“O Jehovah, your name endures forever.”—PS. 135:13.
SONG 10 Praise Jehovah Our God!
1-2. What subjects fascinate Jehovah’s Witnesses?
VERY important issues are facing us today—sovereignty and vindication. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we love discussing those fascinating subjects. However, it is not as if we would have to contrast God’s sovereignty and the sanctification of his name—as if they were separate matters.
2 All of us have come to see that God’s name must be cleared of reproach. We have also learned that Jehovah’s sovereignty, or way of ruling, must be proved to be the best. Both issues merit our respect and attention.
3. What does the name Jehovah include?
3 Actually, the name Jehovah involves everything about our God, including his way of ruling. So if we say that clearing Jehovah’s name of all reproach is the most important issue, we are also saying that Jehovah’s way of ruling must be proved to be the best way. Jehovah’s name is closely tied to the way he rules as the almighty Sovereign.—See the box “Facets of a Great Issue.”
4. How does Psalm 135:13 describe God’s name, and what questions will we answer in this article?
4 The name Jehovah is unique. (Read Psalm 135:13.) What makes God’s name so important? How was it first slandered? How does God sanctify it? And how can we help to defend his name? Let us address those questions.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A NAME
5. What might we wonder about when considering the sanctifying of God’s name?
5 “Let your name be sanctified.” (Matt. 6:9) That is what Jesus stated as a priority in prayer. But what do Jesus’ words mean? To sanctify something means to make it holy, clean, or pure. Some might wonder, though, ‘Is not Jehovah’s name already holy, clean, and pure?’ To answer, we need to think about what a name involves.
6. What makes a name valuable?
6 A name is more than a collection of letters written on a page or spoken aloud. Notice what the Bible says: “A good name is to be chosen rather than great wealth.” (Prov. 22:1; Eccl. 7:1) Why does a name have such value? Because it involves a reputation, what others think of the one bearing that name. So the way a name appears on a page—or even the way it is pronounced—is not what matters most; what truly matters is whom and what that name stands for in the minds and hearts of others.
7. How have people attacked God’s name?
7 When people tell lies about Jehovah, they are attacking his reputation. When they attack his reputation, they are trying to damage his name. The first attack on God’s name and reputation happened near the dawn of human history. Consider what we learn from this attack.
HOW THE NAME WAS FIRST SLANDERED
8. What did Adam and Eve know, and what questions arise?
8 Adam and Eve knew Jehovah’s name, as well as vital truths about the One bearing that name. They knew him as the Creator, the One who gave them life, their lovely Paradise home, and a perfect mate. (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:18) However, would they continue to use their perfect minds to meditate on all that Jehovah had done for them? Would they keep building up their love and appreciation for the Person represented by that name? The answers became clear when God’s enemy tested them.
9 Read Genesis 2:16, 17 and 3:1-5. Using a serpent as his mouthpiece, Satan asked Eve a question: “Did God really say that you must not eat from every tree of the garden?” That question contained a subtle lie that was like hidden poison. What God had actually said was that they could eat from every tree, with one exception. The variety available to Adam and Eve must have been tremendous. (Gen. 2:9) Yes, Jehovah certainly is generous. However, God had forbidden Adam and Eve to eat the fruit of one tree that He had designated. So Satan’s question twisted the truth. Satan made it seem as if God were not generous. Eve may have wondered, ‘Is God withholding something good?’
10. How did Satan directly slander God’s name, and with what effect?
10 At that point, Eve still saw Jehovah as her Ruler. She answered Satan by reciting God’s clear direction. She added that they should not even touch the tree. She knew of God’s warning that disobedience would lead to death. But Satan replied: “You certainly will not die.” (Gen. 3:2-4) Satan was no longer subtle. He was now directly slandering God’s name, in effect telling Eve that Jehovah is a liar. Satan thus became a devil, or slanderer. Eve was thoroughly deceived; she believed Satan. (1 Tim. 2:14) She put more trust in him than in Jehovah. That made it easier for Eve to make the worst possible decision. She decided to disobey Jehovah. She began eating of the fruit that Jehovah had forbidden her to eat. Afterward, she gave some to Adam.—Gen. 3:6.
11. What could our first parents have done, but what did they fail to do?
11 Think for a moment about what Eve should have said to Satan. Imagine that she had said something like this: “I do not know who you are, but I know my Father, Jehovah, and I love and trust him. He has given Adam and me everything we have. How dare you say anything bad about him? Go away!” How delighted Jehovah would have been to hear such loyal words from a loving daughter! (Prov. 27:11) But Eve did not have loyal love for Jehovah; neither was Adam guided by that quality. Lacking such love for their Father, Adam and Eve failed to defend his name against slander.
12. How did Satan sow doubts in the mind of Eve, and what did Adam and Eve fail to do?
12 As we have noted, Satan started by sowing doubts in the mind of Eve. He got her to question the kind of Person who was represented by the name Jehovah. Then Adam and Eve failed to defend Jehovah’s name and reputation. They left themselves open to Satan’s suggestion to rebel against their Father. Satan uses similar tactics today. He attacks Jehovah’s name by slandering it. People who believe Satan’s lies are easily influenced to reject Jehovah’s righteous rule.
