Faith in Jehovah’s Victorious Organization
“Only fear Jehovah, and you must serve him in truth with all your heart; for see what great things he has done for you.”—1 Sam. 12:24.
1. (a) When and how did God’s visible earthly organization come to view in 1513 B.C.E.? (b) Why was it called theocratic?
GOD’S visible, earthly organization came to view with the establishing of the 12 tribes of the Hebrew people as a nation with a theocratic government over them in the year 1513 before our Common Era. There was no democratic voting for this government. The Liberator of that people from death-dealing slavery in ancient Egypt was the One who decided upon the government. He also set it up. This One was God and in that government he held the supreme power. For this reason, it is called theocratic and its ruler is called a Theocrat! All his subjects are commanded and are rightly commanded to worship him, their governmental Ruler, as their God. This was according to the first two of the Ten Commandments that were declared to the Israelite nation at Mount Sinai in Arabia.
2. Why did this nation constitute an organization the like of which did not exist on earth then?
2 Forty years later, when their Theocratic Ruler brought them into the Promised Land, the theocratic government over them continued. The high priest always represented God, while judges were raised up at critical times to serve as governmental representatives of the invisible Theocrat. This nation thus made up a visible theocratic organization. Nothing else like it existed on earth!
3, 4. (a) Why did the Israelite organization continue to be theocratic even after the establishment of an earthly kingdom? (b) How did Samuel testify to the continuance of the theocratic organization?
3 That typical theocracy continued on victoriously in spite of repeated efforts of idolatrous governments round about to destroy it. It continued on even after visible human kings were installed over the nation of Israel in the year 1117 B.C.E. How was that? Because the human king merely acted as the visible representative of the real Ruler, the heavenly Theocrat. He did not relinquish His rightful rulership just because of democratic action on the part of the people. No democratic election was held, but God acted within his right and appointed the visible king over the nation that he had once redeemed as his own inheritance. Testifying to this effect is what Samuel, then the judge in Israel, said:
4 “Jehovah will not desert his people for the sake of his great name, because Jehovah has taken it upon himself to make you his people. . . . Only fear Jehovah, and you must serve him in truth with all your heart; for see what great things he has done for you. But if you flagrantly do what is bad, you will be swept away, both you and your [human] king.”—1 Sam. 12:22-25.
5, 6. (a) Why are Samuel’s words of great encouragement to true Christians today? (b) What two warning examples in Israel do we have against causing Jehovah to desert his organized people? (c) How did the psalmist express the feelings of the exiled remnant who wanted a theocratic organization to emerge again?
5 What an encouraging thought that is for all those whom “Jehovah has taken it upon himself to make his people” in our day! If we continue to serve him in truth with all our heart, he will never desert us. We have a warning example against failing to do this. Where? In the case of ten tribes of Israel under kings of their own choice who flagrantly did bad things. Jehovah did desert them and their visible king. This meant disaster nationally for them. Into exile in the land of the world power of Assyria they were carried off, and never again was their ten-tribe kingdom established. Similar disaster befell the kingdom of the two other tribes of Israel. Its capital was at Jerusalem, where their king of David’s royal family sat on what was called “Jehovah’s throne.” (1 Chron. 29:23) In 607 B.C.E., after Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonian World Power, they were deported to Babylonia. For 70 years their God-given homeland, the land of Judah, lay desolate according to the decree of the Great Theocrat, Jehovah. The visible theocratic organization seemed to be out of existence. But there was a faithful remnant that longed for such a theocratic organization to emerge again. The psalmist expressed their feelings:
6 “As for you, O Jehovah, to time indefinite you will dwell, and your memorial will be for generation after generation. You yourself will arise, you will have mercy on Zion, for it is the season to be favorable to her, for the appointed time has come. For your servants have found pleasure in her stones, and to her dust they direct their favor. And the nations will fear the name of Jehovah, and all the kings of the earth your glory. For Jehovah will certainly build up Zion; he must appear in his glory. He will certainly turn to the prayer of those stripped of everything, and not despise their prayer.”—Ps. 102:12-17.
7. (a) How did Jehovah show that he did not despise the feelings of the repentant remnant toward theocratic organization? (b) How did Jehovah’s theocratic organization over the restored remnant express itself despite Gentile domination?
