Praise Jah! You Who Attend the Memorial
DARKNESS now covers the nations, and thick darkness the people. A time of woeful trouble it is. An age of overwhelming distress. A period of confusion and perplexity. Even the so-called wise and enlightened leaders, the “bright lights” of this world, seem to be in a fog. Their luminosity is no greater than fireflies in a forest. Have you ever tried following fireflies in a pitch-black night when lost? Not the least bit of help. So it is now: those following the blind, groping leaders fumble, stumble and fall. The situation has grown desperate. Fear has seized hold of the mighty men, and the whole benighted world is near nervous prostration.
But do you know this condition was long ago predicted? And do you know it was also foretold that a light-beam of hope would penetrate this darkness? Listen, Jehovah God speaks: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of Jehovah is risen upon thee. For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples; but Jehovah will arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.”—Isa. 60:1, 2, AS.
To whom do you think Jehovah is here speaking? Why, to his name-people, of course; to those whom he has called “out of darkness into his wonderful light”, concerning whom he says: “You are the light of the world.” (1 Pet. 2:9; Matt. 5:14-16, NW) Beginning with 1914 and World War I this darkness upon the nations began closing in and each year since then it has grown thicker and thicker. But to those devoted to the Lord upon his coming to the temple in 1918, the command went forth to arise and shine, for Jehovah’s glorious light was about to rise upon them. There were in 1918, according to our records, some 3,868 praisers of Jehovah ready to reflect the temple flashes of light by publishing and making known to others that the Gentile times had ended and God’s kingdom was at hand.
That small remnant of light bearers were due for an increase in numbers, as stated in the prophecy. “Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee.” Spiritual sons and daughters of Zion, the prophecy declared, would come from far and would unite in reflecting this light; but that was not all. Even “the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee”. (Isa. 60:4, 5) Exactly as foretold, the seas of people alienated from God and supporting the Devil’s organization yielded up great crowds of good-will persons out of every nation, tribe, people and tongue, who in turn became excellent reflectors of Jehovah’s brightness and glory. (Rev. 7:9, 10, NW) From 1918 to 1941 the number of Jehovah’s witnesses reporting jumped from 3,868 to 90,759!
No question about it, the prophecy of Isaiah, chapter 60, was in the course of fulfillment. But it is significant to note that The Watchtower, in its issue of October 1, 1942, pointed out that there was every reason to look for an even greater expansion. On pages 297, 298 of that issue we read: “There may, however, be still larger results to the fulfillment of the prophecy, and well may we so expect. By God’s grace the work is not yet finished and his witnesses refuse to quit as long as the Lord provides work, blessed work. This is suggested in the prophet’s next exclamation: ‘Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?’ . . . This is a cloud of witnesses, witnessing to the power and glory and presence of the Lord as a literal cloud in the sky does. . . . In the land of the prophet Isaiah the doves fly in such thick flocks that they are like a cloud that fairly darkens the earth beneath. This figure, therefore, denotes yet a great ingathering of active witnesses for the Kingdom, who shall in the short time remaining before Armageddon fly with the speed of doves to the entrance that Jehovah has provided to the refuge of safety.”
SPECTACULAR EXPANSION AND PROSPERITY
Now, nine years later, look! The 1951 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses shows that the cloud of active light-reflectors has increased from an average of 90,759 to 328,572. More than 260 per cent expansion, with a peak of 373,430 on the wing at one time! What a tremendous ingathering of these birds of peace! For the last three years the increase has been 49,000 each year! They consecrated their very lives, their time and energy, their mental and physical powers—these they devoted to Jehovah’s service and the praise of his name and the enrichment and prosperity of the theocratic organization, Zion.—Isa. 60:6-9.
And now, in this second half of the twentieth century, what are we to expect? Is the full number now obtained that will come out of mental darkness, forsake the old world, and take their stand on Jehovah’s side? No, not at all! Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, will yet come, as foretold: “Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought.” (Isa. 60:11) Day and night the ingathering continues without letup. And let all the world take note of this fact: every man-made organization that will not turn to serving Jehovah and submit to his reigning king Christ Jesus will shortly be destroyed at Armageddon. Let the master builders of the United Nations, that polyglot tower of confusion, also take note of this warning from Jehovah in the next verse: “For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.”—Isa. 60:12.
