Publishing Good News of Something Better
“Wake up, wake up, put on your strength, O Zion!”—ISAIAH 52:1.
1. (a) In what way have the world’s news media failed? (b) What does the wisest news Source make known?
THIS clarion call sounded forth early in our 20th century. And why? Because the time had come to publish good news of better things for mankind. Do we read this good news in the world’s newspapers? No, for the media prefer to report worldly sensationalism or to publicize the escalation of vice and immorality. However, they can point to no solution. Today, many fear destruction in a blazing holocaust, triggered by the exploding of doomsday nuclear devices of man’s own making. But Someone far wiser than mortal man informs us that when the end of the world comes it will be from a far different Source. It will be by God’s own execution of judgment on wicked men and wicked nations. (Psalm 110:5, 6) This news Source tells also of a marvelous millennium of reconstruction to follow, when our earth, and mankind upon it, will be brought to a state of glorious perfection. That, truly, is good news!—Revelation 20:6; Psalm 72:16, 18, 19; Romans 8:21.
2. What urgent cry now goes forth, and how must it be answered?
2 ‘Wake up, wake up!’ cries Isaiah. Why this urgency? Well, striking fulfillments of Bible prophecy from the year 1914 onward show that God’s Kingdom by Christ Jesus, “a city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem,” is now ruling in the heavens. The representatives on earth of Zion, God’s heavenly organization, must awaken to zealous activity. They must publish this good news in the strength that God gives to those obeying him as ruler.—Hebrews 12:22; Acts 5:32.
3. Whom does Isaiah address, and with what invitation?
3 Isaiah continues: “Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city! For no more will there come again into you the uncircumcised and unclean one. Shake yourself free from the dust, rise up, take a seat, O Jerusalem. Loosen for yourself the bands on your neck, O captive daughter of Zion.”—Isaiah 52:1, 2.
4. How has the prophecy had 20th-century fulfillment?
4 This prophecy has had a thrilling 20th-century fulfillment! During the Great War of 1914-18, anointed Christians became captives spiritually, and some, including officers of the Watch Tower Society, were thrown into literal jails. But in 1919 there came release. As representing the heavenly Zion, these Christians then put on “garments” that are beautiful from God’s standpoint—their identification as servants of the Sovereign Lord of the universe. They separated themselves from moral and spiritual uncleanness.—Compare 2 Corinthians 6:17, where the apostle Paul quotes from Isaiah 52:11.
5. How have God’s people heeded Isaiah’s call and Jesus’ example?
5 Thus God’s own people got completely free from false religious teachings and practices. Copying the example that Jesus set while on earth, they also declared themselves to be “no part of this world,” including its corrupt politics and escalating violence. (John 18:36; Revelation 18:2, 4) But in rising from their downtrodden state to an approved standing before God, they had to follow in their Master’s steps in an even more positive way, as we shall now see.—1 Peter 2:21.
“Your God Has Become King!”
6. Whose “feet” now bring good news, and for what purpose does he now arrive?
6 Listen closely to the prophet’s further words: “How comely upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news, the one publishing peace, the one bringing good news of something better, the one publishing salvation, the one saying to Zion: ‘Your God has become king!’” (Isaiah 52:7) This Messenger of peace is none other than the King Jesus Christ. While on earth he was anointed with God’s spirit to declare good news to poor, crushed ones. But now, with the fulfilling of “the appointed times of the nations” in 1914, he “arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him,” to take up his kingship and to judge the nations and people of earth.—Luke 4:18; 21:24; Matthew 25:31, 32.
7. What news does the Messenger bring?
7 Envision this Messenger as, figuratively, he leaps from mountain to mountain, eager to publish good news of better things to those seeking after God. How comely his “feet”! They are swift in carrying him on his errand of peace. Zealously, he proclaims salvation to the once-captive “daughter of Zion,” the released remnant of spiritual Israel’s 144,000, and after this to an unnumbered ‘great crowd out of all nations.’—Revelation 7:4, 9, 10.
8. What stirring proclamation is now made, and why?
8 The publishing of peace and good news focuses on the stirring proclamation: “Your God has become king!” Who is this God, and how does he become King? He is the God whose name is despised and seldom mentioned among the religions of Christendom, the Sovereign Lord JEHOVAH. He is the One who declares in the preceding verses of Isaiah 52:5, 6: “Constantly, all day long, my name was being treated with disrespect. For that reason my people will know my name.” His matchless name must now be vindicated because his hour for judging the nations has arrived. These, too, must come to fear him as “King of the nations.”—Jeremiah 10:7; Revelation 14:7.
9. (a) What are the relative positions of “our Lord” and “his Christ”? (b) For what may all praisers of God be thankful?
