The Greater Glory of Jehovah’s House
“‘I will fill this house with glory,’ Jehovah of armies has said.”—HAGGAI 2:7.
1. How is holy spirit related to faith and work?
WHILE preaching from house to house, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses met a Pentecostal lady who commented, ‘We have holy spirit, but you are the ones doing the work.’ Tactfully, it was explained to her that one who has holy spirit will, as a matter of course, be motivated to do God’s work. James 2:17 states: “Faith, if it does not have works, is dead in itself.” With the help of Jehovah’s spirit, his Witnesses have cultivated strong faith, and he has ‘filled his house with glory’ by setting them to doing righteous works—principally ‘preaching this good news of the Kingdom in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.’ When this work is done to Jehovah’s satisfaction, “then the end will come.”—Matthew 24:14.
2. (a) Immersing ourselves in Jehovah’s work will bring what blessing? (b) Why should we be happy about any apparent “delay”?
2 From these words of Jesus, we gather that our work today must focus on preaching to others “the glorious good news of the happy God,” with which we are entrusted. (1 Timothy 1:11) The more we happily immerse ourselves in Jehovah’s service, the faster the end will appear to come. At Habakkuk 2:2, 3, we read Jehovah’s words: “Write down the vision, and set it out plainly upon tablets, in order that the one reading aloud from it may do so fluently. For the vision is yet for the appointed time, and it keeps panting on to the end, and it will not tell a lie. Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.” Yes, “the vision” will come true “even if it should delay.” In this the 83rd year of Jesus’ Kingdom rule, some may feel that we are in a period of delay right now. Should we not be happy, though, that the end has not yet come? During this decade of the 1990’s, restrictions on preaching the good news have been lifted, miraculously it would seem, in Eastern Europe, parts of Africa, and other lands. The apparent “delay” is allowing time for many more “sheep” to be gathered from these territories that have recently opened up.—John 10:16.
3. Why should our updated understanding on “this generation” stimulate us to be at God’s work urgently?
3 “It will not be late,” says the prophet. Jesus said that the present wicked generation would not pass away until “all these things occur.” (Matthew 24:34) Does our updated understanding of his words mean that our preaching activity is not so pressing?a The facts show that just the opposite is the case! Our contemporary generation is plunging into a state of wickedness and corruption unparalleled in all previous history. (Compare Acts 2:40.) We should be at our work urgently. (2 Timothy 4:2) All the prophecies on the timing of the great tribulation show that it will come suddenly, instantly, stealthily—like a thief. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4; Revelation 3:3; 16:15) “On this account you too prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming.” (Matthew 24:44) As this godless generation of mankind hovers on the brink of annihilation, surely we should not want to throw away our precious hope of eternal life by returning to “rolling in the mire” of worldly distractions!—2 Peter 2:22; 3:10; Luke 21:32-36.
4. What situation has called for increased supplies of “food at the proper time,” and how has this need been met?
4 True to Jesus’ prophecy, in 1914 there was “a beginning of pangs of distress” as mankind entered “the conclusion of the system of things.” Sorrows, catastrophic events, and lawlessness have multiplied down to this day. (Matthew 24:3-8, 12) At the same time, Jehovah has commissioned the anointed faithful and discreet slave class to provide spiritual “food at the proper time” for the household of their Master, Christ. (Matthew 24:45-47) From his throne in the heavens, this Messianic King is now directing a marvelous spiritual feeding program throughout the earth.
Plentiful “Food Supplies”
5. The basic item of “food” is receiving what attention?
5 Consider the preparation of “food supplies.” (Luke 12:42) The basic item on the Christian menu is God’s Word, the Bible. To teach the Bible effectively, a readable, accurate translation is a primary need. Over the years this need has been progressively fulfilled, especially starting in 1950 when the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures was released in English. By 1961 the New World Translation of the entire Bible had become available, and editions soon appeared in other principal languages. The 3 volumes released during the 1996 service year bring the total up to 27, of which 14 are the complete Bible. In order to handle this work on the Bible, as well as on Bible helps, some 1,174 dedicated Christians are now working full-time on translation in 77 countries.
