Kingdom Unity a Reality Today
“When you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near.”—LUKE 21:31.
1. Of what did Jesus prophesy at Luke chapter 21?
THE above words were spoken by the greatest of all prophets, Jesus Christ. And to what things did Jesus here refer? Why, the very things that surround us in today’s disunited world! The world is falling apart. This is what Jesus prophesied as part of the sign of “the conclusion” of the world system, when he spoke of “wars and disorders, . . . and on the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out.” (Matthew 24:3, 7, 8; Luke 21:9, 25) Disunity everywhere! But should Jehovah’s Witnesses be disturbed because of the world’s disunity?
2. How should we react to world conditions, and why?
2 Our Master answers for us. Jesus said: “As these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.” (Luke 21:28) Deliverance from what? From a disunited world that is terminally ill.—1 John 5:19.
3. How are knowledgeable people deploring political trends?
3 Even the United Nations is a contradiction of its own name. It is anything but united. Its secretary-general, in deploring the inability of the Security Council to maintain peace and security, has declared: “We are perilously near to a new international anarchy.” The disunity is appalling. A Washington Post writer comments: “Events are out of control.” “Since the 1960s governments everywhere, West and East, have begun not to work,” writes a former White House aide and political consultant. And a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has observed that the General Assembly “is becoming the Theater of the Absurd.”
4. In what remarkable ways is Luke 21:26 now being fulfilled?
4 However, even worse could come, for the cold war has been intensifying, and already the nuclear powers have stockpiled sufficient warheads to destroy 1,600,000 Hiroshimas. A former U.S. ambassador to Moscow sees the two superpowers as being “on a collision course,” and declares that “there is bound to be an explosion down the line somewhere.” These are the fruits of disunity in our world today. The threat is real. It is exactly as Jesus said it would be at the time of “the conclusion of the system of things”: “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) Yes, even the heavens, as the nations prepare to send into orbit satellites with nuclear warheads!
Big Business Totters
5. What fears and gloom engulf the world of commerce?
5 Disunity and fear abound also in the world of commerce. The president of the World Bank comments, “I don’t think anything is safe over the next decade.” At a meeting of 24 major industrial countries in 1982, the gloomy prediction was made that they would have 30 million unemployed by 1983. This prophecy came all too true!
6. What does God’s Word say about the economic plight of religion and its outcome?
6 A Nobel prize winner in economics sums up the world situation by saying, “Everything is horrible.” In this, world religion is deeply involved. The “many waters” of Revelation 17:1, 15—“peoples and crowds and nations and tongues” of this godless world—have been withdrawing their support from religion, so that financial support for religion has been drying up also. (Compare Revelation 16:12.) But the present economic plight of the churches is as nothing in comparison with the anguish they will feel when the Sovereign Lord Jehovah executes judgment in fulfillment of his words: “A calamity, a unique calamity, look! it is coming. Into the streets they will throw their very silver, and an abhorrent thing their own gold will become. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s fury.” (Ezekiel 7:5, 19) And greedy manipulators of big business will share in this anguish of the world’s religion!—Revelation 18:2, 3, 16.
Chronic Religious Disunity
7. How has Catholicism failed to bring unity?
7 Let us now take a closer look at the religious world. Here disunity is indeed a sickening reality. Catholicism runs the gamut from guerrilla-fighter priests to bishops campaigning for a nuclear freeze. The pope called 1983 a Holy Year. Did this help? The cold war intensified. Recall that the year 1933 was also a papal Holy Year, and what did it accomplish? Hitler came to power, starting off the train of events that led to World War II.
8. What discordant situations are to be observed in Protestantism?
8 The World Council of Churches, supported by 301 Protestant and Orthodox denominations with an estimated 400 million members, has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to politically oriented revolutionaries. In the United States alone there are more than 1,200 religions. What a discordant trumpet call these are sounding! Their disunity has made its large contribution to the “disorders” and “lawlessness” that Jesus said would become just such a reality during “the conclusion of the system of things.”—Luke 21:9; Matthew 24:3, 12.
9. How can the true Christian congregation be identified?
9 The chronic disunity observable today in Christendom’s religions contrasts sharply with the apostle Paul’s portrayal of the true Christian congregation as “earnestly endeavoring to observe the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace.” Said Paul: “One body there is, and one spirit, . . . one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all persons, who is over all and through all and in all.”—Ephesians 4:3-6.
