“Spirit of Life from God Entered into Them”
1. According to Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:18-20, what specialized operation of holy spirit will stop shortly?
A SPECIALIZED operation of God’s holy spirit has been going on now for nineteen centuries and is shortly to stop. When it stops, then the making of disciples of the Messiah Jesus will stop. The resurrected Son of God referred to this when, at a mountain in the Roman province of Galilee, he said to his apostles: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”—Matthew 28:18-20.
2. Besides the glorified Jesus Christ, what else was to be with his disciples down to the “conclusion of the system of things”?
2 Those apostles were well acquainted with that holy spirit in the name of which they were commissioned to baptize all those becoming Christ’s disciples out of all the nations. During their years of intimate association with their Master Jesus, they had observed its operation mightily through him in Kingdom preaching, teaching and performing of miracles. (Acts 10:38) On their last Passover night with him on Nisan 14, 33 C.E., he said to them for their comfort: “I will request the Father and he will give you another helper to be with you forever, the spirit of the truth, which the world cannot receive.” (John 14:16, 17) So, not only would the resurrected, glorified Jesus Christ be with his disciples down to the “conclusion of the system of things,” but their active helper, the holy spirit, would likewise be with them till then, for it would be with them “forever.”
3, 4. (a) Why is the question raised as to whether Jesus Christ has been with Christendom all the days till now? (b) What did Jesus say was the factor that determined whether holy spirit was with a professed Christian?
3 That interests us today! Here we are in that time period called “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 24:3) Since the outbreak of World War I in 1914 the events in the world as well as among Christ’s disciples are fulfilling what Jesus foretold in his prophecy as set out in Matthew 24:3 through 25:46. (Also Mark 13:3-37; Luke 21:7-36) Jesus Christ, wielding “all authority” in heaven and on earth, has been with his disciples “all the days” till now. The promised “helper,” the holy spirit, has also been with them. But nowadays many claim to be Christ’s disciples or Christians. According to the latest published figures, Christendom has more than nine hundred million church members. Shall we look, therefore, to Christendom for the evidence of Christ’s presence with her? Has holy spirit operated in her?
4 Well, in this case, is the question to be answered merely according to the number of those who profess to be Christians? No, for Jesus said the determining factor is godly works:
“By their fruits you will recognize them. . . . Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire. Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men.
“Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will.”—Matthew 7:16-21.
5. Does Christendom today abound with the “fruitage of the spirit” or with the “works of the flesh”?
5 From the time that Christendom was established in the fourth century C.E. by the unbaptized pagan Roman emperor, Constantine the Great, her fruit has not been fine. After sixteen centuries of opportunity to cultivate the “fruitage of the spirit,” her religious organization does not abound with “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” Rather, “works of the flesh” mark Christendom.—Galatians 5:19-23.
6, 7. In what respects is Christendom like the congregation in Laodicea, and has she repented and taken Jesus’ advice to that congregation?
6 Christendom, reportedly bulging with church members, is today comparable to the “congregation in Laodicea.” In Revelation 3:14-18, the glorified Jesus Christ says to that congregation:
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or else hot. So, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say: ‘I am rich and have acquired riches and do not need anything at all,’ but you do not know you are miserable and pitiable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire that you may become rich, and white outer garments that you may become dressed and that the shame of your nakedness may not become manifested, and eyesalve to rub in your eyes that you may see.”
7 Has Christendom repented and taken such advice from Christ? Her active share in two world wars, her persecution of religious minorities, her materialism, her looseness of morals, her meddling in politics in order to control and perpetuate the present old order of things, all these and many other things answer No!
8. Why is the glorified Jesus obliged, as it were, to vomit Christendom out of his mouth and not use her in today’s work?
8 During this “conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus Christ has had no other course to take but to “vomit” her out of his mouth. Spiritually, she is neither refreshingly cold nor stimulatingly hot to him. He cannot swallow her so as to make her of benefit to him. She is “lukewarm” in compromisingly claiming to be Christian and at the same time making herself a friend and tool of this world. This the reigning King Jesus Christ cannot stomach. He recognizes her as an enemy of God his Father. (James 4:4) He has no association with his Father’s enemies. She is in no spiritual paradise with him. So he cannot use her in the work that he foretold for his true disciples at this time.—Matthew 24:14.
