Happy That Jehovah Shows Us His Way
“As for the true God, perfect is his way; the saying of Jehovah is a refined one.”—2 SAMUEL 22:31.
1, 2. (a) For what do all humans have a fundamental need? (b) Whose example would we do well to imitate?
ALL humans have a fundamental need for guidance. Indeed, we need help in making our way through life. True, Jehovah has endowed us with a measure of intelligence and a conscience to help us to discern right from wrong. But our conscience needs to be trained if it is to be a reliable guide. (Hebrews 5:14) And our mind needs correct information—as well as training to evaluate that information—if we are to make good decisions. (Proverbs 2:1-5) Even then, because of life’s uncertainties, our decisions may fail to turn out as desired. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) In ourselves, we have no reliable way to know what the future holds.
2 For these and many other reasons, the prophet Jeremiah wrote: “I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) Jesus Christ, the greatest man who ever lived, accepted direction. He said: “The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing. For whatever things that One does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19) How wise, then, to imitate Jesus and look to Jehovah for help in directing our steps! King David sang: “As for the true God, perfect is his way; the saying of Jehovah is a refined one. A shield he is to all those taking refuge in him.” (2 Samuel 22:31) If we seek to walk in Jehovah’s way rather than follow our own wisdom, we will have perfect guidance. Rejecting God’s way leads to calamity.
Jehovah Shows the Way
3. How did Jehovah guide Adam and Eve, offering them what prospects?
3 Consider the case of Adam and Eve. Sinless though they were, they needed direction. Jehovah did not leave Adam to plan everything for himself in the beautiful garden of Eden. Instead, God gave him work to do. First, Adam had to name the animals. Then, Jehovah gave Adam and Eve long-term goals. They were to subdue the earth, fill it with their offspring, and care for earth’s animals. (Genesis 1:28) This would be a huge task, but the end result would be a worldwide paradise filled with a perfect human race living in harmony with the animal creation. What a wonderful prospect! Further, while Adam and Eve were faithfully walking in Jehovah’s way, they would have communication with him. (Compare Genesis 3:8.) What a marvelous privilege—to have an ongoing, personal relationship with the Creator!
4. How did Adam and Eve betray a lack of trust and loyalty, and with what disastrous results?
4 Jehovah forbade the first human pair to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and bad that was in Eden, and this gave them an immediate opportunity to demonstrate their obedience—their desire to walk in Jehovah’s way. (Genesis 2:17) Soon, though, that obedience was tested. When Satan came with his deceptive words, Adam and Eve needed to show loyalty to Jehovah and to have trust in His promises if they were to remain obedient. Unhappily, they lacked loyalty and trust. When Satan offered Eve independence and falsely accused Jehovah of lying, she was deceived and disobeyed God. Adam followed her into sin. (Genesis 3:1-6; 1 Timothy 2:14) Their resulting loss was immense. Walking in Jehovah’s way would have given them ever-increasing joy as they progressively accomplished his will. Instead, their lives were filled with disappointment and pain until death overtook them.—Genesis 3:16-19; 5:1-5.
5. What is Jehovah’s long-range purpose, and how does he help faithful humans to see its fulfillment?
5 Nevertheless, Jehovah did not change his purpose that some day the earth will be a paradise home for perfect, sinless humans. (Psalm 37:11, 29) And he has never failed to give perfect guidance to those who walk in his way and hope to see the fulfillment of that promise. For those of us with ears to hear, Jehovah’s voice is behind us, saying: “This is the way. Walk in it, you people.”—Isaiah 30:21.
Some Walked in Jehovah’s Way
6. What two men of early times walked in Jehovah’s way, and with what results?
6 According to the Bible record, only a minority of the offspring of Adam and Eve walked in Jehovah’s way. Abel was the first of these. Although he suffered a premature death, he died in Jehovah’s favor and thus has the sure prospect of sharing in the “resurrection of . . . the righteous” in God’s due time. (Acts 24:15) He will see the eventual fulfillment of Jehovah’s great purpose for the earth and mankind. (Hebrews 11:4) Another who walked in Jehovah’s way was Enoch, whose prophecy about the final end of this system of things is preserved in the book of Jude. (Jude 14, 15) Enoch too failed to live out his potential life span. (Genesis 5:21-24) Still, “he had the witness that he had pleased God well.” (Hebrews 11:5) When he left the earthly scene, he, like Abel, had the certain prospect of a resurrection, and he will be among those who will see Jehovah’s purposes fulfilled.
7. How did Noah and his family show loyalty to Jehovah and trust in him?
7 As the pre-Flood world sank deeper into wickedness, obedience to Jehovah became more and more a test of loyalty. Toward the end of that world, only one small group was found walking in Jehovah’s way. Noah and his family listened to God and trusted what he said. They faithfully accomplished the tasks set before them and refused to be sucked into the evil practices of the world of those days. (Genesis 6:5-7, 13-16; Hebrews 11:7; 2 Peter 2:5) We can be grateful for their loyal and trusting obedience. Because of it, they survived the Flood and became our ancestors.—Genesis 6:22; 1 Peter 3:20.
