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JULY 1, 2012
THE PURPOSE OF THIS MAGAZINE, The Watchtower, is to honor Jehovah God, the Supreme Ruler of the universe.
Just aswatchtowers in ancient times enabled a person to observe developments fromafar, so thismagazine shows
us the significance of world events in the light of Bible prophecies. It comforts people with the good news that
God’s Kingdom, which is a real government in heaven, will soon bring an end to all wickedness and transform the
earth into a paradise. It promotes faith in Jesus Christ, who died so that we might gain everlasting life and who is
now ruling as King of God’s Kingdom. This magazine has been published by Jehovah’s Witnesses continuously
since 1879 and is nonpolitical. It adheres to the Bible as its authority.
This publication is not for sale. It is provided as part of a worldwide Bible educational work supported by voluntary donations. Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture
quotations are from the modern-language New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures—With References.
FROM OUR COVER
3 Does Anyone Hear Prayers?
4 Who Is the Hearer of Prayer?
6 Why Does the Hearer of Prayer Allow Suffering?
8 Draw Close to the Hearer of Prayer
11 Did You Know?
12 The Bible Changes Lives
16 Learn From God’s Word
—How Do Spirit Creatures Affect Us?
18 Draw Close to God
—When God Forgives, Does He Forget?
23 Imitate Their Faith
—“Where You Go I Shall Go”
29 Our Readers Ask . . . WhyDid God Require That
His Worshippers Marry Only Fellow Believers?
30 For Young People—A God Who Abhors Injustice
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE
19 “Whenever You Pray, Say, ‘Father’”
“I used to have doubts about God’s existence.
Yet, sometimes I would pray anyway. I was unsure
if anyone was listening, but I must admit that I did
hope that someone was out there. I was unhappy
and had no purpose in life. I was afraid to believe
in God because I thought that only weak people
believed in God.”—PATRICIA, IRELAND.
Does Anyone Hear Prayers?
CAN you relate to Patricia’s feelings? Do you pray
even if you have doubts about whether God exists?
If so, you are far fromalone. Consider the following.
˛ A poll of 2,200 British people revealed that only
22 percent believe that there is a personal God who
created the world and who hears prayers. Yet, of those
polled, 55 percent pray at least occasionally.
˛ A survey of 10,000 people on four continents
showed that of the respondents who describe them-selves
as atheists, almost 30 percent pray.
Why Do They Doubt?
An Englishman named Allan says: “I used to say that
I didn’t believe in God because I thought that religion
was invented to control people and to make money.
Also, if there were a God, I reasoned, then there would
not be so much injustice. Yet, sometimes I would sit
quietly and talk to ‘something.’ Iwould also askmyself,
‘Howdid I get here?’”
Each person with such feelings has his own reasons
for doubting whether prayers are answered. In many
cases, the doubts may be fueled by unanswered ques-tions,
such as the following:
˛ Is there a Creator?
˛ Why is religion so often an influence for bad?
˛ Why does God allow suffering?
If you could know the answers to those questions,
would you feel more confident about praying?
Some names in this series of articles have been changed.
THE WATCHTOWER ˙ JULY 1, 2012 3
Who is theHearer of Prayer?
IF THERE is a Hearer of prayer, logically he
must be the Creator.Who else but the One
who designed the human brain could read
your thoughts? Who else could respond to
prayers and provide mankind with the help
they need? But you may wonder, ‘Is it ratio-nal
to believe in a Creator?’
Many people think that to believe in a Cre-ator,
you have to deny the evidence of mod-ern
science. But the assumption that belief
in God is incompatible with science is sim-ply
not true. Consider the following.
˛ A recent study of 1,646 professors of
science at 21 elite universities in the United
States found that only a third chose the state-ment
“I do not believe in God” to describe
The fact is that a number of scientists be-lieve
in the existence of God.
Evidence of a Creator
Do we have to accept without proof that
the Hearer of prayer exists? Not at all. The
idea that faith means believing without evi-dence
is a mistaken notion. The Bible de-fines
faith as “the evident demonstration of
realities though not beheld.” (Hebrews 11:1)
Another translation says that faith “makes
us certain of realities we do not see.” (The
New English Bible) For example, you cannot
see radio waves, but your cell phone clearly
demonstrates the reality of those invisible
waves that transmit voices; so you accept
that such waves exist. Similarly, although we
cannot see the Hearer of prayer, we can re-view
available evidence that can give us the
conviction that he must exist.
Where can we find evidence that God ex-ists?
We need only look around us. The Bible
Would you welcome more information or a
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of these addresses. For a complete list of
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Laxmi Lane, Curepe.
The Watchtower (ISSN 0043-1087) is published semi-monthly
by Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New
York, Inc.; L. Weaver, Jr., President; G. F. Simonis,
Secretary-Treasurer; 25 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, NY
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Vol. 133, No. 13 Semimonthly ENGLISH
reasons this way: “Of course, every house is
constructed by someone, but he that con-structed
all things is God.” (Hebrews 3:4) Do
you agree with the logic of that statement?
Perhaps when you contemplate the order of
the universe, the origin of life, or the design
of that most complex of all structures on
earth, the human brain, you reason that
something higher than humansmust exist.
But there is a limit to what nature can
teach us about God. Observing evidence of
God in creation is like hearing the footsteps
of someone approaching behind a closed
door. You know that someone is there, but
who is it? To find out, you need to open the
door.We need to do something similar in or-der
to identify the Someone behind cre-ation.
The Bible is a door to knowledge about
God.Whenyou open that door and consider
some of its detailed prophecies and their ful-fillment,
you will find evidence that God ex-ists.
Butmore than that, the record of God’s
dealings with people shows the very person-ality
of the Hearer of prayer.
What Is the Hearer of Prayer Like?
The Bible reveals the Hearer of prayer to be
a person—one whom you can know. Surely
only a person can listenwith understanding.
For a more detailed discussion of the evidence of
God’s existence, see the brochure The Origin of Life—Five
Questions Worth Asking and the book Is There a Creator
Who Cares About You? both published by Jehovah’s Wit-nesses.
The brochure A Book for All People and the book The
Bible—God’s Word or Man’s? are published by Jehovah’s
Witnesses to help you to consider evidence that the Bible
is inspired of God.
NOWPUBLISHED IN 195 LANGUAGES: Acholi, Af-rikaans,
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Sadly, it is religion that causes many to
doubt that there is a compassionate Hearer of
prayer. Religion’s involvement in war, terror-ism,
and the toleration of child abuse has led
even prayerful people to say, “I don’t believe
Why is religion often an influence for bad?
Put simply: Bad people have done bad things
in the name of religion. The Bible foretold
that Christianity would be hijacked and used
for evil ends. The apostle Paul told Christian
God’sWord, the Bible, holds false religion re-sponsible
for “the blood . . . of all those who
have been slaughtered on the earth.” (Reve-lation
18:24) Because false religion has failed
to teach people about the true God, whose
very essence is love, those religions are
bloodguilty in God’s eyes.—1 John 4:8.
The Hearer of prayer feels for the victims
of oppressive religion. Soon, God’s love for
mankind will move him to judge all religious
hypocrites by means of Jesus. Jesus said:
“Many will say tome in that day, ‘Lord, Lord,
didwe not prophesy in your name?’ . . . Yet
then I will confess to them: I never knew you!
Get away from me, you workers of lawless-ness.”—
Matthew 7:22, 23.
Kikongo, Kikuyu, Kiluba, Kimbundu, Kinyarwanda, Kir-ghiz,
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(Bolivia), Quechua (Cuzco), Quichua, Rarotongan,
Romanian, Russian, Samoan, Sango, Sepedi, Serbian,
overseers: “From among
you yourselves men will
rise and speak twisted
things to draw away the
disciples after them-selves.”—
Acts 20:29, 30.
God is disgusted with
false religion. In fact,
Serbian (Roman), Sesotho, Seychelles Creole, Shona, Si-lozi,
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Braille also available.
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Audio recordings also available at www.jw.org.
Why Does the Hearer of Prayer Allow
EVEN though they may pray, some people
have doubts thatGod exists.Why do they
doubt? Perhaps it is because they see so
much suffering in this world. Have you ever
wondered why God allows suffering?
