“Is Your Heart Upright With Me?”
“Do go along with me and look upon my toleration of no rivalry toward Jehovah.”—2 KINGS 10:16.
1, 2. (a) How did Israel’s religious situation go from bad to worse? (b) In 905 B.C.E., what dramatic changes were about to happen in Israel?
THE year 905 B.C.E. was a time of great change in Israel. Almost 100 years earlier, Jehovah had caused the united kingdom of Israel to be divided because of Solomon’s apostasy. (1 Kings 11:9-13) The southern kingdom, Judah, was then ruled by Solomon’s son Rehoboam while the northern kingdom, Israel, came under King Jeroboam, an Ephraimite. Unhappily, the northern kingdom had a disastrous start. Jeroboam did not want his subjects to travel down to the southern kingdom to worship at the temple, fearing that they would get the idea of returning to the house of David. So he set up calf worship in Israel and thus established a pattern of idolatry that lasted to some extent throughout the history of the northern kingdom.—1 Kings 12:26-33.
2 Things got worse when Ahab, son of Omri, became king. His foreign wife, Jezebel, promoted Baal worship and killed Jehovah’s prophets. Despite the prophet Elijah’s frank warnings, Ahab did nothing to stop her. In 905 B.C.E., however, Ahab was dead, and Jehoram, his son, ruled. It was now time for the land to be cleansed. Elijah’s successor, Elisha, informed the military commander, Jehu, that Jehovah was anointing him to be the next king of Israel. His commission? To strike down the sinful house of Ahab and avenge the prophets’ blood that had been shed by Jezebel!—2 Kings 9:1-10.
3, 4. How did Jehonadab show that his heart was ‘upright with Jehu’s heart’?
3 Obedient to God’s command, Jehu had the evil Jezebel killed, and thereafter he set out to cleanse Israel by striking down the house of Ahab. (2 Kings 9:15–10:14, 17) Then he met up with a supporter. “He got to encounter Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him. When he blessed him, he accordingly said to him: ‘Is your heart upright with me, just as my own heart is with your heart?’ To this Jehonadab said: ‘It is.’ ‘If it is, do give me your hand.’ So he gave him his hand. At that he made him get up into the chariot with him. Then he said: ‘Do go along with me and look upon my toleration of no rivalry toward Jehovah.’ And they kept him riding with him in his war chariot.”—2 Kings 10:15, 16.
4 Jehonadab (or, Jonadab) was not an Israelite. Nevertheless, in harmony with his name (meaning “Jehovah Is Willing,” “Jehovah Is Noble,” or “Jehovah Is Generous”) he was a worshiper of Jehovah. (Jeremiah 35:6) Certainly, he had an uncommon interest in seeing Jehu’s “toleration of no rivalry toward Jehovah.” How do we know? Well, his meeting with Israel’s anointed king was no accident. Jehonadab was “coming to meet him,” and this at a time when Jehu had already slaughtered Jezebel and others in the house of Ahab. Jehonadab knew what was happening when he accepted Jehu’s invitation to get up into his chariot. He was unmistakably on Jehu’s—and Jehovah’s—side in this conflict between false and true worship.
A Modern-Day Jehu and a Modern-Day Jehonadab
5. (a) What changes will soon take place for all mankind? (b) Who is the Greater Jehu, and who represent him on earth?
5 Today, things will soon change as radically for all mankind as they did for Israel back in 905 B.C.E. The time is now close when Jehovah will cleanse the earth of all the bad results of Satan’s influence, including false religion. Who is the modern-day Jehu? None other than Jesus Christ, to whom are addressed the prophetic words: “Gird your sword upon your thigh, O mighty one, with your dignity and your splendor. And in your splendor go on to success; ride in the cause of truth and humility and righteousness.” (Psalm 45:3, 4) Jesus is represented on earth by “the Israel of God,” anointed Christians “who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” (Galatians 6:16; Revelation 12:17) Since 1922 these anointed brothers of Jesus have fearlessly warned of Jehovah’s coming judgment acts.—Isaiah 61:1, 2; Revelation 8:7–9:21; 16:2-21.
