Tag Archives: Moses

Wednesday, November 20

Jesus has become the one given in pledge of a better covenant.—Heb. 7:22.

In his letter to the Hebrews, Paul explained that the tabernacle was merely “a shadow of the heavenly things” and that Jesus became the Mediator of “a better covenant” than that mediated by Moses. (Heb. 8:1-5) In Paul’s day, such explanations of the Law were invaluable to Christians, and they still are. They help us to grasp more fully the value of the provisions that God has made for us. Writing to the Romans, Paul directed some of his comments to congregation members who were of Jewish stock and who had been instructed in the Mosaic Law. He acknowledged that such ones had the advantage of possessing a “framework of the knowledge and of the truth” concerning Jehovah and his righteous principles. A grasp of that ‘framework of truth’ and heartfelt respect for it enabled Jewish Christians to guide, teach, and illuminate those who were in ignorance of the Law.—Rom. 2:17-20w12 1/15 3:1, 2

Monday, September 23

He explained the matter to them by bearing thorough witness concerning the kingdom of God and by using persuasion with them concerning Jesus from both the law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.—Acts 28:23.

Why was Paul so effective in bearing witness? Today’s text highlights a number of reasons. (1) He focused on God’s Kingdom and on Jesus Christ. (2) He tried to appeal to his listeners “by using persuasion.” (3) He reasoned from the Scriptures. (4) He showed a selfless attitude, bearing witness “from morning till evening.” Paul gave a powerful witness, but not everyone responded. “Some began to believe the things said; others would not believe,” notes verse 24. Dissension ensued, and the people departed. Was Paul disheartened because not everyone accepted the good news? By no means! Acts 28:30, 31 tells us: “He remained for an entire two years in his own hired house, and he would kindly receive all those who came in to him, preaching the kingdom of God to them.” w12 1/15 2:18-20

Sunday, September 22

He does not give the spirit by measure.—John 3:34.

Moses was entrusted with enormous responsibility in the nation of Israel. God’s spirit empowered him to prophesy, judge, write, lead, and perform miracles. (Isa. 63:11-14) Yet, at one point, Moses lamented that the load was simply too heavy. (Num. 11:14, 15) So Jehovah took “away some of the spirit” that was upon Moses and put it on 70 others to help carry the workload. (Num. 11:16, 17) However, Moses still had all the spirit that he needed. Today, Jehovah supplies as much of his spirit as we need, according to our circumstances. Are you enduring trials? Are legitimate demands on your time increasing? Are you striving to provide for the spiritual and physical needs of your family while coping with rising expenses or anxieties over health? Are you carrying weighty responsibilities in the congregation? Be assured that by means of his spirit, God can give you the strength you need to cope with any situation.—Rom. 15:13w11 12/15 3:3-5

Tuesday, September 17

There remains a sabbath resting for the people of God. For the man that has entered into God’s rest has also himself rested from his own works, just as God did from his own.—Heb. 4:9, 10.

Likely with the observance of the weekly Sabbath under the Law in mind, Paul wrote the words above concerning the privilege of entering into Jehovah’s rest day. Those Hebrew Christians had to stop thinking that they could earn Jehovah’s approval by performing works based on the Mosaic Law. Since Pentecost 33 C.E., God’s favor has graciously been bestowed on those who exercise faith in Jesus Christ. What had prevented the Israelites in Moses’ day from entering the Promised Land? Disobedience. What was preventing some Christians in Paul’s day from entering into God’s rest? The same—disobedience. They failed to recognize that the Law had served its purpose and that Jehovah was leading his people in a different direction. w11 7/15 3:14, 15

Saturday, September 7

[Moseslooked intently toward the payment of the reward.—Heb. 11:26.

Moses was not distracted by “the temporary enjoyment of sin.” (Heb. 11:25) God and his promises were so real to Moses that he demonstrated extraordinary courage and endurance. He exerted himself untiringly in leading the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Yet, Moses did not experience the fulfillment of God’s promise in his lifetime. This was because earlier he and Aaron, exasperated by the people’s rebelliousness, “acted undutifully toward [God] in the middle of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah.” (Deut. 32:51, 52) Did Moses become despondent or resentful? No. He pronounced a blessing on the people and concluded with these words: “Happy you are, O Israel! Who is there like you, a people enjoying salvation in Jehovah, the shield of your help, and the One who is your eminent sword?”—Deut. 33:29w11 9/15 3:15, 16

Friday, August 9

 

Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.—Jas. 4:8.

