STUDY ARTICLE 3
The Great Crowd of Other Sheep Praise God and Christ
“Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.”—REV. 7:10.
SONG 14 Praising Earth’s New King
1. What effect did a talk delivered at a convention in 1935 have on one young man?
THE young man was 18 years old when he got baptized in 1926. His parents were Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were known at the time. They had three sons and two daughters, whom they raised to serve Jehovah God and imitate Jesus Christ. As was true of all Bible Students back then, this sincere young man partook of the bread and the wine each year at the Lord’s Evening Meal. However, his entire outlook on life was changed by a history-making talk entitled “The Great Multitude.” That talk was given in 1935 by J. F. Rutherford at a convention in Washington, D.C., U.S.A. What was revealed at that convention?
2. What exciting truth was revealed in Brother Rutherford’s talk?
2 In his talk, Brother Rutherford identified those who would make up the “great multitude” (King James Version), or “great crowd,” mentioned at Revelation 7:9. Until then, this group was thought to be a secondary heavenly class that was less faithful. Brother Rutherford used the Scriptures to explain that the great crowd are not chosen to live in heaven, but they are Christ’s other sheepb who will survive “the great tribulation” and live forever on earth. (Rev. 7:14) Jesus promised: “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those too I must bring in, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16) These sheeplike ones are loyal Witnesses of Jehovah who have the prospect of living forever in Paradise on earth. (Matt. 25:31-33, 46) Let us see how this flash of spiritual light changed the lives of many of Jehovah’s people, including that 18-year-old brother.—Ps. 97:11; Prov. 4:18.
A NEW UNDERSTANDING CHANGED THOUSANDS OF LIVES
3-4. At the 1935 convention, what did thousands realize about their hope, and why?
3 A thrilling moment at that convention came when the speaker asked the audience: “Will all those who have the hope of living forever on the earth please stand?” According to an eyewitness, over half of the some 20,000 people in the audience stood. Then Brother Rutherford declared: “Behold! The great multitude!” That was followed by thunderous cheering. Those who stood realized that they were not chosen for heavenly life. They knew that they had not been anointed by God’s spirit. On the next day of the convention, 840 new Witnesses got baptized, most of whom were of the other sheep.
4 After that talk, the young man mentioned earlier and thousands of others rightly stopped partaking of the bread and the wine at the Lord’s Evening Meal. One brother humbly expressed the feelings of many when he said: “The Memorial of 1935 was the last time that I partook of the emblems. I realized that the heavenly hope had not been awakened within me by Jehovah through his holy spirit; rather, I had the hope to live on the earth and to share in the work of making it a paradise.” (Rom. 8:16, 17; 2 Cor. 1:21, 22) Since then, those of the great crowd have increased in number and have been working side by side with the anointed remnant.c
5. How does Jehovah view those who have stopped partaking of the Memorial emblems?
5 How does Jehovah view those who stopped partaking of the Memorial emblems after 1935? And what if a baptized Witness today sincerely partakes of the bread and the wine at the Lord’s Evening Meal but later realizes that he or she is not truly anointed? (1 Cor. 11:28) Some have partaken of the emblems because they misunderstood their hope. But if they honestly acknowledge their mistake, stop partaking, and continue faithfully serving Jehovah, he will surely count them among the other sheep. Even though they do not partake of the bread and the wine, they still attend the Memorial because they deeply appreciate what Jehovah and Jesus have done for them.
A UNIQUE PROSPECT
6. What has Jesus commanded the angels to do?
6 With the great tribulation just ahead, it would be encouraging for us to review what Revelation chapter 7 further says about anointed Christians and the great crowd of other sheep. Jesus commands the angels to continue holding back the four winds of destruction. They are not to unleash those winds on the earth until all anointed Christians have been sealed, that is, finally approved by Jehovah. (Rev. 7:1-4) As a reward for their faithfulness, Christ’s anointed brothers become kings and priests with him in heaven. (Rev. 20:6) All those who make up the heavenly part of God’s family will be eager to see the 144,000 anointed ones receive their heavenly reward.