6. How has the Society met the demand for Bible publications?
6 Backing up the work of this army of translators, the Watch Tower Society’s 24 printing branches have been producing publications in ever greater volume. To this end, additional high-speed rotary presses continue to be installed in principal branches. Production of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines has grown month by month, reaching a combined total of 943,892,500 copies, a 13.4-percent increase for the year. Total production of Bibles and hardbound books in the United States, Brazil, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, and Mexico alone has increased by 40 percent from 1995 to 76,760,098 copies in 1996. Other branches have also made a considerable contribution to the overall increase in literature production.
7. How does Isaiah 54:2 take on greater urgency now?
7 Much of the increase has been made necessary during the 1990’s by the removal of restrictions on Jehovah’s Witnesses in Eastern Europe and Africa. The hunger for spiritual food is great in these places. Therefore the call sounds forth with ever greater urgency: “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.
8. What generous response is helping to provide financial support?
8 Thus, it has been necessary to expand facilities in many of the Society’s 104 branches. Because of the harsh economic conditions in most newly opened territories, a large part of the expense for this expansion is being covered by contributions to the worldwide work from more affluent lands. Happily, congregations and individuals have been responding wholeheartedly, in the spirit of Exodus 35:21: “Then they came, everyone whose heart impelled him, and they brought, everyone whose spirit incited him, Jehovah’s contribution for the work.” We take this opportunity to thank all who have been sharing in this generous giving.—2 Corinthians 9:11.
9 During 1996 the publications of the Watch Tower Society have indeed glorified Jehovah’s name and purposes to the ends of the earth. It is just as the apostle Paul foretold. Quoting Joel’s prophecy and the 19th Psalm, he wrote: “‘Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.’ Nevertheless I ask, They did not fail to hear, did they? Why, in fact, ‘into all the earth their sound went out, and to the extremities of the inhabited earth their utterances.’” (Romans 10:13, 18) By thus extolling the precious name Jehovah, his people have played a significant part in filling his house of worship with glory. How, though, has this proclamation prospered specifically during 1996? Please examine the chart that follows on pages 18 to 21.
10. What outstanding features do you note in the activity of Jehovah’s people, as summarized in the chart on pages 18 to 21?
10 Never have Jesus’ words found at Luke 10:2 carried greater force: “The harvest, indeed, is great, but the workers are few. Therefore beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” Are you responding to that call? Millions around the earth are. This is borne out by the new peak of 5,413,769 Kingdom publishers who reported field service during 1996. Further, 366,579 new brothers and sisters were baptized. How we treasure these “desirable things of all the nations,” who now share in ‘filling Jehovah’s house of worship with glory’!—Haggai 2:7.
11. Why do all of us have reason to be overjoyed?
11 Reports of expansion in newly opened fields are nothing short of phenomenal. Are others of us envious of those who now enjoy such growth? On the contrary, we rejoice with them. All countries had small beginnings. Haggai’s contemporary prophet, Zechariah, wrote: “Who has despised the day of small things?” (Zechariah 4:10) We are overjoyed that in lands where the witness work is well established, there are now millions of Kingdom publishers, and territory is covered often, even every week in many large cities. Do we have reason to slack the hand while Jehovah now extends the opportunity for salvation to areas formerly disadvantaged? Never! “The field is the world,” said Jesus. (Matthew 13:38) A thorough witness must continue to be given, just as the early disciples gave a thorough witness at the conclusion of the Jewish system of things.—Acts 2:40; 10:42; 20:24; 28:23.
Moving Ever Forward
12. What incentive do we have to move “straight forward”? (See also box, “Harvesting ‘From the Extremity of the Earth.’”)
12 Yes, we must keep pace, moving “straight forward” with the angelic celestial chariot of Jehovah. (Ezekiel 1:12) We have in mind the words of Peter: “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) Let the exemplary zeal of our brothers in economically poor lands spur us on. Any apparent delay in the outbreak of Armageddon is allowing for hundreds of thousands to be gathered in these lands as well as many in well-worked territories. Make no mistake about it: “The great day of Jehovah is near. It is near, and there is a hurrying of it very much.” (Zephaniah 1:14) There should be hurrying on our part too in giving a thorough final witness!