Did God really make humans as they are
now—imperfect and subject to suffering?We
could hardly respect a god who would pur-pose
for humans to suffer. But consider this:
If you walked admiringly around a new car
only to find that the far side was damaged,
would you assume that the manufacturer
made it that way? Of course not! You would
conclude that the manufacturer made it
“perfect” and that someone or something
else caused the damage.
Similarly, when we admire the marvelous
order and design in the natural world and
6 THE WATCHTOWER ˙ JULY 1, 2012
then notice the chaos and corruption that
blight the human family, what conclusion
should we draw? The Bible teaches that God
made the first human pair perfect but that
later they caused themselves to become dam-aged.
(Deuteronomy 32:4, 5) The good news
is that God has promised to repair the dam-age—
to restore obedient humans to perfec-tion.
Why, though, has hewaited so long?
Why So Long?
The reason has to do with the question of
who should rulemankind. Jehovah never in-tended
that humans should rule themselves.
He was to be their Ruler. The Bible itself says:
“It does not belong to man who is walking
even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) Sad-ly,
the first humans chose to rebel against
God’s rulership. Their lawless act made them
It is reassuring to read: “O Hearer of prayer,
even to you people of all flesh will come.”
(Psalm 65:2) He hears thosewho pray to him
in faith. And he has a name. The Bible says:
“Jehovah is far away from the wicked ones,
but the prayer of the righteous ones he
Jehovah has feelings. He is “the God of
love” and is called “the happy God.” (2 Co-rinthians
13:11; 1 Timothy 1:11) Concern-ing
his reaction at a timewhen evilwas espe-cially
rampant, the Bible says: “He felt hurt
at his heart.” (Genesis 6:5, 6) The claim that
God causes suffering in order to test people
is untrue. The Bible says: “Far be it from the
true God to act wickedly.” (Job 34:10) Never-theless,
you may wonder, ‘If God is the al-mighty
Creator, why does he allow suffering
Jehovah has granted mankind the ability
to exercise free will, and that tells us some-thing
about what God is like. Do we not
treasure our freedom to choose how we
will live? But sadly, many people misuse
their freedom and cause suffering for them-selves
and others. Now here is a question
worth thinking long and hard about: How
could God eliminate suffering without tak-ing
away man’s freedom? We will examine
this question in the next article.
THE WATCHTOWER ˙ JULY 1, 2012 7
sinners. (1 John 3:4) As a result, they lost
their perfection and caused damage to them-selves
and their offspring.
For thousands of years, Jehovah has al-lowed
humans to rule themselves, and histo-ry
has demonstrated that humans do not
have the ability to do so. It shows that all hu-man
governments cause suffering. Not one
has ever eliminated war, crime, injustice, or
Undo the Damage?
The Bible promises that God will soon
bring about a righteous new world. (2 Peter
3:13) Only those who choose of their own
free will to show love to one another and to
Godwill be allowed to live in it.—Deuterono-my
30:15, 16, 19, 20.
The Bible also says that in “the day of judg-ment”
that is fast approaching, God will
eliminate suffering and those who cause it.
(2 Peter 3:7) Thereafter, God’s appointed
Ruler, Jesus Christ, will govern obedient hu-mans.
(Daniel 7:13, 14) What will Jesus’ rul-ership
achieve? The Bible says: “The meek
ones themselves will possess the earth, and
they will indeed find their exquisite de-light
in the abundance of peace.”—Psalm
As heavenly King, Jesus will undo the
damage—including sickness, aging, and
death—that resulted when humans rebelled
against Jehovah, “the source of life.” (Psalm
36:9) Jesus will cure all those who accept his
loving rulership. Under his rule, these Bible
promises will come true:
Draw Close to theHearer of
MANY who claim to believe in God can-not
give a sound basis for their faith.
Nor can they explain why religion is often
bad or why God allows suffering. At best,
they can pray only to a God they do not com-prehend.
You, however, can draw closer to God than
that. You can build your faith on an under-standing
of God thatmakes you love and ap-preciate
him. Genuine faith is based on evi-dence.
(Hebrews 11:1) If you learn the truth
about God, you can know him and speak to
him as a friend. Consider the experiences of
doubts about God’s existence.
˛ Patricia, mentioned in the opening arti-cle.
“One day I was with a group of about
ten friends when they began discussing reli-gion.
I had told them that I walked out
of the house to escape the discussion be-tween
my dad, who was an atheist, and one
of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who had called at
our home. ‘Maybe Jehovah’sWitnesses have
something,’ said one ofmy friends.
8 THE WATCHTOWER ˙ JULY 1, 2012
“ ‘Why don’t we go to one of their meet-ings
to find out?’ said another. And that is
just whatwe did. Althoughwewere skeptical,
some of us continued attending simply be-cause
theWitnesses were so friendly.
“However, one Sunday I heard something
that changed my attitude. The speaker ex-plained
why people suffer. I had never before
appreciated that man was originally made
perfect and that sin and death started with
one man and then spread to all mankind.
The speaker also explained why Jesus’ death
was necessary to restore mankind to what
the first man had lost. (Romans 5:12, 18,
19) Suddenly, everything made sense to me.
‘There really is a God who cares about us,’ I
thought. I continued studying the Bible and
soon, for the first time inmy life, I found that
I could pray to someone who is real.”
˛ Allan, also mentioned in the opening arti-cle.
“One day Jehovah’s Witnesses called at
For more information about the ransoming value of
Jesus’ death, see chapter 5 of the book What Does the Bi-ble
Really Teach? published by Jehovah’sWitnesses.
˛ “No resident will say: ‘I am sick.’ The
people that are dwelling in the land will be
those pardoned for their error.”—Isaiah
˛ “[God] will wipe out every tear from
their eyes, and death will be no more, nei-ther
will mourning nor outcry nor pain be
anymore. The former things have passed
Is it not comforting to know that soon
God will fulfill his promise to end all suffer-ing?
Meanwhile, we need not lose confi-dence
that he hears our prayers just because
he presently allows suffering.
God is there. He can hear you, even your
expressions of pain and sorrow. And he is ea-ger
to see you live to enjoy the time when all
your doubts and pain will be gone.
Genuine faith is based on
evidence and a desire to
know the truth about God
our home, and my wife invited them in be-cause
she was interested in what they said
about living forever on earth. I was annoyed.
So, leaving the visitors in the front room, I
got my wife into the kitchen and told her,
‘Don’t be foolish. You can’t believe things
“‘Well, then, you just go in there and
prove themwrong,’ she replied.
“Of course, I could not prove anything. But
they were very kind and left me a book about
whether life originated by means of creation
or evolution. Its logic was so clear and well
supported that I decided I ought to know
more about God. I began studying the Bible
with the Witnesses, and soon I realized that
what it says is very different from everything
I had previously assumed about religion. As I
learned about Jehovah, I began to pray to
him more specifically. I had some attitudes
that were not very nice, so I prayed for help. I
feel sure that Jehovah answeredmy prayers.”
˛ Andrew, who lives in England. “Although
I had strong opinions and a keen interest
in science, I believed the theory of evolu-tion
merely because other people said it was
proved. I rejected belief in God because of all
the bad things that happen.
“Yet, sometimes Iwould think: ‘If there is a
God up there, then I want to know what it all
means. Why is there so much crime and
war?’When in difficulty, I sometimes prayed
for help, but I did not know whom I was
“Then someone gave my wife the tract
published by Jehovah’s Witnesses entitled
Will This World Survive? I had often pon-dered
that exact question. The tractmademe
wonder about the Bible, ‘Might its answers
be worth considering?’ Later, while I was on
holiday, someone gave me the book The Bi-ble—
God’s Word or Man’s? When I real-ized
that the Bible is in harmony with true
science, I felt that I needed to learn more
about the Bible. So when one of Jehovah’s
Witnesses offered to study it with me, I ac-cepted.
As I came to understand Jehovah’s
purpose, I felt that I knew him as a real per-son,
someone I could freely speak to in
˛ Jan, who was brought up as a Protestant in
London. “The hypocrisy in religion and the
prevalence of suffering ledme to give up reli-gion.
I also gave up college and began singing
and playing the guitar for money. That was
when Imet Pat. He had been raised as a Cath-olic
and had become a disbeliever likeme.
“We lived in an abandoned house along
with several other dropouts who were in-
Published by Jehovah’sWitnesses.
10 THE WATCHTOWER ˙ JULY 1, 2012
terested in Eastern religions. Late into the
nights, we spent hours in intense discussions
about the meaning of life. Although Pat and I
didn’t believe in God, we felt that there must
be some ‘life force.’
