Jehovah Is My Helper
“Be of good courage and say: ‘Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”—HEBREWS 13:6.
1, 2. (a) Both the psalmist and the apostle Paul expressed what confidence in Jehovah? (b) What questions arise?
JEHOVAH GOD is an unfailing source of help. The psalmist knew this from experience and could say: “Jehovah is on my side; I shall not fear. What can earthling man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6) Similar sentiments were expressed by the apostle Paul when he wrote his divinely inspired letter to Hebrew Christians.
2 Evidently quoting the psalmist’s words from the Greek Septuagint, Paul told Hebrew fellow worshipers: “Be of good courage and say: ‘Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6) Why did the apostle write in this way? And what can we learn from the context?
In Need of Jehovah’s Help
3. (a) Under what circumstances did Jehovah prove to be Paul’s Helper? (b) Why did Hebrew Christians especially need Jehovah as their Helper?
3 Paul was a self-sacrificing witness who had evidence that Jehovah was his Helper. God helped the apostle in the face of many hardships. Paul was imprisoned, beaten, and stoned. In his travels as a Christian minister, he experienced shipwreck as well as many other dangers. He was well-acquainted with toil, sleepless nights, hunger, thirst, even nakedness. “Besides those things of an external kind,” said he, “there is what rushes in on me from day to day, the anxiety for all the congregations.” (2 Corinthians 11:24-29) Paul had that kind of concern for Hebrew Christians. Jerusalem’s days were numbered, and the apostle’s Jewish brothers and sisters in Judea would face great tests of faith. (Daniel 9:24-27; Luke 21:5-24) So they would need to have Jehovah as their Helper.
4. What basic exhortation is presented throughout the letter to the Hebrews?
4 In opening his letter to Hebrew Christians, Paul showed that divine help would be experienced only if they listened to God’s Son, Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 1:1, 2) This point was developed in the letter. For instance, to back up this counsel, the apostle reminded his readers that the Israelites were punished for disobedience in the wilderness. How much less would Hebrew Christians escape punishment if they rejected what God said to them by means of Jesus and became apostates clinging to the Mosaic Law that was set aside by Christ’s sacrifice!—Hebrews 12:24-27.
Brotherly Love in Action
5. (a) What other counsel does the letter to the Hebrews provide? (b) What did Paul say about love?
5 The letter to the Hebrews gave prospective heirs of the heavenly Kingdom counsel on how to follow their Exemplar, Jesus Christ, ‘render sacred service with godly fear and awe,’ and have Jehovah as their Helper. (Hebrews 12:1-4, 28, 29) Paul urged fellow believers to meet regularly and ‘incite one another to love and fine works.’ (Hebrews 10:24, 25) Now he counseled: “Let your brotherly love continue.”—Hebrews 13:1.
6. In what sense did Jesus give his followers “a new commandment” regarding love?
6 Jesus required such love of his followers, for he said: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:34, 35) This was “a new commandment” in that it called for more than did the Mosaic Law, which said: “You must love your fellow [or, neighbor] as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18) The “new commandment” did more than require that a person love his neighbor as he loved himself. It called for self-sacrificing love to the point of giving one’s life for someone. Jesus’ life and death exemplified that kind of love. Tertullian alluded to this identifying mark when he quoted the remarks of worldly people concerning Christians and said: “‘Look,’ they say, ‘how they love one another . . . and how they are ready to die for each other.’”—Apology, chapter XXXIX, 7.
7. How was brotherly love evident after Pentecost 33 C.E.?
7 Brotherly love was evident among Jesus’ disciples after Pentecost 33 C.E. So that many newly baptized believers from distant places could extend their stay in Jerusalem and learn more about God’s provision for salvation through Christ, “all those who became believers were together in having all things in common, and they went selling their possessions and properties and distributing the proceeds to all, just as anyone would have the need.”—Acts 2:43-47; 4:32-37.
8. What proof is there that brotherly love exists among Jehovah’s Witnesses today?
8 Such brotherly love exists among Jehovah’s Witnesses in our time. For instance, after World War II, such love moved God’s people to carry out a two-and-a-half-year relief campaign. Witnesses in Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, the United States, and other lands donated clothing and money to buy food for fellow believers in the war-torn countries of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, and Romania. This is only an example, for God’s servants more recently have shown such love for Christian victims of earthquakes in Peru and Mexico, storm winds in Jamaica, and similar disasters elsewhere. In this and many other ways, Jehovah’s people ‘let their brotherly love continue.’
