Rich Blessings Poured Out at “Peace on Earth” International Assemblies
AFTER the grand dedication of Jehovah’s glorious temple in 1027 B.C.E., the Israelites returned to their homes, “joyful and feeling good at heart over the goodness that Jehovah had performed” toward them. How well those words describe the way Jehovah’s witnesses felt in the summer of 1969 as they returned home from their “Peace on Earth” International Assemblies! (2 Chron. 7:10) Hundreds of thousands of them, from over a hundred lands, had gathered for week-long Christian assemblies in eight key cities in North America, and the memories of what took place warmed their hearts.
“This assembly marks a milestone in the history of Jehovah’s witnesses!” declared one conventioner. “It was outstanding for the way it built a wall of defense against encroachment by the world’s worsening immorality!” said another. “Greatly exceeded expectations!” “Jehovah has truly opened the windows of heaven and poured out an overflowing blessing,” said yet others.
Those blessings did not end with the close of the North American assemblies, however. Two days after the assembly concluded in Chicago, another “Peace on Earth” assembly opened in London, England, to be followed by assemblies in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and lands around the Pacific.
SIX PRINTED RELEASES
Foremost among the rich blessings received at the assemblies held in the United States and Canada were six printed releases in the English language. There was, first of all, the 192-page pocket-size, beautifully bound book Is the Bible Really the Word of God? In a masterful way it presents proof that the Bible is indeed God’s Word. This is something that all of Jehovah’s witnesses strongly believe, and they were delighted to get this new book to use in aiding others to have such faith.
Then came a 32-page brochure that gave a report on each portion of the program of the assembly for the first two days.
The following day, Aid to Bible Understanding was released. Consisting of 544 large pages, it covers Biblical subjects from “Aaron” to “Exodus” in a way loyal to the Bible’s divine inspiration. What a help it will be in Bible research!
Toward the end of the assembly week, announcement of the publication of The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures came as a most pleasant surprise to the delegates. This volume enables Christians to determine the accuracy of any translation of the Greek Scriptures and to get the real sense of the Greek text, even though they may not be familiar with Greek. How so? In that it shows in its left-hand column the actual Greek Bible text, and then under each Greek word the basic English equivalent. In the right-hand column appears a revision of the New World Translation.
Greatly delighting all conventioners also was the new study book “Then Is Finished the Mystery of God.” Beautifully bound in a vermilion red, 384 pages in length, it explains the first thirteen chapters of Revelation. Among the many subjects it covers are the apostle John’s vision of God, the blowing of the seven trumpets and the birth of the Messianic kingdom of God. One reader, describing it, said: “Gripping! Moves quickly; is clear and to the point!”
On the final day, after the public lecture, “The Approaching Peace of a Thousand Years,” the last convention brochure was released, containing the complete public talk, the Declaration adopted the day before, as well as summaries of the remaining portions of the assembly program.
In New York the assembly included sessions in seventeen languages for the convenience of delegates from many parts of the globe, and in several other cities both Spanish and English programs were arranged. In connection with the Spanish assemblies a new songbook and the publication Is the Bible Really the Word of God? were released in Spanish. At New York before the convention began at Yankee Stadium there were also released songbooks in the Danish, Dutch, German, Italian and Swedish languages, and one in French was released during the assembly week.
What a rich blessing it is to have all these new publications to build up our faith and to equip us to preach God’s Word to others!
MUCH PRACTICAL INSTRUCTION
The program itself, from beginning to end, was filled with blessings from Jehovah. Many of the discourses had heightened interest by reason of demonstrations that illustrated and drove home the points being made. Fine practical instruction was given Christians as to their conduct and family life. Discussed at length also were proper Christian worship and how Christians can improve their ministry.
Almost daily some of this counsel was presented in the form of dramas, both Biblical and modern. These brought the Bible to life and showed how its lessons apply to our day. A Buffalo woman, who enjoyed the dramas from her own front porch, said: “I had always heard the story about Jonah . . . but this is the first time the Bible story meant anything to me.”
