Trust in Jehovah’s Saving Arm
“O Jehovah, . . . become our arm every morning, yes, our salvation in the time of distress.”—ISAIAH 33:2.
1. In what sense does Jehovah have a mighty arm?
JEHOVAH has a mighty arm. Of course, since “God is a Spirit,” it is not an arm of flesh. (John 4:24) In the Bible, the figurative arm represents ability to exert power. Thus, it is by his arm that God delivers his people. Indeed, ‘like a shepherd, God shepherds his drove. With his arm he collects together the lambs, and in his bosom he carries them.’ (Isaiah 40:11; Psalm 23:1-4) How secure Jehovah’s people feel in his loving arm!—Compare Deuteronomy 3:24.
2. What questions here merit our consideration?
2 How has Jehovah’s arm saved his people, past and present? What assistance does God give them as a congregation? And why can his people trust in his saving arm during all their distresses?
God’s Saving Arm in Action
3. To what do the Scriptures ascribe Israel’s deliverance from Egypt?
3 Before delivering the Israelites from Egyptian bondage 3,500 years ago, God told his prophet Moses: “Say to the sons of Israel, ‘I am Jehovah, and I shall certainly bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians and deliver you from their slavery, and I shall indeed reclaim you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.’” (Exodus 6:6) According to the apostle Paul, God brought the Israelites out of Egypt “with an uplifted arm.” (Acts 13:17) The sons of Korah ascribed the conquest of the Promised Land to God, saying: “It was not by their own sword that they took possession of the land, and their own arm was not what brought them salvation. For it was your right hand and your arm and the light of your face, because you took pleasure in them.”—Psalm 44:3.
4. How was trust in Jehovah’s saving arm rewarded in the days of Assyrian aggression?
4 Jehovah’s arm also came to the aid of his people in the days of Assyrian aggression. At that time the prophet Isaiah prayed: “O Jehovah, show us favor. In you we have hoped. Become our arm every morning, yes, our salvation in the time of distress.” (Isaiah 33:2) That prayer was answered when God’s angel killed 185,000 in the Assyrian camp, sending King Sennacherib away from besieged Jerusalem “with shame of face.” (2 Chronicles 32:21; Isaiah 37:33-37) Placing trust in Jehovah’s saving arm is always rewarded.
5. What did God’s mighty arm do for persecuted Christians at the end of World War I?
5 God’s mighty arm saved persecuted anointed Christians at the end of World War I. In 1918 the headquarters of the Governing Body was assailed by their enemies, and well-known brothers were imprisoned. Fearful of the worldly powers, the anointed virtually stopped their witness work. But they prayed for its revival and for cleansing from the sin of inactivity and the uncleanness of fear. God responded by causing the imprisoned brothers to be released, with exoneration following shortly thereafter. As a result of truths expressed at their convention in 1919 and the outpouring of God’s activating spirit, the anointed were revived for fearless service to Jehovah in final fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32.—Revelation 11:7-12.
Help in the Congregation
6. How do we know that it is possible to endure a trialsome situation in a congregation?
6 As God supports his organization in general, his arm upholds individuals in it. Of course, conditions are not perfect in any congregation because all humans are imperfect. (Romans 5:12) So some servants of Jehovah may at times experience a trialsome situation in a congregation. For instance, though Gaius did “a faithful work” in receiving visiting brothers hospitably, Diotrephes did not receive them and even tried to throw hospitable ones out of the congregation. (3 John 5, 9, 10) Nevertheless, Jehovah helped Gaius and others to continue showing hospitality in support of the Kingdom-preaching work. Prayerful reliance on God should help us to keep doing faithful works while we wait for him to correct a situation that may be testing our faith.
7. Despite what circumstances in the Corinth congregation did loyal Christians there fulfill their dedication to God?
7 Suppose you were associated with the first-century Corinth congregation. At one time, factions threatened its unity, and toleration of immorality endangered its spirit. (1 Corinthians 1:10, 11; 5:1-5) Believers took one another to worldly courts, and some wrangled over various matters. (1 Corinthians 6:1-8; 8:1-13) Strife, jealousy, anger, and disorder made life difficult. Some even questioned Paul’s authority and belittled his speaking ability. (2 Corinthians 10:10) Yet, loyal ones associated with that congregation fulfilled their dedication to God during that trying time.
8, 9. What should we do if a trialsome situation confronts us in a congregation?
8 If a trialsome situation arises, we need to stick with God’s people. (Compare John 6:66-69.) Let us be patient with one another, realizing that it takes some individuals longer than others to put on “the new personality” and clothe themselves with compassion, kindness, lowliness of mind, mildness, and long-suffering. Since God’s servants also differ in background, all of us need to show love and be forgiving.—Colossians 3:10-14.
