Messengers of Godly Peace Pronounced Happy
“The very ones redeemed by Jehovah will return and certainly come to Zion with a joyful cry; and rejoicing to time indefinite will be upon their head.”—ISAIAH 35:10.
1. What does the world desperately need?
TODAY as never before, mankind needs a messenger of good news. There is an urgent need for someone to tell the truth about God and his purposes, a fearless witness who will warn the wicked of coming destruction and help righthearted ones to find godly peace.
2, 3. In the case of Israel, how did Jehovah fulfill his promise recorded at Amos 3:7?
2 In the days of Israel, Jehovah promised to provide messengers of that sort. At the end of the ninth century B.C.E., the prophet Amos said: “The Sovereign Lord Jehovah will not do a thing unless he has revealed his confidential matter to his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7) In the centuries following this pronouncement, Jehovah performed many mighty acts. For example, in 607 B.C.E., he severely disciplined his chosen people because they were rebellious and bloodguilty. He also punished the nations round about who gloated because of Israel’s suffering. (Jeremiah, chapters 46-49) Then, in 539 B.C.E., Jehovah brought about the downfall of the mighty Babylonian world power, and as a result, in 537 B.C.E., a remnant of Israel returned to their land to rebuild the temple.—2 Chronicles 36:22, 23.
3 These were earthshaking events, and in harmony with the words of Amos, Jehovah revealed them in advance to prophets who served as messengers, warning Israel of what was to come. In the middle of the eighth century B.C.E., he raised up Isaiah. In the middle of the seventh century B.C.E., he raised up Jeremiah. Then, toward the end of that century, he raised up Ezekiel. These and other faithful prophets gave a thorough witness about Jehovah’s purposes.
Identifying God’s Messengers Today
4. What demonstrates mankind’s need for messengers of peace?
4 What about today? Many in the world feel a sense of foreboding when they observe the deterioration of human society. Those with a love of righteousness are pained at heart when they see the hypocrisy and sheer wickedness of Christendom. As Jehovah foretold through Ezekiel, they “are sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done in the midst of it.” (Ezekiel 9:4) However, many do not realize what Jehovah’s purposes are. They need to be told.
5. How did Jesus show that there would be messengers in our day?
5 Does anyone today speak out with the fearless spirit of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel? Jesus indicated that someone would. When foretelling events of our day, he said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) Who today is fulfilling that prophecy, serving as a messenger, a preacher of good news? Similarities between our day and the time of ancient Israel help us to answer that question.
6. (a) Describe the experiences of “the Israel of God” during the first world war. (b) How was Ezekiel 11:17 fulfilled on ancient Israel?
6 During the dark days of World War I, Jehovah’s modern-day people, the remnant of the anointed “Israel of God,” went into a captivity similar to that of Israel in Babylon. (Galatians 6:16) They suffered spiritual exile in Babylon the Great, the world conglomerate of false religions, of which Christendom is the most prominent and reprehensible. Nevertheless, Jehovah’s words to Ezekiel showed that they were not abandoned. He said: “I will also collect you from the peoples and gather you from the lands among which you have been scattered, and I will give you the soil of Israel.” (Ezekiel 11:17) In order to fulfill that promise for ancient Israel, Jehovah raised up the Persian Cyrus, who overthrew the Babylonian World Power and opened the way for a remnant of Israel to return to their land. But what of today?
7. What event in 1919 showed that Jesus had acted against Babylon the Great? Explain.
7 Earlier in this century, there was powerful evidence that a Greater Cyrus was at work. Who was he? None other than Jesus Christ, enthroned since 1914 in the heavenly Kingdom. This great King showed goodwill toward his anointed brothers on earth when, in the year 1919, anointed Christians were freed from spiritual captivity and returned to their “land,” their spiritual estate. (Isaiah 66:8; Revelation 18:4) Thus Ezekiel 11:17 had a modern-day fulfillment. In ancient times it took the fall of Babylon to open the way for Israelites to return to their land. In modern times the restoration of the Israel of God was evidence that Babylon the Great had experienced a fall at the hands of the Greater Cyrus. This fall was announced by the second angel of Revelation chapter 14, when he cried out: “Babylon the Great has fallen, she who made all the nations drink of the wine of the anger of her fornication!” (Revelation 14:8) What a reversal for Babylon the Great, especially for Christendom! And what a blessing for true Christians!
