“Let Anyone Hearing Say: ‘Come!’”
Throughout the coming year, Jehovah’s Witnesses in more than 200 lands worldwide will be expending themselves in harmony with their 1991 yeartext: “LET ANYONE HEARING SAY: ‘COME!’”
“The spirit and the bride keep on saying: ‘Come!’ And let anyone hearing say: ‘Come!’ And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.”—REVELATION 22:17.
1. To what “water” are we invited to “come!”
YOU are invited to “come!” Come for what? Why, come to quench your thirst with water. This is not ordinary water but the same water that Jesus Christ spoke of when he said to the Samaritan woman at the well: “Whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty at all, but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water bubbling up to impart everlasting life.” (John 4:14) From where did Jesus get this “water”?
2. What is the source of the “water,” and only after what event could it flow?
2 The apostle John was privileged to see in vision the source from which this “water” issued forth, as he noted at Revelation 22:1: “He showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, flowing out from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” Yes, the source of this crystal-clear water with life-giving elements is none other than the Life-Giver, Jehovah himself, who makes it available through the Lamb, Jesus Christ. (Compare Revelation 21:6.) Since “the throne of God and of the Lamb” is mentioned, it must be after the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom in 1914, that is, after the Lord’s day began, that the water of life begins to flow.—Revelation 1:10.
3, 4. What does the “water” represent, and for whom is it to be available?
3 What does this water of life symbolize? It pictures God’s provision for restoring perfect human life, everlasting life in perfection on an earth transformed into a paradise. The water of life represents all the provisions for life through Jesus Christ. Is all of this available now? No, not all of it, for God must first remove the present wicked system of things with its invisible ruler, Satan the Devil. But we can take what is available of this “water” now by hearing and obeying the good news of the Kingdom and conforming our lives thereto.—John 3:16; Romans 12:2.
4 Thus, after showing John the ‘river of life,’ Jesus spoke to John about His purpose in sending His angel with the vision. Then John heard the proclamation: “The spirit and the bride keep on saying: ‘Come!’ And let anyone hearing say: ‘Come!’ And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.” (Revelation 22:17) Hence, servants of God extend the invitation to thirsty ones to begin drinking of God’s provisions for gaining eternal life on earth through the Lamb of God.—John 1:29.
Need for Waters of Life Arises
5. How did mankind come to need this divine provision?
5 Sadly, the first parents of the human family did not adhere to the course in life that would have given their offspring the opportunity to enjoy perfect human life forever in a paradise home. Everlasting life for mankind required that Adam make the intelligent choice of serving his Creator obediently. Under the influence of a rebellious spirit creature, Eve started the movement that resulted in death to mankind, and Adam, her perfect husband, chose to join her in that death-dealing course. Thus, as the giver of natural life to succeeding generations of humankind, Adam was really the one that introduced the operation of death into the entire human family. So it is that the Bible states: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) It was after Adam and Eve had fallen into sin that they began to add new members to the human family.—Psalm 51:5.
6. Why did Jehovah arrange for the “water” to be available?
6 Was God to be forever blocked in accomplishing his purpose of a paradise earth filled with perfect humans? The Biblical answer is, of course, no! Nevertheless, to the end of fulfilling his purpose, Jehovah made a loving provision that would counteract Adam’s disastrous failure and yet would be in full harmony with justice and righteousness, of which He is the complete and ultimate expression. He does this through the “river of water of life.” By means of it, he will restore perfect human life to obedient mankind, whose access to the Source of life was forfeited. This river flows in its fullest sense during the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ. Thus, throughout Christ’s Millennial Rule, humans, including those resurrected from the dead, must drink of the “river of water of life.”—Compare Ezekiel 47:1-10; Acts 24:15.
7. On what basis is the provision for “water” made?
7 Jehovah enjoys his own life, and he also enjoys bestowing the privilege of intelligent life upon some of his creation. The basis of Jehovah’s life-giving provisions is Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. (Mark 10:45; 1 John 4:9, 10) Also involved is God’s Word, which the Bible at times terms “water.” (Ephesians 5:26) Jehovah God is free to say, “Come!” to human creatures, who suffered the loss of the original provisions that God made for the perfect human pair, Adam and Eve.
Bride Class Extend the Invitation, “Come!”
