Galatians, chapters 4-6

“Now the works of the flesh are plainly seen, and they are […] strife, jealousy, fits of anger, dissensions, divisions […]. Those who practice such things will not inherit God’s Kingdom.”
~Galatians 5:19-21

I am highlighting this passage because recently I decided I need to be more mild in spirit and less contentious.
Perhaps we inherited a quick temper from one of our parents or it is a result of never having cultivated patience.
Maybe we find it easy to be polite face-to-face but immediately get hot headed when someone cuts us off in traffic, or gives us less than enthusiastic customer service over the phone.
Or maybe we generally get along well with someone until we find out they were rude to someone we love.
Regardless of our reasons, as Christians we need to be in control of what we feel instead of giving free reign to our emotions. (Gal. 5:22,23)

A recent article in the JW app, titled “How to Control Your Anger,” cited the following words of wisdom:

“Let go of anger and abandon rage; Do not become upset and turn to doing evil.” (Ps. 37:8)

“Also, let the peace of the Christ rule in your hearts, for you were called to that peace in one body. And show yourselves thankful.” (Col. 3:15)

“Finally, all of you have unity of mind, fellow feeling, brotherly affection, tender compassion, and humility.” (1 Pet. 3:8)

“The insight of a man certainly slows down his anger, And it is beauty on his part to overlook an offense.” (Prov. 19:11)

“Let your words always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should answer each person.” (Col. 4:6)

“Know this, my beloved brothers: Everyone must be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.” (Jas. 1:19)

Galatians, chapters 1-3

“All of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. […] You are all one in union with Christ Jesus.”
~Galatians 3:27,28

We are all equally valuable within the congregation, regardless of our gender, ethnicity, social class, or whatever we identified as before becoming Christians.
Jesus gave his life for us each as individuals.
That is why we strive to give up our old divisive attitudes and humbly learn to see all our brothers and sisters with honor and appreciation (Rom. 12:10; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:24)

Acts, chapters 21 & 22

“You see, brother, how many thousands of believers there are among the Jews, and they are all zealous for the Law. But they have heard it rumored about you that you have been teaching all the Jews among the nations an apostasy from Moses […].”
~Acts 21:20,21

I can’t quite seem to wrap my head around how the elders in Jerusalem sent Paul into clear and present danger based on rumors.
While they must have had the best intentions when ordering Paul to go into the temple, I cannot imagine modern elders ever asking a member of the congregation to make such a bold statement at the risk of his or her life. (Acts 21:4,11,12)
Their decision is all the more surprising because in a way, the people they were trying to win over were immature Christians who were unwilling to part with Jewish customs. (Acts 21:24,27,28; Rom. 2:28,29)
Paul humbly acceded, willing to make just about any personal sacrifice to settle divisiveness. (1 Cor.9:20)
Rather than crouch away from responsibility, he seized the opportunity to try to ‘legally establish the good news’ not only in Jerusalem, but throughout the Roman empire. (Acts 24:10-22; 25:10-12; Php. 1:7)
Most Christians today will never have to put themselves in life-threatening situations to prove their faith in God’s Word, but from time to time our humility is tested when our elders ask us to do something that does not make sense to us.
We should always try to put the congregation’s peace and unity before personal opinions. (Php. 1:8-10)

Luke, chapters 4 & 5

“No one after drinking old wine wants new, for he says, ‘The old is nice.’”
~Luke 5:39

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)

Ezekiel, chapters 42-45

“[…] Set your heart and see with your eyes, and with your ears hear all that I am speaking with you regarding all the statutes of the house of Jehovah and regarding all its laws […].”
~Ezekiel 44:5, fn.

When Jehovah God asks us to ‘set our heart’ on his instructions, he is asking us to pay wholehearted attention.
We must listen to and obey God with the proper motivation- one born of our love toward him and a sincere desire to please him. (Matt. 22:37)
In Ezekiel’s day, the chieftains had been extorting the people of Israel through a feigned form of worship. (Eze. 45:9,10)
Through the prophetic vision God granted Ezekiel, we are given hope that it is plausible for a group of people to sincerely love God and carry out a united form of religious worship that is not hypocritical. (Eze. 43:9,27)
We must individually examine our own hearts to see if we meet God’s standards of pure worship. (Ps. 139:23,24)

1 Chronicles, chapters 12-15

“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.

Numbers, chapters 26-29

These were the ones registered by Moses and Eleazar the priest when they registered the Israelites in the desert plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho. But among them there was no one who had been registered by Moses and Aaron the priest in the census of the Israelites taken in the wilderness of Sinai.
~Numbers 26:63,64

After 40 years of roaming the desert, the amount of male Israelites had actually decreased instead of increased.

The previous generation of males had been kept out of the Promised Land because of their lack of faith, and they had all died out except for Joshua and Caleb (Nu. 14:30; 26:65).

Upon once again reaching the verge of entering the Promised Land, Jehovah commanded Moses and the new High Priest, Eleazar to take a second census.

So we are able to clearly see the effect the trials in the desert had on Israelite families.

Tribe 1st Census 2nd Census
Reuben 46,500 43,730
Simeon 59,300 22,200
Gad 45,650 40,500
Judah 74,600 76,500
Isachar 54,400 64,300
Zebulun 57,400 60,500
Manasseh 32,200 52,700
Ephraim 40,500 32,500
Benjamin 35,400 45,600
Dan 62,700 64,400
Asher 41,500 53,400
Naphtali 53,400 45,400
Total 603,550 601,730

Those trials included:

  • Israel being defeated by the Amalekites when they tried to conquer the Promised Land against God’s orders (Nu. 14:39-45)
  • Some Israelites rebelling alongside Korah against Moses’s leadership and then being miraculously executed by God (Nu. 16:20-50)
  • Many Israelites growing weary and complaining about being liberated, and then being punished with venomous snakes (Nu. 21:4-9)
  • Fornicating and tainting true worship through the young men’s association with Moabite women (Nu. 25:9)

One can only wonder what habits led some families such as the ones composing the tribe of Simeon to drastically drop to less than half of its original members while other families, such as the ones belonging to the tribe of Manasseh, increased its members by 64%.

Was it their predominant attitude? Were their household heads more inclined to support and collaborate with Moses? Did they value the privilege of forming a people to represent God more than the other tribes? Did the males organize worship in a constant, regular way? Did the knowledge that the older generation had that it was not going to enter the Promised Land not deter it from doing all it could to support its children’s future?

Today, we are living in the last days (Matt. 24:3-14; 2 Tim. 3:1-5).

Still, many grandmothers and grandfathers who have spent their lives working in favor of Jehovah’s interests may not make it alive into the promised New World (2 Pet. 3:13).

It is inspiring to see their self-sacrificing, restless effort which greatly benefits the spiritual well-being of their families and congregations.