6. Who came out from the nations to support anointed Christians, and how have they entered the chariot, as it were, of the Greater Jehu?
6 Anointed Christians have not been alone. Just as Jehonadab came out to meet Jehu, many from the nations have come out to support Jesus, the Greater Jehu, and his earthly representatives in their stand for true worship. (Zechariah 8:23) Called by Jesus his “other sheep,” in 1932 they were recognized as a modern-day equivalent of Jehonadab of old and were invited to ‘get into the chariot’ of the modern-day Jehu. (John 10:16) How? By ‘observing the commandments of God’ and sharing with the anointed in “the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” In modern times, this includes preaching the good news of God’s established Kingdom under Jesus as King. (Mark 13:10) In 1935 these “Jonadabs” were identified as the “great crowd” of Revelation 7:9-17.
7. How have Christians today shown that their ‘heart is still upright’ with Jesus’ heart?
7 Since the 1930’s, the great crowd and their anointed brothers have courageously proved their support of true worship. In certain lands in Eastern and Western Europe, the Far East, and Africa, many of them have died for their faith. (Luke 9:23, 24) In other lands, they have been imprisoned, mobbed, or otherwise persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12) What a record of faith they have made! And the 1997 Service Year Report shows that they are still determined to serve God, no matter what. Their ‘heart is still upright’ with Jesus’ heart. This was demonstrated during 1997, when 5,599,931 Kingdom publishers, almost all of them “Jonadabs,” spent a total of 1,179,735,841 hours in the work of bearing witness to Jesus.
Still Preaching With Zeal
8. How do Jehovah’s Witnesses show their zeal for true worship?
8 Jehu had a reputation for driving his chariot furiously—an evidence of his zeal to accomplish his task. (2 Kings 9:20) Jesus, the Greater Jehu, is described as being ‘eaten up’ with zeal. (Psalm 69:9) Not surprisingly, then, true Christians today are noted for their zeal. Both within the congregation and to the public, they “preach the word . . . urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season.” (2 Timothy 4:2) Their zeal was especially evidenced during the early part of 1997 after an article in Our Kingdom Ministry encouraged as many as possible to share in the auxiliary pioneer service. In each country a target number of auxiliary pioneers was set. What was the response? Outstanding! Many branches exceeded the target figure. Ecuador set a goal of 4,000 but in March reported 6,936 auxiliary pioneers. Japan reported a total of 104,215 during those three months. In Zambia, where 6,000 was the target, 6,414 auxiliary pioneers reported in March; 6,532 in April; and 7,695 in May. Globally, the peak of auxiliary and regular pioneers together was 1,110,251, a 34.2-percent increase over 1996!
9. In addition to the house-to-house work, in what other ways do Jehovah’s Witnesses find people to tell them the good news?
9 The apostle Paul told elders from Ephesus: “I did not hold back from telling you any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching you publicly and from house to house.” (Acts 20:20) Jehovah’s Witnesses today imitate Paul’s example and zealously preach the good news from house to house. However, it may not be easy to find people in their homes. Hence, “the faithful and discreet slave” encourages Kingdom publishers to approach people at their places of business, in the streets, on the beaches, in the public parks—wherever people are to be found. (Matthew 24:45-47) The results have been excellent.
10, 11. How have publishers in two countries shown fine initiative in locating interested ones who cannot normally be contacted at home?
10 In Copenhagen, Denmark, a small group of publishers have been witnessing in the streets outside railway stations. From January to June, they placed 4,733 magazines, had excellent conversations, and made many return visits. Several publishers in that land have established magazine routes in stores. One town has a big market every Friday, with thousands of visitors. So the congregation has arranged regular market witnessing. In one area the schools are visited with an information package containing publications that are especially appropriate for schoolteachers.
