Almost 6,000 Years of Witnessing for Jehovah
THE rebellion of man and woman in Eden raised a great issue. Would humans out of sheer love for Jehovah loyally choose to render sacred service to their Creator and Sovereign God. “The original Serpent, the one called Devil and Satan,” had set out to mislead the entire inhabited earth. By challenging Jehovah’s sovereignty, he implied that not even one of mankind would prove faithful to God. Satan claimed that man was inherently selfish—that man would serve God only for what he could get out of it in a material way.—Gen. 3:1-5; Rev. 12:9; Job 1:7-12.
In his great wisdom, Jehovah determined to prove once and for all time the rightness and righteousness of his sovereignty. He foresaw that there would be those of mankind, of the offspring of Adam, who would rejoice to uphold His sovereignty under whatever kind of test Satan might bring upon them. Once this issue had been settled beyond any doubt, the vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty would thereby stand proved for all eternity. This would be a touchstone against which any future challenge could immediately be tested and turned back. But it would take a period of time, some 6,000 years, to settle this issue. And what have 6,000 years of human history shown thus far? Have there been integrity-keeping witnesses of Jehovah on earth during all that time, to prove that God is true and that Satan is a liar?—Prov. 27:11.
Abel was the first integrity-keeping witness of Jehovah, upholding His sovereignty. (Heb. 11:4) Because he offered an animal sacrifice acceptable to Jehovah, while Cain’s offering was not acceptable, Abel was murdered by his brother Cain. “The founding of the world” took place when Adam and Eve began to have sons and daughters. Abel was the second reported son. Enoch, the seventh man from Adam, also ‘walked with God’ as a faithful witness, and prophesied concerning Jehovah’s judgment of ungodly men. Because of his faithfulness, after 365 years, “God took him” from the land of the living in such a way that he did not see death in the same way that others do.—Gen. 4:1-15; 5:1-4, 21-24; Luke 11:49-51; Jude 14, 15; Heb. 11:5.
Early in this millennium, Methuselah’s son Lamech was inspired by God to utter a prophecy that his own son Noah would bring comfort to mankind. Born in 1056 A.M. (anno mundi), Noah, as a man of towering faith, lived 944 of his 950 years in this millennium. Although angelic sons of God disobediently took up married life on earth in his day and mankind became prone to violence, Noah “walked with the true God” and proved to be “faultless among his contemporaries.” As evidence of his faith, at God’s direction he constructed a huge “ark for the saving of his household [of seven other faithful ones]; and through this faith he condemned the world” of ungodly men. He was “a preacher of righteousness,” and later he offered sacrifices to God in thankfulness for deliverance during the Flood. In serving faithfully in obedience to Jehovah, Noah and his family provided living proof that Satan is a liar, to the chagrin of that wicked one.—Gen. 5:28-31; 6:9; Heb. 11:7; 2 Pet. 2:5.
Noah lived six years into this millennium. Two years after his death, Abraham was born. Because Abraham truly believed God, putting obedience to his Creator ahead of physical comfort and even demonstrating faith that God could restore to life by a resurrection, he was richly blessed by Jehovah. As “Jehovah’s friend,” Abraham received God’s promise that the Messiah would come through his family line. Abraham, his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob (later named Israel) all showed exemplary faith, not attaching themselves to any human kingdom but dwelling in tents in a foreign land as they awaited the symbolic “city” that Jehovah would build. Jacob’s twelve sons became the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel. Of these sons, Joseph showed great loyalty to God by following high moral principles and in rescuing his father’s family (in whom the Abrahamic promise centered) in a time of famine. Later, Moses chose to champion the worship of the true God, rejecting personally the glory of Egypt. Steadfastly he obeyed Jehovah in leading God’s people out of Egyptian captivity to be organized into a typical “holy nation.” A contemporary, Job, was prominent in refusing to break integrity to God, even when afflicted with material losses and impairment of health. Joshua, Caleb and the judges of Israel were also outstanding fighters for righteousness. As this millennium drew toward its close, David, the son of Jesse, proved to be ‘a man agreeable to God’s heart,’ and because of his unswerving allegiance God made with him a covenant for an everlasting kingdom.—Gen. 9:28, 29; 11:26; 12:1-3; Jas. 2:23; Acts 13:22; Heb. 11:8-32; Job 1:8; 27:5.
