Do You Share Jehovah’s View of Sacred Things?
“Carefully watching . . . that there may be no fornicator nor anyone not appreciating sacred things.”—HEBREWS 12:15, 16.
1. What current attitude is not shared by Jehovah’s servants?
THE world in general pays less and less attention to sacred things. French sociologist Edgar Morin stated: “All the foundations upon which morals are based—God, nature, homeland, history, reason—have lost their unquestionable nature. . . . People pick and choose their values.” This reflects “the spirit of the world,” or “the spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience.” (1 Corinthians 2:12; Ephesians 2:2) That irreverent spirit is not shared by those who have dedicated themselves to Jehovah and who willingly submit to his rightful sovereignty. (Romans 12:1, 2) Rather, God’s servants realize the vital place that sacredness, or holiness, has in their worship of Jehovah. What things in our life should be sacred? This article will consider five things that are holy to all of God’s servants. The next article will focus on the sacredness of our Christian meetings. But what does the word “holy” really mean?
2, 3. (a) How do the Scriptures highlight Jehovah’s holiness? (b) How do we hold Jehovah’s name as something holy?
2 In Biblical Hebrew, the word “holy” conveys the thought of separateness. In worship, “holy” applies to that which is separated from common use, or held sacred. Jehovah is holy in the absolute sense. He is called “the Most Holy One.” (Proverbs 9:10; 30:3) In ancient Israel, the high priest wore fastened to his turban a gold plate engraved with the words “Holiness belongs to Jehovah.” (Exodus 28:36, 37) Heavenly cherubs and seraphs stationed about Jehovah’s throne are depicted in the Scriptures as proclaiming: “Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah.” (Isaiah 6:2, 3; Revelation 4:6-8) This repetition emphasizes that Jehovah is holy, clean, and pure to the superlative degree. He is, in fact, the Source of all holiness.
3 Jehovah’s name is sacred, or holy. The psalmist exclaimed: “Let them laud your name. Great and fear-inspiring, holy it is.” (Psalm 99:3) Jesus taught us to pray: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified [or, “be held sacred; be treated as holy,” footnote].” (Matthew 6:9) Jesus’ earthly mother, Mary, proclaimed: “My soul magnifies Jehovah . . . the powerful One has done great deeds for me, and holy is his name.” (Luke 1:46, 49) As servants of Jehovah, we hold his name as something holy and avoid doing anything that might bring reproach upon that holy name. Furthermore, we share Jehovah’s view of sacredness, that is, we consider sacred the things that he holds sacred.—Amos 5:14, 15.
Why We Have Deep Respect for Jesus
4. Why does the Bible describe Jesus as “the Holy One”?
4 As the “only-begotten son” of the holy God, Jehovah, Jesus was created holy. (John 1:14; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:1-3) He is therefore called “the Holy One of God.” (John 6:69) He retained his holiness when his life was transferred from heaven to earth, for it was under the power of the holy spirit that Mary gave birth to Jesus. An angel had told her: “Holy spirit will come upon you . . . what is born will be called holy, God’s Son.” (Luke 1:35) In prayer to Jehovah, Christians in Jerusalem twice referred to God’s Son as “your holy servant Jesus.”—Acts 4:27, 30.
5. What sacred mission did Jesus fulfill on earth, and why is his blood precious?
5 Jesus had a sacred mission to fulfill while on earth. At his baptism in 29 C.E., Jesus was anointed as High Priest of Jehovah’s great spiritual temple. (Luke 3:21, 22; Hebrews 7:26; 8:1, 2) In addition, he was to die a sacrificial death. His shed blood would provide the ransom through which human sinners could be saved. (Matthew 20:28; Hebrews 9:14) We therefore hold Jesus’ blood as something sacred, “precious.”—1 Peter 1:19.
6. What is our attitude toward Christ Jesus, and why?
6 Showing that we hold our King and High Priest, Christ Jesus, in deep respect, the apostle Paul wrote: “God exalted [his Son] to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11) We demonstrate that we share Jehovah’s view of sacred things by joyfully submitting ourselves to our Leader and reigning King, Christ Jesus, the Head of the Christian congregation.—Matthew 23:10; Colossians 1:18.
