“All that Jehovah has spoken we are willing to do and be obedient.”—EXODUS 24:7.
1, 2. (a) To what are some people devoted? (b) Is dedication limited to those with religious affiliations?
IN February 1945, the Zero-fighter pilots of Japan’s Yatabe Flying Corps were gathered in an auditorium. Each was handed a piece of paper on which to write whether he would volunteer to be a member of the kamikaze attack force. “I thought it was my calling to sacrifice myself at a time of national crisis,” says an officer who was present at that time. “Emotionally compelled to make myself available, I offered myself for the commission.” He was trained to operate and pilot an Ohka (a suicide rocket plane) and crash it into an enemy warship. However, the war ended before he had an opportunity to do so and thus to die for his country and his emperor. When Japan lost the war, his faith in the emperor was shattered.
2 At one time, many in Japan were devoted to the emperor, whom they believed to be a living god. In other lands, there have been and still are other objects of devotion. Millions are devoted to Mary, Buddha, or other divinities—often represented by idols. Swayed by sensational oratory, some pour their hard-earned money into the pockets of TV evangelists in wholehearted support that amounts to devotion. After the war, disappointed Japanese sought a new object to which they could dedicate their lives. For some, work became that object. East or West, many dedicate themselves to the accumulating of riches. Young people center their lives on musicians, whose life-styles they imitate. A large number today have become worshipers of self, making their own desires the object of their devotion. (Philippians 3:19; 2 Timothy 3:2) But are such things or people really worth a person’s whole-souled devotion?
3. How have some objects of devotion proved worthless?
3 When faced with reality, idol worshipers often become disillusioned. Devotion to idols results in frustration when the worshipers realize that their idols are no more than “the work of the hands of earthling man.” (Psalm 115:4) When scandals involving prominent evangelists are exposed, sincere people feel let down. When the “bubble” economy burst, workers experienced mental disorders as they found themselves on the list of those being laid off. Recent recessions delivered a severe blow to worshipers of Mammon. Debts incurred in the hope of making a lot of money became a burden with little prospect of being paid off. (Matthew 6:24, footnote) When idolized rock stars and other entertainers die or fade away, their worshipers are left abandoned. And those who have walked in a path of self-gratification often reap bitter fruitage.—Galatians 6:7.
4. What moves people to dedicate their lives to worthless things?
4 What moves people to dedicate themselves to such futility? To a great extent, it is the spirit of the world under Satan the Devil. (Ephesians 2:2, 3) The influence of this spirit is seen in various ways. An individual may be controlled by family tradition that has been passed down from his ancestors. Education and upbringing may strongly influence thinking. The atmosphere of the workplace may push “corporate warriors” to workaholism that may be life-threatening. A desire for more is engendered by the materialistic attitude of the world. The hearts of many are corrupted, moving them to devote themselves to their own selfish desires. They fail to examine whether these pursuits deserve such devotion.
A Dedicated Nation
5. What dedication to Jehovah was made over 3,500 years ago?
5 Over 3,500 years ago, one nation of people found a far worthier object of devotion. They dedicated themselves to the sovereign God, Jehovah. As a group, the nation of Israel declared its dedication to God in the wilderness of Sinai.
6. What was to be the significance of God’s name to the Israelites?
6 What moved the Israelites to act in this way? When they were in slavery in Egypt, Jehovah commissioned Moses to lead them to freedom. Moses asked how he should identify the God who had sent him, and God revealed himself as “I shall prove to be what I shall prove to be.” He directed Moses to say to the sons of Israel: “I shall prove to be has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:13, 14) This expression indicated that Jehovah becomes whatever is needed in order to accomplish his purposes. He would reveal himself as the Fulfiller of promises in a way that the Israelites’ forefathers had never known.—Exodus 6:2, 3.
7, 8. What evidences did the Israelites have that Jehovah was a God worthy of their devotion?
7 The Israelites witnessed the affliction of the land of Egypt and its people by the Ten Plagues. (Psalm 78:44-51) Then, possibly more than three million of them, including women and children, packed up and moved out of the land of Goshen in one night, which in itself was a remarkable feat. (Exodus 12:37, 38) Next, at the Red Sea, Jehovah disclosed himself as “a manly person of war” when he saved his people from Pharaoh’s military forces by dividing the sea to let the Israelites pass and later by closing it to drown the pursuing Egyptians. As a result, “Israel also got to see the great hand that Jehovah put in action against the Egyptians; and the people began to fear Jehovah and to put faith in Jehovah.”—Exodus 14:31; 15:3; Psalm 136:10-15.
