Carefully Following the Orders of the King
“With your orders I will concern myself, and I will look to your paths. For your statutes I shall show a fondness. I shall not forget your word.”—PSALM 119:15, 16.
1. Why is everyone and everything under the orders of Jehovah?
EVERYONE and everything is under the orders of the Almighty God Jehovah, the King of eternity. He is the One who created the universe. He is the Source of all life. He formed the earth and prepared it for habitation. He is a God of order, and by the enforcing of his statutes, orderliness will be maintained throughout his creation.—Psalm 36:9; Isaiah 45:18; Revelation 15:3.
2. Who controls the starry heavens, and how?
2 It was Jehovah God who ordered the starry heavens to spread out like a tent over the earth and then invited his people: “Raise your eyes high up and see. Who has created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name.” It was Jehovah who asked Job: “Have you come to know the statutes of the heavens, or could you put its authority in the earth?” It is His laws of gravitation and motion that bind together the millions of galaxies with their billions of stars and that govern the movements of the earth as it travels through space.—Isaiah 40:26; Job 38:33.
3. By whose orders do animals survive, and what would happen if they disobeyed?
3 He is the One bringing forth the green plants that carpet the earth. It is by his orders that seeds sprout and grow and reproduce. Innumerable varieties of animal life are abundant in the earth—from polar regions to tropical forests, from high in the atmosphere to deep in the soil, from the ocean’s surface to its darkest depths. To exist, each of the countless kinds must live as ordered by Jehovah. By means of instinct, he programs into them his orders for survival. “They are instinctively wise.” (Proverbs 30:24) But what if the little blackpoll warbler in Alaska said to itself, ‘I am not going to fly thousands of miles to South America. Why should I?’ That little warbler would die in the winter blizzards. But it will not say that. It is programmed to migrate for survival. So it is with all the animals. They instinctively follow the orders planted in them by Jehovah their Creator. They have no choice.
4. What choice do people have, and with what consequences?
4 It is different with people. We are created in the likeness of God, and we do have a choice. However, while Jehovah did not program us to act wisely by instinct alone, neither did he leave us in ignorance. Through his Word the Bible, he gives us his orders for gaining life. If we carefully follow those orders of the King, we will live. If we use our freedom to ignore them and take a road of our own independent choosing, we will die. We must program ourselves for survival. It is that simple. “Your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway,” said the psalmist. On the other hand, a different “road may seem straightforward to a man, yet may end as the way to death.” (Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 14:12, The New English Bible) In this time of the end, it is imperative that we take as our own the words of Psalm 119:15, 16, as addressed to Jehovah: “With your orders I will concern myself, and I will look to your paths. For your statutes I shall show a fondness. I shall not forget your word.”
Jehovah the Organizer of His People
5. In what ways was Jehovah Israel’s Judge, Statute-giver, and King?
5 Jehovah spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, giving orders for Israel’s guidance. Outstanding among these were the Ten Commandments, written on stone tablets by the finger of God. (Exodus 20:1-17; 31:18) In addition to being Israel’s Law-giver, Jehovah was their Judge, acting through Moses and other older men. Moses admonished such older men to remember: “You must not be partial in judgment. You should hear the little one the same as the great one. You must not become frightened because of a man, for the judgment belongs to God.” (Deuteronomy 1:17) Jehovah was also their King, organizing these millions of people for the efficient conduct of their affairs. In view of all of this, one of his prophets could later declare: “Jehovah is our Judge, Jehovah is our Statute-giver, Jehovah is our King.”—Isaiah 33:22.
6. How did Jehovah prove to be Israel’s Organizer and Guide in the wilderness?
6 The nation of Israel was organized into tribes, families, and households. As they traveled in the wilderness, Jehovah assigned each tribe its place in the march. When they camped around the tabernacle, each tribe had its assigned location. (Numbers 2:1-34; Joshua 7:14) By means of a cloud, Jehovah ordered their moves: “Whenever the cloud would go up from over the tent, the sons of Israel would pull away right afterward, and in the place where the cloud would reside, there is where the sons of Israel would encamp. At the order of Jehovah the sons of Israel would pull away, and at the order of Jehovah they would encamp.”—Numbers 9:17, 18.
