Assemblies That Acclaim “Divine Rulership”
DO YOU desire a righteous government, one that can satisfy man’s need for peace, security and happiness? Surely all of us do!
It is understandable, therefore, that man’s inability to create such a government has caused many persons to be deeply disappointed. Yet in marked contrast, at this summer’s 163 district assemblies of Jehovah’s witnesses in Europe and North America, there was overflowing optimism regarding the prospects of good government. Why?
It is because the delegates to these assemblies look to Jehovah God, and not man, to satisfy earth’s need for a righteous government. They are whole-souled for Divine Rulership, which is the only rule that can bring lasting peace and security to mankind. In the keynote address, “Divine Rulership—Are We for It or Against It?” the speaker at each of the assemblies exclaimed:
“With all of Jehovah’s angels, mighty in power, with all his heavenly armies, with all his ministers, doing his will, we firmly answer, We are for Divine Rulership both now and forevermore!”
But rulership by God was given more than audible acclaim at these assemblies. By their genuine efforts to obey God’s laws Jehovah’s witnesses show that they are for God’s kingdom—his government.
A Pleasing Difference
Visitors frequently observe that there is a pleasing difference between assemblies of Jehovah’s witnesses and gatherings of other groups. It is so striking that new reporters even write about it.
In Austria a five-day multilingual assembly was held in Vienna’s large Prater Stadium and the nearby Trotter Race Track. A total of 31,363 was present to hear the public talk, “Divine Rulership—the Only Hope of All Mankind.” The Arbeiter-Zeitung newspaper noted:
“What attendants at an international football [soccer] match fail to achieve even by shouting and bawling, these functionaries get done with a friendly wave of hand. In its quiet and meditative atmosphere the stadium makes an unusual impression: Cleaned up [by the Witnesses] of dust and cigarette butts, the rows of seats are filled with colorful umbrellas and, under them, people radiating contentment. And there is inobstrusive music.—A huge family party.”—August 8, 1972.
Yet, despite the good reputation of the Witnesses, some of the Catholic clergy urged that rooms not be rented to visiting delegates. This opposition backfired, for one of Vienna’s leading newspapers wrote: “The church authorities have thus committed a disgraceful and deplorable act of religious intolerance.”—Kurier, August 11, 1972.
Even greater opposition has been experienced from the Catholic clergy in Spain. In fact, prior to this year Jehovah’s witnesses were unable to hold assemblies in Spain due to opposition of the Roman Catholic Church. Indicative of the change, however, is what happened at the assembly held this August in Palma de Mallorca. The secret police visited the assembly to check whether priests had tried to cause any disturbance. The police said to call them at once if the priests tried to start anything. It seems that the priests had been to the police station and had been trying to stir up trouble for the Witnesses.
As it was, all six Divine Rulership assemblies in Spain were a grand success. It was indeed a special treat for the Spanish Witnesses and their friends, 24,000 of them in all, to meet openly in Christian association. Here, too, observers noted how pleasantly different the gatherings were. The newspaper ABC said of the assembly held in Seville:
Jehovah’s witnesses “performed a voluntary and unselfish task of cleaning, repairing and putting in order all the kiosks and stands that they occupied during the holding of their district assembly. Apart from electrical installations, replacement of broken tiles, sweeping the streets and sidewalks [of the Fair], putting the stands in condition to use, [Jehovah’s witnesses] have even cleaned the great columns of the central vestibule of the Exhibition Casino.
“According to one of the Fair watchmen this is something that has never been done by anyone who has used the Fair and Casino until now. And all of these improvements and arrangements that the Witnesses carry out remain as a benefit for the Fair Grounds and the Casino.”—“ABC,” August 5, 1972, Andalusian Edition.
There were similar words of commendation for the way the twelve Divine Rulership District Assemblies in Germany were conducted. There a combined total of 93,369 persons attended the public talk. The internationally distributed Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung commented:
“On this weekend nothing can be felt of the hectic atmosphere that prevails in other meetings at the fairgrounds. The realization of having the only true faith unites them and separates them from the world of ‘others.’
“The audience in the auditorium continues to listen attentively to the presentation; when a quotation is mentioned a rustling sweeps through the rows. In the Bibles that have been brought along the respective passages are looked up as if intent on checking on the speaker.”
Everywhere in Europe that Jehovah’s witnesses met, the delegates were noted to be neat, orderly and well behaved.
