Do You Ask, “Where Is Jehovah?”
“They have become far off from me . . . And they have not said, ‘Where is Jehovah?’”—JEREMIAH 2:5, 6.
1. When people ask, “Where is God?,” what may they have in mind?
“WHERE is God?” That question has been asked by many people. Some of them have simply been trying to understand a basic fact about the Creator, namely, where is he located? Others have voiced the question after a widespread calamity or when they personally felt hard-pressed and could not understand why God did not intervene. Yet others do not inquire at all because they reject the very idea that God exists.—Psalm 10:4.
2. Who succeed in their search for God?
2 There are, of course, many who recognize the abundant proof that there is a God. (Psalm 19:1; 104:24) Some of these are content with simply having some form of religion. But intense love for truth has impelled millions of others, in all lands, to search for the true God. Their effort has not been in vain because he “is not far off from each one of us.”—Acts 17:26-28.
3. (a) Where is God’s place of dwelling? (b) What is implied by the Scriptural question, “Where is Jehovah?”
3 When a person really does find Jehovah, he realizes that “God is a Spirit,” invisible to human eyes. (John 4:24) Jesus referred to the true God as “my Father who is in heaven.” What does that mean? That the realm inhabited by our heavenly Father is, in a spiritual sense, a lofty one, even as the physical heavens of outer space are high above the earth. (Matthew 12:50; Isaiah 63:15) Though we cannot see God with our physical eyes, however, he makes it possible for us to know him and to learn much about his purposes. (Exodus 33:20; 34:6, 7) He answers questions asked by sincere people who seek the meaning of life. On matters that affect our lives, he provides a sound basis for us to determine his position, that is, how he views such matters and whether our desires are in harmony with his purposes. He wants us to make inquiry about such things and to put forth earnest effort to find the answers. Through the prophet Jeremiah, Jehovah reproved the people of ancient Israel because they failed to do this. They knew the name of God, but they did not ask, “Where is Jehovah?” (Jeremiah 2:6) Jehovah’s purpose was not their chief concern. They were not looking for his guidance. When faced with decisions, large and small, do you ask, “Where is Jehovah?”
Those Who Inquired of God
4. How can we benefit from David’s example in inquiring of Jehovah?
4 When still a young man, David, the son of Jesse, developed strong faith in Jehovah. He knew Jehovah as “the living God.” David had personally experienced Jehovah’s protection. Impelled by faith and by love for “the name of Jehovah,” David slew the heavily armed Philistine giant Goliath. (1 Samuel 17:26, 34-51) However, David’s success did not make him self-confident. He did not reason that whatever he did now, Jehovah would bless him. Repeatedly during the years that followed, David inquired of Jehovah when confronted with decisions. (1 Samuel 23:2; 30:8; 2 Samuel 2:1; 5:19) He continued to pray: “Make me know your own ways, O Jehovah; teach me your own paths. Make me walk in your truth and teach me, for you are my God of salvation. In you I have hoped all day long.” (Psalm 25:4, 5) What a fine example for us to follow!
5, 6. How did Jehoshaphat search for Jehovah at different times in his life?
5 In the days of King Jehoshaphat, the fifth king in the royal line descended from David, the combined forces of three nations came up to war against Judah. Faced with this national emergency, Jehoshaphat “set his face to search for Jehovah.” (2 Chronicles 20:1-3) This was not the first time that Jehoshaphat had searched for Jehovah. The king had shunned the Baal worship indulged in by the apostate northern kingdom of Israel and had chosen to walk in Jehovah’s ways. (2 Chronicles 17:3, 4) So now when he was confronted with a crisis, how did Jehoshaphat “search for Jehovah”?
6 In a public prayer that he offered in Jerusalem at this critical time, Jehoshaphat indicated that he had called to mind Jehovah’s almighty power. He had thought deeply about Jehovah’s purpose as revealed by His driving out other nations and giving certain land to Israel as an inheritance. The king acknowledged his need for Jehovah’s help. (2 Chronicles 20:6-12) Did Jehovah let himself be found on that occasion? Yes, indeed. Through Jahaziel, a Levite, Jehovah provided specific direction, and the following day He gave victory to His people. (2 Chronicles 20:14-28) How can you be certain that Jehovah will also let himself be found by you when you turn to him for direction?
7. Whose prayers does God hear?
7 Jehovah is not partial. He invites people of all nations to seek him in prayer. (Psalm 65:2; Acts 10:34, 35) He takes note of what is in the heart of those who petition him. He assures us that he hears the prayers of the righteous ones. (Proverbs 15:29) He lets himself be found by some who formerly showed no interest in him but who now humbly seek his direction. (Isaiah 65:1) He even hears the prayers of those who have failed to keep his law but who now humbly repent. (Psalm 32:5, 6; Acts 3:19) Yet, when the heart of a person is not submissive to God, that person’s prayers are in vain. (Mark 7:6, 7) Consider some examples.
