“The Things Revealed Belong to Us”
“The things concealed belong to Jehovah our God, but the things revealed belong to us.”—DEUTERONOMY 29:29.
1, 2. (a) Why is mankind badly in need of Jehovah’s revelations? (b) What should be our attitude toward information that Jehovah has made available to us?
IF A person found himself in a minefield but had a map showing a path out between the land mines, can you imagine how carefully he would study that map and follow all its directions? Or think of someone suffering from an incurable disease. Can you imagine his keen interest in following up all the latest medical discoveries that offered the hope of an eventual cure? Well, the sad fact is that we are in both situations. We are living in a world strewed with traps and pitfalls that can destroy us. And we are dying of the humanly incurable disease of inherited imperfection. (1 John 2:15-17; Romans 7:20, 24) Only God can help us identify the traps and avoid them, and he alone has the cure for our imperfection. That is why we need Jehovah’s revelations.
2 That is also why the inspired writer of the book of Proverbs counseled: “Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise ones, that you may apply your very heart to my knowledge.” (Proverbs 22:17) Similarly, we read in Proverbs 18:15: “The heart of the understanding one acquires knowledge, and the ear of wise ones seeks to find knowledge.” We cannot afford to turn our back on any knowledge that Jehovah makes available.
Jehovah’s Revealed Secrets
3. What revelations of his purpose did Jehovah make to Adam and Eve?
3 Happily, Jehovah has been very liberal in revealing knowledge. From the time of creation, God has gradually given to his worshipers all the information necessary for them under varying circumstances. (Proverbs 11:9; Ecclesiastes 7:12) Originally, he explained that the earth and its animal inhabitants would be subject to Adam and Eve and their descendants. (Genesis 1:28, 29) However, Satan influenced Adam and Eve to sin, and it became difficult to see how the divine purpose could be worked out to God’s glory. Quickly, though, Jehovah began to explain matters. He revealed that, in time, there would appear a righteous offspring, or “seed,” that would counteract the works of Satan and his followers.—Genesis 3:15.
4, 5. What further revelations did Jehovah make, and who were the channels he used?
4 God-fearing men and women must have had many questions about that Seed. Who would he be? When would he arrive? How would he benefit mankind? As the centuries passed, Jehovah gave further revelations about his purposes, and eventually he answered all these questions. Before the Flood, he inspired Enoch to prophesy about the coming destruction of Satan’s seed. (Jude 14, 15) About 2,400 years before our Common Era, he entrusted Noah with the revelation that human life and blood are sacred—a truth that would be of prime importance when the promised Seed arrived.—Genesis 9:1-7.
5 After Noah’s day, Jehovah revealed vital knowledge by means of other faithful patriarchs. In the 20th century B.C.E., Abraham learned that the promised Seed would be one of his descendants. (Genesis 22:15-18) This promise became the priceless possession of Abraham’s son Isaac and grandson Jacob (later named Israel). (Genesis 26:3-5; 28:13-15) Then, through Jacob, Jehovah revealed that this Seed, “Shiloh,” would be a powerful ruler born in the line of his son Judah.—Genesis 49:8-10.
6. In the 16th century B.C.E., who became the channel for “the things revealed,” and what were some of the new things that they learned?
6 In the 16th century B.C.E., Jehovah formed the children of Israel into a nation. To whom did the continuing revelation of truth then belong? Moses answered this question in these words to that young nation: “The things concealed belong to Jehovah our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons to time indefinite.” (Deuteronomy 29:29) Yes, after its birth in 1513 B.C.E., the nation of Israel became the channel “entrusted with the sacred pronouncements of God.” (Romans 3:2) And what a flood of pronouncements! God took the Israelites into the Law covenant, which held out the possibility of their becoming a nation of priests and kings. (Exodus 19:5, 6) The Law included a code of conduct that helped them to identify and avoid the pitfalls of sin and also a system of sacrifices that used the sacred blood of animals to cover their sins in a token way.
7, 8. (a) What additional information did Jehovah reveal about the coming Seed? (b) How were “the things revealed” preserved, and who revealed the proper understanding of such things?
7 As time passed, Jehovah made more revelations about the Seed. Through the psalmist, God revealed that the nations would reject his Seed but that the Seed would triumph with Jehovah’s help. (Psalm 2:1-12) Through Isaiah, he revealed that the Seed would be the “Prince of Peace” but also that he would suffer for the sins of others. (Isaiah 9:6; 53:3-12) In the eighth century B.C.E., Jehovah even revealed the place of the Seed’s birth and, in the sixth century B.C.E., the timetable for his ministry.—Micah 5:2; Daniel 9:24-27.
