An Invitation Is Extended to You
YOU are kindly extended an invitation, and it is free. It is not offered in a “take it or leave it” spirit, but is accompanied by a warm personal appeal. You have probably received the invitation in written form but you may not have yet experienced the personal touch. What the invitation is and how the personal as well as the written extension of it is available to you is the subject of our discussion.
The invitation is one to partake of something that will give you life. Of course, you are alive, or you would not be reading this, but would you like to continue living endlessly? If so, then you will be interested in the invitation. But if you are inclined to respond negatively, please first exercise the kindness to see what kind of life is offered and on what terms. Then, as with any other invitation, it can be easily accepted or rejected.
You very possibly have a Bible in your home. So you have the written invitation. You have the full right and privilege also to a personal one, the kind of invitation that only a friend would take the trouble of carrying to you. It is free in the fullest sense of the word. It is concerning a life that you can live perpetually, not in some unreal, shady world, but right here on earth in the flesh, without the ills and pains with which mankind is now afflicted and in association with those whom you love and have loved, in perfect health. It is life under a peaceful arrangement, guaranteeing security to person and property and with human rights fully acknowledged and protected. It is a life free of prejudices and with constructive thinking and work for all.
The Source of this invitation is God the Creator. He is a God who is near, not one far off. More than a million persons in our time have accepted the invitation and are, in turn, sent by God to extend the invitation to yet others. They are Jehovah’s witnesses. God has a warm personal love for people. Jehovah’s witnesses have received of it and, in the way that they can best do it, they extend this love to you, by calling at your home and spending time to help you, free of charge.
Now, pick up your Bible, please, and look at the invitation. It is likely not to be the first time that you have seen it. Turn to the Bible’s very last book, Revelation 22:17 or Apocalypse, to the final chapter, and read verse seventeen. Have in mind that it is a most sober, sincere and serious invitation. It reads: “And the spirit and the bride keep on saying: ‘Come!’ And let anyone hearing say: ‘Come!’ And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.”
THE SPIRIT AND THE BRIDE
The Bible was written by human servants of God under inspiration of his spirit. It contains the invitation, and more than 90 percent of the world’s population have access to the Bible in their own language. So, in that way, the spirit says “Come!” But that is not enough. Just as Jesus personally, warmly spoke to the people when he was on earth in the flesh, so he has those dear to him now on earth to extend the invitation to life. He knows we need the personal association of others who serve God. It is the “bride,” the members of the Christian congregation, who also heartily say “Come!”
GIVEN TO THIS GENERATION
But being in the Bible, is not the invitation nearly 1,900 years old? True, this invitation was written about 96 C.E., but its application is now. In the preceding Re 22 verse (sixteen) you will see that Jesus Christ is there speaking, and he calls himself the “bright morning star.” This helps us to see that the invitation is really extended for acceptance at this time. How is this? You will remember that the apostle Peter told Christians: “Consequently we have the prophetic word made more sure; and you are doing well in paying attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and a daystar rises, in your hearts.” (2 Pet. 1:19) For centuries people have had the prophetic word, but, until the time for it to be completely fulfilled, they were to let it guide them and be a source of hope to them, keeping it in their hearts until “day dawns and a daystar rises.” Well, in time that daystar would rise and the prophecies of all these good things that God has promised would be due to take place. Jesus tells us that he is that Star.* How has the “star” risen?
Bible evidence and the conditions prevailing in the earth indicate that this old system of things, with its lawlessness and injustices, is in its death throes. Jesus said that it would be evidence that he had ‘stood up’ to exercise Kingdom power. (Matt. 24:7, 14, 29-31; Dan. 7:13, 14; 12:1) Jesus was to rule “in the midst of [his] enemies” for a while, but he would consummate this period with destruction of this system of things before that generation passed off the scene. It would follow that some of these could survive this system’s end and live instead of dying. (Ps. 110:1, 2; Luke 21:25-33) So the invitation would apply to the generation living in the “time of the end.” That explains why it is now set before you.