Assemblies in North America
In the United States and Canada eighty-five Divine Rulership assemblies were held, and the combined attendance for the public talk was 807,307. So, for just Europe and North America the total public talk attendance was 1,280,690! That is enough people to fill a stadium the size of huge Yankee Stadium in New York city nearly twenty times!
Yet, despite holding truly large conventions that packed out facilities, the meetings of Jehovah’s witnesses left a pleasant impression on others. Robert B. Sears, staff writer for the Roanoke Times, after visiting the Divine Rulership assembly in his city, wrote:
“Jehovah’s Witnesses have to be seen to be believed. . . .
“Three features of that gathering stand out:
—No litter in the arena or passageways.
—Most everybody looked happy; nobody was rude.
—Nobody was smoking.
“This reporter spent more than two hours at the coliseum Thursday and during that time saw only two cigarettes.
“The smokers were not Jehovah’s Witnesses.”—Roanoke “Times,”—July 14, 1972.
But what visitors especially find remarkable about assemblies of Jehovah’s witnesses is the family spirit that exists—there is genuine brotherly love regardless of race, nationality or social background. Writing her observation of the assembly in Montgomery, Alabama, reporter Mary Glass said: “Inside, the convention-goers mingled about as if in a sovereign state of their own, one where no age, sex, color or religion barriers were existent.”—Montgomery Journal, July 7, 1972.
Cliff Moore, photographer for the Montana Standard, while visiting the Divine Rulership assembly in Butte, exclaimed: “If everybody acted like Jehovah’s witnesses we could forget war.”
What accounts for this difference between Jehovah’s witnesses and others—this peace, unity and orderliness—that so amaze visitors to these assemblies.? The answer is simple. It is achieved by accepting God’s guidance and giving allegiance to His rulership. In this regard the Toledo Blade said:
“What amounts to a mammoth four-day family reunion began Thursday at Toledo Raceway Park . . .
“The men, women, and children are really spiritual brothers and sisters, all members of Jehovah’s witnesses, a denomination which proclaims that its members owe their allegiance to a divine king, rather than to any earthly ruler.”—August 4, 1972.
Yes, it is to Jehovah the Almighty God, the Divine King, that Jehovah’s witnesses give their allegiance. Jesus Christ himself said: “It is to him alone you must render sacred service.”—Matt. 4:10; Ps. 83:18.
Program Adheres to God’s Word
Since the Bible contains the laws that subjects of God’s government are required to obey, that Book was the source of all assembly instruction. News reporters often noted the prominence given to God’s Word. For example, two of them said:
“The affair was strictly religious, with the speakers sticking to the Bible and ignoring social and political issues.”—Montgomery “Advertiser,” July 7, 1972.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses are invariably armed with a Bible, and are constantly riffling pages to find a biblical reference, guiding them specifically in how to deal with one of life’s questions.”—Miami “Herald,” July 21, 1972.
Two dramas with settings in early Bible times were among the highlights of the assembly program. One emphasized the need to be merciful, even as Jehovah is, but showed that for a wrongdoer to receive mercy it is necessary that he be genuinely repentant. This two-hour drama portrayed the Bible account concerning the selling of Joseph into slavery by his ten half brothers, and his later extension of mercy to them when he saw that they had repented of their wrongdoing.— See Genesis chapters 37, 39-45.
The other drama was about a little captive Israelite girl and the mighty Syrian military leader Naaman. Amazingly, Naaman heeded the little girl when she told him that he could be cured of his leprosy if he would visit Jehovah’s prophet in Israel. Thus the drama impressed upon all present the importance of boldly speaking about the wonderful works of God, as the little Israelite girl did; and to be humble as Naaman was.—See 2 Kings chapter 5.
Featured, too, on the program was information stressing the need to adhere closely to the organizational pattern of first-century Christianity. The early Christian congregation evidently had some kind of rotation arrangement whereby “elders,” the spiritually older men, took turns in caring for various responsibilities of oversight in the congregation. So at this summer’s assemblies arrangements were discussed for congregations to adhere more closely to this pattern.
The new adjustments in organizational operations are described in the 192-page book Organization for Kingdom-preaching and Disciple-making, released on the first day of the assemblies. Many appreciative comments were heard regarding these organizational adjustments, which bring the congregations into closer harmony with the divine rule. Typical of such comments was the one of a Christian elder, who said: “I’ve known almost all my life that this is a Theocratic organization, but this assembly has moved out of the way obstacles that would cause us to be sidetracked from truly feeling that Christ is the Head of the congregation. It is as if Jehovah is dealing more directly with his people.”
