Rejoicing in Our Grand Creator
“Let Israel rejoice in its grand Maker, the sons of Zion—let them be joyful in their King.”—PSALM 149:2.
1. Despite cries of “freedom at last,” what is the real situation of mankind?
TODAY’S world is plagued by “pangs of distress.” That is the expression Jesus used in his prophecy concerning “the conclusion of the system of things,” the catastrophic era that began with the first world war in 1914. (Matthew 24:3-8) Many politicians see nothing but gloom for the future. Despite cries of “freedom at last” in Eastern Europe, a onetime president in that area summed up the situation when he said: “The population explosion and the greenhouse effect, holes in the ozone and AIDS, the threat of nuclear terrorism and the dramatically widening gap between the rich north and the poor south, the danger of famine, the depletion of the biosphere and the mineral resources of the planet, the expansion of commercial television culture and the growing threat of regional wars—all these, combined with thousands of other factors, represent a general threat to mankind.” There is no human power that can remove this threat of terminal disaster.—Jeremiah 10:23.
2. Who has the permanent solution to mankind’s problems, and what step has he already taken?
2 We can rejoice, however, that our Grand Creator has the permanent solution. In Jesus’ prophecy “the conclusion of the system of things” is linked with his invisible “presence.” (Matthew 24:3, 37-39) To create the “new heavens,” Jehovah placed Jesus on his throne as Messianic King, the prophetic evidence showing that this historic event took place in the heavens in the year 1914.* (2 Peter 3:13) As associate ruler with the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, Jesus is now commissioned to judge the nations and to separate the meek, sheeplike people of earth from obstinate goatlike ones. The ungodly “goats” are marked for “everlasting cutting-off” and “the sheep” for everlasting life in the earthly realm of the Kingdom.—Matthew 25:31-34, 46.
3. What cause do true Christians have for exulting?
3 The remnant of spiritual Israel on earth, joined now by a great crowd of these obedient sheep, has every reason to be joyful in Jehovah, the King of eternity, as he brings his grand purposes to a climax through the Kingdom of his Son. They can say: “Without fail I shall exult in Jehovah. My soul will be joyful in my God. For he has clothed me with the garments of salvation . . . As the earth itself brings forth its sprout, and as the garden itself makes the things that are sown in it sprout, in like manner the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will cause the sprouting of righteousness and of praise in front of all the nations.” (Isaiah 61:10, 11) This “sprouting” is evidenced in the millions who are now being gathered out of the nations to sing Jehovah’s praise.
‘Speeding It Up’
4, 5. (a) How was the ingathering of God’s people foretold? (b) What outstanding increase was seen during the 1992 service year?
4 The ingathering accelerates as the end of Satan’s system approaches. Our Grand Creator declares: “As for your people, all of them will be righteous . . . , the sprout of my planting, the work of my hands, for me to be beautified. The little one himself will become a thousand, and the small one a mighty nation. I myself, Jehovah, shall speed it up in its own time.” (Isaiah 60:21, 22) This speeding up is reflected marvelously in the 1992 Service Year Report of Jehovah’s Witnesses Worldwide, published on pages 12 to 15 of this magazine.
5 Outstanding in this report is the new peak of 4,472,787 Kingdom proclaimers, an increase of 193,967—4.5 percent more than last year. The peak of 301,002 baptized during 1992 also reflects the fact that multitudes are accepting Bible truth. How we rejoice that in this “day of darkness and gloominess, . . . there is a people numerous and mighty,” who, like a swarm of locusts, are expanding the Kingdom witness “to the most distant part of the earth”! (Joel 2:2, 25; Acts 1:8) From icy Alaska—where the Watch Tower Society’s airplane has made over 50 visits to snowbound territories—to the scorched deserts of Mali and Burkina Faso and the scattered islands of Micronesia, Jehovah’s servants are shining forth as “a light of the nations, that [his] salvation may come to be to the extremity of the earth.”—Isaiah 49:6.
6, 7. What unexpected turn of events was witnessed in recent years, and how have Jehovah’s servants reacted to it?
6 Jehovah has been like a fortress and a strong tower in protecting and sustaining his people. In many parts of the earth, Jehovah’s Witnesses have had to endure decades of cruel oppression and persecution. (Psalm 37:39, 40; 61:3, 4) But recently, as if by a miracle, restrictions and barriers have been removed in some 21 lands, so that now God’s people can freely proclaim that our Grand Creator has installed Christ as King over the earth.—Psalm 2:6-12.
7 Are Jehovah’s people making good use of their newfound freedom? Note in the chart the increases for Bulgaria, Romania, and the former Soviet Union in Eastern Europe and for Angola, Benin, and Mozambique in Africa. In Zaire, too, the expansion is phenomenal. With joy in their hearts, our liberated brothers answer the call: “Give thanks to Jehovah, O you people, for he is good . . . , to the Doer of wonderful, great things by himself: for his loving-kindness is to time indefinite.” (Psalm 136:1, 4) These thanks are expressed by zealous service in gathering other sheeplike people to the side of the Kingdom.