THOSE WHO ARE INVITED
The “star” is therefore a King, like David was—a Shepherd King. When Jesus Christ was on earth he said that as a shepherd he would gather together first a “little flock” who would be Kingdom heirs with him. (Luke 12:32) He went further to say: “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16) It is to these that the invitation is extended now. If you have a teachable, ‘sheeplike’ inclination, you will be pleased to listen. Revelation 7:9-17 calls these of the “other sheep” on earth today a “great crowd” (in contrast to the “little flock” of Kingdom heirs) and says: “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.”
Maybe for some time now you have observed this invitation being personally offered by Jehovah’s witnesses. Well, it has been done constantly since 1931, the year when the Scriptural name “Jehovah’s witnesses” was embraced by those on earth who are serving God with hopes of being in his heavenly kingdom. They saw then, from the understanding of Ezekiel, chapter nine, that it was the time to put a “mark on the foreheads” of the “other sheep,” that is, that they should give sincere God-seeking persons the invitation, to gather them to the one unified “flock.” This meant a worldwide teaching work, to be done without cost to those being taught.
It is true that before this, on February 24, 1918, the public talk entitled “Millions Now Living May Never Die” had been delivered and widely publicized by both favorable and unfavorable comment. This talk expressed the Bible truth that some would survive the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” right here on earth and then would be able to gain eternal life in the paradise earth under God’s Messianic kingdom. But this message did not definitely show the way into this survival privilege, except by righteousness in general. It was first in 1931 that concentrated effort was put forth to inform everyone of the invitation. Then from 1934 onward, those of the “bride” class, with heavenly hopes, spoken of as the “anointed remnant” of Christ’s brothers, plainly pointed out that these “other sheep” must now make a full dedication of themselves to God and symbolize this dedication by water baptism and then become associates and fellow witnesses of Jehovah with his remnant class.*
Some may feel that from 1931—thirty-six years back—is a long time to ‘keep on saying come.’ But the work of inviting was not something to be done so quickly that people would not have time to consider and to act on it. It had to be done thoroughly, world wide, without partiality as to a person’s race, religion or circumstances in life, with as much personal contact as possible. It had to become public knowledge, the truthfulness of it presented fully, the issues discussed, weighed, and those who accept it taught. That is what Jehovah’s witnesses have been working hard to accomplish.
The invitation is timely, too, from another viewpoint. The Bible shows that the Father of Jesus Christ at this time would provide the wedding for his Son, (Rev. 19:7) He would resurrect those faithful footstep followers of Christ Jesus who had died, to join him in the heavens as a bride would join her husband. (1 Thess. 4:15, 16) There would still be some of these on earth, namely, the remnant, who are prospective attenders at the marriage feast in heaven, (Rev. 19:9) Why would they be left here for a while? One of the reasons was so that they could extend the invitation to the “great crowd” to rejoice over the marriage. The marriage time would be the time for the “bride” and “bridegroom” to turn attention to their earthly family of “other sheep,” over whom they rule as kings and priests.—Rev. 20:6.
WORLD’S RELIGIONS NOT OFFERING THE INVITATION
Another way to discern the time that the invitation is open and to identify the bringers of the invitation is by asking yourself the questions: Have I ever received the invitation elsewhere in the past? When and from what other source have I ever had it extended and explained? What religious organization has invited me to start now on a course that provides the possibility of living through the destruction of a system of things, right here on earth, into a new arrangement under God’s kingdom, where real life can be an accomplished fact? It is impossible for one of the religions of Babylon the Great to extend the invitation, for they do not believe in the Kingdom as now established in the heavens, soon to crush out the present system of things. They do not believe that Christ and his Bride will have as a family the earthly “other sheep.” (Rev. 21:1-4) And the members of these organizations are not trained to go to the homes of the people and study the Bible with them, proving this hope to them. No, rather, it is just the opposite. Babylon the Great has established a clergy-laity system and has advocated involvement in the affairs, politics and wars of the nations, claiming that these represent the kingdom of God. She has made all the earth’s inhabitants drunk with the wine of her fornication.* (Rev. 17:1-5; compare James 1:27; 4:4.) So the invitation has not been extended in past generations, but only now, by Jehovah’s witnesses.