13, 14. (a) What can be said of the distribution of publications during 1996? (b) What special plans may congregations make each year, and how are you planning to have a share?
13 Though the details do not appear in the service chart, there has been noteworthy increase in the distribution of Bibles, books, and magazines during the past year. For example, magazine placements worldwide showed a 19-percent increase, a total of 543,667,923 copies being placed. Our magazines lend themselves to versatile preaching—on streets, in parks, at bus stops, in business areas. Reports indicate that in some territories saturated by Kingdom preaching, professional people have been impressed by the quality of our magazines and are accepting Bible studies.
14 Each year during the month of April, congregations usually organize special magazine activity, featuring a day-long campaign from house to house and in public places. Will your congregation share in this during April 1997? Outstanding April issues of The Watchtower and Awake! have been prepared, and their simultaneous presentation worldwide should certainly make its mark! In the island of Cyprus, the congregations, taking as their slogan “reach everyone possible with the Kingdom message,” even followed through every month with such scheduled magazine work, reaching a new peak of 275,359 placed for the year, a 54-percent increase.
Haggai’s Final Messages
15. (a) Why did Jehovah send further messages through Haggai? (b) What lesson should Haggai’s third message convey to us?
15 Jehovah sent Haggai, 63 days after he had conveyed his second message, with a third proclamation that we can well take to heart today. Haggai spoke as though the Jews were then laying the temple foundation, which they had actually laid 17 years earlier. Once again Jehovah saw fit to conduct a cleansing. Priests and people had slackened off and so were unclean in Jehovah’s sight. Could it be that some of Jehovah’s people have slackened their hands today, even involving themselves in the world’s permissive and materialistic ways? It is urgent that all of us set our hearts “from this day and forward” on bringing glory to Jehovah’s name, confident of his promise: “From this day I shall bestow blessing.”—Haggai 2:10-19; Hebrews 6:11, 12.
16. What “rocking” is near at hand, and what will result?
16 On that same day, the word of “Jehovah of armies” came to Haggai a fourth and final time. He made known what is involved in His “rocking the heavens and the earth,” saying: “I shall certainly overthrow the throne of kingdoms and annihilate the strength of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow the chariot and its riders, and the horses and their riders will certainly come down, each one by the sword of his brother.” (Haggai 2:6, 21, 22) The “rocking” will thus reach its climax when Jehovah completely cleanses the earth at Armageddon. By then “the desirable things of all the nations” will have come in, to form a nucleus of human society for the new world. What reasons for rejoicing and giving praise to Jehovah!—Haggai 2:7; Revelation 19:6, 7; 21:1-4.
17. How has Jesus been set as a “seal ring”?
17 Concluding his prophecy, Haggai writes: “‘In that day,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies, ‘I shall take you, O Zerubbabel . . . , and I shall certainly set you as a seal ring, because you are the one whom I have chosen,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies.” (Haggai 2:23) Christ Jesus is now Jehovah’s antitypical Messianic King and High Priest, combining in the heavens the offices that Governor Zerubbabel and High Priest Joshua occupied separately in the earthly Jerusalem. Like an official seal ring on Jehovah’s right hand, Jesus is the one who has become “Yes” as Jehovah’s instrument in bringing to reality the many “promises of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:20; Ephesians 3:10, 11; Revelation 19:10) The entire prophetic message of the Bible focuses on Jehovah’s provision of Christ as King and priestly Ransomer.—John 18:37; 1 Peter 1:18, 19.