Young ones, the first step on the road to life is to make the truth your own. Have you taken that step? Ask yourself: ‘Am I a spiritual person, or is my participation in spiritual activities dependent on my parents? Do I cultivate qualities that make me pleasing to God? Do I make an effort to maintain a consistent routine of sharing in the activities related to true worship? Am I drawing close to God by nurturing a personal relationship with him?’ Reflect on Moses’ example. Despite having been subjected to a foreign culture, he chose to be identified as a worshipper of Jehovah rather than a son of the daughter of Pharaoh. (Heb. 11:24-27) Christian youths, you too need to be determined to serve Jehovah faithfully. By doing that, you will gain true happiness, the best quality of life now, and the hope of getting “a firm hold on the real life.”—1 Tim. 6:19w11 5/15 1:18, 19

Jehovah’s Works—Great and Wonderful

Chapter 31

Vision 10—Revelation 15:1–16:21

Subject: Jehovah in his sanctuary; the seven bowls of his wrath poured into the earth

Time of fulfillment: 1919 to Armageddon

A WOMAN giving birth to a male child! A great dragon seeking to devour that child! Those two heavenly signs, so vividly portrayed in Revelation chapter 12, brought home to us that the agelong controversy involving the Seed of God’s woman and Satan and his demonic seed is reaching its climax. In highlighting these symbols, John says: “And a great sign was seen in heaven . . . And another sign was seen.” (Revelation 12:1, 3, 7-12) Now John reports a third sign: “And I saw in heaven another sign, great and wonderful, seven angels with seven plagues. These are the last ones, because by means of them the anger of God is brought to a finish.” (Revelation 15:1) This third sign also has vital meaning for Jehovah’s servants.

Notice the important roles that angels again have in accomplishing God’s will. This fact has long been known by Jehovah’s servants. Why, under inspiration the ancient psalmist even spoke to such angels, urging them: “Bless Jehovah, O you angels of his, mighty in power, carrying out his word, by listening to the voice of his word”! (Psalm 103:20) Now, in this new scene, angels are assigned to pour out the seven last plagues.

What are these plagues? Like the seven trumpet blasts, they are scathing judgment pronouncements publicizing Jehovah’s view of various features of this world and warning of the final outcome of his judicial decisions. (Revelation 8:1–9:21) The pouring out of them points to the execution of those judgments, when the objects of Jehovah’s wrath are destroyed in the day of his burning anger. (Isaiah 13:9-13; Revelation 6:16, 17) Thus, by means of them “the anger of God is brought to a finish.” But before describing the pouring out of the plagues, John tells us about some humans who will not be adversely affected by them. Having refused the mark of the wild beast, these loyal ones sing praises to Jehovah as they proclaim his day of vengeance.—Revelation 13:15-17.

red horse of revelation_0088The Song of Moses and of the Lamb

A remarkable panorama now comes into John’s view: “And I saw what seemed to be a glassy sea mingled with fire, and those who come off victorious from the wild beast and from its image and from the number of its name standing by the glassy sea, having harps of God.”Revelation 15:2.

The “glassy sea” is the same one that John saw earlier, positioned before the throne of God. (Revelation 4:6) It is similar to “the molten sea” (water container) of Solomon’s temple, where the priests obtained water to cleanse themselves. (1 Kings 7:23) It is thus a fine representation of “the bath of water,” that is, God’s Word, by which Jesus cleanses the priestly congregation of anointed Christians. (Ephesians 5:25, 26; Hebrews 10:22) This glassy sea is “mingled with fire,” indicating that these anointed ones are tested and purged as they obey the high standard set for them. Further, it reminds us that God’s Word also contains expressions of fiery judgments against his enemies. (Deuteronomy 9:3; Zephaniah 3:8) Some of these fiery judgments are manifested in the seven last plagues that are about to be poured out.