Many other prophecies likewise tell of this expansion of Jehovah’s praise at this end of the world. For example, in chapter 54 of Isaiah it says that God’s maternal organization, “our mother,” would be expanded with the influx of so many children that the figurative tent cords would have to be stretched out to the very limits. Down through the years the Watch Tower Society has spread out until today its sixty-three branch offices have “tent stakes” located in 115 countries, islands, provinces and different territorial divisions of the nations. So this is another reason why Jehovah’s witnesses are singing as commanded.—Isa. 54:1-5; Gal. 4:26, NW.
Just lift up your eyes and look, Zechariah says, for the expansion is like a magnificent city, without walls or limitations, reaching out on every side to take in new fields with their flocks of beasts and crowds of peace-loving people. (Zech. 2:1-5) Jesus too tells of the expansion that takes place when the “little flock” destined to reign with him in the heavens has been completed and only a remnant of such remain on earth at this end of the world. “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold,” Jesus says, “those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock.”—John 10:16, NW.
The apostle John had a revelation of this happy time when Jehovah’s praises would be sung by the voices of this good-will throng. “And I heard what was as a voice of a great crowd and as a sound of many waters and as a sound of heavy thunders. They said: ‘Praise Jah, you people, because Jehovah our God, the Almighty, has begun to rule as king. Let us rejoice and be overjoyed, and let us give him the glory.” (Rev. 19:6, 7, NW) The hearing of this anthem has far-reaching consequences.
THUNDEROUS PRAISE AT MEMORIAL SEASON
Jehovah now rules as king! The great crowd supporting his reign is rapidly growing greater. Hence the shout of praise already sounding in thunderous volume is constantly increasing as we draw nearer the battle of Armageddon. In fact, The Watchtower, January 1, 1951, has suggested striving for a 34 per cent increase in the number joining together in the chorus during the 1951 Memorial season. That would mean over 500,000 witnesses shouting forth the fact that Jehovah “has begun to rule as king”! This is not at all impossible, for last year 511,203 persons assembled together to celebrate the Lord’s evening meal.
Let everyone, therefore, who attends the Memorial this year on March 23 make sure that it is not just an annual observance, a religious tradition, or a conscience-soothing formality with him. Let everyone in attendance—the old and the young, the healthy and the infirm, the spiritually mature and the newly interested—make sure they each have a personal share in the organized field service, echoing Jehovah’s heart-cheering praises for both friends and strangers to hear.
Yes, the world crisis is much greater than a year ago. The darkness has thickened; the anxieties, perils and woes on the world are more desperate. But these are only reasons why the torchlight for Jehovah’s righteous rule now borne by His faithful witnesses burns more brightly. It is not an exaggeration to say that these witnesses are the only people in this sad and frightened world that are really joyful of heart, for they are the only ones that see and follow the divine beam of light leading toward God’s new world of righteousness. Amid a people bound hand and foot in the shackles of ignorance, Jehovah’s witnesses are the only ones enjoying the precious freedom obtained by a knowledge of the truth. (John 8:32) But they are not selfish in this. They wish all men would accept the truth, break their shackles, come out of darkness and follow the healing rays of light that come from the life-giving Jehovah. (1 Tim. 2:3, 4, NW) This is the enlightening message they bear, and what a privilege and joy it is to do so!
How many more will come out and join in this song of praise to Jehovah before Armageddon we do not know—hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions. We do know that the prophecy says that “ten men, from nations of every language”, will grab hold of Jehovah’s anointed witnesses because they have heard that God is with them. (Zech. 8:23, AT) But for these good-will persons to hear it means that every one of Jehovah’s witnesses must now speak out, publish and proclaim the message far and wide. So shout, you Memorial-attenders, all of you in your hundreds of thousands! If you do, we will unquestionably far surpass the 500,000 mark.