Sharing in the Prosperity of God’s Nation
“Oh visit me with thy salvation, that may see the prosperity of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation.”—Ps. 106:4, 5, AS.
1, 2. Whom have politicians acknowledged to be the source of prosperity, and how far have recent Holy Years aided prosperity?
PROSPERITY has but one source—Jehovah God. Worldly politicians have hypocritically acknowledged this fact. When launching their own schemes for material abundance, they have quoted Psalm 127:1: “Except Jehovah build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except Jehovah keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” (AS) As everybody knows, the prosperity the politicians said was now “just around the corner” did not show up in a real, lasting way when we turned the corner.
2 In 1933 Christendom’s mightiest religious system celebrated a special Holy Year to commemorate the death of Jesus Christ nineteen centuries earlier. To make the people believe that that religious system was the bringer of better times, the papacy’s Holy Year was announced with the glowing promise that now ‘a tide of religion would sweep the nations into peace and prosperity’. But six years later, what? The nations were swept into the most ruinous war in all human history. The celebration of another Holy Year in 1950 did not improve the postwar period but marked the outbreak of the Korean conflict, the pistol shot for a terrific armaments race between East and West that threatens a third world war soon, with nuclear bombs thrown from both directions.
3. Why has prosperity failed their efforts and prayers?
3 Why this failure of prosperity to crown the efforts and prayers of politicians and religious leaders of Christendom? This: Jehovah failed to co-operate with them. Jehovah refused to join in building their postwar structure for world peace and welfare. They have rejected him. He has rejected them. To their chagrin they are obliged to quote the scripture: “We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of healing, and, behold, dismay!”—Jer. 14:19, AS.
4. Where, then, is prosperity in proof of Jehovah as its source?
4 In Christendom there is no stable, guaranteed prosperity. In so-called heathendom there is none either. Is there, then, no prosperity anywhere on earth to prove that Jehovah God is the source and creator of it? There indeed is. Where? There where it should reasonably be found—among the people who bear his name, Jehovah’s witnesses. That explains the reason for their happiness, a happiness unequaled anywhere in this old world, a happiness that no turns for still worse or even the worst in this old world can dampen or wreck. Their happiness is not based on any material prosperity or any armed peace of this world. It is not dependent on having an abundance of the things of this world, such uncertain, vanishing things. It is a spiritual prosperity, a real, practical well-being that has transformed their lives and made them the happiest mortals on earth. It will never collapse. It is backed and guaranteed by the greatest and the only durable government in the universe, Jehovah’s kingdom established in the heavens in the year 1914 and with his Son Jesus Christ at his side.
5. To whose prayers, and since when, is this an answer?
5 God answers prayer. In answering prayer he favors, not Christendom, but only his true name people. Their flourishing condition at this crucial time is an answer to their prayer. He has heard their prayer because it was offered with a right motive and was in harmony with his will expressed in the prophecies of his Word. Almost thirty years ago to the day, namely, Friday, September 8, 1922, at the international assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses in Cedar Point, Ohio, the presence of Jehovah’s Day was announced and the prophetic prayer as contained at Psalm 118:24, 25, was shown to be appropriate now: “This is the day which Jehovah hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, we beseech thee, O Jehovah: O Jehovah, we beseech thee, send now prosperity.” (AS) Today, after three decades, we can measure the amount of prosperity he has sent in this his day. Back there we were getting started on the road to postwar prosperity. Today the prosperity bestowed upon us is unparalleled in Christian history.
6. In what poverty did the close of World War I find the remnant?
6 The close of World War I in November of 1918 found the remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses in poor condition. The vicious persecution by our religious enemies, using the military sword of the total state, had rendered them so. Their own fears and lack of understanding had helped to make it so. Throughout the world they were quite disorganized. Practical theocratic government was not in force among them. A number of their main officials were in literal prison for the endeavors of these to be faithful to God’s cause. Because of world opposition their public voice for the kingdom of God was quite muffled. They were quite uncertain as to what God’s further will was for them on the earth in the postwar period. Only some of them were in literal prisons in the world, but all of them were in a spiritual prison in the Devil’s world system, which the Bible calls “Babylon”. Here they felt the restrictions placed upon their free conscientious worship of the living and true God and upon their service of his kingdom. Here they felt the expression of God’s displeasure with them because of sins and worldly uncleanness of which they were not fully aware. Before God they were in a condition which Revelation 11:8, 9 likens to dead bodies of God’s witnesses lying exposed in the unclean city three and a half days. What poverty!
