Will Jehovah’s Blessing Overtake You?
“All these blessings must come upon you and overtake you, because you keep listening to the voice of Jehovah your God.”—DEUTERONOMY 28:2.
1. What was to determine whether the Israelites received blessings or maledictions?
NEAR the end of their 40-year trek in the wilderness, the Israelites were encamped on the Plains of Moab. The Promised Land lay before them. Moses now wrote the book of Deuteronomy, which includes a series of blessings and maledictions, or curses. If the people of Israel were to “keep listening to the voice of Jehovah” by obeying him, blessings would “overtake” them. Jehovah loved them as his “special property” and wanted to show his strength in their behalf. But if they did not keep listening to him, maledictions would just as surely overtake them.—Deuteronomy 8:10-14; 26:18; 28:2, 15.
2. What is the meaning behind the Hebrew verbs rendered “keep listening” and “overtake” at Deuteronomy 28:2?
2 The Hebrew verb rendered “keep listening” at Deuteronomy 28:2 denotes continuous action. Jehovah’s people must not simply listen to him occasionally; they must keep listening as a way of life. Only then will divine blessings overtake them. The Hebrew verb translated “overtake” has been identified as a hunting term most often meaning “to catch up with” or “to reach.”
3. How can we be like Joshua, and why is this vitally important?
3 The Israelite leader Joshua chose to listen to Jehovah and therefore experienced blessings. Joshua said: “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve . . . As for me and my household, we shall serve Jehovah.” At that, the people replied: “It is unthinkable, on our part, to leave Jehovah so as to serve other gods.” (Joshua 24:15, 16) Because of Joshua’s fine attitude, he was among the few of his generation privileged to enter the Promised Land. Today, we stand on the threshold of a vastly superior Promised Land—a paradise earth in which blessings far richer than those of Joshua’s day await all who have God’s approval. Will such blessings overtake you? They will if you keep listening to Jehovah. To help strengthen your resolve to do so, consider the national history of ancient Israel as well as instructive individual examples.—Romans 15:4.
Blessing or Malediction?
4. In response to Solomon’s prayer, what did God grant him, and how should we feel about such blessings?
4 During most of King Solomon’s reign, the Israelites received extraordinary blessings from Jehovah. They enjoyed security and good things in abundance. (1 Kings 4:25) Solomon’s wealth became legendary, though he had not asked God for material riches. Instead, while still young and inexperienced, he had prayed for an obedient heart—a request that Jehovah granted by blessing him with wisdom and understanding. This enabled Solomon to judge the people properly, discerning between good and bad. Although God also gave him wealth and glory, as a young man, Solomon appreciated the excelling value of spiritual riches. (1 Kings 3:9-13) Whether we have much in a material way or not, how thankful we can be if we enjoy Jehovah’s blessing and are spiritually rich!
5. What happened when the people of Israel and Judah failed to keep listening to Jehovah?
5 The Israelites failed to show appreciation for Jehovah’s blessing. Because they did not keep on listening to him, foretold maledictions overtook them. This resulted in conquest by their enemies and exile for the inhabitants of Israel and Judah. (Deuteronomy 28:36; 2 Kings 17:22, 23; 2 Chronicles 36:17-20) Did God’s people learn from such suffering that divine blessings overtake only those who keep listening to Jehovah? The Jewish remnant who returned to their homeland in 537 B.C.E. had the opportunity to demonstrate whether they had acquired “a heart of wisdom” and now saw the need to keep listening to God.—Psalm 90:12.
6. (a) Why did Jehovah send Haggai and Zechariah to prophesy to his people? (b) What principle was illustrated by God’s message through Haggai?
6 The repatriated Jews set up an altar and began work on the temple in Jerusalem. But when powerful opposition arose, their zeal began to flag and construction stopped. (Ezra 3:1-3, 10; 4:1-4, 23, 24) They also started to give priority to personal comforts. Hence, God sent the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to rekindle his people’s zeal for true worship. Through Haggai, Jehovah said: “Is it the time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house [of worship] is waste? . . . Set your heart upon your ways. You have sown much seed, but there is a bringing of little in. There is an eating, but it is not to satisfaction. . . . And he that is hiring himself out is hiring himself out for a bag having holes.” (Haggai 1:4-6) Sacrificing spiritual interests in the pursuit of material advantages does not result in Jehovah’s blessing.—Luke 12:15-21.
7. Why did Jehovah say to the Jews: “Set your heart upon your ways”?
7 Consumed by daily concerns, the Jews had forgotten that divine blessings in the form of rain and fruitful seasons would overtake them only if they endured in a course of obedience to God, even in the face of opposition. (Haggai 1:9-11) How fitting, then, the exhortation: “Set your heart upon your ways”! (Haggai 1:7) In effect, Jehovah was telling them: ‘Think! See the connection between your futile labor in the fields and the desolate state of my house of worship.’ The inspired words of Jehovah’s prophets finally reached the hearts of their listeners, for the people resumed work on the temple, completing it in 515 B.C.E.
