Bible Lesson 2-B
ENCOURAGEMENT GIVEN IN ANCIENT TIMES
Hezekiah encouraged the military chiefs and the people of Judah.
Even before God’s Son came to earth and set a perfect example of how to impart encouragement, faithful servants of God were conscious of the need to be encouraging. When threatened by the Assyrians, Hezekiah assembled the military chiefs and the people of Judah to encourage them. “And the people were strengthened by [his] words.”—Read 2 Chronicles 32:6-8.
The book of Job teaches us about giving encouragement.
Although in need of consolation himself, Job gave his three “troublesome comforters” a lesson in giving encouragement. He told them that if he had been in their place, he ‘would have strengthened them with the words of his mouth, and the consolation of his lips would have brought them relief.’ (Job 16:1-5) Finally, Job received encouragement from Elihu and from God himself.—Job 33:24, 25; 36:1, 11; 42:7, 10.
Jephthah’s daughter need to be encouraged, as do we!
Another example in ancient times of someone in need of encouragement is Jephthah’s daughter. Before going out to combat the Ammonites, Jephthah the Judge vowed that if God gave him the victory, the first person who would come out to meet him after the battle would be devoted to God’s service at the sanctuary. It so happened that it was his daughter, his only child, who came out to celebrate his victory with him. Jephthah’s heart was broken. But he kept his vow and sent his virgin daughter to Shiloh to serve at the tabernacle for the rest of her life.—Judg. 11:30-35.
11 However hard this was on Jephthah, it may have been harder still on his daughter, who willingly complied with her father’s decision. (Judg. 11:36, 37) She thus relinquished the right to marry, to have children, and to preserve the family name and inheritance. If anyone, then, needed comfort and encouragement, she did.
The Bible account states: “It became a custom in Israel: From year to year, the young women of Israel would go to give commendation to the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year.” (Judg. 11:39, 40) Likewise, unmarried Christians who use their singleness to give greater attention to “the things of the Lord” also deserve commendation and encouragement. The Apostle Paul once wrote that if men can manage their lives unwed, it’s a good thing. If not, they can marry but in either case, we should do all we can to serve The Lord.—1 Cor. 7:32-35.
THE APOSTLES ENCOURAGED THEIR BROTHERS
Peter strengthened his brothers.
12 On the night before his death, Jesus told the apostle Peter: “Simon, Simon, look! Satan has demanded to have all of you to sift you as wheat. But I have made supplication for you that your faith may not give out; and you, once you have returned, (must) strengthen your brothers.”—Luke 22:31, 32.
The apostles’ letters did much to encourage the congregations in the first century, and they build us up to this day (See paragraphs 12-17)
Peter had a difficult time to begin, but he later proved to be a pillar in the early Christian congregation. His difficult beginning taught him personal lessons, the value of which served him all the rest of his life, and indeed into eternity! (Gal. 2:9) He encouraged his brothers by his courageous example at Pentecost and thereafter. Toward the end of his long ministry, he wrote to fellow Christians. Explaining why, he stated: “I have written you in few words in order to encourage you and to give an earnest witness that this is the true undeserved kindness of God. Stand firm in it.” (1 Pet. 5:12)
Peter’s inspired letters have continued to be a source of encouragement to Christians throughout the ages and up to this day. We need this encouragement as we faithfully expect and await the fulfillment of God’s promises. —2 Pet. 3:13.
The inspired writings of the apostle John been a source of encouragement for Christians throughout the centuries.
There is perhaps no apostle more beloved than the apostle John. His riveting Gospel account of Jesus’ ministry has been a source of encouragement to Christians throughout the centuries— and still is. The Gospel of John alone preserves Jesus’ statement that love is the identifying mark of his true disciples.—Read John 13:34, 35.
John’s three letters contain further gems of truth. When we are weighed down with the burden of sin, we are comforted to read that “the blood of Jesus . . . cleanses us from all sin”. We who understand the basic tenants of Christianity know this is our only home for a good eternal future within God’s Family. (1 John 1:7)
If our heart continues to condemn us, some of us are emotionally touched and weep tears of gratitude when we read that “God is kinder than we deserve. (1 John 3:20) John alone wrote that “God is love.” (1 John 4:8, 16) His second and third letters commend Christians who continue “walking in the truth.”—2 John 4; 3 John 3, 4. At the end of his life it is said he told his followers one last time, “Love One Another.”
What encouragement did the apostle Paul give the early Christians?
In the first century, perhaps the apostle who did the most to encourage his brothers was the apostle Paul. It appears that in the early days of Christianity, most of the apostles remained in Jerusalem, which continued to be the location of the governing body. (Acts 8:14; 15:2) Christians in Judea preached Christ to people who had difficulty accepting the idea that God might send a savior and that this savior could be His Son and simultaneously God walking amongst women and men.
This is a difficult concept for many people who have trouble wrapping their mind around the idea that God can be in many places at once. Let’s remember God is infinitely capable and is not subject to the laws of the physical universe!
The apostle Paul, who was a Roman citizen, was sent by the Holy Spirit to preach to the people of the nations of the Greco-Roman world, who worshipped many gods.— Gal. 2:7-9; 1 Tim. 2:7.
Paul traveled far and wide in what is now Turkey, as well as in Greece and Italy, establishing Christian congregations among people who knew not what the truth belief should be. They worshipped their creations, as most poly-theists do.
There was resistance to these revolutionary ideas. These newly converted Christians “suffered at the hands of their own countrymen” and needed encouragement. (1 Thess. 2:14) In approximately the 50th year after the birth of Christ Paul wrote to the young congregation in Thessalonica, “We always thank God when we mention all of you in our prayers, for we continually remember your faithful work, your loving labor, and your endurance.” (1 Thess. 1:2, 3) He also exhorted them to strengthen one another, saying: “Keep encouraging one another and building one another up.”—1 Thess. 5:11.
AN ENCOURAGING GOVERNING BODY
The first-century governing body encouraged Philip.
18 The first-century governing body proved to be a source of encouragement both to those taking the lead and to Christians in general. When Philip the evangelizer preached about Christ to the Samaritans, he received the full backing of those on the governing body. They sent two of their number, Peter and John, to pray for the new believers to receive The Holy Spirit. (Acts 8:5, 14-17) Philip and those he had converted must have been encouraged by this support from the governing body!
What effect did the letter sent by the governing body have on the early Christian congregation?
Later, the governing body was called upon to decide whether non-Jewish Christians should be required to submit to circumcision, as had been required of Jews by the Law of Moses. (Acts 15:1, 2)
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and after reasoning about the Scriptures, the responsible brothers decided that this was no longer necessary, and they wrote a letter to the congregations to that effect. Representatives of the governing body were sent out to the congregations to deliver the letter. The result as appreciation and agreement. “After reading it, they rejoiced over the encouragement.”—Acts 15:27-32.
Today we are given the gift of many fine writers who seek to encourage and teach us. This magazine/website is a library of such excellent articles and devotions. The best I can do for you is given free and I only as that you read it and tell friends to see it too.