The Delight of Jehovah Will Succeed
“In his hand what is the delight of Jehovah will succeed.”—Isa. 53:10.
1. What can cause heartache and disappointment, leading to what conclusion?
HAVE you ever said: “Oh! that would be delightful, if only I could be sure about it”? Doubtless you have, many times. It may have been some cherished dream of childhood. Perhaps it was something more serious and worth while, your life’s ambition and fondest hope—only to realize it was too costly and beyond your reach, resulting in much heartache and wistful longing. Though you may have acknowledged the existence of a Creator, perhaps you have concluded he was too remote to be concerned about you as an individual. Is this a correct conclusion? Might there be sound reasons for thinking otherwise, giving you a fresh outlook and renewed hope?
2. What efforts have been made to solve life’s problems? With what results?
2 Many and varied have been the efforts to solve life’s problems. There has been no shortage of remedies promising a solution, put forward by individuals, also by organizations of all kinds. By and large, however, what have been the results? A few have claimed to have found the secret of success, but on what basis? Surely it has often been brought about by shutting oneself off, either literally or figuratively, from the disagreeable things of life, resulting in a self-centered attitude. Do you think that brings real satisfaction? Others seek a solution by refusing to be bothered about such things. They resent any approach being made, feeling it is an attempt to disturb their way of life. Do you think that is a wise and good attitude to adopt?
3. Where do we find a contrast to man’s problems, prompting what inquiries?
3 In contrast, whether we look at the heavens above or the earth beneath, we marvel at the smooth running of things, animate and inanimate. The whole arrangement, whether viewed through a telescope or microscope, or just with the naked eye, causes us greatly to admire the efficiency and beauty of it all. It is both a delight and a success, and we are led to admit, with compelling logic, that there surely must be a grand Designer and Creator. The Book of Visible Creation teaches us that much, but it does not go far enough. It leads us to wonder and inquire if there is some other book that not only gives promise of a satisfactory explanation of the things affecting mankind, but also tells of a solution that we can individually take advantage of, this leading to a delightful and permanent outcome. Is that asking too much?
4. How is the Bible generally viewed today, and who is responsible for this?
4 Certain books, sponsored by religious organizations, are held to be inspired, and purport to lay down a way of life resulting in all that is to be desired. But there is only one book, or, more literally, collection of books, that really claims to give, and does give, complete and satisfactory answers to our questions. That book is the Holy Bible. Please do not say you are familiar with it, or at least certain parts, but that at best it has only been a temporary benefit, giving a certain peace of mind and enjoyment. Please also do not be discouraged by the use to which the Bible is put in the churches of Christendom, which use can only be described as an empty formality for the most part. Particularly since World War II, the Bible has been given less and less attention, respect and credit. This is true of those who should be its best friends, the members of Christendom’s churches. The same can be said of many books, such as Bible dictionaries and commentaries, which profess to be good friends of the Bible. The modern tendency is to lean more and more toward higher criticism, and to accept human reasoning and opinion, rather than accept the Bible itself as the final authority.
5. Where and how do we find a contrast to the general trend, leading to what expectation?
5 There is one body of Christian people, however, who stand out in marked contrast to this general trend. Jehovah’s witnesses, both in their attitude and course of action, also in their publications, are strong champions of the Bible as being God’s Word. They say with conviction, as did Christ Jesus, their Leader: “Your word is truth.” They say and believe as did the apostle Paul, that “all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, . . . for every good work,” for meeting every need. Jehovah’s witnesses are not a disappointed, frustrated people, and we sincerely invite you, along with them, to consider the good grounds for entertaining and realizing that which will give you the greatest happiness and certain satisfaction.—John 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; see also 2 Peter 1:21.
6. (a) On what basis can good expectations be built? (b) Does this mean an easy course, and what is the secret of success?
6 First, we will look at the Creator’s purpose as outlined in his Word. We will see how it is being worked out, why it will be accomplished with assured success, and why it can properly be called his delight. This, in turn, will help in building up in your own heart and mind the finest possible desires and aims, coupled with the necessary guidance and assistance to ensure their attainment. Contrary to your present experience, these cherished hopes will not end up in grief and vexation. This does not mean that your course in life henceforth will be easy and plain sailing. Rather, you will be like the man who, before starting on a great project, first sits down and carefully ‘calculates the expense,’ then decides he is willing to pay the price. You will be like the man who, after years of suffering as a Christian, said: “We do not give up . . . for though the tribulation is momentary and light, it works out for us a glory that is of more and more surpassing weight and is everlasting.” Your own purpose in life, being brought into full conformity with the Creator’s grand purpose, this is the secret of success for you personally.—Luke 14:28; 2 Cor. 4:16-18.