8 Eventually, “the things revealed” were compiled into the 39 books of the Hebrew Scriptures. But in many cases, that was only the first step. The things written were often difficult to understand, even for the ones used to write them! (Daniel 12:4, 8; 1 Peter 1:10-12) However, when enlightenment finally came, it did not depend on some human interpreter. As in the case of prophetic dreams, “interpretations belong to God.”—Genesis 40:8.
A New Channel
9. Why did fleshly Israel lose the privilege of being the channel for “the things revealed,” and when did this happen?
9 When Jesus Christ was on earth, Israel was still God’s channel. Any who wished to serve Jehovah had to do so in association with his chosen nation. (John 4:22) But Moses had shown that the privilege of being stewards of “the things revealed” also carried responsibilities. He said: “The things revealed belong to us and to our sons to time indefinite, that we may carry out all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29) That “time indefinite” came to an end in 33 C.E. Why? Because, as a nation, the Jews failed to ‘carry out all the words of the law.’ Particularly, they failed to welcome the Seed, Jesus Christ, even though the Law had been, in effect, a “tutor leading to Christ.” (Galatians 3:24) Because of this failure, Jehovah chose another channel for “the things revealed.”
10. What was the new channel for Jehovah’s revelations?
10 What was this new channel? Paul identified it to the Ephesians when he wrote that “there might be made known through the congregation the greatly diversified wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose that he formed in connection with the Christ, Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 3:10, 11) Yes, it was the Christian congregation, born at Pentecost 33 C.E., that was entrusted with the new “things revealed.” As a group, anointed Christians served as “the faithful and discreet slave” appointed to provide spiritual food at the proper time. (Matthew 24:45) Christians were now “stewards of sacred secrets of God.”—1 Corinthians 4:1.
11, 12. What were some of the wonderful revelations made through this new channel?
11 The central fact of these new “sacred secrets” was that Jesus Christ, the promised Seed, had appeared. (Galatians 3:16) Jesus was “Shiloh,” the one with the right to rule mankind, and Jehovah appointed him King of the Kingdom that would eventually restore Paradise to this earth. (Isaiah 11:1-9; Luke 1:31-33) Jesus was also Jehovah’s appointed High Priest, who gave his untainted, perfect life as a ransom for mankind—a most marvelous application of the principle of the sacredness of blood. (Hebrews 7:26; 9:26) Henceforth, believing mankind had the hope of regaining that perfect human life that Adam had lost.—1 John 2:1, 2.
12 This promised Seed was also a mediator, effecting between his followers and his heavenly Father a new covenant that replaced the old Law covenant. (Hebrews 8:10-13; 9:15) On the basis of this new covenant, the fledgling Christian congregation replaced the nation of fleshly Israel, becoming a spiritual Israel, a spiritual “Abraham’s seed” along with Jesus, and stewards of “the things revealed.” (Galatians 3:29; 6:16; 1 Peter 2:9) Moreover—something unthinkable to Jews—Gentiles were invited to become part of that new spiritual Israel! (Romans 2:28, 29) Together, Jewish and non-Jewish spiritual Israelites were commissioned to make disciples of Jesus all around the earth. (Matthew 28:19, 20) Thus, “the things revealed” took on an international aspect.
13. How were these new “things revealed” preserved for future generations?
13 In time, these “things revealed” through the Christian congregation were recorded in the 27 books of the Christian Greek Scriptures that completed the canon of the inspired Bible. But once again, embedded in these books were many prophecies regarding Jehovah’s purpose that only many centuries later would be fully understood. Once again, the writers of the Scriptures were in reality ministering to generations as yet unborn.
“The Things Revealed” Today
14. Following the great apostasy, when would Jehovah once again shed light on “the things revealed”?
14 After the death of the apostles, the great apostasy developed among professing Christians, as had been prophesied. (Matthew 13:36-42; Acts 20:29, 30) There followed long centuries during which understanding of “the things revealed” grew dim, although Jesus did not abandon those who sought to remain faithful. (Matthew 28:20) However, Jesus had promised that this situation would not last forever. At the conclusion of the system of things, the wicked and the righteous would again be visibly separated, and ‘the righteous ones would shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.’ (Matthew 13:43) Just as Daniel had prophesied, in ‘the time of the end, true knowledge would become abundant.’ (Daniel 12:4) Light would again be shed on “the things revealed.”
15. Why have the religions of Christendom proved unworthy to serve as the channel for the latest understanding of “the things revealed”?
15 Since 1914, we have been living in the time of the conclusion of this system of things. Hence, it is important to know whom Jehovah is using today as a channel for this new spiritual light. Certainly, he is not using the established religions of Christendom. These have proved disinclined to shake off the wrong teachings accumulated during the great apostasy. Today, most of their leaders are either so entrenched in traditions and creeds that they are not open to new knowledge, or they are so affected by skepticism that they doubt even the inspiration of the Bible and the validity of its moral standards.
