Make Public Declaration to Jehovah’s Name
“Let us always offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name.”—HEBREWS 13:15.
1. What did the prophet Hosea urge fellow Israelites to do?
JEHOVAH’S prophet Hosea had a vital message for his fellow Israelites. In the eighth century before the Common Era, he exhorted his wayward contemporaries to repent. He urged: “Take with yourselves words and come back to Jehovah. Say to him, all you people, ‘May you pardon error; and accept what is good, and we will offer in return the young bulls of our lips.’” (Hosea 14:2) In urging the people to offer Jehovah ‘the young bulls of their lips,’ Hosea’s prophecy was encouraging the Israelites to repent and render sacrifices of sincere praise to God.
2. What kind of sacrifice did the apostle Paul encourage Christians to offer?
2 Witnesses of Jehovah offer ‘the young bulls of their lips’ today. They also heed the exhortation of the apostle Paul, who alluded to those words in Hosea’s prophecy when he wrote: “Through [Jesus Christ] let us always offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name.” (Hebrews 13:15) Thus, God’s servants joyfully praise Jehovah, as in their Kingdom-preaching activity.—Matthew 24:14.
3. How can we offer Jehovah “a sacrifice of praise,” and whose activities shall we now examine?
3 Making public declaration to Jehovah’s name is an undeserved privilege for imperfect humans. How happy we are to tell others about our God, thereby offering Jehovah “a sacrifice of praise,” “the young bulls of our lips”! For our encouragement in publicly preaching the good news of the Kingdom today, let us examine what the Bible tells us about God’s prophets and other servants of Jehovah. From their course of life, we can learn much that will help us to enjoy our preaching activity.—Romans 15:4.
The Role of the Prophets
4, 5. (a) In the Bible’s original languages, what is the basic meaning of the words translated “prophet”? (b) What indicates that the prophets had a striking role in God’s arrangement?
4 Jehovah’s prophets were privileged to proclaim his message publicly. The Hebrew term for “prophet” (na·viʼʹ) has an uncertain etymology, but its use in the Bible indicates that true prophets were spokesmen for Jehovah, men of God with inspired messages. The Greek word rendered “prophet” (pro·pheʹtes) literally means “a speaker out,” to say something “in front of” or “before” someone. A prophet is one who proclaims messages attributed to a divine source. Often, but not always, God’s true prophets predicted future events.
5 Regarding the striking role of the prophets in God’s arrangement, M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia states: “Sometimes their advice was asked . . . But much more frequently they felt themselves inwardly moved to address the people without their advice having been asked, and they were not afraid to stand forward in places where their appearance, perhaps, produced indignation and terror.” (Volume VIII, page 640) Consider some examples of what prompted the prophets to take such a courageous stand.
Feelings and Motivation
6, 7. What did Jehovah have his prophet Ezekiel eat, and what effect did this have?
6 Before the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E., Jehovah spoke to the Jewish exiles in Babylon through his prophet Ezekiel. Jehovah told him: “Son of man, what you find, eat. Eat this roll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” Ezekiel obeyed. He said: “So I opened my mouth, and he gradually made me eat this roll. And he went on to say to me: ‘Son of man, you should cause your own belly to eat, that you may fill your very intestines with this roll that I am giving you.’ And I began to eat it, and it came to be in my mouth like honey for sweetness.”—Ezekiel 3:1-3.
7 Our bodies draw nutrients from the food that we eat, and in a sense these become part of us. Similarly, the “roll” eaten by Ezekiel—Jehovah’s message that the prophet had to declare—was to become a part of him, affecting his emotions. God’s words so stirred Ezekiel’s inmost feelings that declaring them in public was a delight for him. If you are a Witness of Jehovah, do you take pleasure in making public declaration of God’s message?
8, 9. What moved Amos to prophesy?
8 Consider, too, the prophet Amos. Living in the ninth century B.C.E., he was among the first of the Hebrew prophets to pen a Bible book named after himself. Like Ezekiel, Amos was a forthright proclaimer of Jehovah’s word. Why, the expression ‘this is what Jehovah has said’ is repeatedly used throughout the book bearing his name! (Amos 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 13; 2:1, 4, 6, 11; 3:12; 5:3, 4, 16; 7:17) Amos felt the need to declare God’s words publicly.
9 As God’s prophet, Amos reacted to divine declarations by taking prompt action. Through Amos, God said: “There is a lion that has roared! Who will not be afraid? The Sovereign Lord Jehovah himself has spoken! Who will not prophesy?” (Amos 3:8) The prophet was irresistibly motivated to declare Jehovah’s message.