The fact that the molten sea in Solomon’s temple was for the use of the priests indicates that the singers standing before the heavenly glassy sea are a priestly class. They have “harps of God,” and we therefore associate them with the 24 elders and the 144,000, since these groups also sing to a harp accompaniment. (Revelation 5:8; 14:2) The singers that John sees “come off victorious from the wild beast and from its image and from the number of its name.” So they must be those from among the 144,000 who live on earth during the last days. As a group, they do indeed come off victorious. For almost 90 years since 1919, they have refused to accept the mark of the wild beast or look to its image as man’s only hope for peace. Many of them have already endured faithful to the death, and these, now in heaven, doubtless follow with special delight the singing of their brothers who are still on earth.—Revelation 14:11-13.

These loyal overcomers have harps of God. In this, they are like the temple Levites of old, who worshipped Jehovah with song to the accompaniment of harps. Some also prophesied to a harp accompaniment. (1 Chronicles 15:16; 25:1-3) The beautiful strains of the harp embellished Israel’s songs of joy and prayers of praise and thanksgiving to Jehovah. (1 Chronicles 13:8; Psalm 33:2; 43:4; 57:7, 8) In times of depression or captivity, the harp was not heard. (Psalm 137:2) The presence of harps of God in this vision should whet our anticipation for an exultant, triumphant song of praise and thanksgiving to our God. Interestingly, in 1921 the John class released the Bible study aid The Harp of God, which had a circulation of more than five million copies in over 20 languages. It helped bring in more anointed singers.

That is what John reports: “And they are singing the song of Moses the slave of God and the song of the Lamb, saying: ‘Great and wonderful are your works, Jehovah God, the Almighty. Righteous and true are your ways, King of eternity. Who will not really fear you, Jehovah, and glorify your name, because you alone are loyal? For all the nations will come and worship before you, because your righteous decrees have been made manifest.’”Revelation 15:3, 4.

These victors sing “the song of Moses,” that is, a song similar to one that Moses sang in like circumstances. After the Israelites had witnessed the ten plagues in Egypt and the destruction of the Egyptian armies in the Red Sea, Moses led them in such a song of triumphant praise to Jehovah, proclaiming: “Jehovah will rule as king to time indefinite, even forever.” (Exodus 15:1-19) How fitting that the singers in John’s vision, coming off victorious from the wild beast and being involved in proclaiming the seven last plagues, should also sing “to the King of eternity”!—1 Timothy 1:17.

In another song, composed as Israel prepared for the conquest of Canaan, the aged Moses told that nation: “I shall declare the name of Jehovah. Do you attribute greatness to our God!” The last verse of this song also gave encouragement to non-Israelites, and Moses’ inspired words reach right down to the great crowd of today: “Be glad, you nations, with his people.” And why should they be glad? Because now Jehovah “will avenge the blood of his servants, and he will pay back vengeance to his adversaries.” This execution of righteous judgment will bring jubilation to all who hope in Jehovah.—Deuteronomy 32:3, 43; Romans 15:10-13; Revelation 7:9.

How Moses himself would have rejoiced to be in the Lord’s day now, singing along with the heavenly chorus: “All the nations will come and worship before you”! That transcendent song continues to have marvelous fulfillment today as we see, not just in vision but as a living reality, the millions from “the nations” who are now flocking joyfully to Jehovah’s earthly organization.

Nevertheless, this is the song not only of Moses but also “of the Lamb.” How so? Moses was Jehovah’s prophet to Israel, but Moses himself prophesied that Jehovah would raise up a prophet like him. This One proved to be the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Whereas Moses was “the slave of God,” Jesus was God’s Son, in effect, the Greater Moses. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Acts 3:22, 23; Hebrews 3:5, 6) Hence, the singers also sing “the song of the Lamb.”

