Release Under Way to the Ends of the Earth
1. Whose groaning does Jehovah hear, and why is now the time for him to act in their behalf?
TO THE ends of the earth there exists a vast prison over which Satan’s world organization Babylon presides, holding the people in political, social, economic, military and religious bondage. The God of love hears the groaning of the liberty-loving prisoners more clearly than anyone else, and he has raised up his great Servant Christ Jesus and clothed him with kingly power for the very purpose of bringing about their release. Now is the time for him to act, for the hour draws closer for great Babylon to be destroyed at the battle of Armageddon, and all people who stay in bondage to her and share in her sins will be destroyed with her.
2. How did Jehovah show in 1919 he was interested in Zion, and for what purpose?
2 In 1914 Jehovah God honored his Servant Jesus Christ by installing him as king in Zion. Like the miniature Zion of ancient times, this Zion is Jehovah’s organization. However, it is a heavenly one, with a visible part on earth made up of the remnant of his spiritual sons, Israelites inwardly. He cares for this visible organization of spiritual Israel more than any earthly mother cares for her child nursing at her bosom. Hence, when the visible organization appeared desolated beyond repair in 1918 and the power of great Babylon over her seemed unbreakable, Jehovah sent his Servant to the rescue. He broke the enemy’s power over them in 1919 and began releasing the imprisoned remnant, that they might resume their worship of him freely and fearlessly. For his name’s sake Jehovah was interested in the reorganizing of his people in freedom from Babylon. His purpose was to have them gathered and united in an organization that the enemy could nevermore shatter, that pure worship might continue.
3. What illustrates that Jehovah will not let his worship be stamped out of the earth by Babylon?
3 Let us be certain about this one thing: Jehovah is not letting his worship be stamped out of the earth by the Devil’s world organization Babylon. His worship was here before ever Babylon came along in Nimrod’s day, and his pure worship will be here after modern great Babylon goes down. That is just as sure as that the remnant of ancient Israel survived the destruction of ancient Babylon. And just as surely, Jehovah’s witnesses will survive and be here after Rome, the city whom its bishop at Vatican City calls “The Eternal City”, goes down in eternal destruction, and along with it Moscow and other seats of totalitarian power. All dictators and tyrannical rulers on earth are but men. They will inevitably come to their end in the dust of the earth, and that shortly. But Jehovah’s worship on earth will go on forever.
4. To have an organization for receiving all on earth who would worship him before Armageddon, what did Jehovah do with his remnant?
4 There must be a visible organization to receive all on earth who want to worship Jehovah God in freedom, before the battle of Armageddon. So from and after 1919 he used his great Servant to restore the remnant of spiritual Israel and he reorganized them to act as his witnesses in the momentous postwar period. He cleansed them from the unsightly religious soils that they had gotten while under Babylon’s power and influence. Thus he made it a clean organization worthy of receiving those who forsook Babylon in obedience to his command: “Away! away! go out thence; touch nothing unclean! Go out of the midst of her; keep yourselves pure, you who bear the vessels of the LORD [Jehovah]!” And since Jehovah God had taken his great power and was now reigning by his Servant-King Christ Jesus, he led his reorganized people to see that the only organization for them now to have and serve by was the theocratic organization, not democratic organization. Because of their repentance and return to him with faithful hearts, Jehovah made the remnant of spiritual Israelites part of his servant class, under his Chief Servant Christ Jesus. In that way they could serve as the “faithful and discreet slave” whom Jesus had foretold and whom he said he would appoint over all his earthly, visible belongings, the interests of the Kingdom.—Isa. 52:11, AT; Matt. 24:45-47, NW.
5. But was the remnant of spiritual Israel alone to be gathered, and how was their idea like that of the Jewish remnant long ago?
