Are You Satisfied With Jehovah’s Spiritual Provisions?
“‘Test me out, please, in this respect,’ Jehovah of armies has said, ‘whether I shall not open to you people the floodgates of the heavens and actually empty out upon you a blessing until there is no more want.’”—MALACHI 3:10.
1. With what provisions are most living creatures satisfied?
IF YOU stop breathing air, you will die in a few minutes. If you stop drinking water, you will die in a few days. If you stop eating food, you will die in a few weeks. If you stop feeding on Jehovah’s spiritual provisions, then when you die you will be dead forever. Jehovah provides the air, water, and food that all living creatures need. Hence, to Jehovah the psalmist says: “You are opening your hand and satisfying the desire of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:16) The desire of most living things is fulfilled by the material provisions. But this is not true of human creatures.
2. What is the desire of man’s heart, and what provision is necessary for its fulfillment?
2 Jesus pointed this out when he said: “Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.” (Matthew 4:4) The lower creations have no concept of eternity, but man does, as Ecclesiastes 3:11 says: “Even time indefinite he has put in their heart.” Or as the Revised Standard Version renders it: “He has put eternity into man’s mind.” Hence, man’s heartfelt desire is to live to time indefinite, even forever. Air, water, and bread alone are not enough for that. To live forever requires spiritual provisions based on “every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.” Today, they are found in one book, the Bible, and the supply is inexhaustible—all that you need, more than you can hold. This cupboard is never bare.
3. What did Jesus single out as most important, and what secret did Paul learn?
3 Jesus taught us to pray for the needed material food: “Give us today our bread for this day.” But soon thereafter he put spiritual matters in first place when he said: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness.” (Matthew 6:11, 33) Material food keeps us alive a day at a time; continued spiritual feeding can do it for a lifetime, and even for eternity. So do not be anxious about material things. Paul was not. He spoke of spiritual resources that enabled him to be content regardless of material circumstances, saying: “I have learned the secret of both how to be full and how to hunger, both how to have an abundance and how to suffer want. For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.”—Philippians 4:12, 13.
Calamity Comes to Dissatisfied Ones
4. What provisions were not enough for the first human pair, and what more did they want?
4 Many, however, are not satisfied with Jehovah’s provisions. Our first parents were not. They lived in a paradise garden—beautiful scenery delighted their eyes, fragrant flowers perfumed the air they breathed, delicious foods stimulated their taste buds, the songs of birds serenaded their ears. Moreover, they had the interesting work of caring for this garden, plus the blessing of filling the earth with perfect offspring. But they were selfish. What God had given was not enough. They wanted more. They wanted to decide for themselves what was right and what was wrong. So they did, and the very first decision they made was calamitous, resulting in the loss of everything, for themselves and for their offspring.—Genesis 3:1-7, 16-19.
5. With what did Jehovah bless the Israelites, and what was their reaction?
5 The Israelites copied their bad example. God delivered them from slavery in Egypt, made them a nation, gave them a perfect Law, guided them in their wilderness journeyings, provided them with clothes that never wore out, and miraculously sustained them with manna that fell from heaven and water that gushed out of a rock. But they were not satisfied with Jehovah’s provisions. (1 Corinthians 10:1-5) As they traveled through the wilderness, they complained time and time again.—Exodus 13:21, 22; Numbers 11:1-6; Deuteronomy 29:5.
6. What course brought destruction upon the Israelites as a nation?
6 They still grumbled after they were established in the Promised Land—a fertile, well-watered land “flowing with milk and honey.” Still ungrateful, still dissatisfied with Jehovah’s provisions, they abandoned worship of him, turned to idolatrous sex worship, sacrificed their children to Molech, and brought destruction upon themselves as a nation. Restored from Babylonian captivity, they followed oral traditions that made void God’s Word. They ended up killing their promised Messiah, Christ Jesus.—Deuteronomy 6:3; 8:7-9; Judges 10:6; 1 Kings 14:22-24; 2 Kings 21:1-16; Isaiah 24:1-6; Matthew 15:3-9; 27:17-26.
7. How have Christendom’s clergy of today continued in the same course as the unfaithful priests of Malachi’s time?
7 Down to this day mankind generally has continued to prefer false religious creeds. The clergy despise Jehovah’s name, not even using it. They dishonor him with such unscriptural teachings as the Trinity, the immortal soul, and eternal torment in hellfire. Their doctrines are not only polluted with falsehoods taken from ancient Babylon and Egypt but also, in many cases, poisoned by the denial of Christ’s ransom and the acceptance of evolution. They rob Jehovah of his deserved praise, just as did the priests in Malachi’s day.—Malachi 1:6-8; 3:7-9.