Like Moses, Jesus publicly sang God’s praises and prophesied about His victory over all enemies. (Matthew 24:21, 22; 26:30; Luke 19:41-44) Jesus too looked forward to the time when the nations would come in to praise Jehovah, and as the self-sacrificing “Lamb of God,” he laid down his human life to make this possible. (John 1:29; Revelation 7:9; compare Isaiah 2:2-4; Zechariah 8:23.) And just as Moses came to appreciate God’s name, Jehovah, and extol that name, so Jesus made God’s name manifest. (Exodus 6:2, 3; Psalm 90:1, 17; John 17:6) Since Jehovah is loyal, his glorious promises are certain of fulfillment. Surely, then, we are at one with these loyal singers, with the Lamb, and with Moses, in subscribing to the words of the song: “Who will not really fear you, Jehovah, and glorify your name?”

red horse of revelation_0089 - Copy

The Angels With the Bowls

It is fitting that we hear the song of these anointed conquerors. Why? Because they have publicized on earth the judgments contained in the bowls that were full of the anger of God. But the pouring out of these bowls involves more than mere humans, as John goes on to show: “And after these things I saw, and the sanctuary of the tent of the witness was opened in heaven, and the seven angels with the seven plagues emerged from the sanctuary, clothed with clean, bright linen and girded about their breasts with golden girdles. And one of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven golden bowls that were full of the anger of God, who lives forever and ever.”Revelation 15:5-7.

As respects the Israelite temple, which contained representations of heavenly things, only the high priest could enter the Most Holy, here called “the sanctuary.” (Hebrews 9:3, 7) It represents the place of Jehovah’s presence in heaven. In heaven itself, however, not only does the High Priest Jesus Christ have the privilege of entering in before Jehovah but the angels do also. (Matthew 18:10; Hebrews 9:24-26) It is not surprising, then, that seven angels should be seen coming out from the sanctuary in heaven. They have a commission from Jehovah God himself: Pour out the bowls full of the anger of God.—Revelation 16:1.

These angels are well qualified for this work. They are clothed with clean, bright linen, showing that they are spiritually clean and holy, righteous in Jehovah’s sight. Also, they wear golden girdles. Girdles are usually used when a person girds himself for a task to be accomplished. (Leviticus 8:7, 13; 1 Samuel 2:18; Luke 12:37; John 13:4, 5) So the angels are girded for carrying out an assignment. Moreover, their girdles are golden. In the ancient tabernacle, gold was used to represent divine, heavenly things. (Hebrews 9:4, 11, 12) That means that these angels have a precious, divine commission of service to perform. Others too are involved in this great task. One of the four living creatures hands the actual bowls to them. Doubtless, this was the first living creature, which resembled a lion, symbolizing the boldness and indomitable courage needed to proclaim Jehovah’s judgments.—Revelation 4:7.

Jehovah in His Sanctuary

red horse of revelation_0089Finally, completing this part of the vision, John tells us: “And the sanctuary became filled with smoke because of the glory of God and because of his power, and no one was able to enter into the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.” (Revelation 15:8) There were occasions in Israel’s history when a cloud covered the literal sanctuary, and this manifestation of Jehovah’s glory prevented the priests from entering there. (1 Kings 8:10, 11; 2 Chronicles 5:13, 14; compare Isaiah 6:4, 5.) These were times when Jehovah was actively involved with developments on earth.

Jehovah is also deeply interested in things happening on earth now. He wants the seven angels to complete their assignment. It is a climactic time of judgment, as described at Psalm 11:4-6: “Jehovah is in his holy temple. Jehovah—in the heavens is his throne. His own eyes behold, his own beaming eyes examine the sons of men. Jehovah himself examines the righteous one as well as the wicked one, and anyone loving violence His soul certainly hates. He will rain down upon the wicked ones traps, fire and sulphur and a scorching wind, as the portion of their cup.” Until these seven plagues are poured out upon the wicked ones, the seven angels will not return to Jehovah’s lofty presence.

The awesome command thunders forth: “And I heard a loud voice out of the sanctuary say to the seven angels: ‘Go and pour out the seven bowls of the anger of God into the earth.’” (Revelation 16:1) Who issues this command? It must be Jehovah himself, since the radiance of his glory and power prevented anyone else from entering the sanctuary. Jehovah came to his spiritual temple for judgment in 1918. (Malachi 3:1-5) It must, then, have been shortly after that date that he gave the command to pour out the bowls of the anger of God. In fact, the judgments contained in the symbolic bowls started to be proclaimed with intensity in 1922. And their proclamation is increasing to a crescendo today.