8. What exhortation did Jehovah give the Jews in Malachi’s day, and why?
8 Later, in the days of the prophet Malachi, the Jews again began to vacillate spiritually, even presenting unacceptable sacrifices to God. (Malachi 1:6-8) Thus, Jehovah exhorted them to bring the tenth parts of their produce into his storehouse and to test him out to see whether he would not open to them the floodgates of the heavens and actually empty out upon them a blessing until there was no more want. (Malachi 3:10) How foolish the Jews were to toil for the very things God would give them abundantly if only they would keep listening to his voice!—2 Chronicles 31:10.
9. We will examine the lives of what three individuals of Bible record?
9 In addition to presenting Israel’s national history, the Bible chronicles the lives of many individuals who received divine blessings or maledictions, depending on whether they kept listening to Jehovah or not. Let us see what we can learn from three of them—Boaz, Nabal, and Hannah. In this regard, you may wish to read the book of Ruth as well as 1 Samuel 1:1–2:21 and 1 Samuel 25:2-42.
Boaz Listened to God
10. What did Boaz and Nabal have in common?
10 Although Boaz and Nabal were not contemporaries, they had certain things in common. For instance, both men lived in the land of Judah. They were wealthy landowners, and both had a special opportunity to display loving-kindness toward someone in need. But there the similarities end.
11. How did Boaz show that he kept listening to Jehovah?
11 Boaz lived during the era of Israel’s judges. He treated others with respect, and his harvesters had high regard for him. (Ruth 2:4) In obedience to the Law, Boaz made sure that in his field, gleanings were left for the afflicted and poor. (Leviticus 19:9, 10) What did Boaz do when he learned about Ruth and Naomi and saw Ruth’s diligence in providing for her elderly mother-in-law? He gave Ruth special consideration and commanded his men to let her glean in his field. By his words and loving deeds, Boaz revealed that he was a spiritual man who listened to Jehovah. He therefore received God’s favor and blessing.—Leviticus 19:18; Ruth 2:5-16.
12, 13. (a) How did Boaz show deep regard for Jehovah’s law of repurchase? (b) What divine blessings overtook Boaz?
12 The most outstanding evidence that Boaz kept listening to Jehovah was the unselfish way in which he acted on God’s law of repurchase. Boaz did all he could to ensure that the inheritance of his relative—Naomi’s late husband, Elimelech—would remain in Elimelech’s family. Through “brother-in-law marriage,” a widow was to marry her deceased husband’s next of kin so that a son born to them might carry on the inheritance. (Deuteronomy 25:5-10; Leviticus 25:47-49) Ruth presented herself for marriage in the place of Naomi, who was beyond the age of childbearing. After a closer relative of Elimelech declined to help Naomi, Boaz took Ruth as his wife. Their son Obed was viewed as Naomi’s offspring and the legal heir of Elimelech.—Ruth 2:19, 20; 4:1, 6, 9, 13-16.
13 Rich blessings overtook Boaz because of his unselfish compliance with God’s law. Through their son Obed, he and Ruth were blessed with the privilege of becoming ancestors of Jesus Christ. (Ruth 2:12; 4:13, 21, 22; Matthew 1:1, 5, 6) From the unselfish deeds of Boaz, we learn that blessings overtake those who show love for others and act in harmony with God’s requirements.
Nabal Did Not Listen
14. What kind of man was Nabal?
14 In contrast with Boaz, Nabal failed to listen to Jehovah. He violated God’s law: “You must love your fellow as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18) Nabal was not a spiritual man; he was “harsh and bad in his practices.” Even his own men viewed him as “a good-for-nothing fellow.” Fittingly, his name, Nabal, means “senseless,” or “stupid.” (1 Samuel 25:3, 17, 25) So how would Nabal respond when he had an opportunity to show kindness to someone in need—David, the anointed of Jehovah?—1 Samuel 16:13.
15. How did Nabal treat David, and how did Abigail differ from her husband in this regard?
15 When encamped in the vicinity of Nabal’s flocks, David and his men, without asking for any payment, furnished protection from marauding bands. “A wall was what they proved to be around us both by night and by day,” said one of Nabal’s shepherds. When David’s messengers asked for some food, however, Nabal “screamed rebukes at them” and sent them away empty-handed. (1 Samuel 25:2-16) Nabal’s wife, Abigail, promptly took provisions to David. Hot with anger, David had been about to exterminate Nabal and his men. Abigail’s initiative thus saved the lives of many and prevented David from becoming bloodguilty. But Nabal’s greed and harshness had gone too far. About ten days later, “Jehovah struck Nabal, so that he died.”—1 Samuel 25:18-38.