11 In Hawaii too efforts have been made to reach those who cannot be found at home. Special territories include public areas (streets, parks, parking lots, and bus stops), downtown areas, shopping centers and airports, telephone witnessing, public transportation (preaching on buses), and college campuses. Care is taken to ensure that the right number of Witnesses are assigned to each territory and that those assigned are properly trained. Well-organized endeavors similar to these are reported in many lands. As a result, interested people are being contacted who would likely never have been found in the house-to-house ministry.
12, 13. (a) What tactic did Satan use against Jehovah’s Witnesses during 1997? (b) In what way did false propaganda backfire in one country?
12 In a number of lands in 1997, Jehovah’s Witnesses were the victims of vicious, false propaganda promoted with the apparent objective of taking possible legal action against them. But they did not flinch! (Psalm 112:7, 8) They remembered the psalmist’s prayer: “The presumptuous have smeared me with falsehood. As for me, with all my heart I shall observe your orders.” (Psalm 119:69) Such lying publicity is merely an evidence of true Christians’ being hated as prophesied by Jesus. (Matthew 24:9) And sometimes it has backfired. A man in Belgium read a disparaging article about Jehovah’s Witnesses in a well-known daily newspaper. Shocked by the slanderous remarks, he attended a meeting at a Kingdom Hall the following Sunday. He arranged to study the Bible with the Witnesses and went on to make rapid progress. Previously, this man had been a member of a gang. His Bible study helped him to clean up his life, something noted by people around him. Surely, the writer of the slanderous article did not have such a result in mind!
13 Some honesthearted people in Belgium have spoken out against the deceitful propaganda. Among them was a former prime minister who admitted to being filled with admiration for what Jehovah’s Witnesses have accomplished. And a deputy wrote: “Contrary to the insinuations circulated on certain occasions, [Jehovah’s Witnesses] do not appear to me to represent the slightest danger to the State’s institutions. They are citizens who are peace-loving, conscientious, and respectful toward the authorities.” Wise, indeed, are the words of the apostle Peter: “Maintain your conduct fine among the nations, that, in the thing in which they are speaking against you as evildoers, they may as a result of your fine works of which they are eyewitnesses glorify God in the day for his inspection.”—1 Peter 2:12.
An Outstanding Memorial Celebration
14. What were some exciting reports of Memorial attendances in 1997?
14 It is fitting that those who bear witness to Jesus should view the Memorial of his death as a high point in their year. In 1997, 14,322,226 were present on March 23 to celebrate the event. That was over 1,400,000 more than in 1996. (Luke 22:14-20) In many lands the Memorial attendance was far in excess of the number of Kingdom publishers, showing fine prospects for future increase. For example, in Haiti, 1997 saw a peak of 10,621 publishers, while 67,259 attended the Memorial. You may check the annual report on pages 18 to 21 and see how many other countries had similar high attendances compared with the number of publishers.
15. In some lands, how did our brothers overcome serious problems in order to celebrate the Memorial?
15 For some, attending the Memorial was not easy. In Albania there was a 7:00 p.m. curfew because of civil unrest. In 115 small groups around the country, the Memorial began at 5:45 p.m. The sun set at 6:08 p.m., marking the beginning of Nisan 14. The emblems were passed at approximately 6:15 p.m. In most cases the final prayer was said by 6:30 p.m., and those attending hurried home before the curfew. Still, the Memorial attendance was 3,154 compared with a peak in publishers of 1,090. In one African country, civil unrest made the Kingdom Hall inaccessible, so two elders decided to meet in the home of a third elder to arrange to have the celebration in smaller groups. In order to reach the house, the two elders had to cross a drainage ditch. However, there was fighting in the area, and snipers shot at anyone trying to cross the ditch. One elder raced across without incident. The second was crossing when he heard a shot. He threw himself on the ground and crawled to safety as bullets whizzed over his head. The meeting of the elders was successfully held, and the needs of the congregation were cared for.
