“The Little One” Has Become “a Thousand”
“The little one himself will become a thousand, and the small one a mighty nation.”—ISAIAH 60:22.
1, 2. (a) Why does darkness cover the earth today? (b) How has Jehovah’s light progressively shone on his people?
“DARKNESS itself will cover the earth, and thick gloom the national groups; but upon you Jehovah will shine forth, and upon you his own glory will be seen.” (Isaiah 60:2) These words well describe the situation on earth since 1919. Christendom has rejected the sign of the royal presence of Jesus Christ, “the light of the world.” (John 8:12; Matthew 24:3) Because of the “great anger” of Satan, chief of “the world rulers of this darkness,” the 20th century was the cruelest, most destructive time of man’s history. (Revelation 12:12; Ephesians 6:12) Most people live in spiritual darkness.
2 Still, light does shine today. Jehovah ‘shines forth’ upon his servants, the anointed remnant, who are the earthly representatives of his heavenly “woman.” (Isaiah 60:1) Especially since their release from Babylonish captivity in 1919, these have reflected God’s glory and have ‘let their light shine before men.’ (Matthew 5:16) From 1919 through 1931, Kingdom light shone brighter and brighter as these ones cast off the remaining shackles of Babylonish thinking. They increased in number to tens of thousands as Jehovah fulfilled his promise: “I shall without fail collect the remaining ones of Israel together. In unity I shall set them, like a flock in the pen, like a drove in the midst of its pasture; they will be noisy with men.” (Micah 2:12) In 1931, Jehovah’s glory upon his people became even more evident when they accepted the name Jehovah’s Witnesses.—Isaiah 43:10, 12.
3. How did it become evident that Jehovah’s light would shine on others besides the anointed?
3 Would Jehovah shine forth on only the remaining ones of the “little flock”? (Luke 12:32) No. The September 1, 1931, issue of The Watch Tower pointed to another group. In a fine explanation of Ezekiel 9:1-11, it showed that the man with the writer’s inkhorn mentioned in those verses represents the anointed remnant. Who are marked on the forehead by that “man”? “Other sheep,” ones who have the hope of living eternally on a paradise earth. (John 10:16; Psalm 37:29) In 1935 this group of “other sheep” were discerned to be the “great crowd . . . out of all nations” seen in vision by the apostle John. (Revelation 7:9-14) From 1935 until now, much attention has been focused on the gathering in of the great crowd.
4. Who are the “kings” and the “nations” referred to at Isaiah 60:3?
4 This gathering work is alluded to in Isaiah’s prophecy when it says: “Nations will certainly go to your light, and kings to the brightness of your shining forth.” (Isaiah 60:3) Who are the “kings” referred to here? The remaining ones of the 144,000 who, along with Jesus Christ, are joint heirs of the heavenly Kingdom and have taken the lead in the witness work. (Romans 8:17; Revelation 12:17; 14:1) Today, the few thousand remaining ones of the anointed remnant are greatly outnumbered by the “nations,” those with an earthly hope who come to Jehovah for instruction and invite others to do the same.—Isaiah 2:3.
Jehovah’s Zealous Servants
5. (a) What facts show that the zeal of Jehovah’s people has not diminished? (b) Which countries had outstanding increases in 1999? (See chart on pages 17-20.)
5 What zeal Jehovah’s modern-day Witnesses showed throughout the 20th century! And despite increasing pressures, their zeal did not diminish as the year 2000 approached. They still took very seriously Jesus’ command: “Make disciples of people of all the nations.” (Matthew 28:19, 20) The number of active publishers of the good news in the last service year of the 20th century reached a new peak of 5,912,492. They spent the remarkable total of 1,144,566,849 hours talking to others about God and his purposes. They made 420,047,796 return visits on interested ones and conducted 4,433,884 free home Bible studies. What a wonderful record of zealous service!
6. What new arrangement was made for pioneers, and what response was there?
6 Last January, the Governing Body announced an adjustment in the hour requirement for pioneers. Many took advantage of this to enter the ranks of regular or auxiliary pioneers. For example, during the first four calendar months of 1999, the Netherlands branch office received four times as many regular pioneer applications as during the same period a year before. Ghana reports: “Since the new pioneer hour goal went into effect, the ranks of our regular pioneers have steadily gone up.” In the 1999 service year, the number of pioneers worldwide reached 738,343—a wonderful demonstration of ‘zeal for fine works.’—Titus 2:14.
7. How has Jehovah blessed the zealous activity of his servants?
7 Has Jehovah blessed this zealous activity? Yes. Through Isaiah he says: “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.” (Isaiah 60:4) Anointed “sons” and “daughters” who have been gathered in are still zealously serving God. And now, Jesus’ other sheep are being gathered to the side of Jehovah’s anointed “sons” and “daughters” in 234 lands and islands of the sea.
