“Have No Fear, Little Flock”
“Have no fear, little flock, because your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom.”—LUKE 12:32.
1. What was the basis for Jesus’ words: “Have no fear, little flock”?
“SEEK continually [God’s] kingdom.” (Luke 12:31) When Jesus said these words to his disciples, he expressed a principle that has guided the thinking of Christians from his day down to our own. The Kingdom of God must take the very first place in our lives. (Matthew 6:33) In Luke’s account, however, Jesus went on to speak endearing and reassuring words to a special group of Christians. He said: “Have no fear, little flock, because your Father has approved of giving you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32) As the Fine Shepherd, Jesus knew that there were stormy times ahead for his intimate disciples. But there was no reason for them to be fearful if they kept seeking God’s Kingdom. Hence, Jesus’ exhortation was not a harsh command. Rather, it was a loving promise that served to inspire confidence and courage.
2. Who make up the little flock, and why are they especially privileged?
2 Jesus was speaking to his disciples, and he called them a “little flock.” He was also speaking to those to whom Jehovah would ‘give the kingdom.’ Compared with the vast crowds that would accept Jesus in later times, this group were indeed few in number. They were also considered precious because they were chosen for a remarkable future, to be used in royal service. Their Father, the Great Shepherd, Jehovah, calls the little flock with a view to their receiving a heavenly inheritance in connection with Christ’s Messianic Kingdom.
The Little Flock
3. What glorious vision of the little flock did John see?
3 Who, then, make up this little flock having such a wonderful prospect? The followers of Jesus Christ who receive an anointing with holy spirit. (Acts 2:1-4) Seeing them as heavenly singers with harps in their hands, the apostle John wrote: “I saw, and, look! the Lamb standing upon the Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads. These are the ones that did not defile themselves with women; in fact, they are virgins. These are the ones that keep following the Lamb no matter where he goes. These were bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb, and no falsehood was found in their mouths; they are without blemish.”—Revelation 14:1, 4, 5.
4. What position does the little flock have on earth today?
4 Since Pentecost 33 C.E., these anointed, spirit-begotten ones have served as ambassadors of Christ on earth. (2 Corinthians 5:20) Today, only a remnant of them remain, serving together as the faithful and discreet slave class. (Matthew 24:45; Revelation 12:17) Since the year 1935 in particular, they have been joined by “other sheep,” Christians with an earthly hope, who now number into the millions. These assist in preaching the good news in all the earth.—John 10:16.
5. What is the attitude of the remaining ones of the little flock, and why need they have no fear?
5 What is the attitude of the remaining ones of this little flock who are yet on earth? Knowing that they are to receive ‘an unshakable Kingdom,’ they render their sacred service with godly fear and awe. (Hebrews 12:28) They humbly realize that theirs is an inestimable privilege that results in unbounded joy. They have found the “one pearl of high value” referred to by Jesus when he spoke about the Kingdom. (Matthew 13:46) As the great tribulation approaches, God’s anointed ones stand fearless. In spite of what is about to come upon the world of mankind during “the great and illustrious day of Jehovah,” they have no morbid fear of the future. (Acts 2:19-21) Why should they?
6, 7. (a) Why is the number of the little flock still on earth quite small? (b) How should each individual view the hope he entertains?
6 In recent years the number of the little flock still on earth has become quite small. This was evident from the 1994 Memorial report. In some 75,000 congregations of Jehovah’s people worldwide, only 8,617 demonstrated by partaking of the emblems their profession to be members of the remnant. (Matthew 26:26-30) In contrast, the total attendance was 12,288,917. Anointed Christians know that this is to be expected. Jehovah has established a limited number, 144,000, to make up the little flock, and he has been gathering it since Pentecost 33 C.E. Logically, the calling of the little flock would draw to a close when the number was nearing completion, and the evidence is that the general gathering of these specially blessed ones ended in 1935. However, the other sheep in the time of the end were prophesied to grow to be “a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.” Since 1935 the general gathering by Jehovah has been of this great crowd, whose hope is everlasting life on a paradise earth.—Revelation 7:9; 14:15, 16; Psalm 37:29.
