Walking in the Path of Increasing Light
“The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.”—PROVERBS 4:18.
1, 2. What have God’s people experienced as a result of increased spiritual light from Jehovah?
WHO can better describe the effect that the rising sun has on the darkness of the night than the very Source of light, Jehovah God? (Psalm 36:9) ‘When the morning light takes hold on the ends of the earth,’ God says, ‘the earth transforms itself like clay under a seal, and things take their station as in clothing.’ (Job 38:12-14) With increasing light from the sun, earth’s features take shape and become clearer, just as soft clay undergoes a transformation upon receiving an imprint from an emblem on a seal.
2 Jehovah is also the Source of spiritual light. (Psalm 43:3) While the world remains in dense darkness, the true God continues to shed light upon his people. With what result? The Bible answers: “The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.” (Proverbs 4:18) Increasing light from Jehovah continues to illuminate the path of his people. It refines them organizationally, doctrinally, and morally.
Enlightenment Leads to Organizational Refinements
3. What is promised at Isaiah 60:17?
3 Through the prophet Isaiah, Jehovah foretold: “Instead of the copper I shall bring in gold, and instead of the iron I shall bring in silver, and instead of the wood, copper, and instead of the stones, iron.” (Isaiah 60:17) Just as replacing an inferior material with a superior one denotes improvement, Jehovah’s Witnesses have experienced improvements in their organizational arrangements all through “the conclusion of the system of things,” or “the last days.”—Matthew 24:3; 2 Timothy 3:1.
4. What arrangement went into effect in 1919, and how was it beneficial?
4 In the early part of the last days, the congregations of Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then known, democratically elected their elders and deacons. Some elders, however, did not have the genuine spirit of evangelizing. Some not only were reluctant to participate in the preaching work themselves but also discouraged others from sharing in it. So in 1919 a new office was instituted in each congregation—that of a service director. The service director was not elected by the congregation but was appointed theocratically to his position by the branch office of God’s people. The responsibilities of the appointed director included organizing the preaching work, assigning territories, and encouraging participation in the field ministry. During the years that followed, the Kingdom-preaching work received a tremendous stimulus.
5. What refinement became a reality in the 1920’s?
5 All in the congregation were further invigorated by the exhortation “Advertise, advertise, advertise, the King and his kingdom,” given in 1922 at the Bible Students’ convention at Cedar Point, Ohio, U.S.A. By 1927 field service was organized to the point that Sunday was designated as the most suitable day for participating in the house-to-house preaching work. Why that day? Because Sunday was the day when most people were off work. Jehovah’s Witnesses today manifest the same spirit by endeavoring to call on people at times when they are most likely to be at home, such as on weekends and in the evenings.
6. In 1931, what resolution was adopted, and how did that affect the Kingdom-proclamation work?
6 A great impetus to the Kingdom-proclamation work came on Sunday afternoon, July 26, 1931, when a resolution was adopted, first at a convention in Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A., and thereafter around the world. In part, the resolution stated: “We are servants of Jehovah God commissioned to do a work in his name, and, in obedience to his commandment, to deliver the testimony of Jesus Christ, and to make known to the people that Jehovah is the true and Almighty God; therefore we joyfully embrace and take the name which the mouth of the Lord God has named, and we desire to be known as and called by the name, to wit, Jehovah’s witnesses.” (Isaiah 43:10) How clearly that new name defined the primary activity of all of those bearing that name! Yes, Jehovah had work for all his servants to share in. The overall response was enthusiastic indeed!
7. What change was introduced in 1932, and why?
7 Many elders humbly devoted themselves to the preaching work. In some places, though, elected elders put up considerable resistance to the idea that everyone in the congregation should participate in the public ministry. However, further improvements were in sight. In 1932 the congregations received instruction through The Watchtower to discontinue the electing of elders and deacons. Instead, they were to elect a service committee composed of spiritual men who participated in the public preaching work. Oversight was thus entrusted to those who actively shared in the ministry, and the work moved ahead.
