A City Upon a Mountain
“YOU are the light of the world. A city cannot be hid when situated upon a mountain,” Jesus told his disciples in his famous Sermon on the Mount.—Matthew 5:14.
Many Judean and Galilean towns were located on mountains rather than in the valleys below. The principal reason for choosing hilltop locations was safety. In addition to invading armies, marauder bands used to ravage Israelite settlements. (2 Kings 5:2; 24:2) Resolute citizens could defend a tightly grouped cluster of houses on top of a mountain much easier than a lowland town, which required a larger wall for protection.
Since the walls of Jewish houses were often plastered with lime, a whole cluster of these whitewashed houses huddled together on a hilltop could easily be seen for miles around. (Acts 23:3) In the bright Palestinian sunshine, these hill towns shone like a beacon, just as similar Mediterranean towns still do in our day.
Jesus used this striking aspect of the Galilean and Judean countryside to teach his followers the role of a true Christian. “Likewise let your light shine before men,” he told them, “that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heavens.” (Matthew 5:16) While Christians do not perform fine works to be praised by men, their good conduct does not go unnoticed.—Matthew 6:1.
Such good conduct is particularly conspicuous during the district conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses. One newspaper in Spain, referring to a recent convention, reported: “While interest in religious themes is on the wane in other denominations, this is not the case with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Since they do not want the Bible to lose its relevance, they put the Word of God into practice.”
Thomas, the caretaker of a stadium in the northwest of Spain that the Witnesses regularly used, appreciated being around people who put the Word of God into practice. He postponed his retirement for several weeks so that he could be present for a district convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. When many delegates, including young ones, approached him after the convention to thank him for his cooperation over the years and to wish him well during his retirement, he broke down in tears. “Getting to know you people has been one of the best experiences of my life,” he said.
A city on a mountain captures the attention of an observer because it stands out against the skyline and because any white houses in it reflect the light of the sun. Likewise, true Christians stand out as different because they endeavor to follow elevated Scriptural standards of honesty, morality, and compassion.
In addition, Christians reflect the light of truth by means of their preaching activity. The apostle Paul said of the first-century Christians: “Since we have this ministry according to the mercy that was shown us, we do not give up . . . but by making the truth manifest [recommend] ourselves to every human conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:1, 2) Though they met with opposition everywhere they preached, Jehovah blessed their ministry, so that by about the year 60 C.E., Paul could write that the good news was being preached “in all creation that is under heaven.”—Colossians 1:23.
Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses also take seriously their responsibility to ‘let their light shine before men,’ as Jesus commanded. By word of mouth and by published material, Jehovah’s Witnesses disseminate the Kingdom good news in 235 lands around the world. That the light of Bible truth may reach as many people as possible, they have made their Bible publications available in some 370 languages.—Matthew 24:14; Revelation 14:6, 7.
In many places, the Witnesses have taken up the challenge of learning the languages of people who have emigrated from countries where the preaching work is or has been restricted. For example, in a number of the larger cities in North America, there has been a large influx of people from China and Russia. Local Witnesses have endeavored to learn Chinese, Russian, and other languages in order to preach the good news to the newcomers. In fact, accelerated courses in a number of languages are being conducted so that the good news may be preached to still others while the field is “white for harvesting.”—John 4:35.
The prophet Isaiah 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 all the nations must stream.” Both by their conduct and by their ministry, Jehovah’s Witnesses are helping people everywhere to come to “the mountain of the house of Jehovah” to be instructed about God’s ways and to learn to walk in God’s path. (Isaiah 2:2, 3) The happy outcome is that, as Jesus pointed out, together they ‘give glory to their heavenly Father,’ Jehovah God.—Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12.