Share Joyfully with Jesus Christ in Jehovah’s Work
“My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working.”—John 5:17.
1. What can contribute to one’s becoming a joyful worker, and with what results?
ARE you a joyful worker? Have you always been one, or have there been times when for some reason you felt tired and frustrated, sapped of all energy and initiative? You felt that you just could not do another stroke of work. Then something happened unexpectedly. You were given a different kind of job, something more productive, yielding a fine fruitage or harvest. Then, instead of feeling out of favor and criticized by the one setting you to work, you now got a smile and words of commendation. What a difference it made! You felt stimulated and encouraged to press forward with enthusiasm and zeal. Nothing could hold you back. Yes, you became a joyful worker!
2. How does Isaiah 12:1-6 tell of an unexpected happening for our day, and how has it worked out in a fine way?
2 Remarkably, the Bible speaks exactly in the same way about the experiences of Jehovah’s people in this our day. It tells of something that happened unexpectedly in the year 1919 C.E. We read of it at Isaiah chapter 12: “And in that day you will be sure to say: ‘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. I shall trust and be in no dread; for Jah Jehovah is my strength and my might, and he came to be the salvation of me.’” Then it describes our grand work: “With exultation you people will be certain to draw water out of the springs of salvation. And in that day you will certainly say: ‘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. Cry out shrilly and shout for joy, O you inhabitress of Zion, for great in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.’”—Isa 12 Vss. 1-6.
‘SOW BOUNTIFULLY, REAP BOUNTIFULLY’
3 Along the same line, take a look at Psalm 126, entitled “A Song of the Ascents,” one of a group of psalms that the Israelites likely sang on their way up to Jerusalem when they joyfully attended the three annual festivals held there. Like Isaiah chapter 12, it tells of those who have come into Zion, God’s organization. Notice how it reads: “When Jehovah gathered back the captive ones of Zion, we became like those who were dreaming.” It seemed too good to be true! And the account goes on to say: “At that time our mouth came to be filled with laughter, and our tongue with a joyful cry.” Then notice the encouraging change in occupation mentioned in the last two verses of the psalm: “Those sowing seed with tears will reap even with a joyful cry. The one that without fail goes forth, even weeping, carrying along a bagful of seed, will without fail come in with a joyful cry, carrying along his sheaves.” (Ps. 126:1, 2, 5, 6) Though at first this one had a hard time of it, with seemingly nothing to show for his labor, his diligence in patiently continuing to sow is at last rewarded with a harvest more bountiful than his fondest expectation.
4. Did Jesus have something to say of note as to harvesttime, leading to what question?
4 Yes, this is the harvesttime. We are now in the conclusion of the system of things, and as Jesus said in one of his parables: “The harvest is a conclusion of a system of things.” (Matt. 13:39) Jesus had some interesting things to say about the harvest and the work in connection with it, and especially about himself as a worker. So let us turn to our key scripture at John 5:17. The Jews were persecuting Jesus for doing a good work on the Sabbath, and he answered them, saying: “My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working.” Do we know how long Jehovah has kept working?
5. Jehovah is what kind of worker, and how is this shown in the Scriptures? (Ps. 33:4, 5)
5 Amazingly, there is a scripture that helps us to answer that question and that evidently refers to Jesus in his prehuman existence as “the Word” (mentioned at John 1:1). This one, speaking under the personification of “wisdom,” says, as recorded at Proverbs 8:22, 23: “Jehovah himself produced me as the beginning of his way, the earliest of his achievements of long ago . . . from times earlier than the earth.” Ah! yes, Jehovah is a productive worker and that is the key to being a happy worker. Jehovah is a happy worker because he produces good things that reflect his fine qualities. He is “the Rock, perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice . . . righteous and upright is he.” Jehovah is the “Most High God, Producer of heaven and earth.”—Deut. 32:4; Gen. 14:19, 22.
6. What amazing insight does the Bible give us respecting Jesus as a worker?
6 Proverbs chapter 8 also tells us something about when Jesus commenced as a worker. Starting at verse 29, we read: “When he [Jehovah] decreed the foundations of the earth, then I came to be beside him as a master worker . . . [I] being glad at the productive land of his earth.” So the one who became Christ Jesus was a worker from the time of his creation, sharing joyfully with his Father, “being glad before him all the time.”—Prov. 8:29-31.
