Building for an Eternal Future
“Every house has a builder, the Builder of all things being God.”—HEBREWS 3:4, Weymouth.
1, 2. (a) Who designed the ark, and how detailed were the instructions that were given? (b) Why is it vital that we obey, as Noah did?
SOME 4,400 years ago Jehovah commanded Noah to build the ark for preservation of life. But God did not leave it to Noah to build just any kind of structure that might float. Rather, he gave specific instructions as to materials, layout, length, width, height, ventilation, and interior and exterior finishing. “And Noah proceeded to do according to all that God had commanded him. He did just so.”—Genesis 6:13-16, 22.
2 What a fine example for modern-day witnesses of Jehovah! Like Noah, we are entrusted with a lifesaving work but this time looking to the salvation of ‘millions now living who may never die.’ How important that we be obedient, as was Noah! How urgent that we follow the pattern of the One greater than Noah, Jesus Christ, in serving as ‘preachers of righteousness’!—2 Peter 2:5.
A Spiritual Building Work
3. (a) What will result from building on Jesus’ sayings? (b) Why was Jesus’ preaching faith building?
3 It has now been 1,956 years since Jesus startled the Galilean countryside with his declaration: “Repent, you people, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” He likened everyone who obeyed his sayings and built upon them to “a discreet man, who built his house upon the rock-mass.” That man’s faith is firm, unshakable, immovable. It will not cave in under pressure. Jesus’ preaching was faith building. It reached people’s hearts, being so different from the sanctimonious mouthings of the Jewish religious leaders. The common people were astounded at Jesus’ way of teaching. Even soldiers that were sent to arrest him returned empty-handed, declaring: “Never has another man spoken like this.”—Matthew 4:17; 7:24, 25, 28; John 7:46.
4. (a) How did Jesus build for the future? (b) What major building development took place at Pentecost of 33 C.E.?
4 Jesus was building for the future. He gathered fellow workers, such as Peter, who was also called Cephas, meaning “a stone.” To this disciple, Jesus said: “You are Peter, and on this rock-mass I will build my congregation.” In time Peter became one of many “living stones” built upon Jesus, the congregation’s “foundation cornerstone.” That congregation was established at Pentecost of 33 C.E. when the resurrected Jesus, at God’s right hand in heaven, poured out holy spirit upon the waiting disciples.—Matthew 16:18; 1 Peter 2:4-6; Acts 2:2-4, 32, 33.
5. What modern-day developments deeply involve the Christian congregation?
5 Today, the Christian congregation is deeply involved in the outworking of Jehovah’s purposes. It is the time of “apocalypse,” or “disclosure,” when “things that must shortly take place” are being revealed to God’s “slaves” on earth. (Revelation 1:1-3, Ref. Bi., footnote) It is the time when these slaves must ‘preach the good news of God’s Kingdom in all the earth for a witness,’ before he executes judgment on Satan’s wicked system. It is the time for the King, Jesus Christ, now enthroned in the heavens, to separate meek, sheeplike people from obstinate, goatish people who do not want that Kingdom, and to gather these “sheep” to his congregation of spiritual “brothers” before the “great tribulation” strikes.—Matthew 24:14, 21; 25:31-40.
6. What today is the “ark,” and how may we survive?
6 What is the modern-day ark of survival? It is the spiritual situation in which Jehovah’s Witnesses have found themselves since 1919, a spiritual paradise. Like Noah’s family members, the remnant of anointed Christians and their companions must keep within its confines, working obediently, wholeheartedly, in completing the great spiritual project that Jehovah has purposed. This project is “to gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens [starting from 33 C.E. with heaven-bound anointed ones] and the things on the earth [beginning notably from 1935 with the international “great crowd” destined for everlasting life on earth].”—Ephesians 1:10; Revelation 7:9, 14.