5 But was the gathering of people to the rebuilt theocratic organization to be only of those who composed the remnant of spiritual Israel? Those of the original remnant who survived the experiences of World War I used to quote Psalm 50:5, “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” They used to think that only these saints were to be gathered or harvested before Armageddon, although it was timely for them since 1918 to herald the message, “Millions Now Living Will Never Die.” It was even suggested that this harvesting of such spiritual saints might end with the year 1924, after which the heavenly glorification of these anointed, spirit-begotten followers of Christ would take place. (See The Watchtower, January 1, 1924, ¶¶ 11-32.) Nineteen centuries ago the early members of the Jewish remnant were also inclined to think that the gathering of the sheep of the Shepherd Christ Jesus was to be only from the Jewish nation, Samaritans and circumcised proselytes. For three and a half years after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascent to heaven and the Pentecostal outpouring of the holy spirit, they confined their preaching about the Christ to these only and would not step into the home of an uncircumcised Gentile to tell him the good news.
“LIGHT TO THE GENTILES”
6. By what scripture of Isaiah 49 did Jesus know better than that idea?
6 But the great Servant of Jehovah knew better than that. He had even hinted so just before he ascended from his disciples to heaven. (Luke 24:45-49; Acts 1:6-9) Jesus knew that these words in Isaiah’s prophecy were written particularly to him: “Yea, he saith, It is too light a thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. Thus saith Jehovah, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers: Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall worship; because of Jehovah that is faithful, even the Holy One of Israel, who hath chosen thee.” No wonder, then, that at the outset of the chapter he calls upon the isles, coastlands, or distant shores to listen and far-off peoples to hearken to him!—Isa. 49:1, 6, 7, AS.
7. How was it “too light” a thing for Jesus to raise up only Jacob’s natural tribes and Israel’s preserved ones?
7 How was it “too light” or too slight a thing for him to raise up only the natural tribes of Jacob and restore the preserved of only natural Israel? Because only a small remnant of some thousands of the circumcised Jews would accept Christ Jesus as Jehovah’s Servant for their salvation, and this remnant would not be enough to complete the foreordained 144,000 members of Christ’s body over which Jesus is the Head. (Rev. 7:4-8; 14:1, 3) Moreover, Jesus’ human sacrifice was not only for the natural Jews but for non-Jews also, men of all kinds. So it was necessary for God to let the message of salvation and the opportunities of sharing with Christ Jesus in the heavenly kingdom go to the Gentiles. Then they might believe and become spiritual Israelites by faith in God and his Christ, and by his begettal of them with his spirit.
8. To whom did Jesus personally preach, and so what was necessary if he was to be a “light to the Gentiles” and salvation to earth’s end?
8 But when Jesus was on earth as a man, a Jew, he restricted his preaching to the Jews and Samaritans that these first might have the Kingdom opportunity extended to them. So here again we see the need of the servant class, if Jehovah’s Servant is to be a “light to the Gentiles” and His “salvation unto the end of the earth”. The Chief Servant would have to use his followers as his ambassadors and send them to the Gentile nations, if light and salvation were to come to such uncircumcised nations. This he began to do when he sent his apostle Peter to the home of the Italian centurion Cornelius at Caesarea to preach the good news about Jehovah and his Christ. There “God for the first time turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name”. Then light began breaking on the Gentiles.—Acts 15:14; 10:1-48, NW.
9. How does inspiration show Isaiah’s prophecy here includes the servant class under Jesus?
9 That Isaiah’s prophecy here concerning the Servant includes in a secondary way the servant class under their Head Christ Jesus is stated under inspiration. The apostle Paul and his companion Barnabas applied Isaiah’s prophecy this way when they quoted it to the unappreciative opposing Jews in their synagogue and said: “It was necessary for the word of God to be spoken first to you. Since you are thrusting it away from you and do not judge yourselves worthy of everlasting life, look! we turn to the nations. In fact, Jehovah has laid commandment upon us in these words, ‘I have appointed you as a light of nations, for you to be a salvation to the most distant part of the earth.’”—Acts 13:44-47, NW.
