“Before Glory There Is Humility”
A CERTAIN young man was in an Egyptian prison on a trumped-up charge. He had suffered much humiliation, and there seemed to be no hope of release from prison. Then he was ordered to appear before Pharaoh. Prison guards quickly brought him out. He shaved, changed his mantles, and then appeared before the monarch.
A surprise awaited Joseph. With Jehovah’s help Joseph correctly interpreted two of Pharaoh’s dreams. Pharaoh said: “See, I do place you over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:41) What an incredible experience—from prison to palace all in one day! Joseph’s experience could illustrate what King Solomon was later inspired to write: “For he has gone forth from the prison house itself to become king.” Appropriately, Solomon twice wrote: “Before glory there is humility.”—Ecclesiastes 4:14; Proverbs 15:33; 18:12.
So as to benefit from that divine truth, ask yourself: What sustained Joseph during his humiliating experience? How did this faithful servant of Jehovah cope with the false charge that put him in prison? What glory did Jehovah have in mind for Joseph? What kind of glory awaits those who down through the centuries have faithfully and courageously suffered persecution and humiliation? Above all, what helps us to keep a balanced attitude when we are suffering humiliation?
Joseph must have meditated often on the two earlier prophetic dreams that indicated that his brothers and even his parents would “bow down” before him. In fact, his brothers, on hearing of the first dream, said: “Are you going to be king over us?”—Genesis 37:8-10.
Joseph’s jealous brothers nearly murdered him! But under Jehovah’s direction, the 17-year-old lad was sold to traveling merchants, who, in turn, sold him to Potiphar, chief of Pharaoh’s bodyguard.
Eventually, Joseph became steward over the household of Potiphar, whose wife tried to seduce the handsome young man. Yet Joseph was loyal to Jehovah and escaped. The wily wife lyingly accused Joseph of attempting to rape her, and Potiphar believed her, so poor Joseph was put in prison.
However, he remained loyal to Jehovah, who, as already mentioned, arranged that he be taken to Pharaoh to interpret dreams. Pharaoh thereafter appointed Joseph to the glorious privilege of organizing Egypt’s food supply. When a famine spread to Canaan, Joseph’s brothers did indeed bow down to him to fetch food for the family.
Others Who Went From ‘Humility to Glory’
Another faithful servant of Jehovah whose life pattern proves the divine truth that “before glory there is humility” was Moses. Raised in the sumptuous court of Pharaoh, Moses had an admirable future before him. Then events seemed to take a turn for the worse. Moses acted out of faith in Jehovah and loving concern for his people, so that he had to flee for his life from an angry Pharaoh. All alone he traveled to Midian. For 40 years he showed his humility by living a simple shepherd’s life, serving his father-in-law Jethro. How encouraging it must have been for Moses during his 40 years of personality-molding to ponder over Jehovah’s way of humbling him and to contemplate what might yet be in store for him!
Then came glory. Jehovah assigned Moses to be His messenger to Pharaoh and to bring His people out of Egypt. What glorious privileges Moses had when he was directly involved in the ten plagues and led Israel through the Red Sea! Later, Moses received the Law from Jehovah on Mount Sinai. When he descended, the people “could not gaze intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face.”—2 Corinthians 3:7.
Consider also Job, the greatest of all the Orientals. He was “a man blameless and upright, fearing God and turning aside from bad.” (Job 1:2, 3, 8) Then, suddenly, he lost his ten children and all his thousands of sheep, camels, cattle, and she-asses.
That was not all. Job came to be completely covered with malignant boils, causing him to be physically nauseating. His own wife mocked him: “Are you yet holding fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9) Job was being severely tried and humiliated, but he was completely unaware of the heavenly confrontation between Jehovah and the archrebel, Satan. The situation was not improved by the lengthy discussion with Job’s three “friends.” However, Job maintained his integrity. He even humbly accepted wise counsel from Elihu—a much younger man.—Job 32:4.
Was Job rewarded? Yes. Jehovah restored Job, doubled the size of his flocks, and gave him seven sons and three daughters—the prettiest in all the land! What a glorious outcome of Job’s humility! How true it proved to be—“before glory there is humility.”—Job 42:12-15.
Different Kinds of Glory
Obviously there are many different kinds of glory—from the glory of a woman’s hair to the glory of Moses’ face as he descended Mount Sinai. (1 Corinthians 11:15; 2 Corinthians 3:7) Spectacular sunsets have a splendid glory, and stars have another glory.—1 Corinthians 15:41.
Different forms of the word “glory” are used hundreds of times in the Bible. Upon examining these references and their context, it is clear that Jehovah is the source of all glory. His faithful servants and his masterpieces of creation can but reflect this glory in many ways and to different degrees.
In our 20th century, we have much evidence of the humiliations suffered by those with the glorious hope of heavenly life. During World War I, leading members of the Watch Tower Society in Brooklyn, New York, were sentenced to 20 years in prison on false charges. About that same time, persecution erupted in many places. For example, J. B. Siebenlist was jailed three days without warrant and without food, except for three pieces of spoiled cornbread. He was taken from jail by the mob, stripped, tarred with hot tar, and whipped with a buggy whip having a wire at its end. At one trial the prosecuting attorney said: “To hell with your Bible; you ought to be in hell with your back broken; you ought to be hung.”
During World War II, some of Jehovah’s faithful servants suffered incredibly in Nazi concentration camps. One was Martin Poetzinger, an anointed Witness who survived to become a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He described Dachau as a “madhouse of demons.” In the camp at Mauthausen, the “Gestapo tried every method to induce us to break our faith in Jehovah. Starvation diet, deceitful friendships, brutalities, having to stand in a frame day after day, being hung from a ten-foot post by the wrists twisted around the back, whippings—all these and others . . . were tried.”
What Sustained These Faithful Christians?
Under such deplorable and degrading conditions, they were helped to endure by their faith in the eventual outcome, including the prospect of the glorious future for those who maintain their integrity. For the “little flock” of anointed Witnesses, this is a heavenly inheritance. (Luke 12:32) A special kind of glory on earth is reserved for other faithful humans. Some of them, such as Joseph and Moses, are referred to in Hebrews chapter 11. Please read Heb 11 verses 32-40 and meditate on the humiliations endured by some of these faithful ones. Further, “a great crowd” is serving Jehovah on earth today. (Revelation 7:9, 15) What is their future?
A rich future awaits them. The heavenly government under Jesus Christ will have earthly representatives who will apply the instruction written in the scrolls referred to at Revelation 20:12. Such ones will have glorious privileges, not as kings, but “as princes in all the earth,” and along with them, unnumbered humble, faithful humans, including resurrected ones, will attain to eternal life in a glorious paradise earth.—Psalm 45:16.
Today there are millions who have demonstrated their humility by abandoning false religion and by gladly sharing in the house-to-house preaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Many of these have been ridiculed by family members and friends, but they have stuck to true worship. They have humbly accepted correction and discipline so as to serve the true God, Jehovah. Their hope is to live in the restored Paradise, when “the earth will be filled with the knowing of the glory of Jehovah as the waters themselves cover over the sea.”—Habakkuk 2:14.
These are days of testing for Jehovah’s people. It is almost as if we were strangers in an alien land. The gulf between true worship and false is getting deeper and wider. All of us suffer humiliation to some degree. But just as Jesus was comforted and strengthened by the joy set before him, so we too can overcome tests by remembering the final outcome.
The Bible advises us: “Humble yourselves in the eyes of Jehovah, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:10) Whenever you are put to a severe test, think of these words: “Before glory there is humility.” Remember, too, that Jehovah cannot fail!