The Great Crowd—To Live in Heaven? Or on Earth?
IN CONTRAST to members of the religions of Christendom, the majority of Jehovah’s Witnesses look forward to an eternity of life, not in heaven, but on earth. Why is this?
It has not always been that way. First-century Christians had the expectation that in time they would rule with Jesus Christ as heavenly kings. (Matt. 11:12; Luke 22:28-30) Jesus had told them, however, that the Kingdom heirs would be only a “little flock.” (Luke 12:32) Who would be included? How many would there be? They did not learn the details until later.
At Pentecost 33 C.E., the first Jewish disciples of Jesus were anointed with holy spirit to be joint heirs with Christ. In the year 36 C.E., the operation of God’s spirit made it clear that uncircumcised Gentiles would also share in that inheritance. (Acts 15:7-9; Eph. 3:5, 6) Another 60 years passed before it was revealed to the apostle John that only 144,000 would be taken from earth to share the heavenly Kingdom with Christ.—Rev. 7:4-8; 14:1-3.
Charles Taze Russell and his associates shared that hope, as did most of Jehovah’s Witnesses down till the mid-1930’s. They also knew, from their study of the Scriptures, that anointing with holy spirit signified not only that persons were in line for future service as kings and priests with Christ in heaven but also that they had a special work to do while still in the flesh. (1 Pet. 1:3, 4; 2:9; Rev. 20:6) What work? They knew well and often quoted Isaiah 61:1, which states: “The spirit of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah is upon me, for the reason that Jehovah has anointed me to tell good news to the meek ones.”
Preaching With What Objective?
Although they were few in number, they endeavored to convey to everyone possible the truth about God and his purpose. They printed and distributed vast amounts of literature telling the good news concerning his provision for salvation through Christ. But their objective was by no means the conversion of all those to whom they preached. Then, why did they preach to them? The Watch Tower of July 1889 explained: “We are his [Jehovah’s] representatives in the earth; the honor of his name is to be vindicated in the presence of his enemies and before many of his deceived children; his glorious plan is to be published broadcast in opposition to all the worldly-wise schemes which men are and have been trying to invent.”
Special attention was given to those who claimed to be the Lord’s people, many of whom were members of Christendom’s churches. What was the objective in preaching to these? As Brother Russell often explained, the desire of the early Bible Students was not to draw church members away to some other organization but to help them to draw closer to the Lord as members of the one true church. The Bible Students knew, however, that in obedience to Revelation 18:4, such ones must get out of “Babylon,” which they understood to be manifest in the nominal church, the churches of Christendom with all their unscriptural teachings and sectarian divisions. In the very first issue of the Watch Tower (July 1879), Brother Russell stated: “We understand that the object of the present witnessing is ‘To take out a people for His name’—the Church—who at Christ’s coming are united to Him, and receive His name. Rev. iii. 12.”
They realized that, at that time, just one “calling” was being extended to all true Christians. This was an invitation to be members of the bride of Christ, which would finally be just 144,000 in number. (Eph. 4:4; Rev. 14:1-5) They sought to stir up all who professed faith in Christ’s ransom sacrifice, whether these were church members or not, to appreciate “the precious and very grand promises” of God. (2 Pet. 1:4; Eph. 1:18) They endeavored to move them to zeal in conforming to the requirements for the little flock of Kingdom heirs. For the spiritual strengthening of all such, whom they viewed as constituting “the household of faith” (because they professed faith in the ransom), Brother Russell and his associates diligently sought to make available spiritual ‘food in due season’ through the columns of the Watch Tower and other Bible-based publications.—Gal. 6:10; Matt. 24:45, 46, KJ.
They could see, however, that not all who professed to have made a “consecration” (or, ‘to have given themselves fully to the Lord,’ as they understood it to mean) thereafter continued to pursue a life of willing self-sacrifice, making the Lord’s service their first concern in life. Yet, as they explained, consecrated Christians had agreed to give up human nature willingly, with a heavenly inheritance in view; there was no turning back; if they did not gain life in the spirit realm, second death would await them. (Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26-29) But many seemingly consecrated Christians were taking the easy road, failing to manifest true zeal for the Lord’s cause and shunning self-sacrifice. Nevertheless, they apparently had not repudiated the ransom and were leading reasonably clean lives. What would become of such persons?