7, 8. How did Jehovah show them his loving-kindness, and who has well expressed their yearning and gratitude, and in what words?
7 A young generation has grown up since then. Little does it realize the state of mind and the state of the organization back there. Ah, but God is so merciful, so full of loving-kindness, toward those whose hearts are sincere toward him and striving to cling to him with an unbreakable affection! Though angry and displeased with them so as to let them be thrown down, Jehovah was not willing to destroy them, which would have suited our enemies very much. (2 Cor. 4:8, 9, NW) For his own name’s sake and in the abundance of his mercy he had other purposes for the remnant of his anointed consecrated ones. So he opened their blind eyes to see that he had promised them deliverance in his Word and that they were to enter upon a great work to be blessed with astonishing prosperity. The loyal and zealous were willing to serve God on earth to the finish, and oh how their hearts responded to this wondrous outlook portrayed in his prophetic Word! If only he would get them out of this restrained condition and open the way to liberty and free, fearless worship of him, how gladly they would share in his further work till its glorious climax! Every willing heart poured out gratitude to God for the fresh hope! How well the psalmist, under similar circumstances, expressed their thankfulness, their disposition to praise and their yearning in these touching words of Psalm 106:1-5:
8 “Praise ye Jehovah. Oh give thanks unto Jehovah; for he is good; for his lovingkindness endureth for ever. Who can utter the mighty acts of Jehovah, or show forth all his praise? Blessed are they that keep justice, and he that doeth righteousness at all times. Remember me, O Jehovah, with the favor that thou bearest unto thy people; oh visit me with thy salvation, that I may see the prosperity of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance.”—AS.
9, 10. Do any have that intensity of feeling here expressed? And who are Jehovah’s people, his chosen, his nation, his inheritance?
9 Do you have the intensity of feeling toward the things of Jehovah God that the psalmist here expresses? Do you have a love and appreciation for Jehovah’s people, his chosen ones, his nation, his inheritance, so that you want to be saved with them and to see their prosperity, to share God’s favor to them, to be glad with them, and to feel glory in being associated with them as his inheritance?
10 That is the way each sincere member of the anointed remnant felt back there while languishing in Babylonish captivity to the powers of this world. Do you yourself personally have that consuming desire today? Jehovah’s people are his name people whom he has been taking out of all nations, Jewish and Gentile, for the past nineteen centuries to be a “people for his name”, anointed with his spirit. They are chosen ones of his, chosen to be joined with his Son Christ Jesus in his heavenly kingdom, his elect ones for whose sake he cut short the days of tribulation in 1918 that some flesh might be saved. (Acts 15:14; Matt. 24:21, 22) They are the only nation on earth that he recognizes and deals with, a nation of spiritual Israelites, Jews inwardly, over whom the true Messiah, Jesus Christ, is King. They are Jehovah’s inheritance, the little flock whom he makes his spiritual sons and to whom he lays special claim and whom he finally takes away from mankind on earth and raises to heaven to rule as kings with Jesus Christ for the blessing of all his other sheep on earth.—1 Pet. 2:9; Deut. 32:9; Ps. 33:12; Isa. 19:25; 63:17.
11. (a) Why have you associated yourself with his people now? (b) What does fulfillment of Psalm 68:6 move us to do in response?
11 Evidently because you do have such an appreciation you have chosen to associate yourself with God’s nation of chosen ones. You have discerned who are Jehovah’s name people, and you realize that his favor is better than that of the old world, because in his favor there is real life; it is the only thing that makes life worth living. You mark how good he has been to his people at this end of the world, how his loving-kindness has not failed toward them even though in his displeasure he did let them come into the power of the enemy during World War I, and this loving-kindness he has shown in doing mighty acts of liberation and of reorganization for them. They are no longer in solitary confinement, few in numbers and prevented by enemy power from expanding with more publishers of God’s kingdom and praisers of his name. Their growth now in numbers excites amazement. Jehovah has multiplied them not only with newer members of the remnant who have taken the places of any rebellious ones who have gone over to the enemy, but also with a steadily growing crowd of persons of good will, like great droves of sheep, other sheep, all brought together into one flock under the one Right Shepherd of God’s flock, Jesus Christ. In this you see the final and complete fulfillment of his promise, at Psalm 68:6: “God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out the prisoners into prosperity; but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.” (AS) How, then, can we who longed to see and share the prosperity of his chosen nation, yes, how can we resist the call to praise Jehovah and to give thanks to him publicly for his goodness? Really, how can we utter his acts with full description of his might, how can we show forth all his praise—there is so much to praise?