8. How does the book of Ezekiel describe the happiness of God’s people after their liberation in 1919?
8 At Ezekiel 11:18-20, we read the prophet’s description of the happiness of God’s people after their restoration. The first fulfillment of his words meant the cleansing of Israel in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. The modern-day fulfillment meant something similar. Let us see how. Jehovah says: “They will certainly come [to their land] and remove all its disgusting things and all its detestable things out of it.” Just as prophesied, starting in 1919, Jehovah cleansed his people and reinvigorated them to serve him. They began to remove from their spiritual environment all the Babylonish practices and doctrines that polluted them in his eyes.
9. What significant blessings did Jehovah give his people, starting in 1919?
9 Then, according to verse 19, Jehovah goes on to say: “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I shall put inside them; and I shall certainly remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.” In harmony with these words, in 1919, Jehovah united his anointed servants, gave them “one heart,” so to speak, in order that they would serve him “shoulder to shoulder.” (Zephaniah 3:9) Further, Jehovah gave his people holy spirit to invigorate them in the witness work and to produce in them the fine fruitage described at Galatians 5:22, 23. And rather than an unresponsive, stonelike heart, Jehovah gave them a soft, pliable, obedient heart, a heart that would respond to his will.
10. Why has Jehovah blessed his restored people from 1919 onward?
10 Why did he do this? Jehovah himself explains. We read at Ezekiel 11:20: “In order that they may walk in my own statutes and keep my own judicial decisions and actually carry them out; and they may really become my people and I myself may become their God.” The Israel of God learned to obey Jehovah’s law rather than follow their own ideas. They learned to do God’s will without fear of man. Thus, they stood out as different from the imitation Christians of Christendom. They were Jehovah’s people. As such, Jehovah was ready to use them as his messenger, his “faithful and discreet slave.”—Matthew 24:45-47.
The Happiness of God’s Messengers
11. How does the book of Isaiah describe the happiness of Jehovah’s people?
11 Can you picture their happiness when they realized what a privileged position they enjoyed? As a group, they echoed the words of Isaiah 61:10: “Without fail I shall exult in Jehovah. My soul will be joyful in my God.” The promise of Isaiah 35:10 was fulfilled upon them: “The very ones redeemed by Jehovah will return and certainly come to Zion with a joyful cry; and rejoicing to time indefinite will be upon their head. To exultation and rejoicing they will attain, and grief and sighing must flee away.” Such was the happiness of Jehovah’s messengers of godly peace back in 1919 as they set out to preach the good news to all mankind. From then on down till this day, they have not ceased to perform this task, and their happiness has increased. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stated: “Happy are the peacemakers, since they will be called ‘sons of God.’” (Matthew 5:9, footnote) The truthfulness of that pronouncement has been experienced by the remnant of anointed “sons of God” from 1919 until today.
12, 13. (a) Who joined the Israel of God in serving Jehovah, and to what did they apply themselves? (b) What great joy has been experienced by Jehovah’s anointed servants?
12 As the years passed, the number of the Israel of God swelled until the 1930’s when the gathering of the remaining ones of the anointed neared completion. Did the increase in the number of preachers of the good news then stop? By no means. A great crowd of Christians with an earthly hope had already started to appear, and these were joining their anointed brothers in the preaching work. The apostle John saw this great crowd in vision, and the way he describes them is noteworthy: “They are before the throne of God; and they are rendering him sacred service day and night.” (Revelation 7:15) Yes, the great crowd got busy serving God. As a result, when the number of the anointed began to decrease, following 1935, the witnessing work was carried forward with increased momentum by these faithful companions.
13 In this way Isaiah 60:3, 4 was fulfilled: “Nations will certainly go to your light, and kings to the brightness of your shining forth. Raise your eyes all around and see! They have all of them been collected together; they have come to you. From far away your own sons keep coming, and your daughters who will be taken care of on the flank.” The happiness that these developments brought to the Israel of God is beautifully described at Isaiah 60:5, where we read: “At that time you will see and certainly become radiant, and your heart will actually quiver and expand, because to you the wealthiness of the sea will direct itself; the very resources of the nations will come to you.”
Jehovah’s Organization on the Move
14. (a) What vision of heavenly things did Ezekiel see, and what command did he receive? (b) What did Jehovah’s people in modern times discern, and what obligation did they feel?
