Wednesday, April 25, 2012 3:51:15 AM
What will God's Kingdom do for mankind in the future?
1. When he was on earth, Jesus taught his followers to pray for God's Kingdom. A kingdom is a government that is headed by a king. God's Kingdom is a special government. It is set up in heaven and will rule over this earth. It will sanctify, or make holy, God's name. It will cause God's will to be done on earth as it is done in heaven.—Matthew 6:9, 10.
2. God promised that Jesus would become the King of His Kingdom. (Luke 1:30-33) When Jesus was on earth, he proved that he would be a kind, just, and perfect Ruler. When he returned to heaven, he was not enthroned as King of God's Kingdom right away. (Hebrews 10:12, 13) In 1914, Jehovah gave Jesus the authority He had promised him. Since then, Jesus has ruled in heaven as Jehovah's appointed King.—Daniel 7:13, 14.
3. Jehovah has also selected some faithful men and women from the earth to go to heaven. They will rule with Jesus as kings, judges, and priests over mankind. (Luke 22:28-30; Revelation 5:9, 10) Jesus called these corulers in his Kingdom a "little flock." They number 144,000.—Luke 12:32; Revelation 14:1-3.
4. As soon as Jesus became King, he threw Satan and his wicked angels out of heaven and down to the locality of the earth. That is why things have become so bad here on earth since 1914. (Revelation 12:9, 12) Wars, famines, pestilences, increasing lawlessness—all these are part of a "sign" indicating that Jesus is ruling and that this system is in its last days.—Matthew 24:3, 7, 8, 12; Luke 21:10, 11; 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
5. Soon Jesus will judge people, separating them as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The "sheep" are those who will have proved themselves his loyal subjects. They will receive everlasting life on earth. The "goats" are those who will have rejected God's Kingdom. (Matthew 25:31-34, 46) In the near future, Jesus will destroy all goatlike ones. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9) If you want to be one of Jesus' "sheep," you must listen to the Kingdom message and act on what you learn.—Matthew 24:14.
Under Jesus' rule, there will be no more hatred or prejudice
6. Now the earth is divided up into many countries. Each has its own government. These nations often fight one another. But God's Kingdom will replace all human governments. It will rule as the only government over the entire earth. (Daniel 2:44) Then there will be no more war, crime, and violence. All people will live together in peace and unity.—Micah 4:3, 4.
7. During Jesus' Thousand Year Reign, faithful humans will become perfect, and the whole earth will become a paradise. By the end of the thousand years, Jesus will have done everything God asked him to do. Then he will hand the Kingdom back to his Father. (1 Corinthians 15:24) Why not tell your friends and loved ones about what God's Kingdom will do?
Tuesday, April 17, 2012 3:34:53 AM
Job Security and Satisfaction
"THE right to work" is fundamental to all humans, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, issued by the United Nations. That prerogative, however, is not always guaranteed. Job security is subject to many things—from the health of local economies to the state of the global market. Nevertheless, when employment is lost or threatened, demonstrations, riots, and strikes often follow. Few countries are immune. Even the word "work," said one writer, "is, as it has always been, an emotionally charged word."
Work is important to us for many reasons. Besides providing us with income, it contributes to our mental and emotional well-being. Work satisfies the human desire to be a productive member of society and to have a purpose in life. It also engenders within us a measure of self-respect. Hence, even some who have more than enough money to care for their needs or who are eligible for retirement prefer to continue working. Yes, work is so important that the lack of it usually invites serious social problems.
On the other hand, there are those who have a job but face so many pressures at work that they lose their job satisfaction. For instance, because of today's highly competitive market, an increasing number of companies have trimmed their staff in order to cut expenses. This may place additional demands on the remaining employees, who may thus have to carry an extra load.
Modern technology may have added to the pressures in the workplace
Modern technology, which is supposed to make life easier and work more efficient, may have added to the pressures in the workplace. For example, computers, fax machines, and the Internet allow people the option of taking their work home at day's end, thus blurring the line between home and office. One worker felt that his company pager and cell phone were like an invisible leash, with his boss at the other end.