16. How can we imitate Boaz and repudiate the ways of Nabal?
16 What a contrast there was between Boaz and Nabal! While we should reject the harsh and selfish ways of Nabal, let us imitate the kindness and unselfishness of Boaz. (Hebrews 13:16) We can do so by applying the apostle Paul’s counsel: “As long as we have time favorable for it, let us work what is good toward all, but especially toward those related to us in the faith.” (Galatians 6:10) Today, Jesus’ “other sheep,” Christians with an earthly hope, have the privilege of doing good to Jehovah’s anointed, the remnant of the 144,000, who will be granted immortality in heaven. (John 10:16; 1 Corinthians 15:50-53; Revelation 14:1, 4) Jesus views such loving deeds as though they are done to him personally, and doing these good things results in Jehovah’s rich blessing.—Matthew 25:34-40; 1 John 3:18.
Hannah’s Trials and Blessings
17. What trials confronted Hannah, and what attitude did she display?
17 Jehovah’s blessing also overtook the godly woman Hannah. She lived in the mountainous region of Ephraim with her Levite husband, Elkanah. As allowed and regulated by the Law, he had another wife—Peninnah. Hannah remained barren, a reproach for an Israelite woman, while Peninnah had several children. (1 Samuel 1:1-3; 1 Chronicles 6:16, 33, 34) Instead of comforting Hannah, however, Peninnah acted in an unloving way that vexed Hannah to the point of tears and loss of appetite. Worse still, this happened “year by year,” every time the family went to Jehovah’s house in Shiloh. (1 Samuel 1:4-8) How heartless of Peninnah, and what a trial for Hannah! Yet, Hannah never blamed Jehovah; nor did she stay home when her husband went to Shiloh. Eventually, therefore, a rich blessing was sure to overtake her.
18. What example was set by Hannah?
18 Hannah set a fine example for Jehovah’s people today, especially for those who may have been hurt by the unkind remarks of others. In such situations, isolating oneself is not the answer. (Proverbs 18:1) Hannah did not allow her trials to diminish her desire to be where God’s Word was taught and his people assembled for worship. She therefore remained spiritually strong. The depth of her spirituality is revealed in her beautiful prayer recorded at 1 Samuel 2:1-10.*
19. How can we demonstrate our appreciation for spiritual things?
19 As Jehovah’s present-day servants, we do not worship at a tabernacle. Nevertheless, we can demonstrate our appreciation for spiritual things, even as Hannah did. For instance, we can show our deep appreciation for spiritual riches by our regular presence at Christian meetings, assemblies, and conventions. Let us use these occasions to encourage one another in the true worship of Jehovah, who has granted us “the privilege of fearlessly rendering sacred service to him with loyalty and righteousness.”—Luke 1:74, 75; Hebrews 10:24, 25.
20, 21. How was Hannah rewarded for her godly devotion?
20 Jehovah took note of Hannah’s godly devotion and rewarded her abundantly. On one of the family’s annual trips to Shiloh, a tearful Hannah earnestly prayed to God and vowed: “O Jehovah of armies, if you will without fail look upon the affliction of your slave girl and actually remember me, and you will not forget your slave girl and actually give to your slave girl a male offspring, I will give him to Jehovah all the days of his life.” (1 Samuel 1:9-11) God heard Hannah’s entreaty and blessed her with a son, whom she named Samuel. When he was weaned, she took him to Shiloh so that he could serve at the tabernacle.—1 Samuel 1:20, 24-28.
21 Hannah displayed love for God and fulfilled her vow to him in connection with Samuel. And think of the rich blessing she and Elkanah enjoyed because their dear son served at Jehovah’s tabernacle! Many Christian parents have similar joys and blessings because their sons and daughters serve as full-time pioneer ministers, Bethel family members, or in other ways that honor Jehovah.
Keep Listening to Jehovah!
22, 23. (a) Of what can we be certain if we keep on listening to Jehovah’s voice? (b) What will be considered in the next article?
22 Of what can we be sure if we keep listening to Jehovah? We will be spiritually rich if we demonstrate whole-souled love for God and fulfill our dedication to him. Even when pursuing such a course means that we must endure severe trials, Jehovah’s blessing will inevitably overtake us—often in greater ways than we can imagine.—Psalm 37:4; Hebrews 6:10.
23 Many blessings will be bestowed upon God’s people in the future. For obediently listening to Jehovah, “a great crowd” will be preserved through “the great tribulation” and will experience the joys of life in God’s new world. (Revelation 7:9-14; 2 Peter 3:13) There Jehovah will fully satisfy the righteous desires of all his people. (Psalm 145:16) As the next article will show, however, even now those who keep on listening to Jehovah’s voice are blessed with ‘good gifts and perfect presents from above.’—James 1:17.
Hannah’s expressions bear some similarity to those of the virgin girl Mary, spoken shortly after she learned that she was to become the mother of the Messiah.—Luke 1:46-55.
Do You Recall?
• What can Israel’s history teach us about divine blessings?
• How did Boaz and Nabal differ?
• How can we imitate Hannah?
• Why should we keep on listening to Jehovah’s voice?
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King Solomon prayed for an obedient heart, and Jehovah blessed him with wisdom
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Boaz treated others with respect and kindness
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Hannah was richly blessed for relying on Jehovah