9. Because of carrying on her operations in the name of religion, did Christendom make herself an object of international hatred, or against whom did she direct such hatred?
9 Christendom has performed her works and carried on her operations in the name of religion. Have these activities made her an object “of hatred by all the nations on account of my [Christ’s] name”? (Matthew 24:9) To the contrary, she has taken the lead in making others such an object of hatred. Whom? Modern history points to them. During World War I there was an international group of students of the Bible who were showing from the inspired Scriptures that the “times of the Gentiles” ended in the year in which World War I erupted—1914. (Luke 21:24, Authorized Version) Hence all the nations, those professing Christianity and those not doing so, were to be destroyed for their opposition to the established kingdom of Jesus Christ, the King now reigning in heaven at God’s right hand. All those desiring to escape destruction with Christendom needed to come out of nominal Christianity, out of the churches of Christendom. Such bold teachings by these conscientious students of the Bible aroused worldwide hatred for them.
10. During World War I Christendom aimed at exterminating what religious minority, and by what means?
10 This hated religious minority was composed of Christians known as International Bible Students. In their Bible study and publicity work they used the publications of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, the headquarters of which are in Brooklyn, New York. On these Bible students Christendom concentrated her fire during World War I. She aimed at exterminating them. Her clergymen falsely accused them and prevailed upon political and judicial elements of this world to take repressive measures against them.
11. Because of what did the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society become implicated?
11 Bans on publications of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society followed. In various lands proscriptions against the Bible Students were enacted. In places the patriotic citizenry was roused up to infuriated mob action against this misrepresented peaceable minority. In the spring of 1918 outstanding men who were associated with the Society’s Brooklyn headquarters were railroaded off to imprisonment in a federal penitentiary, under false charges!
12. What does Revelation 11:7-12 show as to whether Christendom had killed the witness work permanently?
12 Now that the president and the secretary-treasurer of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society and six other prominent co-workers were out of the way in prison like felons, Christendom felt that she had killed the organization of the faithful witnesses to God’s established kingdom in the hands of Jesus Christ. But had the deathblow been dealt? For a time the bodies of Kingdom witnesses appeared quite dead. But were they permanently out of action? The symbol language of Revelation 11:7-12 answers:
“And when they have finished their witnessing, the wild beast that ascends out of the abyss will make war with them and conquer them and kill them. And their corpses will be on the broad way of the great city which is in a spiritual sense called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was also impaled. And those of the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their corpses for three and a half days, and they do not let their corpses be laid in a tomb. And those dwelling on the earth rejoice over them and enjoy themselves, and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those dwelling on the earth.
“And after the three and a half days spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon those beholding them. And they heard a loud voice out of heaven say to them: ‘Come on up here.’ And they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them.”
13. From Christendom’s viewpoint, what was the future for the witness organization, but what force did she not take into account?
13 For a short time, like three and a half days, the organization of these proclaimers of Bible prophecies and witnesses to God’s established kingdom were in public disgrace. The people who had been tormented by the preaching of Bible truths rejoiced over the suppression of the Kingdom witnesses. From Christendom’s viewpoint, the organization of the witnesses was ‘dead.’ But had the spirit of God been killed, put to death? It had not proved to be dead when the body of the impaled Jesus Christ lay dead in the tomb for parts of three days. So, nineteen centuries later, it did not prove to be ‘dead’ after the organization of the Kingdom witnesses had lain dead “for three and a half days,” relatively speaking.
14. For the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14, what was necessary, and what took place in the spring of 1919?
14 The time had now gone into the fifth year of the “conclusion of the system of things.” Jesus’ prediction, in Matthew 24:14, still had to be fulfilled: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) Christendom, with the bloodstains of world war, was not disposed or clean enough to fulfill that prophecy. What, then, was there to do? The spirit of God Almighty needed to go into action. It did so, not in behalf of bloodguilty Christendom, but in behalf of the seemingly ‘dead’ Kingdom witnesses. True to the picture in Revelation 11:11, “spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet.” The spring of the postwar year 1919 was the time for this revitalizing of them.
