Jehovah’s Advancing Organization
“The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.”—Prov. 4:18.
1. What was God’s first organization?
LONG before the material heavens and earth were created, Jehovah God formed a mighty organization. It was a heavenly organization made up of creatures who are a form of life that is entirely different from anything with which we are acquainted. Their bodies reflect the glory of their Creator by being in his form. His Word tells us: “God is a Spirit.” (John 4:24) And regarding these heavenly creatures it states that he makes “his angels spirits.” (Ps. 104:4) Being like him, they are able to dwell where he is.
2. Why are spirit creatures invisible to us, and how do we know they exist?
2 As spirits these heavenly creatures are made of a substance that is different from anything we know to exist in the material universe. For this reason they are unseen by us. None of the radiant forms of energy in the universe that we can detect by our senses or by instruments are able to reveal their presence to us. They have none of the properties of matter that would make it possible for us to detect them. They are a higher form of life that is very foreign to us. Notwithstanding the fact that we cannot see spirit creatures, we know they exist because they have made frequent contacts with man. In his written Word, their Creator tells us about them and these contacts.
3. What was the reaction of the spirit creatures to the creation of the earth?
3 Speaking to Job regarding the creation of the earth, Jehovah God reveals how his spirit creatures rejoiced when he formed the earth in the beginning: “Where did you happen to be when I founded the earth? . . . When the morning stars joyfully cried out together, and all the sons of God began shouting in applause?” (Job 38:4, 7) These glorious spirit creatures who were created in the morning of creation were like morning stars. They were the first living things God brought into existence. When they saw that their Creator was preparing to bring forth more living creations, they were elated.
4, 5. (a) How have spirit creatures been seen by man? (b) Explain how we can know that there is a heavenly organization and what the duties of cherubs are.
4 By means of materializations and visions, God caused faithful men in times past to see spirit creatures and to write down what they saw. Daniel and John were such men. Under inspiration Daniel saw in vision the spirit multitudes Jehovah created. He saw them gathered about their Creator ready to serve him. Since Jehovah is a God of order, he would necessarily have these heavenly creatures organized. He would have them form a mighty organization that is devoted to doing his will. Daniel tells us what he saw: “There were a thousand thousands that kept ministering to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand that kept standing right before him.” (Dan. 7:10) A similar vision of the heavenly hosts was recorded by John, an apostle of Jesus Christ. “I saw, and I heard a voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the older persons, and the number of them was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands.” (Rev. 5:11) By means of these visions we see that God’s spirit creatures form a heavenly organization.
5 In both visions the spirit creatures are seen gathered around the throne of the Creator, Jehovah. This indicates that they are organized servants of God and are ready to serve him. Some are ministering to him, indicating orderly work assignments. God’s Word informs us that he has placed these creatures in various positions of responsibility. Some are cherubs who are special consorts of his throne. They uphold his majesty and supremacy wherever they are assigned to work. The first mention of them in the Bible is at Genesis 3:24, where it states that cherubs were stationed at the entrance to the garden of Eden to uphold Jehovah’s sovereignty by preventing disobedient mankind from reentering the garden.
6. (a) What are seraphs? (b) How large is the symbolic angelic military force?
6 Another group of spirit creatures are called seraphs. They have the duty of keeping uncleanness from Jehovah’s organization and to declare his glory. They are mentioned in a vision that was given to the prophet Isaiah and that was recorded by him at Isaiah 6:1-3. Myriads of other spirit creatures are used as messengers and for other services. These many heavenly creatures are mentioned in the book of Revelation as being part of a great military force that will be used by God to destroy his enemies at the coming battle of Armageddon. The angelic force, if pictured at Revelation 9:16, is numbered as two myriads of myriads, which is 200 million. That is a sizable organization.
HEAVENLY ORGANIZATION ADVANCES
7, 8. Explain how God’s heavenly organization advanced. Give an example of advancement by them.