9. (a) What godly quality is mentioned at Hebrews 13:2? (b) How did some unknowingly ‘entertain angels’?
9 Paul next mentioned another quality manifested by those who follow Christ, ‘render sacred service with godly fear and awe,’ and have Jehovah as their Helper. He urged: “Do not forget hospitality, for through it some, unknown to themselves, entertained angels.” (Hebrews 13:2) Who unknowingly “entertained angels”? Well, the patriarch Abraham was the host for three angels. (Genesis 18:1-22) Two of them departed, and his nephew Lot invited these very strangers into his home in Sodom. Before they could retire, however, Lot’s house was surrounded by a mob, “from boy to old man.” They demanded that Lot turn over his guests for immoral purposes, but he staunchly refused. Though Lot did not know it at first, he had entertained angels, who then assisted him and his daughters to escape death when ‘Jehovah rained down fire and sulphur from heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah.’—Genesis 19:1-26.
10. What blessings do hospitable Christians enjoy?
10 Hospitable Christians enjoy many blessings. They hear the enriching experiences related by their guests and benefit from their spiritually rewarding association. Gaius was commended for receiving fellow believers hospitably, “and strangers at that,” even as many of Jehovah’s people now entertain traveling overseers. (3 John 1, 5-8) Being hospitable is a qualification for appointment as an elder. (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7, 8) It is also noteworthy that Jesus promised Kingdom blessings to sheeplike individuals who hospitably did good to his anointed “brothers.”—Matthew 25:34-40.
Remember Those Persecuted
11. Why was the counsel of Hebrews 13:3 apropos?
11 Those desiring to have Jehovah’s help and to ‘render sacred service to him with godly fear and awe’ must not forget fellow believers who are suffering. Paul understood the hardships endured by ill-treated Christians. Some time earlier, disciples had been scattered by persecution, and his coworker Timothy had just been released from prison. (Hebrews 13:23; Acts 11:19-21) Christian missionaries were also traveling about forming new congregations or upbuilding existing ones spiritually. Since many of the brothers and sisters then on the move were Gentiles, some Hebrew Christians might not have been sufficiently concerned about them. Appropriate, then, was the admonition: “Keep in mind those in prison bonds as though you have been bound with them, and those being ill-treated, since you yourselves also are still in a body.”—Hebrews 13:3.
12. How may we apply the counsel to keep ill-treated fellow believers in mind?
12 The Hebrews had “expressed sympathy for those in prison” but were not to forget such faithful fellow worshipers, whether they were Jews or Gentiles. (Hebrews 10:34) But what about us? How may we show that we keep ill-treated Christians in mind? In some cases it may be appropriate for us to appeal to governmental authorities by letter in an effort to assist fellow believers imprisoned for their faith in lands where the Kingdom-preaching work is banned. Especially should we remember them in our prayers, even mentioning some by name, if possible. Their persecution affects us deeply, and Jehovah hears our earnest petitions in their behalf. (Psalm 65:2; Ephesians 6:17-20) While we are not in the same prison cell, it is as though we are bound with them and able to offer help and encouragement. Spirit-begotten Christians certainly sympathize with ill-treated anointed ones. (Compare 1 Corinthians 12:19-26.) These have similar concern for their persecuted companions with earthly hopes, who also suffer ill-treatment of many kinds at the hands of persecutors. Such fellow feeling is appropriate, since all of us are in a human body and liable to undergo sufferings and persecution as worshipers of Jehovah.—1 Peter 5:6-11.
Marriage Must Be Honorable
13. In essence, what did Paul say at Hebrews 13:4?
13 Following Christ’s example and ‘rendering sacred service to Jehovah with godly fear and awe’ should affect our concern for others in many ways. Having said that “you yourselves also are still in a body,” Paul mentioned a relationship having a bodily, or physical, aspect that afforded opportunity to show proper regard for others. (Hebrews 13:3) He gave Hebrew Christians this exhortation: “Let marriage be honorable among all, and the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.” (Hebrews 13:4) How appropriate this counsel, since sexual immorality was prevalent in the Roman Empire! Present-day Christians also need to heed these words in view of the world’s low moral standards and the fact that each year thousands are disfellowshipped from the congregation because of sexual immorality.
