Organized to Praise God
“I will laud you, O Jehovah, with all my heart; I will declare all your wonderful works. I will rejoice and exult in you, I will make melody to your name, O Most High.”—Ps. 9:1, 2.
1, 2. (a) What does it mean to be organized, as illustrated by ancient temple musicians? (b) Why does orderly, harmonious organization befit Jehovah?
WHAT a thrill it is to hear beautiful music and song! Especially is this so when the praises of Jehovah God are being sung. As Israelites of old celebrated festivals at Jehovah’s sanctuary, they heard singers and musicians of the tribe of Levi. (1 Chron. 6:16, 31, 32) The words to many of the songs they sang have been preserved to this day in the Bible book of Psalms. How moving were those songs of praise to the Most High!
2 Those artisans of music and song were well organized. (1 Chron. chapter 25) That is, they were each assigned duties with a view to unifying their efforts, putting them in readiness for cooperative action. An organization is a group of persons united for some purpose. Orderly, harmonious organization—like that of those Levites—befits Jehovah, for “God is a God, not of disorder, but of peace.” (1 Cor. 14:33) Those who listened did so with gratitude as the Levites extolled Jehovah in song, because they were hearing music used for its highest purpose.
3. The organization of holy angels serves what purpose?
3 As those Levites were organized to praise God, so others have been organized to praise him too. If you could peer into the spirit realm, you would behold a marvelous organization—holy angels by the millions. (Dan. 7:9, 10; Rev. 5:11, 12) What purpose do they serve? Under divine inspiration David exclaimed: “Bless Jehovah, O you angels of his, mighty in power, carrying out his word, by listening to the voice of his word. Bless Jehovah, all you armies of his, you ministers of his, doing his will.” (Ps. 103:20, 21) For the holy angels to carry out Jehovah’s word and do his will, they certainly must be well organized.—Isa. 6:1-6; compare Hebrews 12:22.
‘OUT OF DARKNESS INTO GOD’S WONDERFUL LIGHT’
4. Despite apostasy, how do we know that some persons had favor from God during the spiritually dark centuries?
4 In the first century of our Common Era, God called honest-hearted persons “out of darkness into his wonderful light.” They became part of the Christian congregation, which was also organized to praise God and ‘declare abroad his excellencies.’ (1 Pet. 2:9) In time, however, apostasy occurred and spiritual darkness prevailed among mankind. (Acts 20:29, 30; 1 Tim. 4:1, 2) Yet, in keeping with a parable of Jesus Christ, during those spiritually dark centuries some individuals enjoyed light and favor from God. (Ps. 43:3) Some true Christians, likened by Jesus to “wheat,” grew amidst “weeds” or imitation Christians. As the “harvest” or “conclusion of a system of things” drew near, Jehovah acted to identify the wheatlike ones. (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43) Like the first-century Christians, they proved to be persons called “out of darkness into his wonderful light.” These modern-day Christians can readily be identified because of their zeal in ‘declaring abroad Jehovah’s excellencies,’ lauding him with all their heart and making melody to his name. (Ps. 9:1, 2) A brief review of their history shows that they too are organized to praise God.
5. Who was Charles Taze Russell, and what were some of his early religious experiences?
5 In this regard, events of the nineteenth century C.E. command our attention. Some religious groups then expected that the bodily coming of Jesus Christ was imminent. But our interest centers on Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Born there in 1852 was Charles Taze Russell, son of Joseph L. and Eliza Birney Russell. Even in childhood Charles displayed keen interest in God. Though raised a Presbyterian, he later joined the Congregational Church. But young Russell was greatly troubled by the doctrines of predestination and eternal torment. By the age of seventeen he was a skeptic. Then something significant happened. Of this, Russell later wrote:
Seemingly by accident, one evening I dropped into a dusty, dingy hall in Allegheny, Pa., where I had heard that religious services were held, to see if the handful who met there had anything more sensible to offer than the creeds of the great churches. There, for the first time, I heard something of the views of Second Adventism, by Jonas Wendell . . .
Though his Scripture exposition was not entirely clear, . . . it was sufficient, under God, to reestablish my wavering faith in the Divine inspiration of the Bible, and to show that the records of the Apostles and the Prophets are indissolubly linked.
6. Did Russell and those meeting with him for Bible study receive spiritual light from God?
6 Shortly thereafter Russell and a few others began meeting weekly for prayerful, systematic Bible study. The spiritual light they received from God intensified, for “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) For instance, they recognized that Jesus would return as a spirit, and so be present though invisible.—1 Pet. 3:18.
