References to the Theocratic Ministry School
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Program of the Theocratic Ministry School: Week Starting august 18
ss14 pp. 1-4 Theocratic Ministry School Schedule for 2014
Aug. 18 Bible reading: Numbers 10-13
No. 1: Numbers 10:1-16
No. 2: Why Faith Must Have Works (rs p. 359 ¶2-5)
No. 3: Acts of Apostles—The Spectacular Beginning and Development of the Christian Organization (it-1 pp. 42-43 ¶2)
w14 6/15 pp. 1-2 Table of Contents
AUGUST 18-24, 2014
Do You View Human Weakness as Jehovah Does?
PAGE 23 • SONGS: 77, 79
ws14 6/15 pp. 1-2 Table of Contents
AUGUST 18-24, 2014
Do You View Human Weakness as Jehovah Does?
PAGE 15 • SONGS: 77, 79
Highlights From the Book of Numbers 10-13
Aug. 18 Bible reading: Numbers 10-13FROM PLACE TO PLACE IN THE WILDERNESS
When the cloud above the tabernacle eventually rises, the Israelites begin a march that will bring them to the desert plains of Moab 38 years and one or two months later. You may find it beneficial to follow their route on the map on page 9 of the brochure “See the Good Land,” published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
On the way to Kadesh, in the Wilderness of Paran, there are at least three cases of complaint. The first one is quelled when Jehovah sends a fire to consume some of the people. Then the Israelites cry out for meat, and Jehovah supplies quail. Miriam and Aaron’s complaint against Moses results in Miriam being temporarily stricken with leprosy.
While camping at Kadesh, Moses sends out 12 men to spy out the Promised Land. They return 40 days later. Believing the bad report of ten of the spies, the people want to stone Moses, Aaron, and the faithful spies Joshua and Caleb. Jehovah proposes to strike the people with pestilence, but Moses intercedes, and God declares that they will become wanderers in the wilderness for 40 years—until those numbered have died.
Jehovah gives additional regulations. Korah and others rebel against Moses and Aaron, but the rebels are destroyed by fire or are swallowed up by the earth. The following day the entire assembly murmurs against Moses and Aaron. As a result, 14,700 die in a scourge from Jehovah. To make his selection of high priest known, God causes Aaron’s rod to bud. Jehovah then gives further laws pertaining to Levite obligations and the cleansing of the people. The use of red-cow ashes prefigures the cleansing through Jesus’ sacrifice.—Hebrews 9:13, 14.
The sons of Israel return to Kadesh, where Miriam dies. The assembly again complains against Moses and Aaron. Their reason? Lack of water. Because Moses and Aaron fail to sanctify Jehovah’s name when miraculously providing water, they lose out on entering the Promised Land. Israel pulls away from Kadesh, and Aaron dies at Mount Hor. While going around Edom, the Israelites tire out and speak against God and Moses. Jehovah sends poisonous serpents to punish them. Moses once again intercedes, and God instructs him to make a copper serpent and set it upon a pole so that those bitten are cured by gazing at it. The serpent foreshadows the impalement of Jesus Christ for our eternal benefit. (John 3:14, 15) Israel defeats Amorite Kings Sihon and Og and takes possession of their lands.
Scriptural Questions Answered:12:1—Why did Miriam and Aaron complain against Moses? The real reason for their complaint was apparently Miriam’s desire for greater power. When Moses’ wife, Zipporah, rejoined him in the wilderness, Miriam might have feared that she would no longer be viewed as leading lady in the camp.—Exodus 18:1-5.
12:9-11—Why was only Miriam stricken with leprosy? Very likely, she was the one who instigated the complaint and persuaded Aaron to join her. Aaron displayed a right attitude by confessing his wrong.
Lessons for Us:11:27-29. Moses provides an excellent example regarding how we should respond when others receive privileges in Jehovah’s service. Rather than jealously seeking glory for himself, Moses was happy when Eldad and Medad began acting as prophets.
12:2, 9, 10; 16:1-3, 12-14, 31-35, 41, 46-50. Jehovah expects his worshipers to show respect for God-given authority.