For many years the Bible Students thought that this was the group described at Revelation 7:9, 14 (KJ), which refers to “a great multitude” that come out of great tribulation and stand “before the throne” of God and before the Lamb, Jesus Christ. They reasoned that although these shunned a life of self-sacrifice, they would be confronted with trials of faith ending in death during a time of tribulation after the glorification of the final ones of the bride of Christ. They believed that if these who were said to be of the great multitude were faithful at that time, they would be resurrected to heavenly life—not to rule as kings but to take a position before the throne. It was reasoned that they would be given such secondary positions because their love for the Lord had not been sufficiently fervent, because they had not shown enough zeal. It was thought that these were people who had been begotten by God’s spirit but had been negligent about obeying God, possibly continuing to cling to Christendom’s churches.
They also thought that perhaps—just perhaps—the “ancient worthies” who would serve as princes on the earth during the millennial era would, at the end of that time, somehow be granted heavenly life. (Ps. 45:16) They reasoned that a similar prospect might await any who “consecrated” themselves after the 144,000 Kingdom heirs had all been finally chosen but before the time of restitution on earth began. In a limited way, this was a carryover from Christendom’s view that all those who are good enough go to heaven. But there was a belief that the Bible Students cherished from the Scriptures that set them apart from all of Christendom. What was that?
Living Forever in Perfection on Earth
They recognized that while a limited number taken from among humankind would be granted heavenly life, there would be many more who would be favored with eternal life on earth, under conditions like those that had existed in the Paradise of Eden. Jesus had taught his followers to pray: “Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” He had also said: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.”—Matt. 5:5; 6:10.
In harmony with that, a chart* published as a supplement to the July-August 1881 Watch Tower indicated that there would be many from among humankind that would gain God’s favor during Christ’s Millennial Reign and that would make up “the world of mankind lifted up to human perfection and life.” This chart was used for many years as the basis for discourses to groups both large and small.
Under what conditions would people on earth live during that millennial era? The Watch Tower of July 1, 1912, explained: “Before sin had entered into the world, the Divine provision for our first parents was the Garden of Eden. As we think of this, let our minds turn to the future, guided by the Word of God; and in mental vision we see Paradise restored—not a garden merely, but the entire earth made beautiful, fruitful, sinless, happy. Then we recall the inspired promise so familiar to us—‘And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain,’ for the former things of sin and death will have passed away, and all things will have been made new!—Rev. 21:4, 5.”
Who Would Live Forever on Earth?
There was no thought on the part of Brother Russell that God was offering mankind a choice—heavenly life for those who wanted it and life in an earthly paradise for those who thought they would prefer that. The Watch Tower of September 15, 1905, pointed out: “Our feelings or aspirations are not the call. Otherwise it would imply that we do our own calling. Speaking of our priesthood, the Apostle declares, ‘No man taketh this honor to himself but he that is called of God,’ (Heb. 5:4), and the place to ascertain what is God’s call is not in our feelings but in God’s own Word of revelation.”
As for the opportunity to live in a restored earthly paradise, the Bible Students believed that this would be extended to people only after all the little flock had received their reward and the millennial age had been fully ushered in. That, they understood, would be the time of “restitution of all things,” as referred to at Acts 3:21. (KJ) Even the dead would then be raised so that all could share in that loving provision. The brothers envisioned all of humankind (apart from those who had been called to heavenly life) as being given their opportunity then to choose life. As they understood it, that would be the time when Christ, on his heavenly throne, would separate the people one from another, as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. (Matt. 25:31-46) The obedient ones, whether born as Jews or as Gentiles, would prove to be the Lord’s “other sheep.”—John 10:16.*
After the Gentile Times ended, they thought that the time of restitution was very near; so from 1918 down till 1925, they proclaimed: “Millions now living will never die.” Yes, they understood that people then living—mankind in general—had the opportunity to survive right into the time of restitution and that they would then be educated in Jehovah’s requirements for life. If obedient, they would gradually attain to human perfection. If rebellious, they would, in time, be destroyed forever.
During those early years, the brothers had no idea that the Kingdom message would be proclaimed as extensively and for as many years as it has been. But they continued to examine the Scriptures and endeavored to respond to what these indicated as to the work that God would have them do.
