Watchmen, Raise Your Voice!
“Listen! Your own watchmen have raised their voice.”—ISAIAH 52:8.
1, 2. (a) In connection with Isaiah 52:8, what question arises? (b) What confession does one clergyman make?
WHO are the watchmen here mentioned? Are they the watchmen of Christendom’s religions? Well, what are the clergy of Christendom saying today about the Kingdom of God? The following example may help us answer that question.
2 An honored “Reverend Doctor” of the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, made the following complaint:
“During the past sixteen years [1963-78] I can recollect only two occasions on which I have heard sermons specifically devoted to the theme of the kingdom of God. . . . I find this silence rather surprising because it is universally agreed by New Testament scholars that the central theme of the gospels and of the teaching of Jesus was the kingdom of God. . . . Why do people not preach about the kingdom of God? I suppose that one obvious answer is simply, ‘Because we were not taught how to do it.’”
3. How do the words of Isaiah 56:10, 11 have an application today?
3 Obviously, clergymen who fail to preach the Kingdom of God have not grasped the real import of the good news. They have not heeded Isaiah’s call to awake. They are not able to publish good news of something better, for they know nothing better than the creeds and formalism of worldly religion. They are ‘blind watchmen,’ of whom an apt description is given at Isaiah 56:10, 11, Authorized Version.
4. (a) How do the watchmen of Isaiah 52:8 contrast with modern-day clergymen? (b) Why should we be thankful to our Grand Instructor?
4 “We were not taught how to do it.” That is the reason the “Reverend Doctor” supplies for not preaching the Kingdom of God. But, happily, there are watchmen who preach the Kingdom of God today, and they are able to do this convincingly, for the reason that they have been and are being taught. They are the ones God’s prophet refers to when he writes: “Jehovah is a God of judgment. Happy are all those keeping in expectation of him. . . . Your Grand Instructor will no longer hide himself, and your eyes must become eyes seeing your Grand Instructor. And your own ears will hear a word behind you saying: ‘This is the way. Walk in it, you people,’ in case you people should go to the right or in case you should go to the left.”—Isaiah 30:18, 20, 21.
5. (a) What organizational arrangements has Jehovah made for his people? (b) In what respects, with regard to the Kingdom, do Jehovah’s Witnesses today resemble Jesus and his apostles?
5 Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught concerning God’s Kingdom, not in the theological seminaries of Christendom’s sects, but in the Theocratic Ministry School and other weekly meetings in their Kingdom Halls. They are trained in preaching the Kingdom effectively from house to house and in conducting Bible studies with teachable people who want to learn about the Kingdom. This instruction comes from Jehovah through his organization, which he addresses, saying: “All your sons will be persons taught by Jehovah, and the peace of your sons will be abundant.” Jehovah’s Witnesses know what the Kingdom is all about, and that it will bring blessings as yet untold to mankind here on earth. Like Jesus and his apostles they pray for God’s Kingdom to come and they zealously preach the Kingdom hope.—Isaiah 54:13; Matthew 4:17; 6:10; 10:7; 12:21; 24:14.
Watchmen, Cry Out!
6. (a) Who make up the watchman class today, and what service do they perform? (b) What warning does the watchman now sound, using what instrument?
6 In a number of scriptures, God’s prophets mention watchmen. In ancient times these kept a constant lookout, ready to sound the warning concerning any enemy intrusion. At Isaiah 21:8 one of these reports: “Upon the watchtower, O Jehovah, I am standing constantly by day, and at my guardpost I am stationed all the nights.” Today a watchman class, the anointed “faithful and discreet slave” representing the Lord Jesus Christ here on earth, performs such a service. This watchman observes how events are developing on earth in fulfillment of Bible prophecy, sounds the warning of an impending “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning” and publishes “good news of something better.” The Watchtower, with its worldwide circulation of 10,200,000 copies each issue, is one of the instruments the watchman uses in publishing this good news.—Matthew 24:14, 21, 45-47; Isaiah 52:7.