15. Who went to work on being released, and what attention was given anew to Matthew 24:14?
15 Surprisingly, late in March of 1919, the officers of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society and their fellow prisoners were released on bail and went to work. Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24:14 got renewed attention. Startling comment was made on it in the July 1, 1920, issue of The Watch Tower, pp. 199, 200. It made clear that the foretold preaching world wide was not a preaching carried on through the past nineteen centuries of the “Gospel Age,” of a coming kingdom. It was the preaching of an already established kingdom. Hence the preaching was a worldwide publicity work to be carried on from 1914 C.E. onward.
16. How did that revelation affect the witnesses, and by what event was the year 1919 climaxed?
16 This revelation by the “spirit of the truth” put new life into the Kingdom preaching of the witnesses. As a grand climax of 1919, the year of revitalization, the first postwar general convention of the Kingdom witnesses was held for eight days at Cedar Point, Ohio. Thousands from the United States and Canada attended. The president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, who was now exonerated from the false wartime charges, announced the new Kingdom work ahead. To an audience of 7,000 he gave a public talk.
17. What reason was there for the enemies to fear at the elevation of the witnesses from a dead condition?
17 At the surprising revivification of the witnesses of God’s established kingdom, great fear fell upon the enemies of the Kingdom, particularly upon Christendom. If the enemies had reason to fear then, even though the Kingdom witnesses were a small remnant, they had far greater reason to fear later on. Those witnesses were to be given a worldwide prominence such as has not been accorded to Christ’s disciples at any previous stated time. They were beckoned to such high prominence as if by a loud voice from heaven, saying to them: “Come on up here.”
18. How in 1922 did the witnesses show that they did not shrink back from the work that was to bring world prominence?
18 From entering into a Kingdom proclamation that was to lift them to heaven-high public prominence, they did not shrink back. Spurred on by God’s energizing spirit, they fearlessly launched out onto the work. Enthusiasm mounted at the second general convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, in 1922, when the Watch Tower Society’s president attained the climax of his keynote speech and boomed out the call, “Advertise, advertise, advertise, the King and his kingdom”! The thousands of conventioners thundered with applause in response to this dynamic call to Kingdom preaching to the finish!
THE DUE TIME FOR WORLDWIDE KINGDOM WITNESSING
19. Why was the account in Revelation 11:15-18 an appropriate one for John to give after his account of the reviving of the witnesses?
19 It was for such worldwide Kingdom preaching that “spirit of life from God” had entered into the suppressed witnesses in 1919 C.E. Quite appropriately, then, the apostle John immediately follows up his account of the exalted two witnesses with the following account:
“And the seventh angel blew his trumpet. And loud voices occurred in heaven, saying: ‘The kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king forever and ever.’
“And the twenty-four elders who were seated before God upon their thrones fell upon their faces and worshiped God, saying: ‘We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king. But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time for the dead to be judged, and to give their reward to your slaves the prophets and to the holy ones and to those fearing your name, the small and the great, and to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.’”—Revelation 11:15-18.
20. (a) Was that loud proclamation news for heaven only? (b) In view of Jesus’ prediction, there now arose a need for whom?
20 That loudly proclaimed announcement, “The kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king forever and ever,” deserves to be reechoed now on earth by Jehovah’s anointed witnesses. He took up his kingship of the world at the close of the Gentile Times in 1914. This was news for more than heaven only. It involved the world of mankind. They deserved to hear it. How would they hear it without preachers, proclaimers? Jesus prophesied that it would be preached earth wide before the end of this system of things came. The remnant of his anointed disciples were the ones assigned to undertake the preaching from the time of their spiritual reviving in 1919 onward.—Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10; Romans 10:14, 15; note Isaiah 32:15.
21. Why are the anointed disciples of Christ not presumptuous in doing the Kingdom preaching, as Christendom might claim, and why must Zechariah 4:6 be true regarding them?
