Serve Jehovah With One Accord
“Then will I turn to the peoples a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of Jehovah, to serve him with one consent.”—ZEPHANIAH 3:9, American Standard Version.
1, 2. (a) Jehovah is now bringing about the fulfillment of what prophecy? (b) This prophecy raises what questions?
JEHOVAH GOD is doing something today that humans alone could never achieve. Some 3,000 languages are spoken in this divided world, but God is now bringing about the fulfillment of this prophecy: “I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder.”—Zephaniah 3:9.
2 What is this “pure language”? Who speak it? And what does it mean to ‘serve God shoulder to shoulder’?
They Speak the “Pure Language”
3. What is the “pure language,” and why are those speaking it not divided?
3 On the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., God’s holy spirit was poured out upon Jesus Christ’s disciples, empowering them to speak in languages they had not learned. This enabled them to tell people of many tongues “about the magnificent things of God.” Jehovah thus began to bring people of all ethnic backgrounds into unity. (Acts 2:1-21, 37-42) When believing Gentiles later became Jesus’ followers, God’s servants were indeed a multilingual, multiracial people. They have never been torn apart by worldly barriers, however, because they all speak the “pure language.” This is the mutual language of Scriptural truth foretold at Zephaniah 3:9. (Ephesians 4:25) Those speaking the “pure language” are not divided but “speak in agreement,” being “fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought.”—1 Corinthians 1:10.
4. How did Zephaniah 3:9 point to multilingual and multiracial cooperation, and where is it found today?
4 The “pure language” was to enable people of all nations and races to serve Jehovah “shoulder to shoulder,” literally, ‘with one shoulder.’ They would serve God “with one consent” (The New English Bible); “with one accord” (The New American Bible); or “with one unanimous consent and one united shoulder.” (The Amplified Bible) Another version reads: “Then I will turn the lips of all the peoples clean, that they may all call on Jehovah’s name and cooperate in his service.” (Byington) Such multilingual and multiracial cooperation in God’s service is found only among Jehovah’s Witnesses.
5. To what use are Jehovah’s Witnesses able to put any human language?
5 Since all of Jehovah’s Witnesses speak the “pure language” of Scriptural truth, they are able to put any human language to the most exalted use—praising God and declaring the good news of the Kingdom. (Mark 13:10; Titus 2:7, 8; Hebrews 13:15) How splendid that the “pure language” thus enables people of all ethnic groups to serve Jehovah with one accord!
6. How does Jehovah view people, but what will be helpful if a degree of partiality lingers in the heart of a certain Christian?
6 When Peter was witnessing to Cornelius and other Gentiles, he said: “I perceive to a certainty that God is not partial, but in every nation he who fears him and practices righteousness is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34, 35, By) According to other versions, Jehovah “is not a Respecter of persons,” “does not discriminate between people,” and “does not show favoritism.” (The Emphatic Diaglott; Phillips; New International Version) As Jehovah’s servants, we should view people of all ethnic groups as he does. But what if a degree of partiality lingers in the heart of a certain Christian? Then it will be helpful to note how our impartial God deals with his servants of every nation, tribe, people, and tongue.—See also Awake! of November 8, 1984, pages 3-11.
They Are Desirable
7. As regards a relationship with God, how does one Christian not differ from another of any nation or race?
7 If you are a baptized witness of Jehovah, most likely at one time you were ‘sighing and groaning over the detestable things’ taking place in this wicked system. (Ezekiel 9:4) You were ‘dead in your sins,’ but God mercifully drew you to himself through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:1-5; John 6:44) In these respects, you did not differ from others who are now your fellow believers. They too were distressed by wickedness, were ‘dead in their sins,’ and became recipients of God’s mercy through Jesus Christ. And regardless of our race or nationality, it is only by faith that any of us now have a standing with Jehovah God as his witnesses.—Romans 11:20.
8. How is Haggai 2:7 now being fulfilled?
8 The prophetic words of Haggai 2:7 help us to see how we should view fellow believers of different nationalities. There Jehovah declared: “I will rock all the nations, and the desirable things of all the nations must come in; and I will fill this house with glory.” This foretold exaltation of pure religion is taking place at God’s true temple, the realm of his worship. (John 4:23, 24) But what are “the desirable things of all the nations”? They are the thousands of lovers of righteousness who react favorably to the Kingdom-preaching work. From all nations and races, they are streaming to ‘the mountain of Jehovah’s house,’ becoming his baptized witnesses and part of the international “great crowd.” (Isaiah 2:2-4; Revelation 7:9) Those praising Jehovah as part of his earthly organization are clean, moral, godly persons—most desirable indeed. Surely, then, every true Christian should want to show brotherly love to all these desirable ones acceptable to our mutual Father in heaven.
