Jehovah’s Glory Shines on His People
“Jehovah himself will become for you an indefinitely lasting light.”—ISAIAH 60:20.
“JEHOVAH is taking pleasure in his people. He beautifies the meek ones with salvation.” (Psalm 149:4) So said the psalmist of old, and history has borne out the truth of his words. When Jehovah’s people are faithful, he cares for them, makes them fruitful, and protects them. In ancient times, he gave them victory over their enemies. Today, he keeps them spiritually strong and assures them of salvation on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice. (Romans 5:9) He does this because they are beautiful in his eyes.
2 Of course, in a world immersed in darkness, those who “live with godly devotion” will meet opposition. (2 Timothy 3:12) Nevertheless, Jehovah takes note of the opposers, and he warns them: “Any nation and any kingdom that will not serve you will perish; and the nations themselves will without fail come to devastation.” (Isaiah 60:12) Today, opposition takes many forms. In some lands, opposers try to limit or ban the worship that sincere Christians render to Jehovah. In others, fanatics physically assault Jehovah’s worshipers and burn their property. Remember, though, that Jehovah has already determined the outcome of any opposition to the fulfilling of his will. Opponents will fail. Those who fight against Zion, as represented by her children on earth, cannot succeed. Is that not a heartening assurance from our great God, Jehovah?
Blessed Beyond Expectation
3 The truth is that during the last days of this system of things, Jehovah has blessed his people beyond their expectations. Especially has he progressively beautified his place of worship and those within who bear his name. According to Isaiah’s prophecy, he says to Zion: “To you the very glory of Lebanon will come, the juniper tree, the ash tree and the cypress at the same time, in order to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I shall glorify the very place of my feet.” (Isaiah 60:13) Mountains covered with flourishing forests are a magnificent sight. So luxuriant trees are fitting symbols of the beauty and fruitfulness of Jehovah’s worshipers.—Isaiah 41:19; 55:13.
4 What are the “sanctuary” and the “place of [Jehovah’s] feet” mentioned at Isaiah 60:13? These terms refer to the courtyards of Jehovah’s great spiritual temple, which is the arrangement for approaching him in worship through Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 8:1-5; 9:2-10, 23) Jehovah has stated his purpose to glorify that spiritual temple by bringing people out of all nations to come and worship there. (Haggai 2:7) Isaiah himself had earlier seen crowds from all nations streaming to Jehovah’s elevated mountain of worship. (Isaiah 2:1-4) Hundreds of years later, the apostle John saw in vision “a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.” These stood “before the throne of God . . . , rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple.” (Revelation 7:9, 15) As these prophecies have been fulfilled in our day, Jehovah’s house has been beautified before our very eyes.
5 What a great change for the better all of this has been for Zion! Jehovah says: “Instead of your proving to be one left entirely and hated, with nobody passing through, I will even set you as a thing of pride to time indefinite, an exultation for generation after generation.” (Isaiah 60:15) Toward the end of the first world war, “the Israel of God” did indeed experience a period of desolation. (Galatians 6:16) She did feel “left entirely,” for her children on earth did not clearly discern God’s will for them. Then, in 1919, Jehovah revived his anointed servants, and since then he has blessed them with wonderful spiritual prosperity. Moreover, is not the promise in this verse exhilarating? Jehovah will view Zion as “a thing of pride.” Yes, Zion’s children, and Jehovah himself, will be proud of Zion. She will be “an exultation,” a cause for unbounded joy. And that will not be merely for a short while. The favored condition of Zion, as represented by her earthly children, will last “for generation after generation.” It will never cease.
6 Listen, now, to another divine promise. Speaking to Zion, Jehovah says: “You will actually suck the milk of nations, and the breast of kings you will suck; and you will be certain to know that I, Jehovah, am your Savior, and the Powerful One of Jacob is your Repurchaser.” (Isaiah 60:16) How does Zion feed on “the milk of nations” and suck “the breast of kings”? In that anointed Christians and their “other sheep” companions use valuable resources from the nations in order to advance pure worship. (John 10:16) Freely given financial contributions help to make possible a great international preaching and teaching work. Wise use of modern technology facilitates the publishing of Bibles and Bible literature in hundreds of languages. Today, Bible truth is available to more people than ever before in history. Citizens of many, many nations are learning that Jehovah, who repurchased his anointed servants out of spiritual captivity, is indeed the Savior.