“After we moved to northern England in
search of work as musicians, our son was
born. One night he got sick, and I foundmy-self
praying to the God I didn’t believe in.
Soon afterward, the relationship between Pat
and me deteriorated, and I took our baby and
walked out. Again, I prayed for help, just in
case there was someone listening. I didn’t
knowit, but Pat did the same.
“Later that day, two of Jehovah’sWitnesses
knocked on Pat’s door and showed him some
of the Bible’s practical advice. Pat called me
and asked if I would agree to study the Bi-ble
with him and the Witnesses. Soon we
learned that to please God, we would have to
legalize our marriage. It seemed a tall order in
viewof our precarious relationship.
“We wanted to know more about the ful-fillment
of Bible prophecies, the reason for
suffering, and the meaning of God’s King-dom.
Gradually, we realized that God does
care, and we wanted to do as he says.We got
married. The wisdom of God’s Word has
helped us to raise our three children.We feel
sure that Jehovah listened to our prayers.”
Examine the Evidence for Yourself
Like millions of others, those quoted in
this article saw through the deception of
false religion and discovered why God allows
suffering. Did you notice that in each case it
was an accurate understanding of the Bible
that convinced these individuals that Jeho-vah
really does hear prayers?
Would you like to examine the evidence
that God exists? Jehovah’s Witnesses will be
pleased to help you to learn the truth about
Jehovah and how you can draw close to the
“Hearer of prayer.”—Psalm 65:2.
“As I came to understand Jehovah’s
purpose, I felt that I knew him as a
real person, someone I could freely
speak to in prayer”
DID YOU KNOW?
Why did people in Bible times use bitumen as mortar?
What kind of “paper” was available in Bible times?
THE WATCHTOWER ˙ JULY 1, 2012 11
ˇ Regarding the builders of the tower
of Babel, the Bible says that “brick
served as stone for them, but bitumen
served as mortar.”—Genesis 11:3.
Bitumen occurs naturally. It comes
from petroleum, and it is readily found
in Mesopotamia, where it wells up out
of the earth and coagulates. Its efficien-cy
as an adhesive was noted in Bible
times. Bitumen was “suitable for build-ings
constructed of baked bricks,” says
one reference work.
An article in the magazine Archaeol-ogy
describes a recent visit to the re-mains
of a ziggurat in the ancient city
of Ur, in Mesopotamia. “The bitumen
mortar—one of the first uses of south-ern
Iraq’s vast oil fields—is still visible
between the burnt bricks,” says the au-thor.
“The sticky black substance, today
a source of the region’s instability and
violence, once literally bound this civili-zation
together. The use of bitumen
as mortar and pavement has helped
waterproof the otherwise fragile Su-merian
mud-bricks, ensuring that the
structures endured for millennia.”
ˇ The question naturally arises because
of a remark made by the Bible writer
John: “Although I have many things to
write you, I do not desire to do so with
paper and ink.”—2 John 12.
The Greek word khartes, here ren-dered
“paper,” refers to the paper
made of papyrus, which is an aquatic
plant. One reference work describes
the technique used to make sheets of
writing material from the stems of this
plant as follows: “Stems, sometimes ten
feet [3 m] long, were peeled and cut
into narrow strips which in their turn
were pasted to one another in layers,
the grain in these layers going first one
way and then the other; these sheets
were then beaten with a wooden mal-let
and finally smoothed with a scrap-er.”
Archaeologists have recovered many
ancient papyrus documents in Egypt
and in the area around the Dead Sea.
Some Scriptural papyri found in these
areas date back to the time of Jesus or
even earlier. It is quite possible that this
was the material on which Biblical let-ters,
such as those by the apostles,were
˘ FLPA/David Hosking/age
THE BIBLE CHANGES LIVES
WHAT helped a woman in the Philippines to break free from alcohol abuse
and improve her family life? Why did a karate enthusiast in Australia become a
peaceable minister of religion? Read what these people have to say.
“The changes didn’t
MY PAST: I was born in San Fer-nando,
a town in the province of
Camarines Sur. For most of my
adult life, though, I have lived in Antipolo,
Rizal Province. Situated in a mountainous
and grassy area with a lot of trees, Antipolo
was a quiet little town when I first moved
here. I rarely saw anyone walking outside af-ter
dark. Now, however, Antipolo has devel-oped
into a large city withmany people.
Some time after moving to Antipolo, I met
aman named Benjamin, and in timewewere
married. I found married life to be more dif-ficult
than I had anticipated. In an effort to
escapemy problems, I began to drink heavily.
I developed a difficult personality, which was
evident in the way I treatedmy husband and
my children. I had very little self-control
12 THE WATCHTOWER ˙ JULY 1, 2012
or patience in dealing with
them. I showed no respect to
my husband. Needless to say,
our family lifewasn’t pleasant.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED
MY LIFE: My husband’s sis-ter,
Editha, is one of Jehovah’s
Witnesses, and she recom-mended
that Benjamin and I
study the Bible with the Wit-nesses.
We accepted the offer,
hoping it would help to im-prove
our family life.
As we studied the Bible, we
learned a number of beautiful
truths. The words of Revela-tion
21:4 especially touched
my heart. Regarding those
who will live in the future earthly paradise
under God’s Kingdom, that verse says that
God “will wipe out every tear from their
eyes, and deathwill be nomore, neither will
mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”
Iwanted tobe among the peoplewhowould
enjoy those blessings.
I came to realize that I needed to make
some major changes in my attitude and hab-its.
The changes didn’t happen overnight, but
eventually I succeeded in breaking free from
alcohol abuse. I also learned to be kind and
patient in dealing with my family. Moreover,
I learned to respectmy husband, cooperating
with himas he took the lead in our family.
YEAR BORN: 1949
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: THE PHILIPPINES
HISTORY: HEAVY DRINKER
THE WATCHTOWER ˙ JULY 1, 2012 13
When Benjamin and I began to attend
meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses, we were
deeply impressed by what we saw. Among
theWitnesses, there is no gambling, no over-drinking,
and no partiality. They treat every-one
with dignity and respect. We were con-vinced
that we had found the true religion.
—John 13:34, 35.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: Our family life
has improved dramatically. Benjamin and I
have a happy marriage, and we enjoy teach-ing
the Bible to others. Our two grown sons
and their wives have also begun to study the
Bible.We hope that in time they will join us
in serving Jehovah. This really is the bestway
“I felt invincible.”
MY PAST: I grew up in Albury,
a beautiful, prosperous city in
NewSouthWales. Like most cit-ies,
it has its share of crime. In general,
though, Albury is known as a safe place to
My upbringing was comfortable. Al-thoughmy
parents divorced when I was sev-en,
they saw to it that my brother and two
sisters and I never lacked anything. I received
a good education, attending the best private
school in the area. My father wanted me to
have a career in business whenmy schooling
was complete. However, I was more interest-ed
in the sporting sector, where I excelled at
cycling and karate. I ended
up taking a job at an auto-motive
repair shop, which al-lowed
me more time to focus
my energy onmy sporting in-terests.
I took pride in keeping my-self
in fit physical condition.
At times, I felt invincible. I
could easily have used my
strength to take advantage of
others. But my karate master,
knowing that I was struggling
not to misuse my strength,
instilled strict discipline and
morals in me. He constant-ly
stressed the importance of
obedience and loyalty.
HOW THE BIBLE CHANGED MY LIFE:
When I began to study the Bible, I learned
that Jehovah hates violence. (Psalm 11:5) At
first, I reasoned that karate isn’t violence
but is a sport practiced in a safe manner.
I felt that the virtues and high standards
it promotes were much in line with what
the Bible teaches. The Witness couple who
studied with me were very patient. They
never told me that I had to give up martial
arts; they simply continued toteachme Bible
YEAR BORN: 1967
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: AUSTRALIA
HISTORY: KARATE ENTHUSIAST
As my Bible knowledge grew and my
friendship with Jehovah deepened, I began
to see things from a different perspective. I
was impressed when I learned of the exam-ple
set by Jehovah’s Son, Jesus. Although Je-sus
was very powerful, he never resorted to
physical violence.Hiswords recorded atMat-thew
26:52 really hit home: “All those who
take the swordwill perish by the sword.”
