The Great 1958 Assembly
LET us picture summer as already here, and ourselves in New York city’s noted baseball stadiums. Instead of the crack of bats and the discordant shouts of baseball fans, a different sound comes from Yankee Stadium. It is the sound of voices raised in song, tens of thousands of them. For blocks around people stop to listen. It is not a common thing to hear songs of praise to the Most High God coming from New York’s biggest sports stadium. What is even more surprising is that similar singing is drifting over from another big baseball stadium, the Polo Grounds, just across the Harlem River.
Who are these singers? Why are they gathered in these two immense baseball stadiums? They are Jehovah’s witnesses, and they are gathered here for an international assembly. They have come from all over the earth for an eight-day gathering. So many delegates have arrived that the nearby Polo Grounds must also be used. Thus from two great stadiums come heartfelt songs of praise to man’s Creator.
These people have good reason to praise him, for he has “begun ruling as king” toward the earth. (Rev. 11:17) This means we are in the last days of this present wicked system of things. It is the time for him to remove from the earth those who are ruining it and who are disregarding his laws and his sovereignty. We are on the very threshold of his righteous new world when “the meek ones themselves will possess the earth and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Ps. 37:11.
The thousands gathered in these stadiums have that prospect before them. They confidently look forward to it. Is that not good reason for them to raise their voices in joyful songs of praise to the Creator of that new world? Not only do they sing about this good news, but they declare it to the people of the world by preaching it from house to house. “Sing to Jehovah, bless his name. From day to day tell the good news of salvation by him. Declare among the nations his glory, among all the peoples his wonderful works.”—Ps. 96:2, 3.
They have pinned their hopes upon this new world and the righteous heavenly kingdom God has established for bringing it about. They are trusting in his arrangement for world peace and security. Because they are, political differences do not divide them. They are able to assemble together peaceably and in harmony, even though coming from many countries under different forms of rule. Neither do differences of nationality and race split them into antagonistic groups.
ASSEMBLY YET TO COME
The sight of New York’s two largest stadiums filled with singing witnesses of Jehovah is still in the future, but it will become a reality during the eight days from July 27 to August 3. Then the neighborhood around the stadiums will hear these righteous-loving, peaceful people singing the praises of the great God of the universe.
In the meantime preparations for the gathering are under way. The chartering of planes, boats, trains and buses has been arranged. All is in readiness for a mass movement of delegates across oceans and continents toward one place—New York city. Soon a house-to-house search throughout New York will get under way to find places for the delegates to stay during the assembly. These accommodations in private homes will be in addition to what has been arranged for in the city’s many hotels.
Plans are being made for two cafeterias at the stadiums for feeding the crowds of conventioners. These will be operated entirely by delegates who volunteer their services. It is estimated that for all the duties involved in operating the cafeterias, as well as the many other assembly departments, at least twenty-five to thirty thousand volunteers will be needed. Since the delegates are all members of the New World society they will not hold back from volunteering their services but will offer themselves willingly, just as they have offered themselves willingly for the service of preaching and teaching. It is written: “Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day of your military force.” (Ps. 110:3) This is his day of military force in heaven. It is the day when his dedicated servants on earth gladly offer themselves for his service. The duties connected with assemblies of his people are forms of such service. They are rendered in the interest of the New World society. The delegates will therefore want to show the same willingness to serve the interests of the New World society today as they expect to show after the coming battle of Armageddon, when God’s people will be the only human inhabitants on earth.
The conventioners will find that the two stadiums are within easy walking distance of each other. Little more than a bridge separates them. Both can be conveniently reached by subway from almost any part of New York. The IND line passes by both stadiums, stopping first at the Polo Grounds and then at Yankee Stadium. The IRT line passes next to Yankee Stadium and then has a short branch that runs over to the Polo Grounds.
WHY THEY COME
There are good reasons why Jehovah’s witnesses want to come to this great international assembly. The principal reason is that assemblies such as this are spiritual feasts. It was promised by the prophet Isaiah that Jehovah’s servants “shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them will lead them, even by springs of water will he guide them.” (Isa. 49:10, AS) Jehovah’s people do not hunger spiritually or thirst for truth. Neither does the scorching heat of God’s fiery judgments fall upon them, because they obey him.
Since they are spiritually well fed they do not suffer from the spiritual famine that plagues the majority of mankind. The prophet Amos spoke of it as “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Jehovah.” (Amos 8:11, AS) The members of the New World society hear those words and have an accurate understanding of them. Contrasting these faithful servants with the spiritually hungry world, Jehovah foretold through Isaiah: “My servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry; behold, my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty; behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be put to shame; behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall wail for vexation of spirit.”—Isa. 65:13, 14, AS.
Having been fed with spiritual food and waters of truth, Jehovah’s witnesses know how good these spiritual provisions taste and how nourishing they are. That is why they rejoice at the opportunity to assemble together this summer for a great spiritual banquet. They will have good reason literally to sing for joy during that assembly. So from the most distant parts of the earth they will converge upon New York.
For eight glorious days they will feast sumptuously upon spiritual food, sing songs of praise and declare the good news of God’s kingdom to the people of New York. They will enjoy the fellowship of being with thousands upon thousands of members of the New World society. They will look about at the great sea of faces in the stadiums and thrill at the thought that this great multitude are all dedicated servants of Jehovah God. They all believe the same things, preach the same things and hope in the same things. Here is a united people that see in harmony.
To be with their fellow servants of God in such a great assembly is the keen desire of Jehovah’s witnesses the world over. No distance is too great for them to travel to realize this desire. This big assembly will be a foretaste of the wholesome companionship and peaceful relations they will enjoy indefinitely after the battle of Armageddon. Being among crowds of people who love Jehovah God, who obey his laws and who trust in his promises will be a pleasant relief from having to live in a wicked world that is alienated from God and that has no love for him.
Besides these impelling reasons to assemble together, there is the desire to renew old acquaintances, exchange experiences and get the uplift that such assemblies give.
These reasons draw Jehovah’s witnesses from near and far to this great assembly. But what can now only be pictured will be a reality in about three months when their voices, joined in songs of praise to Jehovah God and in gratitude for his righteous new world so near at hand, will resound out of New York’s two biggest stadiums. This mighty assembly will be an event of lasting remembrance.
[Picture on page 245]
[Map on page 246]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
IND Subway Lines
STOPS: 1 W 155 St LOCAL STOP
2 E 161 St LOCAL STOP
IRT Subway Lines
STOPS: 3 E 161 St EXPRESS STOP
4 Anderson-Jerome LOCAL STOP
5 Sedgwick LOCAL STOP
6 W 155 St EXPRESS STOP
Scale: 1 inch = 1500 feet