Jehovah Should Be Our Confidence
“Jehovah himself will prove to be, in effect, your confidence.”—PROVERBS 3:26.
1. Though many claim to trust in God, what suggests that they do not always do so?
THE motto “In God We Trust” appears on money of the United States of America. But do all those using this currency, in that land or elsewhere, really place their trust in God? Or do they put more trust in the money itself? Such trust in money of that land or any other country cannot be reconciled with trust in an almighty God of love, who never misuses his power and who is in no way greedy. In fact, he condemns greed in unmistakable terms.—Ephesians 5:5.
2. What attitude do true Christians have about the power of riches?
2 True Christians place their confidence in God, not in riches, with its “deceptive power.” (Matthew 13:22) They recognize that the power of money to promote happiness and to preserve life is seriously limited. Not so the power of Almighty God. (Zephaniah 1:18) Therefore, how wise is the admonition: “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.
3. How does the context of Deuteronomy 31:6 shed light on Paul’s quotation of the verse?
3 When writing the above words to Hebrew Christians, the apostle Paul quoted instructions that Moses gave to the Israelites shortly before his death: “Be courageous and strong. Do not be afraid or suffer a shock before them, because Jehovah your God is the one marching with you. He will neither desert you nor leave you entirely.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) The context shows that Moses was encouraging a confidence in Jehovah that went beyond simply trusting him to provide them with material needs. How so?
4. How did God prove to the Israelites that he could be trusted?
4 During the 40 years that Israel had to wander in the wilderness, God was faithful in providing them with life’s necessities. (Deuteronomy 2:7; 29:5) He also provided leadership. One expression of this was a cloud by day and a fire by night, which led the Israelites to “a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Exodus 3:8; 40:36-38) As the time arrived for actually entering the Promised Land, Jehovah chose Joshua to be Moses’ successor. The occupants of the land could be expected to offer resistance. But Jehovah had marched with his people for decades, so there was no need to fear. The Israelites had every reason to know Jehovah as a God who could be trusted!
5. How is the situation of Christians today similar to that of the Israelites before entering the Promised Land?
5 Christians today have been marching through the wilderness of the present wicked world on their way to God’s new world. Some of them have been following this course for longer than 40 years. Now they are standing on the border of God’s new world. Yet, enemies still stand in the way, intent upon hindering any from entering what will become like a Promised Land, more glorious than the ancient one that flowed with milk and honey. So for Christians today, how appropriate are Moses’ words, as repeated by Paul: “I will by no means leave you nor by any means forsake you”! All who remain strong and courageous, full of faith, putting confidence in Jehovah, are sure of a reward.
Confidence Based on Knowledge and Friendship
6, 7. (a) What put Abraham’s confidence in Jehovah to the test? (b) How may Abraham have felt while journeying to the place where he was to sacrifice Isaac?
6 At one point the Israelites’ forefather Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering. (Genesis 22:2) What enabled this loving father to have such unbreakable confidence in Jehovah that he was immediately willing to obey? Hebrews 11:17-19 answers: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, as good as offered up Isaac, and the man that had gladly received the promises attempted to offer up his only-begotten son, although it had been said to him: ‘What will be called “your seed” will be through Isaac.’ But he reckoned that God was able to raise him up even from the dead; and from there he did receive him also in an illustrative way.”
7 Bear in mind that it took Abraham and Isaac three days to reach the site where the sacrifice was to occur. (Genesis 22:4) There was plenty of time for Abraham to reconsider what he had been asked to do. Can we imagine his feelings, his emotions? Isaac’s birth had been such an unexpected cause for joy. That evidence of divine intervention deepened the attachment that Abraham and his formerly barren wife, Sarah, had to God. They certainly lived thereafter in expectation of what the future held for Isaac and for his descendants. Were their dreams coming to an abrupt end, as it might seem because of what God now asked?
8. How did Abraham’s confidence in God extend beyond believing that He could resurrect Isaac?
8 Still, Abraham had confidence based on the personal knowledge that intimate friends have of one another. As “Jehovah’s friend,” Abraham “put faith in Jehovah, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” (James 2:23) Abraham’s confidence in Jehovah went further than just believing that God could resurrect Isaac. Abraham was equally convinced that what Jehovah was asking him to do was proper, even though Abraham did not have all the facts. He had no reason to question that Jehovah was righteous in making this request. Then, Abraham’s confidence was strengthened as Jehovah’s angel stepped in to prevent Isaac from actually being killed in sacrifice.—Genesis 22:9-14.