10. Why was it necessary to show the remnant since 1919 that this part of Isaiah’s prophecy also applies to them?
10 There is no question about it. This part of Isaiah’s prophecy applies also to the remnant of spiritual Israelites since 1919. But at first they did not realize this fact. As above observed, they thought the gathering of Jehovah’s worshipers to his theocratic organization was to be only of themselves, the spiritual class, the saints in the covenant. Down till 1931 efforts were centered principally on gathering the Kingdom heirs to complete the remnant of Christ’s body. But all these formed a servant body under Jesus the Head, and the servant class is not for serving itself only but for serving others to whom Jehovah God sends his servant class. So by light upon the Holy Scriptures he duly opened the eyes of the remnant to see that they must serve others besides those of the servant class. There were “other sheep” who were not of the “little flock” of Kingdom heirs and these the Right Shepherd Christ Jesus said he must gather and bring that they might be one flock with the remnant under one Shepherd.—John 10:16.
11. So what needed to be done about the “other sheep”, and why?
11 There was a great crowd of these other sheep straying about abused by the false shepherds of the Babylonish religious systems. They were, in fact, prisoners of Babylon and were in the death-dealing religious darkness there. They, too, needed to have Jehovah’s great Servant say to them, ‘Go forth, show yourselves, come out into freedom and the light of truth and divine favor!’ They too must come to Zion and submit to the theocratic organization so as to escape destruction at Armageddon. As the prophet Joel had foretold: “Whosoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be delivered; for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those that escape, as Jehovah hath said, and among the remnant those whom Jehovah doth call.”—Joel 2:32, AS; Rom. 10:13.
12. (a) What kind of Israelites are the remnant today, and hence what are the other sheep, relatively speaking? (b) What must be said to them?
12 Note now how the Scriptures apply Isaiah’s prophecy to make this plain to us. Nineteen centuries ago, compared with the remnant of believing Israelites, all the uncircumcised nations to whom the message was to go were Gentiles naturally. Today, the remnant who compose the “faithful and discreet slave” class are spiritual Israelites. Compared with them, the Shepherd’s “other sheep” are Gentiles of all kinds, spiritually speaking. And yet now the good news of God’s established kingdom must go to these other sheep to release them from bondage and imprisonment in the Devil’s Babylonish world. Says Jehovah to his servant class to which the remnant of today belongs: “That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them. And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. Behold, these shall come from far [east]: and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim [the south-land of Syenê, Mo; AT]. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD [Jehovah] hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.”—Isa. 49:9-13.
13. How does Revelation picture the other sheep as Gentiles?
13 This joyful prophecy extends now to the Shepherd’s “other sheep” who must be rescued from Babylon before Armageddon. That fact is revealed to us in the Revelation. John the apostle first describes his vision of the gathering and sealing of the 144,000 members of the twelve tribes of spiritual Israel. Then he says: “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.” That makes this a Gentile crowd, when compared with the 144,000 spiritual Israelites. But they are where, and what are they doing? “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.’”
14. Where have these other sheep come, and what prophecy is now quoted from and applied to them?
14 Have this “great crowd” come to Zion and submitted to the theocratic rule of Jehovah who is seated on the heavenly throne? They have; for one of the elderly persons identifies the crowd to John and says: “These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation [this locates their coming between 1919 and Armageddon], 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 [on Mount Zion], and the one seated on the throne will spread his tent over them.” And now the elderly person goes on to quote Isaiah 49:10 and to apply it to the “great crowd” whom he likens to sheep, saying: “They will hunger no more nor thirst any more, 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.”—Rev. 7:9, 10, 14-17, NW
NEED FOR MORE TERRITORY
15. Since when was the identity of the “great crowd” made clear, and how do statistics show they have come to Zion since then?
15 The applicableness now of the vision of the “great crowd” to the other sheep from all nations was revealed to the remnant of spiritual Israel in 1935. To illustrate how the droves of “other sheep” have flocked to Zion since then, we can say there were 20,786 active Kingdom publishers reporting in the United States of America that year, to compare with 135,356 in April, 1951. To make their coming easy Jehovah has made a way for them over mountainous obstacles and he has raised up highways for them across the deep places. All along the road he has fed them and even on the hills that appeared bare he has found pasture for them, always supplying them with living waters of truth from his Holy Word.