GOD’S UNFAILING PURPOSE
7. (a) Did God have a purpose in creating man, and how is he created in God’s image? (b) How can you benefit from this, and what conditions must be met?
7 Jehovah is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and all things therein, including man. More than just starting them off, however, and leaving them to carry on, he has a lasting purpose in their creation. This is confirmed by what John, in vision, heard those in heaven say: “You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.” (Rev. 4:11) We are not creatures of chance, still less the products of some process of evolution, blind and impersonal. Rather, as the Bible says, man was created “in God’s image.” (Gen. 1:27) Man possesses a mind and a heart, not controlled automatically by instinct, but capable of independent thinking and reasoning, making plans and decisions, exercising a free will, building up strong desires and motivation. That is why you are capable of exercising the fine qualities of love and loyalty, of devotion and integrity. That is why you are also capable of understanding what God has revealed in his Word respecting his will and purpose, and how you can find achievement and contentment in bringing your own life into complete harmony therewith. True, you cannot acquire that understanding just by a surface reading of the Bible. As Jesus said, these things were “hidden . . . from the wise and intellectual ones,” but were “revealed . . . to babes,” those who had a sincere, humble, childlike desire to “get the sense of it with their hearts.” He encouraged such by saying: “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you.”—Matt. 11:25; 13:11-15; Luke 11:9-13; see also 1 Corinthians 1:21; 2:11-16.
8. (a) How does the Lord’s Prayer summarize God’s purpose? (b) What does this teach us, and how might it be illustrated?
8 Can God’s purpose respecting man and his home be summarized in a few words? Jesus, the Son of God, did so when he gave us a model prayer in these words: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matt. 6:9, 10) From this we learn that God’s purpose is centered in his kingdom, which will bring about the accomplishment of his will, or purpose, respecting man and his home, and thus His good name will be sanctified. One thing will naturally and logically lead to another, finally resulting in a glorious outcome. To illustrate this, a man or a woman might greatly desire to have and build up a fine home and happy family. This calls for much effort and planning. If successful, they get a good name, bringing them untold joy and peace of mind. They think it well worth whatever sacrifice and cost, even suffering, that are involved. They are glad they determined on such a course. Similarly with Jehovah, only on a much higher and grander scale, and with no possibility of any failure or shortcoming, as with man’s schemes and efforts. God does not have to plan ahead, to see if he has the wisdom and strength to carry out his desires. Whatever God determines is carried out completely without a hitch.
9. How does the Bible strengthen faith in God and in his purpose, also in his “Chief Agent”?
9 Another factor is involved. In human affairs, a good scheme can fall short, or fail, because of the mistakes, or maybe crooked dealing, on the part of the agent used, on whom much depends. In contrast, God uses a foremost agent who proves trustworthy to the limit. Notice how this, and the foregoing points, are emphasized in God’s Word. “Jehovah, the Creator of the extremities of the earth, is a God to time indefinite. He does not tire out or grow weary. There is no searching out of his understanding.” “I am the Divine One . . . the One telling from the beginning the finale . . . the One saying, ‘My own counsel will stand, and everything that is my delight I shall do.”’ And regarding God’s “Chief Agent,” Paul wrote: “He [God] made known to us the sacred secret of his will. It is according to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself for an administration at the full limit of the appointed times, namely, to gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth . . . according to the purpose of him who operates all things according to the way his will counsels.”—Isa. 40:28; 46:9, 10; Eph. 1:9-11; Heb. 2:10.
10. What good things will result from this?
10 Thus we learn that God places the administration of his kingdom in the care of Christ Jesus. “The princely rule will come to be upon his shoulder.” Under his direction, all who are willing to conform will be gathered and restored to full harmony with God and his beloved Son. Jehovah will thus build up a united and happy family. He will give them a fine home, not for a few years, but on a paradise earth “standing even to time indefinite,” when “death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”—Isa. 9:6; Eccl. 1:4; Rev. 21:4.