A growing fear that many older people have in our rapidly changing economic and work environment is that of being viewed as obsolete before their time. In this regard, former Human Rights Commissioner Chris Sidoti stated: "There seem to be stereotypes that unless you are under 40, you're not going to cope with computers and new technology." Hence, many good workers who would previously have been viewed as being in the prime of life are nowadays deemed too old to be useful. What a tragedy!
Understandably, the work ethic and loyalty to the company have taken a battering in recent years. "When corporations throw people overboard at the slightest blip of the stock market, corporate loyalty becomes a thing of the past," says the French magazine Libération. "You have to work, of course, but for yourself, not for the company."
In spite of these mounting problems, the basic human need to work continues. So in our rapidly changing times, how can one cultivate a balanced view of secular work and, at the same time, maintain a sense of security and job satisfaction?
Monday, December 26, 2011 2:54:14 AM
The Truth About Christmas
DO YOU care about spiritual truth? If so, then perhaps you have asked these questions: (1) Was Jesus actually born on December 25? (2) Who were the “wise men,” and were they really three in number? (3) What sort of “star” led them to Jesus? (4) What does Santa Claus have to do with Jesus and his birth? (5) How does God view the Christmas custom of giving gifts or, to be more precise, exchanging gifts?
Let us now consider these questions in the light of the Bible and historical facts.
Was Jesus Born on December 25?
The custom: According to tradition, Jesus’ birth took place on December 25 and is celebrated on that date. “Christmas,” says the Encyclopedia of Religion, means “‘Christ’s Mass,’ that is, the mass celebrating the feast of Christ’s nativity,” or birth.
Its roots: “The establishment of December 25 evolved not from biblical precedent,” says The Christmas Encyclopedia, “but from pagan Roman festivals held at year’s end,” about the time of the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. Those festivals included the Saturnalia, in honor of Saturn, god of agriculture, “and the combined festivals of two sun gods, the Roman Sol and the Persian Mithra,” says the same encyclopedia. Both birthdays were celebrated on December 25, the winter solstice according to the Julian calendar.
Those pagan festivals began to be “Christianized” in the year 350, when Pope Julius I declared December 25 to be Christ’s birthday. “The Nativity gradually absorbed or supplanted all other solstice rites,” says the Encyclopedia of Religion. “Solar imagery came increasingly to be used to portray the risen Christ (who was also called Sol Invictus), and the old solar disk . . . became the halo of Christian saints.”
What the Bible says: The Bible does not give Jesus’ birth date. But we can safely conclude that he was not born on December 25. How so? The Bible tells us that when Jesus was born, shepherds were “living out of doors” tending their flocks at night in the vicinity of Bethlehem. (Luke 2:8) The cold, rainy season usually began in October, and shepherds—especially in the colder highlands, such as those around Bethlehem—brought their sheep into protected shelters at night. The coldest weather, sometimes accompanied by snow, occurred in December.*
Significantly, the early Christians, many of whom had accompanied Jesus in his ministry, never celebrated his birth on any date. Rather, in harmony with his command, they commemorated only his death. (Luke 22:17-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26) Still, some may say, ‘Does the pagan connection really matter?’ The answer? It does to God. “The true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth,” said Jesus Christ.—John 4:23.
The “Wise Men”—How Many? Who Were They?
The custom: Guided by a “star” from the east, three “wise men” are portrayed as presenting gifts to Jesus in a manger in a stable. Sometimes shepherds are also shown as being present.
Its roots: Aside from the brief account in the Bible, “everything written about the Wise Men stems principally from legend,” says The Christmas Encyclopedia.
What the Bible says: The Bible does not say how many “wise men” visited Jesus. There may have been two, or there may have been three, four, or more. Although termed “wise men” in some Bible translations, the original-language word is magoi, which means astrologers or sorcerers—professions that the Bible says are “detestable to Jehovah.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) By virtue of their long journey from the East, the astrologers did not arrive in time to visit Jesus in the stable. Rather, after perhaps months of travel, they “went into the house” where Jesus was staying. There they saw “the young child with Mary its mother.”—Matthew 2:11.