Delegates also were happy to receive, in English, the new 416-page book Paradise Restored to Mankind—By Theocracy! It contains a verse-by-verse discussion of the Bible books of Haggai and Zechariah as they relate to our day. Also released was a new Bible translation—The Bible in Living English—by Steven T. Byington. Byington, who died in 1957, was not one of Jehovah’s witnesses. Yet he had a keen desire faithfully to render the Bible in easy-to-read English. One of Jehovah’s witnesses said of this Bible: “I want you to know that it delights me. . . . I can forget I’m reading and just live alongside the characters, and so absorb more of the background.”
The desire of Jehovah’s witnesses to live under God’s rulership was also manifested in the way the assemblies championed the Bible’s moral standards, which the world and its religions have abandoned in favor of the so-called “new morality.” Regarding this the Charleston Daily Mail observed:
“Speakers at the ‘Divine Rulership’ district convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses are pulling no punches as they discuss the so-called ‘new morality’ with delegates assembled at the Civic Center in Charleston.
“The Witnesses do not believe that the ‘new morality’ is new but old.
“They stress that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah practiced it nearly two thousand years before the birth of Christ. They point to histories of the Roman Empire for examples of moral behavior as it is seen today in modern society.”
But will submitting to God’s rule by following closely His guidance really have beneficial results? Will it cause people to be industrious and to have genuine love for one another? Consider the activity and attitude of those who worked at the Divine Rulership assemblies.
All Volunteer Workers
The work involved in putting on these many assemblies was truly stupendous. Securing meeting places and providing an instructive program was only part of the work. The stadiums, racetracks, auditoriums and other facilities used needed to be cleaned, stages needed to be constructed and some twenty convention departments set up in each assembly city. Tens of thousands of helpers were required for this work. The cost of their labor would have been many millions of dollars, but they all freely volunteered their services.
Weeks in advance volunteer workers in the rooming department were busy locating low-cost accommodations for visiting delegates. Thousands of these accommodations were obtained in private homes. Also, many of the assemblies operated a cafeteria that, because all help was freely volunteered, could serve breakfast for only 35 cents; lunch and dinner for 70 cents each. Commenting on this arrangement, the Rochester Times Union said:
In the kitchen 36 cooks are working . . .
“The do-it-yourself approach to conventioneering permits families to attend the Witnesses’ conventions who otherwise might not be able to afford it.”—July 8, 1972.
The Pawtucket Times told of the arrival of some 13,000 assembly delegates there:
“While the prospect of a gathering of this size might ordinarily suggest mammoth problems, the Jehovah’s Witnesses pre-convention preparations are a model of efficiency. . . .
“. . . scores of electricians, electronic engineers, plumbers, carpenters, sign painters and other craftsmen [were] preparing convention headquarters on Wednesday . . . almost all of the volunteers were professional in their field.”—June 29, 1972.
At times even government officials have come to Witnesses’ assemblies to watch and learn. This year the Portland Press Herald of June 26, 1972, noted regarding the assembly at Scarborough Downs: “The feeding and seating arrangements were so complex that both the Army and Civil Defense sent observers to see how it was handled.”
What occurred at Roanoke, Virginia, was amazing to onlookers. A mix-up in scheduling prevented the Witnesses from getting into the Coliseum until 5 a.m. Thursday, the very day the program was to begin. But at that hour more than 200 volunteers were ready to go to work. Exclaimed the Coliseum’s night-shift foreman: “I have never seen people converge on a building like this before. This is the most amazing thing I have ever seen!” Everything was set up and ready when the assembly program began at 1:40 p.m.
In Duluth, the Herald noted:
“The estimated 8,500 Jehovah’s Witnesses, attending their district convention through Sunday at the Duluth Arena-Auditorium, most certainly have an impact on the city. . . .
“Unlike most conventions, their hundreds of preparations included scrubbing down of all convention facilities at the Arena-Auditorium. A Duluth resident was heard to say, ‘The Arena’s kitchen never looked so clean.’”—July 21, 1972.
Also, the manager of the Butte Civic Center exclaimed: “If everyone would leave the convention facilities as clean as Jehovah’s witnesses this would be paradise on earth.”
Honesty, Good Behavior
Another way the Witnesses show that they are for Divine Rulership is by conforming to God’s standard of honesty and decent behavior. This standard is so different from that of the world that others often are astounded when they see persons living by it. This was the case in Richmond, Virginia, where there are privately owned parking lots used with the Coliseum.