9 This great King is the Lord concerning whom loud voices in heaven have been saying with regard to events from and after 1914: “The kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king forever and ever.” To this, other worshipers of God add words of heartfelt praise: “We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king. But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came.” In this day of the Kingdom, Christ Jesus rules as Consort-King with his Father, the Lord Jehovah, whose righteous judgment he renders.—Revelation 11:15, 17, 18; 12:10; John 5:30.
10 This Messenger-King is not alone in publishing peace. The apostle Paul explains why, quoting Joel 2:32 as follows: “Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” Then Paul asks a series of questions and climaxes these with a reference to Isaiah 52:7, saying: “How will they call on him in whom they have not put faith? How, in turn, will they put faith in him of whom they have not heard? How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach? How, in turn, will they preach unless they have been sent forth? Just as it is written: ‘How comely are the feet of those who declare good news of good things!’”—Romans 10:13-15.
11. How have many today shown that they have ‘comely feet’?
11 So others, too, have ‘comely feet.’ These ones have heeded the good news proclaimed by God’s Messenger. In turn, they also have become publishers of good news—an army of Kingdom preachers. Today they number some two and a half million, being made up of men, women and children out of all nations of mankind! How privileged you are if you are one of these, preaching “good news of something better”! And precious are your literal feet if they regularly carry you from house to house as you publish salvation! For in this way you are having a part in the fulfillment of Psalm 19:4, which Paul quotes at Romans 10:18, saying: “Into all the earth their sound went out, and to the extremities of the inhabited earth their utterances.”—See also Psalm 99:1-3; 148:12, 13.
God’s Organization in Action!
12. (a) This is the most important time for what? (b) What outstanding truths were made known in 1925?
12 Yes, “your God has become king!” So now is the time of all times to exalt the name of the living God, Jehovah, and to magnify him as Sovereign Lord. In the 1920’s the remnant of God’s anointed servants were most grateful that light concerning God’s Kingdom continually “flashed up for the righteous.” And a milestone was reached with publication of The Watchtower of March 1, 1925. Its leading article, entitled “Birth of the Nation,” made plain the prophecies showing that God’s promised Kingdom had been born in the heavens in 1914, that the Messianic King had hurled the Devil and his angels down to the earth, and that there must be war to a finish between God’s organization and Satan’s organization.—Psalm 97:11; Revelation 12:1-12.
13. (a) What progress did God’s people make up until 1938? (b) What timely development took place in 1938?
13 As this spiritual warfare advanced, those serving with Jehovah’s organization were refreshed by continuing flashes of Bible understanding, and their numbers grew until, in 1938, as many as 50,769 reported Kingdom service during an international testimony period. The rapid growth called for better organization, and Jehovah provided that right on time! The two issues of The Watchtower for June 1 and 15, 1938, took as their study theme: “Organization.” These were followed in July and August by a four-part series on “His War.” A truly theocratic arrangement was brought in among Jehovah’s Witnesses, and this strengthened them for intensified spiritual warfare. As Isaiah’s prophecy, at Isa chapter 60 verses 17 and 22, had indicated, the improved condition among God’s people would stimulate a speeding up of Jehovah’s Kingdom work.
14. (a) What in modern times paralleled Solomon’s building program? (b) In view of this, what question is asked?
14 These Watchtower articles on “Organization” drew a parallel between Solomon’s reign of the 11th century B.C.E. and that of the enthroned Jesus, commencing in 1914 C.E. Solomon started his building program in the fourth year of his reign. It took 7 years to construct the temple, and a further 13 years to complete the king’s house. Similarly, the Lord Jesus Christ appears to have carried out a construction work especially related to the restoration of true worship and the building up of the spiritual “house of God” during the period 1918-38. (1 Peter 4:17) The final Watchtower on “Organization” concluded with this comment:
“The Scriptures show that, after the twenty years of Solomon’s building program as above set out, he engaged in a nationwide building program. (1 Ki. 9:10, 17-23; 2 Chron. 8:1-10) Then came the queen of Sheba ‘from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon.’ (Matt. 12:42; 1 Ki. 10:1-10; 2 Chron. 9:1-9, 12) This suggests the question: What is in the immediate future for the people of Jehovah on earth? With full confidence we will wait, and we shall see.”
Well, what do we see now, some 46 years later?
A Marvelous Expansion!
15. (a) What modern-day “queen of Sheba” has appeared? (b) What organizational arrangements have served this class, and how?
15 “From the uttermost parts of the earth” the modern-day “queen of Sheba” class, the Lord’s “other sheep,” have been coming in their multitudes to listen to the wisdom of the enthroned King, Jesus Christ. He is indeed “something more than Solomon.” Through “the faithful and discreet slave”—that group of anointed Christians that the Master has organized and commissioned here on earth—he has been dispensing a banquet of rich spiritual food. (Matthew 12:42; 24:45-47) And even while World War II was raging at its height, this “slave” moved to publish the good news still more extensively. In 1943 the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead opened its doors at South Lansing, New York, U.S.A. Qualified ministers were trained to be missionaries, and every six months some one hundred graduates were sent forth to the ends of the earth.