7 From its very beginning God’s heavenly organization has continued to advance. It has kept advancing to greater understanding of Jehovah’s purposes and to greater privileges of service. Although the many heavenly creatures in it are perfect, God did not give them, at the time of their creation, all the knowledge there is to be had, any more than he gave such knowledge to the first man and woman. There is always more they can learn.
8 As God caused events to unfold on earth, the angels grew in understanding of his purposes. For example, the identity of the Seed promised at Genesis 3:15 was unknown to them when the promise was made. They did not learn the identity of this Promised One until many centuries later. This is shown by Peter, who wrote: “It was revealed to them [the prophets] that, not to themselves, but to you, they were ministering the things that have now been announced to you through those who have declared the good news to you with holy spirit sent forth from heaven. Into these very things angels are desiring to peer.” (1 Pet. 1:12) Learning the identity of the promised Seed was an advancement in knowledge for them.
9. How are the spirits who were disobedient in “pits of dense darkness”?
9 Those spirit creatures that fell away from God’s heavenly organization in the days of Noah and became demons ceased to advance with it. They do not have the light of understanding that the loyal spirit creatures have. They have been in darkness to the truths he has revealed to his heavenly organization since that day. It is even possible that they have retrogressed in what truths they once had. The Bible speaks of them as being in “pits of dense darkness.” (2 Pet. 2:4) There is no prospect for them to get out of those “pits.” While they continue in darkness, God’s heavenly organization continues to progress.
10. What did God establish when he created man?
10 With the first human pair God established an earthly organization that he purposed to encompass the earth in due time as man multiplied in numbers. Like His heavenly organization, it would worship and serve his interests. The disobedience of that first pair, as well as the majority of their descendants, has not thwarted God’s purposes.
11. (a) How has God’s earthly organization been represented? (b) Explain how it advanced in Noah’s day and what this required of those in it.
11 Jehovah’s earthly organization has been represented throughout the ages by men of integrity who manifested deep loyalty to him. Wherever they resided, they represented his earthly organization. At times this association of loyal worshipers was very limited in number, consisting of as few as one to eight persons, as in the days of Abel, Enoch and Noah. Although there were only eight persons in it right before the flood of Noah’s days, it was an advancing organization. It advanced in knowledge of Jehovah’s purposes when it was informed about the Flood and the preservation of human and animal life. Its members were given work that was different from what they had been doing before. They had a work assignment of constructing an ark for the preservation of their own lives and of the lives of the creatures they were to bring into the ark. Every member of that organization advanced with it to this new form of work. None became disgruntled about this change in work and held back from it. That organization was even informed in advance when the Flood would begin and how long the downpour of waters would last. All eight members had to stay close to the organization and advance with it in order to be preserved with it in the ark.
12. Of what did God’s earthly organization consist in Moses’ day, and how did it advance?
12 Later, when Jehovah made a covenant with the people of Israel whom he liberated from Egyptian slavery, his earthly organization became a nation. He was its King. While in the wilderness, it kept advancing in knowledge as Jehovah instructed it through Moses. As changes were made in the way God was to be worshiped, it progressed by adopting those changes. The construction of the tabernacle, the installation of a family of priests and the inaugurating of animal sacrifices were changes in their manner of worship from what it was in Egypt. Later more changes came when Jerusalem became the place God chose for his altar and still later when Solomon’s temple was built there.
13. What difficult change did the Jews have to make in the first century in order to progress with God’s organization?
13 In the first century John the Baptist brought a new message, that the kingdom of the heavens was at hand. This heralded the beginning of something that would cause a great change in God’s earthly organization. Jesus Christ laid the groundwork for it by his ministry and ransom sacrifice. Advancing from the Jewish system of things under the Mosaic Law to a new system of things under a new covenant proved to be a change that the majority of the Jews refused to make. So they were left behind by God’s advancing organization as it moved forward into the Christian era.
14, 15. (a) What did Pentecost signify for God’s organization? (b) To what new things did the organization advance, and what change in particular was difficult for Jews to make?
