Rejoice in the Kingdom Hope!
“Rejoice in the hope. Endure under tribulation.”—ROMANS 12:12.
1. Why can we find joy in association with Jehovah, and what did the apostle Paul urge Christians to do?
“THE happy God.” (1 Timothy 1:11) How well this describes Jehovah! Why? Because all of his works bring great happiness to him. Since Jehovah is the Source of all good and happifying things, all of his intelligent creatures can find happiness in their association with him. Aptly, the apostle Paul urged Christians to appreciate their joyful privilege of knowing Jehovah God, to be thankful for all His wonderful gifts of creation, and to rejoice in the loving-kindnesses He shows them. Paul wrote: “Always rejoice in the Lord. Once more I will say, Rejoice!”—Philippians 4:4; Psalm 104:31.
2. What hope brings great joy, and what are Christians encouraged to do in regard to this hope?
2 Are Christians heeding this exhortation that Paul offered? Indeed they are! The spiritual brothers of Jesus Christ are rejoicing in the glorious hope that God opened up for them. (Romans 8:19-21; Philippians 3:20, 21) Yes, they know that they will share in fulfilling the great hope for the future of mankind, both the living and the dead, by serving with Christ in his heavenly Kingdom government. Imagine how much they will rejoice in their privileges as joint-heirs, serving as kings and priests! (Revelation 20:6) What happiness will be theirs as they help faithful mankind attain to perfection and help guide the restoration of Paradise to our earth! Truly, all of God’s servants have “the basis of a hope of the everlasting life which God, who cannot lie, promised before times long lasting.” (Titus 1:2) In view of this grand hope, the apostle Paul encourages all Christians: “Rejoice in the hope.”—Romans 12:12.*
True Joy—A Quality of the Heart
3, 4. (a) What does the term “to rejoice” mean, and how often should Christians be rejoicing? (b) What is true joy, and what is it dependent on?
3 “To rejoice” means to feel and to express joy; it does not mean to be in a constant state of euphoria, or exuberance. The verbs corresponding to the Hebrew and Greek words used in the Bible for “joy,” “exultation,” and “rejoicing” express both the inner feeling and the outward manifestation of joy. Christians are encouraged to “continue to rejoice,” “always be rejoicing.”—2 Corinthians 13:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:16.
4 But how can one always be rejoicing? This is possible because true joy is a quality of the heart, a deep inner quality, a spiritual one. (Deuteronomy 28:47; Proverbs 15:13; 17:22) It is a fruit of God’s spirit, listed by Paul just after love. (Galatians 5:22) As an inward quality, it is not dependent on external things, not even on our brothers. But it does depend on God’s holy spirit. And it comes from that deep inner satisfaction of knowing that you have the truth, the Kingdom hope, and that you are doing what pleases Jehovah. Hence, joy is not a mere personality trait that we are born with; it is part of “the new personality,” the assemblage of qualities that distinguished Jesus Christ.—Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10.
5. When and how may there be outward manifestations of joy?
5 Though joy is a heart quality, it may nevertheless be shown outwardly on occasion. What are these occasional, outward manifestations of joy? They could be anything from facial sereneness to an actual leaping for joy. (1 Kings 1:40; Luke 1:44; Acts 3:8; 6:15) Does this mean, then, that people who are not talkative or who are not always smiling have no joy? No! True joy does not express itself in constant chatter, laughter, smiling, or grinning. Circumstances cause joy to manifest itself in various ways. It is not joy alone that makes us congenial at the Kingdom Hall but, rather, our brotherly affection and love.
6. Why can Christians always rejoice even when they face unpleasant conditions?
6 The constant aspect of joy is its inward permanence as a heartfelt feature of the Christian’s new personality. This is what makes it possible to be always rejoicing. Of course, at times we may be disturbed about something, or we may face unpleasant conditions. But we can still have joy in our heart. Some early Christians were slaves, having masters who were difficult to please. Could such Christians always be rejoicing? Yes, because of their Kingdom hope and the joy in their hearts.—John 15:11; 16:24; 17:13.