8 As though still lacking evidence for what God’s name means, the Israelites murmured against Jehovah and his representative Moses about shortages of food and water. Jehovah sent quail, rained down manna, and caused water to gush out of a rock at Meribah. (Exodus 16:2-5, 12-15, 31; 17:2-7) Jehovah also rescued the Israelites from the Amalekites’ attack. (Exodus 17:8-13) In no way could the Israelites deny what Jehovah later declared to Moses: “Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, preserving loving-kindness for thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin.” (Exodus 34:6, 7) Indeed, Jehovah proved himself to be a worthy object of their devotion.
9. Why did Jehovah give the Israelites the opportunity to express their dedication to serve him, and how did they respond?
9 Although Jehovah had the right to ownership of the Israelites because he had redeemed them out of Egypt, he, as the kind and merciful God, gave them the opportunity voluntarily to express their desire to serve him. (Deuteronomy 7:7, 8; 30:15-20) He also set out the conditions for the covenant between him and the Israelites. (Exodus 19:3-8; 20:1–23:33) When these conditions were related by Moses, the Israelites declared: “All that Jehovah has spoken we are willing to do and be obedient.” (Exodus 24:3-7) Of their own free will, they became a nation dedicated to the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.
Appreciation Leads to Dedication
10. On what should our dedication to Jehovah be based?
10 Jehovah, the Creator, continues to be worthy of our whole-souled devotion. (Malachi 3:6; Matthew 22:37; Revelation 4:11) However, our dedication should not be based on credulity, fleeting emotions, or coercion from others—even parents. It must be based on an accurate knowledge of truth about Jehovah and an appreciation for what Jehovah has done for us. (Romans 10:2; Colossians 1:9, 10; 1 Timothy 2:4) Just as Jehovah gave the Israelites the opportunity voluntarily to express their dedication, so he gives us a chance voluntarily to dedicate ourselves and to make that dedication public.—1 Peter 3:21.
11. What has our study of the Bible revealed about Jehovah?
11 Through a study of the Bible, we come to know God as a person. His Word helps us to discern his qualities as reflected in creation. (Psalm 19:1-4) We can see from his Word that he is not a mysterious Trinity who cannot be understood. He does not lose wars and thus does not have to renounce his Godship. (Exodus 15:11; 1 Corinthians 8:5, 6; Revelation 11:17, 18) Because he has fulfilled his promises, we are reminded of what his beautiful name, Jehovah, stands for. He is the Grand Purposer. (Genesis 2:4, footnote; Psalm 83:18; Isaiah 46:9-11) By studying the Bible, we come to understand clearly how faithful and trustworthy he is.—Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 19:7, 9; 111:7.
12. (a) What attracts us to Jehovah? (b) How do real-life experiences recorded in the Bible move one to want to serve Jehovah? (c) How do you feel about serving Jehovah?
12 What especially attracts us to Jehovah is his loving personality. The Bible demonstrates how loving, forgiving, and merciful he is in dealing with humans. Think of how he prospered Job after Job faithfully kept his integrity. Job’s experience highlights that “Jehovah is very tender in affection and merciful.” (James 5:11; Job 42:12-17) Think of how Jehovah dealt with David when he committed adultery and murder. Yes, Jehovah is ready to forgive even serious sins when the sinner approaches him with “a heart broken and crushed.” (Psalm 51:3-11, 17) Think of the way Jehovah dealt with Saul of Tarsus, who was at first a determined persecutor of God’s people. These examples highlight God’s mercy and generous willingness to use repentant ones. (1 Corinthians 15:9; 1 Timothy 1:15, 16) Paul felt that he could stake his very life on serving this loving God. (Romans 14:8) Do you feel the same way?
13. What great expression of love on the part of Jehovah compels righthearted ones to dedicate themselves to him?
13 For the Israelites, Jehovah provided salvation from bondage in Egypt, and he has prepared a means to save us from bondage to sin and death—the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. (John 3:16) Paul says: “God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) This loving arrangement compels righthearted ones to dedicate themselves to Jehovah through Jesus Christ. “For the love the Christ has compels us, because this is what we have judged, that one man died for all; so, then, all had died; and he died for all that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised up.”—2 Corinthians 5:14, 15; Romans 8:35-39.