8. To whom and when was this “water” first provided?
8 The first to extend the invitation to “come!” are those who make up the figurative bride of the Lamb, the firstborn spiritual Son of Jehovah. (Revelation 14:1, 3, 4; 21:9) The spiritual bride of Christ is not saying, “Come!” to herself, that is, to those whom Jehovah God would yet gather as part of the bride class in order to make it 144,000 strong. Those words of invitation are extended to humans who hope to attain to perfect human life on earth after Armageddon. (Revelation 16:14, 16) During this conclusion of the system of things since 1914, we have heard the invitation being extended by “the bride,” in collaboration with the holy spirit of God.
9. How do we know that it is not for just a small group?
9 Thrillingly, the last book of the Bible shows that ‘a great crowd, whom no man could number,’ would respond to the proclamation of the good news of God’s Kingdom and would firmly put themselves on the side of that royal government. (Revelation 7:9, 10, 16, 17) Are you one of that great crowd? Then, “let anyone hearing say: ‘Come!’”
Spirit and Bride Say, “Come!”
10. Where must the symbolic water originate, and why?
10 But why are God and the figurative Bridegroom not mentioned at Revelation 22:17? First, note that the verse does not state under whose direction the spirit acts. Yet, the reference to spirit directs our attention to Jehovah God himself. The Father is not pushed out of the picture, since he is the very Source of holy spirit. Second, the Son cooperates fully with his Father, as he himself says: “The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing.” (John 5:19) Moreover, while this invitation is an inspired utterance ultimately originating with Jehovah God, humans can receive divine direction, or “inspired expressions,” by means of Jesus Christ, “the Word.” (Revelation 22:6; also Re 22:17, Reference Bible, footnote; John 1:1) Appropriately, then, we associate Christ, the Bridegroom, with this invitation. Yes, we can be certain that both Jehovah God, the Father of the Groom, and Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, join with “the bride” by means of the holy spirit in saying, “Come!”
11, 12. (a) What early indication was there that the invitation to drink would be expanded? (b) How did the matter become increasingly clear over the years?
11 For decades this invitation to “come!” has been going forth to people thirsting for “life’s water.” Even back in 1918, the bride class began preaching a message that particularly involved those who might live on the earth. It was the public talk entitled “Millions Now Living May Never Die.” This offered a hope that many would survive Armageddon and thereafter gain eternal life on the Paradise earth under God’s Messianic Kingdom. But that message did not definitely show the way to this survival privilege, except by righteousness in general.
12 To reach more people with the invitation, “Come!” in 1922 the message went out to all those who were interested in serving God: “Advertise the King and Kingdom.” In 1923 the bride class understood that “the sheep” and “the goats” of Jesus’ parable at Matthew 25:31-46 are manifest prior to Armageddon. Then, in 1929, The Watch Tower of March 15 featured the article “Gracious Invitation.” Its theme text was Revelation 22:17, and it highlighted the responsibility of the bride class to extend the invitation, “Come!”—Pages 87-9.*
Other Sheep Join in Saying, “Come!”
13, 14. In the 1930’s, what additional clarification was provided that others would drink of the symbolic water?
13 Moreover, as early as 1932, The Watchtower pointed out the responsibility of the “other sheep,” in their turn, to say, “Come!” (John 10:16) In its issue of August 1, page 232, paragraph 29 stated: “Jehovah’s witnesses now have the zeal like to that of Jehu and they should encourage the Jehonadab class [other sheep] to come along with them and to take some part in proclaiming to others that the kingdom of God is at hand.” Then, after quoting Revelation 22:17, the paragraph said: “Let the anointed encourage all who will to take part in telling the good news of the kingdom. They do not have to be anointed of the Lord in order to declare the Lord’s message. It is a great comfort to Jehovah’s witnesses to now know that they are permitted to carry the waters of life to a class of people that may be taken through Armageddon and given everlasting life on the earth by reason of the bounteous goodness of Jehovah.”*
14 From 1934 onward, the anointed remnant pointed out that these other sheep must now make a dedication of themselves to God and symbolize this dedication by water baptism and then join with the bride class in saying, “Come!” to yet other thirsty ones. Thus, there was now a definite invitation being extended by the bride class for gathering these thirsty other sheep together into the “one flock” under the “one shepherd,” Jesus Christ. (John 10:16) In 1935 the anointed remnant were stirred to learn at their general convention that year that the sheeplike class of people to whom they were saying, “Come!” was actually the “great crowd” of Revelation 7:9-17. This gave tremendous impetus to the invitation work.
15. How was “the spirit” involved in the invitation, “Come”?
15 In saying, “Come!” the bride class was in harmony with God’s spirit. By means of his spirit in opening up the meaning of the prophecies of his written Word, he caused the remnant of the bride class to extend the invitation. These prophecies on which their invitation was based had been inspired by the spirit of God. So it was, in effect, God’s spirit flowing through Christ and his bride that was saying to the great crowd of sheeplike people, “Come!”—Revelation 19:10.
