‘The Small One Becomes a Mighty Nation’
1. (a) As to the magnitude of increase of true worshipers, what did Jehovah foretell? (b) Who actually brings this about, and how?
THOSE who are worshipers of Jehovah have long been relatively few in number when compared with the population of all mankind. But in our day their number is increasing at a rate that is thrilling to lovers of righteousness. As to the magnitude of the increase, Jehovah himself foretold: “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) As that scripture states, Jehovah himself brings this to pass. How? By his causing to exist among his servants a condition that sets them in sharp contrast to the national groups around them and that strongly attracts honest-hearted ones.
2. (a) To whom is Isaiah 60:1, 2 addressed? (b) In what way was the “glory of Jehovah” made to shine on her? (c) How have the remnant “shed forth light”?
2 This was foretold at Isaiah 60:1, 2, where Jehovah addresses his “woman,” his organization made up of loyal spirit creatures as well as spirit-begotten sons on earth, saying: “Arise, O woman, shed forth light, for your light has come and upon you the very glory of Jehovah has shone forth. For, look! darkness itself will cover the earth, and thick gloom the national groups; but upon you Jehovah will shine forth, and upon you his own glory will be seen.” The basis for this contrast is the birth of the Messianic Kingdom in the hands of Jesus Christ in 1914. Then it was that the “glory of Jehovah” shone forth on his heavenly organization, which brought the Kingdom to birth. There was cause for great rejoicing among them. (Revelation 12:1, 2, 5, 10-12) And on earth the anointed remnant of Kingdom heirs shared in that joy. Beginning in 1919, they “shed forth light” as they undertook the worldwide proclamation of God’s Kingdom as the real and only hope of mankind.—1 Peter 2:9; Matthew 5:14-16.
3. (a) Why, especially since 1914, has ‘darkness covered the earth’? (b) What is the only real solution?
3 In contrast, in 1914 the world’s national groups, fighting to maintain their own sovereignty, entered into an era of violence and insecurity from which they have never recovered. The lack of stability since then has caused many to realize that, despite “scientific progress,” they have no secure future on which to count. Truly, ‘darkness covers the earth.’ Why can they find no way out? Because the nations have rejected Jehovah as Sovereign. At most, a few rulers pay lip service to a “God” whose name they never use. They are determined to run things themselves, but the problems they face are beyond man’s ability to solve. (Jeremiah 8:9; Psalm 146:3-6) The present world, with its greed and corruption, has entered its “last days.” There is no way that it can avoid the destruction that awaits it. Only people who put their full faith in God’s Kingdom can look to the future with confidence. In growing numbers, honest-hearted ones are realizing this and they are becoming actively associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses, who not only talk about the Kingdom but earnestly endeavor to live in harmony with what they preach.
‘THE LITTLE ONE BECOMES A THOUSAND’
4. In fulfillment of Isaiah 60:4, what gathering work was given first attention?
4 When World War I ended, the gathering of the Kingdom heirs had not yet been completed. There were still more “sons” and “daughters” of heavenly Jerusalem needed to fill out the foretold 144,000 that would rule with Christ in heaven. However, Jehovah foretold the windup of this work, saying: “Raise your eyes all around and see! They have all of them been collected together; they have come to you. From far away your own sons keep coming, and your daughters who will be taken care of on the flank.” (Isaiah 60:4) As a result of the Kingdom proclamation made from and after 1919, thousands more dedicated themselves to Jehovah, got baptized and were anointed with holy spirit. All together, however, the entire group of Kingdom heirs was spoken of by Jesus as being only a “little flock.” (Luke 12:32) To fulfill what was foretold at Isaiah 60:22, surely there would be more who would be gathered to true worship. Indeed that has been so!
5. How has the source of further increase been as described at Isaiah 55:5?
5 They are spoken of at Isaiah 55:5 in this way: “Look! A nation that you do not know you will call, and those of a nation who have not known you will run even to you, for the sake of Jehovah your God, and for the Holy One of Israel, because he will have beautified you.” These are people from outside spiritual Israel. They come from many nations but they become a united people, all giving loyal support to God’s Kingdom. They are “a nation” that the remnant of spiritual Israel did not then “know” according to their understanding of the Scriptures, nor had this people formerly given due recognition to God’s servants. But as a result of the preaching of the good news, they are attracted because they realize that these spiritual Israelites worship the true God and because they discern in them a spiritual beauty that can result only from God’s blessing.
6. How far is the Kingdom message being carried, and with what thrilling results?
6 Despite all that Satan has done to prevent the preaching of the Kingdom message and to divert the attention of people to other pursuits, the light of truth continues to reach out even to remote parts of the earth. The result has been as God long ago prophetically said to his “woman”: “At that time you will see and certainly become radiant, and your heart will actually quiver and expand, because to you the wealthiness of the sea will direct itself; the very resources of the nations will come to you. . . . And the praises of Jehovah they will announce.” (Isaiah 60:5, 6) Yes, a “great crowd” of persons who were once a part of the “sea” of mankind alienated from God, people whose lives were darkened by the “thick gloom” that covers the nations, have joined themselves to spiritual Israel. In the eyes of God, these are truly the precious ones out of all the nations.
7. By the way in which the increase is foretold, how does Jehovah show what is truly precious in his eyes?
7 At the time of the rebuilding of Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem, he moved his prophet Haggai to announce: “‘I will rock all the nations, and the desirable things of all the nations must come in; and I will fill this house with glory,’ Jehovah of armies has said.” (Haggai 2:7) That rocking and shaking of the nations eventually leads on to their destruction, but before that takes place “the desirable things of all the nations” must be gathered out from among them and be brought into Jehovah’s great spiritual temple, his universal house of worship. Here they will find safety when the world crashes in ruins. It is such living worshipers that are precious to Jehovah. Their material wealth is not what he wants. (Micah 6:6-8) The thing of greatest value that they can give to Jehovah is their whole-souled worship. They come with offerings of heart devotion and zealous service, all of them ‘announcing the praises of Jehovah.’ What joy their appearance has brought to Jehovah’s loyal servants both in heaven and on earth!
