Empowered With Strength Beyond Normal
“The power beyond what is normal [is] God’s and not that out of ourselves.”—2 CORINTHIANS 4:7.
1. What did Jehovah foreknow about our present period of history, and how did he warn his servants about it?
JEHOVAH long ago foreknew the critical times that would come upon all nations of earth. He foreknew that the selfishness and wickedness of humankind would finally produce a grim harvest of corruption and violence. The apostle Paul was moved by Jehovah’s spirit to voice this clear warning: “But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) Surely a dangerous climate for those seeking to serve the God of truth!
2. Would it be easy for witnesses of Jehovah to carry out his purpose for them, and what would they need in order to be successful?
2 Yet it was amid such conditions that Jehovah purposed to have his name and Kingdom declared throughout the earth. By whom? By a people to whom he revealed his significant name and purpose—Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Isaiah 43:10-12) He foreknew that they would encounter opposition from rulers who would view God’s Kingdom as a challenge and a rival. (Psalm 2:2, 3) He knew also that his witnesses would be subject to the problems and sufferings common to all men. They would need power beyond what they could of themselves muster. Did their God make provision for that very need?
3. Jehovah’s provision for his servants at this critical time is like what provision made for the apostle Paul?
3 The experiences of the apostle Paul supply the answer to that question. Some of the dangers to which he was exposed are cataloged for us at 2 Corinthians 11:23-27. Since Paul was commissioned by Jehovah as an apostle and a teacher of the nations, that teaching work received his prime attention. (Romans 11:13) But how was he able to survive all the perils and finish the work he had been given to do? Jehovah kept his eye upon his loyal servant and delivered him, often at the last minute, at each critical juncture. So that Paul could successfully perform the Christian ministry, God granted him “power beyond what is normal.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) This enabled the apostle to bear up under sufferings and privations. Paul freely acknowledged such divine help when he wrote: “For all things I have the strength by virtue of him who imparts power to me.”—Philippians 4:13.
4. Did Paul recognize this divine assistance, and what effect did it have upon him?
4 Thus it appears that in addition to miraculous interventions by God in Paul’s behalf, there was an ‘imparting of power’ to him. This made it possible for the apostle to endure successfully and accomplish his ministry. Accordingly, he wrote: “I am not ashamed of the good news; it is, in fact, God’s power for salvation to everyone having faith.” (Romans 1:16) Along with the meaning and application of many prophecies of old times, the good news was revealed to Paul, and he was convinced of its truthfulness. Undoubtedly, knowledge of the truth and appreciation for it also became sources of strength to him.
Jehovah’s Marvelous Provisions
5. Has Jehovah been any less attentive to the needs of his witnesses now on earth?
5 But what about Jehovah’s servants on earth in these last days? Has God provided for them? He has indeed! In common with the apostle Paul, we have the many marvelous prophecies in the Holy Scriptures. Since Jehovah had advance knowledge of the needs of his people, he generously provided these writings for their assurance and comfort. These prophecies would be clarified as the days of their fulfillment arrived.
6. How has the prophecy God gave to Isaiah comforted and strengthened Jehovah’s people today?
6 One of those prophecies was recorded by Isaiah the son of Amoz some 700 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. (Isaiah 1:1) Isaiah wrote strong denunciations against not only his own nation of Israel but also the many surrounding lands, great and small. Interspersed with these judgment messages the prophet also delivered good news for the loyal worshipers of Jehovah—news that would bring them comfort in all their tribulations. And just as faithful Jews back in Isaiah’s time drew power and hope from Jehovah’s good news, so today loyal ones are consoled, strengthened and blessed by the fulfillment toward them of Jehovah’s grand promises.
7, 8. (a) How did the words of Isaiah 32:1, 2 bring strength and encouragement to the reverent Jews of Isaiah’s time, and particularly in view of what circumstances? (b) How are those same words applicable among Jehovah’s Witnesses now?
7 In Isaiah chapter 32 we find just such encouragement. The first two verses present a promise that is even now undergoing fulfillment: “Look! A king will reign for righteousness itself; and as respects princes, they will rule as princes for justice itself. And each one must prove to be like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless country, like the shadow of a heavy crag in an exhausted land.” What good news that must have been for honest-hearted worshipers of God in Isaiah’s time, after their long experience with faithless kings and princes!