“Sheep” at the Right Hand of Christ
A truly significant step in understanding Jehovah’s purpose centered around Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats, at Matthew 25:31-46. In that parable Jesus said: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.” As the parable goes on to show, the “sheep” are those who help Christ’s “brothers,” even seeking to bring them relief when they are persecuted and in prison.
It had long been thought that this parable applied during the millennial era, in the time of restitution, and that the final judgment referred to in the parable was the one that would take place at the end of the Millennium. But in 1923, reasons for another view of matters were set forth by J. F. Rutherford, the president of the Watch Tower Society, in an enlightening discourse in Los Angeles, California. This was published later that year in the October 15 issue of The Watch Tower.
When discussing the time that this prophetic parable would be fulfilled, the article showed that Jesus included it as part of his response to a request for ‘the sign of his presence and of the conclusion of the system of things.’ (Matt. 24:3) The article explained why the “brothers” referred to in the parable could not be the Jews of the Gospel age nor humans who show faith during the millennial period of testing and judgment but must be those who are heirs with Christ of the heavenly Kingdom, thus why the parable’s fulfillment must be at a time when some of Christ’s joint heirs are still in the flesh.—Compare Hebrews 2:10, 11.
The experiences of those anointed brothers of Christ when they endeavored to witness to the clergy and to the common people associated with the churches of Christendom also indicated that the prophecy embodied in Jesus’ parable was already being fulfilled. How so? The reaction of many of the clergy and prominent members of their churches was hostile—no refreshing cup of water, either literally or figuratively; instead, some of these instigated mobs to tear clothing from the brothers and beat them, or they demanded that officials imprison them. (Matt. 25:41-43) In contrast, many humble church members gladly received the Kingdom message, offered refreshment to those who brought it, and did what they could to help them even when the anointed ones were imprisoned for the sake of the good news.—Matt. 25:34-36.
As far as the Bible Students could see, those whom Jesus spoke of as the sheep were still in the churches of Christendom. These, they reasoned, were people who did not claim to be consecrated to the Lord but did have great respect for Jesus Christ and for his people. Yet, could they remain in the churches?
Taking a Firm Stand for Pure Worship
A study of the Bible’s prophetic book of Ezekiel shed light on this. The first of a three-volume commentary entitled Vindication was published in 1931. It explained the significance of what Ezekiel wrote about Jehovah’s rage against ancient apostate Judah and Jerusalem. Although the people of Judah claimed to serve the living and true God, they adopted the religious rites of surrounding nations, offered incense to lifeless idols, and immorally put their trust in political alliances, instead of demonstrating faith in Jehovah. (Ezek. 8:5-18; 16:26, 28, 29; 20:32) In all of this, they were exactly like Christendom; so, consistently, Jehovah would execute judgment upon Christendom just as he did upon unfaithful Judah and Jerusalem. But chapter 9 of Ezekiel shows that before the divine execution of judgment, some would be marked for preservation. Who are these?
The prophecy says that the ones marked would be “sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done” in the midst of Christendom, or antitypical Jerusalem. (Ezek. 9:4) Surely, then, they could not be deliberately sharing in those detestable things. The first volume of Vindication therefore identified those having the mark as being people who refuse to be part of the church organizations of Christendom and who in some way take their stand on the Lord’s side.
This material was followed up in 1932 by a discussion of the Bible record concerning Jehu and Jonadab and its prophetic implications. Jehu was commissioned by Jehovah to be king over the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel and to execute Jehovah’s judgment on the wicked house of Ahab and Jezebel. When Jehu was en route to Samaria to eradicate Baal worship, Jehonadab (Jonadab), the son of Rechab, went out to meet him. Jehu asked Jehonadab: “Is your heart upright with me?” and Jehonadab answered: “It is.” “Do give me your hand,” Jehu invited, and he took Jehonadab up into his chariot. Then Jehu urged: “Do go along with me and look upon my toleration of no rivalry toward Jehovah.” (2 Ki. 10:15-28) Jehonadab, though not an Israelite, agreed with what Jehu was doing; he knew that Jehovah, the true God, should be given exclusive devotion. (Ex. 20:4, 5) Centuries later, Jehonadab’s descendants were still demonstrating a spirit that Jehovah approved, so He promised: “There will not be cut off from Jonadab the son of Rechab a man to stand before me always.” (Jer. 35:19) The question thus arose, Are there people on earth today who are not spiritual Israelites with a heavenly inheritance but who are like Jehonadab?