COUNSEL ON CHRISTIAN WORSHIP
That they might enjoy to the full the rich blessings of the convention program, the opening talks called upon all to make the best possible use of their time by paying close attention. Stressed also was the need to come before Jehovah with the right mental attitude, with thanksgiving. The speaker invited all to read aloud the first few verses of Psalm 95, and in conclusion voiced their appreciation by saying: “We thank you, Jehovah, with all our heart”!
Counsel on Christian worship included many of the reasons why Christians should attend meetings regularly. Stressed also were the need of fully preparing for congregation meetings and of entering into them wholeheartedly.
To hear about the role music plays in Christian worship was also a rich blessing. As the program showed, music looms up prominently in the Bible; God’s ancient people excelled in music. Music is truly a gift, and the best way to use it is to praise Jehovah. We want to sing from the heart and pay close attention to the words, for Jehovah listens to our singing even as he listens to our prayers.
All conventioners also greatly enjoyed the fine counsel given on prayer. Christians should never be too busy to pray. For that to occur would be to neglect, yes, to offend God. Christians should “in connection with everything give thanks.” That includes the little things, they were admonished. (1 Thess. 5:17, 18) Doing this will help us to appreciate how many blessings we really do have. In conclusion the speaker at Yankee Stadium urged: “Be too busy for immorality. Be too busy for the world. Be too busy for Satan the Devil. But never, no never, be too busy to pray to Jehovah God.”
THE BLESSING OF A PEACEFUL ORGANIZATION
There is no doubt about peace being a blessing, and especially conducive to peace was the counsel given at these assemblies to show respect to all duly constituted authority. “Satan is the real cause for the disrespect for authority today. Is that the view we want?” conventioners were asked. Certainly not! In God’s arrangement all are in subjection except Jehovah himself. (1 Cor. 11:3) This is a beneficial arrangement. The Bible drama “Show Respect for Jehovah’s Appointments,” based on the Bible accounts of David and King Saul, Nabal and Abigail, stressed this point. Showing respect to all proper authority has brought peace, happiness and prosperity to God’s people.
Equally conducive to peace was the counsel given to those in authority in the Christian organization. The traveling representatives of the Watch Tower Society were counseled in particular to show consideration, kindness and empathy in dealing with appointed servants in the congregations; congregation servants were counseled not to lean on their own understanding but to make sure of all things by going to God’s Word. And ministerial servants were counseled to work harmoniously as a team, to serve as complements to their overseers and to take the lead in the ministry, at all times maintaining a high level of spirituality.
THE BRIGHT LIGHT SHINES BRIGHTER
Included in the rich blessings poured out at these assemblies was the shining of increased light upon God’s Word. (Prov. 4:18) The keynote address, “Acquaint Yourself with God and Keep Peace,” gave all attentive listeners a better appreciation of Jehovah’s awesome majesty as seen from the visions of Jehovah as had by Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel and others.
Similarly enlightening was the talk “With All That You Acquire, Acquire Understanding.” It showed that to get understanding we must have the right attitude, certainly not that of a mule. (Ps. 32:8, 9) Knowledge is basic and means, simply, familiarity with facts, but wisdom makes us put knowledge to work in a way that produces good results. Understanding gives insight, considers the why’s and wherefore’s. Early in this talk the speaker announced the release of Aid to Bible Understanding.
The discourse “Peace with God amid the ‘Great Tribulation’” shed light on Bible prophecy and led to much discussion among the conventioners. It showed how completely Matthew 24:3-22 had a miniature application in apostolic times. Reasons were given showing why the now-approaching “great tribulation” first begins with the destruction of Babylon the Great and ends with Armageddon. It will be “cut short,” the speaker showed, in that it will take place in a comparatively short period of time.
Clearer understanding of Bible truths and principles was furnished by the talk “The Writing of Correct Words of Truth.” Appropriately, it was in the middle of this talk that the Kingdom Interlinear Translation, which puts emphasis on the meaning of the words in the Bible text, was introduced.
The discourse “Final Woes to Enemies of Peace with God” was a meaty one, based on Revelation chapters 8 through 11. It discussed the significance of the blowing of each of the seven symbolic trumpets there spoken of. Among other things it showed that the 200 million symbolic horses mentioned at Revelation 9:16 refer to the printed literature used in pouring out figurative plagues upon Christendom and the world’s radical elements. This serves to plague them by telling them of the fiery destruction sure to come upon them.