16. Who have proved to be Jehovah’s modern-day channel?
16 Jesus said that the Kingdom of God would be taken from the Jews and “given to a nation producing its fruits.” (Matthew 21:43) In the first century, this proved to be the young Christian congregation of spiritual Israel. Today, there is only one group producing fruitage anything like that of the early congregation. These spiritual Israelites are the members of “the faithful and discreet slave” class of Matthew 24:45-47. Like the first Christians, these latter-day Christians have not been afraid to ‘let their light shine.’ (Matthew 5:14-16) Starting in 1919, they courageously undertook the work of preaching the good news of the Kingdom in all the world for a witness. (Matthew 24:14) Since they have produced the fruits of God’s Kingdom, Jehovah has blessed them richly by bringing them up to date in “the greatly diversified wisdom of God.”—Ephesians 3:10.
17, 18. What progressive understanding has Jehovah made possible through his modern-day channel?
17 Thus, in 1923 Jesus’ great prophecy about the sheep and the goats was properly understood, and it was discerned that the whole world was under judgment. (Matthew 25:31-46) In 1925 God’s earthly servants became possessors of an accurate understanding of Revelation chapter 12 and discerned exactly what had happened in the marked year of 1914. In 1932 their understanding was deepened still further. Jehovah revealed that the prophecies related to the restoration of the Jews to Jerusalem did not refer to fleshly Israel, which had long since proved unfaithful and been cast off, but rather to spiritual Israel, the Christian congregation. (Romans 2:28, 29) Then, in 1935 a corrected understanding of John’s vision of the “great crowd” in Revelation chapter 7 opened the eyes of anointed ones to the huge gathering work that still lay ahead of them.—Revelation 7:9-17.
18 This triggered a surge in the global preaching work, as the gathering of “the things on the earth” finally got under way in earnest. (Ephesians 1:10) In 1939, as war clouds gathered over Europe, the issue of neutrality was made clearer than ever before. In 1950 the “princes” of Isaiah 32:1, 2 were more precisely identified. In 1962 a correct identification of “the superior authorities” and the Christian’s proper relationship to them was also understood more clearly from “the things revealed.” (Romans 13:1, 2) And in 1965 there came a clearer understanding of the earthly resurrection and who might benefit from it.—John 5:28, 29.
19. How has Jehovah’s “slave” class today proved to be a fitting custodian of the Word of God?
19 Additionally, the anointed Christian congregation in this 20th century has proved to be a fitting custodian of the Word of God, the written compilation of “the things revealed.” Representative members of this congregation undertook a translation of the Bible into modern English, and, up to today, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures has appeared in 11 languages, with 40,000,000 copies having been printed. The “slave” class of anointed Christians also spearheads international teaching programs and publishes Bible-based textbooks and magazines. It organizes weekly meetings, regular assemblies, and various schools—all designed to help truth seekers to gain accurate knowledge of “the things revealed.” Truly, “the righteous ones” now “shine as brightly as the sun” in a spiritual sense, proving worthy of their stewardship.—Matthew 13:43.
20, 21. (a) How was the psalmist moved to react to Jehovah’s revealed Word? (b) What matters will be taken up in the next article?
20 So Jehovah has not left us stranded in the minefield of this world. Rather, he has given us his Word to illuminate our path and help us to avoid spiritual danger. (Psalm 119:105) Neither has Jehovah abandoned us to die of sin and imperfection. Instead, he has opened up the opportunity of everlasting life on a paradise earth and made knowledge about this opportunity readily available. (John 17:3) No wonder the psalmist, speaking of “the things revealed” in his day, exclaimed: “How I do love your law! All day long it is my concern.”—Psalm 119:97.
21 Is this the way you feel about “the things revealed” by Jehovah and understood in our day? Do you deeply appreciate the truths that you have learned? Do you see the need for these truths in helping you to make decisions, avoid temptations, and serve Jehovah? How much time do you spend actually reading and studying these “things revealed”? Is there any way that you can improve your study habits? These matters will be taken up in the next article.
Do You Remember?
□ Before Jesus’ time, what were some of the channels for “the things revealed”?
□ To whom did “the things revealed” belong after 33 C.E.?
□ What were some of the vital revelations made through this new channel?
□ Why is it that spiritual Israelites must be the ones to whom “the things revealed” belong today?
□ How has the anointed Christian congregation proved to be the worthy custodian of Jehovah’s Word?
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The anointed Christian congregation became the new custodian of Jehovah’s revelations
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Jehovah’s “slave” class of anointed witnesses has served well as custodian of the Word of God
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Jehovah revealed vital knowledge through faithful men of old