16. From what parts has Jehovah brought them, and what assemblies show their numbers, to Zion’s great amazement?
16 From all directions, as foretold by the prophecy, he has brought them to the one flock of his Lamb, the Right Shepherd, from east and west, and from north and south, yes, from the dark continent of Africa as represented by the southland of Sinim or Syenê (modern Aswân, Egypt). Zion, represented on earth by the remnant of spiritual Israelites, is surprised. She cannot account for them, never having expected them this side of Armageddon. “As I live, saith Jehovah, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all as with an ornament, and gird thyself with them, like a bride.” (Isa. 49:18, AS) Look at what demonstrations we have of this at the circuit assemblies of Jehovah’s witnesses, their district, national and international assemblies! At the international assembly in New York city in 1950 there were 123,707 with attentive ears at the public meeting Sunday, August 6, to hear the address “Can You Live Forever in Happiness on Earth?” The nations and their rulers have despised and abhorred the servant class from its Head Jesus Christ down till its remnant now, and no wonder they start up with amazement at the miraculous sight. Much as the kings and princes dislike it, they have to admit that Jehovah, the Holy One of spiritual Israel, has been faithful to the servant class he chose.—Isa. 49:7.
17. What has this required as regards the extent of the organization of the surprised Zion?
17 Logically this has thronged the organization with people, requiring it to be broadened out, and overgrown companies to be split, resulting in the formation of new companies at new places to receive the new incomers and to provide room for still more to enter and so be incorporated in the organization for publishing the message of release from Babylon. “Surely,” says Jehovah to Zion, “as for thy wastes and thy desolations, and thy land of ruins surely now shalt thou be too strait for thine inhabitants, and far off shall be they who have been swallowing thee up. The children of whom thou wast bereaved shall yet say in thine ears,—Too strait for me is the place, make room for me that I may settle down. Then shalt thou say in thy heart,—Who hath borne me these, seeing I have been bereaved and unfruitful, a captive and banished? These therefore, who hath brought them up? Lo! I was left alone, these where were they?” How pathetic this exclamation of motherly surprise of Zion at having this numberless multitude of children and their loyal companions from all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues! (Isa. 49:19-21, Ro) But how does Jehovah accomplish this?
18. How does Jehovah accomplish this, and before what destruction?
18 Listen: “Thus says the Lord GOD [Jehovah]: ‘Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and to the peoples will I raise my signal; and they shall bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders. And kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing-mothers; with their faces to the earth shall they bow down to you, and shall lick the dust of your feet; and you shall know that I am the LORD [Jehovah], in whom none that trust shall be put to shame.’” (Isa. 49:22, 23, AT; Mo) This proves that this prophecy of the release of the bound ones to the ends of the earth must be fulfilled now before the battle of Armageddon while there are nontheocratic nations, peoples, kings and queens.
19. Can earthly systems and rulers hold these sheep back, and how have they been like foster fathers and nursing mothers?
19 Even while the demons of Satan’s invisible organization are hurrying the nations and their rulers to the battlefield of Armageddon, these earthly systems and rulers are unable to hold their own people of good will under them when they hear the liberation call of Jehovah’s great Servant, Come forth! Show yourselves! Emerge into freedom and into light! Despite their mobilizing of the peoples by dictatorial measures, they are obliged to yield these “other sheep” over to the theocratic organization of Zion. Like foster fathers and nursing mothers they have just been governing these persons of good will so as to have them ready in due time for delivery to Jehovah’s organization. They are obliged to bow and to admit the defeat of their wicked endeavors to prevent all this gathering to the Signal which Jehovah has raised on high.
20. What is that Signal, and what is the evidence that it stands ruling and that Jehovah is a God who does not disappoint?
20 That Signal is his King Jesus Christ, his great Servant of liberation, whom he raised to the throne in 1914 to rule in the midst of his enemies. (Isa. 11:10-12; Rev. 12:5; Ps. 110:1, 2) One of the ways by which he manifests he is ruling in the midst of his enemies is by releasing the prisoners whom they hold bound within their systems of control and leading them like a Shepherd to Zion to worship Jehovah God at his temple there. In this way Zion expands her territory even in lands which are under dictatorial and totalitarian rule; and Christ Jesus the King thus shows that all of earth’s rulers, the mighty and the weak, are under his feet like a footstool. By his causing Zion to overflow with children, she, and specially her remnant on earth, is given evidence showing that Jehovah is God and that those who wait for him to act in his appointed time will not be put to shame by being disappointed.