8. How have new praisers of Jehovah “come flying just like a cloud” in Eastern Europe? in Africa?
8 During the past European summer, conventions of Jehovah’s people held in formerly Communist lands have had astounding attendances. Even more amazing are the numbers being baptized in those lands. Similarly, in Togo, Africa, the ban was removed on December 10, 1991. The following month a national convention was held. Compared with the monthly average of 6,443 publishers in the field, attendance at this convention soared to 25,467, with 556 being baptized—8.6 percent of the number of publishers. As Isaiah 60:8 portrays, new praisers of Jehovah “come flying just like a cloud, and like doves to their birdhouse holes” in the congregations of Jehovah’s people.
9. What provisions have been made so that Christians in recently liberated countries can ‘eat and become satisfied’?
9 The hunger for spiritual food in Eastern Europe and Africa is also being assuaged. The Watch Tower Society’s factories in Germany, Italy, and South Africa have sent truckload after truckload of literature, in a number of languages, to spiritually starved countries. Previously, many of the Witnesses had to pass well-worn magazines to one another, but now they are receiving an abundance of spiritual food. They rejoice to share in the fulfillment of the prophecy: “You will certainly eat, eating and becoming satisfied, and you will be bound to praise the name of Jehovah your God, who has done with you so wonderfully.”—Joel 2:26.
Caring for Further Expansion
10. In view of the high attendance at the Memorial, what invitation is offered to all interested ones?
10 Amazing indeed is the worldwide attendance figure for the Memorial of Jesus’ death, 11,431,171, an increase of 781,013, or 7.3 percent more than last year. Welcome, all you newcomers! How wonderful it would be if all such newly interested persons enjoyed the benefit of a home Bible study with one of Jehovah’s Witnesses! (See Isaiah 48:17.) The Service Year Report shows 4,278,127 of these studies being conducted each month, a fine 8.4-percent increase. However, many more could avail themselves of this service. Jehovah’s Witnesses are glad to call regularly on interested ones to conduct a free Bible study in the home, thus helping these to set their feet firmly on the road to everlasting life. (John 3:16, 36) Why not request such a study? And remember, a warm welcome always awaits you at the Kingdom Hall!—Psalm 122:1; Romans 15:7.
11, 12. (a) What problems are being encountered in some lands? (b) In what way is “an equalizing” taking place between wealthier and poorer lands?
11 Those congregations that have fine Kingdom Halls are richly blessed. The situation is different in lands where loyal Witnesses have endured many years under ban, meeting secretly in small groups. In a number of such places, they are now free but have few Kingdom Halls. In an African country, for example, with 93 congregations there are just three Kingdom Halls. So meetings are usually held on large vacant plots of ground. A congregation of 150 may have up to 450 regularly attending these meetings.
12 In Eastern Europe it is often difficult to buy property or to build, but some progress is being made. Dedication of a fine new branch facility was scheduled for November 28, 1992, in Poland. Generous contributions to the worldwide work of Jehovah’s Witnesses are being used to help build halls and other facilities. Thus, “an equalizing” takes place in that the generosity of brothers who contribute from their material “surplus” aids in providing for the spiritual needs of congregations in disadvantaged lands.—2 Corinthians 8:13, 14.
One Billion Hours!
13. How many hours were spent in preaching and teaching in 1992, and whose efforts are reflected in this figure?
13 What would you do with a billion hours? All who attain to everlasting life will be able to spend that many hours, and even more, in productive, satisfying service to Jehovah. But imagine packing that many hours into one year! That is what Jehovah’s people accomplished during 1992. Adding together the individual reports of all Kingdom publishers, we find a new peak of 1,024,910,434 hours spent in the best way that hours can be spent—praising our Grand Creator, “teaching . . . publicly and from house to house.” (Acts 20:20) On the average, 4,289,737 Witnesses were reporting each month. They come from all walks of life. Some are limited in the time they can contribute to the Kingdom work. These include family heads, who must provide for the household; older folk; and many with health problems; as well as children still in school. Yet, the report made by each one is a valued reflection of love for Jehovah.—Compare Luke 21:2-4.
14. How are young ones ‘remembering their Grand Creator’?
14 A younger generation is growing up in Jehovah’s service, and happily the majority of these are making application of Solomon’s words at Ecclesiastes 12:1: “Remember, now, your Grand Creator in the days of your young manhood.” They are applying themselves in their schoolwork, as well as being trained in spiritual matters by devoted parents. It has been a joy to see a goodly number of teenage youngsters stand up at recent conventions, offering themselves for baptism. It is also a joy to know that many, by learning some trade or skill, are making practical preparation for pioneering when they graduate from school. Thus, they will be able to support themselves, as did the apostle Paul from time to time by tent making.—Acts 18:1-4.
