“Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.” – James 4:8
“No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6
Jehovah Want to Be Your Friend
In the introductory paragraphs of this study, the Governing Body tells us in what context Jehovah draws close to us.
“Our God purposed that even imperfect humans should be close to him, and he is ready and willing to receive them into his favor as close friends.” (Isa. 41:8; 55:6)
So Jehovah is drawing close to us as a friend.
Let’s test that out. Let’s “make sure of all things” so that we can reject falsehood and “hold fast to what is fine.” (1 Th 5:21) Let’s run a little experiment. Open your copy of the WT Library program and copy this search criteria (including quotes) into the search box and hit Enter.[i]
“children of God“ | “God’s children“
You’ll find 11 matches, all in the Christian Scriptures.
Now try it again with this phrase:
“sons of God“ | “God’s sons“
The Hebrew Scripture matches refer to the angels, but the four Christian Scriptures matches all refer to Christians. That gives us a total of 15 matches so far.
Replacing “God” with “Jehovah” and rerunning the searches gives us one more match in the Hebrew Scriptures where the Israelites are called “sons of Jehovah”. (Deut. 14:1)
When we try it with these:
“friends of God“ | “friend of God“ | “God’s friends“ | “God’s friend“
“friends of Jehovah“ | “friend of Jehovah“ | “Jehovah’s friends“ | “Jehovah’s friend“
we get only one match—James 2:23, where Abraham is called God’s friend.
Let us be honest with ourselves. Based on this, did Jehovah inspire the Bible writers to tell us that he wants to draw close to us as a friend or as a Father? This is important, because as you study the entire article you’ll find no mention whatsoever of Jehovah wanting to draw close to us as a Father does to a child. The entire focus is on friendship with God. So again, is that what Jehovah wants? To be our friend?
You may say, “Yeah, but I don’t see any problem with being God’s friend. I kinda like the idea.” Yes, but is it important what you and I like? Is it important the kind of relationship that you and I want with God? Is it not infinitely more important what God wants?
Is it for us to say to God, “I know you’re offering the opportunity to be one of your children, but really, I’d rather not take you up on that. Can we still be friends?”
Learn from an Ancient Example
Under this subtitle, we go back—as we often do—to the pre-Christian well for an example. This time it is King Asa. Asa drew close to God by obeying him, and Jehovah drew close to him. He later relied on salvation from men, and Jehovah drew away from him.
What we can learn from Asa’s life course is that if we want to keep a close relationship with God, we should never look to men for our salvation. If we depend on a church, an organization, or Pope, or Archbishop, or Governing Body for salvation, we will lose our close relationship with God. That would seem to be the correct application of the object lesson we can draw from Asa’s life course, though likely not the one the writer of the article intended.
Jehovah Has Drawn Us Close Through the Ransom
Paragraphs 7 thru 9 show how the forgiveness of sins made possible by the ransom paid by our Lord is another key way in which Jehovah draws us close.
We actually quote John 14:6 in paragraph 9, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” However, in the context of the article, the audience will come to view this as in reference to the ransom only. We get to the Father through Jesus by virtue of the ransom he paid. Is that all it is? Is the sum total of Jesus’ contribution that of slaughtered lamb?
Perhaps the reason we draw so much from the Hebrew Scriptures is that to dwell in the Christian Greek Scriptures would be to reveal that the role Jesus plays as the path to the Father goes far beyond this singular sacrifice. In fact, we cannot know God unless we first know Christ.
“. . .For “who has come to know the mind of Jehovah, so that he may instruct him?” But we do have the mind of Christ.” (1Co 2:16)
Any study about how Jehovah draws close to us, or draws us close to him, must consider this pivotal fact. No one can come to the Father except through the Son. That covers all aspects of approach, not simply the approach made possible by the forgiveness of sins. We cannot obey the Father without first obeying the Son. (Heb. 5:8,9; John 14:23) We cannot understand the Father without first understanding the Son. (1 Cor. 2:16) We cannot have faith in the Father without first putting faith in the Son. (John 3:16) We cannot be in union with the Father without first being in union with the Son. (Mt. 10:32) We cannot love the Father without first loving the Son. (John 14:23)
None of this is mentioned in the article. Instead, the focus is only on the act of the ransom sacrifice instead of the man himself, the “only-begotten god” who has explained the Father. (John 1:18) It is he who gives us authority to become God’s children—not God’s friends. God draws his children to him, yet we bypass all this in the article.
Jehovah Draw Us Close Through His Written Word
This may seem a bit picayune, but the title and theme of this article is how Jehovah draws close to us. Yet based on the example of Asa as well as the wording of this and the previous subtitle, the article should be called, “How Jehovah Draws Us to Himself”. If we are to respect the instructor, we have to believe that he knows what he’s talking about.
A major part of the study (paragraph 10 to 16) deals with how Bible writers being men rather than angels should draw us closer to God. There is definitely something to this, and there are some valuable examples here. But again, we have the perfect “reflection of God’s glory and the exact representation of his very being” in Jesus Christ. If we want inspiring accounts to show us how Jehovah deals with humans so that we can be drawn to him, why not spend these valuable column inches on the best example of Jehovah’s dealings with man, his Son Jesus Christ?
Perhaps it is our fear of appearing like the other religions competing with us that causes us to draw away from Jesus as more than a sacrificial lamb, a great teacher and prophet, and a distant king to be largely ignored in favor of Jehovah. By going too far to separate ourselves from false religions, we are proving ourselves to be false, by committing the grave sin of failing to give God’s appointed king his due honor. Since we like to quote from the Hebrew Scriptures so much, perhaps we should focus on the warning given at Ps. 2:12:
“. . .Kiss the son, that He may not become incensed And YOU may not perish [from] the way, For his anger flares up easily. Happy are all those taking refuge in him.” (Ps 2:12)
We talk much about obeying Jehovah and taking refuge in him, but in Christian times, that is accomplished by submitting to the Son, by taking refuge in Jesus. On one of the few occasions God actually spoke to sinners directly, it was to give this command: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved; listen to him.” We really have to stop marginalizing Jesus’ role. (Mt 17:5)
Forge an Unbreakable Bond with God
Since the arrival of Jesus, it is no longer possible to form an unbreakable bond with God without the Son of man in the mix. Abraham was called God’s friend because the means to be called his son had not yet arrived. With Jesus, we can now be called sons and daughters, children of God. Why would we settle for less?
Jesus tells us that we must come to him. (Mt 11:28; Mark 10:14; John 5:40; 6:37, 44, 65; 7:37) Therefore, Jehovah draws us close to Himself by means of his Son. In fact, we can’t draw close to Jesus unless Jehovah draws us to him.
“. . .No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him; and I will resurrect him in the last day.” (Joh 6:44)
It seems that with our myopic focus on Jehovah we have again missed the mark He Himself set for us to hit.
[i] Putting words in quotes forces the search engine to find exact matches for all enclosed characters. The vertical bar character “|” tells the search engine to find an exact match for either expression it separates.