Insight That Jehovah Has Given
“As regards those having insight among the people, they will impart understanding to the many.”—DANIEL 11:33.
1, 2. (a) Even though the Israelites had experienced God’s loving-kindness, why did they behave rebelliously? (b) What would it be beneficial for us to do? (Jeremiah 51:10)
THE people of ancient Israel knew that Jehovah was the only true God. They had been told of his dealings with their forefathers, and they had personally experienced his loving-kindness. But on more than one occasion, they acted with a gross lack of insight. They “behaved rebelliously” toward Jehovah and his representatives. Why? Because “they did not remember” what he had done for them. (Psalm 106:7, 13) It was not that they did not know these things; they failed to ponder over them appreciatively. As a result, they proved to be “persons desiring injurious things.”—1 Corinthians 10:6.
2 In our day, a major way in which Jehovah has set his witnesses apart as a distinct people is by the insight he has provided through his visible organization. Our own appreciation for the way in which Jehovah is leading his people can be strengthened by reviewing some of the examples of such insight. One of these involves the very core of our belief—the identity of God himself.
Is God a Trinity?
3. What enabled Jehovah’s servants, over a hundred years ago, to recognize the truth about the identity of God? (1 Corinthians 8:5, 6)
3 Christendom has staunchly maintained that those who do not affirm belief in the Trinity are heretics. But instead of being intimidated by men, Jehovah’s servants have recognized that, not the traditions and creeds of uninspired men, but the Holy Scriptures provide the standard for discerning what is truth. Building on this foundation, way back in 1882 these dedicated Bible students clearly stated in the Watch Tower: “Our readers are aware that while we believe in Jehovah God and Jesus, and the holy Spirit, we reject as totally unscriptural, the teaching that these are three Gods in one person, or as some put it, one God in three persons.”—John 5:19; 14:28; 20:17.
4. (a) Probing beneath the surface, what did Jehovah’s people discern as to the basis for the Trinity doctrine and the effect of such a teaching? (b) Why did Jehovah give his servants such insight?
4 These lovers of Bible truth had probed beneath the surface and had seen the roots of Trinitarian belief in non-Christian religions. By careful study of the Scriptures, they had also come to realize that when certain Bible texts seemed to support Trinitarian ideas, this was because of the biased views of the translators, not because of what was in the oldest original-language manuscripts. They recognized that this teaching, ostensibly honoring Jesus, actually contradicted his teachings and dishonored Jehovah. Thus, the issue of the Watch Tower referred to above said: “It behooves us as truth seekers, to deal honestly with ourselves and with our Father’s Word, which is able to make us truly wise. Therefore, ignoring the traditions and creeds of uninspired men and corrupt systems, let us hold fast the form of sound words received from our Lord and the Apostles.” Because they really loved the truth and gave attention not merely to a few favorite Bible verses but to the entire Word of God, Jehovah gave them insight that unmistakably set them apart from Christendom.—2 Timothy 3:16, 17; see New World Translation Reference Bible, page 1580, section 6B.
The Rightful Place of God’s Name
5. What has been behind the trend toward leaving God’s personal name out of Bible translations? (Revelation 22:18, 19)
5 Consider a second example: When Bible translations in increasing numbers obscured or completely left out the personal name of God, the Watch Tower Society put ever greater emphasis on the importance of that name. Christendom argued that removal of the name Jehovah would give the Gospel a more universal appeal, but Jehovah’s anointed servants discerned who was behind that scheme to remove from the Sacred Scriptures the most important name of all. (Compare Jeremiah 23:27.) God’s people realized that this was instigated by the Devil to blot out from human memory the name of the true God.
6. In contrast with Christendom’s course, what did God’s true servants do to magnify his name? (Acts 15:14)
6 In contrast with the course being pursued by Christendom, from its very first year of publication (1879), the Watch Tower gave prominence to the divine name, JEHOVAH. In 1926 this magazine featured the article “Who Will Honor Jehovah?” (Psalm 135:21) In 1931 the Bible students associated with the Watch Tower Society embraced the name Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Isaiah 43:10-12) They also came to appreciate more fully the great importance of the sanctification of Jehovah’s name. (Isaiah 12:4, 5) In 1944 they began to publish the American Standard Version of the Bible, which includes the name Jehovah over 6,800 times. In connection with publication of the Bible, however, most outstanding has been the production, since 1950, of the New World Translation. It gives the divine name its proper place in both the Hebrew and the Christian Greek Scriptures.
7. How has the emphasis placed on God’s name and all that is associated with it beneficially affected many people?
7 The emphasis that has thus been put on the personal name of God has been a delight to millions of lovers of righteousness around the globe. It has helped them to appreciate the true God as a Person. And as they have come to know his ways, they have been able to conduct themselves prudently, or with insight.—Micah 4:2, 5.