21. What must the servant class and its associates now do, and until what accomplishment?
21 Are you a member of the servant class, or are you one of the “other sheep” co-operating with the servant class? Then be strong in confidence in God’s Word and move forward to the work he has laid upon his servant to do at this time. Jehovah God Almighty is with his great Servant in releasing the bound ones who yet remain to be loosed, and the work of release now under way will keep on to the very ends of the earth until the last of them is freed and engages in Jehovah’s worship and service at his temple on Zion.
22. What divine statement shows whether it is possible to get more sheep out, especially from under totalitarian rule?
22 Do not think it impossible to get any more out, especially from under totalitarian rule. “Can prey be taken from a warrior, or a tyrant’sa captives be rescued? But thus says the LORD [Jehovah]: ‘Even should a warrior’s captives be taken, and a tyrant’s prey be rescued, your opponents will I oppose, and your children will I save. I will cause your oppressors to eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with new wine; then all flesh shall know that I the LORD [Jehovah] am your savior, and that I the Mighty One of Jacob am your redeemer.’”—Isa. 49:24-26, AT; Mo; Maredsous.
23. By what means and methods, then, does the work go on and the work of release spread to the ends of the earth?
23 Let no one say, then, “It cannot be done! It cannot go on!” This militarized world, with its conscription and universal military training laws, cannot prevent Jehovah’s Servant’s work of releasing the prisoners. Neither can the oppressive totalitarian dictators do so, either behind or outside the “iron curtain”. The rescue of those upon whom they prey and whom they have held captive takes place under their very noses, whether by underground or by aboveground methods. The public services which all these rulers render the people, and for which we justly “pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar”, these things the servant class uses to carry on Jehovah’s work, gathering his “other sheep” now to the side of his theocratic government. More room is needed for Zion’s children, and this is being acquired. But not by military aggression and unjust encroachment, invading and grabbing other people’s lands by force and violence. No; but by peaceful expansion, with the good news of peace. Thus those who feel there is not enough room for them go out as home missionaries and as foreign missionaries to other territories and to other lands and establish settlements of Jehovah’s worship there. So the work of release spreads to the ends of the earth.
24. What will Jehovah make his opposers do, and make them and also us know about him?
24 Those who oppose us Jehovah God has promised to oppose. That means he is on our side and backs us up. At the battle of Armageddon he will confuse our oppressors and opposers. He will maneuver them into fighting one against another and thus destroying one another. So it will come about that they will eat the flesh of one another and drink the blood of one another, and it will not be by any medical blood transfusion either in an attempt to save their lives. The final conclusion will be that all flesh—our enemies while yet alive in the flesh, and we, also—will be made to see that Jehovah is the only Savior of his people, those who come to Zion. If we cleave to him and serve with his great Servant Christ Jesus, we are bound to get full deliverance at last. No devilish power can prevent it before we have had the privilege of helping release the others.
25. So what high honor is ours now, and to what extent should we take part in it?
25 What an honor to free Jehovah’s people from prison! At the climax of World War II the Allies’ troops may have felt privileged and greatly honored to release victims from Nazi concentration camps and prisons. But now how much grander a privilege and honor it is to release victims from Babylon’s prison house, and do this by peaceful means through the Kingdom, and all this that they may adore and serve Jehovah God at Mount Zion! Consequently, in deep appreciation and with courageous confidence in Almighty God, let the servant class and their loyal companions move ahead in the work of release to the very ends of the earth. The ultimate triumph of Zion over all enemies and opposers is absolutely assured, together with a righteous new world of endless freedom.
a The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah (DSIa) in Hebrew, of the second century B.C., reads “tyrant’s” here, and not “lawful”; and so do the ancient Syriac Version and the Latin Vulgate Version; and the Greek Septuagint expresses that thought.