They Asked but Did Not Receive
8. What made King Saul’s prayers unacceptable to Jehovah?
8 After the prophet Samuel told King Saul that he had been rejected by God because of his disobedience, Saul prostrated himself to Jehovah. (1 Samuel 15:30, 31) But it was mere outward show. Saul’s desire was, not to be obedient to God, but to be honored before the people. Later, when the Philistines were warring against Israel, Saul went through the formality of inquiring of Jehovah. However, when he received no answer, he consulted a spirit medium, though he knew that this was condemned by Jehovah. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12; 1 Samuel 28:6, 7) Summing up the matter, 1 Chronicles 10:14 says of Saul: “He did not inquire of Jehovah.” Why? Because Saul’s prayers were not grounded in faith. Hence, it was as if he had not prayed at all.
9. What was wrong with Zedekiah’s plea for Jehovah’s direction?
9 Similarly, as the end of the kingdom of Judah approached, more prayers were offered and Jehovah’s prophets were consulted. However, the people were mixing idolatry with professed reverence for Jehovah. (Zephaniah 1:4-6) Though they went through the motions of inquiring of God, they did not prepare their hearts to submit to his will. King Zedekiah pleaded with Jeremiah to inquire of Jehovah for him. Jehovah had already told the king what he ought to do. But lacking faith and yielding to the fear of men, the king did not obey the voice of Jehovah, and Jehovah gave him no other reply that would be more to the king’s liking.—Jeremiah 21:1-12; 38:14-19.
10. What was wrong with the way Johanan sought Jehovah’s direction, and what do we learn from his error?
10 After Jerusalem had been destroyed and the Babylonian army had departed with the Jewish exiles, Johanan prepared to take into Egypt the small group of Jews that remained in Judah. Their plans were made, but before leaving they asked Jeremiah to pray in their behalf and seek direction from Jehovah. However, when they did not get the answer they wanted, they went right ahead and did what they had planned. (Jeremiah 41:16–43:7) Do you see in these events lessons that can benefit you so that when you seek Jehovah’s face, he will let himself be found by you?
“Keep On Making Sure”
11. Why do we need to apply Ephesians 5:10?
11 True worship involves more than symbolizing our dedication by water immersion, attending congregation meetings, and sharing in the public ministry. Our entire way of life is involved. Daily we are subjected to pressures—some subtle, some more obvious—that could turn us away from the path that is in accord with godly devotion. How will we react to these? When writing to faithful Christians in Ephesus, the apostle Paul urged them: “Keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:10) The wisdom of doing that is illustrated by many situations reported in the Scriptures.
12. Why was Jehovah displeased when David had the ark of the covenant moved to Jerusalem?
12 After the ark of the covenant had been returned to Israel and had been kept for many years at Kiriath-jearim, King David desired to transfer it to Jerusalem. He consulted with chiefs of the people and said that the Ark would be moved ‘if it seemed good to them and it was acceptable with Jehovah.’ But he neglected to search adequately to ascertain Jehovah’s will on the matter. If he had done so, the Ark would never have been loaded onto a wagon. It would have been carried by Kohathite Levites on their shoulders, as God had clearly instructed. Though David frequently inquired of Jehovah, he failed to do so in a proper way on this occasion. The result was disastrous. David later acknowledged: “Jehovah our God broke through against us, for we did not search after him according to the custom.”—1 Chronicles 13:1-3; 15:11-13; Numbers 4:4-6, 15; 7:1-9.
13. In a song sung when the Ark was successfully moved, what reminder was included?
13 When the Ark was finally transported by the Levites from the house of Obed-edom to Jerusalem, a song composed by David was sung. It included the heartfelt reminder: “Search after Jehovah and his strength, seek his face constantly. Remember his wonderful acts that he has performed, his miracles and the judicial decisions of his mouth.”—1 Chronicles 16:11, 12.
14. How can we benefit from Solomon’s good example and from his errors later in life?
14 Before his death, David counseled his son Solomon: “If you search for [Jehovah], he will let himself be found by you.” (1 Chronicles 28:9) Upon taking the throne, Solomon went to Gibeon, where the tent of meeting was located, and sacrificed to Jehovah. There Jehovah invited Solomon: “Ask! What shall I give you?” In response to Solomon’s request, Jehovah freely gave him wisdom and knowledge to judge Israel, and to that He added riches and honor. (2 Chronicles 1:3-12) Using the architectural plan provided by Jehovah to David, Solomon built a magnificent temple. But in the matter of his own marital affairs, Solomon failed to search for Jehovah. Solomon married women who were not worshipers of Jehovah. In his later years, they inclined his heart away from Jehovah. (1 Kings 11:1-10) No matter how prominent, wise, or knowledgeable we may seem to be, it is important to “keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord”!
