Spreading God’s Word Abroad in a Fearful World
1. What unparalleled state of world fear did the greatest prophet in human history foretell?
THE greatest prophet in all human history, Jesus Christ, foretold concerning the world-changing era that set in with the outbreak of World War I in 1914 the international mental state as follows: “Men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”—Luke 21:26, 27.
2. Who are the ones not giving way to fear, and why so?
2 However, strange as it may seem, there are those who are not becoming fearful and fainting with a sense of helplessness. They are the witnesses of Jehovah who are now found in 205 lands. They do what Jesus urged: “But as these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.”—Luke 21:28.
3. Why has the Messianic Kingdom not been set up at Jerusalem in Israel, and why have the League of Nations and its successor not warded off the nuclear age?
3 Today the fact remains more confirmed than ever that “the appointed times of the nations,” “the times of the Gentiles,” ended in the latter half of 1914 and that then the promised Kingdom of Jehovah God by Jesus Christ was installed in the heavens to rule amid its enemies. (Luke 21:24, NW, Authorized Version) So, to this day that Messianic Kingdom has not been set up at earthly Jerusalem. Logically, also, the League of Nations failed to be “the political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth.” The League’s successor, the United Nations, has, after more than 35 years of operation, failed Christendom’s prayers; it has not warded off the nuclear age.
4. Against what was the League of Nations really a conspiracy?
4 From the very time of the proposal of a league of nations toward the close of World War I, Jehovah’s Witnesses have fearlessly served notice that man-made substitutes of such kind for the real thing, Jehovah’s royal government by Christ, would fail. They have guided their course of action by the prophecy of Isaiah 8:12: “Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.” (AV) That man-made scheme is really a “conspiracy,” yes, a conspiracy against the precious interests of God’s Kingdom by Christ. (NW, Revised Standard Version) How, then, could it ever have the blessing and backing of the King of kings, Jehovah God?
5. (a) In spite of the contents of “the roll,” how did it taste as Ezekiel ate “the roll of a book”? (b) To have God’s Word put in our mouths so as to serve as his witnesses is what kind of experience?
5 The Kingdom message that Jehovah’s Witnesses still keep on proclaiming is a challenging one, indeed, in a world otherwise oriented. They have had an experience like that of the prophet Ezekiel, when he was a captive in the land of Babylon, some years before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 607 B.C.E. Like the apostle later on the isle of Patmos, Ezekiel was given a “roll of a book.” The prophet tells us: “It was written upon in front and on the back; and there were written in it dirges and moaning and wailing.” (Ezekiel 2:9, 10) After obeying God’s instructions to eat this “roll of a book,” Ezekiel comments: “It came to be in my mouth like honey for sweetness.” (Ezekiel 3:1-3) Today, for any of us to have the Word of God put in our mouth so as to serve as his message-bearers is a sweet privilege, regardless of all the contents of that Word, even dirges, moaning and wailing. (Compare Psalm 19:7-10.) Jehovah’s Witnesses prize the revealed Word of God after having eaten it from the postwar year of 1919 onward. It strengthened them, just as literal honey strengthened Jonathan.—1 Samuel 14:26, 27.
6. As the day of God’s vengeance draws near, why is courage called for, but of what may Jehovah’s Witnesses be certain?
6 As “the day of vengeance on the part of our God” comes on apace, it calls for courage on the part of Jehovah’s Witnesses to point to “dirges and moaning and wailing” in the near future for all human society. (Isaiah 61:1, 2) Relief-seeking people of this threatened world are not disposed to listen to such information at the mouths of Jehovah’s Witnesses. But since God sends them forth to spread his Word, they can be certain that he will back them up to the very day of his vengeance.
7. How would Jehovah make Ezekiel equal to his assignment?
7 It is not pleasant to have people refuse to listen, but let us give heed to what God said to Ezekiel: “As for the house of Israel, they will not want to listen to you, for they are not wanting to listen to me; because all those of the house of Israel are hardheaded and hardhearted. Look! I have made your face exactly as hard as their faces and your forehead exactly as hard as their foreheads. Like a diamond, harder than flint, I have made your forehead. You must not be afraid of them, and you must not be struck with terror at their faces, for they are a rebellious house. . . . And go, enter in among the exiled people, among the sons of your people, and you must speak to them and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said,’ regardless of whether they hear or they refrain.”—Ezekiel 3:7-11.
