Serving as Messengers of Godly Peace
“How comely upon the mountains are the feet of . . . the one publishing peace.”—ISAIAH 52:7.
1, 2. (a) As foretold at Isaiah 52:7, what good news is to be published? (b) What did Isaiah’s prophetic words mean in the case of ancient Israel?
THERE is good news to be proclaimed! It is news of peace—real peace. It is a message of salvation that has to do with the Kingdom of God. Long ago the prophet Isaiah wrote about it, and his words have been preserved for us at Isaiah 52:7, where we read: “How comely upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news, the one publishing peace, the one bringing good news of something better, the one publishing salvation, the one saying to Zion: ‘Your God has become king!’”
2 Jehovah inspired his prophet Isaiah to record that message for the benefit of ancient Israel and for our benefit today. What does it mean? At the time that Isaiah wrote those words, the northern kingdom of Israel may already have been taken into exile by the Assyrians. Later, the inhabitants of the southern kingdom of Judah would be taken as exiles to Babylon. Those were days of heartache and turmoil in the nation because the people had not been obedient to Jehovah and were therefore not at peace with God. As Jehovah told them, their sinful conduct was causing a division between them and their God. (Isaiah 42:24; 59:2-4) Through Isaiah, however, Jehovah foretold that in due time the gates of Babylon would swing open. God’s people would be free to return to their homeland, there to rebuild Jehovah’s temple. Zion would be restored, and worship of the true God would again be carried on in Jerusalem.—Isaiah 44:28; 52:1, 2.
3. How was the promise of restoration for Israel also a prophecy of peace?
3 This promise of deliverance was also a prophecy of peace. Being restored to the land that Jehovah had given the Israelites would be evidence of God’s mercy and of their repentance. It would indicate that they were at peace with God.—Isaiah 14:1; 48:17, 18.
“Your God Has Become King!”
4. (a) In what sense could it be said in 537 B.C.E. that ‘Jehovah had become king’? (b) How did Jehovah maneuver matters for the benefit of his people in later years?
4 When Jehovah performed this deliverance in 537 B.C.E., the announcement could fittingly be made to Zion: “Your God has become king!” True, Jehovah is the “King of eternity.” (Revelation 15:3) But this deliverance of his people was a fresh display of his sovereignty. In a striking manner, it demonstrated the superiority of his power over the mightiest human empire down to that time. (Jeremiah 51:56, 57) As a result of the operation of Jehovah’s spirit, other conspiracies against his people were thwarted. (Esther 9:24, 25) Again and again Jehovah intervened in a variety of ways to cause the kings of Medo-Persia to cooperate with the carrying out of his own sovereign will. (Zechariah 4:6) The marvelous events that took place in those days are recorded for us in the Bible books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, and Zechariah. And how faith strengthening it is to review them!
5. What significant events are pointed to at Isaiah 52:13–53:12?
5 Yet, what took place in 537 B.C.E. and thereafter was only a beginning. Immediately following the prophecy of restoration in chapter 52, Isaiah wrote about the coming of the Messiah. (Isaiah 52:13–53:12) By means of the Messiah, who proved to be Jesus Christ, Jehovah would provide a message of deliverance and peace of even greater significance than what occurred in 537 B.C.E.
Jehovah’s Greatest Messenger of Peace
6. Who is Jehovah’s greatest messenger of peace, and what commission did he apply to himself?
6 Jesus Christ is Jehovah’s greatest messenger of peace. He is the Word of God, Jehovah’s own personal Spokesman. (John 1:14) Consistent with this, some time after being baptized in the Jordan River, Jesus stood up in the synagogue in Nazareth and read aloud his commission from Isaiah chapter 61. That commission made clear that what he was sent forth to preach involved “release” and “recovery,” as well as opportunity to find acceptance with Jehovah. Yet, Jesus did more than proclaim a message of peace. God had also sent him to provide the basis for enduring peace.—Luke 4:16-21.
7. What results from the peace with God that is made possible through Jesus Christ?
7 At the time of Jesus’ birth, angels had appeared to shepherds near Bethlehem, praising God and saying: “Glory in the heights above to God, and upon earth peace among men of goodwill.” (Luke 2:8, 13, 14) Yes, there would be peace for those to whom God showed goodwill because they exercised faith in the provision he was making through his Son. What would that mean? It would mean that although humans are born in sin, they could gain a clean standing with God, an approved relationship with him. (Romans 5:1) They could enjoy the inner calm, the peace, that is possible in no other way. At God’s appointed time, there would be a release from all the effects of sin inherited from Adam, including sickness and death. No longer would people be blind or deaf or lame. Frustrating weakness and heartbreaking mental disorders would be permanently removed. It would be possible to enjoy life in perfection forever.—Isaiah 33:24; Matthew 9:35; John 3:16.