11. What is the evidence that we are at the full limit of the “appointed times”?
11 You can be sure about this. Why? Because the full limit of the “appointed times” was reached in 1914 C.E., when God installed his Son as king on the heavenly Mount Zion. In proof of this, in that very year, there was the great outbreak of wrath among the nations over the issue of world domination, as foretold at Psalm 2:1-6 and Revelation 11:15-18. Then was fulfilled the message of the one “bringing good news . . . to Zion: ‘Your God has become king!’ . . . Jehovah gathers back Zion.” Since then the gathering has been in full swing. It commenced with those whom John saw, in vision, standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion, the Christian congregation. In fact, the gathering of the remnant of these began in a preliminary way about forty years prior to 1914. However, especially since 1935 there has been the gathering of God’s larger family, the “great crowd” having the earthly hope, that John saw after the sealing of the 144,000.—Isa. 52:7, 8; Rev. 7:4, 9; 14:1.
FORMER AND REPURCHASER
12. The latter part of Isaiah’s prophecy highlights what theme?
12 Besides the prospect of being a member of that happy family, you can have the delight and thrill of sharing in that gathering work. This will bring you much comfort, and will enable you to help and comfort others. This forms part of the main theme of the latter part of Isaiah’s prophecy. Here we find a wealth of information regarding the Kingdom work, and also learn how Jehovah is the Former and Repurchaser of his people. Commencing at Isaiah 40:1, listen to God speaking to his servant: “Comfort, comfort my people . . . Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call out to her that her military service has been fulfilled, that her error has been paid off. For from the hand of Jehovah she has received a full amount for all her sins.” The prophecy goes on to tell of a “woman bringing good news for Zion . . . for Jerusalem.” Listen to her message, telling of the gathering and comforting that God will carry out through his ruler, Christ Jesus: “Look! The Sovereign Lord Jehovah himself will come even as a strong one, and his arm will be ruling for him. . . . Like a shepherd he will shepherd his own drove. With his arm he will collect together the lambs; and in his bosom he will carry them. Those giving suck he will conduct with care.”—Isa. 40:1, 2, 9-11.
13. (a) How is God’s servant further identified? (b) What parallel names are given God’s servant and God’s city?
13 Jehovah further identifies and encourages his servant: “But you, O Israel, are my servant, you, O Jacob, whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend . . . Do not be afraid, for I am with you. . . . I will fortify you. I will really help you. I will really keep fast hold of you with my right hand of righteousness.” (Isa. 41:8-10) In passing, note that in addressing God’s people, or their capital city, both of their names are often used in a parallel way, that is, Jacob and Israel, and Zion and Jerusalem, as at Isaiah 41:14, 27. Remember that (1) Jacob’s name was changed to Israel (Gen. 32:28), and (2) that Zion, where was situated the throne, also later the Ark site, came to be a term often applied to the entire city of Jerusalem.—Ps. 2:6; Isa. 8:18.
14. (a) Prophecy often has what initial, secondary and final fulfillments? (b) How is a spiritual fulfillment seen, and why is this important?
14 We also want to remember the general framework within which many prophecies are fulfilled. First, they had a literal fulfillment in their own day. Secondly, they had a later fulfillment when Jesus was on earth, seen in such events as his miraculous birth, the work of John the Baptist, and Jesus’ own quotation of a passage referring to his preaching commission. (Isa. 7:14; 40:3; 61:1, 2; Matt. 1:18-23; 3:1-3; Luke 4:17-21) Additionally, Paul and others show that certain prophecies applied to the Christian congregation as a spiritual Israel, the real “seed of Abraham my friend.” As Paul said: “The children in the flesh are not really the children of God, but the children by the promise [like Isaac] are counted as the seed.” He also said: “If you [Christians] belong to Christ, you are really Abraham’s seed.” (Rom. 9:8; Gal. 3:29) It is essential to accept this inspired guidance when we consider the final and major fulfillment of these prophecies now and in the near future. Only by doing so can you respond to Jehovah’s invitation to work with him and his Son. By doing so, you can “become steadfast, unmovable, always having plenty to do in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in connection with the Lord.”—1 Cor. 15:58.
15. In what fullness of capacity does Jehovah reveal himself?
15 See in what a full capacity Jehovah reveals himself in this latter part of Isaiah’s prophecy. In human procreation, it is the father who provides the new life. He starts it off, but it is the mother who provides and nourishes the body for that new life, formed within her during pregnancy. Also after birth, it is she who is mainly responsible for its further care and feeding. With Jehovah, however, he is not only the initial Creator of his servant. Speaking to his servant, he refers to himself by seven different titles, as “your Creator . . . your Former . . . your God . . . your Savior . . . the Repurchaser of you people . . . your Holy One . . . your King.” He emphasizes his role as Former, saying: “This is what Jehovah has said, your Maker and your Former, who kept helping you even from the belly.”—Isa. 43:1, 3, 14, 15; 44:2; see also Isaiah 44:21, 24.