The Watchtower of August 1, 1932, explained: “Jehonadab represented or foreshadowed that class of people now on the earth . . . [who] are out of harmony with Satan’s organization, who take their stand on the side of righteousness, and are the ones whom the Lord will preserve during the time of Armageddon, take them through that trouble, and give them everlasting life on the earth. These constitute the ‘sheep’ class that favor God’s anointed people, because they know that the anointed of the Lord are doing the Lord’s work.” Those manifesting such a spirit were invited to have a share in taking the Kingdom message to others just as the anointed were doing.—Rev. 22:17.
There were some (though relatively few at that time) associating with Jehovah’s Witnesses who realized that the spirit of God had not engendered in them the hope of heavenly life. They came to be known as Jonadabs, for, like ancient Jonadab (Jehonadab), they counted it a privilege to be identified with Jehovah’s anointed servants, and they were glad to share in the privileges to which God’s Word pointed them. Would such persons who had the prospect of never dying become numerous before Armageddon? Was it possible, as had been said, that they could number into the millions?
The “Great Crowd”—Who Are They?
When announcement was made of arrangements for Jehovah’s Witnesses to hold a convention in Washington, D.C., from May 30 to June 3, 1935, The Watchtower said: “Heretofore not many Jonadabs have had the privilege of attending a convention, and the convention at Washington may be a real comfort and benefit to them.” That certainly proved true.
At that convention special attention was given to Revelation 7:9, 10, which reads: “After these things I saw, and, 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.’” Who make up this great crowd, or “great multitude”?—KJ.
For years, even down till 1935, they were not understood to be the same as the sheep in Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats. As already noted, it was thought that they were a secondary heavenly class—secondary because they had been negligent about obeying God.
However, that view gave rise to persistent questions. Some of these were discussed early in 1935 at the noon meal at the Watch Tower Society’s headquarters. Some among those who expressed themselves at that time suggested that the great multitude was an earthly class. Grant Suiter, who later became a member of the Governing Body, recalled: “At one Bethel study, conducted by Brother T. J. Sullivan, I asked: ‘Since the great multitude gain everlasting life, do those who make up that group maintain integrity?’ There were many comments but no definitive answer.” Well, on Friday, May 31, 1935, at the Washington, D.C., convention, a satisfying answer was given. Brother Suiter was sitting in the balcony looking down over the crowd, and how thrilled he was as the talk unfolded!
Shortly after the convention, The Watchtower, in its issues of August 1 and 15, 1935, published what was stated in that talk. It pointed out that an important factor in properly understanding matters is appreciation of the fact that Jehovah’s chief purpose is not the salvation of men but the vindication of his own name (or, as we would now say, the vindication of his sovereignty). Thus Jehovah’s approval is upon those who maintain integrity to him; he does not reward those who agree to do his will but then bring reproach on his name by compromising with the Devil’s organization. This requirement of faithfulness applies to all who would have God’s approval.
In harmony with this, The Watchtower said: “Revelation 7:15 really is the key to the identification of the great multitude. . . . This description in Revelation of the great multitude is that ‘they are before the throne of God, and publicly serve him’ . . . They see and understand and obey the words of Jesus, the Lamb of God, saying to them: ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve’; which words apply to all creatures whom Jehovah approves.” (Matt. 4:10) So, what the Bible says about the great multitude, or great crowd, could not be properly construed as providing a safety net for people who professed love for God but were indifferent about doing his will.
Then, is the great crowd a heavenly class? The Watchtower showed that the language of the scripture did not point to such a conclusion. As to their location “before the throne,” it showed that Matthew 25:31, 32 tells of all nations being gathered before the throne of Christ, yet those nations are on earth. The great crowd, however, are “standing” before the throne because they have the approval of the One on the throne.—Compare Jeremiah 35:19.
But where could such a group be found—people “out of all nations,” people who were no part of spiritual Israel (described earlier, in Revelation 7:4-8), people who exercised faith in the ransom (having figuratively washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb), people who hailed Christ as King (with palm branches in their hands, like the crowd that greeted Jesus as King when he entered Jerusalem), people who truly were presenting themselves before Jehovah’s throne to serve him? Was there such a group of people on earth?
