“No one after drinking old wine wants new, for he says, ‘The old is nice.’”
Jesus used the illustration of the old and new wineskins to explain why his disciples would not fit into the mold of Judaism.
He had come to establish a completely new form of worship. (Luke 5:37,38; John 4:23,24)
Still, he recognized that change is difficult and we are reluctant to let go of old traditions.
How do we react when Jehovah’s people publish a new understanding of a Bible teaching? (Matt. 24:45)
Did Jesus expect his followers to stop learning at any point? (Prov. 4:18; John 14:26, 17:3)
“I will not die, no, I will live, In order to declare the works of Jah.
Jah disciplined me severely, But he did not hand me over to death.
Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will enter them and praise Jah.”
God created you with a sense of spirituality which you need to satisfy by knowing and praising him (Ge. 1:27).
If you are ever denied that God-given right, you are being denied one of the fundamental blocks of happiness (Matt. 5:3).
Knowing that God hands you the privilege of praising him with the congregation is reason enough to evade death.
It gives you a purpose in life, and no one else can praise Jehovah for you.
Verse eighteen clearly states that Jehovah does not discipline his servants to the point of death.
Therefore, to deny a repentant, depressed soul the joy of serving God goes against God’s express will and He will hold those persecutors accountable.
“Jehovah is merciful and compassionate,
Slow to anger and abundant in loyal love.”
Have you ever become so angry at someone that you became obsessed with their flaws and that, in turn, affected your joy in the congregation?
We do well to imitate Jehovah in being slow to anger.
One way to improve on this is by meditating on the example of Christ Jesus.
Jesus had a mild temper (Matt. 11:29).
He did not allow others to provoke him.
Rather, he entrusted himself to the Highest Judge (1 Pet. 2:23).
How can we, too, be slow in anger?
We want to be able to discern right from wrong, and a big part of that is knowing when to keep our mouth shut.
Otherwise, if we feel contempt toward others, we might end up slandering them (Prov. 11:12,13).
The way to a calm spirit is constant and straight (Prov. 15:21).
Although we feel forces trying to knock us off our path, having a mild temper implies steadfastness.
Jesus remained calm even when his disciples did the exact opposite of what he had asked (Mark 14:34-38).
Likewise, in the congregation, there may be someone who constantly does the opposite of what he is instructed, and yet he has a certain level of authority.
Jehovah does not expect people to be perfect, so it should not surprise us when they err.
True- it is extremely grieving to be targeted by someone’s rudeness on a personal level, or worse yet, to see your loved one bullied by a brother in the faith.
But Jehovah can use others’ shortcomings to develop endurance, faith and a positive attitude in our own personalities.
Another way to look at it is to remember that Jehovah isn’t asking more of us than he himself is willing to give.
“But when I stumbled, they rejoiced and gathered together; […]
They tore me to pieces and did not keep silent.”
Gossip can have tragic consequences and in the best of cases, it ruins people’s reputations.
Anyone who has ever been a victim of gossip can perhaps relate to feeling like they are being ‘torn to pieces.’
It is important to be brave and steer conversations away from speaking negatively about others, especially when intimate details do not directly involve both listeners.
Worse than gossip is the feeling that others are rejoicing at one’s pain.
This can be disheartening and is far from Christian love as outlined in the Scriptures.
What a comfort it is to know that one can pray to Jehovah: “Do not stay far from me, Awake and rise to my defense, […] Judge me according to your righteousness […]; Do not let them gloat over me,” (Ps. 35:22-24).
Jehovah is ready to impart peace to those who serve Him and praise His name (Ps. 35:27, 28).
[…] Ornan said to David: “Take [the site of the threshing floor] as your own, and let my lord the king do what seems good to him. Here, I am providing the cattle for burnt offerings and the threshing sledge for the wood and the wheat as a grain offering. I give all of it.”
~1 Chronicles 21:23
When Jehovah’s angel told King David to build an altar at the site of Ornan’s threshing floor, which Ornan was in the middle of using, Ornan did not ask, “Why me?” (1 Chron. 21:20).
On the contrary, he selflessly and with the utmost generosity offered his belongings up as a contribution toward true worship.
King David proceeded to formalize the acquisition by monetarily reimbursing Ornan, for he did not want to half-heartedly fulfill God’s commandment (1 Chron. 21:24,25).
This site became the place around which the entire temple was eventually built by David’s son (2 Chron. 3:1).
Today, the floor may very well still exist under the Muslim Dome of the Rock (“Araunah.” Watchtower Online Library, Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, June 2015. Web 16 Nov. 2015).
We have many opportunities to demonstrate a sincere, generous attitude toward those in the congregation who dedicate all their time and effort to God’s service.
For example, when we enjoy our overseers biannual visits, we are encouraged to invite them to eat or sometimes even share our home with them.
Other times we are invited to donate resources toward expanding construction projects.
If we take advantage of these opportunities, no doubt we will be pleasing Jehovah.
“Do you think that David is honoring your father by sending comforters to you? Is it not to make a thorough search and to overthrow you and to spy out the land that his servants have come to you?”
~1 Chronicles 19:3
When Hanash, the king of the Ammonites died, King David sought to comfort Hanash’s son.
However, Hanash’s son, King Hanun, received bad advice from his companions and questioned David’s motives.
This suspicion led him to disgrace David’s messengers (1 Chron. 19:4).