8. (a) What invitation did the priests of Malachi’s day and the religious leaders of today reject? (b) Who did respond to the invitation, and with what result?
8 Israelites back then were encouraged to cleanse themselves and return to Jehovah. “Return to me, and I will return to you,” Jehovah said. He further invited them: “‘Test me out, please, in this respect,’ Jehovah of armies has said, ‘whether I shall not open to you people the floodgates of the heavens and actually empty out upon you a blessing until there is no more want.’” (Malachi 3:7, 10) Only a remnant of the Jewish nation returned; today, a faithful remnant of spiritual Israel have come out of this world’s false religions. They, together with a growing great crowd of other sheeplike worshipers, praise Jehovah as his Witnesses. (John 10:16) To them, Jehovah has kept his promise and has ‘opened the floodgates of heaven and emptied out upon them blessings until there is no more want’—a veritable banquet of spiritual food!—Isaiah 25:6.
Spiritual Food in Abundance
9. What spiritual provisions are available today, by what means, and with what result?
9 “The faithful and discreet slave” Jesus foretold for our day is busily providing spiritual food in abundance. (Matthew 24:45) Last year alone, in 208 lands and islands of the sea, and in some 200 languages, over three million of Jehovah’s Witnesses made these spiritual provisions available through house-to-house visits and the distribution of hundreds of millions of books, magazines, and Bibles. Many partook of this spiritual food and were satisfied: Over 225,000 new ones were baptized in one year!
10. What provisions are available for heeding Paul’s admonition to assemble together?
10 Jehovah’s spiritual provisions have also been made available by means of district conventions, circuit assemblies, and the five weekly meetings regularly held in some 52,000 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses—all in obedience to Paul’s admonition at Hebrews 10:25 ‘not to forsake our gathering together.’
11. What illustrates the desirable way for spiritual food to be prepared?
11 When a woman invites guests to a meal, she does not just boil a piece of meat and plop it on a plate. She uses spices and sauces to add tantalizing flavors and some decorative touches to give it eye appeal. Just its appearance and aroma are enough to make the mouth water and the gastric juices flow. That is the way Jehovah’s spiritual provisions have been prepared—not in a dry, encyclopedic style, but in a tasty way to delight the mind and touch the heart. Each individual Christian should follow that example. “Does not the ear itself test out words as the palate tastes food?”—Job 12:11.
12. What examples do we have of spiritual food being appetizingly prepared?
12 The Theocratic Ministry School Guidebook in its first lesson stresses using delightful words. Solomon used not only correct words but also delightful ones. (Ecclesiastes 12:10) Psalm 45:2 foretold of the Messiah, Jesus Christ: “Charm has been poured out upon your lips.” It proved to be so. His hearers marveled “at the winsome words proceeding out of his mouth.” They kept hanging onto him to hear him, came early to the temple to hear him, listened to him with pleasure, were astounded at his way of teaching. Officers sent to arrest him declared: “Never has another man spoken like this.” (Luke 4:22; 19:48; 21:38; Mark 12:37; Matthew 7:28; John 7:46) The Guidebook was provided to help us speak delightful words of truth. Do you use it to the full?
13. How emphatic is Ephesians 5:15-17 about ‘buying out time,’ and why is this stressed?
13 Ephesians 5:15-17 admonishes us: “Keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, buying out the opportune time for yourselves, because the days are wicked. On this account cease becoming unreasonable, but go on perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.” The Greek word here translated “time” does not mean time in just a general sense but signifies an appointed time, a seasonable time for a specific purpose. The Greek verb translated “buying out” is in the intensive form, and “in this context it probably means to ‘buy up intensively’; i.e., to snap up every opportunity that comes.”* Do you snap up time from your schedule to make yourself wise by partaking of Jehovah’s spiritual provisions? You should. All of us should. Why? “Because the days are wicked.”
From Spiritual Desert to Spiritual Paradise
14. What Bible verse serves as an example of what feature of our English-language New World Translation Reference Bible?
14 An outstanding spiritual provision is our New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures—With References, released in 1984. It has many features that make it possible to use ‘bought-out time’ to increase our knowledge.* One example is its cross-references. Take Psalm 1:3, which deals with the condition of the man that meditates on God’s law day and night. That verse reads: “He will certainly become like a tree planted by streams of water, that gives its own fruit in its season and the foliage of which does not wither, and everything he does will succeed.” There is more, much more, to this verse than meets the eye of the reader who merely reads quickly and passes on.