Increased Light Means Further Improvements
8. What refinement came about in 1938?
8 The light was “getting lighter and lighter.” In 1938 the use of elections was eliminated altogether. All servants in the congregation were to be appointed theocratically under the oversight of “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45-47) The change was readily accepted by practically all the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the work of witnessing continued to bear fruit.
9. In 1972, what arrangement was instituted, and why was that an improvement?
9 Beginning October 1, 1972, another adjustment in congregational oversight became effective. The arrangement of oversight by a body of elders was instituted in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide, replacing oversight by just one congregation servant, or overseer. This new arrangement has provided tremendous encouragement for mature men to qualify to take the lead in the congregation. (1 Timothy 3:1-7) As a result, a greater number of brothers have gained experience in caring for congregational responsibilities. How valuable they have proved to be in shepherding the many new ones who have accepted Bible truth!
10. What arrangement was implemented in 1976?
10 The members of the Governing Body were organized into six committees, and starting on January 1, 1976, all the activities of the organization and of the congregations around the earth came under the supervision of these committees. What a blessing it has proved to be to have all aspects of the Kingdom work directed by a “multitude of counselors”!—Proverbs 15:22; 24:6.
11. What refinement was introduced in 1992, and why?
11 The year 1992 saw still another refinement, one that is comparable to what happened after the Israelites and others returned from exile in Babylon. Back at that time, there were not a sufficient number of Levites to care for temple service. So non-Israelite Nethinim were given more to do in helping the Levites. Accordingly, to assist the faithful and discreet slave class in caring for its increasing earthly interests, in 1992 some of the “other sheep” received added service responsibilities. They were appointed as helpers to the Governing Body committees.—John 10:16.
12. How has Jehovah appointed peace as our overseers?
12 What has resulted from all of this? “I will appoint peace as your overseers and righteousness as your task assigners,” says Jehovah. (Isaiah 60:17) There is “peace” among Jehovah’s servants today, and love of “righteousness” has become their ‘task assigner’—the force that impels them to serve God. They are well-organized to carry out the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work.—Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20.
Jehovah Illuminates the Path Doctrinally
13. In the 1920’s, how did Jehovah illuminate the path of his people doctrinally?
13 Jehovah is also progressively illuminating the path of his people doctrinally. Revelation 12:1-9 provides an example. The account refers to three symbolic characters—“a woman” who is pregnant and gives birth, a “dragon,” and “a son, a male.” Do you know whom each figure represents? They were identified in an article entitled “Birth of the Nation,” which appeared in the March 1, 1925, issue of The Watch Tower. That article gave God’s people a better understanding of the prophecies about the birth of the Kingdom, insight that made it clear that there exist two distinct organizations—Jehovah’s and Satan’s. Then in 1927/28, God’s people recognized that Christmas and birthday celebrations are unscriptural, and they discontinued observing such.
14. What doctrinal truths were clarified in the 1930’s?
14 The 1930’s saw further light shed on three doctrinal truths. For years, the Bible Students had known that the great multitude, or the “great crowd,” spoken of at Revelation 7:9-17 was different from the 144,000, who would rule with Christ as kings and priests. (Revelation 5:9, 10; 14:1-5) However, the identity of the great multitude remained unclear. Just as increasing morning light causes otherwise obscure objects to take on shape and color, in 1935 the great multitude was identified as those who survive “the great tribulation,” with the prospect of living forever on earth. Later in the same year came a clarification that affected school-age children of Jehovah’s Witnesses in a number of countries. While patriotic fervor was running high the world over, the Witnesses recognized that saluting the flag is much more than a mere formalism. In the following year, another doctrinal truth, that Christ died on a stake, not a cross, was explained.—Acts 10:39.
15. When and how was the sanctity of blood brought to the fore?
15 In the wake of World War II, during which it had become standard practice to treat wounded soldiers with blood transfusions, there was increased light on the sanctity of blood. The July 1, 1945, issue of The Watchtower encouraged “all worshipers of Jehovah who seek eternal life in his new world of righteousness to respect the sanctity of blood and to conform themselves to God’s righteous rulings concerning this vital matter.”
