Serving Jehovah With Joy
“Serve Jehovah with rejoicing. Come in before him with a joyful cry.”—PSALM 100:2.
1, 2. (a) How was racism brought to the fore in Berlin, Germany, but how did the crusade for a “Thousand-Year Reich” fare? (b) What contrast to 1936 was observed in the Olympia Stadium in July 1990, and in what is the joy of the international group that assembled there anchored?
THE scene is the Olympia Stadium, Berlin. Fifty-four years earlier, this fine stadium became a center of controversy when Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler reportedly snubbed a black American sprinter who had won four gold medals. A blow, indeed, to Hitler’s racist claim of “Aryan superiority”!* But now, on July 26, 1990, blacks, whites, yellows—a united people from 64 national groups, 44,532 in all—are assembled here for the “Pure Language” District Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. What joy overflows on that Thursday afternoon! Following the talk on baptism, 1,018 candidates cry out, “Ja!” and again, “Ja!” in affirming their dedication to Jehovah God, to do his will.
2 It takes 19 minutes for these new Witnesses to file out of the stadium on their way to the baptism pool. And during all those minutes, thunderous applause resounds throughout that vast arena. Victors at the Olympic Games had never experienced applause such as now welcomes these hundreds, out of many national groups, who are exhibiting the faith that conquers the world. (1 John 5:3, 4) Their joy is anchored firmly in the confidence that God’s Kingdom rule by Christ will indeed bring a thousand years of glorious blessings to mankind.—Hebrews 6:17, 18; Revelation 20:6; 21:4, 5.
3. What truth is emphasized by the confidence of the conventioners, and how?
3 There are no racial or nationalistic hatreds here, for all are talking the pure language of God’s Word, thus emphasizing the truth of Peter’s words: “For a certainty I perceive that God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.”—Acts 10:34, 35; Zephaniah 3:9.
4. Under what conditions did the majority of the conventioners become believers, and how have their prayers been answered?
4 A large segment of these conventioners in Berlin have become believers during long years of oppression, covering the Nazi era (1933-45) and the socialistic era that followed in East Germany, where the ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses has just been legally removed on March 14, 1990. Hence, many of them have “accepted the word under much tribulation with joy of holy spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6) They now have greater freedom to serve Jehovah, and their joy knows no bounds.—Compare Isaiah 51:11.
Occasions for Joy
5. How did Israel celebrate Jehovah’s deliverance at the Red Sea?
5 The release of our brothers in Eastern Europe, and currently in parts of Africa and Asia, reminds us of deliverances by Jehovah in former times. We recall Jehovah’s mighty act at the Red Sea, and how Israel’s song of thanksgiving reached a crescendo in the words: “Who among the gods is like you, O Jehovah? Who is like you, proving yourself mighty in holiness? The One to be feared with songs of praise, the One doing marvels.” (Exodus 15:11) Today, do we not continue to rejoice in the marvelous things Jehovah is doing for his people? Certainly we do!
6. What can we learn from Israel’s shouting for joy in 537 B.C.E.?
6 Joy flooded over in 537 B.C.E. when Israel was restored to its land after the captivity in Babylon. Jehovah’s nation could now declare, as Isaiah had prophesied: “Look! God is my salvation. I shall trust and be in no dread; for Jah Jehovah is my strength and my might, and he came to be the salvation of me.” What exultation! And how would the nation express that joy? Isaiah continues: “In that day you will certainly say: ‘Give thanks to Jehovah, you people! Call upon his name. Make known among the peoples his dealings. Make mention that his name is put on high. Make melody to Jehovah, for he has done surpassingly.’” They could now “shout for joy” in making his mighty acts “known in all the earth,” just as Jehovah’s liberated servants do today.—Isaiah 12:1-6.
Joy in Jehovah’s Work
7. What deliverances called for exultation in 1919?
7 In modern times Jehovah’s servants began to shout for joy when he granted them a marvelous deliverance in 1919. On March 26 of that year, members of the Governing Body were released from the United States prison where they had been incarcerated for nine months under false charges of sedition. What a grand celebration took place in welcoming them back to Brooklyn Bethel! Moreover, all those of the anointed remnant could now rejoice at being released spiritually from Babylon the Great, the system of religion in which Satan has enmeshed the entire world.—Revelation 17:3-6; 18:2-5.