7. Who serve in support of the “watchmen,” and why is their help needed?
7 The watchman “slave” class has much loyal support in publishing the good news. As the previous article indicated, in reporting on Memorial attendance for 1983, the remaining ones of the anointed “slave” on earth now number only a few more than 9,000. They need help in getting the preaching work accomplished effectively. And this help has been forthcoming! Millions of companions are flocking to their side, and these, too, raise their voices along with the “watchmen” described at Isaiah 52:8. In a very real sense, these blend their voices with those of the “watchmen” in heralding the good news.
8. (a) What does the chart on pages 16 and 17 show as to Kingdom expansion? (b) What is the situation in places where the Kingdom work is restricted?
8 Turn to pages 16 and 17 of this magazine and you will see that, on a global scale, Jehovah is blessing these watchmen and their loyal associates. They “have raised their voice” to the extent that a grand increase in publishers is being enjoyed everywhere. This is to be expected now that Christ Jesus rules in his Father’s Kingdom, for does not Isaiah 9:6, 7 say of this “Prince of Peace”: “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end”? (AV) As the chart shows, there are sections of the earth, including some with quite large populations, where restrictions on the Kingdom-preaching work are heavy. The Witnesses in these places do what they can with help from Jehovah’s spirit. (Zechariah 4:6) Governmental authorities that oppose, and communities that support such, will carry heavy bloodguilt when the great tribulation strikes.—Compare Ezekiel 3:17-19.
Pioneer Proclaimers of Good News
9. (a) Referring to the chart, what comment do you have on pioneer increase? (b) What joyful reports have Watch Tower branches sent?
9 The global chart also gives the pioneer increase throughout the earth during 1983. This is truly astounding! As shown by the sampling of reports below, Watch Tower branches worldwide are rejoicing at the numbers who are coming forward to share in auxiliary, regular and (where needed) special-pioneer service:
Barbados: The number of auxiliary pioneers in April was 292 in 1981, 529 in 1982 and 740 in 1983.
Belgium: Regular-pioneer applications increased 30 percent in 1983.
Chile: The average number of auxiliary pioneers was 987—a 40-percent increase.
Ivory Coast: The number of regular pioneers went up 15 percent over last year.
Portugal: Truly astonishing was April’s peak of 3,064 auxiliary pioneers, a 140-percent increase over the previous peak.
Sweden: An all-time peak of 796 regular pioneers reported.
Thailand: In April, 23 percent of our 821 publishers reported as pioneers.
Venezuela: More than 200 started regular-pioneer work in 1983.
10. What shows that persecution cannot silence the watchmen?
10 Countries where the Kingdom work is greatly restricted also report an increase in publishers and pioneers. An African country where persecutions were most vicious some 15 years ago reached peaks of 616 regular and 207 auxiliary pioneers during the 1983 service year. And on the same continent, in a land where 75 brothers are imprisoned, the number of publishers increased 35 percent over the previous year’s average, while April’s auxiliary pioneers numbered 151 percent more than the previous peak. The “watchmen” and their companions insist on raising their voice!
11. How does pioneer activity benefit the congregation, as well as the entire world field?
11 All this zealous pioneer activity is stimulating the Kingdom work marvelously. For example, it results in more thorough territory coverage and in many more hours spent in publishing the good news. In 1983 the total time spent worldwide in proclaiming the Kingdom added up to 436,720,991 hours, a remarkable 13.5-percent increase! More studies are started—many of them by auxiliary pioneers—and more interested people are led into association with God’s organization.
12. What personal benefits does pioneering bring?
12 Pioneering also brings personal benefits. During a month of auxiliary pioneering, a publisher becomes so much more effective and fluent in speaking the Kingdom message to others! There is great joy, too, in associating with others in this service and in seeing magazine placements, return visits and studies increase. Many have enjoyed these occasional months of auxiliary pioneering so much that they have made the necessary adjustments to become regular pioneers. Others auxiliary pioneer on a regular basis.
