“Pursue peace with all people […].”
Jesus said, “Happy are the peacemakers, since they will be called sons of God.” (Matt. 5:9)
Is it possible to pursue peace without letting others walk all over you?
Abraham’s son, Isaac, had to move on several occasions to keep peace with his neighbors, and Jehovah blessed him. (Gen. 26:12-25)
Eventually, Isaac’s good example brought praise to Jehovah. (Gen. 26:26-31)
If a Christian keeps him or herself “restrained under evil,” in time, the other party could come back to their senses. (Prov. 16:7; 2 Tim. 2:24-26)
We trust that we do not need to take matters into our own hands because Jehovah will hold wrongdoers accountable for their actions. (Rom. 12:17-19)
But pursuing peace is not passive; rather, we try to conquer evil by kindly doing good. (Rom. 12:20,21)
While it may grow tiring waiting on Jehovah, we focus on the future promises for those who endure, and on our spiritual blessings. (Rom. 12:12)
“Look! I and the young children, whom Jehovah gave me.”
This passage is a quote from the book of Isaiah, in which the prophet and his children were to serve as “signs” to the people of Judah. (Is. 8:18)
But the prophet foreshadowed Christ’s role as a means to salvation from death. (Heb. 2:14,15)
His “children” are the annointed members of the Christian congregation who are to rule in heaven with him. (Gal. 3:29; Heb. 2:16)
They serve as signs to us when they proclaim God’s kingdom message of justice. (Luke 4:18,19)
The tenderness with which Jesus views his brothers and sisters upon calling them “children” inspires one to draw closer to his congregation.
“And the Twelve were with him, as were certain women who had been cured of wicked spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had come out […].”
“As Jesus got out onto land, a demon-possessed man from the city met him. For a considerable time he had not worn clothing, and he was staying, not in a house, but among the tombs.”
How does a person succumb to demon possession and why did it seem to be so commonplace in Jesus’ day?
“Insight On The Scriptures” defines it as “the captive control and influence of a person by an invisible wicked spirit.”
That influence may manifest itself physically, emotionally or mentally through the victim.
Luke’s account demonstrates that it is possible for a person to be possessed by more than one demon, and it is possible for a demon to possess an animal.
When a person opens a portal into the occult, be it by superstitious practices, trying to communicate with the dead, diabolic entertainment, or through witchcraft, he makes himself vulnerable to demon possession.
In the case of King Saul, a demon began to attack him when he became arrogant and defiant in his service to Jehovah and lost God’s holy spirit. (1 Sam. 15:10,11,22,23; 16:14-16,23; 18:10-12)
When Jesus walked the earth, many Jewish leaders in particular had strayed from true worship and their attitude was heavily influenced by demons. (John 8:44)
Modern Christians do not practice exorcism, which tends to combine rites and chants or a combination of words, as if a person could be liberated from demons through magic.
Rather, they put on “the complete suit of armor” of Christian lifestyle and outright reject evil practices. (Eph. 6:11-18; Jas. 4:7)
“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if ever a woman after divorcing her husband marries another, she commits adultery.”
Jesus added the exception that a divorce can be legitimate before God if the betrayed spouse files “on the grounds of sexual immorality.” (Matt. 5:32; 19:9)
In Jesus’ day, Jewish culture did not allow women to file for divorce.
If a man cheated on his wife, he was not considered an adulterer.
A woman who cheated on her husband was an adulteress, and the man whom she sinned with would be committing adultery against her husband.
But they did not consider it possible for a man to commit adultery against his wife. (Watchtower July 15, 1995, pp. 18-19, parr. 12-13. “Christian Women Deserve Honor and Respect.”)
With his statement on God’s view of marriage, Jesus pressed his followers to rid themselves of the double standard.
By using the example of a woman who “divorces her husband,” he was dignifying women, giving them that freedom of choice.
Many traditional cultures today still urge female victims of adultery to overlook their husband’s infidelity.
Sometimes their friends and family will excuse the male’s behavior by saying that it is typical in all men, arguing they did not really hurt anyone.
When a social circle does that to a victim, they are isolating her and taking away her will power to do what is right in her heart.
They may go so far as to shame her instead of the culprit, blaming her for his moral fallout.
As true Christians, we must learn to react to others’ suffering the way Christ did: with sensibility and respect, putting their needs before our own expectations.
“He must pass through the sea with distress;
And in the sea he will strike down the waves;
All the depths of the Nile will dry up.