12, 13. How does Christendom’s poverty compare with our prosperity?
12 Think how poor off spiritually Christendom is! She has no evidence of divine favor. Her prayers and crusades for peace and prosperity in this world of which she is a part have no success. She is perplexed. She is in extreme fear for her further existence, despite all boasts of how old her institutions are. She has no timely message for the people, no spiritual food, no water of truth. She is not doing God’s work foretold in the prophecies concerning the end of this world. On the other hand, think of the spiritual prosperity into which Almighty God has brought us—us who were once prisoners inside this Babylonish world! Our prayers for the last thirty years for him to save us and send us prosperity have been answered beyond our expectations this side of Armageddon. How his holy Word has been made clearer to us, its mysteries, its sacred secrets, unraveled for us! There is no longer any uncertainty as to why we have been left on earth since the end of the “appointed times of the nations” in 1914, no doubt as to what our mission is. Once marked by the enemy for death by their persecutions, we know that God revived us from our deathly state and that our foes are the ones who will die at Armageddon, but we are now marked by God’s power for life in the new world, even by surviving Armageddon’s destructive warfare.
13 We have God’s message for today. Because we adhere strictly to his Word rather than to worldly philosophies and man-made religious creeds and traditions, we have God’s message for today. It is the good news of God’s established kingdom by Jesus Christ. Unlike Christendom’s steady decrease in number of her priests and preachers, the number of our ministers active in preaching the good news of the Kingdom is ever increasing. We have God’s work to do and are taking courage to do it. We have his spirit activating us and backing us up, and God is doing his foretold work through us, not by might nor by armies but by his spirit. It is the spirit of theocratic organization. Our cup runs over, our spiritual table is loaded with solid food in the very presence of our enemies. Poor materially most of us may be, but we are making many rich spiritually. All this spiritual welfare was meant to make God’s nation glad. How can we keep from rejoicing and glorying in Jehovah?
14. But what warning do we need to take, and upon what does our personal continuance in this prosperity depend?
14 But let us take warning! Our own individual, personal continuance in this rejoicing in the gladness of Jehovah’s nation and in sharing in its prosperity is conditional. Why? Because it is to his organization that he gives the sure word, “And no more will there be any curse,” since he will see to it that his organization as such keeps clean and free and faithful. It is to his organization as a whole that he says: “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue [whether nationalist, fascist, religionist or communist] that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of Jehovah, and their righteousness which is of me, saith Jehovah.” It is to his restored organization that he gives this word: “Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: My cities shall yet overflow with prosperity; and Jehovah shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.” (Rev. 22:3, NW; Isa. 54:17; Zech. 1:17, AS) But will you as an individual keep on sharing in all this spiritual welfare, favor and protection? It all depends upon your holding fast to Jehovah’s theocratic organization and keeping at one and in harmony with it. It all rests with your living up to its faithful principles and conducting yourself worthy of being retained in Jehovah’s organization.
15. To that end, what must we do?
15 To that end you must shun the sins that easily entangle the careless and the self-reliant ones. We must not let spiritual prosperity go to our heads and make us conceited and feel sure of ourselves. Beware of saying yet as the psalmist did: “As for me, I said in my prosperity, I shall never be moved.” (Ps. 30:6, AS) Do not forget your responsibilities and grow foolish by neglecting them, showing unfaithfulness in what is least. Remember the proverb: “The turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity [or, the careless ease] of fools shall destroy them.” (Prov. 1:32; AS) Do not get like Christendom to whom Jehovah spoke prophetically: “I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear.” (Jer. 22:21; Zech. 7:7) There is a danger that those self-conscious of their prosperity may disobey. Keep clearly in mind the sins that caused individuals inside Jehovah’s ancient organization of Israel to be destroyed, yes, caused the entire nation to be turned over to its enemies for corrective punishment. Remember your own sins which once separated you from the true God and his nation. You can easily get to repeating them. Avoid doing so.
