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References to the Theocratic Ministry School
Program of the Theocratic Ministry School: Week Starting March 31
Mar. 31 Bible reading: Exodus 1-6
No. 1: Exodus 2:1-14
No. 2: Christ’s Return Is Invisible (rs p. 341 ¶3–p. 342 ¶2)
No. 3: Abiram—Opposing God-Appointed Authority Is Tantamount to Opposing Jehovah (it-1 p. 25, Abiram No. 1)
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Highlights of Exodus 1-6
Highlights From the Book of ExodusIT IS a true story of the deliverance of those who were made to “slave under tyranny.” (Exodus 1:13) It is also an exciting account of the birth of a nation. Astounding miracles, superb legislation, and the construction of the tabernacle are among its absorbing features. In essence, this is what the Bible book of Exodus contains.
Written by the Hebrew prophet Moses, Exodus relates the experiences of the Israelites over a period of 145 years—from Joseph’s death in 1657 B.C.E. to the completion of the tabernacle in 1512 B.C.E. Yet, the account is of more than mere historical interest. It is a part of God’s word, or message, to mankind. As such, it “is alive and exerts power.” (Hebrews 4:12) Exodus, then, has real meaning for us.
“GOD HEARD THEIR GROANING”
Jacob’s descendants living in Egypt increase so rapidly that by royal mandate they are made to suffer as slaves. Pharaoh even decrees death for all Israelite male infants. Escaping such an end is a three-month-old baby, Moses, who is adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. Although he is brought up in the royal household, at the age of 40, Moses sides with his own people and kills an Egyptian. (Acts 7:23, 24) Forced to flee, he goes to Midian. There he gets married and lives as a shepherd. At a miraculously burning bush, Jehovah commissions Moses to return to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of slavery. His brother, Aaron, is appointed to be his spokesman.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
3:1—What kind of priest was Jethro? In patriarchal times the family head served as a priest for his family. Jethro was evidently the patriarchal head of a tribe of Midianites. Since the Midianites were Abraham’s descendants by Keturah, they were perhaps exposed to the worship of Jehovah.—Genesis 25:1, 2.
4:11—In what sense does Jehovah ‘appoint the speechless, the deaf, and the blind’? Although Jehovah has on occasion caused blindness and muteness, he is not responsible for every case of such disabilities. (Genesis 19:11; Luke 1:20-22, 62-64) These are the result of inherited sin. (Job 14:4; Romans 5:12) Since God has allowed this situation to exist, however, he could speak of himself as ‘appointing’ the speechless, the deaf, and the blind.
4:16—How was Moses to “serve as God” to Aaron? Moses was a representative of God. Hence, Moses became “as God” to Aaron, who spoke representatively for Moses.
Lessons for Us:
1:7, 14. Jehovah supported his people when they were oppressed in Egypt. He similarly sustains his modern-day Witnesses, even in the face of intense persecution.
1:17-21. Jehovah remembers us “for good.”—Nehemiah 13:31.
3:7-10. Jehovah is sensitive to the outcry of his people.
3:14. Jehovah unfailingly carries out his purposes. We can therefore be confident that he will turn our Bible-based hopes into reality.
4:10, 13. Moses displayed so much lack of confidence in his ability to speak that even when assured of divine backing, he begged God to send someone else to speak to Pharaoh. Still, Jehovah used Moses and gave him the wisdom and strength needed to carry out his assignment. Instead of focusing on our inadequacies, may we rely on Jehovah and faithfully fulfill our commission to preach and to teach.—Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20.
ASTOUNDING MIRACLES BRING DELIVERANCE
Moses and Aaron appear before Pharaoh, asking that the Israelites be permitted to celebrate a festival to Jehovah in the wilderness. The Egyptian ruler defiantly refuses. Jehovah uses Moses to bring about one telling blow after another. Only after the tenth plague does Pharaoh let the Israelites go. Soon, however, he and his military forces are in hot pursuit. But Jehovah opens an escape corridor through the Red Sea and delivers his people. The pursuing Egyptians drown as the sea closes in on them.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
6:3—In what way had God’s name not been made known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? These patriarchs used the divine name and received promises from Jehovah. Yet, they did not know or experience Jehovah as the one who caused these promises to be fulfilled.—Genesis 12:1, 2; 15:7, 13-16; 26:24; 28:10-15.
*** w09 3/1 p. 15 “I Well Know the Pains They Suffer” ***
The holy God had a reason for drawing Moses into conversation. God said: “Unquestionably I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and I have heard their outcry as a result of those who drive them to work; because I well know the pains they suffer.” (Verse 7) God was not blind to the misery of his people; nor was he deaf to the voice of their pleadings. Rather, their anguish became his own. Notice that God said: “I well know the pains they suffer.” Regarding the words “I well know,” one reference work notes: “The expression implies personal feeling, tenderness, and compassion.” Jehovah’s words to Moses reveal a deeply concerned and caring God.