Fed by fear of retaliation, the Ammonites eventually waged war on Israel with the help of Syrian soldiers, 47,000 of whom died at the hands of David’s forces (1 Chron. 19:6-10, 18).
All this damage could have easily been avoided if King Hanun had been less skeptical and more grateful toward David.
This passage highlights the importance of not being hyper-critical.
It is not wise to jump to conclusions and assume that anyone reaching out a hand to me really means to harm me.
If I am always defensive and doubting others, I could bring great harm to myself and the congregation.
“Of the tribe of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do, there were 200 of their headmen, and all their brothers were under their command.”
~1 Chronicles 12:32
In the time of David, the tribe of Issachar consisted of 87,000 men registered to fight in his army (1 Chron. 7:5).
200 of them, who were particularly wise, headed the tribe.
If we divide 87,000 by 200, it means there was one commander per every 435 men.
Yet, “all their brothers were under their command.”
The men of the tribe of Issachar acted in unity because they humbly respected their elders’ knowledge and intentions (Prov. 14:8; Eccl. 7:19).
Jesus said of the people he tried to teach: “[…] Why do you not know how to examine this particular time?” (Luke 12:56).
Today’s congregation elders try to make us aware of the times we are living in so we do not fall asleep in a spiritual sense and risk losing our spiritual battle (Ro. 13:11,12; Eph. 6:12).
Most congregations worldwide have much fewer than 435 members each, and they benefit from a body of elders who are wise in years of service toward God and Biblical insight.
If the tribe of Issachar was able to carry out their work in unison, we should be able and willing to do the same in our own congregations.
When he saw the altar that was in Damascus, King Ahaz sent Urijah the priest a plan of the altar, showing its pattern and how it was made. Urijah the priest built an altar according to all the directions that King Ahaz had sent […].
~2 Kings 16:10,11
Urijah knew that the original plans for the first altar had been given from Jehovah to David.
David’s son, Solomon, had carried out the blueprints precisely as indicated (2 Chron. 3:1; 4:1).
Urijah, however, allowed King Ahaz to overstep his authority and alter Jehovah’s instructions.
King Ahaz was an apostate.
“He did not do what was right in the eyes of Jehovah his God as David his forefather had done. […] He even made his own son pass through the fire,” (2 Ki. 16:2,3).
When King Ahaz returned from his trip, “he moved the copper altar that was before Jehovah from its place in front of the house, from between his own altar and the house of Jehovah, and he put it at the north side of his own altar. […] Urijah the priest did everything that King Ahaz had commanded” (2 Ki. 16:14,16).
When the congregation hands us instructions regarding our worship, do we see their divine origin, or do we consider them to be mere suggestions?
Do we alter Jehovah’s instructions because they do not appeal to us or because we think we can come up with a better form of worship?
And to what extent do we allow others to dissuade us from doing what we know Jehovah asks of us?
Urijah does not stand out in the Bible account as being a faithful priest.
He contributed to the demise of pure worship in his day.
Chapter twenty relates to us how Joab ambitiously regained the position of chief military commander and incurred God’s wrath.
After Joab disobeyed King David by killing his son, David fired Joab and gave his job to Amasa (2 Sam. 18:12-14; 19:13).
Amasa had previously served as the commander in the insurgent army (2 Sam. 17:25).
When the two men met to chase down a new insurgent, Joab tricked Amasa and ran his sword through him.
“Joab said to Amasa: ‘Are you all right, my brother?’ Then with his right hand, Joab took hold of Amasa’s beard as if to kiss him. Amasa was not on guard against the sword that was in Joab’s hand, and Joab stabbed him with it in the abdomen […]” (2 Sam. 20:9,10).
Thus, by the end of the story, we are told that “Joab was in charge of all the army of Israel,” (2 Sam. 20:23).
Joab allowed his zeal for his job as David’s right-hand man to turn into self-centered ambition.
This disproportionate ambition led him to commit at least two murders and participate in at least one other (2 Sam. 3:27; 11:16,17).
Eventually, Joab was held accountable for his evil deeds (1 Kings 2:31-33).
What we learn from this story is that while zeal for attaining greater privileges in God’s service is commendable, one should not allow that zeal to turn into selfish ambition.
An overly ambitious attitude could lead us to give priority to a personal agenda rather than to obeying God’s theocratic arrangements.
When we ignore God’s instructions handed to us through the congregation in order to protect our self-interests, we wind up hurting others and displeasing Jehovah (Heb. 13:17).
“[…] Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, and his armor-bearer was behind him; and the Philistines began to fall before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer was putting them to death behind him.”
~1 Samuel 14:13
By standing up to their people’s oppressors, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were demonstrating great faith in Jehovah, crediting him with the victory before it begun (1 Sam. 14:6).
There is another lesson in their actions: teamwork goes a long way.
They were obviously very coordinated, being able to carry out this extraordinary deed of striking and putting 20 men to death, despite being outnumbered 10 to 1 (1 Sam. 14:14).
Although as Christians we do not participate in deadly combat, we do need to collaborate extensively with other members in the Congregation on a weekly or sometimes daily basis.
The success we experience spiritually is directly related to our ability to subject to theocratic arrangements, which in turn is directly related to being humble (1 Cor. 14:40).
Like Jonathan’s armor-bearer, we need to be willing to sacrifice personal interests in order to demonstrate our unyielding loyalty toward God and our spiritual family (1 Sam. 14:7).
Then we will clearly see Jehovah’s blessings and his loyalty toward us (1 Chron. 16:34).