8. How did the Ezekiel class face the forbidding situation after World War I, and what if the clergy had listened?
8 A forbidding situation like that was what faced the remnant of those Christians who had been begotten by God’s spirit to be his spiritual sons and who had been anointed with his spirit to be his appointed witnesses. They make up the 20th-century Ezekiel class. So, like Ezekiel, they have not shrunk back because of the forbidding countenances of the professional, impressively frocked clergy of Christendom, who may claim to be spiritual Israelites. If such religious leaders had softened their faces and given an obedient ear to the Kingdom message as proclaimed by the anointed remnant since 1919, Christendom would not have launched off into the second world war of far larger proportions and more damaging worldwide than the first one.
9. How have the remnant and their dedicated companions been made equal to their assignment?
9 Today, even with the growing threat of nuclear war in spite of the United Nations organization, the religious leaders have not undergone a change of visage toward the Kingdom proclaimers. So the anointed remnant as Kingdom ambassadors and their dedicated, baptized associates out of all the nations have had to harden their own faces like a diamond in view of the stiffened religious opposition. They persist in speaking the Word of God fearlessly.
10. Jehovah’s Witnesses should have been listened to by the clergy and their parishioners for what reason, and what fact will such religionists yet have to acknowledge?
10 Particularly the clergy of Christendom and their parishioners should have understood the message and the counsel of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The Witnesses draw what they have to say from the very same Bible that the religionists of the so-called Christian world claim to accept and that their Bible societies spread abroad in many languages. It has proved to be just as Jehovah God said to Ezekiel, according to the New World Translation: “And the sons insolent of face and hard of heart—I am sending you to them, and you must say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said.’ And as for them, whether they will hear or will refrain—for they are a rebellious house—they will certainly know also that a prophet himself happened to be in the midst of them.”—Ezekiel 2:4, 5.
11. What qualities have been displayed by Christendom toward Jehovah’s commissioned remnant, and how has he enabled the remnant to carry out this challenging commission?
11 Insolence of face and hardness of heart have been displayed on the part of professed spiritual Israel, Christendom, toward the anointed remnant whom the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has commissioned to deliver his final message during this “conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 24:3, 14) Almighty God knew that he could instill in the modern counterpart of Ezekiel the fearlessness that would nerve this anointed remnant to undertake and carry out this challenging commission.
12. What false charge is Jehovah thus warding off, and what pertinent event will leave him with a clean record?
12 The irreproachable God has purposed to ward off all possibility of being charged with negligence, of having failed to give due warning to the endangered ones. Circumstances are closing in upon us to the extent where we shall be shown up for what we are. Then the unheeding ones will be forced to own up to the fact that a prophet from Jehovah has been among them. This will be when Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, goes down in everlasting destruction at the hands of the political powers with which she used to practice shameless spiritual harlotry. This will leave the God of pure worship with a clean record.
13. Because Jehovah has lived up to what promise to the anointed remnant, in what respect has it served as a fine example to the “other sheep”?
13 The fearlessness of speech as displayed by the anointed remnant till now has been due to Jehovah’s living up to his promise: “Look! I have made your face exactly as hard as their faces and your forehead exactly as hard as their foreheads. Like a diamond, harder than flint, I have made your forehead. You must not be afraid of them, and you must not be struck with terror at their faces, for they are a rebellious house.” (Ezekiel 3:8, 9) Thus fortified, the remnant has served as a heartening example to the growing crowd of “other sheep” that Jesus Christ, the Fine Shepherd, promised to gather to the side of his anointed remnant. (John 10:16; Revelation 7:9-17) As Jehovah’s Witnesses, these “other sheep” have become as bold as a lion.
14, 15. (a) Because of what difference are many witnesses of Jehovah inside and outside the lands of Christendom suffering imprisonment? (b) How is the effect of such imprisonment upon free Witnesses different from what might be expected?
14 Jehovah’s Witnesses do not imitate Babylon the Great. Hence, both inside and outside the lands of Christendom, they have brothers in the Christian faith who are suffering in prisons because of their strict neutrality. This has not instilled fear into those Witnesses still free and unimprisoned, duplicating what was true in the case of the apostle Paul’s Christian brothers in Rome. In a court trial Paul had appealed to the Roman Caesar for justice, and the judge had ruled: “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.” (Acts 25:10-12) So Paul was transported in chains to Rome and jailed there, awaiting trial. It was under those circumstances that, when writing to his dearly beloved fellow Christians in the city of Philippi, Greece, he said:
15 “And most of the brothers in the Lord, feeling confidence by reason of my prison bonds, are showing all the more courage to speak the word of God fearlessly.”—Philippians 1:14.
16. Despite the imprisonment of Christian brothers, the free witnesses of Jehovah showed what quality immediately after World War I, and why is the same quality needed today?