8. To whom is godly peace offered?
8 To whom is godly peace offered? It is offered to all who exercise faith in Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul wrote that ‘God saw good through Christ to reconcile to himself all other things by making peace through the blood Jesus shed on the torture stake.’ The apostle added that this reconciliation would involve “the things in the heavens”—that is, those who would be joint heirs with Christ in heaven. It would also involve “the things upon the earth”—that is, those who would be favored with the opportunity to live forever on this earth when it is brought to the full condition of Paradise. (Colossians 1:19, 20) Because of their availing themselves of the value of Jesus’ sacrifice and because of their obedience to God from the heart, all of these could enjoy warm friendship with God.—Compare James 2:22, 23.
9. (a) Peace with God influences what other relationships? (b) With a view to lasting peace everywhere, what authority did Jehovah confer on his Son?
9 How vital such peace with God is! If there is no peace with God, there can be no lasting or meaningful peace in any other relationship. Peace with Jehovah is the foundation for true peace on earth. (Isaiah 57:19-21) Appropriately, Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) To this one through whom humans can be reconciled to God, Jehovah has also entrusted ruling authority. (Daniel 7:13, 14) And concerning the results of Jesus’ princely rule over mankind, Jehovah promises: “To peace there will be no end.”—Isaiah 9:7; Psalm 72:7.
10. How did Jesus set an example in publishing God’s message of peace?
10 God’s message of peace is needed by all humankind. Jesus personally set a zealous example in preaching it. He did so in the temple area in Jerusalem, on the mountainside, along the road, to a Samaritan woman at a well, and in the homes of the people. Wherever there were people, Jesus made opportunities to preach about peace and the Kingdom of God.—Matthew 4:18, 19; 5:1, 2; 9:9; 26:55; Mark 6:34; Luke 19:1-10; John 4:5-26.
Trained to Walk in Christ’s Footsteps
11. For what work did Jesus train his disciples?
11 Jesus taught his disciples to preach God’s message of peace. Just as Jesus was Jehovah’s “faithful and true witness,” they recognized that they also had the responsibility to witness. (Revelation 3:14; Isaiah 43:10-12) They looked to Christ as their Leader.
12. How did Paul show the importance of the preaching activity?
12 The apostle Paul reasoned on the importance of the preaching activity, saying: “The Scripture says: ‘None that rests his faith on him will be disappointed.’” That is, no one who exercises faith in Jesus Christ as Jehovah’s Chief Agent of salvation will be disappointed. And no one’s ethnic background is a disqualifying factor, for Paul added: “There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for there is the same Lord over all, who is rich to all those calling upon him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.’” (Romans 10:11-13) But how were people going to learn about that opportunity?
13. What was needed if people were to hear the good news, and how did first-century Christians respond to that need?
13 Paul dealt with that need by asking questions that each servant of Jehovah does well to think about. The apostle asked: “How will they call on him in whom they have not put faith? How, in turn, will they put faith in him of whom they have not heard? How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach? How, in turn, will they preach unless they have been sent forth?” (Romans 10:14, 15) The record of early Christianity bears eloquent testimony that men and women, young and old, responded to the example set by Christ and his apostles. They became zealous proclaimers of the good news. In imitation of Jesus, they preached to people wherever they could find them. With a desire to miss no one, they carried on their ministry both in public places and from house to house.—Acts 17:17; 20:20.
14. How did it prove true that “the feet” of those declaring the good news were “comely”?
14 Of course, not everyone received Christian preachers kindly. Nevertheless, Paul’s quotation from Isaiah 52:7 proved true. After asking the question, ‘How will they preach unless they have been sent forth?’ he added: “Just as it is written: ‘How comely are the feet of those who declare good news of good things!’” Most of us do not think of our feet as being comely, or beautiful. So, then, what does this mean? It is the feet that ordinarily move a person about as he goes out to preach to others. Such feet really represent the person. And we can be sure that to many who heard the good news from the apostles and from other first-century disciples of Jesus Christ, these early Christians were indeed a beautiful sight. (Acts 16:13-15) More than that, they were precious in the sight of God.
15, 16. (a) How did the early Christians demonstrate that they truly were messengers of peace? (b) What can help us to carry on our ministry in the same way that first-century Christians did?
15 Jesus’ followers had a message of peace, and they delivered it in a peaceful manner. Jesus gave his disciples these instructions: “Wherever you enter into a house say first, ‘May this house have peace.’ And if a friend of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if there is not, it will turn back to you.” (Luke 10:5, 6) Sha·lohmʹ, or “peace,” is a traditional Jewish greeting. However, Jesus’ instructions involved much more than this. As “ambassadors substituting for Christ,” his anointed disciples urged people: “Become reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20) In harmony with Jesus’ instructions, they talked to people about God’s Kingdom and what it could mean for them as individuals. Those who listened received a blessing; those who rejected the message lost out.