7. (a) What was C. T. Russell’s relationship with N. H. Barbour, and what happened to it? (b) When was The Watchtower first published, and what is its stand on the doctrine of the ransom?
7 About January 1876, C. T. Russell came in touch with the journal The Herald of the Morning, published by N. H. Barbour of Rochester, New York. It advocated belief in an invisible presence of Jesus Christ. Eventually Russell’s Pittsburgh Bible class became affiliated with Barbour’s group and Russell became coeditor of the Herald, also giving financial aid. But in 1878, according to Russell, Mr. Barbour wrote a Herald article “denying that the death of Christ was the Ransom-price for Adam and his race.” Writing in the journal, Russell firmly upheld the Biblical doctrine of the ransom. (1 Tim. 2:5, 6) But this was to no avail, and so Russell severed ties with Barbour. Then, in July 1879, C. T. Russell published the first issue of Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, now called The Watchtower. In no uncertain terms this journal has always declared the Scriptural truth about the ransom.
8. What gives evidence that The Watchtower has had divine backing?
8 That was a “day of small things,” but it was not to be despised. (Zech. 4:10) The first issue of Zion’s Watch Tower consisted of only about 6,000 copies. But the Bible students publishing it desired to praise God and believed that the journal had Jehovah’s backing. Today its circulation exceeds an average of 7,800,000 copies per issue in over 70 languages. Such an accomplishment in the face of the international opposition that developed is evidence of divine support.—John 17:14-17; Ps. 127:1.
9. State the origin and purpose of the Watch Tower Society.
9 Marking 1881 was the formation of the “Watch Tower Tract Society,” which was incorporated under Pennsylvania law in 1884 as “Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society” (now called “Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania”). No selfish commercial interests were involved. Its charter states:
The purpose for which the Corporation is formed is, the dissemination of Bible truths in various languages by means of the publication of tracts, pamphlets, papers and other religious documents, and by the use of all other lawful means which its Board of Directors, duly constituted, shall deem expedient for the furtherance of the purpose stated.
This and other corporations of similar purpose are merely legal instruments used by Jehovah’s servants as they serve and praise God.
10. (a) How did the Bible Students ‘honor Jehovah with valuable things’? (b) What was the “Bible House”?
10 The Bible Students voluntarily donated funds for the advancement of the work. They ‘honored Jehovah with their valuable things,’ and he blessed them abundantly. (Prov. 3:9, 10; 2 Cor. 9:7, 11) God provided quarters and facilities designed to meet increasing demands for Bible literature. In 1889 they moved into their new four-story brick building called the “Bible House,” constructed in Allegheny at a cost of $34,000. Some years later, when the title of ownership for the entire establishment was donated to the Society, its board of directors valued the net equity of the building and equipment at $164,033.65.
11-13. (a) By what means was spiritual food provided? (b) How did some persons respond to spiritual food in Zion’s Watch Tower and kindred publications?
11 As Jehovah’s holy spirit or active force continued giving direction and enlightenment, abundant spiritual food was provided through a composite “faithful steward” and its governing body. (Luke 12:42-44; compare Acts 15:4-29.) Excellent spiritual fare reached truth seekers through Zion’s Watch Tower and kindred publications. C. T. Russell himself penned six volumes of Millennial Dawn (later called “Studies in the Scriptures”) from 1886 to 1904. In the meantime, house-to-house preaching by “colporteurs” (now called “pioneers”) carried God’s truth direct to the people’s homes.—Acts 5:42; 20:20.
12 But how did people respond to such spiritual food? There can be no doubt that Jehovah’s spirit directed matters. For instance, from London, England, came this request in 1882: “Please instruct me how and what to preach so as to accomplish the blessed work God wishes done.” An 1887 letter from Nebraska stated: “I shall consider it not only a duty but a blessed privilege to assist, by every means at my command, in proclaiming this gospel.”
13 Jehovah’s spirit was also at work in more distant lands. By 1887 and 1888 some truth had spread to China. From Macedonia, European Turkey, came this 1888 report: “Turks, Jews, Bulgarians and Macedonians are much interested in the truth.” Shortly thereafter, despite persecution, the truth was reportedly “gaining ground” along Africa’s coast. And, from Deccan, India, came an 1890 letter from one of Christendom’s missionaries “30 miles out in the jungles” who read Zion’s Watch Tower and Bible Student tracts “with much interest.” He subscribed for two years and ordered other literature.
14. (a) How did J. F. Rutherford express his appreciation for volumes of Millennial Dawn? (b) Give some details concerning Brother Rutherford’s later activities.