14 In 613 B.C.E., Ezekiel saw in vision Jehovah’s heavenly, chariotlike organization on the move. (Ezekiel 1:4-28) Afterward, Jehovah said to him: “Son of man, go, enter in among the house of Israel, and you must speak with my words to them.” (Ezekiel 3:4) In this year of 1997, we discern that Jehovah’s heavenly organization is still moving inexorably to fulfill God’s purposes. Hence, we still feel impelled to tell others about those purposes. In his day, Ezekiel spoke words that were directly inspired by Jehovah. Today, we speak words from Jehovah’s inspired Word, the Bible. And what a message that book has for mankind! While many are worried about the future, the Bible shows that things are far worse—and at the same time, far better—than they imagine.
15. Why are conditions worse than many today think?
15 Things are worse because, as we learned in the previous articles, Christendom and all other false religions will soon be destroyed, as completely as was Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. Furthermore, the whole global political entity, pictured in the book of Revelation as a wild beast with seven heads and ten horns, is about to be wiped out, as were many of the pagan neighbors of Jerusalem. (Revelation 13:1, 2; 19:19-21) In Ezekiel’s day Jehovah vividly described the terror inspired by the approaching destruction of Jerusalem. But his words will have far more meaning when people discern the imminent destruction of this world. Jehovah said to Ezekiel: “As for you, O son of man, sigh with shaking hips. Even with bitterness you should sigh before their eyes. And it must occur that, in case they say to you, ‘On account of what are you sighing?’ you must say, ‘At a report.’ For it will certainly come, and every heart must melt and all hands must drop down and every spirit must become dejected and all knees themselves will drip with water. ‘Look! It will certainly come and be brought to occur,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.” (Ezekiel 21:6, 7; Matthew 24:30) Fear-inspiring events lie just ahead. Our deep concern for fellow humans moves us to sound the warning, to tell the “report” of Jehovah’s coming wrath.
16. For meek ones, why are conditions better than many think?
16 At the same time, for meek ones things are far better than most people imagine. In what way? In that Jesus Christ has died for our sins and now rules as King of God’s Kingdom. (1 Timothy 1:15; Revelation 11:15) The seemingly intractable problems of mankind will soon be overcome by means of that heavenly Kingdom. Death, sickness, corruption, hunger, and crime will become things of the past, and God’s Kingdom will rule unopposed over a paradise earth. (Revelation 21:3, 4) Mankind will enjoy godly peace—a peaceful relationship with Jehovah God and with one another.—Psalm 72:7.
17. What increases bring joy to the hearts of messengers of godly peace?
17 In some parts of the world, strikingly large crowds of meek ones are responding to this message of godly peace. To mention just a few examples, last year Ukraine reported a 17-percent increase in publishers. Mozambique reported a 17-percent increase, Lithuania a 29-percent increase. Russia had a 31-percent increase, while Albania experienced a 52-percent increase in publishers. These increases represent tens of thousands of honesthearted individuals who want to enjoy godly peace and who have taken their stand for righteousness. Such rapid growth brings joy to the whole Christian brotherhood.
18. Whether people listen or not, what will our attitude be?
18 Do people respond so readily where you live? If so, we rejoice with you. In some territories, though, it takes many, many hours of hard work before even one interested person is found. Do those serving in such territories slack their hands or lose heart? No. Jehovah’s Witnesses remember God’s words to Ezekiel when He first commissioned the young prophet to preach to his Jewish compatriots: “As for them, whether they will hear or will refrain—for they are a rebellious house—they will certainly know also that a prophet himself happened to be in the midst of them.” (Ezekiel 2:5) Like Ezekiel, we keep telling people about godly peace whether they respond or not. If they listen, we are thrilled. If they turn their backs on us, mock us, even persecute us, we persevere. We love Jehovah, and the Bible says: “Love . . . endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 7) Because we preach with endurance, people know who Jehovah’s Witnesses are. They know our message. When the end comes, they will know that Jehovah’s Witnesses tried to help them to enjoy godly peace.
19. As servants of the true God, what great privilege do we treasure?
19 Is there any greater privilege than serving Jehovah? No! Our greatest happiness comes from our relationship with God and the knowledge that we are doing his will. “Happy are the people knowing the joyful shouting. O Jehovah, in the light of your face they keep walking.” (Psalm 89:15) May we always treasure the joy of being God’s messengers of peace to mankind. May we diligently play our part in this work until Jehovah says that it is done.
Do You Remember?
□ Who are God’s messengers of peace today?
□ How do we know that Babylon the Great experienced a fall in 1919?
□ What is the main concern of the “great crowd”?
□ Why is the future bleaker than most people today think?
□ For righthearted ones, why can the future be better than they imagine?
[Pictures on page 21]
When they see the deterioration of human society, many feel a sense of foreboding
[Pictures on page 23]
The messengers of godly peace are the happiest people on earth today