7. How do we show our submission to Christ?
7 Submission to Christ also involves our showing proper respect for the men used by him to take the lead in the work he is now directing. The role of the spirit-anointed ones who make up the Governing Body and of the overseers appointed by them in the branches, districts, circuits, and congregations should be recognized as a sacred responsibility. This arrangement therefore commands our deep respect and submission.—Hebrews 13:7, 17.
A Holy People
8, 9. (a) In what way were the Israelites a holy people? (b) How did Jehovah impress on the Israelites the principle of sacredness?
8 Jehovah made a covenant with Israel. This relationship conferred upon that new nation a special status. They were sanctified, or set apart. Jehovah himself told them: “You must prove yourselves holy to me, because I Jehovah am holy; and I am proceeding to divide you off from the peoples to become mine.”—Leviticus 19:2; 20:26.
9 At the very founding of the nation of Israel, Jehovah impressed upon the Israelites the principle of sacredness. Under pain of death, they were not even to touch the mountain where the Ten Commandments were given. Mount Sinai was then in a sense considered sacred. (Exodus 19:12, 23) The priesthood, the tabernacle, and its furnishings were also to be held sacred. (Exodus 30:26-30) What is the situation in the Christian congregation?
10, 11. Why can it be said that the Christian congregation of anointed ones is sacred, and what effect does this have on the “other sheep”?
10 The Christian congregation of anointed ones is sacred in Jehovah’s eyes. (1 Corinthians 1:2) In fact, the entire group of anointed Christians on earth at any one time is likened to a holy temple, although they do not constitute Jehovah’s great spiritual temple. Jehovah inhabits that temple by means of his holy spirit. The apostle Paul wrote: “In union with [Christ Jesus] the whole building, being harmoniously joined together, is growing into a holy temple for Jehovah. In union with him you, too, are being built up together into a place for God to inhabit by spirit.”—Ephesians 2:21, 22; 1 Peter 2:5, 9.
11 Paul further wrote to anointed Christians: “Do you not know that you people are God’s temple, and that the spirit of God dwells in you? . . . The temple of God is holy, which temple you people are.” (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17) By means of his spirit, Jehovah ‘resides’ among the anointed and ‘walks among them.’ (2 Corinthians 6:16) He continually guides his faithful “slave.” (Matthew 24:45-47) The “other sheep” cherish their privilege of being associated with the “temple” class.—John 10:16; Matthew 25:37-40.
Sacred Things in Our Christian Lives
12. What things are sacred in our lives, and why?
12 Not surprisingly, many things related to the lives of anointed members of the Christian congregation and their companions are held sacred. Our relationship with Jehovah is something sacred. (1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalm 36:7) It is so precious to us that we allow nothing and no one to come between us and our God, Jehovah. (2 Chronicles 15:2; James 4:7, 8) Prayer plays an important part in our maintaining a close relationship with Jehovah. Prayer was so sacred to the prophet Daniel that even at the risk of his life, he continued faithful in his custom of praying to Jehovah. (Daniel 6:7-11) “The prayers of the holy ones,” or anointed Christians, are likened to incense used in temple worship. (Revelation 5:8; 8:3, 4; Leviticus 16:12, 13) This symbolism underscores the sacredness of prayer. What a privilege it is to be able to communicate with the Sovereign of the universe! No wonder prayer is held sacred in our lives!
13. What force is holy, and how should we allow it to operate in our lives?
13 There is a force in the lives of anointed Christians and their companions that they by all means hold sacred—holy spirit. That spirit is Jehovah’s active force, and since it always acts in harmony with the will of the holy God, it is properly called “holy spirit,” or “the spirit of holiness.” (John 14:26; Romans 1:4) By means of holy spirit, Jehovah provides his servants the power to preach the good news. (Acts 1:8; 4:31) Jehovah gives his spirit to “those obeying him as ruler,” to those who “keep walking by spirit,” not according to fleshly desires. (Acts 5:32; Galatians 5:16, 25; Romans 8:5-8) This powerful force enables Christians to produce “the fruitage of the spirit”—fine qualities—and “holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion.” (Galatians 5:22, 23; 2 Peter 3:11) If the holy spirit is something sacred to us, we will avoid doing anything that might grieve that spirit, or obstruct its action in our lives.—Ephesians 4:30.