7 Jehovah has beautified his people in another way. He has blessed them with organizational advancement. We read at Isaiah 60:17: “Instead of the copper I shall bring in gold, and instead of the iron I shall bring in silver, and instead of the wood, copper, and instead of the stones, iron; and I will appoint peace as your overseers and righteousness as your task assigners.” Replacing copper with gold is an improvement, and the same is true of the other materials mentioned. In harmony with this, the Israel of God has experienced ongoing organizational improvements throughout the last days. Consider a few examples.
8 Before 1919, congregations of God’s people were administered by elders and deacons, all of whom were democratically elected by members of the congregation. Starting in that year, “the faithful and discreet slave” appointed a service director in each congregation to supervise field service activities. (Matthew 24:45-47) However, in many congregations that arrangement did not work out so well because some elective elders did not fully support the evangelizing work. Hence, in 1932, congregations were instructed to discontinue the electing of elders and deacons. Instead, they were to elect men to serve on a service committee along with the service director. That was like “copper” instead of “wood”—a big improvement!
9 In 1938, congregations around the world resolved to accept an improved arrangement, one that was more in harmony with Scriptural precedent. Congregation administration was entrusted to a company servant and other servants, all appointed under the oversight of the faithful and discreet slave. No more elections! Thus congregation appointments were made in a theocratic way. That was like “iron” instead of “stones” or “gold” instead of “copper.”
10 Since then progress has continued. For example, in 1972 it was seen that having congregations overseen by a cooperating body of theocratically appointed elders, with no one elder exercising authority over the rest, was even closer to the way that first-century Christian congregations were administered. Further, about two years ago, there was another step forward. An adjustment was made in the directorship of certain legal corporations, making it possible for the Governing Body to concentrate more fully on the spiritual interests of God’s people rather than being distracted by day-to-day legal matters.
11 Who is behind these progressive changes? None other than Jehovah God. He is the one who says: “I shall bring in gold.” And he is the one who goes on to say: “I will appoint peace as your overseers and righteousness as your task assigners.” Yes, Jehovah is responsible for the oversight of his people. The foretold organizational advancement is another way that he is beautifying his people. And Jehovah’s Witnesses have been blessed in many ways as a result. At Isaiah 60:18, we read: “No more will violence be heard in your land, despoiling or breakdown within your boundaries. And you will certainly call your own walls Salvation and your gates Praise.” How beautiful those words are! But how have they been fulfilled?
12 True Christians look intently to Jehovah for instruction and guidance, and the result is as foretold by Isaiah: “All your sons will be persons taught by Jehovah, and the peace of your sons will be abundant.” (Isaiah 54:13) Further, Jehovah’s spirit operates upon his people, and part of the fruitage of that spirit is peace. (Galatians 5:22, 23) The resulting peaceableness of Jehovah’s people makes them a refreshing oasis in a violent world. Their peaceful state, based on the love that true Christians have for one another, is a foretaste of new world living. (John 15:17; Colossians 3:14) Surely each of us is thrilled to enjoy and to contribute to that peace, which brings praise and honor to our God and which is a major component of our spiritual paradise!—Isaiah 11:9.
Jehovah’s Light Will Continue to Shine
13 Will Jehovah’s light continue to shine on his people? Yes! At Isaiah 60:19, 20, we read: “For you the sun will no more prove to be a light by day, and for brightness the moon itself will no more give you light. And Jehovah must become to you an indefinitely lasting light, and your God your beauty. No more will your sun set, nor will your moon go on the wane; for Jehovah himself will become for you an indefinitely lasting light, and the days of your mourning will have come to completion.” Once the “mourning” of the spiritual exiles came to a completion in 1919, Jehovah’s light began to shine upon them. More than 80 years later, they are still enjoying Jehovah’s favor as his light continues to shine. And it will not stop. With regard to his worshipers, our God will not “set” like the sun or “wane” like the moon. Rather, he will shed light upon them throughout eternity. What a wonderful assurance that is for us who are living during the last days of this bedarkened world!
14 Hear, now, yet another promise that Jehovah utters regarding Zion’s earthly representative, the Israel of God. Isaiah 60:21 says: “As for your people, all of them will be righteous; to time indefinite they will hold possession of the land, the sprout of my planting, the work of my hands, for me to be beautified.” In 1919 when anointed Christians were restored to activity, they were an unusual group of people. In a decidedly sinful world, they had been “declared righteous” on the basis of their unshakable faith in the ransom sacrifice of Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:24; 5:1) Then, like the Israelites released from Babylonian captivity, they took possession of a “land,” a spiritual land, or realm of activity, wherein they would enjoy a spiritual paradise. (Isaiah 66:8) The paradisaic beauty of that land will never fade because, unlike ancient Israel, the Israel of God as a nation will not prove unfaithful. Their faith, their endurance, and their zeal will never cease to bring honor to God’s name.
