“[…] Jehovah kept paying attention and listening. And a book of remembrance was written before him for those fearing Jehovah and for those meditating on his name.”
We should not fear that God is so busy or we are so insignificant that he does not notice our day-to-day trials.
Jehovah wants us to know he does care.
He compassionately searches the earth for those who love righteousness, and if one dies, that person is safe in God’s memory until the resurrection. (Job 34:21; Ps. 56:8; Mal. 3:17; Acts 24:15)
“[…] That is how all the work of their hands is; whatever they present there is unclean.”
God doesn’t care so much about the sacrifice we are giving him as he does about what motivates us to give it. (Hag. 1:5)
We should not undermine our privilege of knowing and serving the true God by letting our worship become mechanical and superficial in nature.
Those who try to serve God hypocritically lose his blessing and his friendship.
On the other hand, if we ‘set our heart in our ways’ by trying to find joy in his service, we can experience more blessings than we could have imagined. (Hag. 2:7; Mal. 3:10)
“[…] Although I have fallen, I will rise up; Although I dwell in the darkness, Jehovah will be my light.”
When we sin against God, we can recover spiritually not by our own merits, but by God’s own undeserved mercy.
We should not take a spiritual fall in such a way that we believe it is impossible to recover.
Certainly, if our spiritual standing depended solely on ourselves, then in our imperfection, we might never be faithful. (Ro. 3:23)
But because God reaches out to those repentant in order to draw them back close to him, we can trust that full spiritual recovery is possible. (Mic. 7:18,19)
To benefit from his help, we must show humility and patience. (Mic. 7:9)
“And I said, ‘I have been driven away from your sight!
How will I gaze again upon your holy temple?’”
As Jonah sank to the depths of the ocean within the belly of the fish, his main concern was not the loss of his own life, his reputation nor material things.
He was not overcome by anxiety to the point of losing his mind or his priorities.
Jonah was deeply grieved because he would no longer be able to gaze upon Jehovah’s temple, the center for true worship.
When we are under great emotional stress, do we value our spiritual privileges above all else? (Ps. 84:10)
We may wonder if our presence before God makes any difference in the vast sea of humanity, but Jonah’s story demonstrates God cares about every one of us at the individual level. (Jon. 4:11)
No one can take any other person’s place before God to render another’s worship. (Matt. 22:37)
In that sense, we are each valuable and irreplaceable. (Jon. 2:9)
“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.
“Even if you offer me whole burnt offerings and gift offerings,
I will find no pleasure in them; […]
Let justice flow down like waters,
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
~Amos 5:22, 24
We should not let our sacred service to God fall into a mechanical routine, as if we are doing him a favor through the sacrifices we offer him.
What God really looks for in us is heartfelt obedience. (Ps. 50:14)
False religion allows believers to continue on paths of cruelty and corruption, “absolving” sins through rites and rituals without ever addressing the root of problems. (Amos 2:6,7; 5:12)
Acceptable service to God is motivated by love of what is good.
We should try to reflect his sense of justice. (Amos 5:14,15)
“Their dealings do not permit them to return to their God […].
The pride of Israel has testified against him […].”
It would be a misstep to think we can temporarily stray from God to practice sin and then just repent and return to him whenever we feel like it.
The Bible account teaches us that a person may become so proud, he or she never repents.
That way of thinking is a dangerous course to embark on and not worth the risk of losing God’s grace.
“[…] 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)
“[…] You will be remembered no more, for I myself, Jehovah, have spoken.”
The Bible says Jehovah God has been writing the names of faithful ones in the “Book of Life” since the beginning of mankind, so to speak. (Rev. 17:8)
Various prophets including Moses, David, Malachi, John (the Apostle), Paul and Jesus himself made reference to this symbolic book. (Ex. 32:32,33; Ps. 69:28; Mal. 3:16; Luke 10:20; Php. 4:3; Rev. 3:5)
If our choices reflect a healthy fear of God, even if we die, he will keep us alive in his memory until the time of the resurrection. (Luke 20:37,38; John 5:28,29)
On the contrary, how sad it would be to die without any hope of returning to life because we have offended God to the point that he has completely wiped us out of his memory.
“‘As surely as I am alive,’ declares the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘I will not respond to your inquiry.’”
Some people pray to God: “God, if you exist, please do [such and such]…”
But in the past, Jehovah has refused to answer the prayers of his own people because their form of worship has been offensive to him.
The Jews were prostrating themselves before stone and wooden idols and offering sacrifices to other gods. (Ez. 20:28-30)
By their actions, they were rejecting the laws that Jehovah had given them for their own benefit. (Ez. 20:13)
Jehovah refused to go along with their charade form of worship and his silence was the only answer their prayers received.
Today, God continues to try to teach us right from wrong for our own benefit. (Is. 48:17,18)
If we listen to his Word and act accordingly, praying in accordance with his will, we will be able to perceive how and when he answers our prayers. (Jas. 2:26; 1 John 5:14)