At the conclusion of this lecture came one of the highlights of the entire assembly when a powerful Declaration was read and adopted by all present. “Peace with the Creator of heaven and earth, by means of his long-promised kingdom of his Messiah—this is what we hold to be the key to an enduring peace for all the world of mankind,” it was declared. “When we keep our peace with God, we can never be at war with our neighbors who are fellow creatures of God.” In this Declaration Jehovah’s witnesses made it plain that they have no connection of any kind with the religions of Christendom, which have repeatedly fomented war, and that the judgments of God are against Christendom and will soon be executed upon her. Furthermore, the Witnesses proclaimed their total neutrality regarding all political controversies and made it known that they put their trust wholly in God’s kingdom, to which they loyally give their unqualified allegiance, and that they will never let up preaching it for a witness to all the nations until their end comes.
IMPROVING ONE’S CHRISTIAN MINISTRY
All true Christians are greatly concerned about performing their ministry in the best possible manner. It therefore was another rich blessing for them to receive much fine counsel on how they can improve their ministry. For those about to become ordained ministers of Jehovah God there was the discourse on baptism. What a thrill it was to see 12,894 at these assemblies in North America stand up and present themselves for water immersion! The candidates for baptism were told that it was a happy time to be living in spite of worsening world conditions. Why? Because it is still not too late to gain God’s goodwill and the resultant everlasting life by becoming a whole-souled servant of Jehovah God.—Prov. 8:35.
Doing God’s will, conventioners were told, includes ‘ministering in a fine manner.’ Paramount is having the right motive, loving gratitude to Jehovah and love for our neighbor. Important also are right conduct, not attracting attention by loud or immodest dress, and use of neat, businesslike equipment. ‘Does your Bible appear desirable to the householder or is it a discredit to the ministry?’ asked the speaker. He urged them to be fine representatives of Jehovah God.
The full-time pioneer ministry was also greatly encouraged. Fathers of families are serving as pioneers and so are some who are as old as eighty-two years. High-school students were advised to learn a practical trade or craft, such as stenography, painting or carpentry, so they will be able to support themselves as pioneers. As one young pioneer put it: “Pioneering makes it possible to work at something you can put your heart into.” Any who could pioneer but were not were counseled to consider Jesus’ words: “Stop storing up for yourselves treasures upon the earth . . . Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom.”—Matt. 6:19, 33.
Those in the full-time ministry were encouraged to endure in it. But what about secular work to support oneself? As a speaker at Atlanta put it: “Don’t be choosy about the kind of secular work you accept. Paul did not consider sewing tents beneath his dignity despite his legal abilities.”
And those not able to enter the full-time pioneer ministry were urged to enlarge their privileges of service. How? By serving where the need is greater; by vacation pioneering; by devoting a full day to field service at least once a month; by making good use of evening hours. Admonished one speaker: “Do not put modern conveniences and personal comfort ahead of preaching God’s kingdom. We don’t need all those modern gadgets to serve Jehovah, do we? Reanalyze your schedule . . . If you have $3,000 in the bank and you aim for $6,000, you may make it. But in doing so you may loosen your grip on eternal life.”
Deeply impressed upon all ministers also was that “there is work yet to be done,” and that the time in which to do it is reduced. All should, therefore, want to take full advantage of the remaining time, and work hard, also skillfully, as a result of having attended this assembly.
THE ASSEMBLY HIGHLIGHT
The principal highlight of the “Peace on Earth” International Assemblies was the public lecture, “The Approaching Peace of a Thousand Years.” Not only Jehovah’s witnesses, but tens of thousands of the public flocked to the assembly sites to hear this important discourse. A total of 492,310 in the eight assembly cities packed out the available facilities, and most of them were on hand well before the appointed hour. They heard a forceful presentation of the Scriptural hope of peace for the earth. How greatly the audience appreciated it was apparent from their interrupting time and again to applaud. After describing present threats to world peace, the speaker noted that in spite of these threats world peace is certain because God, who cannot lie, has promised it. It will not come through human instrumentalities but through God’s promised Prince of Peace.—Isa. 9:6, 7.