“Every Good Work”
8. In what ‘good works’ are Jehovah’s Witnesses active?
8 Christians have the responsibility to preach the good news of the Kingdom and to help interested ones to become disciples. But they are “equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:17) Thus, they lovingly care for their families, show hospitality, and visit the sick. (1 Timothy 5:8; Hebrews 13:16) And volunteers are involved in such projects as building Kingdom Halls—a work that also gives a witness. In Togo, after the construction of one hall, the responsible ones of a local charismatic church wanted to know why Jehovah’s Witnesses were able to construct their own buildings while the church had to hire people for this purpose! Togo reports that the construction of good-quality Kingdom Halls has such a positive effect on the neighborhood that some people try to rent or build houses in localities where halls are going to be built.
9. How have Jehovah’s Witnesses responded when disasters have struck?
9 Sometimes, another kind of good work is called for. Many lands during the last service year were struck by disasters, and frequently the first on the scene to render aid were Jehovah’s Witnesses. For example, much of Honduras was devastated by Hurricane Mitch. Quickly, the branch formed emergency committees to organize relief efforts. Witnesses in Honduras and many other lands donated clothes, food, medicine, and other basic items. Regional Building Committees used their skills to rebuild houses. Soon, our brothers who were victims of the disaster were being helped to return to their regular activities. In Ecuador, Jehovah’s Witnesses came to the aid of their brothers when serious flooding destroyed some homes. After watching the efficient way they had dealt with the situation, a government official said: “If I had this group, I would do marvels! People like you should be in all parts of the world.” Such good work brings praise to Jehovah God and is evidence of our “godly devotion [that] is beneficial for all things.”—1 Timothy 4:8.
They “Come Flying Just Like a Cloud”
10. Despite the dwindling number of the anointed, why is Jehovah’s name being declared as never before?
10 Jehovah now asks: “Who are these that come flying just like a cloud, and like doves to their birdhouse holes? For in me the islands themselves will keep hoping, the ships of Tarshish also as at the first, in order to bring your sons from far away . . . Foreigners will actually build your walls, and their own kings will minister to you.” (Isaiah 60:8-10) First to respond to Jehovah’s ‘shining forth’ were his “sons,” anointed Christians. Then came the “foreigners,” the great crowd, who loyally minister to their anointed brothers, following their lead in preaching the good news. Thus, although the number of the anointed is dwindling, Jehovah’s name is being declared around the earth as never before.
11. (a) What is still continuing and with what result in 1999? (b) Which countries had outstanding baptism figures for 1999? (See chart on pages 17-20.)
11 As a result, millions are flocking “like doves to their birdhouse holes,” finding refuge within the Christian congregation. Hundreds of thousands are added each year, and the way is open for yet more. Isaiah says: “Your gates will actually be kept open constantly; they will not be closed even by day or by night, in order to bring to you the resources of the nations.” (Isaiah 60:11) Last year 323,439 were baptized in symbol of their dedication to Jehovah, and he has not yet closed the gates. “The desirable things of all the nations,” members of the great crowd, are still crowding through them. (Haggai 2:7) None who want to leave the darkness are turned away. (John 12:46) May all such ones never lose their appreciation for the light!
Fearless in the Face of Opposition
12. How have those who love the darkness tried to extinguish the light?
12 Those who love the darkness hate Jehovah’s light. (John 3:19) Some even try to extinguish that light. This is not unexpected. Even Jesus, “the true light that gives light to every sort of man,” was ridiculed, opposed, and finally killed by his countrymen. (John 1:9) Throughout the 20th century, Jehovah’s Witnesses too have been mocked, imprisoned, banned, even killed, as they faithfully reflected Jehovah’s light. In recent years, opponents have resorted to spreading lies in the media about those who reflect God’s light. Some want to make people believe that Jehovah’s Witnesses are dangerous and should be restricted or banned. Have such opposers succeeded?
13. What has resulted from discreetly presenting facts concerning our work to the media?
13 No. Where appropriate, Jehovah’s Witnesses have gone to the media to explain the facts. As a result, Jehovah’s name has been widely published in newspapers and magazines and on radio and television. This has had good results in the preaching work. In Denmark, for example, a program on national TV dealt with the subject “Why the faith of the Danes is declining.” Along with others, Jehovah’s Witnesses were interviewed. Afterward, a lady who had seen the program commented: “It was so clear who had the spirit of God.” A study was started with her.