What Sort of Star Led the Astrologers?
Clues are provided by what the star actually did. For one thing, it did not lead the men directly to Bethlehem, but to Jerusalem, where their inquiries about Jesus reached the ears of King Herod. Herod then “secretly summoned the astrologers,” who told him about the newborn “king of the Jews.” Herod then said: “Make a careful search for the young child, and when you have found it report back to me.” Herod’s interest in Jesus, however, was anything but noble. Rather, this proud and ruthless ruler was resolved to put Jesus to death!—Matthew 2:1-8, 16.
Interestingly, the “star” now led the astrologers south to Bethlehem. There “it came to a stop” above the house where Jesus was.—Matthew 2:9, 10.
Clearly this was no ordinary star! And why would God, who had used angels to inform humble shepherds of Jesus’ birth, now employ a star to guide pagan astrologers—first to Jesus’ enemy and then to the child himself? The only reasonable conclusion is that the star was a sinister device of Satan, who is capable of such manifestations. (2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10) Ironically, an ornament called the star of Bethlehem is usually seen at the very top of the Christmas tree.
What Does Santa Claus Have to Do With Jesus and His Birth?
The custom: In many lands, Santa Claus is viewed as the one who brings children gifts.# Children often write to Santa, asking for presents, which, according to tradition, elves help him to make at his North Pole headquarters.
Its roots: According to the popular view, the Santa Claus myth owes its origin to Saint Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra in Asia Minor, now Turkey. “Virtually everything written about St. Nicholas is based on legends,” says The Christmas Encyclopedia. The designation “Santa Claus” may owe its origin to the word Sinterklaas, a corruption of the Dutch terms for “Saint Nicholas.” Historically and Biblically, Santa Claus has nothing in common with Jesus Christ.
What the Bible says: “Now that you have put away falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor.” Our closest ‘neighbors’ are our family members. (Ephesians 4:25) The Bible also says that we should “love truth,” “speaking the truth in [our] heart.” (Zechariah 8:19; Psalm 15:2) True, telling children that Santa (or the Christ child) is the bearer of presents at Christmas may seem to be innocent fun, but is it right or wise to deceive little children, even if one’s intentions are not bad? Do you not find it ironic that an occasion that is supposedly meant to honor Jesus becomes a time to deceive children?
How Does God View Christmas Gift-Giving and Merrymaking?
The custom: Christmas giving is unusual in that it largely involves an exchange of gifts, and the Christmas season is marked by partying, feasting, and drinking.
Its roots: Ancient Roman Saturnalian festivities began on December 17 and concluded on the 24th, when gifts were exchanged. Homes and streets were noisy with banqueting, heavy drinking, and riotous behavior. The Saturnalia was followed by an event celebrating the first day of January. This was also observed by a festival, usually lasting about three days. The Saturnalia and the first day of January likely formed one festive occasion.
What the Bible says: Joy and generosity characterize true worship. “Be joyful, you righteous ones; and cry out joyfully,” the Bible says. (Psalm 32:11) Such joy is often associated with generosity. (Proverbs 11:25) “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving,” said Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:35) He also said: “Practice giving,” or make it a regular part of your life.—Luke 6:38.
Such giving has little in common with ritualized giving or giving that is compelled, perhaps by social custom. Describing the true spirit of generosity, the Bible states: “Each person should give as he has decided for himself; there should be no reluctance, no sense of compulsion; God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7, The New English Bible) Those who heed these excellent Bible principles give because their generous heart impels them to do so, which can be at any time of the year. To be sure, this kind of giving has God’s blessing, and it is never burdensome.
The Christmas season, like the ancient festival of Saturnalia, is marked by partying, feasting, and drinking
When examined in the light of the Bible, virtually every facet of Christmas is either pagan in origin or a distortion of the Bible accounts. Hence, Christmas customs are Christian in name only. How did this come about? Centuries after the death of Christ, many false teachers arose, just as the Bible had foretold. (2 Timothy 4:3, 4) Those unprincipled men were more interested in making Christianity fashionable to the pagan masses than they were in teaching truth. Hence, they gradually adopted popular pagan religious festivals and labeled them “Christian.”
