“They did not receive the fulfillment of the promises; but they saw them from a distance.”—HEBREWS 11:13.
1. Why is it good that we can imagine things we have not seen? (See opening picture.)
JEHOVAH has given us a wonderful gift. It is the ability to imagine things we have not seen. This ability helps us to look forward to good things in the future and also to plan ahead and avoid problems. Jehovah knows the future, and he tells us some of the things we can look forward to. Although we cannot see them, we can imagine them and have faith that they will happen.—2 Corinthians 4:18.
2, 3. (a) How can our imagination help us? (b) What questions will we answer in this article?
2 Of course, sometimes we imagine things that will never happen. For example, a little girl might imagine that she is riding on a butterfly. Of course, that is not possible. But Samuel’s mother, Hannah, imagined things that were possible. She kept thinking about the day when she would take her son to the tabernacle to work with the priests. This was not just a dream. It was something that she had decided to do. So imagining that day gave Hannah the strength to keep her promise to Jehovah. (1 Samuel 1:22) And when we imagine what Jehovah has promised to do, we are imagining things that will certainly happen.—2 Peter 1:19-21.
3 Many of Jehovah’s people in Bible times could imagine what he had promised. Why was it good for them to do this? And why is it good for us to imagine how our life will be when God’s promises come true?
THEIR FAITH BECAME STRONGER WHEN THEY IMAGINED THE FUTURE
4. Why could Abel imagine a better future?
4 Abel was the first man who had faith in Jehovah’s promises. He knew what Jehovah said to the serpent after Adam and Eve sinned: “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head, and you will strike him in the heel.” (Genesis 3:14, 15) Abel did not know exactly how this would happen. But he must have thought a lot about what God had said. Abel could have thought, ‘Who will be the one injured by the serpent and help humans to become perfect again?’ Abel had faith that whatever Jehovah promised would come true, and when he offered a sacrifice, Jehovah was pleased with it.—Read Genesis 4:3-5; Hebrews 11:4.
5. Why was it good for Enoch to imagine the future?
5 Enoch was another man who had strong faith in God. He lived among wicked people who said “shocking things” against God. But Enoch was courageous and preached God’s message. He told people that Jehovah was going to destroy the wicked. (Jude 14, 15) What helped him to do this? Enoch may have imagined what the world would be like when everybody served Jehovah.—Read Hebrews 11:5, 6.
6. After the Flood, what may Noah have thought about?
6 Noah had faith in Jehovah, so he was not destroyed in the Flood. (Hebrews 11:7) And then because of his faith, Noah sacrificed animals to Jehovah. (Genesis 8:20) After the Flood, the world became wicked again. Nimrod began ruling and wanted people to rebel against Jehovah. (Genesis 10:8-12) But Noah’s faith stayed strong. Like Abel, he was sure that God would one day remove sin and death. Noah may also have thought about the time when there would be no cruel rulers. We too can imagine this wonderful time, which is now very close!—Romans 6:23.
THEY IMAGINED THE TIME WHEN GOD’S PROMISES WOULD COME TRUE
7. What future could Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob look forward to?
7 Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob could imagine a wonderful future. Jehovah had promised them that people from all the nations would be blessed by means of their “offspring.” (Genesis 22:18; 26:4; 28:14) God had also promised them that their family would become a large nation and would live in the beautiful Promised Land. (Genesis 15:5-7) Because Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew that Jehovah’s promises would come true, they could clearly imagine their families already living in that land. In fact, ever since Adam and Eve sinned, Jehovah has helped his loyal servants to understand how humans would one day have perfect life again.
8. What helped Abraham to have strong faith and be obedient?
8 Because he had strong faith, Abraham was obedient to Jehovah even when circumstances were very difficult. Abraham and other loyal ones could clearly imagine the things Jehovah promised, even though these promises did not come true while they were alive. The Bible says: “They saw them from a distance and welcomed them.” (Read Hebrews 11:8-13.) Abraham knew that Jehovah had always kept his promises in the past, so he was sure that all of Jehovah’s promises for the future would come true as well.
People in Bible times looked forward to the time when Jehovah and his government would rule the earth forever
9. How did Abraham’s faith in God’s promises help him?
9 Because Abraham had faith in what Jehovah had promised him, he kept on doing what Jehovah asked him to do. For example, he left his home in the city of Ur, and for the rest of his life, he did not live in any city permanently. He knew that the cities around him would not last forever because the rulers did not serve Jehovah. (Joshua 24:2) Instead, he looked forward to the time when Jehovah and his government would rule the earth forever. This government is “the city having real foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:10) Abraham as well as Abel, Enoch, Noah, and others believed in the resurrection. Whenever they thought about living forever on a beautiful earth, their faith in Jehovah grew even stronger.—Read Hebrews 11:15, 16.