16. How are the spirit and the bride tied in with the invitation today?
16 To this day the spirit and the bride, represented by the remnant, “keep on saying: ‘Come!’” The remnant tell these other sheep to invite still others to “come!” They are not to keep “life’s water,” as it is available today, to themselves. They must obey the command from “the spirit and the bride,” namely: “Let anyone hearing say: ‘Come!’” All those quenching their thirst must circulate the invitation. They must extend it to everyone without regard for race, nationality, language, or present religion—everyone everywhere! What there is available of “life’s water” at the present time is what Jehovah’s Witnesses invite and help all peoples to partake of, free!
17. What sort of “water” is available today?
17 Earth wide, the Lamb, Jesus Christ, is indeed guiding the great crowd “to fountains of waters of life.” (Revelation 7:17) No polluted water this, but clear, cool, wholesome water right from its Source. These symbolic waters mean more than waters in the sense of understanding Bible truth; they mean all of God’s provisions through Jesus Christ that begin even now to set the great crowd on the path to attaining to everlasting perfect life in happiness.
Join Now in the Proclamation
18. How extensive is the invitation in our time?
18 Already, this great crowd numbers several million. They zealously continue to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom in all the inhabited earth. They regularly report their field activities in preaching the Kingdom good news, which has now gone to 212 lands. As time during this conclusion of the system of things allows, the invitation will continue according to the patience and long-suffering of Jehovah God, the Great Timekeeper. He will know when the time is up and when it is the critical moment for him to make himself known to all as Jehovah, just as he has promised to do according to repeated statements in Bible prophecy.—Ezekiel 36:23; 38:21-23; 39:7.
19. Why can we say that this “water” is offered free?
19 While there is still time, therefore, members of the great crowd joyfully participate with the remnant of the bridal company in saying: ‘Come and partake of the waters of life free!’ The proclaimers of this lifesaving good news are freely making the proclamation, not charging for the services they render as they circulate the Kingdom message throughout the world.
20. What will result because this “water” is available?
20 Life’s waters are now available all around the globe, so that people who want to partake may do so to full satisfaction with lifesaving results. Redeemed mankind will enjoy endless life right here on this earth, which is to be transformed into a paradise, vindicating the precious purpose of Jehovah. Our Creator made the earth not in vain but to be a world-encircling garden of Eden, or Paradise of pleasure, inhabited by perfect human creatures in God’s image and likeness.
21. How will God’s purpose for the earth be accomplished?
21 Certainly, it will be an unspeakably grand privilege and joy to be in such a new world! Then the commission that God gave to the first human couple at Genesis 1:27, 28 will be abundantly fulfilled. Thanks to Jehovah’s masterfully handling the calamity that befell the human family, the earth will be subdued to the extent of being a paradise and will be filled with a perfect human race. Yes, God will see everything he has made, and, look, it will be very good. Will you be there? If so, then you must now appreciatively begin to partake of the water of life freely. “Come!” and drink your fill and quench your thirst with life’s water that has begun to flow now and will flow in fullness during the Millennium to come. And let anyone hearing this sweet invitation say: “Come!”
Among other things, this article said: “Never has there been so wide a witness of the truth as during the past few years. . . . The remnant bring them the glad message, and to them they say: ‘And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’ They are told that they may now take their stand on the side of the Lord, and against the Devil, and receive a blessing. Is it not such a class of people that may now seek meekness and righteousness, and be hid in the day of his expressed wrath, and be carried beyond the great battle of Armageddon and live for ever and not die? (Zeph. 2:3) . . . The faithful remnant class join in the gracious invitation and say, ‘Come.’ This message is to be proclaimed to those who have a desire for righteousness and truth. It must be done now.”
The Watchtower of August 15, 1934, also referred to the responsibility of the other sheep and said on page 249, paragraph 31: “The Jonadab class are of those who ‘hear’ the message of truth and who must say to those in their hearing: ‘Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’ (Rev. 22:17) Those of the Jonadab class must go along with those who are of the antitypical Jehu company, that is, the anointed, and announce the message of the kingdom, even though they are not the anointed witnesses of Jehovah.”
What Is Your Answer?
□ What “water” is referred to at Revelation 22:17?
□ What is the source of the “water”?
□ Why is the “water” needed, and when only could it start to flow?
□ In our text, what does the reference to “spirit” indicate, and how is “the bride” involved?
□ Who can partake of the “water,” and with what result?