15 Please take note: The tree is planted. Who planted it? It is by streams, plural. Does one tree grow on the banks of several streams? No. So be curious. What is this tree all about? The cross-references open the eyes of our mind. They are Isaiah 44:4,; 61:3, and Jeremiah 17:8. Isaiah 44:4 says that his people will be like trees “by the water ditches.” Many water ditches? Why, yes! The streams are irrigation ditches that water the trees in an orchard!
16 Isaiah 61:3 calls some of these trees “big trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, for him to be beautified.” Jehovah is the one who plants and irrigates these, and he is the one beautified by the fruits the trees bear! Jeremiah 17:8 likens the man who meditates on God’s law day and night to “a tree planted by the waters, that sends out its roots right by the watercourse; and he will not see when heat comes, but his foliage will actually prove to be luxuriant. And in the year of drought he will not become anxious, nor will he leave off from producing fruit.” Its foliage does not wither; everything it does succeeds!
17. What picture now emerges concerning Psalm 1:3, and what role do we play in it?
17 Now the scales fall from our eyes! Psalm 1:3 is painting a beautiful picture. Those who meditate on Jehovah’s law day and night are like trees planted by an unfailing source of water. They are no longer any part of spiritually arid worldly organizations but are now associated with God’s organization that is abundantly supplied with the refreshing waters of truth. Indeed, they are in a spiritual paradise, are refreshed spiritually, and are bearing spiritual fruitage to Jehovah’s praise. And just think! God is using his Witnesses to direct people away from the arid, parched, worldly organizations to this refreshing, well-watered spiritual paradise.
18. How do some react when they see others excelling in witnessing, and why may they fall short?
18 To accomplish this work effectively, we must discipline our minds and hearts so as to make use of all of Jehovah’s spiritual provisions. Some hear others explain Bible texts and then say: “I wish I knew the Bible as he does!” But if such ones discipline themselves to study the Bible, they too can increase in Bible knowledge. Some hear others witness at the doors and then say: “I wish I could witness at the doors the way she does!” But if they discipline themselves to share frequently in the field service, using the book Reasoning From the Scriptures, they too can become more skilled Witnesses. Some hear others give Bible lectures and then say: “I wish I could give talks the way he does.” But, again, if these ones discipline themselves to prepare their speaking assignments well, absorbing the lessons of the Theocratic Ministry School Guidebook, they too will progress in speaking ability.
19. What is the key to developing our potentials for witnessing?
19 Now, to wish is fine, but wishing without working does not get the job done. It is work that makes the wish come true. Discipline yourself to buy out the time, and do the work that makes the wish come true. If you do not use a muscle, it will atrophy. If you do not use a skill, it will fade away. If you do not use your mind, thinking ability will wither. If you do not use knowledge, you will lose what you have. In each and every case, the rule is, “Use it or lose it.” It is ‘through use that the perceptive powers are trained.’ Then “thinking ability itself will keep guard over you, discernment itself will safeguard you.”—Hebrews 5:14; Proverbs 2:11.
20. By taking advantage of Jehovah’s spiritual provisions, what will we avoid, and what will we gain?
20 So use Jehovah’s spiritual provisions. Rejoice with his satisfied ones. Escape the famine that Amos foretold: “‘Look! There are days coming,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘and I will send a famine into the land, a famine, not for bread, and a thirst, not for water, but for hearing the words of Jehovah.’” (Amos 8:11) Share with those who eat and rejoice, not with those who reject the food and suffer shame: “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: ‘Look! My own servants will eat, but you yourselves will go hungry. Look! My own servants will drink, but you yourselves will go thirsty. Look! My own servants will rejoice, but you yourselves will suffer shame.”—Isaiah 65:13.
See The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Volume 1, page 268, by Colin Brown.
You may not have it in your language as yet but will no doubt find interest in the above example of its use.
Do You Recall?
□ How did the nation of Israel show its dissatisfaction with Jehovah’s provisions?
□ How has Malachi 3:10 been fulfilled upon Jehovah’s Witnesses?
□ What is the underlying meaning of Psalm 1:3?
□ Why is it essential to make use of the things learned through Jehovah’s spiritual provisions?
[Picture on page 15]
Those who meditate on Jehovah’s law are like trees planted by an unfailing source of water