7 It certainly denotes appreciation of Jehovah’s organization when a repentant person finds pleasure in its very “stones” and favors its very “dust,” so to speak. Appreciation of that kind on the part of the repentant exiles in Babylon Jehovah did not despise. He rewarded it with liberation at the end of the 70 years of desolation of Zion, Jerusalem. He restored them to their homeland, there once again to practice theocratic worship in its purity. He continued to be their Theocratic King, although having no visible representative of himself at rebuilt Jerusalem. But his chosen anointed priesthood resumed theocratic service at the reconstructed temple of worship. This was so, in spite of the domination of Gentile world powers over them according to Jehovah’s decree. For the time being that arrangement was how Jehovah’s theocratic government over his chosen people expressed itself. He had not deserted them.
8. (a) Who proved to be the chief exponent of theocratic organization, and how? (b) But how did theocratic government on earth appear to have suffered an everlasting defeat?
8 Lovers of theocratic organization looked for it to manifest itself in a magnificent way at the coming of the promised “seed of David,” namely, the foretold Messiah. (Rom. 1:3) From the Theocratic Ruler, Jehovah, this Messiah came in the person of Jesus Christ. Nobody in all the universe loved theocratic organization more than he did. That is why he courageously preached the “kingdom of the heavens,” “the kingdom of God,” up and down the land of restored Israel. (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:14, 15) For his unswerving devotion to theocratic organization he was put to a martyr’s death on Passover day of 33 C.E. At his death, the voice that had faithfully preached the Gospel or good news of God’s kingdom was stilled. For parts of three days it appeared as though theocratic organization had suffered an everlasting defeat. For, look! The chief exponent of it lay cold and still in death.
EVERLASTING VICTORY FOR THEOCRACY
9. How was victory brought to Jehovah’s theocratic organization, and to whom was this first made known?
9 The great Organizer of theocratic government, however, could never be defeated. His invisible theocratic organization in heaven remained loyal to him, awaiting Jehovah’s own move for his own vindication. He made this move on the third day of his Son’s sacrificial death at Jerusalem. It brought victory to his theocratic organization, for he performed his greatest miracle in raising from the dead the chief champion of theocratic organization, his loyal Son Jesus Christ. The holy courts of heaven rejoiced with Jehovah. That same day the lovers of theocratic organization on earth were also made to rejoice in the victory of the Great Theocrat when his own Son manifested himself to them as one risen from the dead.
10. How did the greatest religious upset till then take place?
10 One of the greatest upsets in the religious field was now due. Under self-seeking religious leaders the nation of Israel had rejected theocratic organization. Quite deservedly, then, Jehovah rejected that misguided nation as his visible theocratic organization, and put an end to the Jewish dispensation or administration. But he did not desert the small remnant of individual Israelites who had placed their full faith in Jesus and had followed him as the Messiah, “the seed of David.” He transferred them into a new visible theocratic organization. This occurred on the day of Pentecost, the 50th day from Christ’s victory over death. He used this resurrected Son in pouring out holy spirit upon waiting disciples at Jerusalem. This gift of the spirit that was promised in Joel 2:28, 29 was imparted, not to the Pentecost-observing nation of Israel, but to Jesus’ waiting disciples. This bore witness to the tremendous religious upset. It identified the new visible theocratic organization.
11. How did Jehovah’s new theocratic organization continue on victoriously?
11 Thirty-seven years later the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans and the discharging of the Jewish priesthood forever from Jehovah’s sacred service put an official seal on the religious upset. It verified that Jehovah had rejected the Jewish theocratic organization of his on earth, and had begun a new Christian dispensation or administration toward his people. (Eph. 1:10, Authorized Version; NW) But his new theocratic organization continued on victoriously despite the malicious efforts of the Roman Empire to stamp it out of existence by persecution!
12. How did the Watch Tower issue of December 1, 1894, speak of the organizing of the first-century Christian congregation for preaching the gospel during this Christian dispensation?
12 With respect to this change from the Jewish to the Christian organization during those days of Jesus Christ and his apostles, the Watch Tower, under date of December 1, 1894, had this to say, on page 384, in paragraph 2, with respect to the harvesting of Jewish believers in the days of the apostles: “But as that work of organizing the church of the new Gospel dispensation was no part of the harvest work of the old Jewish dispensation, so the present harvest work or reaping of the Gospel dispensation is also separate and distinct from the work of the new Millennial dispensation now drawing on.”
13. How was the theocratic attitude of the disciples shown by what the apostles on trial said to the Jerusalem Sanhedrin?