8 But what good news this is for Jehovah’s Witnesses today! Especially since 1919, the enthroned King Jesus Christ has developed a fine condition amid his followers on earth. He has placed among them “princes” (Hebrew, sarim) who do indeed furnish just and loving oversight. In contrast with the oppressive and self-serving rulers so general throughout the world, the King in God’s organization has raised up responsible men who are not revered as hierarchical “princes of the church,” or the like. Rather, they are humble servants, men truly concerned about the well-being of all the sheeplike ones whom Jehovah has gathered together in one flock. The supervision by these men, who are also prospective “princes” of the New Order, proves to be truly refreshing.*
9. What transformation has taken place among Jehovah’s people?
9 What a transformation this has brought about in the organization of Jehovah’s earthly servants! It is just as stated at Isaiah 32:3: “And the eyes of those seeing will not be pasted together, and the very ears of those hearing will pay attention.” Because of their keen desire to honor and serve Jehovah, he has opened the eyes of their hearts and the ears of their understanding. He has granted them thrilling discernment as to his will for them. Loyal Witnesses do not lean toward democratic attitudes and procedures. They are awake to the fact that they serve in a theocratic organization, an organization in which God’s will is ascertained and then carried out. To the Great Theocrat goes the credit for revealing his purposes to humble, willing servants on earth.
10. What are some of the marvelous blessings Jehovah’s enlightened people enjoy?
10 Count, if you will, the blessings that Jehovah’s slaves have received. Among other things, they enjoy accurate knowledge concerning Jesus Christ’s kingly presence since 1914; the clear demarcation between God’s visible organization and Satan’s; the far-reaching nature of the preaching work to be done before the end of Satan’s world; the sacredness of blood; and the significance of giving God’s things to God. In the organization of Jehovah’s Witnesses there has been a restoration of administration like that among first-century Christians. A rich blessing, too, is the present paradisaic condition among true worshipers. All of this and many other gifts from Jehovah impart not only power but also peace, unity and contentment to his people, even at this crucial time in history.
11. How has Jehovah disciplined or taught his earthly representatives, and what scripture texts show that this was necessary?
11 Jehovah’s servants have been given a Bible-oriented conscience, so that they hear and hearken to his reminders, putting them into practice in their daily lives. (Psalm 25:10) They have been warned against the unclean and filthy practices that God hates. The selfish, immoral, underhanded things that some of them have done in the past are now put behind them, having been renounced completely. (1 Peter 4:3) This must be so for all who would continue to have any share in Kingdom blessings. All must be clean mentally, morally and physically in order to enjoy the privilege of presenting to Jehovah the sacrifices of praise, “a gift offering in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:3; Isaiah 52:11) What a wonderful sense of security is experienced by all loyal Witnesses as they associate with multitudes who are truly united in the happy service of the Creator!
12. How has Isaiah 32:4 found fulfillment among Jehovah’s modern-day servants?
12 Isaiah 32:4 goes on to say: “And the heart itself of those who are overhasty will consider knowledge, and even the tongue of the stammerers will be quick in speaking clear things.” During World War I, Jehovah’s anointed remnant lacked proper understanding, were still tainted with Babylonish ideas and did not have the theocratic method in operation among them. But in 1919 God released them from Babylonish bondage and proceeded to give them greater knowledge of his truths. By such truths they have learned to be reasonable, not overhasty. They now speak with a certainty of belief, no longer stammering in fear and uncertainty. And how can we personally be mature, courageous preachers of the good news? By taking full advantage of divine instruction, much of which is dispensed during meetings at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. For instance, there is no doubt that the Theocratic Ministry School is one of the means whereby Jehovah has blessed his servants and empowered them to speak the truth boldly and clearly.
