2 Kings, chapters 16-18

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.

1 Samuel, chapters 26-31

David was very distressed, because the men were talking of stoning him, for all the men had become very bitter over the loss of their sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself by Jehovah his God.
~1 Samuel 30:6

When David and his 600 men came home from pretending to ally with the Philistines, they found their village had been raided by Amalekites (1 Sam. 27:2; 29:9,10; 30:1-5).

Thus David faced a revolt from the men who had been very loyal up to that point.

Instead of fleeing, panicking, giving up, or attempting to eliminate the instigators, David “strengthened himself by Jehovah his God.”

After inquiring of Jehovah, he led his men to seek out their kidnapped families and they liberated them (1 Sam. 30:8,18,19).

This is an example of how hard it can be at times for our elders to carry out their roles in the congregation, since sooner or later they all have to make unpopular decisions and face the scrutiny of others.

Instead of becoming embittered or depressed, elders can take refuge in their strong relationship with Jehovah and continue to find joy in carrying out their ministry (Ps. 31:1).

Numbers, chapters 7-9

You must separate the Levites from among the Israelites, and the Levites will become mine.
~Nu. 8:14

All the families in Israel received a type of inheritance.
In most cases, the inheritance constituted of land, but in the Levites’ case, it was a spiritual inheritance.
The Levites had the privilege of carrying out Jehovah’s service in matters of worship.

God said to them, “In their land you will not have an inheritance, and no portion of land among them will become yours. I am your portion and your inheritance in the midst of the Israelites,” (Nu. 18:20).

Today, Christian ministers are not born into their service.
It is a conscientious choice each one of us makes.

However, being a dedicated servant of God still calls for a modest lifestyle which involves economical sacrifices.
It is a vow we take that requires a lifelong commitment.
A dedicated Christian no longer belongs to him or herself, as in the case of the Levites.
We belong to God and his higher purpose (Matt. 16:24; 1 Pet. 2:21).

Although we are not born into our ministry, each one of us has innate gifts that we can use to serve Jehovah.
Within the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, ministers may use their talents in various fields.

For example the Kingdom Hall or Bethel construction work calls for a wide range of abilities, including demolition, cooking, interior design, landscaping, carpentry, electrical work, and technical support, as well as more administrative roles.

Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses

Our website JW.org is the most translated website on earth and is maintained by volunteers who have a technical inclination.
At a branch level, there are translators, musicians, fashion designers, housekeepers and logistic experts, among others.

Christian Congregation of Jehovah's WitnessesChristian Congregation of Jehovah's WitnessesChristian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses

Then there are also the disaster relief groups which are composed of brothers and sisters with their own unique set of talents.

Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses

At a more localized level, we have our Christian elders and ministerial servants who sacrifice their after-work hours to prepare public talks and individual counsel, carry out administrative duties and organize our conventions.

Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses

All of us come from different walks of life but we strive to collaborate as the Levites would, as one family.

Personally, I have always enjoyed the field ministry aspect of our service since I started participating in it at the age of 12.

In the field ministry, one has to be able to hold a meaningful conversation with any type of person, from professors and church leaders to felons, foreign language speakers and the mentally ill.

Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses

I turn 32 today. I began serving as a full-time Pioneer exactly 16 years ago (volunteering an average of 70 hrs./month).
When compared to others, I am not particularly knowledgeable in any one field.
I do not have good physical nor emotional health.
I am not an energetic people-person, nor am I detail-oriented and goal-driven.

But what I am today, God has made me.
To the extent to which I have allowed him, he has made me his.
He has made ‘his joy my stronghold,’ (Ne. 8:10).
Serving Jehovah in the field ministry is my spiritual inheritance.

What is yours?

 

 

Leviticus, chapters 6-9

Last week’s reading covered many details on several types of offerings.

These are:

  • Burnt offerings
  • Communion offerings
  • Sin offerings
  • Guilt offerings
  • Grain offerings
  • Wave offerings
  • Sacred portions
  • Installation sacrifice

I will focus on communion offerings, otherwise known as peace offerings.

Communion offerings could be voluntarily offered at any time as “an expression of thanksgiving,” to praise God or to concert a vow (Lev. 7:12, 16).

The consumption of the offering was shared between the person presenting it, the priests and Jehovah.

The person presenting the offering would offer unleavened bread along with the ceremonial sacrifice of a healthy animal.

Neither the animal’s blood nor fat were for human consumption; the blood was sprinkled around the altar and the fat was burnt, Jehovah symbolically consuming the aroma (Lev. 3:2-5; 7:25-27).

The person presenting the offering could bring leavened bread, but this was not to be presented on the altar, as leaven represents sin and corruption (Lev. 2:11; 7:13).

The leavened bread was for the people’s enjoyment, not God’s.

