“After looking around at them all, he said to the man: ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He did so, and his hand was restored.”
Did Jesus expect his followers to be charismatic faith healers?
Unlike religious faith healers, Jesus’ healings were not characterized by sensationalist drama and were usually rather casual.(Matt. 8:14, 15; Luke 8:43-48; 17:12-19)
The healings were physically visible. Had they been merely psychosomatic healings, the effects would have worn off sooner or later.
For instance, in the case of the man whose hand was paralyzed, Luke the medic says the hand was literally restored.
That is why not even Jesus’ enemies ever denied that the healings were really taking place.
Instead, they planned to kill Jesus (Luke 6:11; John 11:47,48)
Jesus’ healings served the purpose of signaling him as the messiah and savior of mankind. (Heb. 2:3,4)
But after the Christian congregation were established, some would perform “powerful works” in his name without his approval.(Matt. 7:21-23)
Such miracles would no longer be necessary because love was to be the hallmark trait of true Christians.(1 Cor. 12:27–13:2, 8)
His disciples would display that love by spreading the good news of God’s kingdom to everyone. (Matt. 24:14; 28:19,20)
“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)
“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)
“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)
“[…] Do not let your eye feel sorry, and do not feel any compassion.”
Is it cruel on God’s part to destroy the wicked?
Jesus said God executes justice “speedily.” (Luke 18:7,8)
But when Ezekiel prophesied about Jerusalem’s destruction, five years had yet to pass before its fulfillment.
Since the days of Moses, Jehovah had sent one prophet after another to warn his people of what would happen should they stray from true worship. (Jer. 7:25)
Still, the people as a whole were not destroyed.
Jehovah examined them individually and figuratively marked those who would survive Babylon’s invasion.
Furthermore, the religious leaders most responsible for corrupting Jehovah’s worship would be the first to be executed. (Eze. 9:6)
This teaches us that being a nominal Christian or getting baptized is not enough to receive the “mark” of salvation.
Jehovah and Jesus will closely examine who among us truly has faith by our acts of worship. (Jas. 2:24)
“[…] In order to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, something that I had not commanded and that had never even come into my heart.”
The people of Judah’s sinful inclination to worship idols had led them to the point of burning their own children in altars to false gods.
Jehovah God makes it very clear that their form of worship had nothing to do with him.
He had sent them prophets warning them of their evil ways but his People had stubbornly ignored him. (Jer. 7:13,26)
The disheartened practices of parents in those days may be somewhat shocking by today’s standards, but there are people who still teach that hellfire is a Divine punishment for wrongdoers.
Jehovah says the practice of burning people has ‘never even come into his heart.’
Although Jesus did refer to the “fiery Gehenna,” historically this was a valley of refuse where dead bodies unworthy of graves were thrown out and cremated. (Matt. 5:22; 10:28; Insight on the Scriptures, vol. 1)
Jesus was not referring to a place of torment, but a place of utter destruction.
By comparing God’s principles with ancient practices, most conscientious Bible students can conclude that the teaching of torment by hellfire is false. (1 John 4:8)
“[…] All your sons will be taught by Jehovah,
And the peace of your sons will be abundant.”
One of the identifying markers of true worship is the peacefulness of those who practice it.
Jesus said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples—if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35)
Isaiah himself prophesied that in the last days, God’s people would be made up of peace-lovers from different ends of the earth. (Is. 2:2,4)
But is an international brotherhood of peace really something attainable in these divided times we are living?
Jesus also stated: “The things impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)
If we love God and want to follow in Christ’s footsteps, we will not only practice a form of worship free of promoting hatred or war, but will ‘clothe ourselves’ with love in the manner in which we speak and treat those around us on a daily basis. (Col. 3:12-15)
“‘We trust in Jehovah our God,’ is he not the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed […]?”
Hezekiah’s father, apostate King Ahaz, had littered Judah with pagan altars and had closed the doors of the temple in Jerusalem. (2 Ch. 28:23-25)
Upon coming to the throne at age 25, Hezekiah reinstated divine worship according to Mosaic Law, celebrated a Passover to which even people from the northern tribes of Israel attended, and reorganized the Levite priesthood. (2 Ch. 29:1-5; 30:1-5)
The “high places and altars” Hezekiah had removed were not places of worship to his God, Jehovah, but to pagan deities.
