‘Happy Are Those Who Have Endured’
1. Since 1914, what situation on earth has fulfilled Matthew 24:3-8, and what claims for the League of Nations and the United Nations have failed?
IN HIS book The Present Age, Robert Nisbet speaks of “the Seventy-Five Year War that has gone on, rarely punctuated, since 1914.” Yes, “wars and reports of wars,” including world wars—that is what Jesus Christ foretold for this time of the end. (Matthew 24:3-8) The League of Nations was brought forth in 1920 “to prevent war forever.” How miserably it failed! The United Nations was organized in 1945 “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” But Max Harrelson’s book Fires All Around the Horizon relates: “There has scarcely been a day since the end of World War II when there was not fighting somewhere.”
2. What do some people ask regarding world conditions, but what questions should we be asking?
2 Terrorism and violence, corruption and poverty, drugs and pestilences—all of these add to the sorry picture. Some people may ask: ‘How can humanity continue to endure such disturbing conditions?’ More important, though, we should ask: ‘How does God endure the despoiling of his earthly creation? How much longer will he allow wicked men to ruin the earth and heap reproach on his precious name?’
3. (a) What question did the prophet Isaiah ask, and why? (b) What answer did Jehovah give, and what does this indicate for our day?
3 The prophet Isaiah raised a similar question. He was assigned to declare to his fellow countrymen a message from Jehovah. But he was forewarned that they would pay no heed either to him or to the God who sent him. So Isaiah asked: “How long, O Jehovah?” Yes, how long would Isaiah have to preach to this stubborn people, and how long would Jehovah put up with their insulting refusal to heed his message? Jehovah replied: “Until the cities actually crash in ruins, to be without an inhabitant, and the houses be without earthling man, and the ground itself is ruined into a desolation.” (Isaiah 6:8-11) Likewise today, God endures such reproaches until his appointed time to execute judgment on a world in which the principal offender has been unfaithful Christendom.
4. What was the outcome of Job’s endurance, and what assurance does this give us today?
4 Jehovah has long endured Satan’s taunts. Some 3,600 years ago, faithful Job also endured, refuting Satan’s challenge that he could not keep integrity under test. How this caused Jehovah’s heart to rejoice! (Job 2:6-10; 27:5; Proverbs 27:11) As Jesus’ half brother James later stated: “Look! We pronounce happy those who have endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome Jehovah gave, that Jehovah is very tender in affection and merciful.” Likewise, those who endure with Jehovah today are assured of a happy outcome.—James 5:11.
5. How did Jesus show that endurance would be required of God’s people today, and while doing what work would they need to endure?
5 Jesus showed clearly that endurance would be required of God’s people in our day. In foretelling the sign of “the conclusion of the system of things,” he said: “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” Endure while doing what? Jesus’ very next words answer: “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matthew 24:3, 13, 14) Only then ‘will the end come.’—See also Mark 13:10, 13; Luke 21:17-19.
Why Jehovah Endures
6. Why is Jehovah an outstanding example of endurance, and what is one reason he has so endured?
6 The apostle Paul explained that “God, although having the will to demonstrate his wrath and to make his power known, tolerated with much long-suffering vessels of wrath made fit for destruction.” (Romans 9:22) Why has Jehovah endured the continued existence of the wicked, these vessels of wrath? One reason is this: to demonstrate that human rule, independent of man’s Creator, is doomed to failure. (Jeremiah 10:23) Shortly, God’s sovereignty will be vindicated as he proves that he alone can bring peace, harmony, and happiness to the human family, through Jesus’ Kingdom rule.—Psalm 37:9-11; 45:1, 6, 7.
7. For what other reason has Jehovah endured, and what benefit has this brought to millions since the 1930’s?
7 Further, Jehovah has endured “in order that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy.” (Romans 9:23) These vessels of mercy are integrity-keeping anointed ones who are “bought from among mankind” to reign with Christ Jesus in his heavenly Kingdom. The sealing of the 144,000 has continued from apostolic times. It now draws to a close. (Revelation 7:3; 14:1, 4) And look! Since the 1930’s Jehovah’s continuing endurance has permitted the gathering of millions of others, “a great crowd . . . out of all nations,” who rejoice in the prospect of surviving the final tribulation to inherit everlasting life in a paradise earth. (Revelation 7:4, 9, 10, 13-17) Are you one of that great crowd? If so, are you not glad that Jehovah has endured the presence of vessels of wrath until now? However, you must continue to endure, as Jehovah has endured.
8. Why do all of us need endurance, and what example of endurance should we consider intently?
8 All of us have need of endurance if we are to receive the promises. After stating this basic truth at Hebrews 10:36, the apostle Paul describes in detail the sterling faith and endurance of a great “cloud of witnesses” of ancient times. Then he admonishes us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, as we look intently at the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus. For the joy that was set before him,” Jesus endured in wholehearted service, never losing sight of the reward. How his example strengthens us also to endure!—Hebrews 12:1, 2.
