah’s creation but do not show appreciation for God and his laws. Disobedience led to Adam’s downfall and cost him his life. Lack of appreciation for Jehovah and his sacred things can mean the same for many people even in this generation.—Gen. 2:7-17; 5:5.
10. How is Noah a contrast with Adam?
10 Later Noah came on the earthly scene, and he proved to be a man of appreciation. When God’s words were given to him, he showed appreciation and faith. He believed what God said, conformed his ways to what God purposed and was preserved alive through the great flood, and thus he stands in direct contrast to the first man, who lost appreciation for what God told him and lost his life on that account. This contrast, which is recorded in the sacred Word of God, is of great benefit to us.—Gen. 6:9, 22; 7:5.
11. What loving-kindness did God show toward Abraham?
11 More years passed after Noah’s day, and a prominent man who appreciated God and his sacred things received evidence of the loving-kindness of God in many ways. One outstanding gift of God was the promise made to Abraham: “I shall surely bless you and I shall surely multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens and like the grains of sand that are on the seashore; and your seed will take possession of the gate of his enemies. And by means of your seed all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves due to the fact that you have listened to my voice.” (Gen. 22:17, 18) This meant that the descendants of Abraham would have someone special to look forward to; an individual would be born as a descendant of Abraham and would cause blessings to come to people of all the nations. This was an oath-bound covenant that God made with Abraham and could not be changed. It was sacred.
12. How does the record about Jacob and Esau help us to see the benefits of appreciating sacred things?
12 But what appreciation did the grandsons of Abraham show toward this sacred promise? Again in the loving-kindness of God a record is made about Jacob and Esau to help us see the benefits of appreciating the sacred thing. Concerning these twin boys the history states: “And the boys got bigger, and Esau became a man knowing how to hunt, a man of the field, but Jacob a blameless man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac had love for Esau, because it meant game in his mouth, whereas Rebekah was a lover of Jacob. Once Jacob was boiling up some stew, when Esau came along from the field and he was tired. So Esau said to Jacob: ‘Quick, please, give me a swallow of the red—the red there, for I am tired!’ That is why his name was called Edom. To this Jacob said: ‘Sell me, first of all, your right as first-born!’ And Esau continued: ‘Here I am simply going to die, and of what benefit to me is a birthright?’ And Jacob added: ‘Swear to me first of all!’ And he proceeded to swear to him and to sell his right as first-born to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he went to eating and drinking. Then he got up and went his way. So Esau despised the birthright.” (Gen. 25:27-34) What a difference between the twin sons of the same parents! Jacob appreciated Jehovah’s promise to Abraham and the birthright, but Esau did not appreciate such sacred things and thought only of himself. He became the father of Edom, a nation God later condemned. He is an example of those who think of the present only, ones who despise sacred things. Those with appreciation of Jehovah’s things always get the blessing, as did Jacob.—Gen. 27:27-29; Heb. 12:16.
13. What blessings did Eli have, but in what did he fail?
13 Turning to a later period in the sacred history, after Jacob’s descendants as a nation had entered into the land that God promised to give them, we read about judges in the nation of Israel. Eli was one of them. He was also a high priest. A man in that position required a good knowledge and appreciation of Jehovah God and his sacred laws. It was the privilege of the tribe of Levi to serve at the tabernacle of worship of God, so the sons of Eli inherited a great privilege of sacred service. As time went by, the sons of Eli did not show appreciation for the sacredness of the tabernacle service, but practiced immorality. Although Eli himself did not practice such things, he did not enforce God’s law and make his sons conform to what was righteous. So the sons continued in their evildoing. By not taking the proper parental position and giving direction to his children, Eli brought upon himself much unhappiness and disaster. The Sacred Record tells us: “And Eli was very old, and he had heard of all that his sons kept doing to all Israel and how they would lie down with the women that were serving at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And a man of God proceeded to come to Eli and say to him: ‘This is what Jehovah has said, “Did I not for a fact reveal myself to the house of your forefather while they happened to be in Egypt as slaves to the house of Pharaoh? Why do you men keep kicking at my sacrifice and at my offering that I have commanded in my dwelling, and you keep honoring your sons more than me by fattening yourselves from the best of every offering of Israel my people?. That is why the utterance of Jehovah the God of Israel is: ‘I did indeed say, As for your house and the house of your forefather, they will walk before me to time indefinite.’ But now the utterance of Jehovah is: ‘It is unthinkable, on my part, because those honoring me I shall honor, and those despising me will be of little account.’ And this is the sign for you that will come to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas: On one day both of them will die.”’”—1 Sam. 2:22, 27, 29, 30, 34.
14. For failure to appreciate Jehovah’s pure worship, what happened to the sons of Eli?
14 This statement proved to be true. When the Philistines engaged in war with the people of Israel, the older men of Israel tried to gain a victory by having the ark of the covenant of Jehovah brought into the camp of Israel, and the two sons of Eli went along with the Ark. Instead of this bringing a blessing to Israel or to the family of Eli, the Philistines defeated Israel, inflicting death on 30,000 men. “And the ark of God itself was captured, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.” (1 Sam. 4:11) It was not a time of prosperity for Israel.
