The Integrity-Keeping Nation
“Open the gates . . . that the righteous nation that is keeping faithful conduct may enter.”—ISAIAH 26:2.
1. Why may Isaiah’s statement about a “righteous nation” be surprising?
TODAY, there are all kinds of nations. Some are democracies, some dictatorships. Some are wealthy, some poor. One thing they have in common: All are part of the world of which Satan is god. (2 Corinthians 4:4) In view of this, the words of Isaiah may come as a surprise to some when he says: “Open the gates, you men, that the righteous nation that is keeping faithful conduct may enter.” (Isaiah 26:2) A righteous nation? Yes, there is a righteous nation, since the prophecy points to its existence in our day. How can this unusual nation be identified?
2. What is “the righteous nation”? How do we know?
2 In the New World Translation rendition of Isaiah 26:2, the nation is said to be “keeping faithful conduct.” The King James Version (margin) renders the verse, “the righteous nation which keepeth the truths.” Both are apt descriptions. In fact, the righteous nation is easy to recognize because it is the only nation on earth that is subject to Christ the King, hence not part of Satan’s world. (John 17:16) As such, its members are known for ‘maintaining their conduct fine among the nations.’ They follow a life-style that glorifies God. (1 Peter 2:12) Moreover, wherever they are in the world, they are part of “the congregation of the living God, a pillar and support of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15) Supporting the truth, they reject the pagan philosophies taught by Christendom, and they champion “the unadulterated milk belonging to the word”—God’s Word, the Bible. (1 Peter 2:2) Further, they zealously preach the Kingdom good news “in all creation that is under heaven.” (Colossians 1:23) Can there be any doubt that this nation is made up of the remaining ones of “the Israel of God,” the congregation of anointed Christians? Not at all!—Galatians 6:16.
The Nation Is Born
3. Describe how “the righteous nation” came to be born.
3 When was “the righteous nation” born? Its beginning was prophesied in the book of Isaiah. At Isaiah 66:7, 8, we read: “Before she [Zion] began to come into labor pains she gave birth. Before birth pangs could come to her, she even gave deliverance to a male child. . . . Zion has come into labor pains as well as given birth to her sons.” Most unusually, Zion, God’s heavenly organization, was to bring forth “a male child” before she suffered labor pains. In 1914 the Messianic Kingdom was brought forth in the heavens. (Revelation 12:5) After that, the first world war engulfed more and more nations, and anointed Christians suffered severe distress and persecution. Finally, in the year 1919, the spiritual nation, the “male child,” was brought forth on earth. Thus Zion ‘gave birth to her sons’—the anointed members of the new “righteous nation”—and these were organized for an ever-expanding witness work.—Matthew 24:3, 7, 8, 14; 1 Peter 2:9.
4. Why has God’s righteous nation had to struggle to maintain integrity?
4 Since its inception, this nation has met up with severe tests of its integrity. Why? When the heavenly Kingdom was brought to birth, Satan and his demons were cast from heaven down to the earth. A loud voice proclaimed: “Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God! And they conquered him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their witnessing, and they did not love their souls even in the face of death.” Satan reacted to this turn of events with great anger “and went off to wage war with the remaining ones of [the woman’s] seed, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” Faced with the onslaughts of Satan, anointed Christians stood firm. To this day, zealous members of God’s righteous nation exercise faith in Jesus’ ransoming blood and continue to give Jehovah an answer for the great taunter by keeping integrity “even in the face of death.”—Revelation 12:1, 5, 9-12, 17; Proverbs 27:11.
5. What fine attitude of modern-day Witnesses has helped them to keep integrity?
5 In 1919, when the modern-day witness to God’s Kingdom got under way, the Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then called, were few in number but strong in faith. They became foundation members of ‘a strong city, with salvation set for walls and rampart.’ Their trust was in “Jah Jehovah [who] is the Rock of times indefinite.” (Isaiah 26:1, 3, 4) Like Moses of old, they proclaimed: “I shall declare the name of Jehovah. Do you attribute greatness to our God! The Rock, perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; righteous and upright is he.”—Deuteronomy 32:3, 4.