7. How was cooperation manifest between these two workers, leading to what good results?
7 The close cooperation between those two grand workers was evident right through to the act that crowned earthly creation, when God said: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.” Both the man and the woman were made to be joyful workers when “God blessed them and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection . . . every living creature that is moving upon the earth.’” And “God saw everything he had made and, look! it was very good.” It was made to be productive.—Gen. 1:26-31.
THE SPIRIT OF HARVESTING
8. (a) In all his ministry, what attitude did Jesus display regarding work? (b) How was his love for the people made manifest in this connection?
8 When Jesus came to earth and commenced his ministry he showed the same attitude. He worked and showed others how to work. He expressed himself about this in connection with harvesting, as we read at John 4:34, 35: “My food is for me to do the will of him that sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say that there are yet four months before the harvest comes? Look! I say to you: Lift up your eyes and view the fields, that they are white for harvesting.” To make sure what kind of harvest Jesus had in mind, we read of another occasion: “Jesus set out on a tour of all the cities and villages, teaching . . . and preaching the good news of the kingdom and curing every sort of disease . . . On seeing the crowds he felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples: ‘Yes, the harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.’” (Matt. 9:35-38) So in both these accounts it is evident that the harvest about which Jesus spoke was not one of grain. It was one of people, whom Jesus very much wanted to see gathered in.
9. What is the spirit of harvesting, prompting what desire?
9 There is a close parallel between that day and our day, and Jesus wants us who are his followers to enter into the spirit of harvesting. And that spirit is one of rejoicing, a spirit of keen appreciation of how worth while the work is, prompting a desire in one to see it fully accomplished. As expressed at Isaiah 9:3: “You have made the nation populous; for it you have made the rejoicing great. They have rejoiced before you as with the rejoicing in the harvesttime, as those who are joyful when they divide up the spoil.”
10. (a) How does Jehovah provide more workers for the harvest? (b) What should we learn from Proverbs 10:4, 5?
10 In that same spirit we beg the Master to send out more workers. Jehovah does not provide these ‘more workers’ miraculously. In fact, that is all part of the harvest work, not only being instrumental in bringing people into the truth, but, as Jesus said: “Go therefore and make disciples . . . teaching them to observe [to carry out] all the things I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) That is the spirit we need to show. We want more workers in the field. That means keeping busy and wide awake ourselves. Proverbs 10:4, 5 makes this contrast: “The one working with a slack hand will be of little means, but the hand of the diligent one is what will make one rich. The son acting with insight is gathering during the summertime; the son acting shamefully is fast asleep during the harvest.”—Terrible! What a contrast! For such slackers, the opposite of joy.
NONESSENTIALS MUST BE PUT ASIDE
11. How is harvesting to be viewed, and why?
11 Another thing about harvesttime is that it is a special time for farmers. They cannot and do not take the point of view that the ordinary routine is good enough, that what is not done today can be done tomorrow. The harvest must be brought in when the crop is ready. All the farm workers know that too—there is no time to be lost. Other things, the nonessentials, are put aside. They are ready to work in the fields from sunup to sundown.
12. In what way did Jesus stress the importance of harvesttime, and how can we apply this today?
12 Jesus showed the same attitude. Immediately after telling the disciples to beg the Master to send out workers into his harvest, the record says: “So he summoned his twelve disciples . . . These twelve Jesus sent forth, giving them these orders: . . . go continually to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” This they did with the Kingdom message. And Jesus stressed the urgency, saying: “Do not procure gold or silver or copper for your girdle purses, or a food pouch for the trip, or two undergarments, or sandals or a staff; for the worker deserves his food.” (Matt. 10:1-10) Jesus did not want them to get involved with a lot of other things. He does not want his followers today to get sidetracked by materialism or any other diversion. It is harvesttime!
