“The land had no disturbance and there was no war against him during these years, for Jehovah gave him rest.”—2 CHRON. 14:6.
SONG 60 It Means Their Life
1. When might it be a challenge to serve Jehovah?
WHEN, do you think, might it be most challenging to serve Jehovah—when you are dealing with difficult problems or when your life is relatively peaceful? When we face challenges, we readily rely on Jehovah. But what do we do when our lives are peaceful? Might we become distracted from serving God? Jehovah warned the Israelites about this very possibility.—Deut. 6:10-12.
2. What example did King Asa set?
2 King Asa is an excellent example of a man who acted wisely by relying completely on Jehovah. He served Jehovah not only in bad times but also during times of peace. From early on, “Asa’s heart was completely devoted to Jehovah.” (1 Ki. 15:14, ftn.) One way Asa demonstrated his devotion was by clearing out false worship from Judah. The Bible says that “he removed the foreign altars and the high places, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the sacred poles.” (2 Chron. 14:3, 5) He even removed Maacah, his grandmother, from being a sort of first lady in the kingdom. Why? Because she promoted false worship of an idol.—1 Ki. 15:11-13.
3. What will we consider in this article?
3 Asa did more than clear away false worship. He promoted pure worship, helping the kingdom of Judah return to Jehovah. Jehovah blessed Asa and the Israelites with a time of peace.b For a period of ten years during Asa’s rulership, “the land had no disturbance.” (2 Chron. 14:1, 4, 6) In this article, we will discuss how Asa used that time of peace. Then we will consider the example of first-century Christians who, like Asa, took advantage of a peaceful time. Finally, we will answer this question: If you live in a land that grants freedom of worship, how can you make wise use of that time of peace?
HOW ASA USED A TIME OF PEACE
4 Read 2 Chronicles 14:2, 6, 7. Asa told the people that it was Jehovah who had “given [them] rest all around.” Asa did not feel that this period of peace was a time to relax. On the contrary, he set out to build cities, walls, towers, and gates. He told the people of Judah: “The land is still at our disposal.” What did Asa mean? He meant that the people could move about freely in their God-given land and build without opposition from enemies. He urged the people to take advantage of this time of peace.
5. Why did Asa build up his military force?
5 Asa also used the time of peace to strengthen his military force. (2 Chron. 14:8) Does this mean that he did not trust in Jehovah? No. Rather, Asa knew that it was his duty as king to prepare the people for the troubles they might face in the future. Asa knew that the period of peace that Judah enjoyed likely would not last indefinitely, and this proved true.
HOW FIRST-CENTURY CHRISTIANS USED A TIME OF PEACE
6. How did first-century Christians use a time of peace?
6 Although the first-century Christians were often persecuted, they also enjoyed periods of peace. How did the disciples use those opportunities? Those faithful men and women preached the good news without letup. The account in Acts says that they “walked in the fear of Jehovah.” They kept on preaching the good news, and as a result, they “kept on multiplying.” Jehovah obviously blessed their zealous preaching during times of peace.—Acts 9:26-31.
7-8. What did Paul and others do when they had the opportunity? Explain.
7 The first-century disciples took every opportunity to spread the good news. As one example, when the apostle Paul recognized that a large door was opened to him while in Ephesus, he took advantage of the opportunity to preach and to make disciples in that city.—1 Cor. 16:8, 9.
8 Another opportunity presented itself to Paul and other Christians when the issue of circumcision was settled in 49 C.E. (Acts 15:23-29) After the decision was communicated to the congregations, the disciples put forth great effort to declare “the good news of the word of Jehovah.” (Acts 15:30-35) What resulted? The Bible says that “the congregations continued to be made firm in the faith and to increase in number day by day.”—Acts 16:4, 5.
USING TIMES OF PEACE TODAY
9. What is the situation in many lands today, and what can we ask ourselves?
9 In many lands today, we can preach without disturbance. Do you live in a country that grants freedom of worship? If so, ask yourself, ‘How am I using this freedom?’ During these exciting last days, Jehovah’s organization has spearheaded the greatest preaching and teaching campaign the world has ever known. (Mark 13:10) Many possibilities are open to Jehovah’s people.
10. What does 2 Timothy 4:2 encourage us to do?
10 How can you take advantage of a time of peace? (Read 2 Timothy 4:2.) Why not examine your circumstances and see if you or a member of your family could have an increased share in the preaching work, perhaps even serving as a pioneer? Now is not the time to amass riches and material possessions—things that will not survive with us through the great tribulation.—Prov. 11:4; Matt. 6:31-33; 1 John 2:15-17.
11. What have some done to reach as many people as possible with the good news?
11 Many publishers have learned a new language so that they can use it in preaching and teaching. God’s organization supports them by producing Bible-based material in an increasing number of languages. For example, in 2010, our literature was available in some 500 languages. Today, that number has increased to over 1,000 languages!