13. What encouragement may we draw from the two experiences from Pakistan?
13 The Muslim territory of Pakistan is reported to be rather difficult to work. And yet this report comes from that country:
One brother having auxiliary pioneered regularly for the last 30 months stated: “It seems now the imdadi (Urdu word for auxiliary) pioneering is stuck to me very firmly, and I feel I shall have great difficulty if ever I wanted to get away from it. It has become part of life and daily routine to spend at least two hours witnessing to others.”
“At least two hours” daily in Kingdom service—that is all that auxiliary pioneering requires. Could you do that? It might make you healthier and happier, as this further experience from Pakistan suggests:
Another brother who retired from secular work at the age of 58 and since then has joined the ranks of auxiliary pioneers has this to say: “I have been a Witness for the last 28 years, but never before have I enjoyed and appreciated my being a Witness as much as during the last eight months of my auxiliary pioneering regularly. In answer to a question from my former colleagues why I look sihatmand (healthier, Urdu) and khush (happier, Urdu) after my retirement, I tell them that it is serving the true God, Jehovah, more fully that gives me joy and satisfaction and makes me look sihatmand and khush.”
Would you not like to be sihatmand and khush, too? Then use to the full your opportunities for auxiliary pioneering!
Reaching Out for Pioneer Blessings
14. Referring to the chart on pages 20-23, what publisher and pioneer progress is to be noted, and in how many territories?
14 Let us turn to the 1983 Service Year Report of Jehovah’s Witnesses Worldwide as it appears on pages 20-23 of this magazine. These four pages show us much more than mere figures. They testify to the magnificent effort that Kingdom publishers in 205 lands or territories have made to preach the good news. Run your finger down the column headed “Average Pioneer Publishers” and see what a fine contribution so many countries have made in this service. And the pioneers have had loyal support, too, from the congregation publishers, who have entered into the same spirit of zealous service, even though the contribution of some may be compared to ‘the widow’s mite.’—Mark 12:41-44.
15. How may families be blessed when contributing to the pioneer effort?
15 Families that build their lives around pioneer service are indeed blessed. Some families have made it a goal to be a pioneer family and have achieved that goal, sharing as a family in some part-time work that ‘keeps the home fires burning.’ Other families team up to support one family member in regular pioneer work, and the pioneer spirit that is thus introduced into the family benefits everyone.
16. (a) How may parents show interest in their children’s spiritual progress? (b) In reviewing Jesus’ early life, what fine example do we find?
16 All who attended the recent “Kingdom Unity” District Convention heard a fine talk on setting goals. Having the best interest of their children at heart, parents can train young ones to have worthwhile goals in life. (Proverbs 22:6) One of these can be pioneer service. Remember the training that Jesus himself received in his younger years. By the age of 12 he had been so well schooled in the Scriptures that he could reason with the teachers in the temple. (Luke 2:46, 47) He did not reach out for a secular career, such as in law or medicine. Rather he learned to work with his hands as a carpenter, all the while equipping himself spiritually for the work that awaited him. (Mark 6:3; John 7:46) While at school, children of Jehovah’s Witnesses today can likewise work toward worthwhile goals. Parents can encourage them in this.
17. In contrast to worldly youths, what confidence may young self-sacrificing pioneers have?
17 It is reported that many college graduates today are unemployed. But often well-trained Christian youths who go straight from high school into pioneer service find that suitable part-time employment turns up just when needed. Jehovah is able to bless and provide for those who rely on him while they keep “seeking first the kingdom” in a spirit of self-sacrifice.—Matthew 6:19-21, 31-33; Proverbs 3:5, 6; Malachi 3:10.