The more I learned about Jehovah, the
more my love and respect for him grew. To
think that our Creator, sowise and so power-ful,
could care about me personally moved
me deeply. I was touched to learn that even
when I let Jehovah down or when I felt that
it was all too hard and I just wanted to throw
in the towel, he would never give up on me
as long as I kept on trying. I found great com-fort
in his promise: “I, Jehovahyour God, am
grasping your right hand, the One saying to
you, ‘Do not be afraid. I myself will help
you.’” (Isaiah 41:13)When I realized that I’d
been shown that sort of love, I wasn’t about
tolet it go.
I knew that giving up karate would be the
hardest thing I had ever done. But I also
knewthat it would please Jehovah, and I was
convinced that serving him was worth any
sacrifice. I think the clincher for me was
when I read Jesus’ words recorded at Mat-thew
6:24: “No one can slave for two mas-ters.”
I realized that itwould be impossible to
serve Jehovah fully and keep practicing kara-te,
as my priorities would inevitably drift
back to karate. The time had come to choose
14 THE WATCHTOWER ˙ JULY 1, 2012
It wasn’t easy to give up karate. I struggled
with many conflicting emotions. I felt a mea-sure
of joy in knowing that I was making Je-hovahhappy.
But I also felt as if I werebetray-ing
my karate master. Those who practice
martial arts often view betraying someone as
an unforgivable sin. Some will even opt to
commit suicide rather than deal with the
I could not bringmyself to explain tomy
karate master why I was leaving. Instead, I
simply walked away, ceasing all communica-tion
with him andmy other karate associates.
I knew that I had done the right thing in giv-ing
up karate. Yet I also felt guilty for not ex-plaining
my new beliefs, having missed an
opportunity to share my faith with others. I
felt as if I let Jehovah down before I even be-gan
serving him. All of this was quite tor-menting.
There were many times when I
tried to pray to Jehovah but ended up crying
Jehovah must have seen something good
in me, for he moved the brothers and sisters
in the congregation to rally tomy side. Their
love, comfort, and friendship were incredi-ble.
I also drew comfort from the Bible ac-count
of David and Bath-sheba. Even though
David committed serious sins, Jehovah for-gave
him after he sincerely repented. When I
reflected on that account, it helped me to put
my own shortcomings in perspective.
HOW I HAVE BENEFITED: Before studying
the Bible, I didn’t care too much about any-one
else—lifewas all aboutme. But with Jeho-vah’s
help and that of my beautiful wife of
seven years, I have developed a lot more em-pathy.
We’ve been blessed with the privilege
of studying the Bible with a number of indi-viduals,
including some with tragic circum-stances.
Seeing Jehovah’s love touch the lives
of others has brought me more joy than be-ing
a powerful karate champion ever could.
“To think that our Creator, so
wise and so powerful, could
care about me personally
moved me deeply”
Did you enjoy reading the foregoing ex-periences?
They are just 2 of over 50 such
accounts published in The Watchtower since
August 2008. The series “The Bible Changes
Lives” has become a favorite among our
readers. Why have many found it so appeal-ing?
The individuals featured in these articles
come from various backgrounds. Before
learning about Jehovah God, some enjoyed a
measure of success but lacked a real purpose
in life. Others contended with major chal-lenges,
such as a violent temper or the abuse
of drugs or alcohol. A few grew up knowing
about Jehovah but strayed from his worship
for a time. All such experiences illustrate that
making changes in order to please God is
possible. And doing so always brings bene-fits.
What impact are these accounts having
on our readers?
One reader explains how the article in the
February 1, 2009, issue helped some inmates
at a prison for women.
˛ “Many of the inmates can relate to the indi-viduals
featured in the article,” she says. “The
‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures, along with the
profiles of each person’s past, were especially
effective. Many inmates have similar back-grounds.
After reading these accounts, two
inmates started to study the Bible.”—C. W.
The experiences featured in this series have
especially struck a chord with some. For ex-ample,
the April 1, 2011, issue carried the ex-perience
of Guadalupe Villarreal, who gave
up a homosexual lifestyle in order to serve Je-hovah.
Note just two of the many letters that
came from our readers in response to his ac-count.
˛ “Guadalupe’s experience touched me to
the core. It is so wonderful to see how love for
Jehovah and hisWord can completely trans-form
a person!”—L. F.
˛ “In the past, I tried to share my faith
with everyone, including homosexuals. Late-ly,
though, I’ve noticed that I tend to over-look
such individuals or even avoid them.
This article was just what I needed. It helped
me to view such individuals as Jehovah does
—as his potential worshippers.”—M. K.
Another experience that resonated with
many readers was that of Victoria Tong, whose
story appeared in the August 1, 2011, issue.
Victoria described her tragic upbringing. She
acknowledged that she has struggled to feel
loved by Jehovah, even after years of serving
him. And she related what has gradually
helped her to accept Jehovah’s love. No-tice
what some readers said about her story.
˛ “Victoria’s experience spoke directly to my
heart. I’ve experienced a lot of tragedy in my
life. I constantly battle negative thinking
—even after years of being a baptizedWit-ness.
But Victoria’s experience makes me
want to work even harder to see what Jeho-vah
sees in me.”—M. M.
˛ “When I was young, I fought an addiction
to pornography. Recently, I suffered a re-lapse.
I’ve sought the help of Christian el-ders,
and I’ve made progress in overcoming
my problem. The elders have assuredme of
God’s love and mercy. Yet, at times, I still feel
worthless, as if Jehovah couldn’t possibly
love me. Reading Victoria’s experience really
helped. I now realize that when I think God
couldn’t possibly forgive me, in essence I’m
saying that his Son’s sacrifice is not enough to
cover my sins. I’ve clipped out this article so
that I can read and meditate on it whenever
feelings of worthlessness well up within me.
Thank you for this wonderful series!”—L. K.
LEARN FROM GOD’S WORD
1. Who are the angels?
Angels are spirit creatures who live in heaven.
They are a higher form of life than human life. The
true God, who is himself a spirit, created the angels
before he created the earth. (Job 38:4, 7; Matthew
18:10) Jehovah has surrounded himself with mil-lions
of loyal angels.—Read Psalm103:20, 21;Daniel
2. Do angels help people?
Angels helped a righteousman named Lot.
He lived in a city that God had determined to
destroy because of the people’s badness. Two
angels warned Lot and his family to flee.
Some people considered the warning a joke
and ignored it. But Lot and his daughters sur-vived
because they obeyed the warning that
God had sent bymeans of angels.—Read Gen-esis
According to the Bible, angels are helping
people today by directing the work of those
who faithfully preach the good news of God’s
Kingdom. (Matthew 24:14) The good news
includes a warning. Like the warning given to
Lot, it is no joke. It comes from God through
angels.—Read Revelation 1:1; 14:6, 7.
God can use angels to strengthen us when
we face trials. He used an angel to strengthen
Jesus.—Read Luke 22:41-43.
Soon God will use angels in another way
—to eliminate wicked people who cause suf-fering.
That will bring delightful relief toman-kind.—
Read 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8.
How Do Spirit Creatures
This article considers questions you
may have raised and shows where you
can read the answers in your Bible.
Jehovah’s Witnesses would be pleased
to discuss these answers with you.
3. How do demons affect us?
Just asmany people on earth have acted badly by
disobeying God, so also in heaven many angels
have rebelled against God. (2 Peter 2:4) Disobedi-ent
angels are called demons. Foremost among
them is Satan, the Devil. Satan and his demons are
misleadingmankind.—Read Revelation 12:9.
Satan has used corrupt businesses, human gov-ernments,
and false religions to influence people
and to turn them away from God. Thus, Satan is re-sponsible
for the injustice, violence, and suffering
that afflictmankind.—Read 1 John 5:19.
4. How do demons mislead people?
Satan has deceived many people by teaching
that the dead become spirits that can communicate
with them. The Bible, however, says that the dead
can do nothing at all. (Ecclesiastes 9:5) But demons
often deceive people by imitating the voice of dead
loved ones. (Isaiah 8:19) Demons mislead others
through spirit mediums, fortune-tellers, and prac-ticers
of divination and astrology. God’s Word
warns us to avoid all such practices. So we should
discard anything in our possession that is related to
the demons and the occult.—ReadDeuteronomy 18:
10,11; Acts 19:19.