Such “false teachers,” the Bible warned, “will exploit you with counterfeit words. But as for them, the judgment from of old is not moving slowly, and the destruction of them is not slumbering.” (2 Peter 2:1-3) Jehovah’s Witnesses take those words seriously—as they do the entire Bible, which they view as the written Word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16) Hence, they reject false religious customs or celebrations. Has this stand deprived them of happiness? On the contrary! As we shall now see, they know from experience that Bible truth is liberating!
SOW WEEDS, REAP WEEDS
At one time, church authorities fought “tooth and nail against [the] relics of heathenism,” says the book Christmas Customs and Traditions—Their History and Significance. But in time, church leaders became more eager to fill pews than teach truth. Hence, they began to “wink at” those pagan practices. Later they embraced them.
‘What you sow you reap,’ the Bible says. (Galatians 6:7) After sowing their fields with the seeds of paganism, the churches should not be surprised that “weeds” proliferate. A celebration allegedly honoring the birth of Jesus becomes an excuse for drunkenness and revelry, the shopping mall becomes more popular than the church, families go deeply into debt buying presents, and children confuse myth with reality and Santa Claus with Jesus Christ. Yes, for good reason, God said: “Quit touching the unclean thing.”—2 Corinthians 6:17.
Monday, December 19, 2011 4:41:37 PM
The Christmas Spirit Is Spreading WHY? IS CHRISTMAS CHRISTIAN??????
DO YOU look forward to Christmas? Or does its approach fill you with nervous apprehension? Millions of people ask: ‘Whom will I get gifts for? What should I buy? Can I afford it? For how long will I be paying off my debt?’
Despite such concerns, Christmas remains very popular. In fact, the celebration has even spread to non-Christian lands. In Japan most families now celebrate Christmas, not because of its religious significance, but purely as a festive occasion. In China “Santa Claus’s cheery red face is plastered in shop windows in major cities,” says The Wall Street Journal, adding: “Christmas fever is gripping China’s newly rising urban middle class as an excuse to shop, eat and party.”
In many parts of the world, Christmas has been a great boost for local economies. That is especially true of China, which is now “an export powerhouse of plastic trees, tinsel, twinkling lights and other yuletide trinkets,” says the Journal.
Predominantly Muslim lands also promote Christmaslike festivities, although not necessarily on December 25. In Ankara, Turkey, and Beirut, Lebanon, it is not unusual to see shop windows dressed with tinsel-covered evergreens and gift-wrapped packages. In Indonesia, hotels and malls sponsor festive events, and children can dine with Santa or have their picture taken with him.
In Western lands, Christmas is now largely secular and commercial, with many ads “blatantly pitched at children,” said Canada’s Royal Bank Letter. Granted, some people still attend Christmas services at a church. But it is the shopping malls, resonating with carols, that have become the new temples. Why the change? Could the reason be connected with the origin of Christmas? What are its roots?
Before discussing such questions, it would be good to read the Bible accounts on which Christmas Nativity scenes are supposedly based.
WHAT THE GOSPEL WRITERS SAY
The apostle Matthew: “After Jesus had been born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, look! astrologers from eastern parts came to Jerusalem, saying: ‘Where is the one born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when we were in the east, and we have come to do him obeisance.’ At hearing this King Herod was agitated.” So Herod asked “the chief priests . . . where the Christ was to be born.” On learning that it was “in Bethlehem,” Herod told the astrologers: “Go make a careful search for the young child, and when you have found it report back to me.”
“They went their way; and, look! the star they had seen when they were in the east went ahead of them, until it came to a stop above where the young child was. . . . When they went into the house they saw the young child with Mary its mother.” After presenting Jesus with gifts, “they were given divine warning in a dream not to return to Herod, [so] they withdrew to their country by another way.”
