Jehovah’s Restored People Praise Him Earth Wide
“I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah.”—ZEPHANIAH 3:9.
1. Why were messages of doom fulfilled upon Judah and other nations?
WHAT powerful judgment messages Jehovah inspired Zephaniah to deliver! Those words of doom were fulfilled upon the nation of Judah and her capital, Jerusalem, because the leaders and the people as a whole were not doing Jehovah’s will. Nearby nations, such as Philistia, Moab, and Ammon, would also experience God’s wrath. Why? Because of their cruel, centuries-long opposition to Jehovah’s people. For that same reason, the world power of Assyria would be destroyed, never to be reestablished.
2. Who apparently were addressed at Zephaniah 3:8?
2 However, there were some rightly disposed individuals in ancient Judah. They looked forward to the execution of divine judgment against the wicked and apparently were those addressed with the words: “‘Keep yourselves in expectation of me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘till the day of my rising up to the booty, for my judicial decision is to gather nations, for me to collect together kingdoms, in order to pour out upon them my denunciation, all my burning anger; for by the fire of my zeal all the earth will be devoured.’”—Zephaniah 3:8.
“A Pure Language” for Whom?
3. What message of hope was Zephaniah inspired to deliver?
3 Yes, Zephaniah delivered Jehovah’s messages of doom. But the prophet was also inspired to include a wonderful message of hope—one that would be very comforting to those who continued to be faithful to Jehovah. As recorded at Zephaniah 3:9, Jehovah God declared: “Then I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder.”
4, 5. (a) What would happen to the unrighteous? (b) Who would benefit from this, and why?
4 There would be people to whom the pure language would not be given. The prophecy takes note of them, saying: “I shall remove from the midst of you your haughtily exultant ones.” (Zephaniah 3:11) So the haughty ones who disdained God’s laws and practiced unrighteousness would be removed. And who would benefit from this? Zephaniah 3:12, 13 states: “I [Jehovah] shall certainly let remain in the midst of you a people humble and lowly, and they will actually take refuge in the name of Jehovah. As regards the remaining ones of Israel, they will do no unrighteousness, nor speak a lie, nor will there be found in their mouths a tricky tongue; for they themselves will feed and actually lie stretched out, and there will be no one making them tremble.”
5 A faithful remnant in ancient Judah were to benefit. Why? Because they had acted in harmony with the words: “Seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth, who have practiced His own judicial decision. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.”—Zephaniah 2:3.
6. What happened in the first fulfillment of Zephaniah’s prophecy?
6 In the first fulfillment of Zephaniah’s prophecy, God punished faithless Judah by allowing the Babylonian World Power to overwhelm her and take her people captive in 607 B.C.E. Some, including the prophet Jeremiah, were spared, and others remained faithful to Jehovah in captivity. In 539 B.C.E., Babylon was overthrown by the Medes and the Persians under King Cyrus. About two years later, Cyrus issued a decree that allowed a Jewish remnant to return to their homeland. In time, Jerusalem’s temple was rebuilt, and the priesthood was again in a position to instruct the people in the Law. (Malachi 2:7) So Jehovah prospered the restored remnant—as long as they remained faithful.
7, 8. To whom did the prophetic words of Zephaniah 3:14-17 apply, and why do you so answer?
7 Regarding those who would enjoy that restoration, Zephaniah foretold: “Joyfully cry out, O daughter of Zion! Break out in cheers, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! Jehovah has removed the judgments upon you. He has turned away your enemy. The king of Israel, Jehovah, is in the midst of you. You will fear calamity no more. In that day it will be said to Jerusalem: ‘Do not be afraid, O Zion. May your hands not drop down. Jehovah your God is in the midst of you. As a mighty One, he will save. He will exult over you with rejoicing. He will become silent in his love. He will be joyful over you with happy cries.’”—Zephaniah 3:14-17.
8 Those prophetic words referred to the remnant gathered out of Babylonian captivity and brought back to their ancestral land. This is made clear at Zephaniah 3:18-20, where we read: “‘The ones grief-stricken in absence from your festal season I [Jehovah] shall certainly gather together; absent from you they happened to be, because of bearing reproach on her account. Here I am acting against all those afflicting you, at that time; and I will save her that is limping, and her that is dispersed I shall collect together. And I will set them as a praise and as a name in all the land of their shame. At that time I shall bring you people in, even in the time of my collecting you together. For I shall make you people to be a name and a praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I gather back your captive ones before your eyes,’ Jehovah has said.”