The Bowls and the Trumpet Blasts

The bowls of Jehovah’s anger reveal features of the world scene as Jehovah views them and warn of judgments that Jehovah will execute. The angels pour out the bowls through the agency of the congregation of anointed Christians on earth, the ones singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. While proclaiming the Kingdom as good news, the John class have boldly revealed the contents of these bowls of anger. (Matthew 24:14; Revelation 14:6, 7) Thus, their twofold message has been peaceful in proclaiming liberty to mankind but warlike in warning of “the day of vengeance on the part of our God.”—Isaiah 61:1, 2.

The targets of the first four bowls of God’s anger correspond to those of the first four trumpet blasts, that is, the earth, the sea, the rivers and fountains of water, and the heavenly sources of light. (Revelation 8:1-12) But the trumpet blasts announced plagues on “a third,” whereas an entirety is afflicted by the pouring out of the bowls of God’s anger. Thus, while Christendom, as “a third,” has received first attention during the Lord’s day, not one part of Satan’s system has been exempted from being plagued by Jehovah’s vexatious judgment messages and the sorrows they bring.

The final three trumpet blasts were different, for they were called woes. (Revelation 8:13; 9:12) The first two of these consisted particularly of the locusts and the armies of cavalry, while the third introduced the birth of Jehovah’s Kingdom. (Revelation 9:1-21; 11:15-19) As we shall see, the final three bowls of his wrath also cover some of these aspects, but they are somewhat different from the three woes. Let us now pay close attention to the dramatic disclosures that result from the pouring out of the bowls of Jehovah’s anger.

 

Tuesday, July 16

Tuesday, July 16

Let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that excels all thought will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.—Phil. 4:6, 7.

At times, we may become so discouraged that we can be in danger of succumbing to the effects of negative emotions. Perhaps we feel unable to care for a certain Scriptural responsibility or privilege of service. Here, too, Jehovah can comfort and help us. To illustrate: When Joshua was commissioned to lead the Israelites against powerful enemy nations, Moses told the people: “Be courageous and strong. Do not be afraid or suffer a shock before them, because Jehovah your God is the one marching with you. He will neither desert you nor leave you entirely.” (Deut. 31:6) With Jehovah’s backing, Joshua was able to lead God’s people into the Promised Land and to victory over all their enemies. Earlier at the Red Sea, Moses had experienced similar divine support.—Ex. 14:13, 14, 29-31w11 10/15 3:8, 9