The pride of Assyria will be brought down,
And the scepter of Egypt will depart.”
When this prophecy was written, many centuries had passed since Jehovah had liberated the Israelites from Egypt or since Assyria as an empire posed a threat to his people.
In the past, God’s people had sometimes relied on alliances with those nations and placed their faith on their false gods instead of relying 100% on Jehovah.
Jehovah is telling his people that he will bring them back to true worship and free them from the false practices of neighboring nations.
Today, God’s people have also been freed from the practices of false religion and have found a safe way out of Satan’s world. (Is. 11:16)
“Here is the man whose name is Sprout. […] He is the one who will build the temple of Jehovah, and he is the one who will assume the majesty. He will sit down on his throne and rule, and he will also be a priest on his throne […].”
In most forms of government, it makes more sense to have a separation of church and state.
Otherwise it becomes too easy for those who hold power to commit crass abuse.
But Bible prophecies point toward a Messiah who would rule both as king and high priest.
In the history of Israel, no leader ever carried out both functions.
The only person apt for such weighty duties is Christ. (Ge. 14:18; Ps. 110:1,4; Heb. 7:11-25)
Jesus is the only being who has the necessary experience, wisdom and power to reconcile us with God and rule in justice.
“Jehovah has removed the judgments against you.
He has turned away your enemy.
The King of Israel, Jehovah, is in your midst.
You will fear calamity no more.”
Even if we have made mistakes in the past which offended God, we can trust that if we sincerely repent, God will not remain angry at us forever. (Ps. 86:5)
Jehovah disciplined his people in ancient times to the point that it was fair and just, and he will do the same to us today if we fall into sinful practices. (2 Tim. 3:16)
So we should never fear that we are inevitably separated from God.
If he has forgiven us, we in turn have to forgive ourselves.
“Look! On the mountains are the feet of one bringing good news,
The one proclaiming peace.”
Although the prophet Nahum wrote his book some time before Assyria’s destruction in 632 b.C.E., he confidently spoke of peace, trusting Jehovah God would fulfill his word.
Assyrian imperialism had long oppressed neighboring nations- among them, God’s own people.
Nahum knew Jehovah would not allow that cruel regime to continue forever. (Nah. 1:3)
We too can confidently proclaim good news of Christ’s kingdom if we have faith God will soon carry out his purpose of a peaceful earth. (Ro. 10:15; 2 Pet. 3:13)
“You should not gloat over your brother’s day on the day of his misfortune,
You should not rejoice over the people of Judah on the day of their perishing,
And you should not speak so arrogantly on the day of their distress.”
Many Bible prophecies are directed toward the nation of Edom because they were distant relatives of the nations of Israel and Judah.
Edomites descended from Esau, the twin brother of Jacob (Israel). (Ge. 36:1; De. 2:4-6)
As such, God expected mutual respect between the Edomites and his people.
But this did not end up being the case; there was often war between both nations. (1 Sam. 14:47; 2 Sam. 8:13; 2 Ki. 14:7; Amos 1:11)
In this particular prophecy, Jehovah God warns the Edomites that when judgment came upon Jerusalem, they should not rejoice.
Nowadays, God’s servants do not war against others, but try to bring people a message of peace and hope. (Matt. 24:14)
Sometimes we are in situations where people who used to be friendly/receptive to God’s message are suddenly and inexplicably rude to us.
We should not rush to judge those people, saying they deserve whatever judgment may be coming their way, nor rejoice in the idea of their future calamity.
“[…] As soon as Daniel knew that the decree had been signed, he went to his house, which had the windows of his roof chamber open toward Jerusalem. And three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed […].”
Daniel had not seen Jerusalem since his childhood, and would probably not see it again in his lifetime.
Still, the values his parents instilled in him at a young age guided him until he was elderly. (Prov. 22:6)
He never lost view of what the most important thing in life is: one’s personal praise toward God. (Ps. 145:2)
Jerusalem was supposed to be the hub for pure worship of Jehovah, and Daniel regularly reminded himself that was where he came from. (2 Chron. 6:20,21)
He realized God’s purpose endures forever and it had not been lost with the exile of the Jewish people. (Jos. 23:14; Isa. 40:8; 1 Pet. 1:25)
Daniel set an excellent example of being spiritually constant despite difficult, changing circumstances, conscientious of the most important things. (Phil. 1:10)