7 Most of those of the little flock yet on earth are now in their 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. A few have passed their 100th year of life. All of these, whatever their age, know that through a heavenly resurrection, they will eventually be united with Jesus Christ and will rule with him in his glorious Kingdom. Those of the great crowd will be earthly subjects of Christ the King. Let each one rejoice over what Jehovah has in store for those who love him. It is not for us to choose what hope to entertain. That is for Jehovah to determine. Both groups can thrill in their hope for a happy future, whether it be in the heavenly Kingdom or on a paradise earth under that Kingdom.—John 6:44, 65; Ephesians 1:17, 18.
8. How far along is the sealing of the 144,000, and what will happen when it is complete?
8 The 144,000-strong little flock is “the Israel of God,” which has replaced natural Israel in God’s purposes. (Galatians 6:16) Therefore, the remnant make up the remainder of that spiritual nation still on earth. Such remaining ones are being sealed for Jehovah’s final approval. In a vision, the apostle John saw this happening, and he reported: “I saw another angel ascending from the sunrising, having a seal of the living God; and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying: ‘Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until after we have sealed the slaves of our God in their foreheads.’ And I heard the number of those who were sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the sons of [spiritual] Israel.” (Revelation 7:2-4) Since this work of sealing spiritual Israel is evidently far along, exciting events soon to happen are portended. For one thing, “the great tribulation,” when the four winds of destruction are let loose upon the earth, must be very near.—Revelation 7:14.
9. How does the little flock view the increasing number of the great crowd?
9 Those of the great crowd who have already been gathered number in the millions. How this warms the hearts of the remnant! Although those of the little flock still on earth continue to decrease in number, they have trained and prepared qualified men of the great crowd to take on responsibilities in connection with God’s expanding earthly organization. (Isaiah 61:5) As Jesus indicated, there will be survivors of the great tribulation.—Matthew 24:22.
“Have No Fear”
10. (a) What attack is due to be launched on God’s people, and to what will it lead? (b) What questions are asked of each of us?
10 Satan and his demons have been debased to the vicinity of the earth. He and his hordes are being maneuvered to make their all-out attack on Jehovah’s people. This attack, foretold in the Bible, is described as the attack of Gog of Magog. Upon whom does the Devil specifically focus his assault? Is it not upon the last members of the little flock, the spiritual Israel of God, who are dwelling peacefully “in the center of the earth”? (Ezekiel 38:1-12) Yes, but the remnant of the faithful anointed class, together with their loyal companions, the other sheep, will witness how Satan’s attack precipitates a dramatic response on the part of Jehovah God. He will intervene in defense of his people, and this will trigger the outbreak of “the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah.” (Joel 2:31) Today, the faithful and discreet slave is accomplishing a vital, lifesaving service, warning of this coming intervention by Jehovah. (Malachi 4:5; 1 Timothy 4:16) Are you actively supporting that service, sharing in the preaching of the good news of Jehovah’s Kingdom? Will you continue to do so as a fearless Kingdom proclaimer?
11. Why is a courageous attitude vital today?
11 In view of the present world situation, how timely it is for the little flock to heed the words Jesus addressed to them: “Have no fear, little flock”! Such a courageous attitude is essential in view of all that is now being worked out in harmony with Jehovah’s purpose. Individually, each one of the little flock realizes the need to endure right down to the end. (Luke 21:19) As Jesus Christ, the Lord and Master of the little flock, endured and proved faithful until the completion of his earthly life, so each one of the remnant must endure and prove faithful.—Hebrews 12:1, 2.
12. How did Paul, like Jesus, exhort anointed Christians to have no fear?
12 All anointed ones must have the same outlook as had the apostle Paul. Note how his words as an anointed public proclaimer of the resurrection are in harmony with Jesus’ exhortation to have no fear. Paul wrote: “Remember that Jesus Christ was raised up from the dead and was of David’s seed, according to the good news I preach; in connection with which I am suffering evil to the point of prison bonds as an evildoer. Nevertheless, the word of God is not bound. On this account I go on enduring all things for the sake of the chosen ones, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in union with Christ Jesus along with everlasting glory. Faithful is the saying: Certainly if we died together, we shall also live together; if we go on enduring, we shall also rule together as kings; if we deny, he also will deny us; if we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.”—2 Timothy 2:8-13.