What would God do? He did not merely look with pity or hear with compassion. He was moved to act. He purposed to deliver his people out of Egypt and to bring them “to a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Verse 8) To that end, Jehovah commissioned Moses, saying: “Bring my people . . . out of Egypt.” (Verse 10) Faithful to that commission, Moses led Israel out of Egypt in 1513 B.C.E.
Jehovah has not changed. His worshippers today can be sure that he sees their adversities and hears their cries for help. He well knows the pains they suffer. But Jehovah does not just feel compassion for his devoted servants. The tender God is moved to act in their behalf “because he cares” for them.—1 Peter 5:7.
God’s compassion gives us reason for hope. With his help, we imperfect humans can attain a measure of holiness and become acceptable to him. (1 Peter 1:15, 16) One Christian woman who has struggled with depression and discouragement found comfort in the account about Moses’ experience at the thornbush. She says: “If Jehovah can make even the dirt holy, then maybe there is a little hope for me. This thought has helped me profoundly.”
*** nwt p. 1735 A4 The Divine Name in the Hebrew Scriptures ***
Therefore, the meaning of the name Jehovah is not limited to the related verb found at Exodus 3:14, which reads: “I Will Become What I Choose to Become” or, “I Will Prove to Be What I Will Prove to Be.” In the strictest sense, those words do not fully define God’s name. Rather, they reveal an aspect of God’s personality, showing that he becomes what is needed in each circumstance to fulfill his purpose. So while the name Jehovah may include this idea, it is not limited to what he himself chooses to become. It also includes what he causes to happen with regard to his creation and the accomplishment of his purpose.
TMS REVIEW: *** w13 3/15 pp. 25-26 pars. 5-6 Honor Jehovah’s Great Name ***
5 How did Jehovah reply to Moses’ question? In part, he said: “This is what you are to say to the sons of Israel, ‘I SHALL PROVE TO BE has sent me to you.’” Then he added: “Jehovah the God of your forefathers. . . has sent me to you.” God revealed that he will become whatever he chooses to become so as to accomplish his purpose, that he will always prove true to his word. Hence, in verse 15 we read that Jehovah himself said: “This is my name to time indefinite, and this is the memorial of me to generation after generation.” How that revelation must have strengthened Moses’ faith and filled him with awe!
JEHOVAH LIVED UP TO HIS NAME
6 Shortly after commissioning Moses, Jehovah fully lived up to his name by ‘proving to be’ Israel’s Deliverer. He humiliated Egypt with ten devastating plagues, at the same time exposing the Egyptian gods— including Pharaoh—as impotent. (Ex. 12:12) Then Jehovah opened up the Red Sea, led Israel through it, and drowned Pharaoh and his military force. (Ps. 136:13-15) In the “great and fear-inspiring wilderness,” Jehovah proved to be a Preserver of life as he provided food and water for his people, perhaps numbering from two to three million or more! He even caused their garments and their sandals not to wear out. (Deut. 1:19; 29:5) Yes, nothing can stop Jehovah from proving true to his incomparable name. He later stated to Isaiah: “I—I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior.”—Isa. 43:11.
*** w12 6/15 pp. 21-22 pars. 5-6 Why Put Jehovah’s Service First? ***
5 Next, let us look at the example of Moses. He was raised in an Egyptian palace as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter. As a young prince, he was educated “in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” (Acts 7:22; Ex. 2:9, 10) This education was likely intended to prepare him for a career in Pharaoh’s court. He could have become prominent in the most powerful government of the day, having the luxuries, privileges, and pleasures that such a position would afford him. But was enjoyment of these things Moses’ objective?
6 Because of the training that he received from his real parents early in life, Moses likely knew what Jehovah had promised his ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moses exercised faith in those promises. He must have thought carefully about his future and his loyalty to Jehovah. So when the time came to choose between being an Egyptian prince or an Israelite slave, what did he decide? Moses chose “to be ill-treated with the people of God rather than to have the temporary enjoyment of sin.” (Read Hebrews 11:24-26.) Later, he followed Jehovah’s guidance regarding how he should use his life. (Ex. 3:2, 6-10) Why did Moses do that? Because he believed God’s promises. He concluded that there was no future for him in Egypt. Indeed, that nation was soon thereafter crushed by ten plagues from God.
Do you see the lesson in this for those dedicated to Jehovah today? Rather than focusing on a career or any pleasures of this system of things, our focus must be on Jehovah and his service.
No. 1: Exodus 2:1-142 About that time, a certain man of the house of Le′vi married a daughter of Le′vi. 2 And the woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw how beautiful he was, she kept him concealed for three months. 3 When she was no longer able to conceal him, she took a papyrus basket and coated it with bitumen and pitch and put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile River. 4 But his sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
5 When Phar′aoh’s daughter came down to bathe in the Nile, her female attendants were walking by the side of the Nile. And she caught sight of the basket in the middle of the reeds. She immediately sent her slave girl to get it. 6 When she opened it, she saw the child, and the boy was crying. She felt compassion for him, but she said: “This is one of the children of the Hebrews.” 7 Then his sister said to Phar′aoh’s daughter: “Shall I go and call a nursing woman from the Hebrews to nurse the child for you?” 8 Phar′aoh’s daughter said to her: “Go!” At once the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9 Phar′aoh’s daughter then said to her: “Take this child with you and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she brought him to Phar′aoh’s daughter, and he became a son to her. She named him Moses and said: “It is because I have drawn him out of the water.” 11 Now in those days, after Moses had become an adult, he went out to his brothers to look at the burdens they were bearing, and he caught sight of an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brothers.