14. Why would you say that marriage is honorable?
14 Among those who did not hold marriage in high esteem were the Essenes of Paul’s time. They were usually celibates, like some in clerical circles today who wrongly consider celibacy to be holier than matrimony. By what Paul told Hebrew Christians, however, he clearly indicated that marriage is honorable. High regard for it was evident when Naomi expressed this wish for her widowed daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah: “May Jehovah make a gift to you, and do you find a resting-place each one in the house of her husband.” (Ruth 1:9) Elsewhere, Paul himself pointed out that ‘in later periods of time some would fall away from the faith, forbidding to marry.’—1 Timothy 4:1-5.
15. Who were designated as fornicators and adulterers at Hebrews 13:4, and how would God judge them?
15 Hebrews once under the Law but taken into the new covenant knew the commandment: “You must not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14) But they were in an immoral world and needed the warning: “Let . . . the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.” Among the fornicators are unmarried persons who engage in sexual intercourse. Adulterers more particularly are married individuals who cohabit with those not their mates, defiling their own marriage bed. Since unrepentant practicers of fornication and adultery merit God’s adverse judgment, they will neither be admitted into heavenly New Jerusalem nor enjoy life eternal on earth under Kingdom rule. (Revelation 21:1, 2, 8; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) This warning not to defile the marriage bed should also make married Christians avoid defiling sexual conduct with their mates, though there is nothing unclean about proper physical intimacies within marriage.—See The Watchtower, March 15, 1983, pages 27-31.
Content With the Present Things
16, 17. What was said at Hebrews 13:5, and why did the Hebrews need this counsel?
16 We will find contentment if we follow our Exemplar and ‘render sacred service with godly fear and awe,’ confident that Jehovah is our Helper. Getting deeply involved in materialistic pursuits can be such a temptation. But Christians must not succumb to it. The Hebrews were told: “Let your manner of life be free of the love of money, while you are content with the present things. For he has said: ‘I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:5) Why did the Hebrews need this counsel?
17 Perhaps the Hebrews were overly concerned about money because they recalled the “great famine” in the reign of Claudius Caesar (41-54 C.E.). That famine was so bad that Christians elsewhere sent relief provisions to their brothers in Judea. (Acts 11:28, 29) According to the Jewish historian Josephus, the famine lasted for three years or more, causing oppressive poverty in Judea and Jerusalem.—Antiquities of the Jews, XX, 2, 5; 5, 2.
18. The counsel at Hebrews 13:5 provides what lesson for us?
18 Is there a lesson here for us? Yes, for no matter how poor we may be, we should not love money or be overly concerned about it. Instead of being anxious about material security, possibly even becoming covetous, we should be “content with the present things.” Jesus said: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and [God’s] righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25-34) He also showed that we should concentrate on being “rich toward God” because ‘our life does not result from the things we possess.’ (Luke 12:13-21) If love of money is threatening our spirituality, then, let us heed Paul’s counsel to the Hebrews and also remember that “godly devotion along with self-sufficiency” is “a means of great gain.”—1 Timothy 6:6-8.
Trust in Jehovah
19. What assurance did God give Joshua, and how should this affect us?
19 As Jesus’ followers who are seeking to ‘render sacred service with godly fear and awe,’ we must place our trust not in money but in our heavenly Father, whose help is vital. Whatever problems we face, we should remember his assurance: “I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) Here Paul alluded to God’s words to Joshua: “I shall neither desert you nor leave you entirely.” (Joshua 1:5; compare Deuteronomy 31:6, 8.) Jehovah never deserted Joshua, and He will not forsake us if we trust in Him.
20. (a) What is the yeartext for 1990? (b) Without fear, what should we continue to do?
20 God’s unfailing help will be emphasized among Jehovah’s Witnesses in the months ahead, for their 1990 yeartext reads: “Be of good courage and say: ‘Jehovah is my helper.’” These words are found at Hebrews 13:6, where Paul quoted the psalmist and told the Hebrews: “So that we may be of good courage and say: ‘Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” (Psalm 118:6) Though persecuted, we are not fearful, for humans can do no more than God permits. (Psalm 27:1) Even if we must die as integrity keepers, we have the resurrection hope. (Acts 24:15) So let us continue to follow our Exemplar in ‘rendering sacred service with godly fear and awe,’ confident that Jehovah is our Helper.
How Would You Respond?
□ Why did Hebrew Christians especially need Jehovah’s help?
□ How have Jehovah’s people ‘let their brotherly love continue’?
□ Why be hospitable?
□ What can we do to show that we remember ill-treated fellow believers?
□ Why must marriage be kept honorable?