9 After many years of service to Jehovah, one brother said: “If one thing has been most important to me, it has been the matter of keeping close to Jehovah’s visible organization. My early experience taught me how unsound it is to rely on human reasoning. Once my mind had been resolved on that point, I determined to stay by the faithful organization. How else can one get Jehovah’s favor and blessing?” Do you similarly cherish your privilege of serving Jehovah with his joyful people? (Psalm 100:2) If so, you will let nothing draw you away from God’s organization or destroy your relationship with the One whose arm saves all who love him.
Help When Temptations Beset Us
10. (a) How does prayer help God’s people to face temptation? (b) What assurance did Paul give at 1 Corinthians 10:13?
10 As faithful individuals associated with God’s organization, we have his help during time of trial. For instance, he helps us to maintain our integrity to him when we are beset by temptation. Of course, we should pray in harmony with Jesus’ words: “Do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the wicked one,” Satan the Devil. (Matthew 6:9-13) In effect, we thus ask God not to allow us to fail when we are tempted to disobey him. He also answers our prayers for wisdom to surmount trials. (James 1:5-8) And Jehovah’s servants can be sure of his help, for Paul said: “No temptation has taken you except what is common to men. But God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out in order for you to be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) What is the source of such temptation, and how does God make the way out?
11, 12. To what temptations did the Israelites succumb, and how can we benefit from their experiences?
11 Temptation comes from circumstances that can induce us to be unfaithful to God. Paul said: “These things became our examples, for us not to be persons desiring injurious things, even as [the Israelites] desired them. Neither become idolaters, as some of them did; just as it is written: ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and they got up to have a good time.’ Neither let us practice fornication, as some of them committed fornication, only to fall, twenty-three thousand of them in one day. Neither let us put Jehovah to the test, as some of them put him to the test, only to perish by the serpents. Neither be murmurers, just as some of them murmured, only to perish by the destroyer.”—1 Corinthians 10:6-10.
12 The Israelites desired injurious things when they yielded to the temptation to be greedy in gathering and eating quail miraculously provided by God. (Numbers 11:19, 20, 31-35) Earlier, they became idolaters when Moses’ absence gave rise to temptation to engage in calf worship. (Exodus 32:1-6) Thousands perished because they succumbed to temptation and committed fornication with Moabite women. (Numbers 25:1-9) When the Israelites gave in to temptation and murmured about the destruction of rebellious Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their associates, 14,700 perished from a divinely sent scourge. (Numbers 16:41-49) We can benefit from such experiences if we realize that not one of these temptations was so great that the Israelites could not have resisted it. They could have done so if they had exercised faith, had been grateful for God’s loving care, and had appreciated the rightness of his Law. Then Jehovah’s arm could have saved them, even as it can save us.
13, 14. How does Jehovah make the way out when his servants face temptation?
13 As Christians, we face temptations common to mankind. Yet, we can remain faithful to God by praying for his help and working to resist temptation. God is faithful, and he will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. If we are loyal to Jehovah, we will never find it impossible to do his will. He makes the way out by strengthening us to resist temptation. For example, when persecuted, we may be tempted to compromise in the hope of escaping torture or death. But if we are trusting in Jehovah’s mighty arm, temptation never reaches a point where he cannot fortify our faith and give us enough strength to maintain integrity. As the apostle Paul said: “We are pressed in every way, but not cramped beyond movement; we are perplexed, but not absolutely with no way out; we are persecuted, but not left in the lurch; we are thrown down, but not destroyed.”—2 Corinthians 4:8, 9.
14 Jehovah also sustains his people by using his spirit as a remembrancer and a teacher. It brings Scriptural points to mind and helps us to discern how to apply them so as to resist temptation. (John 14:26) Faithful servants of Jehovah understand the issues involved in a temptation and are not deceived into following a wrong course. God has made the way out by enabling them to endure even to death without yielding to temptation. (Revelation 2:10) Besides helping his servants through his spirit, Jehovah uses his angels in behalf of his organization.—Hebrews 1:14.