13 The “organizing” of the “church” or congregation as a spirit-anointed people moved forward from Pentecost, which marked the beginning of the Christian dispensation or administration. As a spiritual Israel it was brought into a new covenant with God. The theocratic attitude of that congregation of Christ’s disciples was displayed in their replies to the religious court of Jerusalem when that Court, guilty of the blood of Jesus, demanded that they stop their witnessing about the resurrected Son of God. Boldly the apostles said: “Whether it is righteous in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, judge for yourselves. But as for us, we cannot stop speaking about the things we have seen and heard.” “We must obey God as ruler rather than men. The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus, whom you slew, hanging him upon a stake. God exalted this one as Chief Agent and Savior to his right hand, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these matters, and so is the holy spirit, which God has given to those obeying him as ruler.”—Acts 4:19, 20; 5:29-32.
14. (a) How did the first century Christians show world-conquering faith, and with what result? (b) Despite inspired warnings, what set in within the congregation, but did theocratic organization disappear forever?
14 Those first-century Christians were distinguished by the faith that conquers the world. They were not ashamed to suffer under the name of Christian or Messianist, for the spirit of glory, even the spirit of God, was resting upon them. (1 Pet. 4:14; Acts 11:26) As a result of their faithful witness work and their baptizing new disciples, congregations sprang up both inside and outside the far-flung Roman Empire. Nevertheless, they all constituted one visible organization under Jesus Christ, worshiping the Great Theocrat, Jehovah. Later, in spite of the warning given by Jesus Christ and his inspired Bible-writing disciples, apostasy—religious rebellion—set in. The true theocratic organization seemed to have disappeared. How so? Because the foretold “man of lawlessness,” “the son of destruction,” set himself up in the apostate religious organization as if he were a god. He recognized no other god, not even Jehovah the true Theocrat. (2 Thess. 2:3-12; Matt. 13:24-43) For more than 15 centuries this apostasy prevailed, in spite of efforts by sincere reformers to break free from the domination of this self-deifying “man of lawlessness.” Had theocratic organization now at last been killed forever? According to God’s Word, never could that be the case!
MODERN-DAY THEOCRATIC ORGANIZATION
15. Why did the magazine professing trust in Jehovah begin to be published in July of 1879?
15 By the middle of the 19th century the “man of lawlessness” class had established many religious organizations in Christendom. These sects called themselves by various names of identification. The religious confusion of Christendom became dizzying. In an effort to gain Christian balance and soundness of understanding, a small congregation of sincere Bible students divorced themselves from all of Christendom’s religious organizations. They turned their backs on its sectarian creeds and followed the example of the first-century Beroeans who searched the Scriptures daily to arrive at the apostolic faith. (Acts 17:10, 11) This fully dedicated congregation exerted itself vigorously in defense of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ and of his promised official “presence” in God’s kingdom. In July of 1879 a magazine that declared itself to be trusting in Jehovah for his backing began to be published.
16. According to the Watch Tower of February, 1884, to what organization did that unsectarian congregation claim to belong?
16 The aforesaid congregation earnestly sought to prove worthy of being Jehovah’s visible organization and his instrument. So it kept free from any alliance with the sectarian organizations of Christendom, as well as from the political organizations of this world. Voicing itself in this regard, that Christian congregation said, in the issue of February 1884 of its official magazine Watch Tower:
“New readers in all parts of the country are constantly inquiring: By what names do you call yourselves? Are you ‘Primitive Baptists’? Are you ‘Missionary Baptists’? Are you ‘Universalists’? Are you ‘Adventists’? Are you ‘Primitive Methodists’? etc., etc. We have several times tried to make clear our position, and now endeavor in a few words again to do so.
“We belong to NO earthly organization; hence, if you should name the entire list of sects, we should answer, No, to each and to all. We adhere only to that heavenly organization—‘whose names are written in heaven.’ (Heb. 12:23; Luke 10:20.) All the saints now living, or that have lived during this age, belonged to OUR CHURCH ORGANIZATION: such are all ONE Church, and there is NO OTHER recognized by the Lord. Hence any earthly organization which in the least interferes with this union of saints is contrary to the teachings of Scripture and opposed to the Lord’s will—‘that they may be ONE.’ (Jno. Joh 17:11.)”
17. (a) What action did Babylon the Great take against the unworldly organization of God’s true servants right after the end of the Gentile Times in 1914? (b) What shows that true theocratic organization had not been stifled by Babylon the Great at that time?