12. How do people benefit by hearing the Kingdom message in their native tongue? Give an example.
12 What impact does it have on people when they are able to hear the truth from God’s Word in their native tongue? Consider the experience of a sister who benefited from a regional convention in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A. The convention was presented in Kinyarwanda, a language that is primarily spoken in Rwanda, Congo (Kinshasa), and Uganda. After the convention, the Kinyarwanda-speaking sister said: “This is the first time I have been able to understand a spiritual program fully since moving to the United States 17 years ago.” Clearly, this sister was deeply touched when she heard the program in her native tongue. If your circumstances permit, can you learn another language to help some in your territory? Might it be especially appealing because in your congregation’s territory, there are some who are most comfortable speaking another language? The rewards are worth the effort.
13. How did our brothers in Russia use a time of peace?
13 Not all our brothers enjoy freedom to preach openly. At times, governmental restrictions have severely limited how we accomplish our ministry. For example, consider our brothers in Russia. Following decades of persecution, they received official recognition in March 1991. At that time, there were about 16,000 Kingdom proclaimers in Russia. Twenty years later, that number had grown to over 160,000 publishers! Clearly, our brothers acted wisely when they had the opportunity to preach freely. That time of peace did not last. But a change in circumstances has not dampened their zeal to advance pure worship. They continue to serve Jehovah, using every means at their disposal.
THE TIME OF PEACE WILL NOT LAST
14-15. How did Jehovah show his power in behalf of Asa?
14 In Asa’s day, the time of peace eventually came to an end. A huge military force—one million strong—came from Ethiopia. Its commander, Zerah, was confident that he and his army could defeat Judah. However, King Asa trusted, not in numbers, but in his God, Jehovah. Asa prayed: “Help us, O Jehovah our God, for we are relying on you, and in your name we have come against this crowd.”—2 Chron. 14:11.
15 Although the Ethiopian army had almost double the number of soldiers, Asa acknowledged Jehovah’s power and ability to act in behalf of His people. And Jehovah did not disappoint him; the Ethiopian army suffered a humiliating defeat.—2 Chron. 14:8-13.
16. How do we know that the time of peace will end?
16 Although we do not know in detail what the future holds for us as individuals, we do know that any time of peace God’s people enjoy will be temporary. In fact, Jesus foretold that in the last days, his disciples would “be hated by all the nations.” (Matt. 24:9) Likewise, the apostle Paul said that “all those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.” (2 Tim. 3:12) Satan has “great anger,” and we would be fooling ourselves if we were to imagine that we could somehow avoid his wrath.—Rev. 12:12.
17. In what ways may our faith be tested?
17 In the near future, all of us will face tests of our integrity. Soon, the world will experience “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now.” (Matt. 24:21) During that time, family members may turn against us and our work may be banned. (Matt. 10:35, 36) Will we personally, like Asa, trust in Jehovah for help and protection?
18. According to Hebrews 10:38, 39, what will help us to prepare for the end of peace?
18 Jehovah has been preparing us spiritually for what lies ahead. He is guiding “the faithful and discreet slave” to provide nourishing spiritual “food at the proper time” to help us remain steadfast in our worship. (Matt. 24:45) But we must do our part and build unshakable faith in Jehovah.—Read Hebrews 10:38, 39.
19-20. In view of 1 Chronicles 28:9, what questions should we ask ourselves, and why should we ask them?
19 Like King Asa, we need to “search for Jehovah.” (2 Chron. 14:4; 15:1, 2) We begin that search by coming to know Jehovah and getting baptized. We take every opportunity to strengthen our love for Jehovah. To test how we are doing in this regard, we might ask ourselves, ‘Do I regularly attend congregation meetings?’ When we attend the meetings provided by Jehovah’s organization, we receive true spiritual refreshment along with upbuilding association. (Matt. 11:28) We might also ask ourselves, ‘Do I have good personal study habits?’ If you live with your family, do you set aside time every week for family worship? Or if you live alone, do you still set aside time just as if you were part of a family? Also, do you share as fully as possible in the preaching and disciple-making work?
20 Why should we ask those questions? The Bible tells us that Jehovah examines our thoughts and what is in our hearts, so we should do the same. (Read 1 Chronicles 28:9.) If we see that we need to make some changes in our goals, attitude, or thinking, we should ask Jehovah to help us make those changes. Now is the time to prepare ourselves for the tests that lie ahead. Let nothing stop you from making wise use of a time of peace!
SONG 62 The New Song
a Do you live in a country where you can worship Jehovah freely? If so, how are you using this period of peace? This article will help you consider how you can imitate King Asa of Judah and the first-century Christians. They made wise use of time when there was no disturbance.
b EXPRESSION EXPLAINED: The term “peace” implies more than just an absence of war. The Hebrew word also conveys the thought of good health, safety, and welfare.
c PICTURE DESCRIPTION: King Asa had his grandmother removed from her position because she promoted false worship. Asa’s loyal supporters followed his lead and destroyed idols.
d PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A zealous couple are simplifying their life so that they can serve where there is a need for more publishers.