13. In the first century, what remarkable harvesting was accomplished?
13 We might ask, Was there a harvest in the first century? There certainly was! Consider what happened in the city of Jerusalem on that day of Pentecost of the year 33 of our Common Era. After listening to Peter’s “thorough witness” and exhortation, “about three thousand souls” were baptized and were added to the original congregation of about 120. (Acts 1:15; 2:37-42) And the congregation itself was really only one day old!
14. In the face of what opposition was there striking evidence of Jehovah’s blessing on his servants?
14 Not long after that the Jewish clergy, furious at seeing great crowds giving heed to the Kingdom witness, said to the apostles: “You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching.” Though the apostles were ‘positively ordered not to keep teaching,’ they kept talking and the harvest kept coming in. (Acts 5:28, 29) There must have been quite a good ratio of witnesses in that city of about one square mile, but they did not slow down. They showed a positive attitude and kept looking for more people. As stated at Acts 6:7: “The word of God went on growing, and the number of the disciples kept multiplying in Jerusalem very much; and [even] a great crowd of priests began to be obedient to the faith.” Truly, it was a bounteous harvest!
THERE IS MUCH MORE TO DO!
15, 16. (a) Could we say today that Jehovah’s work is about finished? (b) Cite instances from the 1978 Yearbook showing that our efforts are richly blessed, giving a fine potential.
15 How do we view the world scene today? Has the territory been covered so much and so frequently that we can say that the work is done? No, there is more, much more, to do! Consider, for example, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Zambia. The 1978 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses shows that the ratio there is one publisher for every 103 of the population. The Zambian Witnesses keep on preaching, keep on talking to the people, and they are finding more who respond and come right along. Actually, 2,399 were immersed there last year.
16 When we look around the earth, we appreciate that a rich harvest is being gathered. The Catholic countries of Europe continue to experience a grand increase. In just two years since 1975 the number of Kingdom proclaimers in Spain has grown by 25 percent, in Portugal by 26 percent and in Italy by 29 percent, so that more than 125,000 of Jehovah’s Witnesses are now active in these former strongholds of Babylon the Great. In the same two years, the truth has penetrated into many more islands of the sea; Jehovah’s servants in Tahiti report a 42-percent increase in that area, with 40 out of 60 inhabited islands now receiving a thorough witness. Jehovah’s work keeps on penetrating into new areas in the Orient, with Hong Kong reporting 52-percent increase and Japan more than 8,000 additional Kingdom witnesses from 1975 to 1977. And in the Americas and Europe, wherever the house-to-house preaching of the Kingdom is vigorously pursued, congregations are sharing in a similar joyful harvest.
17. In this regard, what warning and encouragement do the Scriptures give us? (Luke 21:34-36)
17 Should we not be glad that Jehovah has held off the “great tribulation” to this hour so that these precious “sheep” might be gathered? But make no mistake! That day of reckoning with the nations is hastening ever closer! “For the vision is yet for the appointed time, and it keeps panting on to the end, and it will not tell a lie. Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.”—Hab. 2:3.
18. What principle is expressed at 1 Corinthians 3:7, and how can we apply this to ourselves today?
18 Jehovah has given us every indication that the work has not yet been brought to a completion. We must continue at it, not until we decide that it is done, but until Jehovah finishes it according to his good pleasure. Indeed, Jehovah keeps showing us that the work has not yet come to its finale. This is seen in the fact that he keeps bringing in the harvest. We should never lose sight of the principle that Paul so clearly expressed at 1 Corinthians 3:7: “Neither is he that plants anything nor is he that waters, but God who makes it grow.” So all the credit for this abundant, quality harvest goes to him through Christ Jesus.
19. In the context at 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, what grand encouragement and incentive do we find?
19 As Paul had mentioned at 1 Corinthians 3:5, it is a privilege for persons to make “believers, even as the Lord granted each one [his work].” And he is still granting us to gather others into his storehouse. In the 1977 service year over 124,000 new ones took the step of water immersion, signifying their whole-souled dedication to God to do his will. Why should we not continue to expect it to keep growing? The harvest is not yet over. It is time to keep harvest-minded until all are gathered in. The time continues for harvest joys!
[Picture on page 19]
Jesus’ followers enter into the spirit of harvesting people