‘Building and Planting’
7. What twofold work is now in progress, and how may we share in happiness as did Noah and Jeremiah?
7 Jehovah has commissioned the remaining anointed Christians on earth, just as he did the prophet Jeremiah, “to be over the nations and over the kingdoms, in order to uproot and to pull down and to destroy and to tear down, to build and to plant.” So a twofold work is now in progress: (1) announcing Jehovah’s judgment against Satan’s wicked world system and (2) building and establishing a society of God’s own people for preservation. (Jeremiah 1:10; 24:6, 7; Isaiah 26:20, 21) How happy the remnant of anointed ones and the growing throng of their companions are as they share in this work today! It is the kind of happiness that industrious Noah and his family must have experienced in their day.
8. (a) What publisher increase over the past 22 years is to be noted? (b) Referring to pages 20-3, what are some countries that enjoyed outstanding increase during 1985?
8 Will millions survive the day of Jehovah’s anger? There is fine prospect for that, as the 1985 Service Year Report of Jehovah’s Witnesses indicates. Details of this report appear herein on pages 20-3. It is most thrilling to note the splendid increase in the peak number of field workers. This has now grown to a total of 3,024,131 Kingdom preachers. The 1,000,000 mark was first reached in 1963, 2,000,000 in 1974, and now more than 3,000,000 in 1985. In those 22 years, there has been a 200-percent increase. How grateful we are to Jehovah who, by his spirit, makes things grow!—Zechariah 4:6; 1 Corinthians 3:6.
9. (a) Why is the pioneer increase even more remarkable? (b) What is recommended to all who can make room for it, and why?
9 Even more outstanding during those years has been the increase in full-time Kingdom proclaimers. Despite worsening economic conditions worldwide, the number of this valiant group of “pioneers” has shot up from a monthly average of 38,573 in 1963 to 322,821 in 1985—a 737-percent increase! What does this indicate? It shows that a splendid spirit of self-sacrifice exists among God’s people, in line with Jesus’ words at Luke 9:23. Usually, careful planning and self-denial are needed to make a success of pioneer service. But the rewards are great.—Romans 12:1, 2; Malachi 3:10.
10. (a) Congregation publishers are to be commended for what? (b) What three new peaks of activity are here observed, and what do they indicate?
10 The millions of congregation publishers also have to battle against the pressures brought upon them by Satan and his world. But they, too, are offering to God their “sacrifice of praise.” (Hebrews 13:15; Romans 10:9, 10) Those hours, whether many or few, that you faithful publishers reported each month became part of the new peak of 590,540,205 hours of field service for 1985. This is a 16.8-percent increase over 1984! New peaks of 224,725,918 return visits and of 2,379,146 home Bible studies with interested persons indicate that Kingdom proclaimers everywhere are striving to be good teachers as well as zealous preachers.—Matthew 28:19, 20.
Building for True Peace and Security
11. How is the true hope for peace and security being advertised, and to what extent?
11 Late in 1985, the United Nations proclaimed 1986 as the International Year of Peace. In recent times, the UN has been saying much about peace and security. But a more important proclamation, that of the Scriptural hope for peace and security, gained great momentum during 1985 as Jehovah’s Witnesses placed in the world field 38,805,561 Bibles, books, and booklets, as well as 300,545,609 magazines, and obtained 1,719,930 subscriptions for The Watchtower and Awake! By printed page and by word of mouth, the established Kingdom of the real “Prince of Peace” has received its grandest witness to date. Truly, “of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.”—Isaiah 9:6, 7, King James Version.
12. Expansion has resulted in what great need, and how have Jehovah’s people united in trying to meet that need?
12 The tremendous growth in the field has called for growth in support organization. During 1985 the number of congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide grew from 47,869 to 49,716. This has called for hundreds of new meeting places. How fine it is that, in many lands, the Witnesses have been blessed in their efforts to finance Kingdom Halls! Where there has been a need, individuals and congregations have unselfishly supported one another’s building programs, so that an “equalizing” has taken place among the worldwide brotherhood.—2 Corinthians 8:14, 15.