*** w12 9/15 p. 28 par. 3 Jehovah Congregates His Joyful People ***
3 The assembly at the base of Mount Sinai was the first large gathering of God’s people for spiritual instruction on record. It truly was a landmark event in the history of pure worship. On that thrilling occasion, which participants no doubt never forgot, Jehovah gave the Israelites a demonstration of his power when he gave them his Law. (Ex. 19:2-9, 16-19; read Exodus 20:18; Deuteronomy 4:9, 10.) That event was key to God’s subsequent dealings with Israel. Not long thereafter, Jehovah established a means by which to summon his people. He ordered Moses to make two silver trumpets that would be used to call “the whole assembly” to meet “at the entrance of the tent of meeting.” (Num. 10:1-4) Try to imagine the excitement on such occasions!
*** w04 10/15 pp. 17-18 “Go About in the Land” ***
How Do People Think and React?
11 Some might turn to Bible maps to locate places, but do you think that maps could offer insight into people’s thinking? Take as an example the Israelites who moved from Mount Sinai toward the Promised Land. Making some stops along the way, they finally reached Kadesh (or, Kadesh-barnea).  Deuteronomy 1:2 presents this as an 11-day trip, a distance of some 170 miles [270 km]. From there Moses sent 12 spies into the Promised Land. (Numbers 10:12, 33; 11:34, 35; 12:16; 13:1-3, 25, 26) The spies went north through the Negeb, likely passed Beer-sheba, then Hebron, and reached the northern limits of the Promised Land. (Numbers 13:21-24) Because they accepted the negative report of ten spies, the Israelites had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. (Numbers 14:1-34) What does this reveal about their faith and willingness to trust in Jehovah?—Deuteronomy 1:19-33; Psalm 78:22, 32-43; Jude 5.
12 Reflect on this from a geographic standpoint. If the Israelites had exercised faith and followed Joshua and Caleb’s advice, would they have had far to go to reach the Promised Land? Kadesh was about ten miles [16 km] from Beer-lahai-roi, where Isaac and Rebekah had resided. [gl 7] It was under 60 miles [95 km] to Beer-sheba, cited as a southern edge of the Promised Land. (Genesis 24:62; 25:11; 2 Samuel 3:10) Having traveled from Egypt to Mount Sinai and then 170 miles [270 km] to Kadesh, they were as if on the doorstep of the Promised Land. In our case, we are on the threshold of the promised earthly Paradise. What is the lesson for us? The apostle Paul tied in the Israelites’ situation with the counsel: “Let us therefore do our utmost to enter into that rest, for fear anyone should fall in the same pattern of disobedience.”—Hebrews 3:16–4:11.
*** w12 3/15 p. 27 pars. 9-10 Do Not Look at “the Things Behind” ***
9 Unbelievably, though, within a short time of their miraculous deliverance, these same people began to grumble and murmur. About what? Food! They became dissatisfied with what Jehovah supplied and complained: “How we remember the fish that we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers and the watermelons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic! But now our soul is dried away. Our eyes are on nothing at all except the manna.” (Num. 11:5, 6) Yes, their viewpoint had become distorted—so much so that they even wanted to return to the land of their slavery! (Num. 14:2-4) The Israelites looked at the things behind and lost Jehovah’s favor.—Num. 11:10.
10 What is the lesson for us today? When faced with difficulties and problems, let us not fixate on what may appear to have been positive things in the past—perhaps even before we came to a knowledge of the truth. Although it is not wrong to meditate on the lessons we have learned from past experiences or to savor cherished memories, we need to maintain a balanced, realistic view of the past. Otherwise, we could accentuate our dissatisfaction with our present circumstances and be tempted to return to our former way of life.—Read 2 Peter 2:20-22.