WHAT “LIFE’S WATER” IS
What is “life’s water”? Figurative speech is used here, water being one of the prime essentials for life. Water is refreshing; to the one who is parched with thirst it gives immediate revival and vigor. It stands for the entire provision that God makes for obedient, believing mankind to have everlasting life through Jesus Christ. At the present time those who hear and accept the invitation to drink do not get their life’s physical powers renewed, but it awakens them spiritually and enlivens and invigorates them. They can visualize and almost taste the good things to come in the paradise earth. Since the day of Pentecost, 33 C.E., those with heavenly hopes have had a “token of what is to come, that is, the spirit.” (2 Cor. 5:5) The spirit has strengthened them with the realization that the hope of heavenly life is open to them, a “taste,” as it were, of the good things God purposes for them. (Heb. 6:4, 5) In a parallel way God’s spirit gives the “other sheep” a wonderful foretaste of perfect life in a peaceful, beautified earth.
While the waters of life are free, the acceptance of them does bring responsibility on the receiver, for the Scriptures say: “Let anyone hearing say: ‘Come!”’ This is being obeyed as tens of thousands of persons accept the invitation each year. They take up the responsibility of extending it more widely and have done so at this date to the very ends of the earth, in 197 lands. Many speak to their friends, relatives and neighbors; some devote full time, others study a foreign language, sacrificing a life of comfort to give the personal invitation to people in lands thousands of miles away, for this must be done with absolute impartiality toward every kind of person in the inhabited earth.
IN NO WAY COMMERCIAL
There is no commercializing of this message. The profit that Jehovah’s witnesses get is the joy one has in extending an invitation that betokens the finest of things for the receiver. In fact, God’s Word forbids commercializing, and anyone who commercializes the Word of God is like the hireling who has no interest in the sheep. (John 10:12; 2 Cor. 2:17) What there is available of “life’s water” at the present time, this Jehovah’s witnesses invite you to take, free!
God demands that the invitation be carried in its fullest clarity and purity to the people. He says to those to whom the invitation has been committed, namely, the congregation of the members of Christ’s bride, to whom the Revelation was primarily written: “I am bearing witness to everyone that hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone makes an addition to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this scroll; and if anyone takes anything away from the words of the scroll of this prophecy, God will take his portion away from the trees of life and out of the holy city, things which are written about in this scroll.” (Rev. 22:18, 19; 1:4, 5, 19, 20; 2:1, 8; 3:1, 7, 14) Therefore, not only must the “words of the prophecy of this scroll” be unsealed for all thirsty, sheeplike persons, but it must not be withheld, added to in any part, adulterated or softened down to counteract the things it says or to dull its clarity and sharpness. This would contaminate the “water” and would bring no life to the receivers. (Ezek. 34:19) The “prophecy of this scroll” must be treated like the entire book of Moses—not added to nor taken from, not even a word.—Deut. 4:1, 2; 12:32; Prov. 30:5, 6.
It would not only be extremely misleading and detrimental to those who hear the invitation if it should be altered in any way, but to the “bride” class it would mean that they would have their own heavenly hopes disappointed, their hoped-for portion taken away from the “trees of life” that are “in the [heavenly] paradise of God,” “out of the holy city,” the heavenly New Jerusalem. The faithful remnant do not want this. They appreciate the issue of integrity and the vindication of Jehovah’s name and that they represent him in the earth; therefore, above all things they desire to “let God be found true” by declaring everything that he says, that he may be declared righteous, justified, vindicated, but men proved liars.—Rev. 22:15; Rom. 3:4.
Now, if you are one who accepts the invitation, you will see as one of the “great crowd” of sheeplike companions of God’s anointed remnant that you must be equally faithful, that the invitation, so delightful to you, so refreshing and life-giving, with everlasting life as a future hope, is to be given unadulterated to others. By this same faithful attitude to God’s holy Word in its entirety, the portion that these lifegiving waters offer you—life in a paradise earth—will not be disappointed, and your place will not be taken away.