16. With what did the psalmist follow up his prayer, and who did likewise since the close of World War I?
16 The psalmist prayed God to favor him once more and save him and let him see and join in the prosperity and gladness of God’s nation, but he immediately followed up his prayer by making a confession of the sins of his nation and not excusing himself but sharing the blame. He said: “We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.” (Ps. 106:6) Yes, “we,” I as well as the rest. It is something for a nation to confess its national sins against God. At the close of World War I Christendom, dripping with blood, seething with internal strife, guilty of persecuting Jehovah’s people, proudly refused to confess her sins. A few religious ministers made a sort of confessing, but not getting at the real heart of Christendom’s sin and ungodliness. Hence, as Proverbs 28:13 says: “He that covereth his transgressions shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall obtain mercy.” (AS) The loyal-hearted remnant of Jehovah’s anointed witnesses did make an organizational confession of their sins and failings toward God. They repented of them in a godly way which led to turning from them and correcting themselves in their teachings and practices. Their organization confessed such sins against the Most High God and the individual members owned up to having a part in those sins. So God reinstated them in his favor and service and prospered them.
17. What eight national sins did the psalmist describe, and why?
17 As a reminder to himself and in warning to Jehovah’s people down till today the psalmist detailed these sins for us. First was Israel’s rebellion against Jehovah their Leader at the Red sea, where the Egyptian military pursuit forces threatened to overtake them. Second, in the wilderness they murmured at God’s handling of the food situation for them, and put him to the test. Third, hundreds envied the theocratic positions of prominence of Moses and Aaron, only to be swallowed up with Dathan and Abiram in an earthquake and electrocuted with Korah and his Levite company. Fourth, during Moses’ forty-day absence on Mount Sinai while in conference with Jehovah’s angel, they molded a golden calf and worshiped it as their god of deliverance. Fifth, when the twelve spies returned from inspecting the Promised Land, they ignored Caleb’s and Joshua’s encouraging report and listened to the evil report of the ten faithless spies and refused to march into the land under Jehovah’s leadership. Sixth, when on the plains of Moab thirty-nine years later and just across the river from the land, they yielded to the seductive wiles of idolatrous women and went worshiping the immoral false god Baalpeor. Seventh, at Meribah in the wilderness of Zin they rebelliously complained about the water shortage and provoked even Moses to lose his temper and act displeasingly toward God. Eighth, on top of those sins they disregarded God’s commands and warnings when settled in the Promised Land, compromised with the pagans there and took up spiritual harlotry with their detestable false gods.
18. So for what did the psalmist pray, and why was he answered?
18 For each and all of these sins they suffered disastrous consequences, finally going captive to enemy lands while Jerusalem lay desolate seventy years and also coming under a period of 2,520 years of Gentile domination of the earth, till A.D. 1914. For rescue from such captivity in enemy lands and for renewal of God’s worship in their desolated homeland the psalmist prayed, yearning to see and experience it himself with unspeakable joy and gladness. It was only God’s mercy and his living up to his covenant with his chosen nation that answered such a sincere prayer with God’s glory in mind.—Ps. 106:6-46.
19, 20. (a) What was it that marked all those sins of the psalmist’s people? (b) So how are we warned and what do we need to do?
19 Now take note of this about all those sins of the psalmist’s people: There was a rejoicing for merely a time over Jehovah’s works in behalf of his people and then a gradual or quick forgetting of his works and Godship, particularly when they faced some hard problems and situations. What resulted? Rebellion against God and his arrangements and appointed servants, and a turning back to this world and its filthy gods. The apostle Paul himself mentions a number of these same sins of Israel and warns us Christians against repeating them, saying: “These things went on befalling them as examples and they were written for a warning to us upon whom the accomplished ends of the systems of things have arrived. Consequently, let him that thinks he has a firm position beware that he does not fall.”—1 Cor. 10:1-12, NW.