By fulfilling his own prophetic word, Jehovah himself provided the answer. Webster Roe, who was in attendance at the Washington convention, recalled that at a climactic point in his discourse, Brother Rutherford asked: “Will all those who have the hope of living forever on the earth please stand.” According to Brother Roe, “over half of the audience stood.” In agreement with this, The Watchtower of August 15, 1935, stated: “Now we see a company that exactly fits the description given in Revelation seven concerning the great multitude. During the past few years, and within the time when ‘this gospel of the kingdom is preached as a witness’, there have come forward great numbers (and they are still coming) who confess the Lord Jesus as their Savior and Jehovah as their God, whom they worship in spirit and in truth and joyfully serve. These are otherwise called ‘the Jonadabs’. These are being baptized in symbol, thus testifying that they . . . have taken their stand on the side of Jehovah and serve him and his King.”
At that time it was seen that the great crowd of Revelation 7:9, 10 are included among the “other sheep” to which Jesus referred (John 10:16); they are the ones that come to the aid of Christ’s “brothers” (Matt. 25:33-40); they are the people marked for survival because they are appalled at the disgusting things done in Christendom and shun these (Ezek. 9:4); they are like Jehonadab, who openly identified himself with Jehovah’s anointed servant in carrying out that one’s God-given commission (2 Ki. 10:15, 16). Jehovah’s Witnesses understand that these are loyal servants of God who will survive Armageddon with the prospect of living forever on an earth restored to the condition of Paradise.
An Urgent Work to Be Done
Their understanding these scriptures had far-reaching effects on the activity of Jehovah’s servants. They realized that they were not the ones who would select and gather the members of the great crowd; it was not up to them to tell people whether their hope should be a heavenly one or an earthly one. The Lord would direct matters in harmony with his will. But as Jehovah’s Witnesses, they had a serious responsibility. They were to serve as proclaimers of the Word of God, sharing the truths that He enabled them to understand, so that people could know of Jehovah’s provisions and have opportunity to respond appreciatively to these.
Furthermore, they recognized that there was great urgency to their work. In a series of articles entitled “Gathering the Multitude,” published in 1936, The Watchtower explained: “The Scriptures strongly support the conclusion that at Armageddon Jehovah will destroy the peoples of the earth, saving only those who obey his commandments to stand by his organization. In times past millions upon millions of persons have gone into the grave without ever hearing of God and Christ, and these in due time must be awakened out of death and given a knowledge of the truth, that they may make their choice. The situation is different, however, concerning the people now on earth. . . . Those of the great multitude must receive this gospel message before the day of the battle of the great day of God Almighty, which is Armageddon. If the great multitude are not now given the message of truth, it will be too late when the slaughter work begins.”—See 2 Kings 10:25; Ezekiel 9:5-10; Zephaniah 2:1-3; Matthew 24:21; 25:46.
As a result of this understanding of the Scriptures, Jehovah’s Witnesses were infused with renewed zeal for the work of witnessing. Leo Kallio, who later served as a traveling overseer in Finland, said: “I cannot recall ever experiencing such joy and zeal, nor can I remember ever riding my bicycle as fast as I did in those days, when I hastened to bring interested ones the news that because of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness, they were offered everlasting life on earth.”
During the next five years, as the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses grew, those who partook of the emblems at the annual Memorial of Christ’s death gradually declined in number. Still, the influx of the great crowd was not as rapid as what Brother Rutherford had expected. At one point he even said to Fred Franz, who became the Society’s fourth president: “It looks as if the ‘great multitude’ is not going to be so great after all.” But since then, the number of Jehovah’s Witnesses has mushroomed into the millions, while the number who expect a heavenly inheritance has, in general, continued to decline.
One Flock Under One Shepherd
There is no rivalry between the anointed class and the great crowd. Those who have a heavenly hope do not look down on those who eagerly anticipate receiving eternal life in an earthly paradise. Each accepts with gratitude the privileges extended to him by God, not reasoning that his position somehow makes him a better person or in some way inferior to someone else. (Matt. 11:11; 1 Cor. 4:7) As Jesus foretold, the two groups have truly become “one flock,” serving under him as their “one shepherd.”—John 10:16.