16. When was the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures released, and what are two outstanding features of it?
16 In 1946 a need was seen for a fresh Bible translation that took advantage of the latest scholarship and was not tainted by dogmas based on traditions of Christendom. Work on such a translation began in December 1947. In 1950 the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures was released in English. The Hebrew Scriptures in English came in five volumes, released progressively beginning in 1953. The final volume was released in 1960, a little over 12 years after the translation project began. The complete New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures in one volume was released in 1961. Now available in many languages, this translation has some outstanding features. It restores the divine name, Jehovah. Moreover, its literal rendering of the original writings has provided the basis for continuous progress in the understanding of divine truth.
17. What increased light was shed in 1962?
17 Clarification of “the superior authorities” of Romans 13:1 and the extent of a Christian’s subjection to them came in 1962. An in-depth study of the 13th chapter of Romans and Scriptural texts such as Titus 3:1, 2 and 1 Peter 2:13, 17 made it clear that the expression “superior authorities” refers, not to Jehovah God and Jesus Christ, but to human governmental authorities.
18. What are some truths clarified in the 1980’s?
18 In the years that followed, the path of the righteous ones continued to get brighter and brighter. In 1985 light was shed upon what it means to be declared righteous “for life” and righteous as a friend of God. (Romans 5:18; James 2:23) The meaning of the Christian Jubilee was thoroughly explained in 1987.
19. How has Jehovah provided more spiritual light for his people in recent years?
19 In 1995 the separating of “the sheep” from “the goats” was more clearly understood. The year 1998 saw the detailed explanation of Ezekiel’s temple vision, which is already in the course of fulfillment. In 1999 came clarification of when and how ‘the disgusting thing stands in a holy place.’ (Matthew 24:15, 16; 25:32) And in 2002 further discernment was gained regarding what it means to worship God “with spirit and truth.”—John 4:24.
20. In what other area have God’s people experienced refinements?
20 In addition to the organizational and doctrinal refinements, there have been refinements with regard to Christian conduct. For example, in 1973 the use of tobacco was seen as a “defilement of flesh” and was to be viewed as serious wrongdoing. (2 Corinthians 7:1) A decade later, the July 15, 1983, issue of The Watchtower clarified our position on the use of firearms. These are just some examples of the increasing light in our time.
Go On Walking in the Path of Increasing Light
21. Having what attitude will help us to go on walking in the path of increasing light?
21 “Accepting a change when it comes and adapting to it can be difficult,” admits one longtime elder. What has helped him accept the many refinements he has witnessed in the 48 years that he has been a Kingdom proclaimer? He answers: “Having the right attitude is the key. Refusing to accept a refinement is to be left behind as the organization moves ahead. If I find myself in a situation where changes seem hard to accept, I reflect on Peter’s words to Jesus: ‘Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life.’ Then I ask myself, ‘Where shall I go away to—out there into the darkness of the world?’ This helps me to hold firmly to God’s organization.”—John 6:68.
22. How do we benefit from walking in the light?
22 The world around us is certainly in dense darkness. As Jehovah continues to shed light on his people, the gap between them and those of the world keeps on widening. What does this light do for us? Well, just as shining a spotlight on a pothole on a dark roadway does not remove the hole, light from God’s Word does not remove pitfalls. Yet, divine light surely helps us to avoid them so that we can continue walking in the path of increasing light. Let us, then, continue to pay attention to Jehovah’s prophetic word, “as to a lamp shining in a dark place.”—2 Peter 1:19.
Do You Recall?
• What organizational improvements has Jehovah brought to his people?
• Increased light has brought about what doctrinal refinements?
• What adjustments have you personally witnessed, and what has helped you to accept them?
• Why do you want to keep on walking in the path of increasing light?
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The 1922 Cedar Point, Ohio, convention invigorated the Bible Students to do God’s work
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The “New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures” released in 1950, by N. H. Knorr
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