7. As related at Revelation 7:9, 10, whom did John see in vision, and what were they doing? (See cover picture.)
7 After telling about these 144,000 kings and priests, John sees something exciting, “a great crowd” who survive Armageddon. Unlike the first group, this second group is much larger and has no fixed number. (Read Revelation 7:9, 10.) They are “dressed in white robes,” indicating that they have kept themselves “without spot” from Satan’s world and have remained loyal to God and Christ. (Jas. 1:27) They cry out that they have been saved because of what Jehovah and Jesus, the Lamb of God, have done. All the while, they are holding palm branches, which shows that they joyfully acknowledge Jesus as Jehovah’s appointed King.—Compare John 12:12, 13.
8. What does Revelation 7:11, 12 tell us about Jehovah’s heavenly family?
8 Read Revelation 7:11, 12. What was the reaction in heaven? John sees all of Jehovah’s heavenly family filled with joy as those of the great crowd appear and praise God. Jehovah’s heavenly family will be delighted to see the fulfillment of this vision when the great crowd come out of the great tribulation alive.
9. According to Revelation 7:13-15, what are those of the great crowd doing now?
9 Read Revelation 7:13-15. John reports that the great crowd have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” This signifies that they have a clean conscience and a righteous standing before Jehovah. (Isa. 1:18) They are dedicated, baptized Christians, who exercise strong faith in Jesus’ sacrifice and who have a relationship with Jehovah. (John 3:36; 1 Pet. 3:21) Thus, they qualify to stand before God’s throne to render him “sacred service day and night” in the earthly courtyard of his spiritual temple. Even now, they zealously perform the greater part of the Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making work, putting the interests of God’s Kingdom ahead of their own.—Matt. 6:33; 24:14; 28:19, 20.
10. Of what are the great crowd assured, and what promise will they see fulfilled?
10 The great crowd who come out of the great tribulation are assured of God’s continued care, for “the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them.” The promise that the other sheep have longed to see fulfilled will be fully realized: “[God] will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”—Rev. 21:3, 4.
11-12. (a) As revealed at Revelation 7:16, 17, what blessings are in store for the great crowd? (b) What can the other sheep do at the Memorial, and why?
11 Read Revelation 7:16, 17. Right now, some of Jehovah’s people are suffering physical hunger because of oppressive economic conditions or as a result of the ravages of civil unrest and war. Others are imprisoned for their faith. However, those of the great crowd are thrilled to know that on escaping the destruction of this wicked system of things, they will always have an abundance of physical and spiritual food. When destruction is unleashed on Satan’s system of things, the great crowd will be spared the “scorching heat” of Jehovah’s anger that he will pour out on the nations. After the great tribulation ends, Jesus will guide these earthly survivors to the “waters of [everlasting] life.” Just think: The great crowd have a unique prospect. Of all the billions who have ever lived, they may never die!—John 11:26.
12 The other sheep have a marvelous hope for which they are thankful to Jehovah and Jesus! They were not chosen for heavenly life, but they are in no way less precious, or less valuable, to Jehovah. Members of both groups can praise God and Christ. One way they do so is by attending the Lord’s Evening Meal.
GIVE YOUR WHOLEHEARTED PRAISE AT THE MEMORIAL
13-14. Why should everyone attend the Memorial of Christ’s death?
13 In recent years, approximately 1 out of every 1,000 who attend the Memorial partakes of the bread and the wine. Most congregations do not have any partakers in attendance. The vast majority who attend the Memorial have the earthly hope. Why, then, do they attend the Lord’s Evening Meal? They attend for the same reason that people attend a friend’s wedding. They attend because they want to show their love and support for the couple who are getting married. Thus, those of the other sheep attend the Memorial because they want to show their love and support for Christ and the anointed. The other sheep also attend to show their appreciation for the sacrifice that the Memorial commemorates, a sacrifice that makes it possible for them to live forever on earth.