7. Who could and did make changes in the organization of Israel?
7 When an organizational change was needed, Jehovah made it. Moses complained: “I am not able, I by myself, to carry all this people, because they are too heavy for me.” Jehovah responded: “Gather for me seventy men of the older men of Israel, whom you do know that they are older men of the people and officers of theirs, . . . and they will have to help you in carrying the load of the people that you may not carry it, just you alone.” (Numbers 11:14, 16, 17) Even when the people later demanded a human king, the great King of eternity did not abandon Israel. The human king had a copy of Jehovah’s Law. Prophets declared Jehovah’s judgments. Faithful kings still served as administrators for God as they ‘sat on the throne of Jehovah.’—1 Chronicles 29:23; Deuteronomy 17:18; 2 Kings 17:13; Jeremiah 7:25.
The Perfect Example of Following the King’s Orders
8. How, where, and with what results did Jesus proclaim Jehovah’s Kingdom to come?
8 When Jesus arrived as the promised Messiah, he followed his heavenly Father’s orders with a consuming zeal. With the start of the great Galilean ministry, he “commenced preaching and saying: ‘Repent, you people, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’ Then he went around throughout the whole of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and curing every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity among the people. Consequently great crowds followed him from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from the other side of the Jordan.” (Matthew 4:17, 23, 25; John 2:17) He did not limit his preaching to the synagogues. He proclaimed the Kingdom good news wherever there were people to listen: the temple, the seashore, the mountainside, the open country, the cities and villages, and the homes of the people. The crowds flocked to him, “listening to him with pleasure.” They “kept hanging onto him to hear him.”—Mark 12:37; Luke 19:48.
9. What did Jesus do to expand the preaching work, and what instructions did he give?
9 To his apostles he noted the need for more workers, so “these twelve Jesus sent forth, giving them these orders: ‘Do not go off into the road of the nations, and do not enter into a Samaritan city; but, instead, go continually to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, preach, saying, “The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” Into whatever city or village you enter, search out who in it is deserving, and stay there until you leave. When you are entering into the house, greet the household; and if the house is deserving, let the peace you wish it come upon it; but if it is not deserving, let the peace from you return upon you.’” (Matthew 10:5-7, 11-13) He later sent out 70 more with similar instructions, and by carefully following these orders, they had success and great joy.—Luke 10:1, 17.
10. (a) After his resurrection, what further commission did Jesus give, and with what result? (b) Why were certain appointments of men needed, and what requirements were to be met?
10 After his death and resurrection, Christ Jesus enlarged his followers’ territory, telling them: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18-20) When he ascended into heaven, he gave a similar order: “You will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) As his followers spread the Kingdom message, thousands joined their ranks. (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 5:14; 6:7) Congregations sprouted up everywhere. Overseers and ministerial assistants who met specific Scriptural qualifications were appointed to shepherd these flocks of men and women. The congregations flourished and grew in number.—1 Timothy 3:2-10, 12, 13; Titus 1:5-9.
11. What kind of organization do Jehovah’s Witnesses have today, and why is an efficient one so necessary now?
11 Today it is especially important for the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses to follow Jesus’ example in preaching. To do so efficiently, they adopt the organizational structure that was established in the days of the apostles. We are in the time of the end, the time when Jesus foretold that a worldwide preaching work would take place: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) After World War I, a few thousand began declaring this Kingdom good news; now their numbers have skyrocketed past the three million mark! It is an urgent time to be following carefully the orders of both the great King of eternity, Jehovah God, and the King of kings, Christ Jesus.
The Elders Need Your Respect and Support
12. What is required of elders today, and how can their service be made joyful?
12 In following the King’s orders, congregation elders have a key role. They are to be exemplary: “Shepherd the flock of God in your care, not under compulsion, but willingly; neither for love of dishonest gain, but eagerly; neither as lording it over those who are God’s inheritance, but becoming examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:1-3) It is God’s flock. He holds the elders accountable, but the obedient cooperation of everyone can make their work joyful: “Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will render an account; that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you.”—Hebrews 13:17.
13. Why should the elders be shown double honor?
13 All in the congregation are to be shown honor, but hardworking elders especially so: “Let the older men who preside in a fine way be reckoned worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard in speaking and teaching.” (1 Timothy 5:17; Romans 12:10) Why the “double honor” to the elders? Because of their fine work. It is written about them: “The holy spirit has appointed you overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God.” (Acts 20:28) They work hard at serving you and others. They may have to discipline some individuals when the orders of the King are ignored or violated—not a pleasant duty and one that may offend some. Counsel on dress or conduct may have to be given and may be resented. Yet all these things are done for the spiritual welfare of the congregation. The elders should be respected and shown honor.
14. (a) In view of James 4:12, how only may the judgments rendered by elders be proper? (b) When can there be a yielding in judgment, and when can mercy be superior to judgment?