14. To their chagrin, what will opposers soon be forced to recognize?
14 Jehovah’s Witnesses know that many in this world will oppose them. (John 17:14) Still, they are strengthened by Isaiah’s prophecy: “To you the sons of those afflicting you must go, bowing down; and all those treating you disrespectfully must bend down at the very soles of your feet, and they will have to call you the city of Jehovah, Zion of the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 60:14) To their chagrin, opposers will soon have to recognize that they have, in effect, been fighting against God himself. Who can win such a battle?
15. How do Jehovah’s Witnesses “suck the milk of nations,” and how has this been reflected in their teaching and evangelizing work?
15 Jehovah further promises: “I will even set you as a thing of pride to time indefinite . . . You will actually suck the milk of nations, and the breast of kings you will suck; and you will be certain to know that I, Jehovah, am your Savior.” (Isaiah 60:15, 16) Yes, Jehovah is the Savior of his people. If they rely on him, they will last “to time indefinite.” And they will “suck the milk of nations,” using certain available resources for the advancement of true worship. For example, wise use of computer and communications technology facilitates the simultaneous publication of The Watchtower in 121 languages and Awake! in 62. A specific computer software program has been designed to help in rendering the New World Translation into new languages, and such translation brings much joy. When the Croatian version of the Christian Greek Scriptures was released in 1999, thousands gave way to tears of joy. One elderly brother said: “I have waited for this Bible for so long. Now I can die in peace!” The circulation of the New World Translation, in whole or in part, has passed 100 million in 34 languages.
High Moral Standards
16, 17. (a) Although difficult, why is it vital to maintain Jehovah’s high standards? (b) What experience illustrates that young people can avoid pollution by the world?
16 Jesus said: “He that practices vile things hates the light.” (John 3:20) On the other hand, those who remain in the light love Jehovah’s high standards. Jehovah, through Isaiah, says: “As for your people, all of them will be righteous.” (Isaiah 60:21a) It can be a challenge to maintain righteous standards in a world where sexual immorality, lying, greed, and pride are so prevalent. For example, in some lands, economies are booming and it is easy to get sidetracked into a single-minded pursuit of wealth. However, Paul warned: “Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires, which plunge men into destruction and ruin.” (1 Timothy 6:9) How tragic it is when someone gets so deeply involved in business enterprises that he sacrifices the truly important things, such as Christian association, sacred service, moral principles, and family responsibilities!
17 Maintaining righteous standards can be especially difficult for the young, when so many of their peers are involved in drug abuse and immorality. In Suriname, a 14-year-old girl was approached by a good-looking boy at school and invited to have sexual relations. She refused, explaining that the Bible forbids such things outside marriage. Other girls at school mocked her and tried to pressure her to change her mind, saying that everyone wanted to sleep with that particular boy. Still, the young girl stood firm. A few weeks later, the boy was diagnosed HIV positive and became very ill. The girl was happy that she had obeyed Jehovah’s command to ‘abstain from fornication.’ (Acts 15:28, 29) Jehovah’s Witnesses are very proud of the young ones among them who stand firm for what is right. Their faith, and that of their parents, ‘beautifies’—brings honor to—Jehovah God’s name.—Isaiah 60:21b.
Jehovah Has Given the Increase
18. (a) What great thing has Jehovah done for his people? (b) What evidence is there that growth will continue, and what glorious prospects await those who stay with the light?
18 Yes, Jehovah sheds light on his people, blessing them, guiding them, and strengthening them. During the 20th century, they saw the fulfillment of Isaiah’s words: “The little one himself will become a thousand, and the small one a mighty nation. I myself, Jehovah, shall speed it up in its own time.” (Isaiah 60:22) From the handful back in 1919, “the little one” has become more than “a thousand.” And the end of such growth is not yet! Last year 14,088,751 attended the celebration of the Memorial of Jesus’ death. Many of these were not active Witnesses. We are happy that they attended that important observance, and we invite them to keep on moving toward the light. Jehovah still shines brightly upon his people. The door to his organization is still open. Let all, then, be determined to stay with Jehovah’s light. What blessings that results in for us now! And what joy that will bring in the future when all creation will praise Jehovah and rejoice in the splendor of his glory!—Revelation 5:13, 14.
Can You Explain?
• Who have reflected Jehovah’s glory in these last days?
• What indicates that the zeal of Jehovah’s people has not diminished?
• What are some good works in which Jehovah’s Witnesses are busy?
• Despite fierce opposition, of what are we confident?
[Chart on page 17-20]
1999 SERVICE YEAR REPORT OF JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES WORLDWIDE
(See bound volume)
[Pictures on page 15]
People are still flocking to Jehovah’s organization
[Picture on page 16]
We are happy that Jehovah has left the door wide open for ones who love the light