14 Another important reason why the other sheep attend the Memorial is in order to be obedient to Jesus’ command. When Jesus instituted that special meal with his faithful apostles, he told them: “Keep doing this in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor. 11:23-26) So they continue to attend the Lord’s Evening Meal as long as some anointed ones are alive here on earth. In fact, the other sheep invite everyone to attend the Memorial with them.
15. How can we personally praise God and Christ at the Memorial?
15 At the Memorial, we have the opportunity to praise God and Christ in song and prayer. The talk that will be given this year is “Appreciate What God and Christ Have Done for You!” It will deepen our gratitude for Jehovah and Christ. As the emblems are being passed, those of us in attendance will be reminded of what they symbolize—Jesus’ body and his blood. We will recall that Jehovah allowed his Son to die in our place so that we could have life. (Matt. 20:28) Everyone who loves our heavenly Father and his Son will want to attend the Memorial.
THANK JEHOVAH FOR THE HOPE HE HAS GIVEN YOU
16. In what ways are the anointed and the other sheep alike?
16 The difference between the anointed and the other sheep is not their value to God. Both groups are equally precious to him. After all, he paid the same price, the life of his dear Son, to purchase both the anointed and the other sheep. The difference between the two groups is that they have different hopes. Both groups must remain loyal to God and Christ. (Ps. 31:23) And remember, God’s spirit can work with equal force on all of us. This means that Jehovah supplies his holy spirit to each individual according to what is needed.
17. To what are the anointed remnant looking forward?
17 Anointed Christians are not born with the heavenly hope. It has to be implanted in their heart by God. They think about their hope, pray about it, and are eager to receive their reward in heaven. They cannot even imagine what their spiritual body will be like. (Phil. 3:20, 21; 1 John 3:2) Even so, they look forward to meeting Jehovah, Jesus, the angels, and the rest of the anointed. They long to take their place among them in the heavenly Kingdom.
18. To what are the other sheep looking forward?
18 The other sheep cherish a hope that comes naturally to humans, the prospect of living forever on earth. (Eccl. 3:11) They look forward to the day when they can help turn the entire planet into a paradise. They yearn for the day when they can build their houses, plant their gardens, and raise their children in perfect health. (Isa. 65:21-23) They look forward to exploring the earth—its mountains, forests, and seas—and to studying Jehovah’s abundant creation. Above all, they are thrilled to know that their bond with Jehovah will grow ever stronger and closer.
19. What opportunity does the Memorial give each of us, and when will the Memorial be held this year?
19 Jehovah has given each of his dedicated servants a wonderful hope for the future. (Jer. 29:11) The Memorial of Christ’s death gives each of us a grand opportunity to praise God and Christ for what they have done for us so that we can enjoy unending life. The Memorial is without question the most important occasion for true Christians to meet together. It will be held after sundown on Saturday, March 27, 2021. This year many will be able to attend this important occasion in relative freedom. Others will attend despite opposition. Some will face the challenge of commemorating this occasion while in prison. As Jehovah, Jesus, and the heavenly part of God’s family look on, may every congregation, group, and individual have a wonderful Memorial observance!
SONG 150 Seek God for Your Deliverance
a March 27, 2021, is a special day for Jehovah’s Witnesses. That evening we will observe the Memorial of Christ’s death. The majority of those who attend will be part of the group that Jesus called the “other sheep.” What exciting truth was revealed about that group in 1935? What thrilling prospect awaits the other sheep after the great tribulation? And as observers at the Memorial, how can the other sheep praise God and Christ?
b EXPRESSIONS EXPLAINED: The other sheep include those who have been gathered throughout the last days. They follow Christ and have the prospect of living forever on earth. The great crowd are members of the other sheep who are alive when Christ judges mankind during the great tribulation, and they survive the great tribulation.
c EXPRESSION EXPLAINED: The word “remnant” refers to the remaining anointed Christians who are still alive on earth and who partake of the bread and the wine at the Lord’s Evening Meal.