13. What deep convictions do the members of the little flock hold, and what does this move them to do?
13 Like the apostle Paul, the remaining members of the anointed little flock are willing to endure suffering as they declare the powerful message set forth in God’s Word. Their convictions are deeply rooted as they hold to the divine promises of salvation and of their being given “the crown of life” if they prove faithful until death. (Revelation 2:10) By experiencing an instantaneous resurrection and change, they will be brought into union with Christ, to rule together with him as kings. What a triumph for their integrity-keeping course as world conquerors!—1 John 5:3, 4.
A Unique Hope
14, 15. How is the resurrection hope of the little flock unique?
14 The resurrection hope entertained by the little flock is unique. In what ways? For one thing, it precedes the general resurrection of “the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) Actually, the resurrection of the anointed falls into a certain order of importance, as is clearly established by these words found at 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23: “Christ has been raised up from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death. But each one in his own rank: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who belong to the Christ during his presence.” By having the kind of endurance and faith that Jesus displayed, the little flock know what is in store for them as they finish their earthly course, particularly since the true Lord came to his temple for judgment in 1918.—Malachi 3:1.
15 Paul gives us an added reason to view this resurrection as unique. As recorded at 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, he wrote: “Look! I tell you a sacred secret: We shall not all fall asleep in death, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, during the last trumpet. . . . For this which is corruptible must put on incorruption, and this which is mortal must put on immortality.” These words apply to those of the little flock who die during Christ’s presence. Without having to sleep a lengthy period of time in death, they are clothed with immortality, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.”
16, 17. Regarding their hope of the resurrection, how are anointed Christians today especially blessed?
16 In the light of this understanding, we can grasp the sense of the apostle John’s words found at Revelation 14:12, 13. He wrote: “‘Here is where it means endurance for the holy ones, those who observe the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.’ And I heard a voice out of heaven say: ‘Write: Happy are the dead who die in union with the Lord from this time onward. Yes, says the spirit, let them rest from their labors, for the things they did go right with them.’”
17 What a unique reward is in store for the remnant of the little flock! Their resurrection will come quickly, right after they fall asleep in death. What a remarkable change they will experience as they take up their assignment in the spirit realm! With such a glorification of the little flock in progress and with the fulfillment of major Bible prophecies so far along, the last remaining members of the little flock truly need “have no fear.” And their fearlessness serves to encourage those of the great crowd, who should cultivate a similar attitude of fearlessness as they anticipate deliverance during the greatest time of trouble the earth has ever known.
18, 19. (a) Why is the time we live in urgent? (b) Why should both the anointed and the other sheep have no fear?
18 Recounting the activities of the little flock enables them and the great crowd to keep on fearing the true God. The hour for judgment by him has arrived, and the favorable time left is precious. Limited, indeed, is the time for others to act. We, though, do not fear that God’s purpose will fail. It will certainly succeed!
19 Already, the loud heavenly voices have been heard to say: “The kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15) Surely, the Great Shepherd, Jehovah, is guiding all of his sheep in “the tracks of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:3) The little flock are unerringly being led to their heavenly reward. And the other sheep will be delivered safely through the great tribulation to enjoy eternal life in the earthly realm of God’s glorious Kingdom under the rule of Christ Jesus. Hence, while Jesus’ words were addressed to the little flock, surely all of God’s servants on earth have reason to listen to his words: “Have no fear.”
Can You Explain?
□ Why should we expect the remaining number of the little flock to decrease?
□ What is the situation of the anointed remnant today?
□ Why should Christians have no fear, despite the approaching attack of Gog of Magog?
□ Why is the resurrection hope of the 144,000 unique, especially today?