DISFELLOWSHIPPING

DISFELLOWSHIPPING

The judicial excommunication, or disfellowshipping, of delinquents from membership and association in a community or organization. With religious societies it is a principle and a right inherent in them and is analogous to the powers of capital punishment, banishment, and exclusion from membership that are exercised by political and municipal bodies. In the congregation of God it is exercised to maintain the purity of the organization doctrinally and morally. The exercise of this power is necessary to the continued existence of the organization and particularly so the Christian congregation. The congregation must remain clean and maintain God’s favor in order to be used by him and to represent him. Otherwise, God would expel or cut off the entire congregation.—Re 2:5; 1Co 5:5, 6.
Jehovah’s Action. Jehovah God took expelling, or disfellowshipping, action in numerous instances. He sentenced Adam to death and drove him and his wife Eve out of the garden of Eden. (Ge 3:19, 23, 24) Cain was banished and became a wanderer and a fugitive in the earth. (Ge 4:11, 14, 16) The angels that sinned were thrown into Tartarus, a condition of dense darkness in which they are reserved for judgment. (2Pe 2:4) Twenty-three thousand fornicators were cut off from Israel in one day. (1Co 10:8) Achan was put to death at Jehovah’s command for stealing that which was devoted to Jehovah. (Jos 7:15, 20, 21, 25) Korah the Levite along with Dathan and Abiram of the tribe of Reuben were cut off for rebellion, and Miriam was stricken with leprosy and eventually might have died in that condition if Moses had not pleaded for her. As it was, she was expelled from the camp of Israel under quarantine seven days.—Nu 16:27, 32, 33, 35; 12:10, 13-15.
Under the Mosaic Law. For serious or deliberate violations of God’s law given through Moses a person could be cut off, that is, put to death. (Le 7:27; Nu 15:30, 31) Apostasy, idolatry, adultery, eating blood, and murder were among the offenses carrying this penalty.—De 13:12-18; Le 20:10; 17:14; Nu 35:31.
Under the Law, for the penalty of cutting off to be carried out, evidence had to be established at the mouth of at least two witnesses. (De 19:15) These witnesses were required to be the first to stone the guilty one. (De 17:7) This would demonstrate their zeal for God’s law and the purity of the congregation of Israel and would also be a deterrent to false, careless, or hasty testimony.
The Sanhedrin and synagogues. During Jesus’ earthly ministry the synagogues served as courts for trying violators of Jewish law. The Sanhedrin was the highest court. Under Roman rule the Jews did not have the latitude of authority that they had enjoyed under theocratic government. Even when the Sanhedrin judged someone deserving of death, they could not always administer the death penalty, because of restrictions by the Romans. The Jewish synagogues had a system of excommunication, or disfellowshipping, that had three steps or three names. The first step was the penalty of nid‧duy′, which was for a relatively short time, initially only 30 days. A person under this penalty was prohibited from enjoying certain privileges. He could go to the temple, but there he was restricted in certain ways, and all besides his own family were commanded to stay at a distance of 4 cubits (c. 2 m; 6 ft) from him. The second step was che′rem, meaning something devoted to God or banned. This was a more severe judgment. The offender could not teach or be taught in the company of others, nor could he perform any commercial transactions beyond purchasing the necessities of life. However, he was not altogether cast out of the Jewish organization, and there was a chance for him to come back. Finally, there was sham‧mat‧taʼ′, an entire cutting off from the congregation. Some believe the last two forms of excommunication were undistinguishable from each other.
One who was cast out as wicked, cut off entirely, would be considered worthy of death, though the Jews might not have the authority to execute such a one. Nevertheless, the form of cutting off they did employ was a very powerful weapon in the Jewish community. Jesus foretold that his followers would be expelled from the synagogues. (Joh 16:2) Fear of being expelled, or “unchurched,” kept some of the Jews, even the rulers, from confessing Jesus. (Joh 9:22, ftn; 12:42) An example of such action by the synagogue was the case of the healed blind man who spoke favorably of Jesus.—Joh 9:34.
During the time of his earthly ministry, Jesus gave instructions as to the procedure to follow if a serious sin was committed against a person and yet the sin was of such a nature that, if properly settled, it did not need to involve the Jewish congregation. (Mt 18:15-17) He encouraged earnest effort to help the wrongdoer, while also safeguarding that congregation against persistent sinners. The only congregation of God in existence then was the congregation of Israel. ‘Speaking to the congregation’ did not mean that the entire nation or even all the Jews in a given community sat in judgment on the offender. There were older men of the Jews that were charged with this responsibility. (Mt 5:22) Offenders who refused to listen even to these responsible ones were to be viewed “just as a man of the nations and as a tax collector,” association with whom was shunned by the Jews.—Compare Ac 10:28.
Christian Congregation. Based on the principles of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Christian Greek Scriptures by command and precedent authorize expulsion, or disfellowshipping, from the Christian congregation. By exercising this God-given authority, the congregation keeps itself clean and in good standing before God. The apostle Paul, with the authority vested in him, ordered the expulsion of an incestuous fornicator who had taken his father’s wife. (1Co 5:5, 11, 13) He also exercised disfellowshipping authority against Hymenaeus and Alexander. (1Ti 1:19, 20) Diotrephes, however, was apparently trying to exercise disfellowshipping action wrongly.—3Jo 9, 10.
Some of the offenses that could merit disfellowshipping from the Christian congregation are fornication, adultery, homosexuality, greed, extortion, thievery, lying, drunkenness, reviling, spiritism, murder, idolatry, apostasy, and the causing of divisions in the congregation. (1Co 5:9-13; 6:9, 10; Tit 3:10, 11; Re 21:8) Mercifully, one promoting a sect is warned a first and a second time before such disfellowshipping action is taken against him. In the Christian congregation, the principle enunciated in the Law applies, namely, that two or three witnesses must establish evidence against the accused one. (1Ti 5:19) Those who have been convicted of a practice of sin are reproved Scripturally before the “onlookers,” for example, those who testified concerning the sinful conduct, so that they too may all have a healthy fear of such sin.—1Ti 5:20; see REPROOF.
The Christian congregation is also admonished by Scripture to stop socializing with those who are disorderly and not walking correctly but who are not deemed deserving of complete expulsion. Paul wrote the Thessalonian congregation concerning such: “Stop associating with him, that he may become ashamed. And yet do not be considering him as an enemy, but continue admonishing him as a brother.”—2Th 3:6, 11, 13-15.
However, regarding any who were Christians but later repudiated the Christian congregation or were expelled from it, the apostle Paul commanded: “Quit mixing in company with” such a one; and the apostle John wrote: “Never receive him into your homes or say a greeting to him.”—1Co 5:11; 2Jo 9, 10.
Those who have been expelled may be received back into the congregation if they manifest sincere repentance. (2Co 2:5-8) This also is a protection to the congregation, preventing it from being overreached by Satan in swinging from condoning wrongdoing to the other extreme, becoming harsh and unforgiving.—2Co 2:10, 11.