21 The remnant of the anointed disciples of Jesus Christ are the ones delegated and sent to do the preaching. (Isaiah 61:1-3) If Christendom charges that they are presumptuous in doing this Kingdom preaching, then why does not Christendom herself do the preaching? But she is not doing so. She takes part in worldly politics and gives her blessing to the unchristian United Nations. Since the remnant is so small in comparison with the hundreds of millions of church members of Christendom, it has to be true of the anointed remnant as Jehovah said in Zechariah 4:6: “Not by a military force, nor by power, but by my spirit.”
22. To judge from the Kingdom preaching that is being done, who are the ones upon whom Joel 2:28, 29 has been fulfilled?
22 The holy spirit, which Jehovah prophesied that he would pour out in the last days, has not ceased to operate, for the remnant are still baptizing disciples of Christ in the name of that spirit. (Matthew 28:19, 20; Joel 2:28, 29; Acts 2:14-21) The announced purpose behind God’s pouring out of his spirit upon all sorts of flesh was that the recipients thereof might prophesy. The facts substantiate that the remnant of Christ’s anointed disciples have been doing that prophesying to all the nations for a witness in favor of God’s kingdom. Logically, then, they must be the ones upon whom God’s spirit has actually been poured out. That spirit is behind their worldwide preaching. Why argue about it?
23. During the following twelve years of such prophesying, witness to whom was given, and why was this needed?
23 After twelve years of such prophesying about God’s kingdom, the anointed remnant had become better informed upon Jehovah God, the heavenly Source of the outpoured spirit. They had increased their witnessing about him and had everywhere publicized his name as being the greatest Name in all existence. They had really set themselves to be His witnesses and to live up to their being “a people for his name.” (Isaiah 43:10-12; Acts 15:14) Let us not downgrade the importance and timeliness of this bearing witness to Jehovah as well as to his Messiah Jesus. In line with the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 it had to precede “the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah.” Unless the people were informed, they could not call upon the right person for salvation during that “day.” Joel 2:32 advises us that whoever “calls on the name of Jehovah will get away safe.” Witness to Jehovah had to be given!
24. In 1931 what new designation of themselves was embraced by those of the anointed remnant, and why was this no idle gesture?
24 So it was no mere coincidence that on Sunday, July 26, 1931, at the international convention of the International Bible Students Association at Columbus, Ohio, the many thousands of conventioners wholeheartedly adopted a resolution for themselves to be called by a meaningful, Scriptural name. The name that the conventioners embraced by adopting the Resolution was “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” After the action taken at the international convention in Columbus, the congregations of the International Bible Students Association around the globe adopted a similar resolution. Thereby they declared themselves to be Jehovah’s Witnesses. This was no idle gesture on the part of the anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites. By carrying out the responsibilities that the name entails upon them, they have lived up to this new designation of themselves.
25. How have the revitalized Kingdom witnesses been elevated to an outstanding position in connection with the divine name, and with an acceptance of the obligation of Isaiah 43:10-12?
25 Incontrovertibly, the “spirit of life from God” had entered into the anointed remnant and he had called them to an outstanding position before all their enemies. Without fear of those enemies, they had responded to God’s invitation, “Come on up here.” (Revelation 11:11, 12) They have not been ashamed of bearing the divine name, the name most holy. Their preaching and prophesying from house to house and from city to city on the basis of that name has resulted in magnifying that name all around the earth. Here at last are modern champions of the greatest name in the universe! Sad to say, the ancient nation of natural Israel failed to be what the prophecy of Isaiah 43:10-12 said, first of all, to them: “‘You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even my servant whom I have chosen, . . . there was among you no strange god. So you are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and I am God.’” Hence the present-day remnant of spiritual Israelites gladly accept the obligation to be Jehovah’s Witnesses.
26. Into what spiritual condition as illustrated in the congregation of Sardis, Asia Minor, do the revitalized remnant not want to relapse?