*** w95 3/1 pp. 15-16 par. 10 Living Up to Our Dedication “Day After Day” ***
10 First, Paul warned us not to be “desiring injurious things.” (1 Corinthians 10:6) That may remind you of the occasion when the Israelites complained about having only manna to eat. Jehovah sent quail to them. Something similar had happened about a year earlier in the wilderness of Sin, just before the Israelites declared their dedication to Jehovah. (Exodus 16:1-3, 12, 13) But the situation was not exactly the same. When Jehovah provided quail the first time, he did not call the Israelites to account for their murmuring. This time, however, things were different. “The meat was yet between their teeth, before it could be chewed, when Jehovah’s anger blazed against the people, and Jehovah began striking at the people with a very great slaughter.” (Numbers 11:4-6, 31-34) What had changed? As a dedicated nation, they were now held accountable. Their lack of appreciation for Jehovah’s provisions led them to complain against Jehovah, despite their having promised to do all that Jehovah had spoken! Complaining about Jehovah’s table today is similar. Some fail to appreciate Jehovah’s spiritual provisions through “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45-47) Remember, though, that our dedication requires us gratefully to keep in mind what Jehovah has done for us and accept the spiritual food that Jehovah supplies.
*** w13 2/1 p. 5 Moses—A Man of Humility ***
Moses did not jealously guard his authority. He rejoiced when Jehovah allowed other Israelites to act as prophets alongside him. (Numbers 11:24-29) When his father-in-law suggested that he delegate some of his workload, Moses humbly applied the suggestion. (Exodus 18:13-24) And toward the end of his life, although still physically strong, Moses asked Jehovah to appoint a successor for him. When Jehovah selected Joshua, Moses wholeheartedly supported the younger man, urging the people to follow Joshua’s lead into the Promised Land. (Numbers 27:15-18; Deuteronomy 31:3-6; 34:7) To be sure, Moses counted it a privilege to lead the Israelites in worship. But he did not put his authority ahead of the welfare of others.
WHAT ARE THE LESSONS FOR US? We never want to let power, authority, or natural ability go to our head. Remember: In order to be useful to Jehovah, our humility should always exceed our ability. (1 Samuel 15:17) When we are truly humble, we will strive to apply the Bible’s wise advice: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding.”—Proverbs 3:5, 6.
*** w13 2/1 p. 6 Moses—A Man of Love ***
Besides listening to them, Moses also prayed for his loved ones. He even prayed for those who had wronged him! For example, when Moses’ sister, Miriam, murmured against Moses, Jehovah struck her with leprosy. Rather than rejoicing over her punishment, Moses immediately interceded for her, praying: “O God, please! Heal her, please!” (Numbers 12:13) What else but love would have caused Moses to offer such a selfless prayer?
WHAT ARE THE LESSONS FOR US? We can imitate Moses by cultivating deep love for God. Such love moves us to obey his commands “from the heart.” (Romans 6:17) When we obey Jehovah from our heart, we bring joy to his heart. (Proverbs 27:11) We also benefit ourselves. After all, when we serve God out of genuine love, not only will we do the right things but we will enjoy doing them!—Psalm 100:2.
*** w11 1/15 pp. 27-28 Empowered to Overcome Any Trial ***
Helped to Resist Peer Pressure
8 A more subtle form of opposition that Christians must endure is negative peer pressure. However, because Jehovah’s spirit is much more powerful than the spirit of the world, we can resist people who ridicule us, who spread untruths about us, or who attempt to force us to conform to their standards. What was it, for example, that enabled Joshua and Caleb to disagree with the views of the ten other spies who were sent into the land of Canaan? Holy spirit stirred within them a different “spirit,” or mental inclination.—Read Numbers 13:30; 14:6-10, 24.
*** w11 7/15 p. 11 pars. 4-5 Will You Follow Jehovah’s Loving Guidance? ***
The negative reports from those ten spies quickly spread fear and panic among the people. Before long, most were sure that it would be a mistake to enter the Promised Land as Jehovah had directed. In that volatile situation, what did Joshua and Caleb do?—Num. 13:25-33.
5 They did not go following after the crowd. Although the crowd hated to hear it, those two men told the truth and stuck to it—even when threatened with death by stoning! Where did they get the courage? No doubt, a good part of it came from their faith. People with faith see clearly the difference between the baseless claims of men and the sacred promises of Jehovah God. Both men later expressed how they felt about Jehovah’s record in fulfilling his every promise. (Read Joshua 14:6, 8; 23:2, 14.) Joshua and Caleb were attached to their faithful God, and they could not imagine hurting him for the sake of following a faithless crowd. So they stood firm, setting a sterling example for us today.—Num. 14:1-10.