15. When Zerah the Ethiopian came against Judah, why could Asa pray with confidence that Jehovah would deliver Judah?
15 The need for this is reinforced by the record of the kingship of Asa, a great-grandson of Solomon. Eleven years after Asa became king, Zerah the Ethiopian led a million-man army against Judah. Would Jehovah deliver Judah? Over 500 years earlier, Jehovah had clearly stated what his people could expect if they listened to him and kept his commandments and what they could expect if they did not. (Deuteronomy 28:1, 7, 15, 25) At the beginning of his reign, Asa had removed from his realm altars and pillars used in false worship. He had urged the people “to search for Jehovah.” Asa had not waited until faced with calamity before doing that. So with faith in Jehovah, Asa could pray to him to act in their behalf. The outcome? Judah was given a resounding victory.—2 Chronicles 14:2-12.
16, 17. (a) Although Asa was victorious, what reminder did Jehovah give him? (b) When Asa acted unwisely, what help was given him, but how did he react? (c) How can we benefit from considering Asa’s conduct?
16 Nevertheless, when Asa returned victorious, Jehovah sent Azariah to meet the king and to say: “Hear me, O Asa and all Judah and Benjamin! Jehovah is with you as long as you prove to be with him; and if you search for him, he will let himself be found by you, but if you leave him he will leave you.” (2 Chronicles 15:2) With renewed zeal, Asa promoted true worship. But some years later, when again faced with war, Asa failed to search for Jehovah. He did not consult God’s Word, and he did not call to mind what Jehovah had done when the Ethiopian army had invaded Judah. Foolishly he made an alliance with Syria.—2 Chronicles 16:1-6.
17 For this, Jehovah caused Hanani the seer to reprove Asa. Even at that point, when Jehovah’s view of the matter was explained, Asa could have benefited. Instead, he became offended and put Hanani in the house of the stocks. (2 Chronicles 16:7-10) How sad! What about us? Do we search for God but then refuse to accept counsel? When a concerned and caring elder uses the Bible to counsel us because we are getting entangled with the world, do we show appreciation for the loving help being given us to know “what is acceptable to the Lord”?
Do Not Forget to Ask
18. How can we benefit from Elihu’s words to Job?
18 When under stress, even one who has built up a fine record in Jehovah’s service may fall short. When Job was smitten by a loathsome disease, lost his children and material possessions, and was falsely accused by his companions, his thoughts came to be all wrapped up in himself. Elihu reminded him: “No one has said, ‘Where is God my Grand Maker?’” (Job 35:10) Job needed to get his attention focused on Jehovah and to consider how He viewed the situation. Job humbly accepted that reminder, and his example can help us to do the same.
19. What did the people of Israel often fail to do?
19 The people of Israel knew the record of God’s dealings with their nation. But all too often they did not call it to mind when handling specific situations in their lives. (Jeremiah 2:5, 6, 8) When faced with decisions in life, they pursued their own pleasure instead of asking, “Where is Jehovah?”—Isaiah 5:11, 12.
Keep On Asking, “Where Is Jehovah?”
20, 21. (a) Who today have shown the spirit of Elisha in seeking Jehovah’s direction? (b) How can we imitate and benefit from their example of faith?
20 When Elijah’s public ministry ended, his attendant Elisha took the official garment that had fallen from Elijah, went to the Jordan, struck the water, and asked: “Where is Jehovah the God of Elijah, even He?” (2 Kings 2:14) Jehovah answered by showing that his spirit was now on Elisha. What can we learn from this?
21 Something comparable happened in modern times. Certain anointed Christians who had taken the lead in the preaching work passed off the earthly scene. Those who were then entrusted with oversight examined the Scriptures and prayed to Jehovah for direction. They did not fail to ask, “Where is Jehovah?” As a result, Jehovah has continued to lead his people and to prosper their activity. Do we imitate their faith? (Hebrews 13:7) If so, we will stay close to Jehovah’s organization, respond to its direction, and share fully in the work that it is doing under the direction of Jesus Christ.—Zechariah 8:23.
How Would You Answer?
• With what intent should we be asking, “Where is Jehovah?”
• How can we today find the answer to the question, “Where is Jehovah?”
• Why do some prayers for divine direction go unanswered?
• What Bible examples illustrate the need to “keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord”?
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How did King Jehoshaphat search for Jehovah?
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Why did Saul consult a spirit medium?
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Pray, study, and meditate to ascertain ‘where Jehovah is’