“The zeal for your house will consume me.”
1, 2. (a) What places of worship have Jehovah’s servants used in times past? (b) How did Jesus feel about God’s temple in Jerusalem? (c) What is the purpose of this article?
FROM early times, God’s servants have had their established places for pure worship. Abel may have used an altar when he made his offerings to God. (Gen. 4:3, 4) Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses all erected altars. (Gen. 8:20; 12:7; 26:25; 35:1; Ex. 17:15) At Jehovah’s direction, the Israelites built the tabernacle. (Ex. 25:8) Later, they constructed a temple for the worship of Jehovah. (1 Ki. 8:27, 29) After returning from exile in Babylon, the Jews regularly gathered in synagogues. (Mark 6:2; John 18:20; Acts 15:21) Early Christians met in the homes of members of the congregation. (Acts 12:12; 1 Cor. 16:19) Today, Jehovah’s people meet for education and worship in tens of thousands of Kingdom Halls worldwide.
2 So great was Jesus’ love and appreciation for Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem that a Gospel writer attributed to him the prophetic sentiment: “Zeal for your house has consumed me.” (Ps. 69:9; John 2:17) No Kingdom Hall can rightly be called “the house of Jehovah” in the same sense that these words applied to the temple in Jerusalem. (2 Chron. 5:13; 33:4) Even so, the Bible contains principles that show us how our modern-day places of worship should be used and respected. The purpose of this article is to review some of these principles and to consider how they apply to the way that our Kingdom Halls should be viewed, financed, and maintained.*
SHOWING RESPECT FOR PURE WORSHIP
3-5. What is the function of a Kingdom Hall, and how should this affect the way we view our meetings there?
3 A Kingdom Hall is the center of pure worship for the local community. Among the provisions that Jehovah makes for our spiritual nourishment are the weekly meetings at the Kingdom Hall. It is here that we receive vital spiritual refreshment and direction through his organization. All those who attend meetings do so, in effect, at the invitation of Jehovah and his Son. Even though we have a standing invitation to eat at “the table of Jehovah,” we must never take that invitation for granted.
4 Jehovah considers such occasions for worship and mutual encouragement so important that he inspired the apostle Paul to urge us not to forsake our meeting together. (Read Hebrews 10:24, 25.) Would we be showing respect for Jehovah if we missed Christian meetings for unnecessary reasons? Indeed, we can show how much we appreciate Jehovah and his provisions by preparing for and wholeheartedly participating in these meetings.
5 Our attitude toward the Kingdom Hall
6. How have some expressed themselves about our Kingdom Halls and those who attend meetings there? (See opening image.)
6 The respect we show for our places of worship is often noticed by non-Witnesses. For example, a man in Turkey said: “The cleanliness and orderliness that I observed at the Kingdom Hall impressed me. The people there were well-dressed, had smiles on their faces, and greeted me warmly. This impressed me greatly.” The man began to attend meetings regularly, and soon thereafter he got baptized. In one city in Indonesia, a congregation invited local government officials and neighbors to an open house prior to the dedication of a new Kingdom Hall. The mayor attended. He was impressed by the quality of the building, its functionality, and its beautiful garden. “The cleanliness of this hall reflects your true faith,” he commented.
7, 8. What important matters should those who attend Christian meetings bear in mind?
7 Our respect for the God who invites us to Christian meetings should be manifested in our decorum, dress, and grooming. Respect also requires that we avoid extremes. It has been observed that while some appear to be overly strict as to what is proper behavior while attending congregation meetings, others may be too casual at the Kingdom Hall. Of course, Jehovah wants his servants and other guests to feel comfortable there. At the same time, those in attendance would not want to detract from the meetings by being overly casual in their dress, by texting or talking during the meetings, by eating and drinking, and so on. Parents should train their children to understand that the Kingdom Hall is not the place for running or playing.
8 Filled with indignation, Jesus threw out of God’s temple those who were introducing commercial activities. (John 2:13-17) Our Kingdom Halls too are places for pure worship and spiritual education. So any business activities that have nothing to do with spiritual pursuits ought to be taken care of elsewhere.
PROVIDING AND FINANCING KINGDOM HALLS
9, 10. (a) How are new Kingdom Halls provided and financed, and with what results? (b) What loving provision has been a great help for congregations that lacked the financial resources to build a Kingdom Hall?
9 Jehovah’s organization goes to tremendous lengths to provide and help finance modest Kingdom Halls. The work of designing, building, and remodeling them is handled by unpaid volunteers. What has been the result? Since November 1, 1999, more than 28,000 beautiful new centers of pure worship have been provided for congregations worldwide. That means that during the last 15 years, on average, five new Kingdom Halls have been provided every day of the year.