14. What privilege do the anointed hold as sacred, and how is this privilege shared by the other sheep?
14 The privilege we have of bearing the name of the holy God, Jehovah, and of being his Witnesses is something else that we hold sacred. (Isaiah 43:10-12, 15) Anointed Christians have been qualified by Jehovah “to be ministers of a new covenant.” (2 Corinthians 3:5, 6) As such, they are commissioned to preach “this good news of the kingdom” and to “make disciples of people of all the nations.” (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) They are faithfully carrying out this commission, and millions of sheeplike people are responding, symbolically saying to the anointed: “We will go with you people, for we have heard that God is with you people.” (Zechariah 8:23) These joyfully serve in a spiritual sense as “farmers” and “vinedressers” for the anointed “ministers of our God.” In that way, the other sheep greatly assist the anointed ones in accomplishing their ministry on a worldwide scale.—Isaiah 61:5, 6.
15. What activity did the apostle Paul hold sacred, and why do we have the same view?
15 The apostle Paul, for one, considered his public ministry to be something sacred, or holy. He spoke of himself as “a public servant of Christ Jesus to the nations, engaging in the holy work of the good news of God.” (Romans 15:16) Writing to Christians in Corinth, Paul referred to his ministry as a “treasure.” (2 Corinthians 4:1, 7) Through our public ministry, we make known “the sacred pronouncements of God.” (1 Peter 4:11) Therefore, whether of the anointed or of the other sheep, we consider it a sacred privilege to share in the work of bearing witness.
“Perfecting Holiness in God’s Fear”
16. What will help us to avoid becoming people “not appreciating sacred things”?
16 The apostle Paul warned his fellow Christians against becoming people “not appreciating sacred things.” Rather, he counseled them to ‘pursue sanctification,’ “carefully watching . . . that no poisonous root may spring up and cause trouble and that many may not be defiled by it.” (Hebrews 12:14-16) The expression “poisonous root” refers to those few in the Christian congregation who may find fault with the way things are done. For instance, they might disagree with Jehovah’s views on the sacredness of marriage or the need for moral cleanness. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7; Hebrews 13:4) Or they might share in apostate talk, “empty speeches that violate what is holy,” proffered by those who “have deviated from the truth.”—2 Timothy 2:16-18.
17. Why is constant effort required on the part of the anointed to reflect Jehovah’s view of holiness?
17 To his anointed brothers, Paul wrote: “Beloved ones, let us cleanse ourselves of every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in God’s fear.” (2 Corinthians 7:1) This statement shows that anointed Christians, “partakers of the heavenly calling,” must put forth constant effort to prove that they reflect Jehovah’s view of holiness in every aspect of their lives. (Hebrews 3:1) Similarly, the apostle Peter exhorted his spirit-begotten brothers: “As obedient children, quit being fashioned according to the desires you formerly had in your ignorance, but, in accord with the Holy One who called you, do you also become holy yourselves in all your conduct.”—1 Peter 1:14, 15.
18, 19. (a) How do the members of the “great crowd” show that they share Jehovah’s view of sacred things? (b) What other sacred feature of our Christian lives will be considered in the following article?
18 What of the members of the “great crowd,” who will survive “the great tribulation”? They too must prove that they share Jehovah’s view of sacred things. In the book of Revelation, they are represented as rendering Jehovah “sacred service” in the earthly courtyard of his spiritual temple. They have put faith in Christ’s ransom sacrifice, symbolically ‘washing their robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb.’ (Revelation 7:9, 14, 15) This gives them a clean standing before Jehovah and places them under obligation to “cleanse [themselves] of every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in God’s fear.”
19 An important feature in the lives of anointed Christians and their companions is that of regularly meeting to worship Jehovah and study his Word. Jehovah considers gatherings of his people as something sacred. How and why we should share Jehovah’s view of sacred things in this vital area will be considered in the following article.
By Way of Review
• What worldly view is not shared by Jehovah’s servants?
• Why is Jehovah the Source of all that is holy?
• How do we show that we respect Christ’s holiness?
• What things should we hold sacred in our lives?
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In ancient Israel, the priesthood, the tabernacle, and its furnishings were to be held sacred
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Anointed Christians on earth form a holy temple
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Prayer and our public ministry are sacred privileges