14 At Pentecost of the year 33 C.E. God’s earthly organization became clearly identified as being Christian and separate from the old Jewish system of things. It had left behind the system of things under the Mosaic Law. Christ’s sacrifice had brought that old arrangement to an end by fulfilling the purpose of the Law. During the centuries before this it was leading the Israelites to Christ, as Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, observed: “Consequently the Law has become our tutor leading to Christ, that we might be declared righteous due to faith. But now that the faith has arrived, we are no longer under a tutor.” (Gal. 3:24, 25) The organization had progressed to something new and better that Jehovah had prepared for it.
15 The 120 disciples of Jesus Christ who were gathered in an upper room on the festival day of Pentecost advanced that day with Jehovah’s organization to a new arrangement of things with new hopes and a new provision for covering sins. By grasping the privilege now given them to be a Christian organization of ministers who proclaim God’s purposes and teach his truths, as Christ did, they advanced to greater privileges of service. By their zealous preaching thousands of people came into the earthly organization of God. As the preaching of Christianity spread from Palestine to other lands, the number of non-Jews that began to associate with the organization increased by leaps and bounds. They embraced with enthusiasm the new truths that Jehovah had revealed through it. Now people who were no part of God’s organization when it was under the Mosaic Law were being received into it under the Christian arrangement. To accept them required a great adjustment in thinking for the Jewish Christians. Under the old Mosaic Law covenant, the Jews kept separate from Gentiles, not even eating with them.—Acts 10:28.
16. How were Christians tested in the love of God? Give an example.
16 As Jehovah revealed through the apostles new truths and new ways of doing things, those in the organization were put to a test. Did they have enough love for Jehovah to be willing to make the necessary changes in their thinking so as to accept this new knowledge? Some did not and so fell away from the organization. Those who really loved God adjusted their thinking and made progress. The matter of circumcision was a test on some of the Jewish Christians, causing them to create a disturbance among the Christians in Antioch. A meeting of the governing body in Jerusalem settled the matter by declaring that circumcision was not a Christian requirement. This was an important change of view for the Jewish Christians who had been taught under the old Jewish system of things to regard circumcision as vitally important. This change indicated an advancement on the part of God’s organization. Those who were willing to make this change in thinking advanced to further enlightenment.—Acts 15:1, 2, 28, 29.
JEHOVAH’S ORGANIZATION TODAY
17. (a) Why does God’s organization today not share any responsibility for the wrongs done by worldly governments? (b) What are some of its good fruits?
17 As in the first century, so in this twentieth century, Jehovah has an earthly organization. It can be identified by its fruits. Unlike the many religious organizations that are part of the world that is alienated from God and that profess to be his organization, it has not allied itself with the political governments of the world. It, therefore, shares none of the responsibility for the unchristian things done by those governments. Obeying Jesus’ words, it has kept itself separate from the world. Thereby it has been able to produce good fruit to the honor of Jehovah’s name. It is doing this in a number of ways. It is turning the trust of multitudes to God’s kingdom. It is transforming their lives for good by bringing them into harmony with the righteous principles of God’s Word. It is instructing them in the Christian ministry, encouraging all to follow Jesus’ example of proclaiming the good news of God’s kingdom. It is happy to bear the name of Jehovah God, just as his organization did in the days of Moses.
18. Explain how Proverbs 4:18 fits God’s organization.
18 With the passing of the years in this twentieth century, Jehovah’s organization has advanced in knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures and of its responsibilities before God. As with God’s organization in the past, so today, it fulfills the words written at Proverbs 4:18: “The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.” It keeps advancing to greater enlightenment. Those who were with it at the turn of the century and who are still with it today have seen this advancement.
19, 20. Cite examples showing how God’s organization has been advancing in modern times.
19 As we look back over the years, we can clearly see how God’s organization in modern times has progressed in understanding. For example, it learned that Christ’s second presence was to be in the spirit, and not in the flesh as many professed Christians believe. His rule would be from the heavens. This was a new revelation of great importance to God’s people who had been anxiously awaiting his second presence toward the end of the nineteenth century. The truth that 1914 marked the end of the “times of the nations” that started in 607 B.C., and the beginning of the “time of the end” for the nations and hence the beginning of his presence, was new knowledge over which God’s people could rejoice. But they had to adjust their thinking from the view they previously held. Continued advancement brought them the understanding that both Jehovah and his enemy, Satan, have an invisible organization. Jehovah’s heavenly organization is likened to a woman called “Jerusalem above.” (Gal. 4:26) Satan too has a heavenly as well as an earthly organization, but they are opposed to righteousness. Today these things are fundamental to the knowledge of God’s people, but a number of years ago they were new concepts that required changes in view to which some persons had difficulty in making the adjustment.