6. In what way has Jehovah blessed his people in these last days?
6 Since then, the gates of God’s Kingdom arrangement have remained wide open as first the remaining ones of the 144,000 anointed Christians were gathered and now a great crowd of “other sheep” are joining in the declaring of Jehovah’s Kingdom purposes. (John 10:16) Thus, it can be announced joyfully: “You have added to the nation; O Jehovah, you have added to the nation; you have glorified yourself. You have extended afar all the borders of the land.” (Isaiah 26:15) As we survey the world field today, we see how true those words are! By power of holy spirit, the witness to Christ’s incoming Kingdom has been given “to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) The extent of that expansion may be gauged from the 1994 Service Year Report of Jehovah’s Witnesses Worldwide, appearing on pages 12 to 15.
A New Peak of Publishers
7, 8. (a) What evidence is there that God’s people have ‘lengthened their tent cords’? (b) Looking at the 1994 Service Year Report, what areas do you see that are ‘extending their borders’ outstandingly?
7 Consider some of the highlights of this report. The peak of Kingdom publishers in the field reached 4,914,094! How thrilling to observe the constant ingathering of the “great crowd . . . out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes”! Yes, these too have proved to be integrity keepers. “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” being counted righteous because of exercising faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice.—Revelation 7:9, 14.
8 Particularly since 1919, the call has gone forth to Jehovah’s organization: “Make the place of your tent more spacious. And let them stretch out the tent cloths of your grand tabernacle. Do not hold back. Lengthen out your tent cords, and make those tent pins of yours strong.” (Isaiah 54:2) In response, the preaching work goes on unabated, even in the icy Yukon, bordering on Alaska, where a hardy group of pioneers endure temperatures that can sink to 50 or 60 degrees below zero Fahrenheit [-45° to -50° C.] for weeks at a time. In recent years crowds are flocking ever faster to Jehovah’s integrity-keeping nation. The gates have opened wider to receive these from Asian lands outside Christendom, from former Communist strongholds, from many African lands, and from Catholic domains, such as Italy, Spain, Portugal, and South America. Displaced persons have opened up another field. In England, for example, Witnesses are caring for the needs of 13 foreign-language ethnic groups.
“Keep Doing This”
9. (a) What does the 1994 Memorial attendance indicate? (b) Which are some of the countries with unusually high Memorial attendances?
9 Another highlight of the annual report is the attendance at the Memorial. Shortly before he died, Jesus instituted the Memorial commemorating his death and told his followers: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:24) It was thrilling in 1994 to see 12,288,917—much more than twice the number of active publishers—come together to obey that command, either as partakers or as observers. In some lands the ratio of Memorial attenders to publishers was even higher. The 4,049 publishers in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were delighted to have 12,876 attend the Memorial, more than three times the number of publishers. And in Benin, the 16,786 Memorial attenders represented almost five times the number of publishers. One congregation of some 45 publishers had 831 in attendance!
10. (a) What responsibility does the high Memorial attendance place upon us? (b) Describe what can happen when one who attended the Memorial receives further help.
10 Jehovah’s Witnesses are happy that so many interested persons joined with them on that auspicious occasion. Now they want to help these ones make further progress in their understanding and love of the truth. Some may respond the way Alla in Russia did. Alla was studying with a special-pioneer sister but made little progress, so the study was discontinued. Nevertheless, Alla accepted an invitation to attend the Memorial. That meeting, which has so much significance, made a deep impression on her. Upon returning home, she threw away all her icons and prayed to Jehovah for help. Two days later the pioneer sister called on Alla to see how she had enjoyed the Memorial. A fruitful discussion ensued. Alla’s study was restarted. Soon she was sharing in the witness work. This experience shows the value of follow-up calls on those who attend the Memorial. Many will likely respond as Alla did.
“Not Forsaking the Gathering of Ourselves Together”
11-13. (a) What is part of the faithful conduct of the righteous nation? (b) Why do true Christians need to attend meetings?
11 The Memorial is the most important meeting on the calendar of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but it is by no means the only one. Each week Jehovah’s Witnesses gather together in obedience to the apostle Paul’s words: “Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24, 25) They are associated with Jehovah’s righteous nation that is identified by its faithful conduct. Faithful conduct includes faithfully attending meetings.
12 This is evidently well understood in the Philippines, where the average countrywide attendance at the Sunday meetings is 125 percent of the number of publishers. It is well understood, too, by a group of Witnesses and interested persons in Argentina. They live about 12 miles [20 km] from the Kingdom Hall. Nevertheless, the circuit overseer reports that except in cases of sickness, not one of them ever misses the meetings. They travel for four hours by buggy or on horseback, and during winter they make the journey home through the darkness of night.