If we love Jehovah, we do not need to live in fear
of the demons. Whenwe study God’sWord and do
as it says, we oppose the Devil and draw close to
God. Jehovah is more powerful than the demons.
His faithful angels can strengthen us in time of
need.—Read Psalm34:7; James 4:7, 8.
For more information, see chapter 10 of this
book, published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
DRAWCLOSE TO GOD
When God Forgives, Does He Forget?
THE answer, in a word, is yes. Concerning
thosewhom he favors, Jehovah promises: “I
shall forgive their error, and their sin I shall re-member
no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34) Jehovah
thus assures us that when he forgives repentant
sinners, he does not remember their sins any-more.
But does that really mean that the Creator
of the vast universe is unable to recall the sins he
has forgiven? Thewords of Ezekiel shed light on
how God forgives and forgets.—Read Ezekiel
Using the prophet Ezekiel as a spokesman, Je-hovah
proclaimed judgment against unfaithful
Judah and Jerusalem. The nation as a whole
had abandoned Jehovah’s worship and filled
the land with violence. Jehovah foretold the
destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.
But in the midst of the judg-ment,
Jehovah provided a mes-sage
of hope. Each individual
had a choice; each one was re-sponsible
for his own course of
action.—Verses 19, 20.
What, then, if someone
changed from doing bad to do-ing
good? Jehovah said: “As re-gards
someone wicked, in case
he should turn back from all his
sins that he has committed and
he should actually keep all my
statutes and execute justice and
righteousness, he will positively
keep living. He will not die.” (Verse 21) Yes, Je-hovah
was “ready to forgive” a sinner who
turned back fromhiswayward course,manifest-ing
true repentance.—Psalm 86:5.
What about the sins he had committed? “All
his transgressions that he has committed—they
18 THE WATCHTOWER ˙ JULY 1, 2012
will not be remembered against him,” Jehovah
explained. (Verse 22) Notice that the repentant
one’s sins would “not be remembered against
him.” Why is this significant?
In the Bible, the Hebrew word translated “re-member”
can mean more than just to recall the
past. Regarding this word, one reference work
says: “Quite often, in fact, [it] implies an action
or appears in combinationwith verbs of action.”
Thus, “to remember” can mean “to act.” Hence,
when Jehovah says of a repentant sinner that his
sins “will not be remembered against him,” He
is saying that He will not thereafter act against
the individual because of those sins, such as by
accusing or punishing him.
The words of Ezekiel 18:21, 22 paint a touch-ing
picture of the extent of God’s forgiveness.
When Jehovah forgives our sins, he will never
hold those sins against us in the future. Instead,
he puts the sins of repentant ones behind him.
(Isaiah 38:17) It is as if he wipes out the record
of those sins.—Acts 3:19.
As imperfect humans, we need God’s mercy.
After all, we sinmany times. (Romans 3:23) But
Jehovahwants us to knowthat if we are sincere-ly
repentant, he is willing to forgive. And when
he forgives, he forgets—that is, he will not re-hash
our sins in order to accuse or punish us
ever again. What a comforting thought! Does
God’smercymove you towant to drawcloser to
Similarly, “to remember sins” can mean “to take ac-tion
against sinners.”—Jeremiah 14:10.
SUGGESTED BIBLE READING FOR JULY:
˛ Ezekiel 6-20
“Whenever You Pray, Say,
“Father.” What does that word bring to your mind? A loving,
affectionate man who has deep concern for the welfare of
his family? Or a neglectful, perhaps even abusive, man? A lot
depends on the kind of man your father was.
“FATHER” was the term that Jesus often used when talking
to and about God. When teaching his followers to pray,
Jesus said: “Whenever you pray, say, Father.” (Luke 11:2) But
what kind of father is Jehovah? The answer to this question is
vitally important.Why? The better we comprehend the kind
of father Jehovah is, the closer we will draw to him and the
morewe will love him.
No one is better qualified to tell us about our heavenly Fa-ther
than Jesus himself. He enjoyed a close relationship with
his Father. Jesus stated: “No one fully knows the Son but the
Father, neither does anyone fully know the Father but the
Son and anyone to whom the Son is willing to reveal him.”
Jehovah’s fatherhood is a dominant theme in the Scriptures. For example,
some 65 times in the first three Gospels and over 100 times in John’s Gospel, we
read of Jesus using the term“Father.” Paul also refers to God as “Father” over 40
times in his letters. Jehovah is our Father in the sense that he is the Source of
The better we
kind of father
Jehovah is, the
closer we will
draw to him and
themore we will
THE WATCHTOWER ˙ JULY 1, 2012 19
(Matthew 11:27) Thus, the best way to know
the Father is through the Son.
What can we learn from Jesus about our
heavenly Father? Consider this statement
that Jesus made: “God loved the world so
much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in
order that everyone exercising faith in him
might not be destroyed but have everlasting
life.” (John 3:16) Jesus’ words here identi-fy
our heavenly Father’s dominant quality
—love. (1 John 4:8) Jehovah manifests his
love in various ways, such as by his approval,
compassion, protection, and discipline, as
well as by providing for our needs.
Assured of Our Father’s Approval
Children draw strength and courage from
parental approval. Imagine howitmust have
encouraged Jesus to hear his Father say:
“This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have
approved.” (Matthew 3:17) Jesus, in turn, as-sures
us of the Father’s love for and approval
of us. “He that loves me will be loved by my
Father,” Jesus said. (John 14:21) What com-forting
words! There is, however, someone
whowants to rob you of that comfort.
Satan tries to create doubts in ourminds re-garding
our heavenly Father’s approval. He
seeks to convince us thatwe are notworthy of
it. He often does this when we are most
vulnerable—ill, frail, or elderly or when we
are staggering under the weight of failures
and disappointments. Consider the case of a
youngman named Lucas, who felt unworthy
of God’s approval. Lucas relates that his par-ents
changed drastically during his youth,
abandoningmany of the values that they had
taught him. Perhaps as a result, he found it
difficult to relate to his heavenly Father. Addi-tionally,
being impetuous by nature, Lucas
often got into difficulties, especially in his re-lationships
with others. Gradually, however,
his patient and encouraging wife—whomLu-cas
calls “a special blessing, a gift fromGod”—
20 THE WATCHTOWER ˙ JULY 1, 2012
helped him to control his impetuous nature.
Lucas came to recognize that “Christ Jesus
cameinto theworld to save sinners.” (1 Timo-thy
1:15) Lucas says thatmeditating on God’s
love and approval has given him a sense of
personal happiness and fulfillment.
If, at times, you find yourself doubting
whether Jehovah could love you or approve
of you, youmight find it encouraging to read
andmeditate onRomans 8:31-39. The apostle
Paul there lovingly assures us that nothing
can “separate us from God’s love that is in
Christ Jesus our Lord.”
A Father of Tender Compassion
Our heavenly Father is sensitive to our suf-fering.
He is a God of “tender compassion.”
(Luke 1:78) Jesus reflected his Father’s com-passion
for imperfect humans. (Mark 1:40-
42; 6:30-34) True Christians also endeavor to
imitate their heavenly Father’s compassion.
They heed the Bible’s admonition to “be-come
kind to one another, tenderly compas-sionate.”—
Reflect on the experience of aman named
Felipe. One day, on his way to work, he sud-denly
felt a terrible pain, as if he had been
stabbed in the back. He was rushed to a hos-pital.
After an eight-hour examination, the
doctors finally concluded that the inner lay-er
of his aorta had suffered a tear. They said
that he had only 25minutes to live and that
therewas no point in performing surgery.
Some of Felipe’s fellow worshippers were
present, and their compassion moved them
to spring into action. They quickly arranged
for him to be transferred to another hospi-tal,
where an emergency operation was per-formed,
and they stayed with him until the
surgery was complete. Happily, Felipe sur-vived
the ordeal. Looking back on the expe-
See chapter 24, “Nothing Can ‘Separate Us FromGod’s
Love,’ ” of the book Draw Close to Jehovah, published by
APPROVAL COMPASSION PROTECTION DISCIPLINE PHYSICAL
JEHOVAH MANIFESTS HIS FATHERLY LOVE IN VARIOUS WAYS
ao Paulo, Brazil. It seemed
THE WATCHTOWER ˙ JULY 1, 2012 21
rience, Felipe is thankful for the compassion
expressed by his fellow worshippers. But Fe-lipe
is convinced that his heavenly Father
was the motivating force behind their com-passion.