14 In 1894 volumes of Millennial Dawn were obtained by a man who said, in part, in a letter received by the Society:
I took the books home, and thought little of them, until a few weeks ago, when I had some spare time, I began reading the first volume, and it was so very interesting that I could not stop. The result is, my dear wife and myself have read these books with the keenest interest, and we consider it a God-send and a great blessing that we have had the opportunity of coming in contact with them. They are indeed a “helping hand” to the study of the Bible. The great truths revealed in the study of this series have simply reversed our earthly aspirations; and realizing to some extent, at least, the great opportunity for doing something for Christ, we intend to take advantage of this opportunity in distributing these books, first, among our nearest relatives and friends, and then among the poor who desire to read them and are unable to purchase.
This letter was signed by J. F. Rutherford, who was baptized in 1906, in symbol of his dedication to God, and who eventually succeeded C. T. Russell as president of the Watch Tower Society.
JEHOVAH’S BLESSING ENRICHES
15. Who were the pilgrims associated with the Society, and how did they aid fellow believers?
15 “The blessing of Jehovah—that is what makes rich, and he adds no pain with it.” (Prov. 10:22) How true! With divine blessing, congregations of Bible Students were growing in number. In time, “pilgrims”—traveling representatives of the Watch Tower Society—regularly visited them. The pilgrims got joy from their service and ‘longed to see fellow believers to impart some spiritual gift to them’ through discourses and by other means. (Rom. 1:11, 12) “How these added to our ever-flowing stream of joy and to the riches of our faith!” exclaims Hazelle M. Krull concerning these pilgrims. “And how they aided us to appreciate Jehovah’s organization!”
16. (a) Meetings of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses afford what opportunity? (b) Are collections taken at these gatherings?
16 Meetings held by the Bible Students provided excellent Biblical instruction. They also afforded opportunity to ‘incite one another to love and fine works.’ (Heb. 10:24, 25) To this day, meetings of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses are advertised with the motto “Seats free, no collection.” “You received free, give free,” said Jesus Christ.—Matt. 10:8.
17. When and where was the Society’s first branch office established outside the United States, and how many branch offices were there by 1972?
17 C. T. Russell had traveled abroad in 1891. Thereafter literature of the Watch Tower Society was published in German, French, Swedish, Dano-Norwegian, Polish, Greek and later in Italian. The Society’s first branch office outside the United States was established in London, England, in 1900. The story is one of increase and divine blessing ever since. By 1972, branch offices of the Society numbered ninety-five.
18. What occurred in connection with the Society’s headquarters in 1909?
18 The years 1908 and 1909 brought further expansion. Representatives of the Society purchased the old “Plymouth Bethel,” a mission structure at 13-17 Hicks Street, and the Henry Ward Beecher home at 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York. The “Plymouth Bethel” was renamed the “Brooklyn Tabernacle” and the old Beecher home was called “Bethel,” a residence for members of the Society’s headquarters staff. So, by 1909, Brooklyn was the location of the Society’s world headquarters. Today the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Incorporated, owns an extensive complex of residence, office and factory buildings in Brooklyn. All these facilities are used by Jehovah’s witnesses as they praise God and declare the good news of the Kingdom.—Mark 13:10.
19, 20. (a) How did the Bible Students use a newspaper syndicate? (b) Describe the Photo-Drama of Creation.
19 The Bible Students kept Scriptural truths before the public also through an international newspaper syndicate that they organized. At one time about 3,000 newspapers in the United States, Canada and Europe were publishing C. T. Russell’s sermons. However, for years the Bible Students had declared that the 2,520-year-long Gentile Times or “appointed times of the nations” would expire in 1914. (Luke 21:24) As that year approached, Russell conceived of a bold new way to declare the good news.
20 Motion pictures were still in their infancy. Commercially successful synchronization of film and sound had not yet been achieved; nor had color motion pictures been perfected for general use. But in 1912 Russell determined to give a great witness through this medium. He wrote and produced the Photo-Drama of Creation, an eight-hour-long slide, motion picture and sound production outlining the divine purpose for the earth and mankind from creation down to the end of Jesus Christ’s thousand-year reign. (Rev. 20:6) Shown in four parts, the Photo-Drama combined phonograph recordings with slides and motion pictures. It was seen by millions and was a grand witness concerning Jehovah’s purposes.