9, 10. (a) When had Abraham earlier displayed confidence in Jehovah? (b) What important lesson can we learn from Abraham?
9 Abraham had displayed this same kind of confidence in Jehovah’s righteousness some 25 years earlier. Warned that Sodom and Gomorrah were to be destroyed, he naturally was concerned about the welfare of any righteous people living there, including his nephew Lot. Abraham appealed to God with the words: “It is unthinkable of you that you are acting in this manner to put to death the righteous man with the wicked one so that it has to occur with the righteous man as it does with the wicked! It is unthinkable of you. Is the Judge of all the earth not going to do what is right?”—Genesis 18:25.
10 The patriarch Abraham was convinced that Jehovah never does anything unrighteous. The psalmist later sang: “Jehovah is righteous in all his ways and loyal in all his works.” (Psalm 145:17) We do well to ask ourselves: ‘Do I accept what Jehovah permits me to experience without doubting his righteousness? Am I convinced that whatever he permits will turn out for my good and for the good of others too?’ If we can answer yes, we have learned an important lesson from Abraham.
Displaying Confidence in Jehovah’s Choices
11, 12. (a) What aspect of confidence has been necessary for God’s servants? (b) What might be a problem for us at times?
11 Those who view Jehovah as their confidence also show confidence in the men Jehovah chooses to use in the outworking of his purposes. For the Israelites, this meant showing confidence in Moses and later in his successor, Joshua. For early Christians, it meant showing confidence in the apostles and older men of the Jerusalem congregation. For us today, it means having confidence in “the faithful and discreet slave” appointed to give us our spiritual “food at the proper time,” as well as in those from among them who form the Governing Body.—Matthew 24:45.
12 Actually, placing our confidence in those taking the lead in the Christian congregation is for our own benefit. We are told: “Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will render an account; that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you.”—Hebrews 13:17.
Avoid Second-Guessing Jehovah’s Choices
13. What reason do we have for confidence in those appointed to take the lead?
13 The Bible helps us to be balanced in showing confidence in those taking the lead among Jehovah’s people. We might ask ourselves: ‘Did Moses ever make mistakes? Did the apostles always show the Christlike attitude that Jesus wanted them to have?’ The answers are obvious. Jehovah has chosen to use loyal and devoted men to guide his people, even though they are imperfect men. Accordingly, while elders today are imperfect, we still ought to recognize them as “[appointed by] the holy spirit [to be] overseers, to shepherd the congregation of God.” They deserve our support and respect.—Acts 20:28.
14. What is noteworthy about Jehovah’s choosing Moses rather than Aaron or Miriam as leader?
14 Aaron was three years older than Moses, but both were younger than their sister, Miriam. (Exodus 2:3, 4; 7:7) And since Aaron was more fluent in speaking than was Moses, he was appointed to serve as his brother’s spokesman. (Exodus 6:29–7:2) Yet, to lead the Israelites, Jehovah did not choose the oldest, Miriam, or the most fluent, Aaron. His choice of Moses was made in full recognition of all the facts and the needs of the moment. When for a time they lacked this clear insight, Aaron and Miriam complained: “Is it just by Moses alone that Jehovah has spoken? Is it not by us also that he has spoken?” Miriam, possibly the prime instigator, was punished for this disrespectful attitude toward Jehovah’s choice, whom she and Aaron should have recognized as “the meekest of all the men who were upon the surface of the ground.”—Numbers 12:1-3, 9-15.
15, 16. How did Caleb prove that he had confidence in Jehovah?
15 When 12 spies were sent to spy out the Promised Land, 10 brought back a negative report. They threw fear into the hearts of the Israelites by speaking about the Canaanite “men of extraordinary size.” This, in turn, caused the Israelites “to murmur against Moses and Aaron.” But not all the spies displayed lack of confidence in Moses and in Jehovah. We read: “Then Caleb tried to still the people toward Moses and went on to say: ‘Let us go up directly, and we are bound to take possession of it, because we can surely prevail over it.’” (Numbers 13:2, 25–33; 14:2) Caleb’s firm stand was shared by his fellow spy Joshua. Both showed they had made Jehovah their confidence when they said: “If Jehovah has found delight in us, then he will certainly bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that is flowing with milk and honey. Only . . . do not you fear the people of the land . . . Jehovah is with us. Do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:6-9) This confidence in Jehovah was rewarded. Of the adult generation alive at that time, only Caleb, Joshua, and some Levites were privileged to enter the Promised Land.