Help in Personal Affairs
15. What personal help may we find in The Song of Solomon?
15 Those associated with Jehovah’s organization have his help in personal affairs. For example, some may be seeking a Christian mate. (1 Corinthians 7:39) If there is a disappointment, it may be helpful to consider Israel’s king Solomon. He failed to win the hand of a Shulammite maiden in marriage because she loved a humble shepherd. The king’s record of this matter might be called The Song of Solomon’s Frustrated Love. We may shed tears if our own romantic efforts are fruitless in a certain case, but Solomon survived his disappointment, and so can we. God’s spirit can assist us to display self-control and other godly qualities. His Word helps us to accept the often painful fact that a person cannot have romantic love for just anyone. (Song of Solomon 2:7; 3:5) Yet, The Song of Solomon shows that it may be possible to find a fellow believer who loves us dearly. More important, this “superlative song” is fulfilled in the love of the Fine Shepherd, Jesus Christ, for his “bride” of 144,000 anointed followers.—Song of Solomon 1:1; Revelation 14:1-4; 21:2, 9; John 10:14.
16. The “tribulation in their flesh” experienced by married Christians may include what?
16 Even those marrying a believer have “tribulation in their flesh.” (1 Corinthians 7:28) There will be anxieties and cares involving husband and wife and their children. (1 Corinthians 7:32-35) Illness may bring burdens and stress. Persecution or economic hardship may make it difficult for a Christian father to provide life’s necessities for his family. Parents and children may be separated by imprisonment, and some may be tortured and even put to death. But in all such circumstances, we can resist the temptation to deny the faith if we really trust in Jehovah’s saving arm.—Psalm 145:14.
17. What family problem did God enable Isaac and Rebekah to endure?
17 We may have to endure some trials for a long time. For instance, a son may cause his godly parents distress by marrying an unbeliever. That happened in the family of the patriarch Isaac and his wife Rebekah. Their 40-year-old son Esau married two Hittite women who were “a source of bitterness of spirit to Isaac and Rebekah.” In fact, “Rebekah kept saying to Isaac: ‘I have come to abhor this life of mine because of the daughters of Heth. If Jacob [their other son] ever takes a wife from the daughters of Heth like these from the daughters of the land, of what good is life to me?’” (Genesis 26:34, 35; 27:46) Apparently, Rebekah’s righteous soul was tormented by this continuing problem. (Compare 2 Peter 2:7, 8.) Yet, Jehovah’s arm upheld Isaac and Rebekah, enabling them to endure this trial while maintaining a strong relationship with Him.
18. What personal trial did C. T. Russell endure with God’s help?
18 It is distressing when a baptized family member slows down in God’s service. (Compare 2 Timothy 2:15.) Yet, some have even endured the spiritual loss of a mate, as did Charles T. Russell, the first president of the Watch Tower Society. His wife severed her ties with the Society and abandoned him in 1897, after nearly 18 years of marriage. She filed for legal separation in 1903, and it was issued in 1908. His grief was clear when he told her in an early letter: “I have prayed earnestly to the Lord on your behalf. . . . I will not burden you with accounts of my sorrow, nor attempt to work upon your sympathies by delineating my emotions, as I from time to time run across your dresses and other articles which bring vividly before my mind your former self—so full of love and sympathy and helpfulness—the spirit of Christ. . . . Oh, do consider prayerfully what I am about to say. And be assured that the keen edge of my sorrow, its poignancy, is not my own loneliness for the remainder of life’s journey, but your fall, my dear, your everlasting loss, so far as I can see.” Despite such heartache, Russell had God’s support to the end of his earthly life. (Psalm 116:12-15) Jehovah always upholds his loyal servants.
Out of All Distresses
19. What should we remember if distressing problems persist?
19 Jehovah’s people know him to be “a God of saving acts,” One “who daily carries the load for us.” (Psalm 68:19, 20) Therefore, as dedicated individuals associated with his earthly organization, let us never give in to despair if distressing problems persist. Remember that “God is for us a refuge and strength, a help that is readily to be found during distresses.” (Psalm 46:1) Our trust in him is always rewarded. “I inquired of Jehovah, and he answered me,” said David, “and out of all my frights he delivered me. . . . This afflicted one called, and Jehovah himself heard. And out of all his distresses He saved him.”—Psalm 34:4-6.
20. What question remains for consideration?
20 Yes, our heavenly Father saves his people out of all distresses. He supports his earthly organization, providing help in congregation matters and in personal affairs. Indeed, “Jehovah will not forsake his people.” (Psalm 94:14) But let us next consider other ways in which Jehovah helps his people individually. How does our heavenly Father sustain his servants who are ill, mentally depressed, grief-stricken because of bereavement, or distressed over their errors? As we shall see, in these matters as well, we have reason to rely on Jehovah’s mighty arm.
How Would You Respond?
□ How has Jehovah’s arm brought salvation in former times?
□ How does Jehovah help his people in the congregation today?
□ What help does God provide in personal affairs?
□ What should we do if distressing problems persist?
[Picture on page 8, 9]
God brought the Israelites out of Egypt “with an uplifted arm”