12 So he looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.
13 But he went out on the following day, and there were two Hebrew men fighting with each other.
So he said to the one in the wrong: “Why do you strike your companion?” 14 At this he said: “Who appointed you as a prince and a judge over us? Are you planning to kill me just as you killed the Egyptian?” Moses now was afraid and said: “Surely the matter has become known!”
No. 2: Christ’s Return Is Invisible (rs p. 341 ¶3–p. 342 ¶2)rs p. 341 ¶3–p. 342 ¶2 Return of Christ
John 14:19: “A little longer and the world will behold me no more, but you [Jesus’ faithful apostles] will behold me, because I live and you will live.” (Jesus had promised his apostles that he would come again and take them to heaven to be with him. They could see him because they would be spirit creatures as he is. But the world would not see him again. Compare 1 Timothy 6:16.)
Acts 13:34: “He [God] resurrected him [Jesus] from the dead destined no more to return to corruption.” (Human bodies are by nature corruptible. That is why 1 Corinthians 15:42, 44 uses the word “corruption” in parallel construction with “physical body.” Jesus will never again have such a body.)
John 6:51: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and, for a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world.” (Having given it, Jesus does not take it back again. He does not thereby deprive mankind of the benefits of the sacrifice of his perfect human life.)
No. 3: Abiram—Opposing God-Appointed Authority Is Tantamount to Opposing Jehovah (it-1 p. 25, Abiram No. 1)it-1 p. 25, Abiram No. 1 Abiram
1. A Reubenite, the son of Eliab and brother of Dathan and Nemuel. He was a family head and one of the principal men in Israel at the time of the Exodus from Egypt.—Nu 26:5-9.
Abiram and his brother Dathan supported Korah the Levite in his rebellion against the authority of Moses and Aaron. A third Reubenite, named On, is also included in the initial stage of the rebellion but thereafter receives no mention. (Nu 16:1) Having gathered a group of 250 chieftains, who were “men of fame,” these men accused Moses and Aaron of arbitrarily elevating themselves over the rest of the congregation. (Nu 16:1-3) From Moses’ words to Korah it is clear that Korah and his followers among the Levites sought the priesthood that had been conferred on Aaron (Nu 16:4-11); but this was evidently not the case with Abiram and Dathan, who were Reubenites. Moses dealt separately with them, and their rejection of his call for them to appear before him contains accusations directed solely against Moses, with no mention made of Aaron. They decried Moses’ leadership of the nation and said that he was ‘trying to play the prince over them to the limit,’ and that he had failed in making good the promise of leading them into any land flowing with milk and honey. Moses’ prayer to Jehovah in answer to these accusations likewise contains a defense of his own actions, not those of Aaron.—Nu 16:12-15.
From this it would appear that the rebellion was two-pronged and aimed not only at the Aaronic priesthood but also at Moses’ position as administrator of God’s instructions. (Ps 106:16) The situation may have seemed opportune for organizing popular sentiment toward a change, since shortly before this the people had severely complained against Moses, had talked of appointing a new head to lead the nation back to Egypt, and had even talked of stoning Joshua and Caleb for upholding Moses and Aaron. (Nu 14:1-10) Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn son but lost his right to the inheritance as such because of wrong action. (1Ch 5:1) Thus, Dathan and Abiram may have been expressing resentment at Moses the Levite’s exercise of authority over them, because of desiring to regain the lost primacy of their forefather. Numbers 26:9, however, shows that their struggle was not only against Moses and Aaron but also “against Jehovah,” who had divinely commissioned Moses and Aaron to occupy positions of authority.
Since the family of the Kohathites (in which Korah’s family was included) encamped on the S side of the tabernacle, the same side as did the Reubenites, it is possible that Korah’s tent was nearby those of Dathan and Abiram. (Nu 2:10; 3:29) At the time of God’s expression of judgment, Dathan and Abiram stood at the entrances of their tents, while Korah and 250 rebel supporters were gathered at the entrance of the tent of meeting with their incense holders in their hands. Then, following Moses’ call to the rest of the people to withdraw from around the tents of the three ringleaders of the rebellion, God manifested his condemnation of their disrespectful course by causing the ground to open up beneath the tents of these men, swallowing up Dathan and Abiram, and their households. (Nu 16:16-35; De 11:6; Ps 106:17) Korah’s household, with the exception of his sons, likewise perished. Korah himself died with the 250 rebels, destroyed by fire before the tabernacle. (Nu 16:35; 26:10, 11) Thus the rebellion against divinely assigned authority came to a swift termination, and for his share in it, Abiram’s name was wiped out of Israel.