Following the death of David’s son Solomon, the nation of Israel was divided into two kingdoms. Faithful kings were in a minority. However, there were many integrity-keepers to be found among Jehovah’s prophets, such as Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah and many others. It was reported in Elijah’s time that seven thousand faithful ones in the northern Israelite kingdom had “not bent down to Baal.” In the southern kingdom, at Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem, thousands of individuals, including many loyal priests, continued to worship the true God. When the northern kingdom went into exile, many God-fearing Jews who had come from the north continued to worship at Jerusalem; and when Jerusalem itself was desolated, faithful exiles in Babylon—Ezekiel, Daniel and others—continued to uphold true worship. After seventy years, nearly 50,000 devout Jews and associates returned to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem, and restore Jehovah’s worship there. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah encouraged them in this. Also, Nehemiah and other faithful Jews worked hard at instructing God’s people in the Law, so that they could appreciate that “the joy of Jehovah” is indeed a “stronghold.” Faithful scribes, too, worked painstakingly at making handwritten copies of the Scriptures, and God’s Word multiplied and spread.—1 Ki. 19:18; Neh. 8:9, 10; Hag. 1:12-14; Zech. 1:1-3; Heb. 11:32-38.
This millennium opens with the Bible’s mention of Jehovah’s blessing and favor on Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, Simeon, Anna and other true worshipers. John the Baptist came ‘preparing the way of Jehovah,’ and his fearless service led to his death as a martyr. But fear for his own safety did not make him compromise. The promised Messiah himself appeared, to set the perfect example of integrity. Oh, how Satan strove to find some flaw in Jesus’ constant loyalty to Jehovah’s sovereignty! But he failed in this, miserably. Jesus’ faithfulness under the most excruciating trials, right down to a cruel death, gave the complete and conclusive answer to the challenger. The apostles and other early Christians followed in Jesus’ footsteps. But after the close of the first century, as foretold, the “weed” class of false Christians, sown by Satan, began to persecute the “wheat” class, the true Christians. About the fourth century, some who rejected the pagan Trinity doctrine were labeled “Arians.” Others who held faithfully to celebrating the Memorial of Christ’s death on Nisan 14 were termed “Quartodecimans (or, Fourteenthers).” In the seventh century some who held to “genuine apostolic Bible-Christianity” were called “Paulicians.” But this name-calling, along with persecutions, did not deter faithful anointed Christians from keeping their integrity!—Luke chapters 1 and 2; Matt. 13:24-30.
Amidst Christendom’s vast domain of imitation Christians, the true anointed Christians continued to remain loyal in the face of sadistic tortures and martyrdom at the hands of the Catholic priesthood. From the twelfth century C.E., the “Waldenses” in France rejected Catholic traditions in favor of adhering closely to the Bible. Many of these became martyrs. One of them said: ‘The Cross should not be prayed to but loathed as the instrument of the Just One’s death.’ Starting in the sixteenth century C.E., the Reformation resulted in a breaking away from the authority of the Catholic Church on the part of many individuals and countries. In the 1870’s, the modern Christian witnesses of Jehovah began preaching vigorously as an organized group. Despite opposition from the ‘weedlike’ clergy of Christendom, this “wheat” class was separated out, and down to this year of 1975, they have witnessed in 207 lands by their preaching. Particularly during the two world wars, these Christians were bitterly persecuted. Many of them died in Nazi concentration camps rather than renouncing their faith in Jehovah God, and Jehovah’s witnesses continue to face trials in Communist and other lands. But through it all they keep integrity, and continue wholeheartedly to proclaim the good tidings of the Kingdom throughout the entire earth. Since 1935, the few thousand anointed ones have been joined by over two million others in witnessing to God’s kingdom, and these are truly a “great crowd” looking to Jehovah as their Universal Sovereign and to his Son as their Messianic King!—Rev. 2:10; 3:10; 20:4; 7:9, 10.
As the millenniums have passed on into history, Jehovah’s side of the issue raised in Eden has been convincingly proved. In all ages, Jehovah has had his faithful witnesses on earth, and they are here on earth in rapidly growing numbers today! At the close of this sixth millennium, they are thankful to God for all his marvelous provisions, including the gift of life itself and the glorious prospect of everlasting life in his new order. All of this has been made possible by the sacrifice of his integrity-keeping Son, the Messiah-King, Jesus Christ. They believe that Jehovah’s sovereignty is the right sovereignty. Their one desire is to follow his righteous ways. They are determined that Satan will never swerve them from the path of integrity. They rejoice to have a share in proving Satan to be a liar and they press on with unshakable faith in making known the modern “magnificent things of God.” What joy they have in knowing that Jehovah himself is about to act to uphold righteousness and to magnify His own sovereignty by removing Satan, his adherents and all his wicked works in the impending great “day of Jehovah’s anger”!—Acts 2:11; Zeph. 2:2, 3.