20 Now we want to keep on enjoying the prosperity and gladness with which Jehovah has favored his chosen people and nation, do we not? Well, then, we need to watch all the time against forgetting his mighty acts and loving-kindness toward his nation and at last becoming complainers, selfishly ambitious, immorally unclean, desirous of the things of this world, fearful of world powers, idolizing our own wills and opinions, rebellious, neglectful of our responsibilities inside or under the theocratic organization. Having been delivered from this Babylonish world, we can never return to its sins and at the same time share the further prosperity of God’s instructed people. For us to remember it was written, at Job 36:10, 11 (AS): “He openeth also their ear to instruction, and commandeth that they return from iniquity. If they hearken and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures.” Our own spiritual welfare dictates that we seek always the welfare of God’s organization, praying for its integrity: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. For the sake of the house of Jehovah our God I will seek thy good.”—Ps. 122:6-9, AS.
21. Upon what must we rely and to what must we hearken for a continued share in the prosperity?
21 We can never succeed in our own strength or by our own wisdom. When we face conditions and developments that threaten our prosperity as God’s people, we simply have to rely upon Jehovah’s strength, while we encourage ourselves to do so by remembering his marvelous deeds recorded in his Word, also his deeds toward us in fulfillment of his prophecies. As we continue marching forth toward the final battle, singing Jehovah’s praises, we must display faith in his prophecies for our future. They are inspiring prophecies. His theocratic King exhorts us: “Believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” (2 Chron. 20:20) We need the guidance and encouragement of his prophecies, which he makes plain to us in this time of crisis. When the restored nation of Israel was rebuilding the house of Jehovah their God, they were greatly helped forward by his prophets whose writings we have today, and concerning which it is written: “The elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo.” (Ezra 6:14) We, too, are busy in a rebuilding work respecting the pure worship of the living and true God. It is wisdom on our part to hearken to God’s prophets speaking to us through his Word. It is necessary therefore for us to study the prophecies privately and go where we can hear them discussed, at meetings in our Kingdom Halls or in our circuit, district, national and international assemblies. If we take heed, then it assures our continuing to prosper in divine service.
22. To prosper what must we seek to advance, and why?
22 If we seek always the advancement of God’s Word and Kingdom interests we shall prosper, for his Word will never return to him void, but, says he, “It shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it,” and, ‘of the increase of his kingdom there shall be no end.’—Isa. 55:11; 9:7.
FURTHER WORK TO BE SHARED IN
23, 24. Why is the psalmist’s prayer for salvation not fully answered yet in our case?
23 The work before the war of Armageddon is not yet done. Our own salvation is not yet complete. There are numberless other sheep far off from Jehovah’s Right Shepherd who need help toward salvation. Our prayers need to rise to God, widening out beyond our own individual salvation and taking in that of these other sheep. The prayer that the psalmist offered in conclusion is appropriately ours now: “Save us, O Jehovah our God, and gather us from among the nations, to give thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise. Blessed be Jehovah, the God of Israel, from everlasting even to everlasting. And let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye Jehovah.”—Ps. 106:47, 48, AS.
24 Many are the other sheep whom the Right Shepherd must yet gather. Among all nations they are held prisoner to Babylon through ignorance and fear, but deep down in their hearts they long to share in the prosperity of Jehovah’s chosen ones and to rejoice in the gladness of his nation. Until we have worked for their deliverance according to God’s will the prayer is not fully answered for God to save US and gather US (not simply me) from among the nations, to thank his holy name and to triumph through praising him.
25. (a) In order not to be self-contradictory in calling on all people to say amen, what must we do? (b) Why can we, should we, be liberal with our prosperity?
25 It is self-contradictory for us to call upon all the people to amen our blessing of Jehovah our God and then not let them hear and know about him and come in touch with his theocratic organization under Christ for their deliverance. Step forward, then. Let them see and hear us as his witnesses and observe our spiritual prosperity and feel an overwhelming desire to share it. Our attitude toward them must be that of the psalmist who said: “Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favor my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Jehovah be magnified, who hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.” (Ps. 35:27, AS) The prosperity with which he has blessed us is abundant enough for the great crowd of other sheep to share in it, no matter how many their number. We can afford to be liberal, openhanded. By sharing our welfare unselfishly with others we shall see the prosperity of God’s visible organization boom yet more and more, despite the worsening situation in the world. We shall increase our own gladness in Jehovah with all his people, all the way into the new world. So to ourselves, to others, we join the psalmist in saying: “Praise ye Jehovah.”