Their Personality Is New
9. Even if we in the past did not think well of foreigners, why should things be different now that we are Christians?
9 Our spiritual brothers and sisters around the earth are also desirable because they have heeded the counsel to ‘strip off the old personality with its practices and clothe themselves with the new personality.’ “Through accurate knowledge [it] is being made new according to the image of the One who created it, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, foreigner, Scythian, slave, freeman, but Christ is all things and in all.” (Colossians 3:9-11) If an individual formerly did not think well of a Jew, a Greek, or others foreign to him, things should be different now that he is a Christian. Regardless of race, nationality, or culture, those possessing “the new personality” cultivate and demonstrate the fruitage of God’s holy spirit—love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22, 23) This endears them to fellow worshipers of Jehovah.
10. If we are tempted to make sweeping unfavorable remarks about fellow believers of any race or nation, how can Titus 1:5-12 help us?
10 Unlike Jehovah’s servants, some worldly persons make disparaging remarks about people of ethnic backgrounds other than their own. Why, concerning his own people, a Cretan prophet once said: “Cretans are always liars, injurious wild beasts, unemployed gluttons”! The apostle Paul was reminded of those words when it became necessary to silence false teachers among Christians on the island of Crete. But Paul certainly was not saying: ‘All Cretan Christians lie and are injurious, lazy, and gluttonous.’ (Titus 1:5-12) No, for Christians do not speak disparagingly of others. Moreover, the majority of those Cretan Christians had put on “the new personality,” and some were spiritually qualified for appointment as elders. This merits serious thought if we are ever tempted to make sweeping unfavorable remarks about our spiritual brothers and sisters of a particular race or nationality.
Consider Others Superior
11. If partiality of any kind exists in a Christian’s heart, what can he do?
11 On the other hand, if a Christian was partial to one race or nationality, he would probably betray this by words or actions. In turn, this could cause injured feelings, especially in a congregation made up of people of various ethnic backgrounds. Surely, no Christian would want to place such a strain on the unity of God’s people. (Psalm 133:1-3) So if any partiality exists in a Christian’s heart, he can well pray: “Search through me, O God, and know my heart. Examine me, and know my disquieting thoughts, and see whether there is in me any painful way, and lead me in the way of time indefinite.”—Psalm 139:23, 24.
12. Why should we not boast in ourselves or in others of our ethnic background?
12 It is good to take the realistic view that all of us are imperfect humans who could have no standing with God at all were it not for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:8–2:2) What, then, makes us differ from others? Since we have nothing that we did not receive, why should we boast in ourselves or in others of our ethnic background?—Compare 1 Corinthians 4:6, 7.
13. How can we contribute to the unity of the congregation, and what can be learned from Philippians 2:1-11?
13 We can contribute to the unity of the congregation if we acknowledge and show appreciation for the good qualities of others. The Jewish apostle Paul gave all of us food for thought when he told the Gentile Philippians: “Make my joy full in that you are of the same mind and have the same love, being joined together in soul, holding the one thought in mind, doing nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with lowliness of mind considering that the others are superior to you.” The proper attitude for us to display toward fellow humans of any race or nationality was exemplified in Jesus Christ. Though he was a mighty spirit creature, he “came to be in the likeness of men” and humbled himself to the point of death on a torture stake for sinful humans of every race and nation. (Philippians 2:1-11) As Jesus’ followers, then, should we not be loving, humble, and compassionate, acknowledging that others are superior to us?
Listen and Observe
14. How may we be helped to consider others as superior to us?
14 We may be helped to consider others as superior to us if we really listen when they speak and carefully observe their conduct. For example, we may honestly have to admit to ourselves that a fellow elder—perhaps of another race—has surpassed us in ability to give effective counsel in the Theocratic Ministry School. We may discern that it is his spirituality, not necessarily his diction or way of speaking, that enables him to get good results in helping fellow believers to become competent Kingdom proclaimers. And it is obvious that Jehovah is blessing his efforts.
