“We want to go with you, for we have heard that God is with you people.”—ZECHARIAH 8:23.
1, 2. (a) What did Jehovah say would happen in our time? (b) What questions will be answered in this article? (See opening picture.)
JEHOVAH said that in our time, “ten men out of all the languages of the nations will take hold, yes, they will take firm hold of the robe of a Jew, saying: ‘We want to go with you, for we have heard that God is with you people.’” (Zechariah 8:23) The “Jew” represents those whom God has anointed by holy spirit. They are also called “the Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:16) The “ten men” represent those who have the hope of living forever on earth. They know that Jehovah has blessed this group of anointed ones and feel that it is an honor to worship him with them.
2 Like the prophet Zechariah, Jesus said that God’s people would be united. He described those who look forward to living in heaven as a “little flock” and those who look forward to living on earth as “other sheep.” But Jesus said that they would all be “one flock” and would follow him, their “one shepherd.” (Luke 12:32; John 10:16) Since there are two groups, some may wonder: (1) Do the other sheep need to know the names of all today who are anointed? (2) How should anointed ones think of themselves? (3) If someone in my congregation starts to eat the bread and drink the wine at the Memorial, how should I treat him? (4) Do I need to worry when I see the number of those who eat the bread and drink the wine at the Memorial going up? This article will answer these questions.
DO WE NEED TO KNOW THE NAMES OF ALL TODAY WHO ARE ANOINTED?
3. Why is it not possible for us to know for sure who will be part of the 144,000?
3 Do the other sheep need to know the names of all anointed ones still on earth today? No. Why not? Because it is not possible for anyone to know for sure that these ones will get their reward. (See endnote.) Even though God has invited them to go to heaven, they will receive their reward only if they remain faithful. Satan knows this, and he uses “false prophets” to try “to mislead” them. (Matthew 24:24) Anointed Christians cannot be sure that they will receive their reward until Jehovah makes it clear to them that he has judged them as faithful. Jehovah gives this final approval, or final sealing, either before they die or just before the start of “the great tribulation.”—Revelation 2:10; 7:3, 14.
Jesus is our Leader, and we must follow only him
4. If it is not possible to know the names of all anointed ones on earth today, how can we “go with” them?
4 If it is not possible to know the names of all anointed ones on earth today, how can the other sheep “go with” them? The Bible says that the “ten men” would “take firm hold of the robe of a Jew, saying: ‘We want to go with you, for we have heard that God is with you people.’” The Bible verse mentions one Jew. But “you” and “you people” refer to more than one person. This means that the Jew is not just one person but represents the whole group of anointed ones. The other sheep know this, and they serve Jehovah along with that group. They do not need to know the names of every member of that group and follow each one of them. Jesus is our Leader, and the Bible tells us we must follow only him.—Matthew 23:10.
HOW SHOULD ANOINTED ONES THINK OF THEMSELVES?
5. What warning should anointed ones think seriously about, and why?
5 Anointed ones should think seriously about the warning found at 1 Corinthians 11:27-29. (Read.) How might an anointed one eat the bread and drink the wine “unworthily” at the Memorial? If he does not keep a good relationship with Jehovah and is unfaithful to him, then when that person eats the bread and drinks the wine, he is being disrespectful. (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-29) This strong warning reminds anointed ones that they must stay faithful if they want to receive “the prize of the upward call of God by means of Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 3:13-16.
6. How should anointed Christians feel about themselves?
6 Paul told anointed Christians: “I, the prisoner in the Lord, appeal to you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called.” How should they do this? Paul explained: “With all humility and mildness, with patience, putting up with one another in love, earnestly endeavoring to maintain the oneness of the spirit in the uniting bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3) Jehovah’s holy spirit helps his servants to be humble, not proud. (Colossians 3:12) So anointed ones do not think that they are better than others. They know that Jehovah does not necessarily give anointed ones more holy spirit than he gives his other servants. And they do not feel that they can understand Bible truths more deeply than anyone else. They would also never tell someone else that he too has been anointed and should start eating the bread and drinking the wine at the Memorial. Instead, they are humble and know that only Jehovah can invite people to go to heaven.
7, 8. What do anointed Christians not expect, and why?
7 Although anointed ones feel that it is an honor to be invited to go to heaven, they do not expect others to treat them in a special way. (Ephesians 1:18, 19; read Philippians 2:2, 3.) They also know that when Jehovah anointed them, he did not let everyone else know about it. So an anointed person is not surprised if some do not believe right away that he has been anointed. He realizes that the Bible tells us not to be quick to believe someone who says that God has given him a special responsibility. (Revelation 2:2) Because an anointed person does not expect others to give him too much attention, he would not tell those he meets for the first time that he is anointed. In fact, he would probably not mention this to anyone. He would also not boast about the wonderful things he will do in heaven.—1 Corinthians 1:28, 29; read 1 Corinthians 4:6-8.
8 Anointed Christians do not feel that they should spend time only with other anointed ones, as if they were members of a club. They do not try to find other anointed ones so that they can talk about being anointed or meet in groups to study the Bible. (Galatians 1:15-17) The congregation would not be united if anointed ones did this. They would be working against the holy spirit, which helps God’s people to have peace and unity.—Read Romans 16:17, 18.