The feeling that Christ’s anointed brothers have toward their companions of the great crowd is well expressed in the book Worldwide Security Under the “Prince of Peace”: “Since World War II, the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy for ‘the conclusion of the system of things’ is largely due to the role that the ‘great crowd’ of ‘other sheep’ carry out. The illumination from the lighted lamps of the remnant has brightened the eyes of their hearts, and they have been helped to reflect the light to others yet remaining in the darkness of this world. . . . They have come to be inseparable companions of the remnant of the bride class. . . . Profuse thanks, therefore, to the international, multilingual ‘great crowd’ for the overwhelming part that they have played in the fulfilling of the Bridegroom’s prophecy at Matthew 24:14!”
However, as Jehovah’s Witnesses, including the great crowd, have shared unitedly in proclaiming the glorious news of God’s Kingdom, the public has come to recognize them for something in addition to their zealous witnessing.
This “Chart of the Ages” was later reproduced in the book The Divine Plan of the Ages.
Zion’s Watch Tower, March 15, 1905, pp. 88-91.
[Blurb on page 159]
Most of Jehovah’s Witnesses look forward to eternal life on earth
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A belief that set them apart from all of Christendom
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Time of fulfillment of the parable of the sheep and the goats
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They came to be known as Jonadabs
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On May 31, 1935, the “great multitude” was clearly identified
[Blurb on page 170]
A heavenly hope or an earthly one—who determines it?
[Box on page 160]
A Time for Understanding
Over 250 years ago, Sir Isaac Newton wrote an interesting item about understanding prophecy, including the one about the “great crowd” of Revelation 7:9, 10. In his “Observations Upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John,” published in 1733, he stated: “These Prophecies of Daniel and John should not be understood till the time of the end: but then some should prophesy out of them in an afflicted and mournful state for a long time, and that but darkly, so as to convert but few. . . . Then, saith Daniel, many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be encreased. For the Gospel must be preached in all nations before the great tribulation, and end of the world. The palm-bearing multitude, which come out of this great tribulation, cannot be innumerable out of all nations, unless they be made so by the preaching of the Gospel before it comes.”
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The Earth, Man’s Eternal Home
What was God’s original purpose for humankind?
“God blessed them and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.’”—Gen. 1:28.
Has God’s purpose regarding the earth changed?
“My word . . . will not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted, and it will have certain success in that for which I have sent it.”—Isa. 55:11.
“This is what Jehovah has said, the Creator of the heavens, He the true God, the Former of the earth and the Maker of it, He the One who firmly established it, who did not create it simply for nothing, who formed it even to be inhabited: ‘I am Jehovah, and there is no one else.’”—Isa. 45:18.
“You must pray, then, this way: ‘Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.’”—Matt. 6:9, 10.
“Evildoers themselves will be cut off, but those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth. The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”—Ps. 37:9, 29.
What conditions will exist on earth under God’s Kingdom?
“There are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.”—2 Pet. 3:13.
“They will not lift up sword, nation against nation, neither will they learn war anymore. And they will actually sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and there will be no one making them tremble; for the very mouth of Jehovah of armies has spoken it.”—Mic. 4:3, 4.
“They will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full.”—Isa. 65:21, 22.
“No resident will say: ‘I am sick.’”—Isa. 33:24.
“God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”—Rev. 21:3, 4; see also John 3:16.
“Who will not really fear you, Jehovah, and glorify your name, because you alone are loyal? For all the nations will come and worship before you, because your righteous decrees have been made manifest.”—Rev. 15:4.
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Those Who Go to Heaven
How many humans will go to heaven?
“Have no fear, little flock, because your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom.”—Luke 12:32.
“I saw, and, look! the Lamb [Jesus Christ] standing upon the [heavenly] Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads. And they are singing as if a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one was able to master that song but the hundred and forty-four thousand, who have been bought from the earth.”—Rev. 14:1, 3.
Are the 144,000 all Jews?
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one person in union with Christ Jesus. Moreover, if you belong to Christ, you are really Abraham’s seed, heirs with reference to a promise.”—Gal. 3:28, 29.
“He is not a Jew who is one on the outside, nor is circumcision that which is on the outside upon the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one on the inside, and his circumcision is that of the heart by spirit, and not by a written code.”—Rom. 2:28, 29.
Why does God take some to heaven?
“They will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.”—Rev. 20:6.
[Box/Graph on page 171]
Within 25 years, Memorial attendance was over 100 times the number of partakers
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1935 1940 1945 1950 1955 1960
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At the Washington, D.C., convention, 840 were baptized