10. Why was it good for Sarah to look forward to the future?
10 Abraham’s wife, Sarah, had strong faith in Jehovah’s promises. Even when she was 90 years old and still had no children, she looked forward to the time when she would have a baby. Sarah could even imagine her children becoming a large nation. (Hebrews 11:11, 12) How could she be so sure of that? Because Jehovah had told her husband: “I will bless her and also give you a son by her; I will bless her and she will become nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” (Genesis 17:16) Just as Jehovah promised, Sarah had a son, Isaac. This miracle convinced her that the rest of Jehovah’s promise would come true. We too can strengthen our faith when we imagine all the wonderful things Jehovah has promised us.
HE KEPT THINKING ABOUT THE REWARD
11, 12. What helped Moses to love Jehovah more and more?
11 Moses also had faith in Jehovah’s promises. He was raised in Egypt as a prince. But because he loved Jehovah more than anything else, Moses did not want power and riches. He had learned about Jehovah from his Hebrew parents, who taught him that Jehovah promised to free the Hebrews from slavery and give them the Promised Land. (Genesis 13:14, 15; Exodus 2:5-10) The more Moses imagined these promises, the more he loved Jehovah.
12 The Bible tells us what Moses kept thinking about: “By faith Moses, when grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing to be mistreated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin, because he considered the reproach of the Christ to be riches greater than the treasures of Egypt, for he looked intently toward the payment of the reward.”—Hebrews 11:24-26.
13. Why was it good for Moses to keep thinking about Jehovah’s promises?
13 Moses must have thought deeply about Jehovah’s promise to free the Hebrews from slavery. Like other servants of Jehovah, Moses also knew that Jehovah would free all humans from death. (Job 14:14, 15; Hebrews 11:17-19) So Moses understood how much Jehovah loves people. This made Moses love Jehovah even more and have stronger faith in him. It helped him to keep serving Jehovah all his life. (Deuteronomy 6:4, 5) Even when Pharaoh wanted to kill him, Moses was not afraid. He knew that Jehovah would reward him in the future.—Exodus 10:28, 29.
IMAGINE THE THINGS GOD’S GOVERNMENT WILL DO
14. What do some people imagine about the future?
14 Many people think about the future and imagine things that will never happen. For example, some people who are very poor dream that they will become rich and have nothing to worry about. But the Bible says that life in Satan’s world will always be “filled with trouble and sorrow.” (Psalm 90:10) Or some imagine that a human government will solve the world’s problems. But the Bible says that only God’s government can do that. (Daniel 2:44) And many people think that the world will never change. But the Bible says that God will destroy this wicked world. (Zephaniah 1:18; 1 John 2:15-17) Those who imagine things that are the opposite of what Jehovah says will be very disappointed.
15. (a) Why is it good for us to imagine the future that God has promised us? (b) What is one of the things you look forward to?
15 Jehovah has promised us a wonderful future. When we think about that time, we feel happier and we can get the courage we need to keep serving him. Can you imagine yourself doing the things Jehovah has promised you, whether you will be in heaven or on earth? If you look forward to living forever on earth, imagine working with your friends to make the earth into a beautiful garden. Those who supervise this work care about you. And everyone around you loves Jehovah, just as you do. You are healthy and have a lot of energy, and you have nothing to worry about. You are happy because you can use your talents and skills to help others and to honor Jehovah. Maybe you are even helping people who have been resurrected to know Jehovah. (John 17:3; Acts 24:15) When you imagine these things, you are not dreaming. They will all come true because of what the Bible says about the future.—Isaiah 11:9; 25:8; 33:24; 35:5-7; 65:22.
TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU LOOK FORWARD TO
16, 17. Why is it good to talk about the future that Jehovah has promised us?
16 When we tell our brothers and sisters what we would like to do in the new world, we help one another to imagine this beautiful future more clearly. Of course, we do not know exactly what each of us will be doing. But when we talk about what we look forward to, we show that we have faith in what Jehovah has promised. In this way, we encourage one another to keep serving Jehovah in difficult times, just as the apostle Paul and his brothers in Rome did.—Romans 1:11, 12.
17 When you think about the future that Jehovah has promised, you will think less about your own problems. At one time, Peter was worried and said to Jesus: “Look! We have left all things and followed you; what, then, will there be for us?” Jesus wanted Peter and the other disciples with him to think about the wonderful things they would do in the future. He told them: “When the Son of man sits down on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit everlasting life.” (Matthew 19:27-29) So Peter and the other disciples could imagine themselves ruling with Jesus in heaven and helping obedient humans on earth to become perfect.
18. Why is it good for us to imagine the time when God will do what he has promised?
18 We have learned what helped Jehovah’s servants to have strong faith. Abel imagined Jehovah’s promise of a better future, and because of his faith in that promise, he pleased Jehovah. Abraham imagined the time when Jehovah’s promises about the “offspring” would come true, so he obeyed Jehovah even when it was very difficult. (Genesis 3:15) Moses looked forward to the reward Jehovah promised him, and this helped him to love Jehovah and be faithful. (Hebrews 11:26) When we imagine the time when Jehovah will do all that he has promised, our faith and love for Jehovah become stronger. In the next article, we will learn about another way that we can use our imagination.