16 Somewhat like this, when World War I ended in the year 1918, officers and members of the headquarters staff of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society found themselves in prison under false charges. Peace having now set in, courageous steps were promptly taken by the brothers on the outside to secure their release. In 1919 they were released from prison and their case was thrown out of court. Thus they were declared innocent of all false charges. The work of preaching the good news of the established Kingdom of God by Christ was taken up with a courage greater than ever before, with a defiance of Babylon the Great and her paramours. Today, with far more witnesses of Jehovah in prison than back during World War I, it devolves upon their free brothers outside to “speak the word of God fearlessly.”
Those Who Put Christendom to Shame by Listening
17. (a) As to those who would be more disposed to listen, what did Jehovah say to Ezekiel? (b) After concentrating efforts upon whom was timely attention turned toward those more inclined to listen, and how?
17 An interesting question was, Who would prove to be likely listeners? On this Jehovah said to Ezekiel: “For it is not to a people who are unintelligible in language or heavy of tongue that you are being sent . . . whose words you cannot hear understandingly. If it was to them that I had sent you, those very ones would listen to you.” (Ezekiel 3:5, 6) The prophet was obliged to continue his speaking on the word of God to his own people, to the ten-tribe division of Israel in their captive state in the land of Babylon. Similarly, up to the middle of the fourth decade of our 20th century, the anointed remnant of spiritual Israel concentrated its efforts on gathering the final members of spiritual Israel into the “fold” of the “little flock,” to whom the heavenly Father has approved of giving the Kingdom, to reign with his Son for the blessing of redeemed mankind. (Luke 12:32) Then timely reconsideration was given to the words of his Son at John 10:16 and their relationship to Revelation 7:9-17.
18, 19. Why did it call for fearlessness in 1935 to identify the “great multitude” with those “sheep” that were to be made “one flock” with the anointed remnant?
18 At John 10:16, Jesus, the Son of God, had said: “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.”
19 For those who were to be classed as “other sheep” to listen to the voice of the “one shepherd” at this time required fearlessness. Jehovah’s Witnesses were undergoing fiery persecution at the hands of the nationalist forces under Adolf Hitler, with the backing of the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church to which Nazi Hitler belonged. So in the face of a world background like that, it called for great faith, conviction and fearlessness on the part of the president of the Watch Tower Society to point out, in 1935, that the “great multitude” of Revelation 7:9-17 (AV) was to be made up of those foretold “other sheep” and that these were to be made “one flock” with the persecuted anointed remnant that was in “this fold.” Nevertheless, he had to “speak the word of God fearlessly.” And this he did.
20. What has been the response of those becoming “other sheep,” so that the “flock” has grown to what proportions today?
20 From the very start, hundreds upon hundreds responded, making an unreserved dedication of themselves to Jehovah God through his “one shepherd” and symbolizing that dedication by public immersion in water. And by now, in spite of the interruption by World War II, those “other sheep” have built up to a “flock” of two and a half million members or more, in 205 lands. Many of these lands lie outside of what is called Christendom, such as Japan, where there is a yearly average of more than 70,000 dedicated proclaimers of the Kingdom message, Korea with more than 30,000 and Nigeria with more than 100,000.
21. By the response of whom to the call of the “one shepherd” is Christendom being put to shame?
21 Admittedly, hard-faced, hardhearted Christendom is being put to shame by such a response to the call of the “one shepherd” in those lands where the spoken language may be difficult and somewhat unintelligible for those in Christendom, especially the religious language of their systems of religion. Those who become Christ’s “other sheep” are displaying commendable courage as they disregard what the world might think and flock to the “one shepherd” as their God-given Leader and Savior. Like their Shepherd, they speak the Word of God fearlessly.
22. In the face of the world, in what mental attitude are Jehovah’s Witnesses to speak forth God’s Word?
22 The fearful attitude of the world worsens. Under demon influence the nations are being marched to the battlefield of Har–Magedon for the final showdown fight. Jehovah’s Witnesses will safely stand upon the sidelines and will watch as their God gains the victory. Surviving the Battle of all battles, they will join the exultant hosts of heaven in sounding forth the praises of the undefeatable God, Jehovah, and his mighty Field Marshal, Jesus Christ. (Revelation 16:13-16) This is now no time for retreat! Forward, then, you unified flock of Jehovah’s Witnesses, in ‘speaking the word of God fearlessly’ until the earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah as the waters cover the sea.—Isaiah 11:9; Ezekiel 47:1-5.
Did you note?
□ What experience did Ezekiel have in Babylon, and how does this find a modern parallel?
□ In view of clerical attitudes, why do God’s people need to be fearless in spreading his Word?
□ How have Jehovah’s dedicated people declared their message to “a people who are unintelligible in language”?
□ What attitude do you need to display now and in the future?
[Picture on page 23]
Jehovah’s Witnesses are fearless in the face of clerical disapproval and hardness