8. For the nation of Israel, what was involved in walking in God’s way?
8 In time, Jehovah made a covenant with the descendants of faithful Jacob, and they became his special nation. (Exodus 19:5, 6) Jehovah supplied direction for his covenant people through a written Law, a priesthood, and ongoing prophetic guidance. But it was up to the Israelites to follow that direction. Jehovah had his prophet tell the Israelites: “See, I am putting before you today blessing and malediction: the blessing, provided you will obey the commandments of Jehovah your God that I am commanding you today; and the malediction, if you will not obey the commandments of Jehovah your God and you do turn aside from the way about which I am commanding you today, so as to walk after other gods whom you have not known.”—Deuteronomy 11:26-28.
Why Some Abandoned Jehovah’s Way
9, 10. Because of what situation did the Israelites need to trust in Jehovah and cultivate loyalty to him?
9 As with Adam and Eve, the Israelites needed to trust in Jehovah and be loyal to him if they were to remain obedient. Israel was a small nation surrounded by contentious neighbors. To the southwest were Egypt and Ethiopia. To the northeast were Syria and Assyria. In the immediate vicinity were Philistia, Ammon, Moab, and Edom. At one time or another, all of these proved to be enemies of Israel. Moreover, all of them practiced false religion, characterized by worship of idol gods, astrology, and in some cases gross sexual rites and the cruel sacrifice of children. Israel’s neighbors looked to their gods to provide large families, fertile harvests, and victory in warfare.
10 Israel alone worshiped one God, Jehovah. He promised them the blessings of large families, rich harvests, and security against their enemies if they would obey his laws. (Deuteronomy 28:1-14) Unhappily, many in Israel failed to do this. Of those who did walk in Jehovah’s way, many suffered for their loyalty. Some were even tortured, mocked, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, and killed by fellow Israelites. (Acts 7:51, 52; Hebrews 11:35-38) What a test that must have been for the faithful! Why, though, did so many stray from Jehovah’s way? Two examples from Israel’s history help us to see their wrong thinking.
Ahaz’ Bad Example
11, 12. (a) When threatened by Syria, what did Ahaz refuse to do? (b) To what two sources did Ahaz look for security?
11 Ahaz reigned over the southern kingdom of Judah in the eighth century B.C.E. His reign was not peaceful. On one occasion, Syria and the northern kingdom of Israel united in war against him, and “his heart and the heart of his people began to quiver.” (Isaiah 7:1, 2) However, when Jehovah offered support and invited Ahaz to put him to the test, Ahaz flatly refused! (Isaiah 7:10-12) As a result, Judah lost the war and suffered many casualties.—2 Chronicles 28:1-8.
12 While Ahaz refused to put Jehovah to the test, he was not above asking help from the king of Assyria. Still, Judah continued to suffer at the hands of its neighbors. When Assyria too turned against Ahaz and “caused him distress,” the king “began to sacrifice to the gods of Damascus that were striking him, and he went on to say: ‘Because the gods of the kings of Syria are helping them, to them I shall sacrifice, that they may help me.’”—2 Chronicles 28:20, 23.
13. What did Ahaz show by turning to Syria’s gods?
13 At a later time, Jehovah would say to Israel: “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk. O if only you would actually pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” (Isaiah 48:17, 18) In turning to the gods of Syria, Ahaz showed how far he was from ‘treading in the way in which he should walk.’ He was completely misled by the thinking of the nations, looking to their false sources of security instead of to Jehovah.
14. Why did Ahaz have no excuse when he turned to false gods?
14 The gods of the nations, including those of Syria, had long been shown to be “valueless gods.” (Isaiah 2:8) Earlier, during the reign of King David, Jehovah’s superiority over Syria’s gods was clearly seen when the Syrians became David’s servants. (1 Chronicles 18:5, 6) Jehovah alone, “the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the God great, mighty and fear-inspiring,” can give real security. (Deuteronomy 10:17) Ahaz, though, turned his back on Jehovah and looked to the gods of the nations for security. The result was disastrous for Judah.—2 Chronicles 28:24, 25.