Where Unity Abounds
10. Where is “the uniting bond of peace” now to be found, and why there only?
10 Where are we to find this “uniting bond of peace”? Not in the world, for our deliverance is out of Satan’s world and its political, economic and religious disunity. As Bible-based Christians, we are no part of this disunited world. That is why Jesus said, when praying in behalf of his anointed followers: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” And he added: “I make request, not concerning these only, but also concerning those putting faith in me through their word; in order that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, that they also may be in union with us, in order that the world may believe that you sent me forth.”—John 17:16-21.
11. How have true Christians become “one flock”?
11 Such marvelous unity we see today in the international society of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Happily, millions out of the world have taken note of this unity, and many of these who study God’s Word are assembling now as the Lord’s “other sheep.” As these unite with the “little flock” of anointed Christians, all become “one flock” under the Fine Shepherd. (John 10:16; Luke 12:32) All delight to be called Jehovah’s Witnesses, gathered into a very real Kingdom unity!
Why “Kingdom” Unity
12. (a) Why should God’s Kingdom be a unifying theme in our lives? (b) Why should we rejoice despite increasing world disunity?
12 Why do we say, Kingdom unity? Well, is not God’s Kingdom the theme of the entire Bible? So, then, should not the Kingdom be a unifying theme in our lives? It has been thrilling to see the fulfillment of Jesus’ sign showing that the Kingdom was established in the heavens in that momentous year 1914. And Jesus has told us to rejoice at seeing the dark storm clouds of Armageddon gathering since that time. He has told us that the “generation” of 1914—the year that the sign began to be fulfilled—“will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” (Matthew 24:34) Some of that “generation” could survive until the end of the century. But there are many indications that “the end” is much closer than that!
13. Why do we not share the fear of the disunited world?
13 Jehovah’s prophet speaks of the approaching calamity, saying: “Keep in expectation of it . . . It will not be late.” (Habakkuk 2:3) In the meantime we do not share the fear of the disunited world, for we have been united earth wide under the Kingdom. God’s Kingdom, for which we pray, has become a reality. (Matthew 6:9, 10) And our glorious unity is a reality. This has all come about as foretold by Jehovah’s prophets of old.—Isaiah 9:6, 7; Daniel 2:44; 7:13, 14, 27.
“Dry Bones” Reactivated
14. What remarkable scene is described at Ezekiel 37:1-4?
14 In this connection, let us examine Ezekiel chapter 37. What does the prophet say?
“The hand of Jehovah proved to be upon me, so that he brought me forth in the spirit of Jehovah and set me down in the midst of the valley plain, and it was full of bones. And he had me pass along by them all round about, and, look! there were very many on the surface of the valley plain and, look! they were very dry. And he began to say to me: ‘Son of man, can these bones come to life?’ To that I said: ‘Sovereign Lord Jehovah, you yourself well know.’ And he went on to say to me: ‘Prophesy over these bones, and you must say to them, “O you dry bones, hear the word of Jehovah.”’”—Ezekiel 37:1-4.
15. What modern-day situation is here portrayed?
15 Can you imagine it? An entire valley plain heaped up with dry bones! However, this is no scene of something after Armageddon. It depicts happenings earlier in our century. For those bones represent the lifeless state, the inactivity, of God’s anointed servants on earth at the time.
16, 17. What did Jehovah promise to do, and how would this be miraculous?
16 However, Jehovah did something about that. Hear his own words:
“This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said to these bones: ‘Here I am bringing into you breath, and you must come to life. And I will put upon you sinews and cause to come upon you flesh, and I will overlay upon you skin and put in you breath, and you must come to life; and you will have to know that I am Jehovah.’”
So they came to life, “a very, very great military force.”—Ezekiel 37:5-10.
17 Here Jehovah accomplished something that no scientist could duplicate. It is no problem for scientists to reconstruct human skeletons such as we see in museums today. But what scientist has ever been able to add to a skeleton sinews, flesh and the breath of life?
18. (a) Why did the outlook for God’s people look hopeless in 1918 and early in 1919? (b) In line with the prophecy, how did Jehovah remember these faithful ones?
18 Yet this very miracle was performed by Jehovah God in the modern-day history of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Like those dry bones, God’s people had been scattered during World War I, their headquarters in Brooklyn closed down, the officers of their publishing society put in prison for terms of 20 years and their field activity brought to a standstill. Back in 1918 and early in 1919, their situation seemed hopeless. But Jehovah remembered those faithful ambassadors of the Kingdom. In 1919 he revived them, just as he had foretold at Ezekiel 37:14:
“‘And I will put my spirit in you, and you must come to life, and I will settle you upon your soil; and you will have to know that I myself, Jehovah, have spoken and I have done it,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.”