*** w92 5/1 p. 24 He Provided for Israel in Sinai ***
The Israelites had been in servitude back in the Nile delta, but they did not lack. Wall paintings in ancient tombs depict an assortment of grapes, melons, and other crops, as well as fish and poultry that would make for a varied diet. How accurate, then, the longing complaint in the wilderness: “Who will give us meat to eat? How we remember the fish that we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers and the watermelons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic!”—Numbers 11:4, 5; 20:5.
*** w11 9/1 p. 14 Did You Know? ***
Why did God choose quail to feed the Israelites in the wilderness?
▪ Following the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt, God twice provided them with an abundance of meat in the form of quail.—Exodus 16:13; Numbers 11:31.
Quail are small birds, about 7 inches (18 cm) in length and weighing about 3.5 ounces (100 g). They breed in many parts of western Asia and Europe. Being migratory birds, they winter in North Africa and Arabia. During their seasonal passage, vast flocks traverse the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea and fly over the Sinai Peninsula.
According to The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, quail “fly rapidly and well, and take advantage of the wind; but if the wind changes its course, or the birds become exhausted from long flight, the whole immense flock is apt to fall to the ground, where the birds lie stunned.” Before continuing their migration, they have to rest on the ground for a day or two, thus becoming easy catch for hunters. In the early 20th century, Egypt was exporting some three million quail annually for food.
Both times that the Israelites fed on quail were in the spring. Although quail regularly flew over the Sinai area during that time, it was Jehovah who caused ‘a wind to burst forth’ to drive these birds into the Israelite encampment.—Numbers 11:31.
*** w09 8/1 p. 26 Jehovah Values Meekness ***
Draw Close to God
Jehovah Values Meekness
PRIDE, jealousy, ambition. Such traits are common among those who manage to get ahead in this world. But do characteristics like that bring us close to Jehovah God? On the contrary, Jehovah values meekness in his worshippers. This is evident from the account found in Numbers chapter 12. The setting is the wilderness of Sinai, following Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.
Miriam and Aaron, the older siblings of Moses, “began to speak against” their younger brother. (Verse 1) Rather than just speaking to Moses, they spoke against him, likely spreading their complaints in the camp. Miriam, who is mentioned first, apparently took the lead. The first ground for the murmuring was that Moses had married a Cushite woman. Was Miriam jealous that she might be eclipsed by this other woman—a non-Israelite at that?
The roots of the grumbling went deeper. Miriam and Aaron kept saying: “Is it just by Moses alone that Jehovah has spoken? Is it not by us also that he has spoken?” (Verse 2) Was the real motive for the murmuring a desire for more power and recognition?
In the account, Moses did not answer the complaints himself. Evidently, he quietly endured the abuse. His patient response affirmed the Bible’s description of him as “the meekest of all the men” on the earth. (Verse 3) Moses did not have to defend himself. Jehovah was listening, and he stood up for Moses.
Jehovah took the murmuring personally. After all, he had appointed Moses. Rebuking the murmurers, God reminded them that he had a unique relationship with Moses: “Mouth to mouth I speak to him.” Jehovah then asked Miriam and Aaron: “Why, then, did you not fear to speak against . . . Moses?” (Verse 8) By speaking against Moses, they were really guilty of speaking against God. For such gross disrespect, they would feel the heat of divine anger.
Miriam, the apparent instigator, was stricken with leprosy. Aaron immediately implored Moses to intercede for her. Just imagine—Miriam’s welfare now depended on the intercession of the one they had wronged! Moses meekly did as he was asked. Speaking for the first time in this account, Moses earnestly entreated Jehovah in behalf of his sister. Miriam was healed, but she had to endure the shame of a seven-day period of quarantine.
This account gives us insight into the qualities that Jehovah values and the traits that he opposes. If we want to draw close to God, we must strive to uproot any traces of pride, jealousy, and ambition we might see in ourselves. It is the meek whom Jehovah loves. He promises: “The meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Psalm 37:11; James 4:6.