13. How may individuals contribute to Kingdom Hall building projects?
13 In countries where circumstances are favorable, branch offices of the Watch Tower Society have also given backing to Kingdom Hall projects. In the United States and in Canada, many individuals are contributing to a special Kingdom Hall Fund, which has made possible loans for increased Kingdom Hall construction. Others have contributed their energies and skills, so that even quickly built Kingdom Halls are erected during just one weekend. By working at such projects “whole-souled as to Jehovah,” his Witnesses can accomplish what worldly men consider impossible.—Colossians 3:23.
14. How have Assembly Hall needs been met?
14 In a number of countries, a lack of facilities suitable for semiannual circuit assemblies of Jehovah’s Witnesses has presented a major problem. Again, the Witnesses have joyfully met the challenge through construction programs, in the same spirit as shown by God’s servants in ancient times. For example, when it became necessary to find materials for the construction of the tabernacle, the assembly of Israel unitedly heeded God’s command: “From among yourselves take up a contribution for Jehovah. Let every willing-hearted one bring it as Jehovah’s contribution.” That assembly provided far more than was needed, and the work was accomplished quickly.—Exodus 35:5-19; 36:7.
15. (a) What expansion has been taking place in Watch Tower Society branches? (b) How has the work been accomplished?
15 As the need for Bibles and Bible-based publications increases, many of the 94 Watch Tower branches throughout the world have had to expand their facilities. The Brooklyn and Watchtower Farms printing operation is still by far the largest, but 36 branches of the Society are now taking care of their own magazine printing, and 6 branches are also equipped to print and bind books. Of these, Germany, Italy, and Japan are manufacturing Bibles. The new factory at Selters, Germany, is working to capacity. At Ebina, Japan, construction is under way on a six-story factory addition and an eight-story Bethel Home annex to accommodate another 280 workers. Just as Jehovah’s people supported the construction of Solomon’s temple “with a complete heart,” so today God’s people in various lands make “voluntary offerings to Jehovah,” and he adds his blessing so that the work is accomplished.—1 Chronicles 22:14, 15; 29:7, 9; see Ref. Bi., footnotes.
16. Why has this additional building and organizing been necessary?
16 Is all this construction and organizing really necessary? It is, if “the faithful and discreet slave” is to continue providing spiritual “food at the proper time.” Such food is vitally necessary for the growth of “the household of God” and for global preaching in upwards of 200 languages. (Matthew 24:45; Ephesians 2:19; 4:15, 16) Jehovah’s people themselves have contributed their skills in developing a multilanguage electronic phototypesetting system (MEPS), now supplied to 26 Watch Tower branches. This has made possible a unified global offset-printing operation and has helped toward publishing the Kingdom message simultaneously in many parts of the earth.—Compare Isaiah 52:7-9.
17. What need exists at Brooklyn headquarters, and how is this being handled?
17 There appears to be no end to the modern-day expansion of Jehovah’s organization. Even now, the Bethel family at the Brooklyn, New York, headquarters of the Society has grown to the extent of filling all available accommodations. If it should be Jehovah’s will, a high-rise building to accommodate a thousand additional Bethel workers may be erected on the Society’s property on Columbia Heights. But if this does not eventuate, we will look for Jehovah’s further direction in the matter. The prayers and loyal support of the worldwide brotherhood in connection with all this expansion are indeed appreciated.—Compare Acts 21:14; 2 Thessalonians 3:1.
18. Why are there so many building projects today, despite the nearness of Armageddon?
18 ‘But why,’ someone may ask, ‘are there so many expansion projects when we stand face-to-face with Armageddon?’ The answer is that Jehovah’s organization does not ‘close up shop’ with the approach of Armageddon. That is ‘closing time’ only for Satan’s organization. Jehovah’s organization is building for an eternal future. Whether or not man-made structures weather the storm of Armageddon, we know that God’s organization will survive as a going concern and that Jehovah will use it and those who loyally support it, establishing eternal peace and security in the glorious earthly Paradise of God’s promise.—Revelation 7:9, 14-17; 21:1, 4, 5.