15. How appreciative was David?
15 A man who really appreciated the sacredness of pure worship and value of God’s laws was David. He was not of the priesthood and the tribe of Levi, but of the tribe of Judah and a fighter for Jehovah. He was positive about his worship of Jehovah, thankful for all that Jehovah did, and he wrote with great appreciation for Jehovah’s things. “One thing I have asked from Jehovah—It is what I shall look for, that I may dwell in the house of Jehovah all the days of my life, to behold the pleasantness of Jehovah and to look with appreciation upon his temple.” (Ps. 27:4) “The heavens are declaring the glory of God; and of the work of his hands the expanse is telling. The law of Jehovah is perfect, bringing back the soul. The reminder of Jehovah is trustworthy, making the inexperienced one wise. The orders from Jehovah are upright, causing the heart to rejoice; the commandment of Jehovah is clean, making the eyes shine. The fear of Jehovah is pure, standing forever. The judicial decisions of Jehovah are true; they have proved altogether righteous. They are more to be desired than gold, yes, than much refined gold; and sweeter than honey and the flowing honey of the combs. Also, your own servant has been warned by them; in the keeping of them there is a large reward.”—Ps. 19:1, 7-11.
16. How did David show great regard for sacred worship?
16 Not only did David say these things, but he also lived in harmony with the thoughts expressed. David was not content to have a comfortable place of residence for himself and at the same time to see the ark of the covenant of Jehovah located at a temporary place. Because sacred worship was so important, David wished to construct a temple as a center for the worship of Jehovah. However, Jehovah told David that he would not be allowed to build the temple, but rather Solomon his son would do the building. This took nothing away from David’s zeal for the house of Jehovah, and David did everything he possibly could to advance the interests of worship by preparing for the temple building. David gathered together gold worth more than $132,000,000 as well as other precious metals. He gave Solomon his son the architectural plans for the temple, which he received by inspiration. The plans were quite complete, including, not only the main part of the temple, but also the storerooms, the courtyards, the lampstands and all the utensils, details of which are found at 1 Chronicles chapter 28. There is no doubt about the good heart attitude of David toward sacred things, and the Bible record indicates for us the surety of David’s resurrection. He will be able to get everlasting life in God’s due time.
17. History of the days of Solomon shows what relationship between right worship and prosperity?
17 The building of the temple was completed under King Solomon, and with it there came to be peace and prosperity in all Israel. Jehovah God himself acknowledged his acceptance of the new center for worship at the time of inauguration of the temple, sending fire from heaven to consume the sacrifices and later speaking to Solomon. Jehovah told Solomon how the blessings for his family and for the nation were dependent upon appreciation for Jehovah’s regulations and judicial decisions, keeping the statutes, maintaining pure worship. But before the end of Solomon’s reign he lost appreciation for the worship of Jehovah, which resulted in disaster for the nation and the splitting of it into two kingdoms.—2 Chronicles chap. 7; 1 Kings chap. 11.
18. After Solomon, what course did the majority of the kings in Israel and Judah take?
18 The books of Kings and Chronicles in the Bible detail the history of God’s covenant people after the time of Solomon. It is sad to note that the majority of the rulers failed to show proper appreciation for Jehovah and pure worship. Many were the troubles of the people. King Ahaz went so far as to close the doors of the house of Jehovah and bring in false worship.—2 Chron. 28:24, 25.
19. Why did those in Jerusalem under Hezekiah receive blessings?
19 But there were a few rulers who showed appreciation for Jehovah. One of such was Hezekiah, who reopened the doors of the temple, reorganized the priests and Levites and caused temple sacrifices to Jehovah to be offered according to Jehovah’s laws. All of Israel and Judah were sent messages inviting them to comply with Jehovah’s instructions and celebrate the Passover. Many other acts of appreciation for sacred things were performed by Hezekiah, and Jehovah showed his thoughts toward his people by blessing them with plenty. (2 Chron. 31:10) When enemies threatened Jerusalem, Hezekiah showed appreciation for prayer, in faith asking Jehovah to intervene. In response, Jehovah preserved his people, striking down the enemy army who were set to attack Jerusalem.—2 Ki. 19:15, 35.
20. Why was Jerusalem not delivered in Zedekiah’s day?
20 Such deliverance did not occur in the days of Zedekiah, however, for he was not one to show proper appreciation of Jehovah or to see that pure worship was maintained at the temple. Suffering, not prosperity, was the lot of the people then. Priests and people were unfaithful to God, defiling the house of Jehovah. Therefore, as Jehovah had warned Solomon after the dedication of the temple, Jehovah permitted the destruction of the temple and the city.—2 Chron. 36:11-21.
21. How can we show that we appreciate Jehovah?
21 So there is great value to men in appreciating the privilege of sacred worship of Jehovah. Worship of Jehovah and obeying his laws are ways of demonstrating that we appreciate Jehovah. The Bible reveals how life and prosperity are involved with the appreciation we show.
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Jacob appreciated Jehovah and his promise to Abraham, but Esau did not appreciate sacred things and sold his birthright for a meal of stew