9. What has resulted from modern-day examples of endurance?
9 Modern-day examples of endurance abound too. You may know, or have known, brothers and sisters who have been outstanding in their endurance. How their faithfulness has stimulated us! And each year, as Jehovah’s Witnesses report their worldwide activity to the Watch Tower Society, further thrilling accounts of endurance and integrity keeping are received. The chart on the four pages that follow epitomizes the grand work accomplished during 1989 as these Witnesses have ‘added to their faith endurance.’—2 Peter 1:5, 6.
Our Grandest Year
10. (a) How many lands and island groups shared in preaching the good news of the Kingdom in 1989, and how many took part in this work? (b) How many pioneers reported in the peak month, and what was the total number of hours spent in the field service?
10 As the preceding chart shows, 212 lands and island groups shared in preaching Jehovah’s incoming Kingdom. Dear Watchtower reader, were you privileged to be one of the 3,787,188 who took part in this grand work? Were you one of the 808,184 who reported as pioneers in the peak month for that service? Whatever you contributed to the 1989 global total number of 835,426,538 hours spent in field service, you have reason to rejoice.—Psalm 104:33, 34; Philippians 4:4.
11. (a) What attendance at the Memorial last March 22 is a cause for rejoicing, and why? (b) How many were baptized, and what lands in the chart were outstanding in this respect?
11 Rejoice, too, in that splendid total of 9,479,064 attenders, last March 22, at the worldwide celebration of the Memorial of Jesus’ death! This indicates a potential of 5,691,876 additional Kingdom proclaimers, if only these interested sheeplike ones can be lovingly shepherded into the sheepfold, to have a regular part in serving Jehovah. Can we help them in this? (John 10:16; Revelation 7:9, 15) Many are already responding, as indicated by the grand total of 263,855 new Witnesses baptized during the 1989 service year.
12. What are some features that the chart does not reveal (a) regarding factories of the Watch Tower Society? (b) regarding magazine placements and subscriptions?
12 There are some features that the chart does not reveal. The thirst for publications—Bibles, books, brochures, magazines—was insatiable. For example, the Watchtower factories in Brooklyn used some 15,000 tons of paper in printing 35,811,000 Bibles and books, a 101-percent increase over 1988. Other large factories of the Watch Tower Society, notably in Germany, Italy, and Japan, worked extra shifts, supporting “the faithful and discreet slave” in giving out spiritual “food at the proper time.” (Matthew 24:45) During April and May, exceptionally fine placements of magazines and subscriptions were reported in a number of lands, with special emphasis on distribution of the Watchtower issues on “Babylon the Great.” (Revelation 17:5) No doubt, this coming April, auxiliary pioneers and other Witnesses will swarm into the world field in what should prove to be our finest witnessing campaign of the 1990 service year.—Compare Isaiah 40:31; Romans 12:11, 12.
13. What countries are listed in the chart that were not listed last year? Explain.
13 Look again at the chart. Do you see some countries that were not listed by name last year? Why, yes! Hungary and Poland, where our work has recently been legalized. We are grateful to the authorities in these lands that they now show such consideration for Jehovah’s Witnesses. In this respect, the prayers of the worldwide brotherhood have been answered, “in order that we may go on leading a calm and quiet life with full godly devotion and seriousness.”—1 Timothy 2:1, 2.
14. Give some highlights of the “Godly Devotion” District Conventions in Poland.
14 “Godly devotion”! Why, the “Godly Devotion” District Conventions could be held even in Poland, in three locations, during August! What marvelous hosts our 91,024 Polish brothers proved to be! (Hebrews 13:1, 2, 16) As if by a miracle, tens of thousands of brothers—Czechs, Germans, Russians, and others—obtained visas to come by bus, train, and even on foot. Other thousands flew in from the Americas, Western Europe, and as far away as islands of the Pacific and Japan. The huge stadiums, made spotlessly clean by our brothers, were barely large enough to accommodate 65,710 at Chorzów, 40,442 at Poznan, and 60,366 at Warsaw—a grand total attendance of 166,518! At each center, the spectacle of the baptism elicited tears of joyful emotion. At Poznan a 9-year-old and a 90-year-old were immersed, and the total of 6,093 immersed at the three conventions included numerous teenagers, many of these from lands where it had been said that religion would die out with the old folks. Not so the true religion based on God’s Word! (Compare Psalm 148:12, 13; Acts 2:41; 4:4.) How wonderfully the endurance of our brothers in Eastern Europe has been rewarded!
Continued Faithfulness Under Trial
15. How have the Witnesses in Lebanon shown endurance and steadfastness, and with what fine results?
15 Like the apostle Paul, Jehovah’s Witnesses are called on to show endurance under many and varied circumstances. (2 Corinthians 11:24-27) In Lebanon civil war rages. How do our brothers respond? With steadfastness and determination. The year 1989 saw very heavy shelling and bombing, but even where these were the heaviest, the brothers were determined not to slow down. A congregation in Beirut reports: “Regular groups for field service were arranged on all evenings of the week. Despite difficult security conditions, the brothers were not discouraged. We covered more territories than ever before. In April we had a peak in the number of pioneers. New Bible studies were started, and more magazines and books were placed.”