19. (a) How and for what purpose has Jehovah restored his people? (b) Why has it become necessary to expand the Society’s facilities worldwide?
19 Thus Jehovah restored his persecuted people to a land of spiritual prosperity and set them to work in giving a Kingdom testimony that has spread throughout the earth. Each day, now, more than a million hours are being spent in proclaiming the good news. This tremendous witness has made it necessary to enlarge greatly the Watch Tower Society’s facilities in Brooklyn and at Wallkill, New York. These operate in conjunction with dozens of branch factories and offices throughout the world in providing the Bibles, books and magazines, as well as the impetus, to get “this good news of the kingdom . . . preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”—Matthew 24:14.
20. What now becomes a reality, and who takes the credit for it?
20 Who takes all the credit for restoring these witnesses as an organized people, thus making possible this remarkable unity of action? “‘I have done it,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” And so it has become a Kingdom reality!
An Expanding Witness
21. (a) How have Jehovah’s Witnesses proved to be like first-century Christians? (b) What invitation is being extended, and with what result?
21 The grand witness continues to expand throughout the earth, with millions of faithful missionaries, pioneers and congregation workers sharing therein. Like first-century Christians, the modern-day witnesses of Jehovah have been preaching the hope of the good news “in all creation that is under heaven.” (Colossians 1:23) Appreciating that “Jehovah is a great God and a great King over all other gods,” we extend the invitation to all honest-hearted ones: “O come in, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before Jehovah our Maker.” What a joy it is to know that each week, on the average, more than 3,000 new ones are being baptized and brought into the unity of the Fine Shepherd’s flock! These now “worship the Father with spirit and truth.”—Psalm 95:3-6; John 4:23, 24.
22, 23. (a) Why is it important for sheeplike ones to unite? (b) How do the Scriptures describe our unity and the reason for it?
22 In this day of Jehovah’s judgment upon Satan’s divided world, it is most important that all such sheeplike ones out of all nations unite in heeding the message of the angel that has “everlasting good news to declare,” saying in a loud voice: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived, and so worship the One who made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.” Are you one who has been brought into that Kingdom unity?—Revelation 14:6, 7.
23 What a united group are the 2,500,000 Kingdom proclaimers now serving in 205 lands! God’s holy spirit operates upon them, and they produce its fruitage. (1 Corinthians 2:12; Galatians 5:22, 23) Though coming from many different national extractions, they speak the one pure language of truth. (Zephaniah 3:9) Shoulder to shoulder they serve—in Kingdom unity!
24. How have verses 17 and 22 of Isaiah chapter 60 been fulfilled?
24 Whatever disunity may have existed in the past, this has been smoothed out, and especially since Jehovah brought his people under a theocratic arrangement from the year 1938. This was in fulfillment of his prophetic promise at Isaiah 60:17: “I will appoint peace as your overseers and righteousness as your task assigners.” Even despite the ravages of World War II, with its accompanying cruel persecutions of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Kingdom work of God’s united people has kept on growing and expanding, so that in country after country around the world it has become true as stated at Isaiah 60:22: “The little one himself will become a thousand, and the small one a mighty nation. I myself, Jehovah, shall speed it up in its own time.”
25. What testifies marvelously to Kingdom unity?
25 Who would have imagined during the hard days early in the second world war, when there were fewer than 100,000 Witnesses worldwide, that the early 1980’s would find over 70,000 Witnesses serving unitedly in Canada and the same number in France, 80,000 in Japan, 90,000 in Britain, more than 100,000 in Italy, in the Federal Republic of Germany and in Nigeria, over 130,000 in Mexico and more than 140,000 in Brazil, as well as 250,000 loyal Witnesses in lands where our work is under full or partial ban? And the United States recently reported 643,170 active Witnesses. Without a doubt, Jehovah has been true to his promise that he would make his Name people “a mighty nation.” Indeed, a marvelous testimony to the reality of Kingdom unity!
How would you answer?
□ What disunity is seen in three major segments of Satan’s world organization?
□ Where does true unity abound, and why?
□ How has Ezekiel 37:1-14 been fulfilled?
□ Kingdom unity has led to what witness?
[Picture on page 17]
Chronic disunity in 20th-century politics, big business and religion precedes the execution of divine judgment
[Picture on page 19]
Ezekiel’s vision of revivified “dry bones” pictures restoration of God’s people to spiritual prosperity