26 Now that the remnant of spiritual Israelites have been revitalized by the “spirit of life from God,” they do not want to relapse into that condition that was illustrated by the congregation in ancient Sardis, Asia Minor. Jesus Christ said to it:
“These are the things that he says who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars, ‘I know your deeds, that you have the name that you are alive, but you are dead. Become watchful, and strengthen the things remaining that were ready to die, for I have not found your deeds fully performed before my God. Therefore, continue mindful of how you have received and how you heard, and go on keeping it, and repent. Certainly unless you wake up, I shall come as a thief, and you will not know at all at what hour I shall come upon you.’”—Revelation 3:1-3.
27. To guard against losing what privilege do the anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites heed Jesus’ words in Revelation 2:5?
27 In this religiously bedarkened world the anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites want to shine as illuminators, shedding light on God’s name and on his purposes for saving mankind. They are on guard against losing the privilege of being, collectively, a spiritual lampstand. They take heed to the words of the glorified Jesus Christ to the congregation in ancient Ephesus:
“Repent and do the former deeds. If you do not, I am coming to you, and I will remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”—Revelation 2:5.
A “GREAT CROWD” CALLS UPON THE NAME
28. During World War II, when the wild beast out of the abyss again made war upon the anointed remnant, why did the experience of theirs during World War I not repeat itself?
28 In 1939-1945 C.E. a second world war wreaked havoc on mankind. But did the experience during World War I repeat itself with regard to the reanimated remnant of spiritual Israelites, who, since 1931, have been known as Jehovah’s Witnesses? Despite the worst religious persecution during World War II, when the “wild beast that ascends out of the abyss” again made war with the remnant, the records answer No! Violent persecution did not succeed in putting to death the Kingdom witnessing carried on by the anointed remnant. They kept on “getting filled with spirit” from their heavenly Life-Giver. (Ephesians 5:18) They held on to life spiritually by activity in Kingdom witnessing, underground, if necessary. When forbidden by political and militarized governments to preach the good news of Jehovah’s established kingdom, they prayed to him for courage to carry on faithfully in fulfillment of the commission to preach.
29. How has the result of the foregoing been to the remnant like in the case reported on in Acts 4:31?
29 The result to them was like in the case of the Jerusalem congregation, after the apostles had been ordered by the religious authorities to stop preaching Christ. “And they were one and all filled with the holy spirit and were speaking the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:31) Similarly, to this day, the remnant give expression to their being filled with holy spirit and powerfully go on “speaking the word of God with boldness.” Consequently, the “lampstand” of the remnant has not been removed from its place.
30. (a) What do the anointed remnant do about God’s name? (b) Why, in view of Revelation 6:14-17, is there reason that people ask whether the remnant are the only ones able to “get away safe” on Jehovah’s day?
30 The anointed remnant themselves ‘call upon the name of Jehovah’ and proclaim it world wide. Yet, are they the only ones today who hope to “get away safe” during the approaching “great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah”? (Joel 2:31, 32) This is a question that many who are not of the remnant would like to have answered, for as respects that “fear-inspiring day” Revelation 6:14-17 says:
“And the heaven [the lofty political governments over men] departed as a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and every island were removed from their places. And the kings of the earth and the top-ranking ones and the military commanders and the rich and the strong ones and every slave and every free person hid themselves in the caves and in the rock-masses of the mountains. And they keep saying to the mountains and to the rock-masses: ‘Fall over us and hide us from the face of the One seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’”
31. (a) What is the answer to the question of the above-described persons about getting away safe on Jehovah’s day? (b) Who do not join the kings of the earth and their partisans in calling out for earthly protection?
31 The answer to the question of all those described above who have failed to call on Jehovah’s name for salvation is, Not one of them will stand approved and be spared alive on His “great day.” The symbolic windstorm that is to destroy them is referred to in the book’s next chapter, in Revelation 7:1-3. After that reference, we are informed of the 144,000 slaves of God who are sealed in the forehead with the “seal of the living God.” These are classified as Israelites, not fleshly natural Israelites such as those who approved of the slaughter of the Lamb of God, but spiritual Israelites who follow the Lamb Jesus as the Messiah. (Revelation 7:4-8; 14:1-5) Right after the sight of these, what is unsealed to our vision? An undetermined number of persons who do not join the kings of the earth and their partisans in calling upon the governmental mountains and rock-masses to hide them from the wrath of God and of his Lamb. They do not fear divine wrath.