10 Efforts are being made to support the construction of Kingdom Halls wherever they are needed. This loving provision is based on the Scriptural principle that the surplus of some might offset the deficiency of others, in order that “there may be an equalizing.” (Read 2 Corinthians 8:13-15.) As a result, beautiful new centers of pure worship have been provided for congregations that would otherwise never have had the financial resources to build a Kingdom Hall for themselves.
11. What do some brothers say about their new Kingdom Hall, and how does this make you feel?
11 A congregation in Costa Rica that benefited from this provision wrote the following: “When we stand in front of the Kingdom Hall, we feel that we must be dreaming! We cannot believe it. Our beautiful hall was finished down to the last detail in only eight days! It was made possible by Jehovah’s blessing, the arrangements made by his organization, and the support of our dear brothers. This place of worship is indeed a precious gift, a gem that Jehovah has given us. We feel extremely joyful about it.” Does it not warm your heart to hear such expressions of gratitude for new Kingdom Halls and to know that similar joy is being experienced by our brothers in thousands of locations worldwide? This is Jehovah’s work, for just as soon as new Kingdom Halls are completed, they are very often filled with honesthearted people who desire to know more about our loving Creator.
12. How can you play a part in Kingdom Hall construction?
12 Many brothers and sisters have experienced great joy in being able to participate in Kingdom Hall construction. Whether we can help out on a building site or not, all of us can have the privilege of supporting such projects through our donations. Zeal for pure worship helped finance theocratic projects in Bible times, and the same is true today
KINGDOM HALL CLEANING
13, 14. What Scriptural principles apply to keeping our Kingdom Hall clean and tidy?
13 Once a new Kingdom Hall is built, it needs to be kept clean and tidy to reflect the qualities and personality of the God whom we worship
14 In harmony with these principles, we should always feel comfortable inviting interested people to our meetings, confident that the condition of the hall will complement the good news we share with them. They will see that we worship a God who is holy and who will soon transform the earth into an uncontaminated paradise.
15, 16. (a) Why might it be a challenge to keep the Kingdom Hall clean, but why is it necessary? (b) What are the arrangements locally for cleaning the hall, and what privilege does each of us have?
15 Some people may give more importance to cleaning than others do. Their perception of how much they need to clean is influenced by their upbringing and by such factors as mud, dust, the condition of the roads, and the availability of an adequate supply of water and cleaning products. Whatever the local attitude or situation, our Kingdom Hall should be exemplary when it comes to being well-kept, since it bears the name of Jehovah and is a place of pure worship.
16 Kingdom Hall cleaning cannot be left to chance. Each body of elders will need to make sure that a schedule is drawn up and that adequate supplies and equipment are made available for keeping the congregation’s place of worship in optimal condition. Because some cleaning jobs need attention after every meeting and others can be addressed less frequently, good coordination and oversight are required to make sure that nothing gets overlooked. All members of the congregation have the privilege of cooperating in these efforts.
MAINTAINING OUR PLACE OF WORSHIP
17, 18. (a) What Scriptural precedents exist for the maintenance of places of pure worship? (b) Why must Kingdom Halls be kept in good condition?
17 Jehovah’s servants also make diligent efforts to keep their places of worship in good repair. King Jehoash of Judah ordered the priests to use contributions that had been made to the house of Jehovah “to repair the house, wherever any damage [was] found.” (2 Ki. 12:4, 5) Over 200 years later, King Josiah also used temple contributions to finance necessary repairs.
18 Branch offices report that in some countries, people do not generally give priority to the maintenance of buildings or equipment. Perhaps few in such lands have the know-how or the resources to do the work. Clearly, though, if Kingdom Hall maintenance were neglected, such neglect would result in the premature deterioration of the building and would not be a good witness to the local community. On the other hand, when congregation members do all they can to keep the Kingdom Hall in good condition, this brings praise to Jehovah and saves funds donated by fellow believers.
19. What is your resolve concerning the buildings that we use for pure worship?
19 A Kingdom Hall is a building dedicated to Jehovah. Therefore, it cannot rightly be said to belong to any individual or congregation, whatever its legal title may indicate. Christian principles dictate that we cooperate fully to make sure that this building measures up to the purpose for which it was built. All in the congregation can contribute to that end by showing appropriate respect for our places of worship, by making donations for new construction, and by volunteering their time and energy to keep existing Kingdom Halls properly cleaned and maintained. By supporting these efforts, we show our zeal for Jehovah’s place of pure worship, as Jesus did.
While this article refers mainly to Kingdom Halls, the same principles apply to Assembly Halls and other facilities that are used for pure worship.