20 It was in 1938 that The Watchtower published an article on organization that showed how God’s organization should be theocratic. It should be governed by God through the “faithful and discreet slave,” the united remnant of his anointed kingdom heirs. (Matt. 24:45-47) Up until then the congregations of his people were organized democratically, with the congregations electing those in authority over them. The “elective elders” resulting from this arrangement were a cause of discontent and disunity because of the self-importance and high-mindedness of many such. They ignored what Jesus said: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled.” (Matt. 23:12) With the restoration in 1938 of the theocratic arrangement that existed in the Christian organization of the first century, the elective officers of congregations were brought down from their exalted positions. With the discontinuance of the election system in the congregations, the organization began to have greater peace, harmony, unity and productivity.
21. How did some persons react to the discontinuing of the “elective elder” system?
21 The discontinuance of the “elective elder” system was a major change in the operation of God’s organization in the twentieth century. It proved to be a severe test to those in the organization. Some persons permitted it to become a great issue over which they became heated up. Refusing to progress with the organization, they turned away from it. But the majority adjusted themselves to the change and moved forward to greater enlightenment and greater privileges of service. The ones who left the organization not only ceased to progress but lost much of the enlightenment they had gained while they were in it.
22. (a) How are servants in the organization selected now? (b) Has the organization benefited from this change?
22 Through the “faithful and discreet slave” class Jehovah now appoints the overseers and ministerial servants in his earthly organization. Operating in a theocratic manner, it enjoys unity and is productive in Jehovah’s service to an extent that far exceeds what it accomplished during the days of the elective elders. God does not inspire anyone to select the servants in the congregation as he did Samuel in the selection of Saul as king of Israel. By reason of his placing his holy spirit upon the responsible Christians who form the “faithful and discreet slave” class, it can be said that their appointments of servants come from him. Thus, as in the first-century organization, the governing body of God’s earthly organization, which represents the “faithful and discreet slave” class, makes all appointments of servants. This was an important change in the progressive advancement of God’s organization. Those persons who advanced with the organization when this theocratic arrangement was instituted in 1938 have, since then, seen how it has been very beneficial. It has been a major factor in the phenomenal expansion of the organization. But the change for many was not easy.
23. (a) Why are changes difficult to accept, and why are they necessary? (b) Why is it unwise to resist changes?
23 Disposing of the elective elders is an example of how changes may at first cause some persons to become upset. Throughout the history of God’s advancing organization on earth, there has been a tendency on the part of some in it to resist change, preferring to cling to old ways and old views. But change is necessary because God gives his people understanding of his Word and purposes just a little at a time. Growing in a knowledge of the truth requires a person to be progressive, not static. Although a person may not at first appreciate the need for a change, as time passes he will begin to see how it benefits the organization. So, instead of opposing a change in Scriptural understanding, organizational procedure or organizational structure, it is better to adjust oneself to it, remembering that, whatever change is made by God’s organization, the change is for the good of those in it. To resist this advancement is to resist Jehovah’s spirit that operates on the organization, causing it to advance. Paul spoke of persons who, like some of the elective elders, resisted the holy spirit in his day. “Now in the way that Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so these also go on resisting the truth.”—2 Tim. 3:8.
24. What guidance do all in God’s organization need, and why?
24 All in Jehovah’s organization need his guidance of their steps along the way that leads to the fulfillment of his purposes. “I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jer. 10:23) We need God’s Word and organization. By staying close to his organization as it advances in knowledge and by progressing with it, we will be living when it advances to a new era and expands to fill the earth with people who love and obey the great Ruler of the universe.