13 As the end of this system draws closer, life gets harder, problems mount, and attending meetings regularly may be more of a challenge. But under such circumstances, we have more need than ever for the spiritual food and warm fellowship that can be found only at such gatherings.
“Be at It Urgently”
14. Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses have a sense of urgency about their ministry, and what results demonstrate this?
14 Last year, the Catholic Church in Italy referred to the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses as “savage proselytism.” Really, though, there is nothing savage about what the Witnesses do. Rather, their ministry is an expression of deep love for their neighbors. It is also evidence of obedience to Paul’s words: “Preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season.” (2 Timothy 4:2) A sense of urgency moves Jehovah’s Witnesses to be zealous in their ministry, as seen in their spending a total of 1,096,065,354 hours in 1994 preaching to their neighbors, making return visits, and conducting 4,701,357 Bible studies. Many were able to share in the pioneer service, which shows that the pioneer spirit is alive and active. The average of 636,202 pioneers worldwide proves this.
15, 16. (a) How have both young and old demonstrated the pioneer spirit? (b) Looking at individual countries in the 1994 Service Year Report, where do you see outstanding numbers of pioneers?
15 Among those pioneers are many young ones. Some in the United States are now serving as regular pioneers during high school, with classmates being their primary territory. These youths have found that pioneering is the very best way of protecting themselves from the drugs, immorality, and violence that pervade many schools in that land. Many other young ones have pioneering as their goal when they leave school. Irina, in Ukraine, auxiliary pioneered all through high school in order to prepare herself for pioneering after graduation. When she finished school, her family offered to cooperate as far as secular work was concerned so that she could represent them in the regular pioneer work. Economically, things are not easy in Ukraine. But Irina says: “I know that I am doing a work that means life not just for me but also for those to whom I preach.” It is truly a delight to see so many young ones today thinking like Irina. What better way is there for them to ‘remember their Grand Creator in the days of their young manhood and womanhood’?—Ecclesiastes 12:1.
16 A good number of pioneers are advanced in age. One reports that during the second world war, her father and brother were killed as they fought in the war, and her mother and sister were shot in a ghetto. Later she lost her son. Now, in her declining years and suffering from poor health, Jehovah has given her, in the Christian congregation, a much larger family than the one she lost. And she finds her joy in helping others as a regular pioneer.
17, 18. How can each of us, whether a pioneer or not, show the pioneer spirit?
17 Of course, not everyone can be a pioneer. Jehovah is pleased to accept our whole tithe, the best that we can offer, whatever this may be in our particular case. (Malachi 3:10) Indeed, all of us can cultivate the spirit of these zealous pioneers and do whatever our circumstances allow to further the preaching of the good news.
18 For example, in Australia, April 16 was set aside as a special day for street witnessing. It was well supported by publishers and pioneers alike, as was evident in the new publisher peak of 58,780 for that month. Further, 90,000 more magazines were distributed than in the same month last year. During the special day, a sister placed magazines with a man, and while taking down his name and address to follow up on the interest, she discovered that they were related! It turned out that they were cousins who had not seen each other for 30 years. That surely made for some very happy return visits!
Keep Integrity to the End
19. Why is it urgent that Jehovah’s righteous nation keep integrity right to the end?
19 It is urgent that all in God’s righteous nation keep integrity as Satan’s world goes into its death throes. Soon, Jehovah’s holy nation will hear the call: “Go, my people, enter into your interior rooms, and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourself for but a moment until the denunciation passes over.” This bloodguilty world will inevitably meet up with divine judgment. “For, look! Jehovah is coming forth from his place to call to account the error of the inhabitant of the land against him, and the land will certainly expose her bloodshed and will no longer cover over her killed ones.” (Isaiah 26:20, 21) May each one of us stand firm as an integrity-keeping Christian associated with Jehovah’s righteous nation. Then we will rejoice to attain to everlasting life in the earthly or heavenly realm of Christ’s Kingdom.
Do You Remember?
□ When was “the righteous nation” born?
□ Why have God’s people needed endurance during these last days?
□ What is demonstrated by the high number of publishers and the hours spent in the ministry seen in the 1994 Service Year Report?
□ Why is attendance at meetings so important as this world draws nearer to its end?
□ Why must all associated with God’s righteous nation keep integrity?
[Chart on page 12-15]
1994 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
(See bound volume)
[Picture on page 18]
Integrity keepers in Jehovah’s righteous nation will attain to everlasting life in perfection