16. (a) What does the accompanying chart show as to expansion since 1943? (b) What developments have taken place in the past ten years?
16 Has Jehovah prospered the organized activity of his witnesses? The chart on page 11, showing the average number of Kingdom publishers reporting service to Jehovah at ten-year intervals since 1943, supplies the answer. The progress over the most recent ten-year period is of especial interest to us now. These were years of testing and sifting, as some disgruntled apostates left the organization. But they have also been wonderful years of worldwide building and reorganization, and of strengthening the brothers for the work ahead. For there is no question that there must be a further ingathering of the “sheep” before “the cities actually crash in ruins.”—Isaiah 6:11; compare Luke 22:31, 32; Matthew 25:31-33.
17. Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide now have cause for joy?
17 During 1983 the Kingdom work took on a marvelous momentum. Around the earth, country after country began to report new peaks of publishers in the field. The box set out above indicates something of the joy the brothers are experiencing as Jehovah gives this increase. There was a tremendous growth during the spring and summer months, so that the world field has now reached a thrilling all-time peak of 2,652,323 publishers—an increase of 174,715 over the 1982 peak—in 205 different lands. We praise Jah for this blessing!—Malachi 3:10; Deuteronomy 28:12, 13.
18. The report on baptisms should stimulate us to do what?
18 How heartwarming it has been, also, to see increasing numbers symbolizing their dedication to Jehovah by water baptism! At the “Kingdom Unity” District Conventions of 1983, many new ones were thus brought into Christian unity in God’s organization. A total of 161,896 persons were baptized during 1983, a 17-percent increase over the previous year. May Jehovah grant us good ‘fishing and hunting’ again during 1984! (Jeremiah 16:16) And as we find deserving ones, let us feed them through skillful use of God’s Word, along with those two fine books You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth and United in Worship of the Only True God.—Matthew 10:7, 11.
19. What does the 1983 Memorial report indicate?
19 Most thrilling of all is the report on the Memorial, held on the evening of March 29, 1983, in some 46,235 congregations around the earth. Only 9,292 persons indicated their heavenly hope by partaking of the emblems, showing that the “other sheep” made up the vast majority of the 6,767,707 in attendance—an increase of 514,920 over the 1982 figure. What a grand company of meek persons are showing an interest in Jehovah’s Kingdom purposes!
20. What attention should we now pay to new associates, as well as inactive persons, and why?
20 Under inspiration of God’s spirit, King David declared: “But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” (Psalm 37:11; see also Matthew 5:5.) Let Jehovah’s Witnesses everywhere be diligent in building up meek ones who are coming into association with them, such as Memorial attenders, and also give loving spiritual help to former associates who may have fallen into inactivity. Their lives are precious to Jehovah. (Matthew 18:14) To find salvation through the great tribulation, these must now ‘wash their robes, making them white in the blood of the Lamb,’ and keep them white. May the “great crowd” continue to grow in numbers as more and more meek ones awaken to identify themselves as dedicated servants of Jehovah and to share joyfully with his people in ‘publishing good news of something better.’—Revelation 7:9, 14.
How would you answer?
□ Isaiah 52:1, 2 has had what striking modern-day fulfillment?
□ How does Isaiah 52:5-7 have application to the Kingdom publishers?
□ How did Jehovah prepare his people for future expansion?
□ What evidence is there of Jehovah’s blessing over the decades, and especially during 1983?
[Box on page 12]
The following are typical of scores of 1983 year reports received from Watch Tower branches:
▪ Canada: The year has been one of many peaks, including 77,003 publishers, a 13-percent increase over last year’s average.
▪ Chile: In August our new all-time peak of publishers was 21,344, a 25-percent increase; we had 70,522 attending the Memorial.
▪ El Salvador: From January to August there has been a series of new publisher peaks, up to 12,008 reporting, a 25-percent increase, and 44,967 attended the Memorial.
▪ Ireland: We climbed to a new peak of 2,215 publishers in August; the 127 baptized is a 17-percent increase.
▪ Israel: Our all-time peak of 297 publishers in April was a 14-percent increase.
▪ Philippines: Following the district conventions of 1982, the number of publishers jumped from 60,000 to over 70,000.
▪ Sri Lanka: We reported five consecutive publisher peaks, with an all-time peak of 764 in May—a 14-percent increase.
▪ An African country under ban: The fine Memorial attendance of 25,430 is about two and a half times the average number of publishers.
[Graph on page 11]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
Kingdom Increase at Ten-Year Intervals
Average Number of Publishers Reporting
1953 468,106 Increase: 358,312
1963 956,648 Increase: 488,542
1973 956,648 Increase: 488,542
1983 2,501,722 Increase: 845,049