Tradition states that the person presenting the offering ate the meal in the courtyard of the tabernacle (Insight, vol. II, “Offerings,” par. 9).

The flesh of the animal sacrificed had to be eaten on the same day it was slaughtered (Lev. 7:15).

Otherwise the flesh would begin to corrupt and the people who partook in the communion meal would then be ceremonially unclean, a sin punishable by death (Lev. 7:20).

Today we do not have these types of ceremonies in which we can ‘share a meal’ with Jehovah.

It must have been a very spiritual experience.

We can, however, thank and praise God any day, any time, through words and actions that reflect our faith in the ultimate sacrifice of Christ Jesus, which can be likened to an aroma that is pleasing to God.

 

 

 

Leviticus, chapters 1-5

Every grain offering you make is to be seasoned with salt; and you must not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be missing from your grain offering. Along with every offering of yours, you will present salt.
~Leviticus 2:13

What does salt symbolize?

It has often been used as a preservative and an antiseptic.

Therefor it can symbolize permanence and cleanliness.

As Christians, we put into practice Christ’s words, “You are the salt of the earth,” when we share his message of ever-lasting life (Matt. 5:13).

We also have a “preserving” effect when we positively influence others through uncorrupted moral behavior.

Jesus also said, “Have salt in yourselves, and keep peace between one another,” (Mark 9:50).

In effect, today we do not make food offerings, but rather, we “offer to God […] the fruit of our lips,” (Heb. 13:15).

How do we add “salt” to our praise?

God’s word tells us the answer: Let your utterance be always with graciousness, seasoned with salt, so as to know how you ought to give an answer to each one,” (Col. 4:6).

In other words, we ought to think before we speak and say things in a considerate manner.

“For God is well-pleased with such sacrifices,” (Heb. 13:16).

Exodus, chapters 15-18

Then Moses said to them: “Nobody should leave any of it until the morning.” But they did not listen to Moses. When some men left some of it until the morning, it bred worms and stank, and Moses became indignant at them.

~Exodus 16:19,20

Then Moses said: “Eat it today, because today is a sabbath to Jehovah. Today you will not find it on the ground. You will pick it up for six days, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none.” However, some of the people did go out to pick it up on the seventh day, but they found nothing.

~Exodus 16:25-27

It is surprising how careless some of the Israelites were when it came to obeying details.

Moses had demonstrated he was their God-appointed leader and yet, they still questioned his instructions.

Such unwilling attitudes could have disheartened Moses, who had risked his life to go back to Egypt and see them free across the Red Sea.

But Moses kept tending to them as he would have done to his sheep when he was a shepherd, refining his patience on a day-to-day basis.

Concentrating on the Israelites’ lack of faith, this teaches me that I should obey God’s instructions even when the details seem illogical from a human perspective.

Christ has appointed “gifts in men” to serve as shepherds in the congregation (Eph. 4:8).

“And he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers, with a view to the readjustment of the holy ones, for ministerial work, to build up the body of the Christ,” (Eph. 4:11).

These men have no personal gain by serving the congregation, other than the satisfaction of having done what is right.

They make arrangements for the well-being of our spiritual-family, knowing that God will provide means to see those arrangements to fulfillment.

These arrangements may not always make sense.

Some members of the congregation may criticize or even refuse to cooperate.

An attitude that constantly questions counsel given in accordance with Bible principles can prove detrimental to our own spirituality and eventually dishearten those who serve us.

Our love for God is tested in the details (Luke 16:10).

My Book of Bible Stories Story 34 illustration

The Israelites had to trust in Jehovah that he would provide all they needed, when they needed it.

Exodus, chapters 11-14

Exodus 14:31~

Israel also saw the great power that Jehovah wielded against the Egyptians, and the people began to fear Jehovah and to put faith in Jehovah and in his servant Moses.

The reaction of many to the good news of Christ’s kingdom tends to be:

“I don’t need that. We already have a religion.”

Or:

“Take your message to someone who needs it.”

The above text mentions that it was not until the Israelites had crossed the Red Sea and had seen the Egyptians dead on the seashore that they began “to put faith in Jehovah.”

They had witnessed many miracles first hand, and they believed to have an acceptable form of worship.

But faith can always be stronger.

We shouldn’t passively assume we are good enough for God.

He promises to end suffering and transform this world into a paradise (Psalm 37:9-11; Rev. 21:4,5).

Although we may believe his word to a high degree, our faith has yet to grow until we see these promises materialize with our own eyes.

Faith is something we should actively build and not just take for granted.

“Faith is the assured expectation of what is hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities that are not seen. […] Moreover, without faith it is impossible to please God well, for whoever approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him,” (Heb. 11:1,6).

Israel witnesses the power of Jehovah's hand when he annihilates the Egyptian military.

Israel witnesses the power of Jehovah’s hand when he annihilates the Egyptian military.