The Jews With Jeremiah in Egypt
15. In what way did the Jews in Egypt in Jeremiah’s day sin?
15 Because of the extreme disloyalty of his people, in 607 B.C.E., Jehovah allowed the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem and its temple. Most of the nation were exiled to Babylon. Some, though, were left behind, among them the prophet Jeremiah. When Governor Gedaliah was assassinated, this group fled to Egypt and took Jeremiah with them. (2 Kings 25:22-26; Jeremiah 43:5-7) There, they began sacrificing to false deities. Jeremiah remonstrated with the unfaithful Jews, but they were stubborn. They refused to turn to Jehovah and insisted that they would keep on making sacrificial smoke to the “queen of the heavens.” Why? Because this is what they and their forefathers had done ‘in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, when they used to be satisfied with bread and to be well off, and they did not see any calamity at all.’ (Jeremiah 44:16, 17) The Jews also contended: “From the time that we ceased to make sacrificial smoke to the ‘queen of the heavens’ and pour out drink offerings to her we have lacked everything, and by the sword and by the famine we have come to our finish.”—Jeremiah 44:18.
16. Why were the Jews in Egypt utterly wrong in their reasoning?
16 How selective the memory can be! What were the facts? The Jews had indeed sacrificed to false gods in the land Jehovah had given them. Sometimes, as in the time of Ahaz, they suffered because of that apostasy. However, Jehovah was “slow to anger” with his covenant people. (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 86:15) He sent his prophets to urge them to repent. At times, when the king was faithful, Jehovah blessed him, and the people benefited from that blessing, even though most of them were unfaithful. (2 Chronicles 20:29-33; 27:1-6) How wrong those Jews in Egypt were to claim that any prosperity enjoyed back in their homeland had come from their false gods!
17. Why did Judah lose its land and temple?
17 Before 607 B.C.E., Jehovah had urged the people of Judah: “Obey my voice, and I will become your God, and you yourselves will become my people; and you must walk in all the way that I shall command you, in order that it may go well with you.” (Jeremiah 7:23) The Jews lost their temple and their land precisely because they refused to walk ‘in all the way that Jehovah had commanded them.’ Let us be sure to avoid that fatal error.
Jehovah Blesses Those Who Walk in His Way
18. What must those who walk in Jehovah’s way do?
18 Today, as in the past, walking in Jehovah’s way demands loyalty—a determination to serve him alone. It demands trust—complete faith that Jehovah’s promises are reliable and will come true. Walking in Jehovah’s way demands obedience—following his laws without deviation and keeping his high standards. “Jehovah is righteous; he does love righteous acts.”—Psalm 11:7.
19. Which gods do many worship today, and with what results?
19 Ahaz looked to the gods of Syria for security. The Israelites down in Egypt hoped that the “queen of the heavens,” a goddess widely worshiped in the ancient Middle East, would bring them material prosperity. Today, many gods are not literal idols. Jesus warned against serving “Riches” rather than Jehovah. (Matthew 6:24) The apostle Paul spoke of “covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5) He also spoke of those whose “god is their belly.” (Philippians 3:19) Yes, money and material things are among the main gods worshiped today. In reality, most—including many with religious affiliations—‘rest their hope on uncertain riches.’ (1 Timothy 6:17) Many work very hard serving these gods, and some reap rewards—living in the best homes, enjoying expensive things, and eating sumptuous meals. Not all enjoy such affluence, however. And even those who do eventually find these things unsatisfying in themselves. They are uncertain, temporary, and do not satisfy spiritual needs.—Matthew 5:3.
20. What balance do we need to maintain?
20 True, we have to be practical as we live through the last days of this system of things. We need to take reasonable steps to provide for our families in a material way. But if we place greater value on a high standard of living, the pursuit of money, or similar things than on serving God, we have fallen into a kind of idolatry and are no longer walking in Jehovah’s way. (1 Timothy 6:9, 10) What, though, when we meet up with health, financial, or other problems? Let us not be like those Jews in Egypt who blamed their problems on serving God. Rather, let us put Jehovah to the test, which Ahaz failed to do. Loyally turn to Jehovah God for guidance. Trustfully apply his guidance, and pray for strength and wisdom to handle every situation. Then, confidently wait for Jehovah’s blessing.
21. What blessings come to those who walk in Jehovah’s way?
21 Over the course of Israel’s history, Jehovah richly blessed those who walked in his way. King David sang: “O Jehovah, lead me in your righteousness by reason of my foes.” (Psalm 5:8) To him, Jehovah gave military victories over neighboring nations that later harassed Ahaz. Under Solomon, Israel was blessed with the peace and prosperity that the Jews in Egypt longed for later on. To Ahaz’ son Hezekiah, Jehovah even gave victory over mighty Assyria. (Isaiah 59:1) Yes, Jehovah’s hand was not short toward his loyal ones, who did not stand “in the way of sinners” but whose delight was in the law of God. (Psalm 1:1, 2) The same is still true. How, though, can we today be sure that we are walking in Jehovah’s way? This will be discussed in the next article.
Do You Recall?
◻ What qualities are vital if we are to walk in Jehovah’s way?
◻ Why was the thinking of Ahaz false?
◻ What was wrong with the reasoning of the Jews in Egypt?
◻ How can we strengthen our determination to walk in Jehovah’s way?
[Picture on page 13]
Ahaz looked to Syria’s gods rather than to Jehovah