15 All members of that spiritual nation have come into the new covenant. All have Jehovah’s law written on their hearts, and Jehovah, on the basis of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, has forgiven their sins. (Jeremiah 31:31-34) He declares them righteous as “sons” and deals with them as if they were perfect. (Romans 8:15, 16, 29, 30) Their other sheep companions have also had their sins forgiven on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice and, like Abraham, have been declared righteous as friends of God by means of faith. “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” And these other sheep companions look forward to another outstanding blessing. After surviving “the great tribulation” or after being resurrected, they will see a physical fulfillment of the words of Isaiah 60:21 when the whole earth becomes a paradise. (Revelation 7:14; Romans 4:1-3) At that time, “the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Psalm 37:11, 29.
The Increase Continues
16 In the last verse of Isaiah 60, we read Jehovah’s final promise in this chapter. He says to Zion: “The little one himself will become a thousand, and the small one a mighty nation. I myself, Jehovah, shall speed it up in its own time.” (Isaiah 60:22) In our day, Jehovah has kept his word. When anointed Christians were restored to activity in 1919, they were few in number—truly, a “little one.” Their number increased as additional spiritual Israelites were brought in. And then the other sheep started to flock to them in ever-increasing numbers. The peaceful condition of God’s people, the spiritual paradise existing on their “land,” has attracted so many honesthearted ones that “the small one” has really become “a mighty nation.” At present this “nation”—the Israel of God and more than six million dedicated “foreigners”—is more populous than many of the world’s sovereign states. (Isaiah 60:10) All its citizens share in reflecting Jehovah’s light, and that makes all of them beautiful in his eyes.
17 Yes, it is faith-strengthening to consider the main points of Isaiah chapter 60. It is comforting to see that so far in advance, Jehovah knew that his people would go into a spiritual exile and then be restored. It astounds us that so far in advance, Jehovah foresaw the great increase in the numbers of true worshipers in our day. Moreover, how comforting it is to remember that Jehovah will not leave us! How loving the assurance that the gates of “the city” will always stay open to receive hospitably those who are “rightly disposed for everlasting life”! (Acts 13:48) Jehovah will continue to shine upon his people. Zion will continue to be a cause of pride as her children let their light shine brighter and brighter. (Matthew 5:16) Surely we are more determined than ever to stay close to the Israel of God and to cherish our privilege of reflecting Jehovah’s light!
Can You Explain?
• With regard to opposition, of what are we confident?
• How have Zion’s children ‘sucked the milk of nations’?
• In what ways has Jehovah ‘brought in copper instead of wood’?
• How has “the small one” become “a mighty nation”?
1. How does Jehovah bless his faithful people?
2. Although they meet with opposition, of what are God’s people confident?
3. How is the beauty and fruitfulness of Jehovah’s worshipers illustrated?
4. What are the “sanctuary” and the “place of [Jehovah’s] feet,” and how have these been beautified?
5. What great change for the better did the children of Zion experience?
6. How do true Christians use resources from the nations?
7. What outstanding advancement have Zion’s children experienced?
8-10. Describe some organizational improvements that have occurred since 1919.
11. Who has been behind the organizational changes among Jehovah’s people, and what have these changes resulted in?
12. How has peace come to reign among true Christians?
13. Why can we be sure that Jehovah’s light will never cease to shine upon his people?
14, 15. (a) In what way are all of God’s people “righteous”? (b) With regard to Isaiah 60:21, to what important fulfillment do the other sheep look forward?
16. What remarkable promise did Jehovah make, and how has it been fulfilled?
17. How has this discussion of Isaiah chapter 60 affected you?
[Box/Pictures on page 18]
ISAIAH’S PROPHECY—Light for All Mankind
The substance of the material in these articles was presented in a discourse during the 2001/02 “Teachers of God’s Word” District Conventions. At the end of the talk, in most locations the speaker released a new publication entitled Isaiah’s Prophecy—Light for All Mankind, Volume Two. The preceding year, Isaiah’s Prophecy—Light for All Mankind, Volume One had been released. With the release of this new publication, there is now available an up-to-date discussion of nearly every verse in the book of Isaiah. These volumes are proving to be a fine help in deepening our understanding of and appreciation for the faith-inspiring prophetic book of Isaiah.
[Pictures on page 15]
In the face of violent opposition, ‘Jehovah beautifies his people with salvation’
[Pictures on page 16]
God’s people use valuable resources from the nations to advance pure worship
[Picture on page 17]
Jehovah has blessed his people with organizational advancement and peace