14. Is the mere knowledge of Jehovah’s dealings enough to move us to dedicate our lives to him? Explain.
14 Still, having knowledge of Jehovah’s personality and his dealings with mankind is not enough. Personal appreciation for Jehovah must be cultivated. How can that be done? By applying the Word of God in our lives and seeing for ourselves that the principles found in it really work. (Isaiah 48:17) We have to feel that Jehovah has saved us from the mire of this wicked world under Satan’s rule. (Compare 1 Corinthians 6:11.) In our struggle to do what is right, we learn to rely on Jehovah, and we experience for ourselves that Jehovah is the living God, the “Hearer of prayer.” (Psalm 62:8; 65:2) Soon we feel very close to him and are able to confide our innermost feelings to him. The warm feeling of love for Jehovah grows in us. This will no doubt lead us to dedicate our lives to him.
15. What motivated one man, formerly dedicated to work, to serve Jehovah?
15 Many have come to know this loving God, Jehovah, and have dedicated their lives to serving him. Take for example an electrician who had a thriving business. There were times when he would start working in the morning and work through the day and on into the night, coming home at five o’clock the next morning. After resting for about an hour, he would go out to the next job. “I was dedicated to my work,” he recalls. When his wife started to study the Bible, he joined her. He says: “All the gods I had known up until that time were just waiting to be served, doing nothing to benefit us. But Jehovah took the initiative and sent his only-begotten Son to earth at great personal sacrifice.” (1 John 4:10, 19) Within ten months, this man was dedicated to Jehovah. After that, he concentrated on serving the living God. He took up the full-time ministry and moved to serve where the need was greater. He, like the apostles, ‘left all things and followed Jesus.’ (Matthew 19:27) After two months, he and his wife were called to serve at the branch of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in the country where they lived, so that he could help with electrical work. For over 20 years, he has been working at the branch, doing the work he loves—not for himself but for Jehovah.
Make Your Dedication Public
16. What are some steps one would take in making a dedication to Jehovah?
16 After studying the Bible for a while, young and old alike will come to appreciate Jehovah and what he has done for them. This should move them to give of themselves to God. You may be one of these. How can you dedicate yourself to Jehovah? After taking in accurate knowledge from the Bible, you should act on that knowledge and exercise faith in Jehovah and Jesus Christ. (John 17:3) Repent and turn around from any past sinful course. (Acts 3:19) Then you will come to the step of dedication, expressing it in solemn words of prayer to Jehovah. This prayer no doubt will leave a lasting impression on your mind, for it will be the starting point of a new relationship with Jehovah.
17. (a) Why do the elders review prepared questions with newly dedicated ones? (b) What important step should be taken soon after one’s dedication, and for what purpose?
17 Just as Moses explained to the Israelites the conditions for entering a covenant relationship with Jehovah, elders in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses help those who have recently made a dedication to examine just what is involved. They use prepared questions to confirm that each one fully understands the basic teachings of the Bible and is aware of what is involved in being a Witness of Jehovah. Then, a ceremony to make the dedication public is most appropriate. Naturally, a newly dedicated one is eager to let others know that he has come into this privileged relationship with Jehovah. (Compare Jeremiah 9:24.) This is properly done by undergoing water baptism in symbol of dedication. Being immersed in water and then being raised up symbolizes that he dies to his former self-seeking course of life and is raised to a new way of life, that of doing God’s will. It is not a sacrament, nor is it a ritual like the Shinto rite of misogi in which a person is supposed to be cleansed by water.* Rather, baptism is the public declaration of a dedication that has already been made in prayer.
18. Why can we be confident that our dedication will not be in vain?
18 This solemn occasion is an unforgettable experience, reminding the new servant of God of the lasting relationship he now has with Jehovah. Unlike the dedication that the kamikaze pilot made to his country and emperor, this dedication to Jehovah will not be in vain, for he is the eternal almighty God who accomplishes all that he sets out to do. He, and he alone, is worthy of our whole-souled devotion.—Isaiah 55:9-11.
19. What will be discussed in the next article?
19 However, more is involved in dedication. For example, how does dedication affect our day-to-day life? This will be discussed in the next article.
Do You Recall?
□ Why has dedication as seen in the world ended in disappointment?
□ What moved the Israelites to dedicate themselves to Jehovah?
□ What moves us to dedicate ourselves to Jehovah today?
□ How do we dedicate ourselves to God?
□ What is the significance of water baptism?
[Picture on page 10]
Israel in Sinai dedicates itself to Jehovah