9. How did Jehovah make a name for himself in connection with Judah?
9 Imagine the shock of those in surrounding nations who were enemies of God’s people! The inhabitants of Judah had been taken captive by mighty Babylon, with no apparent hope of ever being freed. Moreover, their land lay desolate. By God’s power, however, they were restored to their homeland after 70 years, whereas the enemy nations were headed for ruin. What a name Jehovah made for himself by bringing back that faithful remnant! He made them “to be a name and a praise among all the peoples.” How that restoration brought praise to Jehovah and to those bearing his name!
Jehovah’s Worship Exalted
10, 11. When was the major fulfillment of Zephaniah’s restoration prophecy to take place, and how do we know this?
10 Another restoration took place in the first century of the Common Era, when Jesus Christ gathered a remnant of Israel to true worship. That was a foregleam of what was yet to come, for the major fulfillment of the restoration was still future. Micah’s prophecy foretold: “It must occur in the final part of the days that the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will certainly be lifted up above the hills; and to it peoples must stream.”—Micah 4:1.
11 When would this happen? As the prophecy said, “in the final part of the days”—yes, during these “last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1) This would take place before the end of the present wicked system of things while the nations still worshiped false gods. Says Micah 4:5: “All the peoples, for their part, will walk each one in the name of its god.” And what about true worshipers? Micah’s prophecy answers: “But we, for our part, shall walk in the name of Jehovah our God to time indefinite, even forever.”
12. How has true worship been elevated in these last days?
12 In these last days, therefore, “the mountain of the house of Jehovah [has] become firmly established above the top of the mountains.” The lofty true worship of Jehovah has been restored, firmly established, and elevated above any and all other types of religion. As Micah’s prophecy also foretold, “to it peoples must stream.” And those practicing true religion “shall walk in the name of Jehovah [their] God to time indefinite, even forever.”
13, 14. When did this world enter “the final part of the days,” and what has been happening since then in regard to true worship?
13 Events in fulfillment of Bible prophecy prove that this world entered “the final part of the days”—its last days—in the year 1914. (Mark 13:4-10) History shows that Jehovah began gathering to true worship a faithful remnant of anointed ones having the heavenly hope. This has been followed by the gathering of “a great crowd . . . out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues”—those who have the hope of living forever on earth.—Revelation 7:9.
14 Since World War I and right up to this day, the worship of Jehovah by those who bear his name has moved ahead mightily under his direction. Increasing from a few thousand after World War I, the worshipers of Jehovah now number about six million, gathered in some 91,000 congregations in 235 lands. Each year, these Kingdom proclaimers are devoting well over a billion hours publicly praising God. It is clear that these Witnesses of Jehovah are the ones fulfilling Jesus’ prophetic words: “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.
15. How is Zephaniah 2:3 now being fulfilled?
15 Zephaniah 3:17 notes: “Jehovah your God is in the midst of you. As a mighty One, he will save.” The spiritual prosperity that Jehovah’s servants enjoy in these last days is the direct result of having him ‘in their midst’ as their all-powerful God. This is as true today as it was in the restoration of ancient Judah in 537 B.C.E. Thus we can see how Zephaniah 2:3 finds its major fulfillment in our time when it says: “Seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth.” In 537 B.C.E., “all” included the remnant of Jews who returned from Babylonian captivity. Now it represents the meek ones of all the nations throughout the entire earth, those who respond favorably to the global Kingdom-preaching work and who stream to “the mountain of the house of Jehovah.”
True Worship Prospers
16. What likely is the reaction of our enemies to the prosperity of Jehovah’s servants in modern times?
16 After 537 B.C.E., many in the surrounding nations were astonished by the restoration of God’s servants to true worship in their homeland. Yet, that restoration took place on a relatively small scale. Can you imagine what some—even the enemies of God’s people—are saying now that they see the amazing growth, prosperity, and forward movement of Jehovah’s servants in modern times? Very likely, some of these enemies feel as did the Pharisees when they saw how the people flocked to Jesus. They exclaimed: “See! The world has gone after him.”—John 12:19.