Meekness is a strong quality that enables a person to endure injustice with patience and without vindictiveness.
*** w02 10/15 pp. 28-29 Should Christians Be Jealous? ***
Miriam and Phinehas
Miriam was the older sister of Moses and Aaron, the leaders of the Israelites during the Exodus. While the Israelites were in the wilderness, Miriam became jealous of her brother Moses. The Bible record reads: “Now Miriam and Aaron began to speak against Moses on account of the Cushite wife whom he had taken . . . And they kept saying: ‘Is it just by Moses alone that Jehovah has spoken? Is it not by us also that he has spoken?’” Apparently, Miriam took the lead in this move against Moses, for Jehovah disciplined Miriam, not Aaron, with a week-long case of leprosy for her disrespectful conduct.—Numbers 12:1-15.
What prompted Miriam to act against Moses? Was it concern for true worship and a desire to protect fellow Israelites from harm? Evidently not. It appears that Miriam had allowed an improper desire for more prestige and authority to well up in her heart. As a prophetess in Israel, she enjoyed great respect from the people, particularly the women. She led them in music and song after Israel’s miraculous salvation at the Red Sea. Now, though, Miriam might have become unduly concerned about losing some of her prominence to a suspected rival, the wife of Moses. Moved by selfish jealousy, she stirred up contention against Moses, the one appointed by Jehovah.—Exodus 15:1, 20, 21.
*** w88 5/15 p. 22 Has Anyone Seen God? ***
When Moses talked with God and received instructions from him, the communication was not through visions, as was often the case with other prophets. This is noted at Numbers 12:6-8, where we read: “He went on to say: ‘Hear my words, please. If there came to be a prophet of yours for Jehovah, it would be in a vision I would make myself known to him. In a dream I would speak to him. Not so my servant Moses! He is being entrusted with all my house. Mouth to mouth I speak to him, thus showing him, and not by riddles; and the appearance of Jehovah is what he beholds.’” In what sense did Moses behold “the appearance of Jehovah”?
Moses beheld “the appearance of Jehovah” when he, Aaron, and certain other men were on Mount Sinai. At Exodus 24:10, it is written: “They got to see the God of Israel. And under his feet there was what seemed like a work of sapphire flagstones and like the very heavens for purity.” But how did Moses and the other men get to “see the God of Israel,” since God had told him, “No man may see me and yet live”? Verse 11 explains, for it says: “He did not put out his hand against the distinguished men of the sons of Israel, but they got a vision of the true God and ate and drank.” So the appearance of God that Moses and the others saw was by means of a vision.
*** w02 12/1 p. 11 What Joshua Remembered ***
The story of the spies also informs us that Joshua’s name was changed. To his original name, Hoshea, meaning “Salvation,” Moses added the syllable denoting the divine name and called him Jehoshua, or Joshua—“Jehovah Is Salvation.” The Septuagint renders his name “Jesus.” (Numbers 13:8, 16, footnote.) True to that great name, Joshua boldly declared that Jehovah is salvation. Joshua’s name change could not have been done casually. It reflected Moses’ esteem of Joshua’s character and corresponded with the privileged role Joshua would fulfill in leading a new generation into the Promised Land.
*** w06 6/15 p. 16 “Take Care of This Vine”! ***
“Take Care of This Vine”!
THE 12 spies walked the length and breadth of the Promised Land. Moses had told them to observe the inhabitants and to bring back samples of the land’s produce. Which product particularly attracted their attention? Not far from Hebron, they found a vineyard where the grapes were so large that it took two of the spies to carry just one cluster. So impressive was the crop that the spies named the fertile area “the torrent valley of Eshcol,” or “Cluster of Grapes.”—Numbers 13:21-24; footnote.
During the 19th century, a visitor to Palestine reported: “Eshcol, or Grape valley, . . . is still clad with vines, and the grapes are the finest and largest in Palestine.” Although the vines of Eshcol excelled, much of Palestine produced fine grapes in Bible times. Egyptian records indicate that the Pharaohs imported wine from Canaan.