10. How do Jehovah’s present-day servants react when their preaching work is opposed?
10 In lionlike fashion Jehovah roars forth messages of judgment on the present wicked world system. Like Amos, Jehovah’s modern-day servants feel impelled to declare God’s words publicly. Even when threatened by opposers, they follow the example of the apostles Peter and John, who forcefully declared: “As for us, we cannot stop speaking about the things we have seen and heard.” The apostles also affirmed: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” (Acts 4:20; 5:29) What, then, about us? It is good to examine our feelings about making public declaration to Jehovah’s name.
“Out Of the Heart’s Abundance”
11. What should prompt us to persevere in making public declaration to Jehovah’s name?
11 There can be no doubt that Jehovah’s prophets were grateful for their privileges. Similar gratitude to Jehovah should move us to make public declaration to his name. Psalm 145:1, 2 states: “I will exalt you, O my God the King, and I will bless your name to time indefinite, even forever. All day long I will bless you, and I will praise your name to time indefinite, even forever.” Do those words reflect your attitude? Regular Bible study helps us to deepen our appreciation for what Jehovah has done, is doing, and will yet do for us. And when we study the Bible together as a family, do we not find that God’s Word exerts power, making us want to speak about him and his purposes? (Hebrews 4:12) In order to be effective in making public declaration to Jehovah’s name, we also need to make full use of the Christian publications provided by Jehovah God through the anointed “faithful and discreet slave.”—Matthew 24:45-47.
12. How can both Christian meetings and meditation help us to make public declaration?
12 If we are to praise Jehovah out of grateful hearts, we need to attend Christian meetings regularly. All of Jehovah’s people should heed the apostle Paul’s admonition: “Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24, 25) Are you regularly present at Christian meetings? Do you often talk about the Scriptural truths, the fine experiences, and the exciting news of theocratic expansion that you hear at the meetings of God’s people? If you are reluctant to express yourself about Jehovah and his purposes, allow time for meditation on his Word so that his thoughts penetrate deep into your heart. (Psalm 77:12; 143:5) Yes, both Christian meetings and regular meditation on God’s Word should help you to appreciate the wonderful privilege of making public declaration to Jehovah’s name.
13. How do we ‘bring forth good’ from our hearts?
13 With hearts full of gratitude to Jehovah, we bring forth good things. “A good man brings forth good out of the good treasure of his heart,” Jesus reasoned, “but a wicked man brings forth what is wicked out of his wicked treasure; for out of the heart’s abundance his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45) What better way can there be to ‘bring forth good’ than to make public declaration to Jehovah’s name and speak about his purposes to our neighbors, our relatives—indeed, to all we meet?
Results of Public Declaration
14. (a) What can the declarer and the hearer of the Kingdom message experience? (b) What is being accomplished by means of the Kingdom-preaching work?
14 God’s prophets found joy in their service, and what they said benefited receptive hearers. Comparably, public declaration of the Kingdom message brings great joy to its proclaimers. (Acts 20:35) And how it benefits appreciative hearers! Accepting the good news helps people to conquer depression or to cope with it. Bereaved ones rejoice over resurrection prospects. Addicts escape slavery to nicotine, heroin, and other addictive substances. Many are uplifted morally, and all who accept Bible truth gain spiritual freedom. (John 5:28, 29; 8:32) Heralding the Kingdom as mankind’s only hope also serves to warn the wicked, while producing a glad response in the honesthearted. Thus people are being separated either for “everlasting cutting-off” or for “everlasting life” when divine judgment is executed upon this wicked world. (Matthew 24:14; 25:31-46; Ezekiel 33:1-9; 1 Timothy 2:3, 4) Our preaching work is an unprecedented rescue operation, the most extensive and widely publicized declaration ever to be carried out on the earth!
15. What can be done to help prospective deserving ones in our witnessing territory?
15 As Jehovah’s modern-day Witnesses, we gladly and obediently slave for our heavenly Father. (Romans 12:11) Therefore, we are happy to set aside time regularly to engage in the work of preaching the good news publicly and from house to house. (Acts 5:42; 20:20) Worldwide reports indicate that there are yet some deserving ones in our territories. As circumstances in the world change, people are affected in various ways. Many have unexpectedly become refugees, aliens in a foreign land. Perhaps there are some of these people in our witnessing territory. If so, let us do what we can to help them spiritually as we persevere in “the holy work of the good news.” (Romans 15:16) Some Christians have learned another language so as to declare the good news of the Kingdom to such people.