That this peace is near is indicated, not only by world conditions, which fulfill Bible prophecy, but also by the fact that six thousand years of mankind’s history is soon to end. It was pointed out that, in ancient Israel, a sabbath day was enjoyed after six days of toil; also that the thousand-year reign of Christ is merely a day from God’s viewpoint. “In order for the Lord Jesus Christ to be ‘Lord even of the sabbath day,’” the speaker declared, “his thousand-year reign would have to be the seventh in a series of thousand-year periods or millenniums.” (Matt. 12:8, AV) That time is near at hand!
In conclusion he told his listeners: “Jehovah’s Christian witnesses are joyfully preparing for the approaching peace of a thousand years. All who yearn to enjoy that foretold ‘peace on earth for men whom [God] favours’ are heartily invited to join them in getting ready for the blessed millennium of peace.”
”CONTINUE TO LIVE PEACEABLY”
This was the theme of the closing remarks, taken from 2 Corinthians 13:11. “This assembly has caused us to think on many subjects; it should have a peaceful effect upon us. Jehovah, the God of love and peace, is certainly in our midst. As a result of this assembly we can all do a little ‘readjusting’ in our lives,” N. H. Knorr, president of the Watch Tower Society, said.
Then after a review of the highlights of the assembly he told of the great progress being made. The number of Kingdom publishers reached 1,322,001 in April, including 132,121 in full-time service; 1,218,315 home Bible studies were being conducted; 2,714,810 attended the Memorial. He reported on the vast quantities of Bible literature being produced and distributed, and on new branch offices and homes built last year and projected for construction this year. He also gave information regarding the location of next year’s district assemblies.
“What an opportunity all of us have to show our heartfelt love. We have work to do; let us get at it together as we openly declare God’s kingdom by Jesus Christ and live together in peace,” he urged. With an appropriate song and prayer the assembly came to a close.
“PEOPLE ON THE OUTSIDE” ALSO GET BLESSINGS
Many “people on the outside” had opportunity to enjoy assembly blessings by reason of the fact that the delegates to these “Peace on Earth” assemblies endeavored to conduct themselves in harmony with Bible principles. In some places the press took note of this. (1 Tim. 3:7) Thus the Rockland County Journal-News, July 12, 1969, stated: “In a time when violence and civil disorder are openly practiced, . . . the ‘Peace on Earth’ assembly theme will help impress upon the minds of people that true Christianity does exist and that persons of all nations, colors . . . can live and work peacefully with a common objective.”
And the Atlanta, Georgia, Constitution, July 14, 1969, quoted an official of the city’s hotel and motel association as saying: “Our association said that this is the finest group of people it has ever had in town because they are free from problems. These people are well behaved, satisfied, pleasant and happy.” And an Atlanta transportation official stated: “In all the 25 years I have spent in this business, I have never had anything like this group of people to work with . . . patient and courteous, and they are always smiling.”
At these assemblies the crowds were far beyond what was anticipated. Some of the stadiums were crowded beyond capacity, but the delegates were grateful to be present. From 114 different lands they came, more than 6,000 from Europe alone, and thousands more from Central and South America, from Africa and Asia. These assemblies provided many opportunities for Christians to meet old friends and make new ones, as well as to join with thousands from all lands, in song and prayer. They were, indeed, a living example of the peace that men of all nations can enjoy right here on earth when they draw close to Jehovah God!
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Delegates from India examine new publication with Brother Knorr at Buffalo assembly
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F. W. Franz speaking about “The Approaching Peace” to 56,703 in Atlanta Stadium
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492,310 in North America heard the public talk “The Approaching Peace of a Thousand Years”; crowd at Yankee Stadium shown here
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Bible dramas were prominent on the program; this one depicts Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son
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Despite rain, conventioners remained to hear the program
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N. H. Knorr displaying newly released book “Then Is Finished the Mystery of God”
F. W. Franz releasing “The Kingdom Interlinear Translation” in New York
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12,894 were baptized at the assemblies in North America