Know Jehovah Through His Word
“This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—JOHN 17:3.
1, 2. (a) What is the meaning of “know” and “knowledge” as used in the Scriptures? (b) What examples clarify this meaning?
TO KNOW someone as a mere acquaintance or to have knowledge of something in a superficial way falls short of the meaning of the words “know” and “knowledge” as used in the Scriptures. In the Bible this involves “the act of knowing through experience,” a knowledge that expresses “a relationship of trust between persons.” (The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology) That includes knowing Jehovah through taking account of specific acts of his, such as those many cases in the book of Ezekiel where God executed judgments against wrongdoers, proclaiming: ‘And you will have to know that I am Jehovah.’—Ezekiel 38:23.
2 The variety of ways in which “know” and “knowledge” may be used can be clarified with a few examples. To many claiming to have acted in his name, Jesus said, “I never knew you”; he meant he had never had anything to do with them. (Matthew 7:23) Second Corinthians 5:21 says that Christ “did not know sin.” That does not mean that he had no awareness of sin but, rather, that he had no personal involvement with it. Similarly, when Jesus said: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ,” more was involved than merely knowing something about God and Christ.—Compare Matthew 7:21.
3. What proves that Jehovah displays an identifying mark of the true God?
3 Many of Jehovah’s attributes may be known through his Word, the Bible. One of them is his ability to prophesy with accuracy. This is a mark of the true God: “Produce and tell to us the things that are going to happen. The first things—what they were—do tell, that we may apply our heart and know the future of them. Or cause us to hear even the things that are coming. Tell the things that are to come afterward, that we may know that you are gods.” (Isaiah 41:22, 23) In his Word, Jehovah tells the first things concerning the creation of the earth and life upon it. He told far ahead of time things that were to happen later and that did come to pass. And even now he does “cause us to hear even the things that are coming,” especially things to happen in these “last days.”—2 Timothy 3:1-5, 13; Genesis 1:1-30; Isaiah 53:1-12; Daniel 8:3-12, 20-25; Matthew 24:3-21; Revelation 6:1-8; 11:18.
4. How has Jehovah used his attribute of power, and how will he yet use it?
4 Another attribute of Jehovah is power. It is evident in the heavens where stars acting as great fusion furnaces pour out light and heat. When rebellious men or angels challenge Jehovah’s sovereignty, he uses his power as “a manly person of war,” defending his good name and righteous standards. On such occasions he does not hesitate to unleash power devastatingly, as in the Flood of Noah’s day, in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and in the delivery of Israel through the Red Sea. (Exodus 15:3-7; Genesis 7:11, 12, 24; 19:24, 25) Shortly, God will use his power to “crush Satan under your feet.”—Romans 16:20.
5. Along with his power, what quality does Jehovah also possess?
5 Yet, even with all this unlimited power, there is humility. Psalm 18:35, 36 says: “Your own humility will make me great. You will make room large enough for my steps under me.” God’s humility allows him to be “condescending to look on heaven and earth, raising up the lowly one from the very dust; he exalts the poor one from the ashpit itself.”—Psalm 113:6, 7.
6. What quality of Jehovah is lifesaving?
6 Jehovah’s mercy in dealing with man is lifesaving. What mercy was shown to Manasseh when he was forgiven, even though he had committed terrible atrocities! Jehovah says: “When I say to the wicked one: ‘You will positively die,’ and he actually turns back from his sin and carries on justice and righteousness, none of his sins with which he has sinned will be remembered against him. Justice and righteousness are what he has carried on. He will positively keep living.” (Ezekiel 33:14, 16; 2 Chronicles 33:1-6, 10-13) Jesus was reflecting Jehovah when he urged forgiving 77 times, even 7 times in one day!—Psalm 103:8-14; Matthew 18:21, 22; Luke 17:4.
A God Who Feels
7. How is Jehovah different from the Greek gods, and what precious privilege is open to us?
7 Greek philosophers, such as the Epicureans, believed in gods but viewed them as being too far from the earth to have any interest in man or be affected by his feelings. How different the relationship between Jehovah and his faithful Witnesses! “Jehovah is taking pleasure in his people.” (Psalm 149:4) Wicked people before the Flood made him feel regrets and “hurt at his heart.” Israel by its unfaithfulness brought Jehovah pain and hurt. Christians by their disobedience can grieve Jehovah’s spirit; by their faithfulness, however, they can bring him joy. How amazing to think that puny man on earth can make the Creator of the universe feel hurt or joy! In view of all that he does for us, how wonderful that we have the precious privilege of giving him pleasure!—Genesis 6:6; Psalm 78:40, 41; Proverbs 27:11; Isaiah 63:10; Ephesians 4:30.