JEHOVAH SANCTIFIES HIS NAME
13. How does Ezekiel 36:23 highlight the core message of the Bible?
13 Does Jehovah accept such slander without defending himself? No, he does not! The entire Bible record focuses on how Jehovah has acted to clear his name of the reproach heaped on it in Eden. (Gen. 3:15) In fact, we may summarize the core message of the Bible this way: Jehovah sanctifies his name by means of the Kingdom ruled by his Son and restores righteousness and peace to the earth. The Bible contains information that helps us to understand how Jehovah accomplishes the sanctifying of his name.—Read Ezekiel 36:23.
14. How has Jehovah’s response to the rebellion in Eden sanctified his name?
14 Satan has done all he can to stop Jehovah from achieving His purpose. But Satan has failed again and again. The Bible record shows how Jehovah has acted, and it proves that there is no one like Jehovah God. True, the rebellion of Satan and all who take his side has caused Jehovah great pain. (Ps. 78:40) He has, though, handled this challenge with wisdom, patience, and justice. He has also shown his almighty power in countless ways. Above all, his love shines through in all that he does. (1 John 4:8) Jehovah has worked unceasingly to sanctify his name.
15. How is Satan slandering God’s name today, and with what effect?
15 Satan is still slandering God’s name today. He fools people into doubting that God is powerful, just, wise, and loving. For example, Satan tries to convince people that Jehovah is not the Creator. And if people do accept that God exists, Satan attempts to make them believe that God and His standards are restrictive and unfair. He even teaches people that Jehovah is a heartless and cruel God who burns people in a fiery hell. When they believe such slander, they are more likely to take the next step—rejecting Jehovah’s righteous rule. Until Satan is completely defeated, he will continue his campaign of slander, and he will target you as well. Will he succeed?
YOUR ROLE IN THE GREAT ISSUE
16. What can you do that Adam and Eve failed to do?
16 Jehovah allows imperfect humans to have a share in sanctifying his name. In effect, you can do what Adam and Eve failed to do. Despite being in a world full of people who slander and blaspheme Jehovah’s name, you have the opportunity to stand up and speak the truth—that Jehovah is holy, righteous, good, and loving. (Isa. 29:23) You can support his rule. You can promote it as the only way of ruling that is truly righteous and that will bring peace and happiness to all creation.—Ps. 37:9, 37; 146:5, 6, 10.
17. How did Jesus make his Father’s name known?
17 When we defend Jehovah’s name, we follow the example of Jesus Christ. (John 17:26) Jesus made his Father’s name known not only by using that name but also by defending Jehovah’s reputation. For example, he contradicted the Pharisees, who in various ways painted Jehovah as harsh, demanding, distant, and merciless. Jesus helped people to see his Father as being reasonable, patient, loving, and forgiving. He also helped people to see Jehovah by the way he perfectly imitated his Father’s qualities in his daily life.—John 14:9.
18. How can we overturn lies and slander about Jehovah?
18 Like Jesus, we can share what we know about Jehovah, teaching people what a loving and kind God He is. As we do so, we overturn lies and slander about Jehovah. We sanctify Jehovah’s name, making it holy in the minds and hearts of people. We can also imitate Jehovah. That is possible even though we are imperfect. (Eph. 5:1, 2) When our words and actions show people what Jehovah is truly like, we help to sanctify his name. We vindicate that name by helping to free people from the misconceptions they may have about it.b We also prove that imperfect humans can maintain integrity.—Job 27:5.
19. How does Isaiah 63:7 help us to see what the main purpose of our teaching should be?
19 Consider another valuable lesson we may apply. When we teach Bible truths to others, we often emphasize God’s sovereignty, that Jehovah has the right to rule the universe, and this is perfectly true. However, while it is important to focus on God’s laws, our main goal is that of helping others come to love Jehovah, our Father, and to be loyal to him. We thus need to highlight Jehovah’s appealing qualities, emphasizing the kind of Person that the name Jehovah represents. (Read Isaiah 63:7.) As we teach in that way, we will help others to love Jehovah and to obey him because they want to be loyal to him.
20. What will we consider in the following article?
20 How, then, can we make sure that our conduct and our teaching reflect properly on Jehovah’s name and draw others to him? The following article will take up that question.
SONG 2 Jehovah Is Your Name
a What important issue is facing all intelligent creation? What makes that issue so vital, and what role do we play in settling it? Understanding the answers to those and related questions will help us to strengthen our relationship with Jehovah.
b On occasion our publications have taught that Jehovah’s name does not need to be vindicated because no one has called into question his right to bear that name. However, a clarified understanding was presented at the 2017 annual meeting. The chairman stated: “Simply put, it’s not wrong to say that we pray for the vindication of Jehovah’s name because his reputation certainly needs to be exonerated.”—See the January 2018 program on jw.org®. Look under LIBRARY > JW BROADCASTING®.
c PICTURE DESCRIPTION: The Devil slandered God, telling Eve that God is a liar. Over the centuries, Satan has promoted false ideas, such as the teaching that God is cruel and that He did not create humans.
d PICTURE DESCRIPTION: As he conducts a Bible study, a brother emphasizes God’s personality.