Is the Human Soul Immortal?
8. Early in their modern-day history, what did Jehovah’s Witnesses learn about the soul and the condition of the dead?
8 Now, a third example: At an early point in the modern-day history of Jehovah’s servants, love for God’s Word opened their eyes to other important truths. Over a century ago, “the faithful and discreet slave” correctly understood that the soul is not some intelligent and detachable spirit that dwells within humans but that it is the person himself. (Matthew 24:45-47) In 1880 the Watch Tower analyzed the original-language words transliterated Sheol and Hades in the Bible and concluded that these designate the grave. It also pointed out that people consigned to Gehenna were destroyed, not tormented.—See also the New World Translation Reference Bible, pages 1573-5.
9. In 1894, what did the Watch Tower say regarding the origin of the teaching that human souls are inherently immortal?
9 In 1894 the Watch Tower raised the question, “Whence then came the popular notion that all human beings possess immortality, innately, inherently?” With insight, it answered: “Scanning the pages of history, we find that, although the doctrine of human immortality is not taught by God’s inspired witnesses, it is the very essence of all heathen religions. . . . It is not true, therefore, that Socrates and Plato were the first to teach the doctrine: it had an earlier teacher than either of them, and a yet more able one. They, however, polished the doctrine . . . and made a philosophy out of it, and thus made it the more seductive and acceptable to the cultured class of their day and since. The first record of this false teaching is found in the oldest history known to man—the Bible. The false teacher was Satan.”*
10. What bad effects have come from religious lies about the soul and the condition of the dead, but what was done to help reasonable people?
10 By propagating the falsehood that all humans have an immortal soul and that the wicked will be forever tormented in hellfire, Satan has misrepresented and blasphemed the name of God. The first editor of the Watch Tower, C. T. Russell, realized that. He saw intelligent people rejecting the idea of eternal torment but, sadly, also rejecting the Bible because they thought that it was the source of that unreasonable doctrine. In order to clear the smoke of the Dark Ages from the minds of reasonable people, as he put it, Brother Russell gave the striking public discourse “To Hell and Back! Who Are There.”
11. (a) When spiritism was coming to the fore, what warning was sounded by the ‘faithful slave’ class? (b) Who have been benefited by this warning, and how?
11 That was an era in which spiritism was coming to the fore. But with the insight that Jehovah God made possible by means of his Word, the ‘faithful slave’ class discerned that the supposed spirits of the departed with whom people were communicating were the demons. Powerful Scriptural arguments were presented in public discourses and in written form to open the eyes of honesthearted ones to the danger of involvement in spiritistic practices. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Isaiah 8:19) As a result of this insight that Jehovah has given to his servants, many thousands of persons around the globe have been freed from fear of the dead, from the practice of spiritism, and from the debasing customs associated with spiritism.
Christian Conduct in a Turbulent World
12, 13. (a) Explain Daniel 11:32, 33. (b) What are some of the basic Bible truths that provide the basis for the understanding imparted by “those having insight”?
12 The prophet Daniel indicated that God’s servants would manifest insight in relation to yet a fourth matter, a vital issue—neutrality. After describing in detail the struggle between prominent political factions of the world, Daniel 11:32, 33 says: “Those who are acting wickedly against the covenant, he will lead into apostasy by means of smooth words.” That is, the totalitarian king of the north leads into apostasy those who profess to be Christians but who love the world, want its approval, and so treat with contempt Jehovah’s covenant for a Kingdom in which Jesus Christ will rule all the earth. “But,” Daniel continues, “as regards the people who are knowing their God, they will prevail and act effectively. And as regards those having insight among the people, they will impart understanding to the many.”
13 The insight needed to deal wisely with the often turbulent conditions that surround us is founded on appreciation of basic Bible truths. With Jehovah’s direction, the ‘faithful slave’ class has discerned these truths. One of them is the fact that, as Jesus indicated, the invisible ruler of this world is Satan the Devil. (Luke 4:5-8; John 12:31) In harmony with this truth, 1 John 5:19 adds that not merely one faction or another but “the whole world [all mankind outside the true Christian congregation] is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (Revelation 12:9) Since Jesus said that his followers would be “no part of the world,” this calls for Christian neutrality on their part.—John 17:16.
14. (a) To what timely matters was the attention of Jehovah’s servants directed in 1939 and 1941? (b) How has such insight helped Jehovah’s Witnesses to act wisely?