18. How will the concluding “utterance of Jehovah of armies” have refreshing fulfillment?
18 Truly in this our day, the greatest glory is to be found in Jehovah’s radiant spiritual temple! And soon, after Jehovah has swept away all of Satan’s system, Haggai 2:9 will have further delightful fulfillment: “‘In this place I shall give peace,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies.” Peace at last!—an enduring, universal peace, guaranteed by Jehovah’s “seal ring,” Christ Jesus, the “Prince of Peace,” of whom it is written: “To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end . . . The very zeal of Jehovah of armies will do this.” (Isaiah 9:6, 7) For all eternity the glory of Jehovah’s house of worship will be reflected throughout the peaceful realm of his universal sovereignty. May we ever remain in that house!—Psalm 27:4; 65:4; 84:10.
a See “Saved From a ‘Wicked Generation’” and “A Time to Keep Awake” in the November 1, 1995, issue of The Watchtower.
Can You Explain?
◻ How, today, is Jehovah’s house being ‘filled with glory’?
◻ Why has it never been more urgent to preach the good news?
◻ What incentive to preach urgently does the 1996 Service Year Report give?
◻ How is Christ serving as Jehovah’s “seal ring”?
[Box on page 15]
Harvesting “From the Extremity of the Earth”
AT Isaiah 43:6, we read Jehovah’s command: “Do not keep back. Bring my sons from far off, and my daughters from the extremity of the earth.” This scripture is having exceptional fulfillment today in Eastern Europe. Take for example, the formerly Communist country of Moldova. There are villages where up to half the population are now Witnesses. They have to travel long distances to find territory for preaching, but they are making the effort! Many publishers in these congregations are the offspring of parents who were exiled to Siberia in the early 1950’s. Now their families are spearheading the harvest work. Of the 12,565 publishers, 1,917 were baptized this past year. Forty-three of the congregations have about 150 publishers each, and circuits have increased from four to eight in the new service year.
Remarkable, too, is the expansion in Albania. There a handful of loyal Witnesses endured the cruelest of dictatorships through some 50 years. A number of them were killed. This brings to mind Jesus’ promise: “Do not be afraid of the things you are about to suffer. Look! The Devil will keep on throwing some of you into prison that you may be fully put to the test . . . Prove yourself faithful even to death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10; see also John 5:28, 29; 11:24, 25.) What do we now see in Albania? Truly a striking fulfillment of Jehovah’s promise found at Isaiah 60:22: “The little one himself will become a thousand”! In 1990 only one publisher reported service in Albania. However, more “workers” from Italy and other lands answered Jesus’ call: “Go therefore and make disciples of people . . . , baptizing them.” (Matthew 28:19; Luke 10:2) By the time of the Memorial of Jesus’ death in 1996, 773 publishers were active in the field, and these gathered 6,523 persons to their Memorial meetings, more than eight times the number of publishers! Amazing attendances were reported from isolated areas. Although there were no local publishers, the cities of Kukës and Divjakë had attendances of 192 and 230 respectively. Krujë, with just one publisher, had 212 present. The 30 publishers in Korçë rented facilities for upwards of 300. After that number had packed into the auditorium, another 200 had to be turned away since there was no more space. Truly a field ripe for harvesting!
From Romania comes this report: “While we were doing house-to-house work, we met a person who said that he was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and lived in a small town in which, according to our knowledge, there were no Witnesses. He told us that besides him there were 15 other persons who for many years had been holding meetings on Thursdays and Sundays and that they had started preaching from house to house. The following day we went to that town. Waiting for us in two rooms were 15 men, women, and children who accepted 20 books and 20 of the latest magazines. We showed them how to conduct Bible studies. We sang together and answered their most urgent questions. The one taking the lead in the group confessed: ‘A few days ago, I prayed with tears to Jehovah to send us a shepherd, and my prayer has been answered.’ We were extremely happy, and upon our departure, like an orphan who finally found a father, he said: ‘Please do not forget us. Come and see us again!’ We did that, and now seven Bible studies are being conducted in that town. In many virgin territories, the work starts in a wonderful way with Bible literature, which is much appreciated, and this shows that the work is of divine source.”
[Chart on page 18-21]
1996 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
(See bound volume)
[Pictures on page 16, 17]
“The desirable things of all the nations” are being gathered in the Islands of the Sea (1), South America (2), Africa (3), Asia (4), North America (5), and Europe (6)