INVITATION SOON TO CEASE
The apostle John, who saw the vision about nineteen hundred years ago, next records something that may at first seem strange. He writes: “He that bears witness of these things says, ‘Yes; I am coming quickly.’” “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.” (Rev. 22:20) This is the fifth time in the Revelation that Jesus Christ says that he is coming quickly. His coming accompanies Jehovah God, who also said: “I am coming quickly.” (Rev. 2:5, 16; 3:11; 22:7, 20 and 12) This does not mean that Jesus Christ is not present in Kingdom power, gathering his bride and the “great crowd”; rather, the emphasis here is on the word “quickly”; and it is in connection with the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” that the Lord Jesus Christ warns that he is coming “as a thief.”—Rev. 16:15.
Jesus Christ had earlier said: “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, for the appointed time is near.” (Rev. 22:10) The fulfillment of the things in this scroll, Revelation, is what is near, as evidenced by the fact that you are receiving the invitation. There is something to be acted on now. It is not a time for anyone who claims to serve God or who wants to serve him to be spiritually asleep, drowsy or indifferent, for regardless of one’s attitude Jesus Christ is bound to come quickly. This means that in quick time now the religious harlot, Babylon the Great, the worldwide empire of false religion, will be destroyed. Those who act on the invitation have the opportunity of witnessing this destruction and seeing a new epoch of Jehovah’s reign begin, that is, his reign without a religious rival, when true worship will be the only religion existing. Then we can say: “Hallelujah! because Jehovah our God, the Almighty, has begun to rule as king.”—Rev. 19:1-6, margin of 1950 edition.
DO YOU SAY “AMEN”?
John replies to Jesus’ warning of the quickness of his coming: “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.” John was one beloved of Jesus Christ and he earnestly looked for his coming. If we love him and the things that he stands for we will certainly be eager for his return and the destruction of those things that are against him and will pray, with the apostle John, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.” In saying this “Amen!” it means that we are fully in harmony and agreement with it and are carrying out those things that the Revelation transmitted to John. This we must do until he comes.
Those who love this world’s system of things will not be inclined to accept the invitation, even though it would mean life to them. They are so involved in this world’s affairs and imbued with its selfish spirit that they either do not believe the invitation or do not want life forever in a righteous new order. But others hate the corruption in the present system of things, even in worldly religions. When they see also that the plagues of God’s anger are being poured out upon this world,* that its organizations and supporters are writhing in pain and actually decaying away, they will surely accept the invitation gladly.
We must remember that John was an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, filled with his spirit and a member of the governing body of the Christian congregation. Therefore, the prayer that he makes is sure of fulfillment. (Jas. 5:16-18) It is in behalf of, not only the remnant of the 144,000 “holy ones,” but certainly also the “great crowd” of temple servants who have earthly hopes and who are associated with the remnant of “holy ones,” that the apostle John continued in prayer in the closing words of the prophetic scroll: “May the undeserved kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ be with the holy ones.”—Rev. 22:21.
It is certainly a most wonderful expression of the undeserved kindness of Jehovah God and of the Lord Jesus Christ to make understandable to us so much of God’s Word and to extend to hundreds of thousands of sheeplike ones the invitation to come and drink of “life’s water” free. If you appreciate this undeserved kindness, then you can have more of these waters of life, of which you have had a taste, served personally to you along with the loving help of Jehovah’s witnesses. They are more than glad to assist you in free home Bible study and to bring you into association with others who hold out the hand of friendship to you. You may have as real friends those to whom God’s undeserved kindness has already been given and through the help of Jehovah’s spirit come closer and closer to him, enjoying an ever-increasing hope of everlasting life now and finally benefiting fully from these waters of life in his righteous new order under Christ’s kingdom.
(This is the last of a series of eighty-three articles dealing with the Bible’s account of Babylon the Great, long a mystery, but now unveiled in the light of God’s Word and the facts in fulfillment of prophecy. The entire matter is covered in the book “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules!, 704 pages, [printed in the English and German languages] by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn, New York.)
See The Watchtower of November 15, 1967, for a fuller explanation.
The Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, August 15, 1934, pages 249, 250.
For more information on the identity of Babylon the Great, see the book “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules!
See the book “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules! by Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn, New York, and The Watchtower, issues of July 15, 1966, to January 15, 1967.