16. (a) How did God early on form and repurchase his people Israel? (b) In this respect, what was the situation in Isaiah’s day?
16 This had a beginning with God’s ancient people. Commencing with Jacob’s twelve sons, God began to form them as a people, and preserved them during their long stay in Egypt. That period could be likened to a pregnancy, preceding their birth as a nation at Mount Sinai, with the giving of a national code of laws, embodied in the Law covenant. God was also their Repurchaser, delivering his people by force when Pharaoh refused to let them go. In fact, Pharaoh had to pay the price in the death of his firstborn son, also Egypt in the loss of her army at the Red Sea. (Ex. 4:23; Isa. 43:3) In Isaiah’s day, seven centuries later, a new situation had arisen, giving Jehovah’s titles added significance. Both the kingdoms of Israel and of Judah were guilty of gross idolatry and lawlessness. Judah went into captivity to Babylon, who reckoned to hold them as slaves forever. Jehovah lovingly promised to wipe out the transgressions of his people, declaring himself to be “your Repurchaser and the Former of you from the belly.” He even foretold long in advance how and by whom this would be done, that he was “the One saying of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and all that I delight in he will completely carry out’; even in my saying of Jerusalem, ‘She will be rebuilt,’ and of the temple, ‘You will have your foundation laid.”’ (Isa. 44:21-28) The remnant who returned in due course from Babylon had a share in this grand work, and, though many were lacking in faith, what a delight it was to such faithful servants as Zechariah and others to help bring this work to a successful conclusion.—Zech. 4:9, 10.
17. What similarly happened with the early Christian congregation?
17 Like things happened with the early Christian congregation. Commencing with the disciples of John the Baptist, and on through Jesus’ ministry, God was preparing and forming a body of people to become a “holy nation,” spiritual Israel. (1 Pet. 2:9; Gal. 6:16) The birth of that nation occurred at Pentecost, 33 C.E., when they were brought into the new covenant, and received the outpouring of the holy spirit. Writing to the Romans, Paul showed that these early Christian converts were a further fulfillment of the “remnant” mentioned by Isaiah. He also quoted from Isaiah to show that others, non-Jews, would be added so that “all [spiritual] Israel will be saved.”—Rom. 9:27-29; 11:5, 25, 26.
18. How has Jehovah been the Former and Repurchaser of his present-day people?
18 As already indicated, we are now privileged to see and share in the full swing and activity accompanying the final fulfillment of these prophecies. The present-day “remnant” is identified as the remaining members of the Christian congregation. As their Former, Jehovah began a preliminary gathering of these many years prior to 1914. He has also been their Repurchaser. Not only were they “purchased with the blood of his [God’s] own Son,” but they were repurchased, or bought back, when a further deliverance became necessary in the World War I period. They fell captive to “Babylon the Great.” Though they had mostly come out of Christendom’s churches, they retained certain Babylonish traits, such as fear of man and creature worship. This incurred God’s displeasure, requiring them to be disciplined and cleansed. Those true at heart appreciated this, and, when delivered by the Greater Cyrus, Jesus Christ, they rejoiced to exalt God’s name and proclaim the Kingdom message fearlessly. Their experience and sentiments were aptly foretold: “I shall thank you, O Jehovah, for although you got incensed at me, your anger gradually turned back, and you proceeded to comfort me. Look! God is my salvation. . . . Give thanks to Jehovah, you people! Call upon his name. Make known among the peoples his dealings. Make mention that his name is put on high. Make melody to Jehovah, for he has done surpassingly. This is made known in all the earth.”—Acts 20:28; Rev. 17:5; Isa. 12:1-5.
19. (a) What fine expansion has resulted from this? (b) Wherein can we find delight and success?
19 This has been made known in all the earth. As a result, many others, not spiritual Israelites, have responded to the good news. All of these, both the remnant and the “great crowd,” have been repurchased and formed into “one flock, [under] one shepherd,” Christ Jesus. (John 10:16) This is the happy experience of Jehovah’s witnesses. Before our very eyes we can see the Creator’s purpose being worked out with complete success, bringing great delight to him, and giving delight and comfort to those gathered in union with God’s reigning king, Christ Jesus. It is just as Jehovah promised: “It [my word] will not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted, and it will have certain success in that for which I have sent it.”—Isa. 55:11.
20. What problem invites our attention?
20 Before considering further how you can identify your own purpose in life with that of the Creator, and share in the same assurance of success, we want to take a closer look at a certain part of Isaiah’s prophecy that poses a problem. It concerns suffering, yet at the same time it is spoken of as a delight.