Building With a Purpose
19. What challenge is to be seen in the Memorial report for 1985?
19 Noah built with a purpose in view, and so must we. One feature of the 1985 Service Year Report provides much food for thought. It is that very wonderful attendance of 7,792,109 at the Memorial of Jesus’ death on April 4, 1985—an increase of 375,135 over the 1984 total. Marvelous indeed! But that figure contains a challenge. With a peak of 3,024,131 publishers sharing in Kingdom service, there are well over 4,000,000 others associating with us, at least to some extent, who have yet to build for the future by sharing in the Christian ministry. How can we help them?
20. What urgent need is there to meet the challenge, and how may we go about it in a practical way?
20 Most of these interested persons are known to us personally. They may be family members, people with whom we conduct Bible studies, subscribers to our magazines, or others. Some may even have become interested since the last Memorial. Can we now make special efforts to nurture these, building them up through Bible study, so that they may find refuge in Jehovah’s arrangement “until the adversities pass over”? (Psalm 57:1) The “great tribulation” will be Jehovah’s act of vindication, even more meaningful and conclusive than the Noachian Flood. We want to build up these interested ones with life-giving truths, so that they will “call upon the name of Jehovah” and not be swept away. (Matthew 24:21, 22, 39; Zephaniah 2:3; 3:8, 9) Let us study God’s Word with them, using the textbook You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth or other faith-building Bible literature.
21. How can we build faith like Noah’s in ourselves and in others?
21 Jehovah God is the Master Builder and Grand Provider for mankind. (Psalm 127:1; 145:16; Ecclesiastes 3:10-13) He it was who directed Noah as to the design and building of the ark. By the willing cooperation of the Greater Noah, Jesus Christ, he has arranged to ransom obedient humans from sin and death. Through this Son he has also built up the modern-day “ark,” the flourishing spiritual paradise wherein men and women of faith may find preservation, with everlasting life in view. (Matthew 20:26-28; John 3:16; 17:3) May we help many others to build faith and forge a bond of intimacy with Jehovah and his Son. May we help them to love righteousness and hate wickedness. (Hebrews 1:9) Thus, with faith like Noah’s, we can keep on building together for an eternal future.—1 Timothy 4:15, 16.
SOME QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW—
□ How did Jesus build for the future?
□ What did you find outstanding in the 1985 report?
□ Why are theocratic building programs needed?
□ How may all of us build with a purpose?
[Box on page 24]
A congregation in an African country where Jehovah’s work is banned has 95 publishers, all of whom share in service each month. They average 130 at their meetings but 160 at their public talks. They have three regular pioneers and recently eight auxiliary pioneers. In just six months, 21 new publishers started in field service.
[Box/Pictures on page 16, 17]
GLOBAL BUILDING BY JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES
Worldwide, 322,821 pioneers were reporting each month (increase of 24.7 percent)
Publishers worldwide grew to a peak of 3,024,131 (increase of 6.4 percent)
Return visits on interested ones totaled 224,725,918 for the year (increase of 14.8 percent)
Home Bible studies conducted each month were 2,379,146 (increase of 16.2 percent)
Pioneers depart for the house-to-house ministry, Brooklyn, New York
Fourteen-language convention, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Witnessing, Castle Comb, Wiltshire, England
Study group in Yap, Micronesia
Some buildings used in support of the global spiritual building activity.
At Brooklyn, the shipping of Bibles and Bible literature is handled from this 1,000,000-square-foot structure at 360 Furman Street
This Kingdom Hall (Downpatrick, Northern Ireland) was built in 31 hours
This Assembly Hall in Rome is one of scores of such halls in use around the earth
This addition to Japan’s Bethel Home is now under construction
[Chart on pages 20-23]
1985 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
(See bound volume)
[Chart on page 25]
Eight countries reported a peak of more than 100,000 publishers in 1985