15, 16. How have pioneers and other full-time servants contributed to the progress of the Kingdom work, and what blessing have some of them enjoyed?
15 What a tremendous contribution the pioneers and other full-time servants are making to the progress of the Kingdom work! The ranks of the pioneers increased to a peak of 931,521 this past year. As these preach daily from house to house and conduct Bible studies in the homes of the people, they become very effective in expressing themselves on the Scriptures. Moreover, many have qualified to attend the two-week Pioneer Service School, which helps them to cultivate greater ability and joy in doing God’s work.
16 Each of these faithful pioneers can subscribe to the words at Isaiah 50:4: “The Sovereign Lord Jehovah himself has given me the tongue of the taught ones, that I may know how to answer the tired one with a word.” There are numerous individuals today who are tired of the corrupt world around them but who are finding refreshment through the word spoken by our faithful pioneers.—Compare Proverbs 15:23; Ezekiel 9:4.
A Mighty Building Program
17. In addition to spiritual building, what material building has been witnessed in recent years?
17 The worldwide spiritual prosperity of Jehovah’s Witnesses calls also for material growth. Expansion of printing facilities, offices, and Bethel homes and construction of Kingdom Halls and Assembly Halls become necessary. So Jehovah’s Witnesses are required to become builders in a physical way. Similar building took place in King Solomon’s day. Solomon built the temple for Jehovah’s worship according to “the architectural plan . . . that had come to be with him by inspiration,” Jehovah having provided this to his father, King David. (1 Chronicles 28:11, 12) Thus, Solomon not only built up his listeners with priceless words of wisdom but also directed material building of an excellence never attained by the secular world.—1 Kings 6:1; 9:15, 17-19.
18, 19. (a) What rapidly progressing building projects are being carried on by Jehovah’s organization? (b) How has Jehovah’s spirit been manifest in material as well as spiritual building?
18 Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not build by divinely inspired architectural plans, but they do have God’s spirit. As in the days of Israel, this motivates them to build in a way that astonishes people of the world. (Zechariah 4:6) The time is short. Kingdom Halls and other buildings are needed without delay. In some countries quickly built Kingdom Halls are the order of the day. In the past 10 years, for example, Canada reports the building of 306 halls, each in less than two days. Because of the rapid expansion of Jehovah’s work worldwide, a total of 43 new branch buildings or branch extensions are at present being constructed or planned. Moreover, a 30-story residence building, with accommodations for about a thousand Bethel volunteers, is nearing completion in Brooklyn. Also in New York State, at Patterson, the construction of a Bible educational center, the largest project the Watch Tower Society has ever tackled, is moving forward far ahead of schedule.
19 These projects are advancing with efficiency and a quality of work that amazes knowledgeable construction companies of the world. Why? Because of the tremendous contribution made by dedicated Witnesses of Jehovah. His spirit moves them not only to provide material support but also to give wholeheartedly of their time and energy. Construction sites swarm with well-trained, devoted workers. There are no labor strikes, and there is no loafing on the job. Jehovah’s spirit provides the motivation, just as it motivated the builders of the tabernacle in Moses’ time and those who constructed the temple in the days of Solomon. Spirituality is the outstanding quality required of these workers.—Compare Exodus 35:30-35; 36:1-3; 39:42, 43; 1 Kings 6:11-14.
20. (a) To what extent will the good news yet be preached? (b) What blessed prospect awaits Jehovah’s people?
20 Solomon continued his building program after completing the temple. (2 Chronicles 8:1-6) To what extent the modern-day witness will yet expand—with the parallel need for construction of halls and other facilities—we do not know. We do know, however, that when this good news of the Kingdom has been preached to the extent that Jehovah decrees, then the end, the “great tribulation,” will come. (Matthew 24:14, 21) In an earth no longer ruined by greedy men, Jehovah’s arrangement of “new heavens and a new earth” will then bring untold blessings to mankind. May we therefore ‘exult and be joyful forever in what God is creating,’ giving all praise to our Grand Creator!—Isaiah 65:17-19, 21, 25.
Can You Explain?
□ What reasons do we have to rejoice in our Grand Creator?
□ What increases were reported during the 1992 service year?
□ In countries where witnessing was formerly banned, what rich blessings have been reported?
□ How have youths and pioneers contributed to the increase in Jehovah’s organization?
□ How have Jehovah’s people been busy in material as well as spiritual building works?
[Box on page 17]
Last year more than a billion hours were spent in the preaching and teaching work
[Chart on page 12-15]
1992 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
(See bound volume)
[Picture on page 10]
The hundreds of thousands of baptismal candidates last year demonstrate Jehovah’s blessing on the preaching and teaching work
[Picture on page 16]
Large numbers of young people are ‘remembering their Grand Creator’