Study information for Theocratic Ministry School ReviewThe following questions will be considered at the Theocratic Ministry School during the week beginning October 27, 2014.
1. Why did the Israelites complain against God and Moses as recorded at Numbers 21:5, and what warning is there in this account for us? [Sept. 1, w99 8/15 pp. 26-27]^ (Num. 21:5) And the people kept speaking against God and Moses, saying: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no food and no water, and we have come to hate this contemptible bread.”
^ ***w99 8/15 pp. 26-27 Benefiting From “the Grain of Heaven”***
expression of Jehovah’s mouth does man live.” (Deuteronomy 8:3) Had God not commanded the manna, the people would have starved—a fact they readily admitted. (Exodus 16:3, 4) Appreciative Israelites were daily reminded of their total dependence on Jehovah and were therefore humbled. Once in the Promised Land with its material abundance, they would be less likely to forget Jehovah and their dependence on him.
Like the Israelites, Christians must remain conscious of their dependence on God for life’s necessities—physical and spiritual. (Matthew 5:3; 6:31-33) In answer to one of the Devil’s temptations, Jesus Christ quoted the words of Moses as found at Deuteronomy 8:3, saying: “It is written, ‘Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.’” (Matthew 4:4) Yes, true worshipers of God are nourished by reading Jehovah’s expressions found in his Word. Additionally, their faith is strengthened when they experience the beneficial effects of these expressions in their lives as they walk with God and put his Kingdom interests in first place.
Imperfect humans can lose their appreciation for things that become a routine part of life—even if these things are a reflection of Jehovah’s loving concern. For example, the supernatural provision of manna both astonished and gratified the Israelites at the start, but in time many of them complained. “Our soul has come to abhor the contemptible bread,” they moaned disrespectfully—an indication that they were beginning to ‘draw away from the living God.’ (Numbers 11:6; 21:5; Hebrews 3:12) Their example, therefore, serves as “a warning to us upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived.”—1 Corinthians 10:11.
How can we take to heart this warning example? One way is by never allowing Bible teachings or the provisions we receive through the faithful and discreet slave class to become ordinary, or commonplace. (Matthew 24:45) Once we start to take Jehovah’s gifts for granted or become bored with them, our relationship with him begins to cool off.
For good reason, Jehovah does not flood us with a constant downpour of exciting new things. Rather, he sheds increased light on his Word gradually, progressively. (Proverbs 4:18) This allows his people to assimilate and put into practice the things they learn. Jesus followed his Father’s example when teaching his early disciples. He explained God’s Word to them “as far as they were able to listen,” or “understand,” as some translations put it.—Mark 4:33; compare John 16:12.
Fortify Your Appreciation for God’s Provisions
Jesus also employed repetition. The mind, of course, may readily comprehend a certain point—a Bible principle, for example—but taking it to heart and making it a part of the Christian “new personality” may take a little longer, especially if old worldly ways and attitudes are deeply entrenched. (Ephesians 4:22-24) That certainly was the case with Jesus’ disciples when it came to overcoming pride and developing humility. Jesus had to teach them about humility on a number of occasions, each time presenting the same basic point from a different angle so that it would sink in, which it eventually did.—Matthew 18:1-4; 23:11, 12; Luke 14:7-11; John 13:5, 12-17.
In modern times, Christian meetings and Watch Tower publications follow Jesus’ example in the well-thought-out use of repetition. So let us appreciate this as an expression of God’s loving concern for us and never become weary of what we receive, as the Israelites wearied of the manna. Indeed, as we patiently apply ourselves to absorbing Jehovah’s regular reminders, we will see fine fruitage in our lives. (2 Peter 3:1) Such an appreciative attitude truly shows that we are “getting the sense” of God’s Word in our hearts as well as in our minds. (Matthew 13:15, 19, 23) To that end, we have a fine example in the psalmist David, who, although not having the variety of spiritual food that we receive today, described Jehovah’s laws as “sweeter than honey and the flowing honey of the combs”!—Psalm 19:10.
“Manna” That Gives Everlasting Life
“I am the bread of life,” Jesus said to the Jews. “Your forefathers ate the manna in the wilderness and yet died. . . . I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever . . . The bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world.” (John 6:48-51) Literal bread or manna did not and cannot give everlasting life. But those who exercise faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice will eventually enjoy the blessing of everlasting life.—Matthew 20:28.
The majority of those who benefit from Jesus’ ransom will enjoy everlasting life on a paradise earth. “A great crowd” of these—prefigured by the “vast mixed company” of aliens who joined the Israelites in their Exodus from Egypt—will survive the coming “great tribulation” that will rid the earth of all wickedness. (Revelation 7:9, 10, 14; Exodus 12:38) An even greater reward is enjoyed by those whom the Israelites themselves foreshadowed. The apostle Paul described these ones, numbering 144,000, as constituting the spiritual Israel of God. Their reward at death is a resurrection to life in heaven. (Galatians 6:16; Hebrews 3:1; Revelation 14:1) There Jesus will give them a special kind of manna.
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