32. To whom do this “great crowd” ascribe their salvation, and with what benefit to themselves?
32 As we read Revelation 7:9-17, let us note that this unnumbered “crowd” is said to “come out of the great tribulation”:
“Look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands. And they keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: ‘Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.’
“ . . . ‘These who are dressed in the white robes, who are they and where did they come from?’ . . . ‘These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. That is why they are before the throne of God; and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple; and the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them. They will hunger no more nor thirst anymore, neither will the sun beat down upon them nor any scorching heat, because the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life. And God will wipe out every tear from their eyes.’”
33. What are some things that differentiate this “great crowd” from the previously mentioned 144,000 spiritual Israelites, and why are they fit to serve God in his spiritual temple?
33 That numberless “great crowd” is not a part of the numbered 144,000 spiritual Israelites. They are not sealed in their foreheads with the “seal of the living God.” They are not envisioned as standing on the heavenly Mount Zion with the Lamb of God. They are not spoken of as being “bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.” As to nationality, in comparison with the 144,000 spiritual Israelites, they are Gentiles, as people of all the nations. Yet they have come to know Jehovah God and to recognize him as seated on the throne of the universe, as Universal Sovereign. They know and confess who the slaughtered Lamb of God is, for they exercise faith in the purifying, cleansing power of his blood in order to get a clean appearance before God on his throne. Thus cleansed, they render sacred service to him day and night in the earthly courtyards of his spiritual temple.
34. The “great crowd” is classified as being made up of which “sheep,” and what hope do they have for future life?
34 What about the hope that they hold in common? It is not a heavenly hope. Revelation 7:17 likens them to sheep, of whom the Lamb is their Shepherd. The “fountains of waters of life” to which he guides them are “fountains” bubbling forth divine provisions for perfect human life in the promised earthly paradise. They are part of the figurative “sheep” for whom the Fine Shepherd has surrendered his human soul. After he spoke about the “fold” into which John the Baptizer as “the doorkeeper” opened the door in 29 C.E., Jesus went on to say: “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; these also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:3, 16) Accordingly, the “great crowd” of Revelation 7:9-17 consists of “other sheep” who are alive today and who commit themselves to following Jesus Christ, the Fine Shepherd.
35. With whom does the “great crowd” become “one flock” under “one shepherd”?
35 With whom, then, did this “great crowd” become “one flock” under “one shepherd”? It is with the “sheep” of the other “fold,” namely, the remnant of the “little flock” of spiritual Israelites. (Luke 12:32; 1 Peter 2:25) Although the “great crowd” are not in the new covenant that Jesus Christ mediated for spiritual Israel, he unites them with the anointed remnant as of “one flock” in one pen. From when onward has the Fine Shepherd been doing so?
36, 37. (a) By what event was the beginning of the gathering of the “other sheep” marked? (b) What prospect was set before them, to their great joy?
36 From 1935 onward. At the end of May of that year a five-day convention of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses was in session at Washington, District of Columbia, U.S.A. There were specially invited to this convention persons who associated with the anointed remnant and yet who were interested in surviving the “great tribulation” and entering, without dying, into God’s new order with its earthly paradise. They had no heavenward aspirations. Everlasting life on a paradise earth would completely meet their heart’s desire.
37 Great, then, was their joy at that Washington convention when the president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society discussed the subject of the “great multitude,” spoken of in Revelation 7:9-17, Authorized Version. He made it clear that the “multitude” was no spiritual or spirit-begotten class; it would not attain the angelic nature in heaven so as to assist the 144,000 joint heirs with Christ. It was distinctly an earthly class with hope of endless perfect human life in the earthly paradise under Christ’s kingdom. Now, by means of the Fine Shepherd Jesus Christ, Jehovah God was beginning to gather this “multitude” into active service with the anointed remnant.
38. How did the “spirit” of those of the “great crowd” react to the hope set before them, and what hope has since been held forth prominently before all seekers of God?