16 Some years later Caleb said: “As for me, I followed Jehovah my God fully. . . . And now here Jehovah has preserved me alive, just as he promised, these forty-five years since Jehovah made this promise to Moses when Israel walked in the wilderness, and now here I am today eighty-five years old. Yet I am today as strong as on the day of Moses’ sending me out. As my power was then, so my power is now.” (Joshua 14:6-11) Note Caleb’s positive attitude, his faithfulness, and his physical abilities. Yet, Jehovah had not chosen Caleb to be Moses’ successor. This privilege was extended to Joshua. We can be confident that Jehovah had reasons for his choice, and it was the best choice.
17. What might seemingly have made Peter ineligible for responsibility?
17 The apostle Peter denied his Master three times. He had also impetuously taken matters into his own hands, striking off the ear of the slave of the high priest. (Matthew 26:47-55, 69-75; John 18:10, 11) Some might say that Peter was a fearful, unbalanced person, unworthy of enjoying special privileges. Yet, who had been given the keys of the Kingdom, being privileged to open up the way to the heavenly calling to three groups? It was Peter.—Acts 2:1-41; 8:14-17; 10:1-48.
18. What error, as mentioned by Jude, do we want to avoid?
18 These examples show that we must be careful about judging by outward appearances. If we put our confidence in Jehovah, we will not doubt his choices. Although his earthly congregation is made up of imperfect humans, who have no claim to infallibility, he is using them in a mighty way. Jude, Jesus’ half brother, warned first-century Christians of individuals “disregarding lordship and speaking abusively of glorious ones.” (Jude 8-10) Never should we be like them.
19. Why do we have no reason to second-guess Jehovah’s choices?
19 Jehovah apparently chooses for certain responsibilities individuals who have the particular qualities necessary to guide his people in the way he wants them to go at that particular time. We ought to strive to recognize this fact, not second-guessing God’s choices, but being content humbly to serve where Jehovah has placed us individually. Thus we show that we have made Jehovah our confidence.—Ephesians 4:11-16; Philippians 2:3.
Displaying Confidence in Jehovah’s Righteousness
20, 21. What might we learn from God’s way of dealing with Moses?
20 If we at times tend to put too much confidence in ourselves and too little in Jehovah, let us learn from Moses. When 40 years old, he set out on his own to free the Israelites from Egyptian captivity. His efforts were doubtlessly well meant, but they did not result in Israel’s immediate deliverance, nor in bettering his own situation. In fact, he was forced to flee. Only after undergoing 40 years of arduous training in a foreign land did he qualify to be selected to do what he had wanted to do earlier. This time he could be confident of Jehovah’s backing because now things were being done Jehovah’s way at a time that fitted His timetable.—Exodus 2:11–3:10.
21 Each of us might ask himself: ‘Do I sometimes run ahead of Jehovah and the elders appointed in the congregation, trying to speed things up or do things my own way? Instead of feeling overlooked for certain privileges, do I readily accept my ongoing period of training?’ Basically, have we learned an important lesson from Moses?
22. Despite losing a great privilege, how did Moses feel about Jehovah?
22 Moreover, we can learn another lesson from Moses. Numbers 20:7-13 tells us of a mistake that he made, which cost him dearly. He lost the privilege of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. Did he then respond that Jehovah’s decision in the matter was unjust? Did he retreat into a corner, as it were, sulking because God was treating him so badly? Did Moses lose confidence in Jehovah’s righteousness? We can find the answers in words that Moses himself spoke to Israel shortly before his death. Of Jehovah, Moses said: “Perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; righteous and upright is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4) Moses certainly retained his confidence in Jehovah to the very end. What about us? Are we individually taking steps to strengthen our confidence in Jehovah and his righteousness? How can we do so? Let us see.
How Would You Answer?
□ What reasons did the Israelites have for trusting Jehovah?
□ As regards confidence, what can be learned from Abraham?
□ Why should we avoid second-guessing Jehovah’s choices?
[Picture on page 13]
Confidence in Jehovah includes respecting those taking the lead in the congregation