21. Was the work of the Bible Students dependent upon one man?
21 While on a preaching tour, ailing Charles Taze Russell died aboard a train at Pampa, Texas, on October 31, 1916. Despite resulting sorrow, however, the majority of Bible Students knew that their work was not dependent upon one man. It was Jehovah’s work, directed by his holy spirit. God would have it continue and succeed.—Acts 5:38, 39.
ADVERTISING THE KING AND KINGDOM
22. What difficulties did Jehovah’s Christian witnesses experience shortly after J. F. Rutherford became president of the Watch Tower Society, but how did matters turn out?
22 J. F. Rutherford succeeded C. T. Russell as the elected president of the Watch Tower Society. But he came face to face with ambitious, opposing men within the organization who sought control of it, and some time passed before their efforts were completely foiled. At the same time, clergy-inspired persecution raged against the Christian witnesses of Jehovah. (Matt. 24:9) Furthermore, it seemed that their work would be seriously crippled when, on May 7, 1918, J. F. Rutherford and seven others prominently associated with the Society were arrested, later tried, and finally convicted on false charges. It was charged that they—
Unlawfully and feloniously did conspire, combine, confederate and agree together, and with divers other persons to the said Grand Jurors unknown, to commit a certain offense against the United States of America, to wit: the offense of unlawfully, feloniously and wilfully causing insubordination, disloyalty and refusal of duty in the military and naval forces of the United States of America when the United States was at war . . . by personal solicitations, letters, public speeches, distributing and publicly circulating throughout the United States of America a certain book called “Volume VII. Bible Studies. The Finished Mystery,” and distributing and publicly circulating throughout the United States certain articles printed in pamphlets called “Bible Student’s Monthly,” “Watch Tower,” “Kingdom News” and other pamphlets not named.
After months in the federal penitentiary at Atlanta, Georgia, they were freed on bail. By May 14, 1919, their erroneous convictions were reversed, and on May 5, 1920, they were completely exonerated. Figuratively speaking, God’s “two witnesses,” Christ’s anointed followers, had been dead. After release of the Society’s representatives from prison, “spirit of life from God” enlivened them and they again sallied forth, organized to praise God.—Rev. 11:3-12.
23, 24. (a) The Bible Students’ convention at Cedar Point, Ohio, in 1919 affected their work in what way? (b) What significance did the 1922 convention have with regard to Kingdom proclamation?
23 The year 1919 brought a thrilling convention in Cedar Point, Ohio—one that gave renewed impetus to the work of the Bible Students. Among other things, there they received a new instrument for use in their preaching work. It was The Golden Age, a journal exposing religious error and drawing attention to the hope and comfort found in the Holy Scriptures. Now, more than half a century later, it still accomplishes the same purpose under a new name—Awake!
24 Once again the Bible Students assembled at Cedar Point, in 1922. This time J. F. Rutherford’s discourse of Friday, September 8, on the subject “The Kingdom” was especially significant. Powerfully he concluded it with the words: “Behold, the King reigns! You are his publicity agents. Therefore advertise, advertise, advertise the King and his kingdom.” With that, a thirty-six-foot-long banner was unfurled above the speaker’s stand. It read “Advertise the King and Kingdom!” God’s servants have advertised the Kingdom ever since.
25. Under what circumstances did the Bible Students embrace the name “Jehovah’s witnesses”? Is it Biblical?
25 Came the year 1931. The Bible Students assembled in convention at Columbus, Ohio. There by resolution they heartily embraced the Biblical name “Jehovah’s witnesses.” (Isa. 43:10-12) Gladly they have borne Jehovah’s name, witnessing about God and his purposes throughout the earth.
SUPPORTED BY THE GOD THEY PRAISE
26, 27. Cite an example showing that, for those organized to praise him, Jehovah has been “a secure height in times of distress.”
26 Succeeding years brought rich blessings, but also much persecution. For instance, many trialsome experiences befell Jehovah’s servants during World War II. One brother, incarcerated by the Nazis, stated:
Being so often deprived of food and having to do heavy work every day, our physical strength was waning visibly. I was in such a state that I was hardly able to move my skeleton. Two brothers would support me under the arms when marching into the camp. Often I swallowed a handful of sand so that my stomach had something to do. Other brothers did this too. So we did everything possible to stay alive and thus brand Satan and his SS men as liars, for they often said: “Where is your Jehovah? Let him help you!” I must say that he helped us in a wonderful way.
27 Jehovah does indeed aid his servants. His spirit rests upon his people as an organization and as individuals. Time and again, for those who are organized to praise God, Jehovah has proved to be “a secure height in times of distress.”—Ps. 9:9.