38 The hearts of hundreds present at that Washington convention had never been warmed by a prospect of joint heirship with Christ. But now at the making clear of the earthly hope contained in Revelation 7:9-17, their “spirit,” the reactive force within them, surged forth in heartfelt responsiveness. They hailed such a hope with vigorous applause. Later on, when thousands of others read in the columns of the Watchtower magazine the reproduction of the discussion of the “great multitude,” their “spirit,” too, responded. Ever since, the hope of the “great multitude” has been prominently held out to all seekers of God earth wide. Hundreds of thousands have been baptized in the name of God’s Son and have been put in line for realizing such a beautiful hope.
39. In view of what differences between them and the anointed remnant is the question raised as to whether the dedicated, baptized “other sheep” have holy spirit upon them?
39 Of course, these dedicated, baptized “other sheep” of the “great crowd” have not been begotten to be God’s spiritual sons, with a heavenly inheritance. They are not spiritual Israelites. They have not been taken into the new covenant with the opportunity to become God’s “kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5, 6) They have never been sealed with God’s spirit as an advance token of their heavenly inheritance. They have not been anointed with God’s spirit as prospective joint heirs with Christ in his celestial kingdom. (Isaiah 61:1-3; 1 John 2:20, 27; 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22) But do they nonetheless have holy spirit on them?
40. What Scriptural proof is there to show whether a person on earth who is devoted to God has to be begotten of God’s spirit in order to have holy spirit operate on him?
40 Overwhelmingly the facts answer Yes! Especially since 1935 C.E., the “great crowd” have worked with the spirit-begotten, anointed remnant. They have given convincing evidence that God’s holy spirit is operative upon them. A person on earth does not need to be begotten by God’s spirit in order to have His active force go into operation upon him. Look at the prophet Moses, at Judge Othniel, at Judge Gideon, at Judge Samson, at King David, at John the Baptizer. Yes, look at all the pre-Christian prophets upon whom Jehovah’s spirit came to inspire them to write the Bible books from Genesis to Malachi. Granted that no heavenly hope was set before such ancient persons, yet Jehovah God put his spirit upon them because they devoted themselves to him and lovingly offered themselves for his service. God enveloped them with his active force. He filled them with his holy spirit. It operated on them.
41. In view of the small number of those making up the anointed remnant today, how has God seen to it that the Kingdom preaching and disciple-making work is carried out on a worldwide scale?
41 Today, the remnant of spiritual Israelites anointed with holy spirit number how many? According to the number of those who partake of the emblematic bread and wine at the annual celebration of the Lord’s Supper, they number at present around 10,000. But those baptized Christians whose spirit responds appreciatively to the hope of everlasting life in a paradise here on earth number more than two million. Who, then, do the major part of the Kingdom preaching and disciple-making world wide? (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) The aging anointed remnant, being so few in number, could not possibly carry the bulk of the work. So, God’s spirit, operating mightily upon the “great crowd” of “other sheep,” has enabled them along with the anointed remnant to do a worldwide witness work without equal in Christian history.
42, 43. (a) For the accomplishing of the worldwide proclamation of the Messianic kingdom, to whom do the participants therein give the credit? (b) In view of what scriptures do they believe that they have had angelic guidance?
42 Proclamation of the Kingdom Gospel now resounds all around the globe in 210 lands and islands of the sea. More than 38,000 congregations of active Kingdom proclaimers flourish in a spiritual paradise earth wide.*
43 This far-reaching proclamation of God’s kingdom for his new order, even to the most distant parts of the earth, required a lot of hard work on the part of those engaged in the proclamation, and all this free of charge. (Matthew 10:8) But these Kingdom proclaimers, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, do not take the credit to themselves for this magnificent accomplishment. They confess that they are merely instruments in God’s hands. The courage and strength to do this foreordained work they ascribe to God’s spirit. They discern that they have also had angelic backing and guidance while doing God’s approved work. They believe in what Hebrews 1:14 says in speaking about the heavenly angels as being “spirits for public service, sent forth to minister for those who are going to inherit salvation.” Also, regarding our particular time, “the conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus said: “He will send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity.”—Matthew 24:3, 30, 31.