8. What surprise release was announced at the Cedar Point Convention in 1919, and what call to action was given?
8 The historic developments of 1919 were crowned by the convention of God’s people held at Cedar Point, Ohio, U.S.A., September 1-8. On the fifth day of that assembly, “Co-Laborers Day,” the president of the Watch Tower Society, J. F. Rutherford, addressed 6,000 in a stirring talk entitled “Announcing the Kingdom.” After discussing Revelation 15:2 and Isaiah 52:7, he told his listeners that a new magazine, The Golden Age (now known as Awake!), would be published every two weeks, especially for field distribution. In conclusion he said: “Those who are wholly devoted to the Lord; those who are fearless, whose hearts are pure, who love God and the Lord Jesus with all their mind, strength, soul and being, will, as opportunity is afforded, rejoice to participate in this work. Ask the Lord for his guidance and direction that he may make you a true, faithful, and an efficient ambassador. Then, with a song of joy in your heart, go forth to serve him.”
9, 10. How has Jehovah prospered the publication of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines?
9 That “song of joy” has been heard throughout the earth! Many of our readers have shared, no doubt, in raising the circulation of Awake! magazine to the present 12,980,000 copies of each issue in 64 languages. As a powerful instrument in leading interested persons to the truth, Awake! serves as companion to The Watchtower. In an Oriental country, a pioneer sister, working a regular magazine route, was surprised to find that each time she delivered the latest magazines, the householder donated the equivalent of $7 (U.S.) to the worldwide work of Jehovah’s Witnesses—surely showing fine appreciation for the Kingdom work!
10 Now commencing its 112th year of publication, the Watchtower magazine has a circulation of 15,290,000 in 111 languages, 59 of these editions appearing simultaneously worldwide with the same contents. As a faithful steward, the anointed remnant continues to give appreciative readers “their measure of [spiritual] food supplies at the proper time.” (Luke 12:42) During 1990, Jehovah’s Witnesses reported placing 2,968,309 new subscriptions to the two magazines, a 22.7-percent increase over 1989.
11. (a) What call was extended to God’s people at Cedar Point in 1922? (b) How has the shout of joy been expanded?
11 Joy also abounded as God’s people, now 10,000 in number, assembled for a second convention at Cedar Point, in September 1922, with 361 being baptized. In his discourse “The Kingdom of Heaven Is At Hand,” based on Matthew 4:17, Brother Rutherford led up to the rousing climax: “The world must know that Jehovah is God and that Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. This is the day of all days. Behold, the King reigns! You are his publicity agents. Therefore, advertise, advertise, advertise, the King and his kingdom.” Those who broke out in the shout of joy that went up at that convention have expanded in number until in 1989 more than 6,600,000 were gathered in 1,210 conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, where 123,688 were baptized.
12. (a) In what inestimable joy do God’s people share today? (b) How do we balance our service to Jehovah with obedience to “the superior authorities”?
12 Jehovah’s Witnesses cherish their freedom. Above all, they rejoice in the modern-day fulfillment of Jesus’ words: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” What a joy to be set free from the mysteries and superstitions of false religion! What inestimable joy to know Jehovah and his Son and to become coworkers with them, with the prospect of everlasting life! (John 8:32; 17:3; 1 Corinthians 3:9-11) God’s servants also appreciate it when this world’s “superior authorities,” under which they live, honor their freedom to proclaim the glorious hope of Jehovah’s Kingdom under Christ. They willingly “pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar,” while at the same time paying “God’s things to God.”—Romans 13:1-7; Luke 20:25.
13. How have Jehovah’s Witnesses expressed their joy at release from oppression?
13 However, if human authorities try to restrict this obligation to God, Jehovah’s Witnesses answer as did the apostles: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.” On that occasion, after the rulers released the apostles, these “went their way . . . rejoicing.” How did they express that joy? “Every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus.” (Acts 5:27-32, 41, 42) Likewise, modern-day Witnesses of Jehovah rejoice when they gain greater freedom to pursue their ministry. In many lands where Jehovah has opened the way, they express intense joy by giving a thorough witness to Jehovah’s name and incoming Kingdom by Christ Jesus.—Compare Acts 20:20, 21, 24; 23:11; 28:16, 23.
Enduring With Joy
14. How does this joy that is a fruit of the spirit surpass that defined by a dictionary?
14 What is this intense joy that true Christians experience? It is far deeper and more permanent than the transitory joy of a victor at the Olympic Games. It is a fruit of God’s holy spirit, which God gives to those “obeying him as ruler.” (Acts 5:32) Webster’s dictionary defines joy as being ‘deeper-rooted than delight, more radiant or demonstrative than gladness.’ To the Christian, joy has an even more profound meaning. Being anchored in our faith, it is a powerful, fortifying quality. “The joy of Jehovah is your stronghold.” (Nehemiah 8:10) The joy of Jehovah, which God’s people cultivate, far transcends the superficial excitement that people get from fleshly, worldly pleasures.—Galatians 5:19-23.
15. (a) In the experience of faithful Christians, how has endurance been coupled with joy? (b) Cite some scriptures that give strengthening assurance with regard to maintaining joy.