17 The approach of the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 made it all the more urgent for this dedicated congregation of Christ’s followers to keep free from involvement with worldly organizations as well as with Christendom. ‘Get out of Babylon the Great!’ was the urgent call. (Rev. 18:4) On time, as expected, the end of the Gentile Times came, and was marked by World War I. (Luke 21:24) Babylon the Great saw its opportunity. Using Christendom and its “man of lawlessness” class as her instruments, she succeeded in bringing the unworldly organization of God’s true servants into captivity and bondage. The preaching of the good news of the established kingdom of God by Christ was subdued almost to a whisper. The end of the Kingdom-preaching organization seemed to have been brought about. But had it? Had Babylon the Great gained a lasting victory? Was all hope for the reestablishment of true theocratic organization stifled forever? More than two million theocratically minded Christians in all parts of the world today will answer with a No! in more than 190 languages. And well they might do so, for they would not be in their present relationship with Jehovah God if the visible theocratic organization had not been revived and infused with more strength and vigor than ever before.
18. (a) The reorganized remnant of spiritual Israelites recognized that they had been set free from bondage to Babylon the Great for what particular purpose? (b) What organizational name did they embrace in 1931, and why?
18 In 1919 when postwar Christendom came out in favor of the League of Nations as the political expression of the kingdom of God on earth, the reorganized remnant of spiritual Israelites refused to accept that man-made substitute. They came out in favor of the real thing, the newborn heavenly kingdom of God by Christ. More and more there was impressed upon their consciousness that the only purpose in their being set free from Babylon the Great was for them to be witnesses, not just witnesses for the newly enthroned Jesus Christ, but witnesses in the sense set out in Isaiah 43:10, 12. In 1931, the book Vindication was published. It commented on Ezekiel’s prophecy wherein God says more than 60 times that people and nations and even his own servants will “know that I am Jehovah.” In conjunction with that new publication, they embraced an organizational name that was most appropriate. Isaiah 43:10 provided the name for them, Jehovah’s Witnesses!
19. (a) What kind of rule did they want in their earthly organization, and so how did they begin to structure things? (b) What did they come to recognize as the main issue before all heaven and earth, and when?
19 Should we believe that the true God appreciated that loyal course of theirs and would bless it? How could Jehovah do otherwise, especially when they were living up to that name by really being His witnesses! Theocracy, that is to say, God-rule, was what they wanted in their organization for carrying out the witness work. They openly declared in favor of it, in two articles on the subject “Organization,” published in the Watchtower issues of June 1 and 15, 1938. They followed this up by arranging for the theocratic structure of things in their Christian congregations. Then in the midst of World War II, the announcement was made, at the largest convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses up to that year, that the vindication of Jehovah’s universal domination was the main issue before all heaven and earth.
20. How were they motivated to endure the worst persecution during World War II, and in what did their coming off victorious result? (b) For a share in that victory, what did it take, and who proved that they had this?
20 The desire to share with Jesus Christ in the vindication of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty became a most powerful motivating force in the lives of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It strengthened them to endure the worst persecution that ever befell Jehovah’s Witnesses—during World War II. So Jehovah’s visible organization came off victorious once again to his vindication. For dedicated, baptized persons to share in that victory, what did it take? Faith in Jehovah’s theocratic organization. Did the remnant of spiritual Israelites and their theocratic companions, the “great crowd” of Christ’s “other sheep,” have such victorious faith? Yes!
21. During the past 33 years since World War II, why have Jehovah’s Witnesses kept faith in Jehovah’s theocratic organization?
21 Since the end of that second total war, which threatened the very existence of Jehovah’s visible organization, about 34 trialsome years have passed. But, steadfastly, devoted Witnesses have kept their faith in Jehovah’s organization. They know which one of all organizations on earth the Almighty God has used to give the greatest witness to his name and kingdom in all Christian history.—Matt. 24:14.
22, 23. (a) What will prove to be the greatest religious upset in all human history? (b) In demonstration of our faith in Jehovah’s not deserting his faithful people, what will we do, and with what reward for this?
22 Today we Witnesses face a future that is due to bring the greatest religious upset in all human history. Yes, an upset more startling than that of the year 33 C.E. in apostolic days. Down will come the Devil’s agency of religious persecution, Christendom, as utterly rejected by Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. No, more than that, down will come Christendom’s religious mother, Babylon the Great, the entire world empire of false religion. Up will come Jehovah’s persecuted witnesses in an overwhelming display of his choice and approval of them before all heaven and earth. The former political pamperers of Babylon the Great will fight against these vindicated witnesses of Jehovah in vain. They will lose the war against Theocracy!
23 What, then, should be our position today? Is there any cause for us to lose faith in Jehovah’s visible organization because of mounting difficulties in this world? Those who believe that Jehovah will never desert his faithful witnesses answer, “Absolutely not!” In demonstration of such faith, we will keep on sticking to it and working with it without slacking the hand. Our unwavering faith will be rewarded with victory and the crown of life!