“Itwas as if God, like a loving father,
were standing bymy side to strengthen me,”
says Felipe. Indeed, Jehovah often shows his
compassion bymoving his servants on earth
to reflect that quality.
Our Father Provides Protection
When a little child senses danger, he may
run to his father for protection. A child finds
security in the loving embrace of his father.
Jesus fully trusted in Jehovah as a protector.
(Matthew 26:53; John 17:15)We too can find
security under our heavenly Father’s protec-tion.
The protection Jehovah nowprovides is
primarily spiritual. In other words, he pro-tects
us fromspiritual harmby equipping us
with what we need in order to avoid danger
and to safeguard our friendship with him.
One way he provides protection is through
Bible-based counsel. When we receive such
counsel, it is as if Jehovah were walking be-hind
us, saying: “This is the way.Walk in it.”
Consider the example of Tiago and his
brothers Fernando and Rafael, who were
members of a rock-and-roll band. They
were really excited when they were selected
to play at one of the most famous mu-sic
halls in S
that success awaited them. A fellow worship-per,
however, warned them about the dan-gers
of keeping close company with those
whose lifestyle shows disregard for God’s
ways. (Proverbs 13:20) He underscored this
Bible-based counsel by telling of his person-al
experience. His own brother had become
involved in ungodly conduct as a result of as-sociating
with the wrong crowd. Tiago and
his brothers decided to abandon their musi-cal
career. All three of them are now in the
full-time Christian ministry. They believe
that heeding the counsel of God’sWord pro-tected
them fromspiritual harm.
Our Heavenly Father Disciplines Us
A loving father disciplines his children, for
he cares about the kind of people they will
become. (Ephesians 6:4) Such a father may
be firm, but he is never harsh in correcting
his children. Similarly, our heavenly Father
may at times find it necessary to discipline
us. But God’s discipline is always given in
love and is never abusive. Like his Father, Je-sus
was never harsh, not even when his disci-ples
were slow to respond to needed correc-tion.—
Matthew 20:20-28; Luke 22:24-30.
Take note of how a man named Ricar-do
came to appreciate that he was dis-ciplined
by Jehovah in love. Ricardo was
abandoned by his father when he was
only seven months old. When he got into
his teens, Ricardo keenly felt the lack of
a father. He got involved in bad practices, and
his conscience began to torment him. Realiz-ing
that the life he was leading was not com-patible
with Christian moral standards,
he decided to speak to the elders in the
congregation he attended. The elders gave
him firm but loving counsel based on
the Bible. Ricardo appreciated the dis-cipline,
but he contin-ued
to suffer intensely be-cause
of what he had done
—sleepless nights, tears,
and depression. Finally, he
came to realize that his be-ing
disciplined meant that
Jehovah still loved him. Ri-cardo
recalled the words of
Hebrews 12:6, which says:
“Whom Jehovah loves he
We do well to keep in
mind that discipline in-volves
more than punish-ment
or reproof for wrongdoing. The Bible
also associates discipline with training. So
our loving heavenly Fathermay discipline us
by permitting us for a time to suffer unpleas-ant
consequences for our mistakes. Yet, the
Bible indicates that his discipline is training
us, helping us to pursue a right course. (He-brews
12:7, 11) Yes, our Father is really con-cerned
with our well-being and corrects us
for our own benefit.
Our Father Provides
for Our Physical Needs
A loving father seeks to care for the physi-cal
andmaterial needs of his family. Jehovah
22 THE WATCHTOWER ˙ JULY 1, 2012
is no different. “Your heavenly Father knows
you need all these things,” said Jesus. (Mat-thew
6:25-34) Jehovah promises: “I will by
no means leave you nor by any means for-sake
A woman named Nice came to appreciate
the truthfulness of those words when her
husband became unemployed. She had just
left a well-paying job so she could dedicate
more time to her two girls and to God’s ser-vice.
Now what would they live on? She
prayed to Jehovah. The very next day, her
husband went back to his place of work to
pick up his belongings. To his surprise, his
boss told him that another job had just be-come
available and offered him the posi-tion!
So Nice’s husband lost his job one
day, only to get it back the following day.
Nice and her husband thanked their heaven-ly
Father for the positive outcome. Their
experience reminds us that as our loving
Provider, Jehovah never forgets his faithful
Appreciating Our Father’s Love
Truly, words do not suffice to describe
the wondrous love of our heavenly Fa-ther!
When we consider the various ways in
which he manifests his fatherly love—by
his approval, compassion, protection, and
discipline, as well as by providing for our
needs—surelywe conclude that he is the best
Howcanwe demonstrate our appreciation
for the love that our heavenly Father has
shown to us?We canmake the effort to learn
more about him and his purpose. (John
17:3) We can bring our life into harmony
with his will and ways. (1 John 5:3) We can
reflect his love in our dealings with others.
(1 John 4:11) In all such ways, we can show
that we look to Jehovah as our Father and
that we view it as an honor to be his chil-dren.
we look to
as our Father
and that we
view it as
to be his
IMITATE THEIR FAITH
“Where You Go I Shall Go”
RUTH walked beside Naomi on a road that stretched across the
high, windswept plains of Moab. They were alone now, two tiny
figures in a vast landscape. Imagine Ruth noticing that the afternoon shadows had
lengthened, then looking at her mother-in-law and wondering if it was time to find a
place to rest for the night. She loved Naomi dearly and would do all she could to care
THE WATCHTOWER ˙ JULY 1, 2012 23
Each woman bore a heavy burden of grief.
Naomi had been a widow for years now, but
she was mourning more recent losses—the
death of her two sons, Chilion and Mahlon.
Ruth too was grieving. Mahlon was her hus-band.
She and Naomi were heading to the
same destination, the town of Bethlehem in
Israel. In a way, though, their journeys dif-fered.
Naomiwas going home. Ruthwas ven-turing
into the unknown, leaving her own
kin, her homeland, and all its customs—in-cluding
its gods—behind her.—Ruth 1:3-6.
What would move a young woman to
make such a drastic change? How would
Ruth find the strength tomake a new life for
herself and to take care of Naomi? In learn-ing
the answers,we will findmuch to imitate
in the faith of Ruth the Moabitess. First, let
us see how those two women came to be on
that long road to Bethlehem.
A Family Torn Apart by Tragedy
Ruth grew up in Moab, a small country
that lay to the east of the Dead Sea. The
region consisted mostly of high, sparsely
wooded tablelands cut through by deep ra-vines.
“The fields of Moab” often proved
to be fertile farmland, even when famine
stalked Israel. That, in fact, was why Ruth
first came into contact with Mahlon and his
A famine in Israel convinced Naomi’s hus-band,
Elimelech, that hemustmove his wife
and two sons away fromtheir homeland and
take up living in Moab as aliens. The move
must have presented challenges to the faith
of each familymember, for Israelites needed
toworship regularly at the sacred place Jeho-vah
designated. (Deuteronomy 16:16, 17)
Naomimanaged to keep her faith alive. Still,
she was grief-stricken when her husband
died.—Ruth 1:2, 3.
She might well have suffered again lat-er
when her sons married Moabite wom-en.
(Ruth 1:4) Naomi knew that her na-tion’s
forefather, Abraham, went to great
lengths to procure a wife for his son, Isaac,
among his own people, who worshipped Je-hovah.
(Genesis 24:3, 4) Later, the Mosaic
Law warned the Israelites not to let their
sons and daughters marry foreigners, for
fear that God’s people would be led into
idolatry.—Deuteronomy 7:3, 4.
See the article “Our Readers Ask—Why Did God Re-quire
ThatHisWorshippersMarryOnly Fellow Believers?”
on page 29.
Nevertheless, Mahlon and Chilion mar-ried
Moabite women. If Naomi was con-cerned
or disappointed, she evidently made
sure that she showed her daughters-in-law,
Ruth andOrpah, genuine kindness and love.
Perhaps she hoped that they too would
someday come to worship Jehovah as she
did. At any rate, both Ruth and Orpah
were fond of Naomi. The good relation-ship
they had helped them when tragedy
struck. Before either of the young women
had borne children, both became widows.
Did Ruth’s religious background prepare
her for such a tragedy? It is hard to see how
it could have. The Moabites worshipped
many gods, the chief among them being
Chemosh. (Numbers 21:29) It seems that
the Moabite religion was not exempt from
the brutality and horrors common in those
times, including the sacrifice of children.