“Out of All Nations and Tribes . . . and Tongues”
16. How has the faithful and discreet slave class arranged for the good news to be spread among small language groups?
16 The apostle John said that the great crowd would come “out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.” (Revelation 7:9) Hence, the Governing Body arranges for literature to be made available in more and more languages—including those spoken by remote tribes and small groups of people. In Mozambique, for example, the tract Life in a Peaceful New World was released in five additional languages. In Nicaragua, the brochure Enjoy Life on Earth Forever! was made available in the Miskito language—the Watch Tower Society’s first publication in that tongue. Many Miskito Indians accepted the brochure with glee upon seeing something in their own language. In 1997 the Society approved literature in 25 additional languages and printed more than one billion magazines.
17. What language group was helped in Korea, and how have videotapes greatly assisted this section of the population?
17 In Korea another language group was helped. The year 1997 saw the first convention in Korean sign language. There are 15 sign language congregations in Korea with 543 publishers, but 1,174 attended the convention, and 21 were baptized. To help the deaf who cannot easily understand the spoken or written word, publications are being produced on videotape in 13 different sign languages. Thus, the deaf are being helped to “read” and even study the good news, with fine results. In the United States, it could formerly take up to five years for a deaf person to progress to the point of baptism. Now, with a number of videos available in American Sign Language, for some of the deaf, that has been reduced to about one year.
‘Staying in the Chariot’
18. After meeting Jehonadab, what did Jehu set about doing?
18 Back in 905 B.C.E., after being joined by Jehonadab, Jehu set about destroying false worship. He issued an invitation to all Baal worshipers: “Sanctify a solemn assembly for Baal.” Then he sent through the whole land to ensure that no Baal worshiper was left out. As the crowds poured into the false god’s great temple, care was taken to see that no worshiper of Jehovah was there. Finally, Jehu and his army cut down the Baal worshipers. “Thus Jehu annihilated Baal out of Israel.”—2 Kings 10:20-28.
19. In view of what lies ahead for mankind, what spirit should we show, and at what task should we be diligently occupied?
19 Today, the final judgment of all false religion lies just ahead. Under angelic guidance Christians are proclaiming good news to all mankind, encouraging them to fear God and to separate themselves from false religion. (Revelation 14:6-8; 18:2, 4) Meek ones are encouraged to submit themselves to God’s Kingdom under Jehovah’s enthroned King, Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:10) At this exciting time, we must not allow our zeal to weaken as we stand for true worship.
20. What will you be determined to do during the 1998 service year?
20 Once, when King David was under great pressure, he prayed: “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast. I will sing and make melody. I shall laud you among the peoples, O Jehovah.” (Psalm 57:7, 9) May we too be steadfast. During the 1997 service year, in the face of many difficulties, a loud shout of praise was lifted up to the glory of Jehovah God. May a similar, even greater, shout be heard during the current service year. And may this be true no matter what Satan may try to do to discourage us or oppose us. Thus, we will show that our heart remains upright with the heart of the Greater Jehu, Jesus Christ, and we will respond with our whole soul to the inspired exhortation: “Rejoice in Jehovah and be joyful, you righteous ones; and cry out joyfully, all you who are upright in heart.”—Psalm 32:11.
Can You Explain?
□ What changes took place in Israel in 905 B.C.E.?
□ Who is the modern-day Jehu, and how has the “great crowd” shown that their ‘heart is upright’ with his heart?
□ What statistics from the annual report illustrate the zeal that Jehovah’s Witnesses showed during the 1997 service year?
□ Whatever Satan may do against us, what spirit will we show during the 1998 service year?
[Chart on page 18-21]
1997 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
(See bound volume)
[Picture on page 15]
The outstanding attendance at the Memorial shows fine prospects for future growth
[Picture on page 16]
As Jehonadab supported Jehu, so the “great crowd” today supports the Greater Jehu, Jesus Christ, and his anointed brothers