16 Jehovah’s Witnesses carry on their ministry in the same way today. The good news that they take to people is not theirs; it belongs to the One who sent them. Their commission is to deliver it. If people accept it, they put themselves in line for wonderful blessings. If they reject it, they are rejecting peace with Jehovah God and his Son, Jesus Christ.—Luke 10:16.
Peaceable in a Turbulent World
17. Even when confronted by abusive people, how should we conduct ourselves, and why?
17 Whatever the reaction of people, it is important for Jehovah’s servants to keep in mind that they are messengers of godly peace. People of the world may engage in heated arguments and give vent to anger by making cutting remarks or by shouting abuse at those who irritate them. Perhaps some of us did that in times past. However, if we have put on the new personality and are now no part of the world, we will not imitate their ways. (Ephesians 4:23, 24, 31; James 1:19, 20) Regardless of how others act, we will apply the counsel: “If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men.”—Romans 12:18.
18. How should we respond if a public official is harsh with us, and why?
18 Our ministry may at times bring us before public officials. Asserting their authority, they may ‘demand of us’ an explanation as to why we do certain things or why we refrain from engaging in some particular activity. They may want to know why we preach the message that we do—one that exposes false religion and that tells of the end of the present system of things. Our respect for the example set by Christ will move us to manifest a mild temper and deep respect. (1 Peter 2:23; 3:15) Frequently, such officials are under pressure from the clergy or possibly from their own superiors. A mild answer may help them to appreciate that our activity is no threat to them or to the peace of the community. Such a reply engenders a spirit of respect, cooperation, and peace in those who accept it.—Titus 3:1, 2.
19. In what activities do Jehovah’s Witnesses never engage?
19 Jehovah’s Witnesses are known earth wide as people who take no part in the world’s strife. They do not get involved in the world’s conflicts over race, religion, or politics. (John 17:14) Because God’s Word directs us to “be in subjection to the superior authorities,” we would not even contemplate participating in acts of civil disorder to protest government policies. (Romans 13:1) Jehovah’s Witnesses have never joined any movement aimed at overthrowing a government. In view of the standards set by Jehovah for his Christian servants, their participating in bloodshed or violence of any kind is unthinkable! Not only do true Christians talk about peace; they live in harmony with what they preach.
20. As to peace, what sort of record has Babylon the Great made?
20 In contrast with true Christians, those who represent the religious organizations of Christendom have not proved to be messengers of peace. The religions of Babylon the Great—Christendom’s churches and non-Christian religions alike—have condoned, supported, and actually taken the lead in wars of the nations. They have also instigated persecution and even the murder of faithful servants of Jehovah. Regarding Babylon the Great, Revelation 18:24 therefore declares: “In her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.”
21. How do many honesthearted ones respond when they see the difference in the conduct of Jehovah’s people and of those practicing false religion?
21 Unlike the religions of Christendom and the rest of Babylon the Great, true religion is a positive, unifying force. To his true followers, Jesus Christ said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) That is a love that transcends the national, social, economic, and racial boundaries now dividing the rest of humankind. Having observed this, millions of people earth wide are saying to Jehovah’s anointed servants: “We will go with you people, for we have heard that God is with you people.”—Zechariah 8:23.
22. How do we view the witness work that yet needs to be done?
22 As Jehovah’s people, we rejoice greatly in what has been accomplished, but the work is not yet done. After sowing seed and cultivating his field, a farmer does not quit. He keeps on working, especially at the height of the harvest season. Harvesttime calls for sustained, intense effort. And right now there is a greater harvest of worshipers of the true God than ever before. This is a time of rejoicing. (Isaiah 9:3) True, we encounter opposition and indifference. As individuals, we may be endeavoring to deal with serious illness, difficult family situations, or economic hardship. But love for Jehovah impels us to persevere. The message that has been entrusted to us by God is something that people need to hear. It is a message of peace. Indeed, it is the message that Jesus himself preached—the good news of the Kingdom of God.
What Is Your Answer?
□ What fulfillment did Isaiah 52:7 have upon ancient Israel?
□ How did Jesus prove to be the greatest messenger of peace?
□ How did the apostle Paul connect Isaiah 52:7 with the work in which Christians share?
□ What is involved in being messengers of peace in our day?
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Like Jesus, Jehovah’s Witnesses are messengers of godly peace
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Jehovah’s Witnesses remain peaceable no matter how people react to the Kingdom message