Anything Ruth learned from Mahlon or Na-omi
about the loving andmercifulGod of Is-rael,
Jehovah, surely struck her as a marked
contrast. Jehovah ruled through love, not
terror! (Deuteronomy 6:5) In the wake of
her devastating loss, Ruth may have drawn
Ruth wisely drew close to Naomi during
a time of grief and loss
even closer to Naomi and listened willingly
to the older woman as she spoke about
the almighty God, Jehovah, his wonderful
works, and the loving,merciful way he dealt
with his people.
Naomi, for her part, was eager for news of
her homeland. One day she heard, perhaps
from a traveling merchant, that the famine
in Israel was over. Jehovah had turned his at-tention
to his people. Bethlehem was again
living up to its name, which means “House
of Bread.” Naomi decided to return home.
What would Ruth and Orpah do? (Ruth
1:7) They had grown close to Naomi
through their shared ordeal. Ruth in particu-lar,
it seems, was drawn to Naomi’s kindness
and her steadfast faith in Jehovah. The three
widows set off for Judah together.
The account of Ruth reminds us that trage-dy
and loss beset good, honest people aswell
as bad. (Ecclesiastes 9:2, 11) It shows us too
that in the face of unbearable loss, we are
wise to seek comfort and solace in others
—especially those who seek refuge in Jeho-vah,
the God whom Naomi worshipped.
The Loyal Love of Ruth
As the miles stretched out behind the
three widows, another concern began
weighing on Naomi. She thought of the two
young women at her side and of the love
they had shown to her and her sons. She
could not bear the thought of adding to their
burdens now. If they left their homeland
and came with her, what could she do for
Finally, Naomi spoke up: “Go, return each
one to the house of her mother. May Jeho-vah
exercise loving-kindness toward you,
just as you have exercised it toward the men
now dead and toward me.” She also ex-pressed
a hope that Jehovah would reward
them with new husbands and new lives.
“Then she kissed them,” the account says,
“and they began to raise their voices and
weep.” It is not hard to see why Ruth and Or-pah
felt so attached to this kindhearted and
unselfish woman. Both of them kept insist-ing:
“No, but with you we shall return to
your people.”—Ruth 1:8-10.
Naomi was not so easily persuaded,
though. She reasoned forcefully that there
was little that she could do for themin Israel,
“Your people will be
my people, and your
God my God”
since she had no husband to provide for her,
no sons for themtomarry, and no prospects
of either. She revealed that her inability to
care for them was a source of real bitterness
to her.—Ruth 1:11-13.
With Orpah, Naomi’s words hit home.
Shehadfamily there inMoab,amother, and
a home that was waiting for her. It really did
seem more practical to remain in Moab. So,
with a heavy heart, she kissed Naomi good-bye
and turned away.—Ruth 1:14.
What about Ruth? Naomi’s arguments ap-plied
to her as well. Yet, we read: “As for
Ruth, she stuck with her.” Perhaps Naomi
had resumed walking on the road but no-ticed
that Ruth was trailing behind her. She
remonstrated: “Look! Your widowed sister-in-
law has returned to her people and her
gods. Return with your widowed sister-in-law.”
(Ruth 1:15) Naomi’s words reveal a vi-tal
detail to the reader. Orpah had returned
not only to her people but also to “her gods.”
She was content to remain a worshipper of
Chemosh and other false gods. Was that
As she faced Naomi on that lonely road,
Ruth’s heart was sure and clear. It swelled
with love for Naomi—and for the God Nao-mi
served. So she spoke: “Do not plead with
me to abandon you, to turn back from ac-companying
you; for where you go I shall
go, and where you spend the night I shall
spend the night. Your peoplewill bemy peo-ple,
and your God my God. Where you die I
shall die, and there iswhere I shall be buried.
May Jehovah do so tome and add to it if any-thing
but death should make a separation
betweenme and you.”—Ruth 1:16, 17.
Ruth’s words are remarkable—so much so
that they have long outlived her, echoing
down through some 30 centuries. They per-fectly
reveal a precious quality, loyal love.
The love that Ruth felt was so strong and so
loyal that she would stick with Naomi wher-ever
she went. Only death could separate
them. Naomi’s people would become her
own people, for Ruth was ready to leave be-hind
everything she knew in Moab—even
the Moabite gods. Unlike Orpah, Ruth could
wholeheartedly say that shewantedNaomi’s
God, Jehovah, to be her ownGod aswell.
So they traveled on, just the two of them
now, on the long road to Bethlehem. By one
estimate, the journey might have taken as
long as a week. Surely, though, each found
in the company of the other some measure
of comfort in the face of grief.
There is no shortage of grief in this world.
In our own times, which the Bible calls “crit-ical
times hard to deal with,” we face all
manner of losses aswell as grief. (2 Timothy
3:1) So the quality we find in Ruth has be-
It is noteworthy that Ruth did not use only the imper-sonal
title “God” as many foreigners might; she also used
God’s personal name, Jehovah. The Interpreter’s Bible com-ments:
“The writer thus emphasizes that this foreigner is
a follower of the true God.”
A Masterpiece in Miniature
The book of Ruth has been described as
a small gem, a masterpiece in miniature.
Granted, the book has neither the sweep
nor the scope of the book of Judges, which
precedes it and provides the time setting for
Ruth. (Ruth 1:1) Both books were evidently
written by the prophet Samuel. Yet, as you
read through the Bible, you may agree that
the book of Ruth is beautifully placed in the
Bible canon. After reading of the wars,
raids, and counterraids recorded in the
book of Judges, you come to this little book
that reminds us that Jehovah never loses
sight of peaceful folk struggling with every-day
problems. This simple domestic drama
offers profound lessons about love, loss,
faith, and loyalty that can benefit us all.
come more important than ever. Loyal love
—the kind of love that holds on to its object
and simply refuses to let go—is a powerful
force for good in this darkening world. We
need it inmarriage,we need it in family rela-tions,
we need it in friendships, we need it in
the Christian congregation. As we cultivate
that kind of love, we are imitating the ster-ling
example of Ruth.
Ruth and Naomi in Bethlehem
It is, of course, one thing to put loyal love
into words; it is quite another to prove the
quality in action. Ruth had before her the
opportunity to show her loyal love not only
to Naomi but also to the God she chose as
her own, Jehovah.
The two women finally reached Beth-lehem,
a village about six miles (10 km)
south of Jerusalem. Naomi and her family, it
seems, had once been quite prominent in
that little town, for the whole place was
buzzing with the news of Naomi’s return.
The women there would peer at her and say,
“Is this Naomi?” Evidently, her sojourn in
Moab had left her much changed; her coun-tenance
and bearing showed the mark of
years of hardship and grief.—Ruth 1:19.
To those kinswomen and neighbors of
years past, Naomi revealed how bitter her
life had become to her. She even felt that
her name should be changed from Naomi,
which means “My Pleasantness,” to Mara,
which means “Bitter.” Poor Naomi! Much
like Job before her, she believed that Jeho-vah
God had brought her hardships on her.
—Ruth 1:20, 21; Job 2:10; 13:24-26.
As the two women settled into life in
Bethlehem, Ruth began thinking about how
best to take care of herself and Naomi. She
learned that the Law that Jehovah had given
to his people in Israel included a loving pro-vision
for the poor. They were allowed to go
into the fields at harvesttime and follow the
reapers, gleaning what was left behind as
well as what grewat the edges and corners of
Ruth was willing to do hard, humble work to provide for herself and Naomi
the fields.—Leviticus 19:9, 10; Deuterono-my
It was the time of the barley harvest, likely
in April by our modern calendar, and Ruth
went to the fields to see who would let her
work under the provision for gleaners. She
chanced upon the fields of a man named
Boaz, a wealthy landowner and a relative of
Naomi’s dead husband, Elimelech. Though
the Law gave her the right to glean, she did
not take it for granted; she asked the young
man in charge of the harvesters for permis-sion
to work. He granted it, and then Ruth
got right towork.—Ruth 1:22–2:3, 7.
Imagine Ruth following the harvesters. As
they cut through the barley with their flint
sickles, she stooped to pick up what they
dropped or left behind, bundled the stalks
into sheaves, and carried them off to a spot
where she could beat out the grain later. It
was slow, tiringwork, and it got harder as the
morning wore on. Yet, Ruth kept at it, stop-ping
only to wipe the sweat from her brow
and to eat a simple lunch in “the house”
—likely a shelter set up to provide shade for
Ruth probably neither hoped nor expect-ed
to be noticed—but she was. Boaz saw her
and asked the young foreman who she was.