7. (a) What did Jesus say about joy under tribulation? (b) What helps us to endure under tribulation, and who set the finest example in this regard?
7 Right after the apostle Paul said: “Rejoice in the hope,” he added: “Endure under tribulation.” (Romans 12:12) Jesus also spoke of joy under tribulation when he said at Matthew 5:11, 12: “Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you . . . Rejoice and leap for joy, since your reward is great in the heavens.” The rejoicing and leaping for joy here need not be a literal outward manifestation; it is primarily that deep inner satisfaction that one has in pleasing Jehovah and Jesus Christ when standing firm under trial. (Acts 5:41) Actually, it is joy that helps us to endure while under tribulation. (1 Thessalonians 1:6) In this, Jesus set the finest example. The Scriptures tell us: “For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake.”—Hebrews 12:2.
Rejoicing in the Hope Despite Problems
8. What problems may Christians face, but why do problems not take away a Christian’s joy?
8 Being a servant of Jehovah does not free one from problems. There may be family problems, economic difficulties, impaired health, or death of loved ones. While such things might induce sorrow, they do not take away our basis for rejoicing in the Kingdom hope, the inner joy that we have in our heart.—1 Thessalonians 4:13.
9. What problems did Abraham have, and how do we know that he had joy in his heart?
9 Consider Abraham, for example. Life was not always pleasant for him. He had family problems. His concubine, Hagar, and his wife, Sarah, did not get along. There was bickering. (Genesis 16:4, 5) Ishmael poked fun at Isaac, persecuting him. (Genesis 21:8, 9; Galatians 4:29) Finally, Abraham’s beloved wife, Sarah, died. (Genesis 23:2) Despite these problems, he rejoiced over the hope of the Kingdom Seed, the Seed of Abraham, through whom all families of the earth would bless themselves. (Genesis 22:15-18) With joy in his heart, he endured in Jehovah’s service for a hundred years after leaving his home city of Ur. Therefore it is written of him: “He was awaiting the city having real foundations, the builder and maker of which city is God.” Because of Abraham’s faith in the coming Messianic Kingdom, the Lord Jesus, when already appointed by God to be King, could say: “Abraham . . . rejoiced greatly in the prospect of seeing my day, and he saw it and rejoiced.”—Hebrews 11:10; John 8:56.
10, 11. (a) What struggle do we as Christians have, and how are we rescued? (b) What makes up for our inability to wage perfectly the fight against our sinful flesh?
10 As imperfect humans, we also have our sinful flesh to contend with, and this struggle to do what is right can be very distressing. Our fight against our weaknesses does not mean, though, that we do not have hope. Paul felt miserable over this conflict, and he said: “Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death? Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24, 25) By means of Jesus Christ and the ransom he provided, we are rescued.—Romans 5:19-21.
11 Christ’s ransom sacrifice makes up for our inability to wage the fight perfectly. We can rejoice in this ransom because it makes possible a cleansed conscience and forgiveness of our sins. At Hebrews 9:14, Paul speaks of “the blood of the Christ” that has the power to “cleanse our consciences from dead works.” Thus, the consciences of Christians need not be burdened down with condemnation and guilt feelings. This, along with the hope we have, constitutes a strong force for joyous happiness. (Psalm 103:8-14; Romans 8:1, 2, 32) Contemplating our hope, all of us will be encouraged to wage the fight successfully.
Keeping Our Hope Close in Mind
12. What hope can anointed Christians contemplate?
12 It is important for both the spirit-anointed remnant and the other sheep to keep their “hope of salvation” in mind, wearing it as a protective helmet. (1 Thessalonians 5:8) Anointed Christians can contemplate the wonderful privilege of gaining immortality in heaven, having access to Jehovah God, and enjoying personal association with the glorified Jesus Christ and the apostles and all others of the 144,000, who maintained their integrity down through the centuries. What an indescribable wealth of association!