No. 1: Numbers 10:1-16
No. 2: Why Faith Must Have Works (rs p. 359 ¶2-5)rs p. 359 ¶2-5 Salvation
Eph. 2:8, 9, RS: “By grace [“undeserved kindness,” NW] you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any man should boast.” (The entire provision for salvation is an expression of God’s undeserved kindness. There is no way that a descendant of Adam can gain salvation on his own, no matter how noble his works are. Salvation is a gift from God given to those who put faith in the sin-atoning value of the sacrifice of his Son.)
Heb. 5:9, RS: “He [Jesus] became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” (Italics added.) (Does this conflict with the statement that Christians are “saved through faith”? Not at all. Obedience simply demonstrates that their faith is genuine.)
Jas. 2:14, 26, RS: “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.” (A person does not earn salvation by his works. But anyone who has genuine faith will have works to go with it—works of obedience to the commands of God and Christ, works that demonstrate his faith and love. Without such works, his faith is dead.)
Acts 16:30, 31, RS: “‘Men, what must I do to be saved?’ And they [Paul and Silas] said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’” (If that man and his household truly believed, would they not act in harmony with their belief? Certainly.)
No. 3: Acts of Apostles—The Spectacular Beginning and Development of the Christian Organization (it-1 pp. 42-43 ¶2)it-1 pp. 42-43 ¶2 Acts of Apostles
This is the title by which one of the Bible books has been called since the second century C.E. It covers primarily the activity of Peter and Paul, rather than that of all the apostles in general; and it provides us with a most reliable and comprehensive history of the spectacular beginning and rapid development of the Christian organization, first among the Jews and then among the Samaritans and the Gentile nations.
The overriding theme of the entire Bible, Jehovah’s Kingdom, dominates the book (Ac 1:3; 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:31), and we are constantly reminded of how the apostles bore “thorough witness” concerning Christ and that Kingdom and fully accomplished their ministry. (2:40; 5:42; 8:25; 10:42; 20:21, 24; 23:11; 26:22; 28:23) The book also provides a superb historical background against which to view the inspired letters of the Christian Greek Scriptures.
The Writer. The opening words of Acts refer to the Gospel of Luke as “the first account.” And since both accounts are addressed to the same individual, Theophilus, we know that Luke, though not signing his name, was the writer of Acts. (Lu 1:3; Ac 1:1) Both accounts have a similar style and wording. The Muratorian Fragment of the late second century C.E. also attributes the writership to Luke. Ecclesiastical writings of the second century C.E. by Irenaeus of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian of Carthage, when quoting from Acts, cite Luke as the writer.
When and Where Written. The book covers a period of approximately 28 years, from Jesus’ ascension in 33 C.E. to the end of the second year of Paul’s imprisonment in Rome about 61 C.E. During this period four Roman emperors ruled in succession: Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero. Since it relates events through the second year of Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, it could not have been completed earlier. Had the account been written later, it is reasonable to expect that Luke would have provided more information about Paul; if written after the year 64 C.E., mention surely would have been made of Nero’s violent persecution that began then; and if written after 70 C.E., as some contend, we would expect to find Jerusalem’s destruction recorded.
The writer Luke accompanied Paul much of the time during his travels, including the perilous voyage to Rome, which is apparent from his use of the first-person plural pronouns “we,” “our,” and “us” in Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1-37; 28:1-16. Paul, in his letters written from Rome, mentions that Luke was also there. (Col 4:14; Phm 24) It was, therefore, in Rome that the writing of the book of Acts was completed.
As already observed, Luke himself was an eyewitness to much of what he wrote, and in his travels he contacted fellow Christians who either participated in or observed certain events described. For example, John Mark could tell him of Peter’s miraculous prison release (Ac 12:12), while the events described in chapters 6 and 8 could have been learned from the missionary Philip. And Paul, of course, as an eyewitness, was able to supply many details of events that happened when Luke was not with him.
References consulted on: Watchtower Library 2013 CD‒ROM
Download the references in PDF file for PCs, Smartphones and Tablets