“After they had withdrawn, look! Jehovah’s angel appeared in a dream to Joseph, saying: ‘Get up, take the young child and its mother and flee into Egypt . . .’ So he got up and took along the young child and its mother by night and withdrew . . . Then Herod, seeing he had been outwitted by the astrologers, fell into a great rage, and he sent out and had all the boys in Bethlehem and in all its districts done away with, from two years of age and under.”—Matthew 2:1-16.
The disciple Luke: Joseph “went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to David’s city, which is called Bethlehem, . . . to get registered with Mary . . . While they were there, . . . she gave birth to her son, the firstborn, and she bound him with cloth bands and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the lodging room.”
“There were also in that same country shepherds living out of doors and keeping watches in the night over their flocks. And suddenly Jehovah’s angel stood by them, . . . and they became very fearful. But the angel said to them: ‘Have no fear, for, look! I am declaring to you good news of a great joy that all the people will have, because there was born to you today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in David’s city.’” At that the shepherds “went with haste and found Mary as well as Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.”—Luke 2:4-16.
Saturday, November 19, 2011 6:44:28 PM
WHO RULES THIS WORLD?
How could Satan have offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if he did not own them?
Jesus never doubted that Satan is the ruler of this world. In some miraculous way, Satan once showed Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.” Satan then promised Jesus: “All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me.” (Matthew 4:8, 9; Luke 4:5, 6) Think about this. Would that offer have been a temptation to Jesus if Satan was not the ruler of these kingdoms? Jesus did not deny that all these worldly governments were Satan’s. Surely, Jesus would have done that if Satan was not the power behind them.
Of course, Jehovah is the Almighty God, the Creator of the marvelous universe. (Revelation 4:11) Yet, nowhere does the Bible say that either Jehovah God or Jesus Christ is ruler of this world. In fact, Jesus specifically referred to Satan as “the ruler of this world.” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) The Bible even refers to Satan the Devil as “the god of this system of things.” (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4) Regarding this opposer, or Satan, the Christian apostle John wrote: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.”—1 John 5:19.
Saturday, November 19, 2011 6:25:05 PM
What will life on earth be like in the future?
GOD’S purpose for the earth is really wonderful. Jehovah wants the earth to be filled with happy, healthy people. The Bible says that “God planted a garden in Eden” and that he “made to grow . . . every tree desirable to one’s sight and good for food.” After God created the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, He put them in that lovely home and told them: “Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28; 2:8, 9, 15) So it was God’s purpose that humans have children, extend the boundaries of that garden home earth wide, and take care of the animals.
Do you think that Jehovah God’s purpose for people to live in an earthly paradise will ever be realized? “I have even spoken it,” God declares, “I shall also do it.” (Isaiah 46:9-11; 55:11) Yes, what God purposes he will surely do! He says that he “did not create [the earth] simply for nothing” but “formed it even to be inhabited.” (Isaiah 45:18) What kind of people did God want to live on the earth? And for how long did he want them to live here? The Bible answers: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”—Psalm 37:29; Revelation 21:3, 4.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 3:29:52 AM
THE HOLY SPIRIT
A Force You Need in Your Life
“DO NOT throw me away from before your face; and your holy spirit O do not take away from me.” (Psalm 51:11) This was King David’s fervent prayer after he had made a tragic mistake.
David had long experienced the power of the holy spirit. When he was still a teenager, it had enabled him to vanquish Goliath—a formidable soldier. (1 Samuel 17:45-50) It had also empowered him to write some of the most beautiful psalms ever composed. “The spirit of Jehovah it was that spoke by me, and his word was upon my tongue,” David explained.—2 Samuel 23:2.
Jesus Christ himself confirmed the role of the holy spirit in David’s life. On one occasion, Jesus told his listeners: “By the holy spirit David himself said, ‘Jehovah said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies beneath your feet.”’” (Mark 12:36; Psalm 110:1) Jesus knew that when David wrote his psalms, he was guided by holy spirit. Is that same holy spirit available to help us?