16. How have our brothers in Colombia shown endurance by bringing the good news to towns where there were no Witnesses?
16 Colombia has been in the news because of the drug traffic and violence. But the faithful endurance of Christians there also makes news. Recently, temporary special pioneers were sent to 31 towns of ten thousand or more inhabitants where there were no Witnesses. In one town, when newly interested persons found that the pioneers would be there for only a few months, they pleaded for the pioneers to stay. In another, 18 interested persons signed a letter of appreciation for the spiritual help given during the three-month stay of the pioneers and requested additional help. “This is serious business,” they said. Needless to say, in both cases arrangements were made to continue cultivating the interest. Developing such distant territory takes endurance, but the hard work of the pioneers who do so is richly blessed.
17, 18. (a) Under what circumstances have Jehovah’s Witnesses endured in Italy? (b) How have the Witnesses fared despite the spreading of lies about them?
17 In Italy, Jehovah’s Witnesses face strong clergy opposition, but in Jehovah’s strength they have endured. In various parishes, the clergy distributed stickers to be attached to the doors of their parishioners’ homes telling Jehovah’s Witnesses not to ring the doorbell. Many priests recruited young boys to put these stickers on all the doors in a particular area—even at the homes of Witness families! The Witnesses, however, are not easily intimidated, and often they use the stickers to start a conversation. Further, the press and national television gave wide coverage to the matter, condemning the religious intolerance shown and underlining that tactics such as this are really a sign of weakness on the part of the church. One university professor was so offended by the controversial anti-Witness stickers that he subscribed to The Watchtower and Awake!
18 The Catholic Church in Italy even uses apostates to spread lies about Jehovah’s people, but this does not work either because the 172,382 publishers are well-known and respected. One man told visiting Witnesses that he had read bad things about us in literature written by ex-Witnesses. He was very opposed, therefore, when his brother became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. After a while, though, he noticed what a good effect his brother’s change of religion had had on him. He wondered: ‘How is it possible for something so bad to produce such good results?’ Hence, he asked for a Bible study with the visiting Witnesses.—Compare Colossians 3:8-10.
Coping With Indifference
19, 20. (a) What situation has required endurance on the part of the Witnesses in Finland, and what is really significant about a church poll? (b) What experience illustrates the importance of endurance in preaching the good news?
19 In lands where the Witnesses call frequently, there is often widespread indifference to the good news. This is certainly the case in Finland. The church in that land conducted a poll and found that 70 percent of the population do not like the Witnesses’ visiting their homes. However, 30 percent do not strongly object, and of these, 4 percent said they actually like Jehovah’s Witnesses. This is a significant figure. Four percent of the population of Finland represents 200,000 people. Compare that with the present publisher figure of 17,303!
20 One publisher out in service had his attention drawn to this poll and was asked: “Don’t you know that 70 percent of us consider you people undesirable? Why do you keep coming to our doors?” The publisher replied: “Yes, but that same study showed that 4 percent of you like us. We are trying to find those people. Even if they were only 1 percent, we would still go from house to house trying to find them.” The householder thought for a moment and said: “Is your message that important to them?” The publisher replied by asking: “Would you like to hear it?” Soon this householder manifested interest in the good news.
What the Future Holds
21. (a) What kind of fight must we put up in this system, and why? (b) What may we have to endure, and of what does Habakkuk’s prophecy assure us?
21 What about all of us today? Are we determined to endure with Jehovah and Christ Jesus through to the end? It may not be too long, but we must endure! In Satan’s system, we have to put up a hard fight for the faith, as the world’s immorality, corruption, and hatreds surround us on all sides. (Jude 3, 20, 21) We may have to endure persecution of one kind or another. Even now, thousands of our brothers are suffering in prisons, and some are cruelly beaten. These are thankful for our prayers. (2 Thessalonians 3:1, 2) Very soon, the present system will be no more! As Habakkuk states: “The vision is yet for the appointed time, and it keeps panting on to the end, and it will not tell a lie. Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.”—Habakkuk 2:3.
22. What outcome may we confidently expect if we exercise the patience of the prophets and the endurance of Job?
22 The disciple James lovingly tells us: “Brothers, take as a pattern of the suffering of evil and the exercising of patience the prophets, who spoke in the name of Jehovah.” We today who speak in Jehovah’s name can be integrity keepers during bitter trials, as were Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and others. Like Job, we can endure. How wonderfully he was rewarded for his endurance! Jehovah’s mercy and loving-kindness will bring us comparable rewards—if we endure to the end. And may James’ words be fulfilled toward each one of us: “Look! We pronounce happy those who have endured.”—James 5:10, 11; Job 42:10-13.
How Would You Answer?
□ What need for endurance did Jesus stress?
□ For what reasons has Jehovah endured?
□ What are some highlights of the grand work accomplished during 1989?
□ How has the endurance of our brothers in Poland been rewarded?
□ How have the Witnesses in Lebanon, Colombia, and Italy shown faithfulness under trial?
[Chart on page 20-23]
1989 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
(See bound volume)