“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).
The chief of the third group assigned to serve during the third month was Benaiah the son of Jehoiada the chief priest, and 24,000 were in his division.
~1 Chronicles 27:5
The reader may recall from previous passages the story of Benaiah and his loyalty toward King David’s reign (2Sa 23:20-23; 1Ki 1:8, 2:29).
He was one of David’s few confidants who did not betray him even after his death.
What I had not personally reflected upon was his family’s namesake.
His father was “the leader of the sons of Aaron,” that is to say, the Levite priests (1Ch 12:27).
Benaiah did not live off of his father’s spiritual reputation.
He made his own name before God and followed his own career in sacred service, unrelated to priestly duties.
What this teaches me is that even if my mother or father or grandparents are well known in the community for their ministry work, I still need to make my own name before God as an individual.
It is not enough to inherit values; they must also be put to good use.
“As one of them was cutting down a tree, the axhead fell into the water, and he cried out: ‘Alas, my master, it was borrowed!’ The man of the true God said: ‘Where did it fall?’ So he showed him the place. He then cut off a piece of wood and threw it there and made the axhead float. He said: ‘Lift it out.’ So he reached out his hand and took it.”
~2 Kings 6:5-7
Jehovah allowed Elisha to carry out this miracle of retrieving the axhead from the river bottom.
What was so important about an axhead?
Elisha must have been concerned with the prophets’ reputation and did not want anyone to criticize their sacred work.
This teaches us that we should return what we borrow or pay back what we owe to avoid becoming a stumbling block for others’ faith (Matt. 18:7).
After that the Danites set up the carved image for themselves, and Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons became priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day that the inhabitants of the land went into exile.
Moses’s grandson, Jonathan, descended from the most famous Levite, but Jehovah had installed Aaron’s descendants as those primarily responsible for carrying out the priesthood (Nu. 3:3,6,9,10).
On top of this, Jehovah had forbidden the use of idols in connection with his worship time and again (Ex. 20:4; De. 4:16; 5:8).
It was selfish of Jonathan to allow the man from Ephraim to install him as priest, leading his family in idol worship in exchange for money (Jud. 17:10).
His selfishness is magnified by his later betrayal of that family to go serve as priest before the tribe of Dan, collaborating with the Danites in their theft of various expensive idols (Jud. 18:18-20).
What can I learn from Jonathan’s attitude?
Even if I were to come from a family with a rich spiritual heritage or certain level of prominence, I should not assume my family’s reputation automatically makes me a spiritual person.
No one is exempt from following God’s explicit laws or practicing his principles, regardless of what their last name may be.
Each person is ultimately responsible for upholding strong Biblical values wholeheartedly on an individual basis (Ez. 18:30).
Caleb then said: “To the man who strikes Kir′i·ath-se′pher and captures it, I will give my daughter Achsah as a wife.” And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s brother, captured it. So he gave him his daughter Achsah as a wife.
Othniel came to be Israel’s first judge after Joshua, but in this passage we see him rise from anonymity, transforming himself into a valiant man, building his reputation, fighting for his loved ones and what he believes in (Jg. 3:9-11).
Growing up in the shadow of his uncle Joshua, who was very diligent when it came to matters of faith, was without a doubt a strong positive influence on young Othniel.
This is a laudable example of how adult behavior and companionship can have a great, long-lasting effect on the attitudes and confidence levels of the children who look up to them.
Therefor, even those of us who are not parents should take our roles as aunts, uncles, confidants, mentors and role-models very seriously.
“Then he [Bezalel] made the basin of copper and its copper stand; he used the mirrors of the women who were organized to serve at the entrance of the tent of meeting.
Since ancient times, women have played an important role in supporting God’s earthly endeavors.
Here, we see not only that they were self-sacrificing, (for mirrors must have been hard to come by in the desert) but also that they were organized.
Being organized implies being submissive to someone giving instructions.
Nowadays, “the women proclaiming the good news are a large army.” (Ps. 68:11)
I am going to make a rough estimate here and say that 75-80% of the time you see Jehovah’s Witnesses preaching, they will be women.
This might be because women tend to be more social than men, or more inclined to be verbally expressive, or perhaps in many cultures it is still more typical for the mother to stay at home and watch the kids, which gives some women a certain degree of flexibility in their schedules.
When we meet to make arrangements to go out and visit people, it is important to do it in an organized manner.
We must take to heart the various instructions we receive during our regular weekly meetings and carry them out as closely as possible while still using common sense.
Although we do not make up a literal army, we have to be willing to take directions through God’s chain of command.
By doing so, the worldwide congregation as a whole works more efficiently and we receive God’s blessing.
“For God is a God not of disorder but of peace.” (1 Cor. 14:33)
The half shekel for each individual was half a shekel by the standard shekel of the holy place for every man who was among those registered from 20 years of age and up, amounting to 603,550.
Mosaic law is crystal clear when drawing the line between boy and man.
20 years of age is a constant used throughout the Hebrew Scriptures for when a man was to be registered in order that he may serve the nation.
In this context, we see that even if a young man was still living with his parents, he was expected to make his own monetary contribution toward the Tabernacle building project.
Christian parents make a genuine effort to ‘go on bringing [their children] up in the discipline and admonition of Jehovah,’ (Eph. 6:4).
Upon entering adulthood, every person must decide for him/herself whether or not they will continue in that path, building up their own personal relationship with God without relying on their parents to tell them what is right or wrong.
Young Christian adults who vow to serve God are expected to forge their own name in spiritual terms and make their own spiritual contributions instead of lazily living off of their parents’ good name and works.