13. Against what speech must we be on guard?
13 Along similar lines, divine education has taught God’s servants not to make promises they do not intend to keep and not to talk slanderously or hurtfully about someone. God’s blessing is assuredly with those who heed this counsel, recorded at Ecclesiastes 5:2: “Do not hurry yourself as regards your mouth; and as for your heart, let it not be hasty to bring forth a word before the true God. For the true God is in the heavens but you are on the earth. That is why your words should prove to be few.” So important is it never to raise the voice in bitter criticism of the Lord’s organization or its appointed representatives. Jehovah is the omniscient Judge before whom accounting must be made for these and other unprofitable sayings.—Matthew 12:36, 37; Leviticus 19:16; Jude 8.
14. What warning is here provided for Jehovah’s people, and how does Proverbs 29:20 underline it?
14 Those who despise Jehovah’s teaching include individuals who criticize and complain about Jehovah’s clean organization and its rules for maintaining peace and good order. There is only a fine line of demarcation between such and those who are outright rebels. Korah and his supporters found that out to their complete undoing when they dared to be hasty in speaking against God’s servant Moses. (Numbers 16:1-40) On this same subject, Proverbs 29:20 states: “Have you beheld a man hasty with his words? There is more hope for someone stupid than for him.”
15. How have the words of Isaiah 32:5, 6 become applicable to Jehovah’s servants today?
15 Jehovah has also blessed his people with wisdom to discern between what is good and what is bad. They are on guard against any who come to them with soft words and fair speeches, and perhaps even bearing gifts, with a view to beguiling the hearts of the unwary. (Compare 1 Timothy 6:20, 21; Jude 16.) Religionists may try to bring them good news other than that which they already have received from Jesus Christ and his apostles. Moreover, any senseless and unprincipled individuals are rejected for appointment as servants in Jehovah’s organization. This is in harmony with the words: “The senseless one will no longer be called generous; and as for the unprincipled man, he will not be said to be noble; because the senseless one himself will speak mere senselessness, and his very heart will work at what is hurtful, to work at apostasy and to speak against Jehovah what is wayward [“insane,” Delitzsch], to cause the soul of the hungry one to go empty, and he causes even the thirsty one to go without drink itself.”—Isaiah 32:5, 6.
16. (a) What are some of the ideas that apostates have promoted? (b) In this regard, what is said at Isaiah 32:7?
16 Is it not true that those who have gone out from us over the years because “they were not of our sort,” and who try to induce others to follow the same life-imperiling course, have cut themselves off from the source of solid spiritual food and refreshing spiritual waters? (1 John 2:19) And these senseless ones, far from being generous and openhanded toward those of mankind who hunger and thirst after righteousness, do not see any urgent need for an organized preaching work in our time. They would allow each one to be guided by his own private reading and interpretation of the Bible instead of being brought into a unity of people trained to live and act according to the lofty principles and reminders of God’s Word. (Psalm 133:1-3; 1 Corinthians 1:10) They would mislead others into believing that Jehovah will indefinitely keep on forgiving sinners as long as they make an outward show of repentance. Interesting in this regard is what Isaiah 32:7 says about apostates of ancient Israel: “As for the unprincipled man, his instruments [means of accomplishing his purpose] are bad; he himself has given counsel for acts of loose conduct, to wreck the afflicted ones with false sayings, even when someone poor speaks what is right.”
17. (a) Jesus has selected whom as his followers? (b) What questions arise about their future activities amid the worsening conditions of this evil world?
17 Jesus’ genuine followers, whom he has selected because they are conscious of their spiritual need, certainly ‘speak what is right.’ But the senseless opposers are not interested in the real welfare of those seeking the truth. They are intent on drawing away followers after themselves, regardless of the jeopardy in which they put themselves and others. However, will Jehovah permit honest-hearted ones to become ensnared by false reasoning? Has he made provision for the blessing of his own servants and their worldwide preaching service?
Please see The Watchtower of December 1, 1951, pages 716-29.
How Would You Answer?
□ How has Jehovah empowered his witnesses today?
□ How do the words of Isaiah 32:1, 2 apply among Jehovah’s Witnesses?
□ What are some of the blessings enjoyed by God’s enlightened people?
□ How does Isaiah 32:5, 6 apply today?
[Picture on page 17]
Do you refuse to listen to bitter criticism of Jehovah’s organization? You should refuse