Some parking-lot owners, however, failed to make arrangements to have attendants on hand during the assembly. Thus on a Sunday morning, a Witness finally noted a man collecting parking fees, and told him that he owed for several days of parking. It turned out that the man owned the lot, and was a local attorney. He said that because his telephone number was on the sign in the parking lot he had been getting calls from Witnesses wanting to pay their parking fees. He said: “It is almost impossible to believe that there are such honest people in the world. I want to know more about Jehovah’s witnesses.”
Is it not true that if everyone acclaimed God’s rule by obeying his laws this earth would be a wonderful place in which to live? In Cologne, Germany, a police chief said: “There are no policemen necessary here. If all meetings would proceed so peacefully and considerately we would have many less worries, because at other meetings entire detachments of a hundred officers have to be dispatched.”
After the assembly in Fargo, North Dakota, a local resident wrote a letter-to the city’s television station, WDAY, which said, in part:
“I have lived here in Fargo for over fifty years and conventions have come and gone, but after they have ‘gone’—what a mess . . .
“Not so, however, with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. First, they literally scrubbed the auditorium, and that they had scrubbed themselves was evident in their dress and appearance. None of the male members bedecked themselves in long hair, whiskers or patched and threadbare jeans. Amongst the ladies there was no evidence of ‘mini’ skirts, shorts or other distasteful or lustful appearance. The children were all neatly dressed, combed and well behaved. . . . Their conduct was unreproachable.”
Would you like to live under a government whose citizens all abide by the fine moral standards of God’s Word? The Bible explains that soon God’s kingdom will destroy all present earthly governments, and will be the only government controlling earth’s affairs. (Matt. 6:9, 10; Dan. 2:44) Only those who truly love righteousness and give allegiance to God’s rule will then be permitted by God to live on earth.
New Ones Acclaiming God’s Rule
At the Divine Rulership assemblies in just North America and Europe this summer, 29,043 persons, who had recently dedicated themselves to God, by a public ceremony revealed that they are loyal supporters of Divine Rule.
This public ceremony was water baptism. It signifies that a person has made a personal dedication to serve God. This dedication is made on the basis of the person’s knowledge and love for God, which he has acquired as a result of careful Bible study. Thus water baptism is the Scriptural way of proclaiming that one is for God’s rule and has brought one’s life into harmony with its standards.
Among those baptized this summer were persons young and old, rich and poor, healthy and sick, as well as ones from practically every walk of life. These included a ninety-six-year-old man in Santa Rosa, California; a woman who spent seventeen years as a nun was baptized in Queens, New York; a former go-go dancer and prostitute was baptized in Toledo, Ohio; members of former rock ’n’ roll bands were immersed at assemblies in Columbia, South Carolina, and Pleasanton, California; and former drug addicts were baptized at many assemblies. These all made changes in their lives and are now loyal supporters of Divine Rulership.
Where do you personally stand on this matter of rulership of the earth? Are you for Divine Rule, or are you against it? Do you believe that man needs God?
It should be obvious that humans have been a failure in providing righteous government. So why not join with Jehovah’s witnesses earth wide in acclaiming Divine Rulership? Is it not apparent from their district assemblies this summer that when people live in harmony with God’s requirements they enjoy peace, unity and happiness?
You are cordially invited to see for yourself that this is true. Attend their international assemblies scheduled for next summer. But before then, visit their weekly meetings at the Kingdom Hall in your community. You will be most welcome.
[Chart on page 23]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
NORTH AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN DISTRICT ASSEMBLIES
Country Public Talk Attendance Baptized
Austria 31,363 733
Belgium 19,826 676
British Isles 92,589 1,199
Canada 95,054 1,703
Denmark 21,242 405
Finland 18,021 452
France 58,042 2,391
Germany, West 93,369 1,380
Italy 36,884 1,601
Luxembourg 2,721 40
Netherlands 36,096 726
Norway 7,877 254
Spain 24,000 1,291
Sweden 18,325 427
Switzerland 13,028 253
United States 712,253 15,512
TOTAL 1,280,690 29,043
[Picture on page 18]
Divine Rulership was the principal topic of discussion at conventions, with attendances totaling 1,280,690 during the past summer
[Picture on page 19]
A public baptism was held at each assembly. 29,043 presented themselves for immersion
[Picture on page 20]
Over 500 German delegates arrived in Austria by riverboat
[Picture on page 20]
31,363 attended in Vienna; sessions were held in German, Greek, Turkish and Serbo-Croatian
[Picture on page 21]
Work at the assemblies was done by volunteers, including young folks who helped with refreshments
[Picture on page 22]
Conventioners in politically divided Berlin learn about Divine Rulership