8. How did Abraham use his freeness of speech with Jehovah?
8 God’s Word shows that Jehovah’s love allows us great “freeness of speech.” (1 John 4:17) Note Abraham’s case when Jehovah came to destroy Sodom. Abraham said to Jehovah: “Will you really sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous men in the midst of the city. Will you, then, sweep them away and not pardon the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are inside it? . . . It is unthinkable of you. Is the Judge of all the earth not going to do what is right?” What words to say to God! Yet Jehovah agreed to save Sodom if 50 righteous men were there. Abraham continued and got the figure lowered from 50 to 20. He became apprehensive that he might be pressing too hard. He said: “May Jehovah, please, not grow hot with anger, but let me speak just this once: Suppose ten are found there.” Again Jehovah concedes: “I shall not bring it to ruin on account of the ten.”—Genesis 18:23-33.
9. Why did Jehovah allow Abraham to speak as he did, and what can we learn from this?
9 Why did Jehovah allow Abraham such freeness of speech, in order to speak in this way? For one thing, Jehovah was aware of Abraham’s distressed feelings. He knew that Abraham’s nephew Lot lived in Sodom, and Abraham was concerned about his safety. Also, Abraham was God’s friend. (James 2:23) When someone speaks roughly to us, do we try to discern the feelings behind his words and make allowances, especially if he is a friend who is under emotional pressure of some kind? Is it not a comfort to see that Jehovah will be understanding of our use of freeness of speech, as he was with Abraham?
10. How does freeness of speech help us in prayer?
10 Especially when we seek him as our “Hearer of prayer” do we crave this freeness of speech to pour out our soul to him, when we are sorely distressed and emotionally distraught. (Psalm 51:17; 65:2, 3) Even at those times when words may fail us, “the spirit itself pleads for us with groanings unuttered,” and Jehovah listens. He can know our thoughts: “You have considered my thought from far off. For there is not a word on my tongue, but, look! O Jehovah, you already know it.” Even so, we should keep on asking, seeking, knocking.—Romans 8:26; Psalm 139:2, 4; Matthew 7:7, 8.
11. How is it shown that Jehovah really cares about us?
11 Jehovah cares. He provides for the life he created. “To you the eyes of all look hopefully, and you are giving them their food in its season. You are opening your hand and satisfying the desire of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:15, 16) We are invited to see how he feeds the birds in the bushes. See the lilies in the field, how beautifully he clothes them. Jesus added that God will do as much and more for us than he does for them. So why should we feel anxious? (Deuteronomy 32:10; Matthew 6:26-32; 10:29-31) First Peter 5:7 invites you to “throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.”
“The Exact Representation of His Very Being”
12, 13. In addition to seeing Jehovah through his creation and his acts recorded in the Bible, how else are we able to see and hear him?
12 We can see Jehovah God through his creation; we can see him by reading of his acts in the Bible; we can also see him by the words and acts recorded concerning Jesus Christ. Jesus himself says so, at John 12:45: “He that beholds me beholds also him that sent me.” Again, at John 14:9: “He that has seen me has seen the Father also.” Colossians 1:15 states: “[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God.” Hebrews 1:3 declares: “[Jesus] is the reflection of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of his very being.”
13 Jehovah sent his Son not only to provide a ransom but also to set an example to be copied, both in word and in deed. Jesus spoke God’s words. He said at John 12:50: “The things I speak, just as the Father has told me them, so I speak them.” He did not do his own thing, but he did the things God told him to do. At John 5:30 he said: “I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative.”—John 6:38.
14. (a) What sights caused Jesus to be moved with pity? (b) Why did Jesus’ manner of speaking cause people to flock to hear him?
14 Jesus saw people who were leprous, disabled, deaf, blind, and demonized and those mourning their dead. Moved with pity, he healed the sick and raised the dead. He saw the crowds skinned and knocked about spiritually, and he began teaching them many things. He taught not only with correct words but also with winsome words from his heart that went directly to the hearts of others, that drew them to him, that brought them early to the temple to hear him, that caused them to hang onto him, to listen to him with pleasure. They flocked to hear him, declaring that ‘never had another man spoken like this one.’ They were astounded at his way of teaching. (John 7:46; Matthew 7:28, 29; Mark 11:18; 12:37; Luke 4:22; 19:48; 21:38) And when his enemies sought to trap him with questions, he turned the tables on them, silencing them.—Matthew 22:41-46; Mark 12:34; Luke 20:40.