A remarkable man of faith, Boaz greeted his
workers—some of whom may have been day
laborers or even foreigners—with the words:
“Jehovah be with you.” And they responded
in kind. This spiritually-minded older man
took a fatherly interest in Ruth.—Ruth 2:4-7.
Calling her “daughter,” Boaz advised Ruth
to keep coming to his fields to glean and to
stay near the young women of his house-
It was a remarkable law, surely unlike anything Ruth
knew in her homeland. In the ancient Near East in those
days, widows were treated poorly. Notes one reference
work: “After her husband’s death, normally a widow had
to rely on her sons for support; if she had none, she might
have to sell herself into slavery, resort to prostitution, or
28 THE WATCHTOWER ˙ JULY 1, 2012
hold to avoid being harassed by any of the
workmen. He made sure that she had food to
eat at lunchtime. Above all, though, he
sought to commend and encourage her.
Howso?—Ruth 2:8, 9, 14.
When Ruth asked Boaz what she, a for-eigner,
had done to deserve his kind favor,
he replied that he had heard about all that
she had done for her mother-in-law, Naomi.
Likely Naomi had praised her beloved Ruth
among the women of Bethlehem, and word
had reached Boaz. He knew, too, that Ruth
had turned to the worship of Jehovah, for he
said: “May Jehovah reward the way you act,
andmay there come to be a perfect wage for
you from Jehovah the God of Israel, under
whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”
How those words must have encouraged
Ruth! She had, indeed, decided to take ref-uge
under the wings of Jehovah God, like a
young bird securely nestled against a protec-tive
parent. She thanked Boaz for speaking to
her so reassuringly. And she kept onworking
until evening fell.—Ruth 2:13, 17.
Ruth’s faith in action is a sterling example
to all of us today who struggle in these dif-ficult
economic times. She did not think that
others owed her anything, so she appreciat-ed
everything that was offered her. She felt
no shame in working long and hard to care
for one she loved, even though it was hum-ble
work. She gratefully accepted and ap-plied
wise advice about how to work safely
and in good company. Most important, she
never lost sight of where her true refuge lay
—with her protective Father, JehovahGod.
If we show loyal love as Ruth did and fol-low
her example in humility, industrious-ness,
and appreciation, we will find that our
faith too will become a sterling example for
others. How, though, did Jehovah provide
for Ruth and Naomi? We will discuss the
matter in a future article in this series.
OUR READERS ASK . . .
Why did God require that his worshippers marry
only fellow believers?
ˇ God’s Law to the nation of Israel included this
command concerning the people of the nations
around them: “You must form no marriage alli-ance
with them. Your daughter you must not
give to his son, and his daughter you must not
take for your son.” (Deuteronomy 7:3, 4) What
was the reason for such a prohibition?
On the broad scale, Jehovah knew that Satan
wanted to corrupt His people by turning them to
the worship of false gods. God thus went on to
warn that the unbelievers “will turn your son
from following me, and they will certainly serve
other gods.” A lot was at stake here. If the nation
of Israel fell to serving other gods, they would
lose God’s favor and protection, becoming easy
prey to their enemies. How, then, could the na-tion
produce the promisedMessiah? Clearly, Sa-tan
had reason to lure the Israelites intomarrying
On a smaller scale, remember that God cared
about his people as individuals. He knew that
the happiness and welfare of each one of them
depended on their having a close relationship
with him as their God. Was Jehovah’s concern
about the dangerous influence of an unbeliev-ing
mate well-founded? Consider the example
of King Solomon. He knew Jehovah’s warning
about unbelieving wives: “They will incline your
heart to follow their gods.” Because he was an
outstandingly wise man, perhaps he had come
to feel that he was above God’s counsel, that it
did not apply to him. He ignored it. With what
result? “Hiswives gradually inclined his heart . . .
to followother gods.” What a tragedy! Solomon
himself lost Jehovah’s favor, and his peoplewere
severely divided because of his unfaithfulness.
—1 Kings 11:2-4, 9-13.
Some might reason that there were excep-tions.
For example, the IsraeliteMahlon married
the Moabitess Ruth, and she became an out-standing
was a risky choice.Mahlon is not commended for
marrying a Moabite girl; he died young, likely
even before Ruth called Jehovah her God. Mah-lon’s
brother, Chilion, married theMoabitessOr-pah,
who remained attached to “her gods.”
Boaz, on the other hand, married Ruth some
time after she became a believer. In fact, the Jews
later regarded her as a “perfect proselyte.” The
marriage of Ruth and Boaz was a blessing for
both of them.—Ruth 1:4, 5,15-17; 4:13-17.
Is itwise, then, to reason that an example such
as that of Mahlon and Ruth somehow argues
against Jehovah’s counsel to marry only fellow
believers? Really, would reasoning that way not
be a bit like pointing out a gambler who won a
jackpot and then arguing that gambling must
therefore be an acceptableway to earn a living?
The Bible urges Christians today to marry
“only in the Lord.” It warns against becoming
“unevenly yoked with unbelievers.” Such coun-sel
is aimed at true Christians who are currently
seeking a mate. For those alreadymarried to un-believers,
the Bible offers helpful counsel on how
to make the best of a challenging situation.
(1 Corinthians 7:12-16, 39; 2 Corinthians 6:14) All
such counsel shows that Jehovah God, the Origi-nator
of marriage, wants us to be happy as his
worshippers—whether single ormarried.
FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
A God Who Abhors Injustice
Instructions: Do this exercise in quiet surroundings. As you read the
scriptures, imagine that you are a bystander watching the events unfold.
Visualize the scene. Hear the voices. Feel the emotions of the characters.
Let the account come to life.
Main characters: Ahab, Jezebel, Naboth, and Elijah
Summary: Prompted by Jezebel, King Ahab commits murder to obtain a
– ANALYZE THE SCENES.—READ 1 KINGS 21:1-26.
In your mind’s eye, how do you picture the four characters in this account?
What tone do you detect in the voices of Jezebel and Ahab in verses 5-7?
Describe the commotion that arises in verse 13, as you imagine it.
What emotions do you detect in the voices of Elijah and Ahab in the confronta-tion
described in verses 20-26?
— DIG DEEPER.
What trait(s) does Jezebel manifest in verses 7 and 25?
What trait(s) does Ahab manifest in verse 4?
To obtain Naboth’s vineyard, who else did Ahab have to put to death? (Read
2 Kings 9:24-26.)
What kind of man was Ahab in Jehovah’s eyes? (Reread verses 25 and 26. See
also 1 Kings 16:30-33.)
30 THE WATCHTOWER ˙ JULY 1, 2012
˜ APPLY WHAT YOU LEARNED. WRITE DOWN
WHAT YOU LEARNED ABOUT . . .
Jehovah’s awareness of unjust acts.
Jehovah’s concern for those who have been
dealt with unjustly.
How Jehovah shows that he is a God of justice.
(Read Deuteronomy 32:4.)
™ FOR FURTHER APPLICATION.
How might some people today manifest a
spirit similar to that of Jezebel? (Read Revela-tion
In what situations might you need to show
courage similar to that of Elijah?
Of what can you be assured when you observe
or experience acts of injustice?
š WHAT ASPECT OF THIS ACCOUNT IS MOST
MEANINGFUL TO YOU, AND WHY?
Suggestion: Turn this account into a news
story. Report the event, and include imaginary
interviews with the main characters and eyewit-nesses.
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DOWNLOAD OR PRINT
If God listens to our prayers, why does he allow suffering?
SEE PAGES 6-8.
What helped a woman in the Philippines to break free from
alcohol abuse and improve her family life? SEE PAGES 12-13.
When Jehovah forgives, does he forget?
SEE PAGE 18.
What can we learn about love and loyalty from
the faithful woman Ruth? SEE PAGES 23-28.
Would you welcome a visit?
Even in this troubled world, you can gain happiness from accurate Bible knowledge of God, his Kingdom,
and his wonderful purpose for mankind. If you would welcome further information or would like to have
someone visit you to conduct a free Bible study, please write to Jehovah’s Witnesses at the appropriate
address listed on page 4.
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