The king of Assyria sent a messenger threatening Hezekiah to submit his people to Assyrian rule.
That messenger publicly accused Hezekiah of bringing down Jehovah’s altars, questioning whether Jehovah would save Jerusalem after the king’s recklessness.
It was unbeknownst to him that Hezekiah had actually been doing God’s will during his entire kingship and had no reason to fear Assyrian conquest.
We may sometimes experience similar accusations from our loved ones when we do something that is in line with Biblical principles but in conflict with what the world generally considers to be “good.”
For example, a woman studying the Bible may feel inclined to leave the man she is living with, although he may be a “good” man by the world’s standards, if he has no intention of legalizing their union.
She might receive severe criticism from her family or coworkers even though she is in fact doing the right thing. (1 Co. 7:39; 2 Co. 6:14)
Or a Christian man who abstains from celebrating holidays of pagan origin with his extended family may be accused of isolating himself and being intolerant of others, even though he is only trying to practice Christianity as it was originally practiced by first century Christians. (2 Co. 6:16,17)
There are many cases in which the stance of those trying to carry out God’s will may be misinterpreted.
We do well to avoid arguing and find solace in the satisfaction of having obeyed our conscience. (Is. 36:21)
Such a strong relationship with God gives us joy and the reassurance that he will never desert us. (Is. 35:10)
If you would like to view a (completely free) film reenacting the greatest trial of King Hezekiah’s faith, follow this link: https://tv.jw.org/#en/video/VODMovies/pub-tiy_x_VIDEO
You can toggle the language setting in the top right corner of the screen.
”Jehovah will enter into judgment with the elders and princes of his people.”
Are you tired of seeing religious hypocrisy?
It is relieving to know that God Himself certainly is tired of it and he will call into account insincere ministers using his name to harm others.
In Isaiah’s day, the priests were ‘stealing from the poor’ and ‘crushing God’s people.’ (Is. 3:14,15)
Today, some religious leaders profit from their congregations’ donations. Others use the trust members of their faith have placed in them to exploit them in commercial transactions.
Jehovah God promises to bring back their heartless deeds upon their own heads. (Is. 3:11)
However, we cannot conclude that all organized religion is evil as a result of the misconduct of some.
The prophet compares true worship to a mountain to which peace-lovers turn to in order learn about the true God. (Is. 2:3,4)
“Now make confession to Jehovah the God of your forefathers and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from these foreign wives.”
Does the Jews sending their wives away violate the Bible viewpoint of marriage?
After all, this action directly contradicts Jesus’ words: “What God has yoked together, let no man put apart,” (Matt. 19:6).
But we need to keep in mind that Mosaic Law, written well over a thousand years before Jesus was even born, allowed for divorce, providing anything “indecent” be found in the wife (Deut. 24:1).
In Jewish culture, the husband who wished to divorce his wife had to provide a divorce certificate that legally freed her up to marry again.
Man and wife were originally united as “one flesh.”
That principle was instituted “from the beginning,” (Matt. 19:3-5).
But Jesus himself explains that the divorce provision was due to the hard-heartedness characteristic of men in his own culture.
Therefore, we cannot judge the actions of the pre-Christian men, who were tasked with reestablishing their religious customs, by modern day Christian standards.
The Jews had the express mission of reinstating pure worship so that the Messiah could be born to them, as had been promised to Abraham, Jacob, and King David (Gen. 22:18; 28:14; Isa. 9:7).
That was, in part, why the Mede and Persian rulers had supported their efforts to rebuild Jerusalem (Ez. 6:3,12; 7:21).
Their associations in the surrounding pagan nations distracted them.
They were in danger of adopting their foreign wives’ idolatrous practices and once again garnering God’s disaproval.
It was under these circumstances and three months of litigating on a case by case basis that the foreign wives were eventually sent away with full custody of the children they had borne (Ez. 10:16,17,44).
Christians, on the other hand, were to be composed of all nations, not just of Israeli descent, and are not to divorce unless one is the innocent victim of a marital affair (Matt. 19:9; 28:19; 1 Pet. 3:1,7).
So while it was imperative to the survival of the Jewish religion to send away the pagan wives, Christians cannot use their stand as a precedent to excuse themselves from their marriage dues.