EDUCATED AND STRENGTHENED TO PRAISE GOD
28. When was the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead inaugurated, and what has it accomplished?
28 J. F. Rutherford died on January 8, 1942. Five days later N. H. Knorr was unanimously elected president of the Watch Tower Society. He and his associates promptly embarked upon an extensive educational work. February 1, 1943, marked the dedication and inauguration of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead. Through the years this institution has equipped thousands of ministers for foreign missionary work and other important service assignments in the expanding organization of Jehovah’s servants.
29. In what way does the Theocratic Ministry School benefit individuals?
29 Also in 1943 a new school was started in the individual congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses. It was the Theocratic Ministry School, originally open for male enrollment. Today it aids men, women and children who are enrolled, and greatly benefits all who attend its weekly sessions. Enrollees are taught to gather, develop and present Biblical information. Education received at this and other meetings of Jehovah’s witnesses deepens Bible knowledge and appreciation and enhances ministerial ability.
30. When was the Kingdom Ministry School instituted, and what is its purpose?
30 In 1959 another organizational provision had its beginning. This was the Kingdom Ministry School. Conveniently located and operating under the Watch Tower Society’s direction in various lands, these schools train spirit-appointed overseers to discharge their responsibilities within the Christian congregation.—Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 3:1-10, 12, 13; 1 Pet. 5:1-4.
31. What significant gathering of Jehovah’s witnesses took place in 1958?
31 Jehovah’s earthly organization has expanded as God has prospered the work of his devoted worshipers. Of no little significance have been their large gatherings. Among these was the “Divine Will” International Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses, July 27–August 3, 1958, when 253,922 packed out New York city’s Yankee Stadium and Polo Grounds for the public talk by N. H. Knorr on the subject “God’s Kingdom Rules—Is the World’s End Near?”
32. Why has Jehovah’s earthly organization experienced spiritual strengthening and increase?
32 Divine blessing has brought about spiritual strengthening of Jehovah’s earthly organization and has also resulted in productivity in the Kingdom-preaching work. Today it is being carried on in 208 lands under the direction of the Watch Tower Society’s 95 branch offices. To Jehovah alone must this increase be attributed. God has blessed his faithful servants, and his holy spirit has backed them up in their work of declaring his purposes and making disciples.—Matt. 28:19, 20.
33. What questions is it appropriate for those who have learned the truth in recent years to ask themselves?
33 Many more thousands have continued to flock into Jehovah’s organization right down till the present time, and it is grand to see them come! But what will they do with the good news that they are learning? Will they show the kind of zeal that those zealous servants of God did in years past? Will they show the same perseverance? Remember, there are in Jehovah’s organization today persons who have been going out in the field service for over fifty years, continuing despite bad weather, ill health and persecution. It is genuine love for Jehovah that has impelled them to press on.
34. (a) In harmony with the example set by Jehovah, how should we view one another in Jehovah’s organization? (b) In what urgent work is there plenty for all of us to do?
34 Perhaps you have come into association with Jehovah’s organization only in the past few years. You may not have known these older ones very long; you see them only in their later years of life. How do you view them? Recently a letter received by the Watch Tower Society said regarding this: “I wish to express my appreciation for the 1973 Yearbook. . . . Perhaps the one single paragraph that impressed me most was paragraph three on page thirty-two under ‘Acts of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Modern Times.’ This paragraph calls attention to a circumstance that does indeed exist. ‘Sometimes the present generation just thinks of what it is accomplishing. Really, the present generation of Jehovah’s witnesses is building on what faithful evangelizers did years ago.’ What a truth! The way the 1973 Yearbook is prepared, it will help us ‘younger ones in the truth’ to look at the ‘older brothers in the truth’ through different eyes, and not view them as merely ‘old friends’ or ‘old brothers and sisters.”’ Each one of Jehovah’s servants has a place in his organization, and each one is precious to Jehovah. There is work for all of them to do, and the Bible urges us to have “plenty to do in the work of the Lord,” knowing that such is the most worthwhile work that anyone can do. (Zech. 2:8; Hag. 2:7; 1 Cor. 15:58) As a united group, Jehovah’s witnesses earth wide will continue to extol their heavenly Father, grateful that they have been organized to bring praise to him.
[Picture on page 394]
C. T. RUSSELL
[Picture on page 399]
At the Cedar Point assembly in 1922 the Society’s president, J. F. Rutherford, put great emphasis on preaching God’s kingdom, powerfully urging: “Advertise, advertise, advertise the King and his kingdom!”
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After N. H. Knorr became president of the Watch Tower Society, great emphasis was put on education. One of the schools established was the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead