“The eyes of Jehovah are on the righteous.”—1 PET. 3:12.
1. What organization replaced apostate Israel as the people for Jehovah’s name? (See opening image.)
JEHOVAH is rightly credited with the establishment of the Christian congregation in the first century and with the restoration of true worship in recent times. As noted in the preceding article, the organization consisting of Christ’s early followers replaced the apostate nation of Israel as the people for Jehovah’s name. The new organization, so highly favored by God, survived the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. (Luke 21:20, 21) Those first-century events were a precursor of developments involving Jehovah’s present-day servants. Satan’s system of things will soon come to its end, but God’s organization will survive the last days. (2 Tim. 3:1) How can we be sure about this?
2. What did Jesus say about the “great tribulation,” and how will it start?
2 Regarding his invisible presence and the conclusion of the system of things, Jesus said: “There will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” (Matt. 24:3, 21) This unparalleled tribulation will start when Jehovah brings destruction on “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion, by using the political powers. (Rev. 17:3-5, 16) What will come next?
SATANIC ACTION LEADS TO ARMAGEDDON
3. After false religion is destroyed, what assault on Jehovah’s people will be attempted?
3 After false religion is destroyed, Satan and various elements of his world will attack Jehovah’s servants. Concerning “Gog of the land of Magog,” for example, the Scriptures foretell: “You will come against them like a storm, and you will cover the land like clouds, you and all your troops and many peoples with you.” Because Jehovah’s Witnesses have no armed forces and are the most peaceful people on earth, they will appear to be easy targets. But what a mistake attacking them will prove to be!—Ezek. 38:1, 2, 9-12.
4, 5. How will Jehovah respond to satanic attempts to destroy his servants?
4 How will God respond to satanic efforts to destroy his people? Jehovah will intervene in their behalf, exercising his right as Universal Sovereign. Jehovah considers an assault on his servants to be an attack on him. (Read Zechariah 2:8.) Therefore, our heavenly Father will take prompt action in order to rescue us. That deliverance will come to its climax with the destruction of Satan’s world at Armageddon, “the war of the great day of God the Almighty.”—Rev. 16:14, 16.
5 Regarding Armageddon, Bible prophecy states: “‘Jehovah has a controversy with the nations. He will personally pass judgment on all humans. And he will put the wicked to the sword,’ declares Jehovah. This is what Jehovah of armies says: ‘Look! A calamity is spreading from nation to nation, and a great tempest will be unleashed from the remotest parts of the earth. And those slain by Jehovah in that day will be from one end of the earth clear to the other end of the earth. They will not be mourned, nor will they be gathered up or buried. They will become like manure on the surface of the ground.’” (Jer. 25:31-33) Armageddon will bring this wicked system of things to an end. Satan’s world will be out of the way, but the earthly part of Jehovah’s organization will survive.
WHY JEHOVAH’S ORGANIZATION FLOURISHES TODAY
6, 7. (a) Where do those making up the “great crowd” come from? (b) What increases have there been in recent years?
6 God’s organization survives and flourishes on earth because the people who are part of it have his approval. The Bible assures us: “The eyes of Jehovah are on the righteous, and his ears listen to their supplication.” (1 Pet. 3:12) The righteous include “a great crowd” who “come out of the great tribulation.” (Rev. 7:9, 14) These survivors are not just “a crowd.” They are “a great crowd”—a very large number of people. Do you see yourself among them as a survivor of “the great tribulation”?
7 Where do those making up the great crowd come from? They are being brought together because of what Jesus foretold as part of the sign of his presence. He said: “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.” (Matt. 24:14) In these last days, this is the chief work of God’s organization. Because of the global preaching and teaching activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses, millions of people have learned to worship God “with spirit and truth.” (John 4:23, 24) For example, in a recent ten-year period—during the service years of 2003 through 2012—more than 2,707,000 individuals were baptized in symbol of their dedication to God. Worldwide, there are now well over 7,900,000 Witnesses, with millions more associating with them, especially during the annual observance of the Memorial. We do not boast in numbers, for it is ‘God who keeps making things grow.’ (1 Cor. 3:5-7) Nevertheless, it is evident that the great crowd is growing and becoming greater with each passing year.
8. What accounts for the remarkable growth in Jehovah’s modern-day organization?
8 There has been remarkable growth in the number of God’s servants because Jehovah himself is backing his Witnesses. (Read Isaiah 43:10-12.) This increase was foretold in these prophetic words: “The little one will become a thousand and the small one a mighty nation. I myself, Jehovah, will speed it up in its own time.” (Isa. 60:22) At one time, the anointed remnant were like “the little one,” but their number grew as other spiritual Israelites were brought into God’s organization. (Gal. 6:16) Because of Jehovah’s blessing over the years, the increase continues with the gathering of the great crowd.
WHAT JEHOVAH REQUIRES OF US
9. What must we do if we expect to experience the bright future promised in God’s Word?
9 Whether we are anointed Christians or we are members of the great crowd, we can experience the bright future promised in God’s Word. To do so, however, we must comply with Jehovah’s requirements. (Isa. 48:17, 18) Consider the Israelites under the Mosaic Law. One purpose of the Law was to protect the people of Israel by giving them wholesome statutes regulating sexual conduct, business dealings, child care, proper treatment of fellow humans, and so forth. (Ex. 20:14; Lev. 19:18, 35-37; Deut. 6:6-9) Complying with God’s requirements benefits us in similar ways—and we certainly do not find it burdensome to do his will. (Read 1 John 5:3.) In fact, as the Israelites were safeguarded by the Law, our compliance with Jehovah God’s laws and principles not only protects us but also keeps us “healthy in the faith.”—Titus 1:13.
10. Why should we set aside time for Bible study and a weekly Family Worship evening?
10 The earthly part of Jehovah’s organization is moving ahead in various ways. For instance, our understanding of Bible truth is constantly becoming clearer. This is to be expected, for “the path of the righteous is like the bright morning light that grows brighter and brighter until full daylight.” (Prov. 4:18) But we might well ask: ‘Am I keeping pace with refinements in our understanding of Scriptural truth? Is it my custom to read the Bible daily? Am I an avid reader of our publications? Do I and my loved ones have a weekly Family Worship evening?’ Most of us will agree that it is not too hard to do these things. Often it is just a matter of setting aside time to do them. And how important it is to take in accurate Scriptural knowledge, apply it, and make spiritual progress—especially now that the great tribulation is drawing so close!
11. In what ways have ancient festivals and modern-day meetings, assemblies, and conventions been beneficial?
11 Jehovah’s organization is acting in our best interests when it urges us to heed the apostle Paul’s counsel: “Let us consider one another so as to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking our meeting together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as you see the day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24, 25) Annual festivals and other gatherings for worship built the Israelites up spiritually. Moreover, such events as the special Festival of Booths in Nehemiah’s day were joyful occasions. (Ex. 23:15, 16; Neh. 8:9-18) We derive similar benefits from our meetings, assemblies, and conventions. Let us take full advantage of these provisions for our spiritual health and happiness.—Titus 2:2.
12. How should we feel about the Kingdom-preaching work?
12 As those associated with God’s organization, we have the joy of sharing in “the holy work of the good news of God.” (Rom. 15:16) Engaging in this “holy work” makes us “fellow workers” with Jehovah, “the Holy One.” (1 Cor. 3:9; 1 Pet. 1:15) Preaching the good news contributes to the sanctification of Jehovah’s holy name. And it surely is an inestimable privilege to be entrusted with “the glorious good news of the happy God.”—1 Tim. 1:11.
13. Good spiritual health and life itself depend on what?
13 God wants us to maintain good spiritual health by sticking to him and supporting his organization in its various activities. Moses told the Israelites: “I take the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you today that I have put life and death before you, the blessing and the curse; and you must choose life so that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving Jehovah your God, by listening to his voice, and by sticking to him, for he is your life and by him you will endure a long time in the land that Jehovah swore to give to your forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” (Deut. 30:19, 20) Our life depends on doing Jehovah’s will, loving him, obediently listening to his voice, and sticking to him.
14. How did one brother feel about the visible part of God’s organization?
14 Brother Pryce Hughes, who resolutely stuck to God and kept in step with His organization, once wrote: “I am so thankful that I have lived in the knowledge of Jehovah’s purposes from those early days just prior to 1914 . . . If one thing has been most important to me, it has been the matter of keeping close to Jehovah’s visible organization. My early experience taught me how unsound it is to rely on human reasoning. Once my mind had been resolved on that point, I determined to stay by the faithful organization. How else can one get Jehovah’s favor and blessing?”
KEEP MOVING AHEAD WITH GOD’S ORGANIZATION
15. Give a Scriptural example indicating how we should view refinements in our understanding of Bible topics.
15 If we are to have Jehovah’s favor and blessing as individuals, we must support his organization and accept adjustments in our understanding of the Scriptures. Consider this: After Jesus’ death, there were thousands of Jewish Christians who were zealous for the Law and found it hard to break free from it. (Acts 21:17-20) With the help of Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, however, they accepted the fact that they had been sanctified, not by means of sacrifices “offered according to the Law,” but “through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time.” (Heb. 10:5-10) Undoubtedly, most of those Christians of Jewish descent adjusted their thinking and moved ahead spiritually. We too need to study diligently and be open-minded when there are adjustments in the understanding of God’s Word or in our preaching work.
16. (a) What blessings will make life in the new world wonderful? (b) What do you look forward to in the new world?
16 All who remain loyal to Jehovah and his organization will have his continued blessing. Faithful anointed ones will enjoy grand privileges as joint heirs with Christ in heaven. (Rom. 8:16, 17) If we have an earthly hope, imagine how delightful it will be to live in Paradise. As part of Jehovah’s organization, what joy we now have in telling others about God’s promised new world! (2 Pet. 3:13) “The meek will possess the earth,” says Psalm 37:11, “and they will find exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” People “will build houses and live in them” and will enjoy “the work of their hands.” (Isa. 65:21, 22) There will be no more oppression, poverty, and hunger. (Ps. 72:13-16) Babylon the Great will no longer deceive anyone, for she will not exist. (Rev. 18:8, 21) The dead will be resurrected and given the opportunity to live forever. (Isa. 25:8; Acts 24:15) What thrilling prospects exist for millions who have made a dedication to Jehovah! For such Scriptural promises to become realities for us as individuals, we must continue to make spiritual progress, moving ahead with God’s organization, always keeping pace with it.
17. What should be our attitude toward Jehovah’s worship and his organization?
17 With this system’s end so near, let us remain firm in faith and show deep gratitude for God’s arrangement for worship. That was the attitude of the psalmist David, who sang: “One thing I have asked from Jehovah—it is what I will look for—that I may dwell in the house of Jehovah all the days of my life, to gaze upon the pleasantness of Jehovah and to look with appreciation upon his temple.” (Ps. 27:4) May each of us stick to God, keep pace with his people, and continue to move ahead with Jehovah’s organization.