God’s Requirement that His Work Be Done “Just So”
Some two hundred years ago, one of the founding fathers of the United States wrote, in a vein similar to others before him:
“For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost—
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.”
This incident certainly states a valid principle, namely, that little things are not to be neglected just because they are little. They can at times be very important. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, made a similar point when he said: “The person faithful in what is least is faithful also in much, and the person unrighteous in what is least is unrighteous also in much.”—Luke 16:10.
The patriarch Noah exemplified this principle. Jehovah God commanded him to build an ark, or a huge chest, something like a barn able to float, and gave him the exact measurements. (Gen. 6:13-21) He took that command most seriously. How do we know? Because we repeatedly read that Noah did all that God commanded him and that he did it just so.—Gen. 6:22; 7:5, 9, 16.
The prophet Moses gives us both a positive and a negative example along this line. God had given him explicit instructions as to the building of a tabernacle or tentlike temporary structure for the worship of Jehovah and for the furniture that was to go into it. Exodus chapters 39 and 40 tell of Moses completing this work, and in those two Ex chapters 39 and 40 we read 17 times that Moses did things “just so” or “just as Jehovah had commanded Moses.” That is the positive example Moses gives us.
However, once when the Israelites grumbled because of a lack of water, Jehovah God told Moses simply to speak to a certain crag and water would come out. But the people had so exasperated Moses by their grumbling that Moses lost his temper and instead of just speaking to the crag he presumptuously struck the crag with his rod, shouting: “Hear, now, you rebels! Is it from this crag that we shall bring out water for you?” Because Moses did not carry out God’s command “just so,” he lost the privilege of leading His people into the Promised Land.—Num. 20:10-12.
A much sadder example of the consequences of not doing God’s work “just so” is furnished us by King Saul, Israel’s first king. Jehovah God had commanded him to wipe out utterly the Amalekites because of their dastardly attack on the Israelites in the wilderness. Returning from the battle with Amalek, Saul met the prophet Samuel and greeted him with the words: “Blessed are you of Jehovah. I have carried out the word of Jehovah.” But had he carried out Jehovah’s word “just so”? No, for he and the people spared King Agag. Also, they spared the choicest of the flocks, the excuse being that they would offer these as sacrifices to Jehovah. But was that what Jehovah wanted? No, it was not. As Samuel told Saul: “Look! To obey is better than a sacrifice, to pay attention than the fat of rams. . . . Since you have rejected the word of Jehovah, he accordingly rejects you from being king.” What a price to pay for not doing Jehovah’s work “just so”!—1 Sam. 15:13-23.
David, the king of Israel that followed Saul, also had this lesson impressed upon him, although not so drastically. The time was not long after the 12 tribes recognized David as their king. Being zealous for Jehovah’s worship, he ordered the sacred ark of the covenant to be brought to Jerusalem accompanied by a truly grand procession, military might, orchestra and songs. However, the ark was being transported on a new wagon instead of being carried on the shoulders of Levites as required by God’s law. As the procession moved forward, “the bulls nearly caused an upset.” To keep the ark from crashing to the ground, a man by the name of Uzzah grabbed the ark. Because it was forbidden that anyone even touch the ark, Jehovah struck Uzzah dead for his irreverent act.—1 Chron. 13:1-12.
Great rejoicing was at once changed to great consternation and grief. Extremely puzzled, King David ordered the ark of the covenant to be left at the nearby home of Obed-edom, the Gittite. But then something unusual happened. Jehovah God greatly blessed Obed-edom because of his having the ark at his home. (1 Chron. 13:13, 14) When this was reported to King David, he resolved to bring the ark to Jerusalem. But this time he had the ark carried on the shoulders of Levites as required by God’s law. Now the bringing of the ark proved to be truly a time of great rejoicing, causing King David to commemorate the occasion by a psalm in which he exulted: “Jehovah himself has become king!”—1 Chron. 15:15, 16; 16:1-37.
Good King David had also to learn that while it was a fine thing to bring Jehovah’s ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, to please God it had to be done “just as Moses had commanded by Jehovah’s word.” In fact, David himself admitted as much, saying: “You [Levites] must bring the ark of Jehovah the God of Israel up to the place that I have prepared for it. Because at the first time you did not, Jehovah our God broke through against us, for we did not search after him according to the custom.”—1 Chron. 15:12, 13, 15.
DOING JEHOVAH’S WORK “JUST SO” IN OUR DAY
God’s Word shows that he has ever had just one visible agency directing his work on earth. At the time of the Deluge it was Noah. In later years it was the nation of Israel; he recognized it alone. (Amos 3:2) That is why King Solomon asked Jehovah God to hear the foreigner that prayed toward his house. (1 Ki. 8:41-43) When the Son of God came to earth he became the sole agency that his Father used and all had to recognize that fact. (Matt. 12:30; John 14:6) With the outpouring of God’s spirit upon the waiting disciples in Jerusalem a “faithful and discreet slave” class came into being. This body of Christ’s disciples was used by Jehovah to provide spiritual food, and to give direction to the work that Jesus commanded his disciples to do.—Matt. 24:45-47; Acts 2:1-42.
Whom today is Jehovah God using to carry out his work in the earth? It must be a group of people who follow closely in Jesus’ footsteps as to being faithful witnesses of God (Rev. 3:14); as respects preaching the good news of God’s kingdom (Matt. 4:17); as respects accepting God’s Word as truth and being familiar with it and using it (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10; John 17:17); as respects keeping separate from the world (John 15:18, 19; 17:16); and as respects their having self-sacrificing love among themselves. (John 13:34, 35) The facts show that it is the Christian witnesses of Jehovah alone who, in all these respects, imitate Jesus Christ. In fact, they have been organized for the very purpose of carrying on the work that Jesus began, namely, preaching the good news of God’s kingdom and making disciples. They do “just so,” in obedience to Jesus’ instruction at Matthew 24:14 and Mt 28:19. They work conscientiously in Kingdom activity.
Being conscientious in everything that relates to God’s work requires much of Christians. But it is worth it. It is rewarding. First of all, it means being pleasing to one’s heavenly Father, Jehovah God. It means being able to do the most good for others. And it also means benefiting ourselves most, and that in every way, even as the Scriptures make clear: “He that sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”—2 Cor. 9:6.