THE HOLY SPIRIT IN ACTION
God used the holy spirit to create the earth and the rest of the universe. “How many your works are, O Jehovah! All of them in wisdom you have made. The earth is full of your productions,” the psalmist exclaimed. “If you send forth your spirit, they are created.”—Psalm 104:24, 30; Genesis 1:2; Job 33:4.
The apostle Paul
Holy spirit inspired godly men to write the Bible. “All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial,” wrote the apostle Paul. (2 Timothy 3:16) The Greek word translated “inspired of God” literally means “breathed into by God.” Jehovah’s breath, or spirit, guided the Bible writers’ thoughts, so that they transmitted “the word of God.”—1 Thessalonians 2:13.
Noah and the ark
Holy spirit empowered God’s servants to foretell the future with accuracy. The apostle Peter explained: “No prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation. For prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit.”—2 Peter 1:20, 21; Joel 2:28.
Jesus healing a blind man
Holy spirit helped Jesus and other men of faith to preach the good news of God’s Kingdom and to perform miracles. Jesus said: “Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor, he sent me forth to preach a release to the captives and a recovery of sight to the blind.”—Luke 4:18; Matthew 12:28.
Friday, February 25, 2011 12:44:25 AM
Now that we have left the primary doctrine about the Christ, let us press on to maturity.—Heb. 6:1.
Paul not only encouraged the first-century Hebrew Christians to press on to maturity but also told them what spiritual maturity involves. (Heb. 5:12-14) “Mature people” are not content to partake only of “milk.” They take in “solid food.” Therefore, they know both “the elementary things” and “the deep things” of the truth. (1 Cor. 2:10) Moreover, their perceptive powers are trained through use—through application of what they know—helping them to distinguish right from wrong. When they are faced with a decision, this training enables them to discern what Scriptural principles are involved and how to apply them. “It is necessary for us to pay more than the usual attention to the things heard by us,” wrote Paul, “that we may never drift away.”—Heb. 2:1. w09 5/15 1:3, 5, 6
Friday, February 11, 2011 8:23:29 PM
God Has a Name!
What is God's name? Humans all have personal names. Why, many people even name their pets! Would it not be reasonable for God to have a name? Having and using personal names is unquestionably a vital part of human relationships and interactions. Should it be different when it comes to our relationship with God? Ironically, millions who profess faith in the God of the Bible do not use his personal name. Yet, God's name has been known for centuries. As you read this series of articles, learn of times when God's name was widely used. More important, learn what the Bible says about getting to know God by name.
BY THE 17th century, several European countries were minting coins featuring the name of God. A German coin minted in the year 1634 prominently featured the name Jehovah. Such coins became popularly known as the Jehovah talers, or Jehovah coins, and were circulated for decades.
The Tetragrammaton, meaning "four letters," spells out the personal name of God in Hebrew
Jehovah is a rendering of God's name that has been recognized for centuries. In Hebrew, a language that is read from right to left, the name appears as four consonants, . These four Hebrew characters—transliterated YHWH—are known as the Tetragrammaton. God's name in this form was also inscribed on European coins for decades.
God's name can also be found on buildings, monuments, and works of art as well as in many church hymns. According to the German Brockhaus encyclopedia, at one time it was customary for Protestant princes to wear an insignia composed of a stylized sun and the Tetragrammaton. The symbol, also used on flags and coins, was known as the Jehovah-Sun insignia. Clearly, the deeply religious Europeans of the 17th and 18th centuries knew that Almighty God had a name. More significantly, they were not afraid to use it.
The name of God was no mystery in Colonial America either. Consider, for example, the American Revolutionary soldier Ethan Allen. According to his memoirs, in 1775 he demanded that his enemies surrender "in the name of the Great Jehovah." Later, during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, several advisers made frequent mention of Jehovah in their letters to Lincoln. Other American historical documents containing the name of God are available for public review in many libraries. These are but a few examples of how the name of God has for centuries been prominently displayed.