13. How do the anointed still on earth feel about their hope?
13 How do the few anointed still on earth feel about their Kingdom hope? This can be summed up in the words of F. W. Franz, president of the Watch Tower Society, who was baptized in 1913: “Our hope is a sure thing, and it will be fulfilled fully to every last one of the 144,000 members of the little flock to a degree beyond what we have even imagined. We of the remnant who were on hand in the year 1914, when we expected all of us to go to heaven, have not lost our sense of value of that hope. But we are as strong for it as we ever were, and we are appreciating it all the more the longer we have to wait for it. It is something worth waiting for, even if it required a million years. I evaluate our hope more highly than ever before, and I never want to lose my appreciation for it. The hope of the little flock also gives assurance that the expectation of the great crowd of other sheep will, without any possibility of failure, be fulfilled beyond our brightest imagination. That is why we are holding fast down to this very hour, and we are going to hold fast until God has actually proved that he is true to his ‘precious and very grand promises.’”—2 Peter 1:4; Numbers 23:19; Romans 5:5.
Rejoicing Now in the Paradise Hope
14. What hope do the great crowd need to keep in mind?
14 Such an expression of exultant faith infuses in those who are of the great crowd of other sheep grand reasons for rejoicing. (Revelation 7:15, 16) Such ones need to keep in mind the hope of surviving Armageddon. Yes, look forward to seeing God’s Kingdom vindicate the universal sovereignty of Jehovah God and sanctify his glorious name by bringing the great tribulation, which will cleanse the earth of the wicked ones of whom the Devil has been god. What a joy it will be to survive that great tribulation!—Daniel 2:44; Revelation 7:14.
15. (a) What work of healing did Jesus do when he was on earth, and why? (b) What will be the health needs of the Armageddon survivors, and why are they different from those who are resurrected?
15 Concerning the great crowd, Revelation 7:17 says: “The Lamb . . . will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life. And God will wipe out every tear from their eyes.” Though this prophecy has a spiritual fulfillment now, the Armageddon survivors will see it literally fulfilled. How so? Well, what did Jesus do when he was on earth? He healed the maimed, made the lame walk, opened the ears of the deaf and the eyes of those blind, and he cured leprosy, paralysis, and “every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity.” (Matthew 9:35; 15:30, 31) Is that not what Christians today need? The great crowd will carry old-world disabilities and infirmities over into the new world. What do we expect the Lamb to do about that? The needs of the Armageddon survivors will be very different from the needs of those who will be resurrected. The resurrected ones will likely be recreated with whole, sound, healthy bodies, though not yet having human perfection. Because of the miracle of resurrection, they will evidently not thereafter need repair of any former disabilities by the miracle of healing. On the other hand, because of their unique experience of surviving Armageddon, miraculous repair is what many of the great crowd will need and will receive. Apparently, a major intent of Jesus’ healings was to portray for the encouragement of the great crowd the joyous prospect that they will not only survive but be healed thereafter.
16. (a) When may miraculous healing of the Armageddon survivors take place, and with what result? (b) In what hope will we continue to rejoice during the Millennium?
16 Such miraculous healing will logically take place among Armageddon survivors relatively soon after Armageddon and well before the resurrection begins. (Isaiah 33:24; 35:5, 6; Revelation 21:4; compare Mark 5:25-29.) Then people will throw away eye glasses, canes, crutches, wheelchairs, dentures, hearing aids, and the like. What a cause for rejoicing! How well such early restorative action by Jesus comports with the role of the Armageddon survivors as the foundation of the new earth! Disabling maladies will be moved out of the way so that these survivors can move forward with zest, looking eagerly to the marvelous activity of the Millennium stretching ahead of them, not dragged down by the afflictions that the old world may have brought upon them. And all during the Millennium, they will be rejoicing in the hope of reaching the very fullness of perfect human life by the end of those thousand years.