15 Consider our brothers in the Ukraine. When the ‘superior authority’ banished thousands of these to Siberia in the early 1950’s, they suffered great hardships. Later, when the authority granted them an amnesty, they were thankful, but not all of them returned to their homeland. Why? Their labors in the East had reminded them of James 1:2-4: “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you meet with various trials, knowing as you do that this tested quality of your faith works out endurance.” They wanted to keep on enduring in that joyful harvest, and what joy it has been at recent conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Poland to welcome Witnesses from as far east as Pacific coastal communities. Endurance and joy have gone hand in hand to produce this fruitage. Indeed, all of us who endure joyfully in Jehovah’s service can say: “Yet, as for me, I will exult in Jehovah himself; I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. Jehovah the Sovereign Lord is my vital energy.”—Habakkuk 3:18, 19; Matthew 5:11, 12.
16. How should the fine examples of Jeremiah and Job encourage us in our field work?
16 How, though, can we maintain our joy when witnessing among hardheaded opposers? Remember that God’s prophets kept a joyful outlook in similar circumstances. Jeremiah stated when under trial: “Your words were found, and I proceeded to eat them; and your word becomes to me the exultation and the rejoicing of my heart; for your name has been called upon me, O Jehovah God of armies.” (Jeremiah 15:16) What a privilege to be called by Jehovah’s name and to witness to that name! Our diligent personal study and full participation in Christian meetings build us up to continue rejoicing in the truth. Our joy will show through in our deportment in the field and in our Kingdom smile. Even under bitter trial, Job could say of his adversaries: “I would smile at them—they would not believe it—and the light of my face they would not cast down.” (Job 29:24) Like faithful Job, we need not become downcast when opposers deride us. Keep smiling! Our countenance can reflect our joy and so gain listening ears.
17. How may endurance with joy bear fruit?
17 As we cover territory time and again, our endurance and joy may impress righteously inclined people and encourage them to examine the glorious hope that we hold. What a joy it is to conduct Bible studies with them on a regular basis! And as they take into their hearts the precious truths of God’s Word, what joy we feel as they at last become our companions in Jehovah’s service! Then we are able to say, as the apostle Paul told new believers in his day: “For what is our hope or joy or crown of exultation—why, is it not in fact you?—before our Lord Jesus at his presence? You certainly are our glory and joy.” (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20) Truly, a satisfying joy is to be found in leading new ones to the truth of God’s Word and in helping them to become dedicated, baptized Witnesses.
Joy That Sustains
18. What will help us to cope with various modern-day trials?
18 In our daily lives, many situations may call for endurance. Physical sickness, depression, and economic hardship are just a few. How can the Christian maintain his joy in order to cope with such trials? This can be done by going to God’s Word for comfort and guidance. Reading or listening to readings of the psalms can provide much refreshment in time of trial. And note David’s wise advice: “Throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter.” (Psalm 55:22) Jehovah is indeed the “Hearer of prayer.”—Psalm 65:2.
19. Like David and Paul, what confidence may we have?
19 Jehovah’s organization, through its publications and its congregation elders, stands ever at the ready to help us, frail humans that we are, to grapple with our problems. David warmly counsels: “Roll upon Jehovah your way, and rely upon him, and he himself will act.” He could also say: “A young man I used to be, I have also grown old, and yet I have not seen anyone righteous left entirely, nor his offspring looking for bread.” In association with the Christian congregation, we will realize that “the salvation of the righteous ones is from Jehovah; he is their fortress in the time of distress.” (Psalm 37:5, 25, 39) Always let us follow Paul’s advice: “Therefore we do not give up, . . . while we keep our eyes, not on the things seen, but on the things unseen. For the things seen are temporary, but the things unseen are everlasting.”—2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
20. What do we see with the eye of faith, and how does this motivate us?
20 With our eyes of faith, we can see Jehovah’s new system just ahead. What incomparable joys and blessings will be there! (Psalm 37:34; 72:1, 7; 145:16) In preparation for that glorious time, let us heed the words of Psalm 100:2: “Serve Jehovah with rejoicing. Come in before him with a joyful cry.”
As to “Aryan superiority,” The New York Times of February 17, 1940, quoted a Catholic regent of Georgetown University as saying that “he had heard Adolf Hitler say that the Holy Roman Empire, which was a Germanic empire, must be re-established.” But historian William L. Shirer describes the outcome: “The Third Reich which was born on January 30, 1933, Hitler boasted, would endure for a thousand years, and in Nazi parlance it was often referred to as the ‘Thousand-Year Reich.’ It lasted twelve years and four months.”
□ What joyful conquest of racism is seen today?
□ What caused God’s ancient people to sing and shout for joy?
□ How has true joy increased in modern times?
□ How do endurance and joy go hand in hand?
□ By what means may we sustain our joy?