44. (a) Why is such a usage of heavenly angels not strange? (b) For the separating of imitation Christians from the true, and for the gathering of the “great crowd” of other sheep whose unseen aid was foretold?
44 Is there anything strange about that? No! Why, in ancient, pre-Christian times heavenly angels came to the aid and guidance of faithful worshipers of Jehovah God. (Genesis 32:1, 2, 24-30; Exodus 14:19, 20; 2 Kings 6:15-17; Isaiah 37:36; Psalm 34:7) Today it is the time for the gathering together of the true heirs of God’s kingdom and for the separating of these from the imitation Christians of Christendom, and so for this critical time the anointed remnant were to have angelic aid, according to Matthew 13:39-43, 49, 50, and Revelation 14:6. Accordingly, the angels under Christ the King take an unseen directive part in the gathering of the remnant of his anointed disciples, “his chosen ones.” The angels under his command he also uses in gathering a multitude far greater than the anointed remnant, namely, the “great crowd” of his “other sheep.”—Matthew 25:31-46; John 10:16.
A FIGURATIVE RESURRECTION
45, 46. (a) Why is there no basis for despising the day of small things in view of God’s marvelous miracle as prefigured in Ezekiel 37:1-14? (b) In behalf of the resettlement of the exiled Israelites upon their own soil, what would Jehovah put within them?
45 So, then, does there remain any basis for anyone to ‘despise the day of small things’? (Zechariah 4:10) What an amazing chain of accomplishments began to be forged when, back in 1919 C.E., “spirit of life from God entered into them,” that is, into the apparently dead anointed remnant! (Revelation 11:11) It was a modern-day miracle of resurrection on the part of Almighty God. It finds its correspondency in what the prophet Ezekiel saw, when he had the vision of the low plain that was full of dry, disassembled bones of dead Israelites. The bodies of those Israelites were restored, but the bodies still lay dead. Then, in obedience to God’s command, Ezekiel prophesied over them. What happened? “The breath proceeded to come into them, and they began to live and stand upon their feet, a very, very great military force.”—Ezekiel 37:1-10.
46 Would Ezekiel’s vision be fulfilled upon God’s chosen people then languishing in Babylon? To reassure them that this restoration vision would be fulfilled, Jehovah inspired Ezekiel to say: “I will put my spirit in you, and you must come to life, and I will settle you upon your soil; and you will have to know that I myself, Jehovah, have spoken and I have done it.”—Ezekiel 37:11-14; compare Isaiah 32:15-18.
47. (a) Upon restoring his anointed remnant, for what purpose did he put his spirit upon them? (b) How have the reanimating effects of this been in harmony with Romans 8:11?
47 In our twentieth century, after the end of World War I in 1918, the anointed remnant were revitalized spiritually and marched out from captivity to Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, in order to resume their Kingdom service. To that end, Jehovah restored them to their rightful estate on earth, to an approved relationship with him. He put his spirit upon them, to act with freedom, with outspokenness, in Kingdom service. “Where the spirit of Jehovah is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17) Since then, what aliveness the liberated remnant have displayed in his royal service, and also, later, the “great crowd” of their sheeplike coworkers! Jehovah’s holy active force has been responsible for this, just as Romans 8:11 reminds us, saying: “If, now, the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his spirit that resides in you.”
48. What force is with the united remnant and “great crowd”?
48 Forward, then, unitedly, O remnant and “great crowd”! The invincible force that is behind God’s coming new order is with you. (Zechariah 4:6) Your continued preaching of “this good news of the kingdom” will bring further suffering and reproach. But your undergoing this for the sake of Jehovah God and his Christ is the highest honor possible. Remember: “If you are being reproached for the name of Christ, you are happy, because the spirit of glory, even the spirit of God, is resting upon you.” (1 Peter 4:14) Reproach from foes of God’s kingdom is no sign of his disapproval. Your endurance of it is proof that you have God’s spirit. Having his spirit resting upon you glorifies, not disgraces, you. It dignifies you and makes you Christlike. It marks you as worthy of glorious service in God’s coming new order. So count yourselves happy, highly favored!