14 At times elders must serve on judicial committees and make judgments—sometimes unpopular ones. How does this judging square with James 4:12? It says: “One there is that is lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But you, who are you to be judging your neighbor?” Yes, individuals are not to judge one another. Moreover the judgments elders make should not be according to their own opinion but according to Jehovah’s Word. Note how King Jehoshaphat cautioned judges whom he appointed: “It is not for man that you judge but it is for Jehovah; . . . let the dread of Jehovah come to be upon you. Be careful and act, for with Jehovah our God there is no unrighteousness or partiality or taking of a bribe.” (2 Chronicles 19:6, 7) The organization must be kept clean. Yet elders should not be harsh, ‘smiters.’ Mercy and forgiveness can be shown when remorse is deep and repentance genuine. Then, ‘mercy will exult triumphantly over judgment, as superior to judgment.’—1 Timothy 3:3; James 2:13; see Reference Bible footnotes.
15. What services by elders merit respect and honor for them?
15 So the duties of elders are often difficult and demanding, but elders who faithfully and lovingly care for these responsibilities can be a source of spiritual refreshment and protection. “Each one must prove to be like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless country, like the shadow of a heavy crag in an exhausted land.” (Isaiah 32:2) It is the kind and loving protector—not the hasty accuser or the harsh disciplinarian—that brings joy to all, earns respect and honor, and gains Jehovah’s approval.
Be Patient With One Another
16. (a) How do some react to the mistakes of others, and what might make them less critical and more understanding? (b) How does Jehovah view faithful servants who make mistakes?
16 Whenever people work closely together, problems are likely to arise. Mistakes are made. When this happens, some become greatly disturbed. Some even use the mistakes of others as excuses for making the greatest mistake of all—they stop serving Jehovah! However, if they scrutinize their own mistakes as minutely as they do those of others, they will likely be less critical and more understanding. Moses made mistakes. So did David. So did Peter. So do all of us. But Jehovah continued to use these faithful men of old, and he continues to use us. So, “who are you to judge the house servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for Jehovah can make him stand.”—Romans 14:4.
17. In this matter of making mistakes and being judgmental about others, what additional points should we remember?
17 Let us also remember: Here on earth, Jehovah uses imperfect people—that is all he has at present. Actually, this reflects praise to Jehovah. He accomplishes so much with so little! Our weakness magnifies his power: “My undeserved kindness is sufficient for you; for my power is being made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) The worldwide witnessing work prospers for the reason Jehovah himself gives: “Not by a military force, nor by power, but by my spirit.” (Zechariah 4:6) So let us be forgiving of the mistakes and imperfections of others so that our own can be forgiven. Remember: “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”—Matthew 6:14, 15.
Organized to Follow the King’s Order to Preach
18. To give unified direction to the preaching of the congregations, what arrangement existed in the days of the apostles and exists now in our day?
18 The apostles and older men located in Jerusalem constituted a governing body that made decisions giving unified direction to the early Christian congregations. (Acts 15:1-31; 16:1-5) Today Jehovah’s anointed witnesses, “the faithful and discreet slave,” have a Governing Body at their headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. (Matthew 24:45-47) It directs the tremendous worldwide Kingdom witnessing work now being done throughout the earth in fulfillment of the order to announce Jehovah’s Kingdom. (Matthew 24:14) This work could never be done without an organization. An individual could never do it on his own.
19. What work that individuals alone could never do are Jehovah’s Witnesses successfully doing by carefully following the orders of the King?
19 No individual and no unorganized, scattered groups of individuals could preach in over 190 languages and in 205 lands, conduct regularly more than two and a quarter million home Bible studies, and baptize annually some 190,000 new ministers of the good news of the Kingdom. No, it took more than three million Witnesses nearly six hundred million hours of preaching to do that amount of work in the one year 1985. They could do it only because they were efficiently organized into nearly 50,000 congregations, all under the visible direction of their one Governing Body. Even then, it could only be done because the Governing Body, the 94 branches, the 50,000 congregations, and the 3,000,000 individual Witnesses all were united in carefully following the orders of the King.
Do You Recall?
□ How did Jehovah organize the nation of Israel?
□ What perfect example did Jesus leave for accomplishing the work of announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom?
□ What many services performed by elders merit our showing them honor?
□ Why could independent groups or individuals not do the witness work?
[Picture on page 23]
The Creator programs all animals for survival
People must program themselves for survival by studying Jehovah’s orders