What about today? Has the name of God been forgotten? Hardly. Various Bible translations feature the personal name of God in many verses. A quick visit to a library or a few minutes of research in your own dictionaries will likely reveal that the name Jehovah is widely accepted as the vernacular equivalent of the Tetragrammaton. For example, the Encyclopedia International pointedly defines the name Jehovah as the "modern form of the Hebrew sacred name of God." A recent edition of The New Encyclopædia Britannica explains that Jehovah is the "Judeo-Christian name for God."
'But,' you may wonder, 'is God's name a matter of concern to people today?' The name of God, in one form or another, is still featured in many public areas. For instance, the name Jehovah is inscribed on the cornerstone of a building in New York City. In the same city, the name has also been found in Hebrew in a colorful mosaic decorating a busy subway station. It is safe to say, however, that of the thousands of people who have walked by these locations, few have attached any significance to the inscriptions.
Is the name of God important to people in your part of the world? Or do most refer to the Creator as "God," as if this title were his actual name? Your personal observation might be that many people do not give any thought to whether God even has a name. What about you? Do you feel comfortable addressing God by his personal name, Jehovah?
A King Who Made Known the Name of Jehovah
King Kamehameha III
King Kamehameha III
In 1852 a group of missionaries set out from Hawaii for the islands of Micronesia. They carried with them a letter of introduction that bore the official seal of King Kamehameha III, the then ruling monarch of the Hawaiian Islands. This letter, originally written in Hawaiian and addressed to the various rulers of the Pacific Islands, said in part: "There are about to sail for your islands some teachers of the Most High God, Jehovah, to make known unto you His Word for your eternal salvation. . . . I commend these good teachers to your esteem and friendship and exhort you to listen to their instructions. . . . I advise you to throw away your idols, take the Lord Jehovah for your God, worship and love Him and He will bless and save you."
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Friday, February 11, 2011 3:52:19 AM
El nombre divino: su uso y significado
TENGA la bondad de abrir su Biblia en Salmo 83:18 (82:19 en algunas versiones). ¿Qué dice este versículo? La Traducción del Nuevo Mundo de las Santas Escrituras dice: “Para que la gente sepa que tú, cuyo nombre es Jehová, tú solo eres el Altísimo sobre toda la tierra”. Otras Biblias lo traducen más o menos igual. Pero hay muchas que dejan fuera el nombre Jehová y lo cambian por títulos como “Señor” o “Eterno”. Entonces, ¿qué debería aparecer en este pasaje? ¿Un título, o el nombre Jehová?
El nombre de Dios en hebreo
El nombre de Dios en letras hebreas
Allí se menciona un nombre propio. En el texto original —escrito en hebreo, al igual que la mayor parte de la Biblia— hay un nombre propio muy singular. Este nombre se escribe con las letras hebreas יהוה (YHWH). Las formas habituales de adaptarlo al español son Jehová y Yavé. ¿Aparece este nombre en un solo lugar de la Biblia? De ninguna manera, pues se encuentra casi siete mil veces en el texto original de las Escrituras Hebreas.
¿Cuánta importancia tiene el nombre divino? Pensemos en el padrenuestro, el modelo de oración que nos dejó Jesucristo. Comienza así: “Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos, santificado sea tu nombre” (Mateo 6:9). Algún tiempo después de haber enseñado esta oración, Jesús rogó a Dios: “Padre, glorifica tu nombre”. Y el Creador le respondió desde el cielo: “Lo glorifiqué, y también lo glorificaré de nuevo” (Juan 12:28). Por lo tanto, queda claro que el nombre de Dios es importantísimo. Entonces, ¿por qué lo han sacado algunos traductores de sus versiones de la Biblia y lo han sustituido por títulos?