17. What joys will there be as the work of restoring Paradise goes on?
17 If that is your hope, contemplate also the joy of sharing in restoring Paradise on the earth. (Luke 23:42, 43) No doubt the Armageddon survivors will help to clean up the earth and thus provide pleasant locations where dead ones will be resurrected. Funerals may be replaced by welcoming sessions for those brought up in the resurrection, including our own loved ones who have gone down into death. And think of the enriching fellowship with faithful men and women from past centuries. Whom do you especially want to talk to? Is it Abel, Enoch, Noah, Job, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Deborah, Samson, David, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, or John the Baptizer? Well, then, this delightsome prospect is also part of your hope. You will be able to converse with them, learn from them, and work together with them in making the entire earth a paradise.
18. What further joys can we contemplate?
18 Imagine, too, the wholesome food, pure water, and clean air, with our earth restored to its perfect ecological balance the way Jehovah created it to be. Life then will be, not mere passive enjoyment of perfection, but an active and meaningful participation in joyful activities. Contemplate a worldwide society of people free from crime, egotism, jealousy, quarreling—a brotherhood where the fruitage of the spirit is cultivated and produced by all. How thrilling!—Galatians 5:22, 23.
Hope That Makes Life Worth Living
19. (a) When is the rejoicing mentioned at Romans 12:12 to be experienced? (b) Why should we be determined not to let the burdens of life push our hope aside?
19 Expectation realized is no longer hope, so the rejoicing encouraged by Paul at Romans 12:12 is to be experienced now. (Romans 8:24) Just thinking of the future blessings that God’s Kingdom will bring is a cause for us to rejoice in that hope now. So be determined not to allow the burdens of life in a corrupt world to push your glorious hope aside. Do not become worn down and give out, losing sight of the hope ahead. (Hebrews 12:3) Abandoning the Christian course will not solve your problems. Remember, if someone quits serving God because of all the burdens of life now, he is still stuck with those burdens, but he loses out on hope and so loses out on the possibility of rejoicing in the marvelous prospects ahead.
20. What effect does the Kingdom hope have on those who embrace it, and why?
20 Jehovah’s people have every reason to have happy lives. Their bright, inspiring hope makes life worth living. And they do not keep this joyous hope to themselves. No, they are eager to share it with others. (2 Corinthians 3:12) Thus it is that those who embrace the Kingdom hope are a confident people, and they seek to encourage others by telling them the good news from God. This fills the lives of those who accept the message with the most wonderful hope that has ever been given to humankind in general—the hope of the Kingdom that will restore Paradise to earth. If people do not accept it, we still continue to rejoice because we have the hope. The ones who turn a deaf ear are the losers; we are not.—2 Corinthians 4:3, 4.
21. What is near at hand, and how should we evaluate our hope?
21 God’s promise is: “Look! I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) The new world with all its entrancing and endless blessings is at hand. Our hope—for life in heaven or on a paradise earth—is precious; hang on to it. In these critical last days, more than ever, view it “as an anchor for the soul, both sure and firm.” With our hope anchored in Jehovah, “an everlasting rock—the Rock of ages,” we surely have strong and exhilarating reason right now to “rejoice in the hope” set before us.—Hebrews 6:19; Isaiah 26:4, The Amplified Bible.
During 1992, Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide will have as a yeartext: “Rejoice in the hope. . . . Persevere in prayer.”—Romans 12:12.
Questions for Review
□ What is mankind’s great hope?
□ What is true joy?
□ When will miraculous healing of Armageddon survivors likely take place?
□ Why should we not let the burdens of life push our hope aside?
□ What joys do you look forward to in the new world?
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Would it not fill your heart with joy to witness the kind of healings that Jesus performed?
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Those rejoicing in the Kingdom encourage others by sharing their hope