Be courageous and strong. Do not be struck with terror or fear, for Jehovah your God is with you wherever you go.—Josh. 1:9.
What reassuring encouragement Jehovah gave Joshua before settling His people in the Promised Land! Not only did Jehovah encourage individuals but he also gave words of encouragement to his people as a group. In prophetic terms this would prove to be of comfort to the Jews held captive in Babylon, Jehovah stated: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be anxious, for I am your God. I will fortify you, yes, I will help you, I will really hold on to you with my right hand of righteousness.” (Isa. 41:10) The early Christians had the same assurance, and so do God’s people today. (2 Cor. 1:3, 4) Jesus himself received encouragement from his Father. At his baptism, Jesus heard a voice from heaven say: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.” (Matt. 3:17) How those words must have strengthened Jesus throughout his earthly ministry! w18.04 16 ¶3-5
As for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat from it.—Gen. 2:17.
Upon reading Jehovah’s command to Adam, many today would say that Adam was denied the freedom to do what he wanted. In saying so, they are confusing the exercise of one’s free will with the right to decide what is good and what is bad. Adam and Eve did have the freedom to choose whether they would obey God or not. However, only Jehovah has the right to decide in the absolute sense what is good and what is bad, as symbolized by “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad” in the garden of Eden. (Gen. 2:9) By means of his command, Jehovah lovingly taught Adam and Eve the way to exercise true freedom. As it turned out, our first parents chose to disobey. Did Adam and Eve’s choice eventually enhance their freedom in any way? Sadly, it did not. In striving for self-determination, they lost the true freedom they had been given. w18.04 5-6 ¶9-12
During all their distress it was distressing to him.—Isa. 63:9.
Jehovah does more than just feel compassion for his servants who suffer. He takes action to help them. For example, when the Israelites were suffering as slaves in Egypt, Jehovah understood their pain and felt moved to relieve it. Jehovah said to Moses: “I have certainly seen the affliction of my people . . . , and I have heard their outcry . . . I well know the pains they suffer. I will go down to rescue them out of the hand of the Egyptians.” (Ex. 3:7, 8) Because Jehovah felt compassion for his people, he freed them from slavery. Centuries later, in the Promised Land, the Israelites faced enemy attacks. How did Jehovah respond? He “was moved to pity over their groaning caused by those who oppressed them and those who were treating them abusively.” Again, empathy moved Jehovah to help his people. He sent judges to save the Israelites from their enemies.—Judg. 2:16, 18. w19.03 15 ¶4-5