Al parecer, hay dos motivos principales. Primero, muchos afirman que no debemos usar el nombre divino, ya que desconocemos cómo se pronunciaba. Dado que el hebreo antiguo se escribía sin vocales, hoy nadie puede decir con seguridad cuáles se utilizaban al pronunciar las letras YHWH en tiempos bíblicos. ¿Deberíamos negarnos por eso a emplear el nombre divino? Pues bien, en tiempos bíblicos, el nombre Jesús probablemente sonaba algo así como Yeshúa o Yehoshúa; nadie puede asegurarlo. Sin embargo, por todo el mundo se usan diferentes formas del nombre Jesús, que se pronuncian de la manera usual en cada idioma. Aunque la gente desconoce cómo se pronunciaba ese nombre en el siglo primero, no duda en usarlo. De igual modo, si usted viajara al extranjero, vería que su nombre suena diferente en otras lenguas. Por eso, el que no sepamos con seguridad cómo se pronunciaba el nombre de Dios en la antigüedad no es razón para negarse a usarlo.
La segunda razón que suele darse para suprimir en las Biblias el nombre de Dios tiene que ver con una antigua tradición de los judíos. Muchos de ellos creen que nunca debe pronunciarse el nombre divino. Todo indica que esta opinión se debe a una aplicación errónea del siguiente mandamiento: “No debes tomar el nombre de Jehová tu Dios de manera indigna, porque Jehová no dejará sin castigo al que tome su nombre de manera indigna” (Éxodo 20:7).
Ciertamente, este mandato prohíbe utilizar mal el nombre de Dios. Pero ¿impide usarlo con respeto? De ningún modo. Todos los escritores de la sección hebrea de la Biblia (el “Antiguo Testamento”) eran hombres fieles que obedecían la Ley que Dios entregó a los israelitas. ¿Qué hicieron esos escritores leales con el nombre divino? Lo usaron con frecuencia. Por ejemplo, lo incluyeron en muchos salmos que cantaban en voz alta las multitudes que adoraban a Dios. Jehová incluso mandó a sus siervos que invocaran su nombre, y los fieles le obedecieron (Joel 2:32; Hechos 2:21). Así pues, los cristianos de la actualidad no dudamos en emplear el nombre de Dios con respeto, tal como sin duda alguna lo hizo Jesús (Juan 17:26).
Al sustituir el nombre divino por títulos, los traductores cometen un grave error. Hacen que Dios parezca lejano e impersonal. La Biblia, por el contrario, nos anima a todos a cultivar una relación de “intimidad con Jehová” (Salmo 25:14). Piense en un amigo íntimo. Si usted no supiera siquiera cómo se llama, ¿se sentiría muy unido a él? Pues ocurre algo parecido en el caso de Dios. ¿Cómo vamos a tener una amistad estrecha con él si no sabemos que se llama Jehová? Además, la gente que no emplea este nombre tampoco llega a conocer su maravilloso significado. ¿Qué quiere decir el nombre divino?
Dios lo explicó a su fiel siervo Moisés. Cuando este preguntó cómo se llamaba, Jehová contestó: “Yo resultaré ser lo que resultaré ser” (Éxodo 3:14). O como dice la traducción de Rotherham: “Yo Llegaré a Ser lo que yo quiera”. Así que Jehová puede llegar a ser todo lo que haga falta para cumplir sus propósitos.
Supongamos que usted pudiera llegar a ser lo que quisiera. ¿Qué favores haría a sus amigos? Si alguno se enfermara de gravedad, usted podría convertirse en un médico hábil y curarlo. Si otro perdiera mucho dinero, usted podría llegar a ser rico y ayudarlo. Claro, usted, como todos nosotros, tiene limitaciones y no puede llegar a ser todo lo que quisiera. Pero al ir estudiando la Biblia, verá con asombro que Jehová llega a ser todo lo que haga falta para lograr lo que él quiere. Y le complace usar su poder a favor de las personas que lo aman (2 Crónicas 16:9). Quienes no aprenden el nombre divino se quedan sin conocer estos hermosos rasgos de la personalidad de Jehová.
Está claro que el nombre divino tiene que aparecer en la Biblia. Cuando sabemos lo que significa el nombre Jehová y lo utilizamos con libertad para adorar a nuestro Padre celestial, nos resulta más fácil acercarnos a él.*
* Si desea más información sobre el nombre de Dios, su significado y las razones por las que debe emplearse en la adoración, consulte el folleto El nombre divino que durará para siempre, editado por los testigos de Jehová.
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