18. How did a discussion of pioneer service benefit a Filipino congregation?
18 Some in the congregation may comment, ‘Why all this talk about pioneering? It is really beyond many of us.’ But joyful pioneers can make such a fine contribution to the spirit of the congregation and to the expansion of the work locally! The Watchtower of November 15, 1982, featured a study article entitled “The Spirit of the Christian Ministry.” The question on paragraph 7 read: “What question should each Christian minister ask himself?” This directed attention to a question within the paragraph, reading: “Can I really justify before Jehovah the fact that I am not a pioneer?” Commenting on this paragraph at a Watchtower Study in the Philippines, three of those present, of various ages, stated, one after the other, that meditation on this question had prompted them to become pioneers. They were roundly applauded by the congregation.
19. How can those unable to pioneer make a valuable contribution in the congregation?
19 True, there are those dedicated Witnesses who, before Jehovah, are not in a position to pioneer. The majority in our congregations may be such. Even so, these can make a valuable contribution to a pioneer spirit in the congregation. Elders and family heads can encourage young ones to make pioneering their goal. The entire congregation can give wholehearted support to those who already are pioneers. On appropriate occasions, such as at Memorial season, at the visit of the circuit overseer or during school vacation, there are many who can make the effort to share in auxiliary pioneering. Have faith that Jehovah will strengthen you as you make the effort. “According to your faith let it happen to you.” (Matthew 9:29) But if poor health, responsibilities or other things stand in the way even of auxiliary pioneering, maintain a positive attitude. Devote what time you can to publishing “good news of something better” and support and encourage those who do pioneer.
20. (a) To what world situation should we be awake constantly? (b) What, then, should be our attitude toward the work of salvation?
20 We live today in a violent and immoral world. Jehovah is about to execute judgment, even as he did in ancient times. (Genesis 6:11; 18:20; Luke 17:26-30) These truly are “the last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5, 13) Let us share, as we have opportunity, in the grand work of publishing salvation to those who may yet come out of the old system to take their stand on the side of Jehovah’s Kingdom. We are thankful that Jehovah has blessed his work so richly during the past year. During 1984, may we join again with the Kingdom watchmen everywhere in raising our voices to Jehovah’s praise.—Isaiah 62:6.
Some questions for review:
□ What good news have clergymen failed to preach, and why?
□ What does the chart on pages 16 and 17 show as to the activity of Zion’s watchmen?
□ What benefits does pioneering bring to the individual and to the congregation?
□ How can all publishers in the congregation contribute toward a fine pioneer spirit?
[Box on page 24]
For many, the step into regular-pioneer service has also meant entering a richer life. A regular pioneer in Nigeria had this to say:
“As a full-time pioneer, I have realized so many blessings and I must count some of them: (1) I can now read fluently as a result of constant preaching. (2) Though I have not been to school, I can conduct home Bible studies with ease. (3) As an elder, I have been able to conduct the Watchtower Study and the Theocratic Ministry School successfully. (4) During Kingdom Ministry Schools I was able to understand everything discussed in English. (5) If anybody wants to sabotage my preaching by using intellectual speech, I can make him understand that I am up to the task through my response. All of this has made me draw the conclusion that the pioneer work is a gift to me from Jehovah.”
[Chart on page 16, 17]
Kingdom Expansion 1983 Service Year
This chart shows the increase in monthly average figures worldwide
Publishers: 690,979; increase: 6%
Pioneers: 58,381; increase: 16%
Publishers: 601,918; increase: 5%
Pioneers: 38,978; increase: 17%
(Including Caribbean Islands)
Publishers: 472,816; increase: 11%
Pioneers: 35,450; increase: 23%
Publishers: 122,726; increase: 12%
Pioneers: 34,586; increase: 24%
Publishers: 117,816; increase: 8%
Pioneers: 11,386; increase: 24%
Publishers: 266,375; increase: 6%
Pioneers: 21,690; increase: 17%
Publishers: 229,092; increase: 4%
Pioneers: 5,627; increase: 20%
[Chart on page 20-23]
1983 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
(See bound volume)