HOW SHOULD YOU TREAT THEM?
9. Why do you need to be careful about the way you treat those who eat the bread and drink the wine at the Memorial? (See the box “Love ‘Does Not Behave Indecently.’”)
9 How should you treat anointed brothers and sisters? Jesus told his disciples: “All of you are brothers.” He continued: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:8-12) So it would be wrong to admire a person too much, even if he is an anointed brother of Christ. When the Bible speaks of the elders, it encourages us to imitate their faith, but it does not tell us that we can make any human our leader. (Hebrews 13:7) It is true that the Bible says that some are “worthy of double honor.” But this is because they “preside in a fine way” and “work hard in speaking and teaching,” not because they are anointed. (1 Timothy 5:17) If we give anointed ones too much praise and attention, we would embarrass them. Or even worse, we could cause them to become proud. (Romans 12:3) None of us want to do anything that might cause one of Christ’s anointed brothers to make such a serious mistake!—Luke 17:2.
10. How can you show that you respect anointed Christians?
10 How can we show that we respect those who are anointed by Jehovah? We would not ask them how they became anointed. This is a personal matter, which we do not have the right to know. (1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:11) And we should not think that their husband or wife, their parents, or other family members are also anointed. A person does not inherit his hope from his family. (1 Thessalonians 2:12) We should also avoid asking questions that could hurt others. For example, we would not ask the wife of an anointed brother how she feels about living forever on earth without her husband. After all, we can be absolutely sure that in the new world, Jehovah will “satisfy the desire of every living thing.”—Psalm 145:16.
11. How do we protect ourselves if we avoid “admiring personalities”?
11 If we do not treat anointed ones as more important than others, we also protect ourselves. How? The Bible tells us that there might be “false brothers” in the congregation who may even say that they are anointed. (Galatians 2:4, 5; 1 John 2:19) Also, some anointed ones might not stay faithful. (Matthew 25:10-12; 2 Peter 2:20, 21) But if we avoid “admiring personalities,” we will never follow others, even those who are anointed or well-known or those who have served Jehovah for a long time. Then, if they become unfaithful or leave the congregation, we will not lose our faith in Jehovah or stop serving him.—Jude 16, footnote.
DO WE NEED TO WORRY ABOUT THE NUMBER?
12, 13. Why should we not worry about the number of those who eat the bread and drink the wine at the Memorial?
12 For many years, the number of those who ate the bread and drank the wine at the Memorial kept going down. But recently, that number has been going up every year. Do we need to worry about this? No. Let us see why not.
13 “Jehovah knows those who belong to him.” (2 Timothy 2:19) Unlike Jehovah, the brothers who count the number of people eating the bread and drinking the wine at the Memorial do not know who truly is anointed. So the number includes those who think that they are anointed but are not. For example, some who used to eat the bread and drink the wine later stopped. Others may have mental or emotional problems and believe that they will rule with Christ in heaven. Clearly, we do not know exactly how many anointed ones are left on earth.
14. What does the Bible say about the number of anointed ones who will be on earth when the great tribulation starts?
14 There will be anointed ones in many parts of the earth when Jesus comes to take them to heaven. The Bible says that Jesus “will send out his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity.” (Matthew 24:31) The Bible also shows that during the last days, there will be a small number of anointed ones left on earth. (Revelation 12:17) But it does not say how many of them will be left when the great tribulation begins.
15, 16. What do we need to understand about the 144,000 chosen by Jehovah?
15 Jehovah decides when he will choose anointed ones. (Romans 8:28-30) Jehovah began choosing anointed ones after Jesus was resurrected. It seems that in the first century, all true Christians were anointed. For hundreds of years after that, most of those who said that they were Christians did not really follow Christ. Even so, during those years, Jehovah anointed those few who were true Christians. They were like the wheat that Jesus said would grow among the weeds. (Matthew 13:24-30) During the last days, Jehovah has continued to choose people who will be part of the 144,000. (See endnote.) So if God decides to choose some of these just before the end, surely we would not doubt that he is doing the right thing. (Isaiah 45:9; Daniel 4:35; read Romans 9:11, 16.) (See endnote.) We must be careful not to react like the workers who complained about the way their master treated those who started working in the last hour.—Read Matthew 20:8-15.
16 Not all who have the hope of living in heaven are part of “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45-47) Just as in the first century, Jehovah and Jesus today are using a few people to feed, or teach, many. Only a few anointed Christians in the first century were used to write the Christian Greek Scriptures. And today, only a few anointed Christians have the responsibility to give God’s people “food at the proper time.”
17. What have you learned from this article?
17 What have we learned from this article? Jehovah has decided to give everlasting life on earth to most of his people and life in heaven to those who will rule with Jesus. Jehovah rewards all of his servants, the “Jew” and the “ten men,” and he requires them to obey the same laws and stay faithful. All must stay humble. All must serve him together and be united. And all must work to keep the peace in the congregation. As we get closer to the end, let us all keep serving Jehovah and following Christ as one flock.
 (paragraph 15) Although Acts 2:33 shows that Jesus is involved when someone is anointed, Jehovah is the one who invites that person.
 (paragraph 15) For more information, see “Questions From Readers” in The Watchtower, May 1, 2007, pages 30-31.