8. What indications does the Bible give as to the extent of the ingathering of prospective earthly heirs of the Kingdom?
8 How many of these worshipers of Jehovah who cherish hope of life on a Paradise earth will there be? The Bible fixes no number. It is left open to as many persons out of all nations as will take hold of Jehovah’s loving provisions. An indication of what to expect, however, is found in Isaiah 60:8, which describes them as doves “flying just like a cloud”—a cloud that fairly darkens the earth beneath. This points to the movement of a large number of persons in a short time. With this great influx of worshipers of Jehovah, it was foretold, “the little one” of spiritual Israel would “become a thousand, and the small one a mighty nation,” and Jehovah said that he would “speed it up in its own time.” (Isaiah 60:22) Does that fit what has actually taken place?
9. To what extent has such increase taken place since 1935?
9 After the first world war there were only a few thousand actively sharing in giving a public witness about the Kingdom. By 1935 they totaled fewer than 60,000 worldwide. In 1941 the number of Kingdom proclaimers passed the 100,000 mark. By 1953, there were over 500,000. Ten years later they numbered a million. By the beginning of 1984, there were 2,652,323. On an average, they devote far more than a million hours a day to showing others why only God’s Kingdom offers real hope for the future. In comparison with the number who, as Jehovah’s Witnesses, give evidence that they are subjects of Jehovah’s Messianic Kingdom, it is noteworthy that some 60 nations of the world today have individual populations that are smaller in number than this growing “nation.” This unique “nation,” however, has no part in worldly politics but is devoted exclusively to the service of the true God.
10. (a) What circumstances make this growth marvelous in our eyes? (b) What indicates that more is yet to come?
10 Is this the full extent to which this prophecy will be fulfilled? What has already taken place is ample to fit the Bible’s description. And it is marvelous, too, when we consider the circumstances under which this work has been done—the obstacles overcome, the evidence of divine direction to bring it to success, the devotion shown by those who share in it. Wonderful, too, are the changes that it has produced in the lives of people. But the increase of persons openly taking their stand for Jehovah is not stopping, nor is it slowing down. During recent years there have been, on an average, well over 10,000 each month presenting themselves for water immersion, and the total has been going up each year. All of these, by living up to what their baptism symbolizes, may have the reassuring prospect of survival into the “new earth.”
11. (a) How does the Bible indicate that these millions become part of an organization? (b) What is the principal purpose of that organization?
11 These millions of persons are not merely independent Bible students, each serving God in his own way. They are persons who submissively become part of Jehovah’s visible organization. As we have seen, first the Kingdom heirs were “collected together.” Now others out of the nations, with the hope of earthly life, are ‘coming to them.’ (Isaiah 60:4, 5) They have become united in “one flock” under “one shepherd,” Jesus Christ. (John 10:16) The apostle Peter described true Christians as a worldwide ‘association of brothers,’ and Paul urged them not to isolate themselves but to ‘gather together,’ and all the more so as the day for the execution of divine judgment draws near. (1 Peter 5:9; Hebrews 10:23-25) In that way they are strengthened and equipped to share in the grand purpose for which this organization exists. And what is that? To magnify Jehovah’s name.—1 Peter 2:9; Isaiah 12:4, 5.
A WORK TO BE DONE
12. (a) How did Jesus indicate the work in which all of us should be sharing? (b) How important is it, and why?
12 All who come into association with Jehovah’s organization soon realize that those who are in it are workers. In imitation of Jesus Christ they are all active preachers of the Kingdom of God, which is the means by which Jehovah’s name will be vindicated. Jesus himself said: “I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth.” (Luke 4:43) He spoke earnestly about the need for others to build their lives around the doing of God’s will. He taught his followers to do the same work he was doing. For the time in which we are living, he foretold that “this good news of the kingdom” would be “preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matthew 24:14) This is the most important work that any of us can do today. Why so? Because by means of it we uphold the rightful sovereignty of Jehovah God, upon which the well-being of all creation depends. By sharing wholeheartedly in this activity, we demonstrate our appreciation for Jehovah’s abundant undeserved kindness. We also help fellow humans to avail themselves of the only means by which it is possible for them to survive the impending great tribulation.—Compare 1 Timothy 4:15, 16.
13. (a) At Isaiah 60:17, what condition was foretold for Jehovah’s organization? (b) What must we do in order to experience it fully? (c) What prospect lies before those who do?
13 The circumstances that they find within Jehovah’s organization warm their hearts. As Jehovah foretold through Isaiah: “I will appoint peace as your overseers and righteousness as your task assigners.” (Isaiah 60:17) The peace that prevails is not mere theory but reality, a fruit of God’s holy spirit. This does not mean that an individual experiences that peace to the full simply because he associates with the organization. He personally must learn to “pursue the things making for peace and the things that are upbuilding to one another.” (Romans 14:19) He needs to learn to manifest godly wisdom in coping with the imperfections of others, to give evidence of long-suffering and self-control, to be forgiving toward others even as he wants God to forgive him. Yes, he also must ‘make peace.’ (James 3:17, 18; Galatians 5:22, 23; Colossians 3:12-14) Those who do so find great joy in being part of the “mighty nation” that is now taking shape and that is devoted to the service of Jehovah, “the happy God.” (1 Timothy 1:11) It is the members of this “nation” who will be preserved when Jehovah executes judgment against the entire world that submits to Satan as its ruler.