Humbly Respect Jehovah’s Arrangement As Angels Do
THE Assyrian army, numbering over 185,000 men, was stationed in the lowlands at Libnah on the other side of the Judean plateau, more than 25 miles (40 km) away. A string of devastated cities and mutilated corpses lay in the army’s wake. The final target was Jerusalem.
Judean King Hezekiah knew that deliverance by human resources was out of the question. The Assyrian spokesman had called for surrender and then returned to the Assyrian camp at Libnah. But Hezekiah supplicated fervently: “O Jehovah our God, save us, please, out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Jehovah, are God alone.” (2 Ki. 19:19) The answer was swift, even on the night of Hezekiah’s prayer.
In time the report reached Hezekiah that during the preceding night Jehovah’s angel had struck down 185,000 warriors in the Assyrian camp at Libnah. (2 Ki. 19:35) Consequently, King Sennacherib returned directly to Assyria. What an awesome display of power he had witnessed!
Men of military prowess have boasted about far less significant achievements. But what is the attitude of angels? These spirit “sons of God” are outstanding examples of humility. (2 Pet. 2:11; Job 38:7) Take the case of the angelic messenger who appeared to the apostle John in vision. When John was about to do obeisance to him, the angel warned: “Be careful! Do not do that! All I am is a fellow slave of you and of your brothers who have the work of witnessing to Jesus.” (Rev. 19:10; 22:8, 9) Thus the angel humbly acknowledged that he was no more than a slave of the Most High. Though he was highly privileged to pass along a divine revelation, he recognized that it would have been wrong for him to receive any veneration for doing his part as a servant of God.
Jesus Christ pointed out that the angels rejoice greatly when one sinner comes to repentance. (Luke 15:7, 10) This is indeed remarkable, since such a person would come in line for rulership in the heavenly kingdom. Rather than feeling jealous about the undeserved favor granted to former sinners, the angels appreciate the rightfulness of God’s using humans who, by what they have experienced on earth, are equipped to serve as sympathetic kings and priests. (Compare Hebrews 4:15; 5:8, 9.) Prizing the privilege of being permitted to serve Jehovah in any capacity, the angels humbly minister to prospective Kingdom heirs. (Heb. 1:14) In fact, they even direct evangelizers in locating those who are searching for God.—Compare Acts 8:26-38.
Angels recognize that there is no place for self-exaltation in God’s family, whether in heaven or on earth. Does this not inspire us to put forth real effort to do ‘nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but to act with lowliness of mind considering that the others are superior to us’? (Phil. 2:3) Do we humbly accept Jehovah’s arrangement in the Christian congregation, respecting the imperfect men serving as overseers? (Heb. 13:17) And what of our attitude toward fellow believers? Are we respectful and kindly toward them, regardless of their imperfections? When addressing Abraham, Jehovah’s angelic representative said, “please.” (Gen. 13:14) Are we as respectful of children, wives, fellow believers? Angels took no liberties in dealing with imperfect humans. Neither should we.
In connection with the burial of Moses, we find another case of humble submission. There was a confrontation between the Devil and the archangel Michael who claimed the body as Jehovah’s property. How did Michael handle the matter? Did he vent contemptuous disgust on this opposer who had been responsible for mankind’s woes? (Gen. 3:1-5) No, “he did not dare to bring a judgment against [the Devil] in abusive terms, but said: ‘May Jehovah rebuke you.’” (Jude 9) The archangel respected Jehovah’s arrangement for judgment, avoiding presumptuousness.—Compare John 5:19, 30.
Following Michael’s example, Christian husbands and fathers should avoid dealing harshly or demandingly in settling family issues, and congregational elders should exercise care not to abuse their authority by treating erring ones unkindly. (1 Pet. 3:7; 5:1-3) Those sharing lifegiving truths from God’s Word would certainly not wish to speak abusively of unresponsive individuals but would leave the judgment to Jehovah who “sees what the heart is.”—1 Pet. 3:8-12; 1 Sam. 16:7.
Humble respect for Jehovah’s arrangement enabled angels to endure faithfully in their assignments of service. En route to the prophet Daniel with a special message from God, one angel encountered fierce opposition. “The prince of the royal realm of Persia was standing in opposition to me for twenty-one days,” the angel later told Daniel. Appreciating the importance of reaching God’s earthly servant with the message, he fought opposition from the invisible demon overlord of Persia for 21 days, until the archangel Michael came to his aid.—Dan. 10:12-14.
Like that angel, we have a “wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against . . . the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12) Vigorous effort is needed to oppose demonic forces bent on destroying our friendship with Jehovah and stopping the proclamation of God’s kingdom. Respect and appreciation for Jehovah’s rulership will help us to gain the victory with the aid of the holy spirit.—Rev. 12:17.
On occasion, we may be discouraged by the negative attitudes of associates or family members. Angels, too, have been subjected to pressures from malcontents. Before the great deluge of Noah’s days some angels succumbed to improper desires. They forsook “their own proper dwelling place” in the heavens, materialized human bodies and entered into unnatural relationships with women. (Jude 6) The majority of God’s spirit sons, however, refused to be influenced by the faithless course of these rebellious members of Jehovah’s family. More than 2,000 years later, Daniel saw a vision of the heavenly courts. How many faithful angels did he see? “There were a thousand thousands that kept ministering to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand that kept standing right before him.” (Dan. 7:10) Like the righteous angels, refuse to let yourself be influenced by the attitudes of self-pleasing individuals. Draw encouragement from such faithful examples.—1 Thess. 1:7.
Appreciate God’s Love
Jehovah created both angels and men with the capacity to develop love for him as their Father and Sovereign. God’s great adversary was one angel who enjoyed the benefits of Jehovah’s love; yet he failed to develop appreciation in response. Lack of humility led to a desire for prominence and to ultimate rebellion.—1 Tim. 3:6.
Should not all of this serve both as a warning and an encouragement to us? If angels, failing to meditate appreciatively on Jehovah’s love for them have succumbed to wrong desire, what of us? Like the vast throng of faithful angels in Daniel’s vision, will we be alert to see reasons for gratitude to Jehovah for his daily favors to us? Let us treasure our opportunities to draw close to God.
“Who can resemble Jehovah among the sons of God [the angels, Targum]?” asks the psalmist. “God is to be held in awe among the intimate group of holy ones; he is grand and fear-inspiring over all who are round about him.” (Ps. 89:6, 7) How does such awesome respect develop in the hearts of angels and men? By daily meditation on the magnificent qualities of the Universal Sovereign as revealed in his creative works and his loving-kindness.
Witnesses of Jehovah today are no insignificant minority in their worship of the true God. “There are more who are with us than those who are with them,” the Bible assures us. (2 Ki. 6:16) In our efforts to please Jehovah, we are associated with throngs of angels who render worship to the very same God. Such powerful creatures display a kindly interest in us, being ever ready to assist us to stand firm for Jehovah. (Ps. 34:7) Be encouraged, then, by the example of these sons of God who humbly respect Jehovah’s arrangement. With them, let us continue to submit ourselves to the will of our generous heavenly Father.