15. What was the central theme of Jesus’ preaching, and to what extent did he involve others in spreading it?
15 He proclaimed that “the kingdom of the heavens [had] drawn near” and urged listeners to keep “seeking first the kingdom.” He sent others out to preach that “the kingdom of the heavens [had] drawn near,” to “make disciples of people of all the nations,” to be witnesses of Christ “to the most distant part of the earth.” Today nearly four and a half million Witnesses of Jehovah are walking in his steps, doing those things.—Matthew 4:17; 6:33; 10:7; 28:19; Acts 1:8.
16. How was Jehovah’s attribute of love put to a severe test, but what did it accomplish for mankind?
16 “God is love,” we are told at 1 John 4:8. This outstanding attribute of his was put to the most excruciating test imaginable when he sent his only-begotten Son to earth to die. The agony this beloved Son suffered and the pleas he voiced to his heavenly Father must have cost Jehovah dearly, even though Jesus proved false Satan’s challenge that Jehovah could not have people on earth who would hold fast their integrity to Him under severe test. We should also appreciate the magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice, for God sent him here to die for us. (John 3:16) This was not an easy, quick death. To appreciate the cost to both God and Jesus and thereby realize the magnitude of their sacrifice for us, let us examine the Bible’s record of the proceedings.
17-19. How did Jesus describe the ordeal ahead of him?
17 At least four times, Jesus described to his apostles what lay ahead. Just a few days before it took place, he said: “Here we are, advancing up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and will deliver him to men of the nations, and they will make fun of him and will spit upon him and scourge him and kill him.”—Mark 10:33, 34.
18 Jesus felt the pressure of what was ahead of him, understanding the horrors of the Roman scourging. The leather thongs of the whip used for flogging had bits of metal and sheep bones embedded in them; so as the flogging continued, back and legs became ribbons of bleeding flesh. Months before, Jesus indicated the emotional stress the ordeal ahead was creating for him, saying, as we read at Luke 12:50: “Indeed, I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and how I am being distressed until it is finished!”
19 The pressure mounted as the time drew closer. He spoke about it to his heavenly Father: “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me out of this hour. Nevertheless, this is why I have come to this hour.” (John 12:27) How Jehovah must have been affected by this plea from his only-begotten Son! In Gethsemane, just hours before his death, Jesus became sorely troubled and said to Peter, James, and John: “My soul is deeply grieved, even to death.” Minutes thereafter he voiced his final prayer on the subject to Jehovah: “‘Father, if you wish, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, let, not my will, but yours take place.’ But getting into an agony he continued praying more earnestly; and his sweat became as drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Matthew 26:38; Luke 22:42, 44) This may have been what is known medically as hematidrosis. It is rare but can occur in highly emotional states.
20. What helped Jesus get through his ordeal?
20 Concerning this time in Gethsemane, Hebrews 5:7 says: “In the days of his flesh Christ offered up supplications and also petitions to the One who was able to save him out of death, with strong outcries and tears, and he was favorably heard for his godly fear.” Since he was not saved from death by the “One who was able to save him out of death,” in what sense was his prayer favorably heard? Luke 22:43 answers: “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” The prayer was answered in that the angel God sent did strengthen Jesus to bear up under the ordeal.
21. (a) What shows that Jesus came through the ordeal triumphant? (b) When our trials intensify, how will we want to be able to speak?
21 This was evident from the outcome. When his inner struggle was over, Jesus got up, went back to Peter, James, and John, and said: “Get up, let us go.” (Mark 14:42) In effect he was saying, ‘Let me go to be betrayed with a kiss, to be arrested by a mob, to be illegally tried, to be wrongfully condemned. Let me go to be mocked, spit on, scourged, and nailed to a torture stake.’ For six hours he hung there, in excruciating pain, enduring to the end. As he died, he cried out in triumph: “It has been accomplished!” (John 19:30) He had remained steadfast and had proved his integrity in upholding Jehovah’s sovereignty. Everything Jehovah had sent him to earth to do he had accomplished. When we die or when Armageddon strikes, will we be able to say concerning our commission from Jehovah: “It has been accomplished”?
22. What shows the extent of the spread of the knowledge of Jehovah?
22 In any case, we can be sure that in Jehovah’s fast-approaching due time, all “the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”—Isaiah 11:9.
Do You Remember?
□ What does it mean to know and to have knowledge?
□ How have Jehovah’s mercy and forgiveness been shown to us in his Word?
□ How did Abraham make use of freeness of speech with Jehovah?
□ Why can we look at Jesus and in him see Jehovah’s qualities?