16. What can help us to persevere in declaring Jehovah’s name?
16 Many of God’s prophets had very difficult assignments. It was not easy for them to declare divine messages to unreceptive people. Similarly, not everyone dedicated to Jehovah finds it easy to make public declaration to His name, especially in largely unresponsive territories. However, by having the confidence that results from prayerful study of God’s Word, coupled with the strength that Jehovah supplies, we can persevere in declaring the Kingdom message. (Philippians 4:13; Revelation 14:6) In this regard, what else can we learn from Jehovah’s prophets and his other servants of ancient times?
Companionship in the Field Ministry
17. What are some Scriptural examples of beneficial companionship in God’s service?
17 In caring for his assignment, God’s prophet Moses initially had the help of his older brother, Aaron. Jehovah told Moses: “[Aaron] must speak for you to the people; and it must occur that he will serve as a mouth to you.” (Exodus 4:16) Consider, too, the days of the prophets Elijah and Elisha, when “the sons of the prophets” flourished. These appear to have been groups of God’s servants who worked together, undoubtedly enjoying pleasant companionship with one another. (2 Kings 2:3-5; 4:38; compare 1 Samuel 10:5, 10.) Of course, Moses and Aaron and “the sons of the prophets” were not engaged in declaring the good news of the Kingdom. Nevertheless, their association was beneficial to all of them. Centuries later Jesus Christ sent 70 disciples out into the ministry “by twos,” and doubtless these benefited from the companionship thus provided.—Luke 10:1-16; compare Acts 17:10, 11; 20:20.
18. How has companionship in the ministry served a useful purpose today?
18 In the year 1953, Jehovah’s Witnesses embarked on a program in which Kingdom proclaimers worked together in the field ministry. Of course, this was not done just for the sake of companionship. This training program was designed to make God’s servants more effective teachers and preachers of the good news. With that objective in mind, more experienced Kingdom publishers shared in the ministry with newer ones. This house-to-house training program has been highly beneficial and has helped Jehovah’s people to improve in making public declaration to his name. (1 Timothy 4:16) Today, safety is another factor making it advisable for Christians to engage in the ministry “by twos,” especially in some areas.
19. What should be kept in mind regarding personal goals in the ministry?
19 Whether you are working with a fellow believer in the ministry or you are going to a door alone, make an effort to achieve some personal goal or objective. It should be realistic, reachable. Do you need help in adapting your introduction so as to arouse the interest of the people in your territory? If so, perhaps you can accompany a pioneer, a full-time Kingdom proclaimer, or a publisher who may be especially effective in using good introductions. Your companion may be able to assist you in preparing and using the introductions outlined in Our Kingdom Ministry or the book Reasoning From the Scriptures. On occasions when you witness together from house to house, listen carefully to your companion’s presentations. Then try a similar presentation yourself until you become adept at this aspect of your ministry.
20, 21. What can make companionship in the field ministry especially helpful?
20 What if you need help in making effective return visits with a view to starting a home Bible study? Perhaps through your Congregation Book Study conductor, arrangements can be made for you to work in the field service with a Kingdom publisher who has been quite effective in starting Bible studies. Do not be a silent partner when you make return visits together. Rather, after your companion shows how he or she handles matters during one call, you may find it beneficial to make a similar presentation when making the next return visit. Your companion will be there to help and to offer advice afterward.—Compare Galatians 6:6.
21 Such loving assistance from a field-service companion can help you to reach your objectives in the ministry. This help and your deep appreciation for Jehovah’s loving-kindness in permitting you to do this privileged work will enable you to be even more effective in your Kingdom-preaching activities. And may you cherish your privilege of blessing Jehovah by always speaking well of him and by regularly making public declaration to his name.—Psalm 145:1, 2, 9-13.
22. What questions will our next study help us to answer?
22 As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we make repeated visits in our house-to-house ministry. Many are listening to the good news with deep appreciation. However, some may be reluctant to listen to the Kingdom message. What should we do under such circumstances? How can we persevere in the work Jehovah has assigned to his people? What Scriptural examples can assist or guide us? These questions will be answered in the next article.
Did You Grasp These Points?
□ What did both Hosea and the apostle Paul say about sacrifices to God?
□ What motivated Ezekiel and Amos to prophesy?
□ How should we view our Kingdom-preaching work?
□ What benefits can be derived from companionship in the field ministry?
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Purposeful companionship can help us to improve in the ministry