15. What may we note when we listen to the statements of fellow worshipers?
15 When we converse with our brothers and sisters or listen to their comments at meetings, we may perceive that some of them have a better grasp of certain Scriptural truths than we do. We may discern that their brotherly love appears stronger, they seem to have more faith, or they give evidence of greater trust in Jehovah. So whether they are of our ethnic background or not, they incite us to love and fine works, help to strengthen our faith, and motivate us to trust more fully in our heavenly Father. (Proverbs 3:5, 6; Hebrews 10:24, 25, 39) Jehovah has obviously drawn close to them, and so should we.—Compare James 4:8.
Blessed and Sustained
16, 17. Illustrate the fact that Jehovah is not partial in blessing his servants of any nationality or race.
16 Jehovah is not partial in blessing his servants of any nationality or race. For instance, consider the country of Brazil. It was not from foreign missionaries but from the lips of eight Brazilian sailors that people in Brazil first heard the Kingdom message in about the year 1920. God’s blessing has been evident, for by the 1987 service year, there was a peak of 216,216 Kingdom proclaimers in that land of 141,302,000 inhabitants—a ratio of one publisher to 654.
17 Consider another example of divine blessing. In April 1923 two black witnesses of Jehovah from the Caribbean island of Trinidad were sent to declare the Kingdom message in West Africa. So it was that Brother and Sister W. R. Brown served there for years, he becoming known as “Bible Brown.” They “planted” and “God kept making it grow” as others also worked in that vast area. (1 Corinthians 3:5-9) Today, Kingdom proclaimers number over 32,600 in Ghana and more than 133,800 in Nigeria alone.
18, 19. Give examples of how our impartial God sustains his servants of all races and nations.
18 Jehovah not only blesses his servants of all nations and races but also sustains them. For instance, consider the case of two Japanese witnesses of Jehovah. On June 21, 1939, Katsuo Miura and his wife were unjustly arrested, jailed, and separated from their five-year-old boy, who had to be cared for by his grandmother. Sister Miura was released after eight months, but Brother Miura was detained for more than two years before he was brought to trial. He suffered mistreatment, was found guilty, and received a five-year sentence. In prison in Hiroshima, God sustained him by means of the Scriptures, which provided unfailing comfort and strength. By a seeming miracle, Brother Miura survived on August 6, 1945, when the atom bomb blast demolished his prison. Two months later, he was able to rejoin his wife and son in the north of Japan.
19 During World War II, intense persecution was experienced by Jehovah’s Witnesses in many lands. For instance, Robert A. Winkler was one German brother who suffered in Nazi concentration camps in Germany and the Netherlands. Because he would not betray his fellow Witnesses, he was so brutally beaten that he could not be recognized. But he wrote: “The thoughts of Jehovah’s promises to help one in all kinds of trouble gave me the comfort and strength to endure all this. . . . Saturday I had been beaten by the Gestapo, and on the following Monday I was to be interrogated by them again. What would happen now and what was I to do? I turned to Jehovah in prayer, trusting in his promises. I knew this meant the use of theocratic war strategy for the sake of the Kingdom work and the protection of my Christian brothers. It was a great trial for me to endure and the seventeenth day I was completely worn out, but I thanked Jehovah that in his strength I was able to endure this trial and keep my integrity.”—Psalm 18:35; 55:22; 94:18.
Grateful for Our Brotherhood
20. How can our respect for fellow believers of every race and nation be increased?
20 Unquestionably, Jehovah blesses and sustains his witnesses of every nation and race. He is not partial, and as his dedicated servants, we have no excuse or reason to show partiality. Moreover, our respect for our brothers and sisters of every race and nation will increase if we consider ways in which they are superior to us. They too apply heavenly wisdom, which does not make partial distinctions but yields excellent fruitage. (James 3:13-18) Yes, and their kindness, generosity, love, and other godly qualities provide us with fine examples.
21. What should we be determined to do?
21 How thankful we should be, then, for our multiracial, multinational brotherhood! With the help and blessing of our heavenly Father, let us “serve him shoulder to shoulder” in brotherly love and with mutual respect. Indeed, it should be our earnest desire and firm intention to serve Jehovah with one accord.
What Are Your Comments?
□ What does the “pure language” enable Jehovah’s servants of all ethnic backgrounds to do?
□ How is Haggai 2:7 being fulfilled today, and how should this affect our view of other servants of God?
□ How can Philippians 2:3 affect our relationship with people of every race and nation?
□ If we listen and observe, what will we discern about fellow believers of other national backgrounds?
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People of every race and nation are praising Jehovah with one accord
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Listen carefully and be observant. You will be moved by the love and faith evident in the words and deeds of other witnesses of Jehovah