17. What did one writer say about Jehovah’s Witnesses, and what growth have they experienced?
17 In his book These Also Believe, Professor Charles S. Braden said: “Jehovah’s Witnesses have literally covered the earth with their witnessing. It may truly be said that no single religious group in the world displayed more zeal and persistence in the attempt to spread the good news of the Kingdom than Jehovah’s Witnesses. This movement will very likely go on from strength to strength.” How right he was! When he wrote those words 50 years ago, only some 300,000 Witnesses were preaching around the world. What would he say today, when about 20 times that number—some six million—are preaching the good news?
18. What is the pure language, and to whom has God given it?
18 Through his prophet, God promised: “I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder.” (Zephaniah 3:9) In these last days, it is Jehovah’s Witnesses who call upon the name of Jehovah, who serve him unitedly in an unbreakable bond of love—yes, “shoulder to shoulder.” They are the ones to whom Jehovah has given the pure language. This pure language includes a proper understanding of the truth about God and his purposes. Only Jehovah provides this understanding by means of his holy spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:10) To whom has he given his spirit? Only “to those obeying him as ruler.” (Acts 5:32) Jehovah’s Witnesses alone are willing to obey God as Ruler in everything. That is why they are recipients of God’s spirit and speak the pure language, the truth about Jehovah and his marvelous purposes. They use the pure language to praise Jehovah earth wide on a huge and growing scale.
19. Speaking the pure language involves what?
19 Speaking the pure language involves not only believing the truth and teaching it to others but also harmonizing one’s conduct with God’s laws and principles. Anointed Christians have taken the lead in seeking Jehovah and speaking the pure language. Think of what has been accomplished! Although anointed ones have diminished in number to fewer than 8,700, some six million others are imitating their faith by seeking Jehovah and speaking the pure language. These are the growing number of the great crowd from all nations who exercise faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice, render sacred service in the earthly courtyard of God’s spiritual temple, and will survive “the great tribulation” soon to come upon this unrighteous world.—Revelation 7:9, 14, 15.
20. What lies ahead for faithful anointed ones and for those who make up the great crowd?
20 The great crowd will be ushered into God’s righteous new world. (2 Peter 3:13) Jesus Christ and the 144,000 anointed ones resurrected to heavenly life to serve as kings and priests with him will make up earth’s new ruling body. (Romans 8:16, 17; Revelation 7:4; 20:6) Survivors of the great tribulation will work to make the earth a paradise and will continue to speak the God-given pure language. In principle, to them apply the words: “All your sons [and daughters, of course] will be persons taught by Jehovah, and the peace of your sons will be abundant. You will prove to be firmly established in righteousness itself.”—Isaiah 54:13, 14.
Greatest Teaching Work in History
21, 22. (a) As indicated by Acts 24:15, who will need to be taught the pure language? (b) What unparalleled teaching work will be carried out on earth under Kingdom rule?
21 A very large group that will be given an opportunity to learn the pure language in the new world are those spoken of at Acts 24:15, which says: “There is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” In the past, billions of people have lived and died without an accurate knowledge of Jehovah. In an orderly manner, he will bring them back to life. And such resurrected ones will need to be taught the pure language.
22 What a privilege it will be to take part in that great teaching work! It will be the greatest educational undertaking in the history of mankind. All of it will be accomplished under the benevolent rule of Christ Jesus in Kingdom power. As a result, mankind will eventually see the fulfillment of Isaiah 11:9, which says: “The earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”
23. Why would you say that we are greatly privileged as Jehovah’s people?
23 How privileged we are in these last days to be preparing for that marvelous time when the knowledge of Jehovah will truly fill the earth! And what a privilege we have right now to be God’s people, those experiencing the grand fulfillment of the prophetic words recorded at Zephaniah 3:20! There we find Jehovah’s assurance: “I shall make you people to be a name and a praise among all the peoples of the earth.”
How Would You Respond?
• Zephaniah’s restoration prophecy has had what fulfillments?
• How has true worship been prospering in these last days?
• What great teaching work will take place in the new world?
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Jehovah’s people returned to their homeland to reestablish pure worship. Do you know the significance of this today?
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By speaking the “pure language,” Jehovah’s Witnesses offer people the Bible’s comforting message