14 It was timely, therefore, that as the clouds of World War II darkened in Europe, the issue of Christian neutrality was highlighted in The Watchtower of November 1, 1939. Related to this matter is another fundamental truth—the importance of the issue of universal sovereignty and the role of the Messianic Kingdom in settling this issue. Appropriately, in 1941 this issue was featured in a discourse at a convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A., and the next year in the book The New World. What protection such godly insight has provided for Jehovah’s servants in this divided and warring world! Though religious systems of Christendom have been fragmented because they have allowed themselves to get embroiled in international strife and in guerrilla movements to overthrow governments, Jehovah’s Witnesses in all lands have unitedly continued to devote themselves to publishing God’s Kingdom as the only hope for mankind. They have kept busy in the lifesaving work that Jesus Christ foretold when he said: “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.
Fulfillment of Bible Prophecies
15. Why have Jehovah’s servants had insight?
15 Why have Jehovah’s servants had such insight? Because they have full confidence in the written Word of God, they obey it, and Jehovah’s spirit is upon them. This has also enabled them to understand vital Bible prophecies, and this is the fifth point that we are going to consider.
16, 17. (a) Why do the dates used by Jehovah’s Witnesses sometimes differ from those given by secular historians? (b) How have Jehovah’s Witnesses benefited from their confidence in the Bible as to the dating of Artaxerxes’ 20th year and the time of Jerusalem’s destruction by the Babylonians?
16 Secular historians, relying on their interpretation of what are in some cases fragmentary tablets unearthed by archaeologists, have concluded that 464 B.C.E. was the first year of the kingship of Artaxerxes Longimanus and that 604 B.C.E. was the first year of the kingship of Nebuchadnezzar II. If that were true, the 20th year of Artaxerxes would begin in 445 B.C.E., and the date of Jerusalem’s desolation by the Babylonians (in Nebuchadnezzar’s 18th regnal year) would be 587 B.C.E. But if a Bible student uses those dates when calculating the fulfillment of prophecy, he will simply be confused.
17 Jehovah’s Witnesses have been interested in the findings of archaeologists as these relate to the Bible. However, where the interpretation of these findings conflicts with clear statements in the Bible, we accept with confidence what the Holy Scriptures say, whether on matters related to chronology or any other topic. As a result, Jehovah’s servants have long recognized that the prophetic time period that began in the 20th year of Artaxerxes was to be counted from 455 B.C.E. and thus that Daniel 9:24-27 reliably pointed to the year 29 C.E. in the autumn as the time for the anointing of Jesus as the Messiah.* For the same reason, they have realized that the prophecy in Daniel chapter 4 regarding the “seven times” began counting in 607-606 B.C.E. and that it pinpointed 1914 C.E. in the autumn as the year when Christ was enthroned in heaven as ruling King and this world entered its time of the end.* But they would not have discerned these thrilling fulfillments of prophecy if they had wavered in their confidence in the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. Thus, the insight that they have shown has been directly associated with their reliance on God’s Word.
18. What does Isaiah 65:13, 14 promise as to the spiritual condition of Jehovah’s loyal servants?
18 Contrasting the spiritual condition of his loyal servants with that of individuals and groups that readily push aside the Scriptures in favor of whatever is currently popular, Jehovah says: “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. Look! My own servants will cry out joyfully because of the good condition of the heart, but you yourselves will make outcries because of the pain of heart and you will howl because of sheer breakdown of spirit.”—Isaiah 65:13, 14.
19. (a) Primarily, through what means does “the faithful and discreet slave” provide explanations of the Scriptures? (b) What kind of study program will enable us to benefit fully from spiritual food?
19 As this brief historical review has shown, it is through the columns of The Watchtower that explanations of vital Scriptural truths have been provided for us by Jehovah’s “faithful and discreet slave.” The Watchtower is the principal instrument used by the “slave” class for dispensing spiritual food. Are you benefiting from it fully? Do you read each issue, and does your study program include looking up scriptures that are cited but not quoted? Do you also make it a habit to meditate on what you have studied, building up appreciation for it, considering how it should affect your attitude, your desires, your daily activities, your goals in life? Your doing so can be a big factor in your making decisions based on the genuine insight that Jehovah alone has given.
Satan led Eve to believe that in the flesh she would not die at all. (Genesis 3:1-5) So it was not until later that he originated the false teaching that humans have an immortal soul that lives on after the death of the body.—See The Watchtower, September 15, 1957, page 575.
What Do You Remember?
□ Is God a Trinity, and why do you so answer?
□ Where does God’s name rightfully belong?
□ Is the human soul immortal?
□ What insight has Jehovah provided on Christian conduct in a turbulent world?
□ Jehovah’s Witnesses have received what insight regarding fulfillment of Bible prophecies?
[Pictures on page 18]
By means of The Watchtower, “the faithful and discreet slave” provides insight as to the meaning of scriptures and their application to our day