Sunday, June 23

Sunday, June 23

I am proceeding to go down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians.—Ex. 3:8.

God’s purpose in delivering the Israelites was to raise them up as his people. (Gen. 22:17) God gave them a code of laws that would enable them to enjoy a peaceful relationship with him. (Isa. 48:17, 18) He told the Israelites: “If you will strictly obey my voice and will indeed keep my covenant [as outlined in the Law code], then you will certainly become my special property out of all other peoples.” (Ex. 19:5, 6) Thus, the Israelites’ enjoying a privileged relationship with God was contingent on their obeying his voice. Just think what life would have been like if the Israelites had only obeyed God’s voice! Jehovah would have blessed their fields, their vineyards, their flocks, and their herds. Also, their enemies would have had no permanent hold on them, providing concrete proof that obedience to the true God brings spiritual and material blessings.—1 Ki. 10:23-27w11 7/15 3:7, 8

Thursday, June 13

Thursday, June 13

Because we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also put off every weight . . . , and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.—Heb. 12:1.

Many of the faithful ones whom Paul mentioned in chapter 11 of Hebrews had circumstances similar to ours. For example, Noah was living when the pre-Flood world was ending. We are living near the end of the present system of things. Abraham and Sarah were called upon to leave behind their homeland to pursue true worship and await the fulfillment of Jehovah’s promise. We are urged to disown ourselves and gain Jehovah’s approval and the blessings he holds out for us. Moses journeyed through a fearsome wilderness, heading for the Promised Land. We are on a course through this dying system of things, heading toward the promised new world. What these men went through, their successes and failures, as well as their strengths and weaknesses, is truly worthy of our consideration.—Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11w11 9/15 3:12

Sunday, June 9

Sunday, June 9

It is necessary to circumcise them and charge them to observe the law of Moses.—Acts 15:5.

In 49 C.E., the apostles and older men in Jerusalem, themselves circumcised Jews, “gathered together to see about this affair.” (Acts 15:6) What followed was, not a mind-numbing theological debate over dry technicalities, but a lively doctrinal discussion. Strong opinions were expressed on both sides of the issue. The passage that helped settle the matter was Amos 9:11, 12. Thus, when the Scriptures foretold that those remaining of the house of Israel (Jews and circumcised Jewish proselytes) together with“people of all the nations” (uncircumcised Gentiles) would become one people for God’s name, the message was clear. (Acts 15:17) Circumcision was not required of Gentiles who wanted to become Christians. God’s Word and his spirit led those sincere Christians to “a unanimous accord.”—Acts 15:25w12 1/15 1:4, 6-8