18. (a) In view of what the right hand and the left hand are shown to be, what is the question upon which each one must make a decision? (b) Does the invisibility of the parousia of the Son of man allow for anyone to excuse himself, and why or why not?
18 In the parable the shepherdlike Son of man puts the sheeplike ones on his right hand and the goatlike ones on his left hand. The right-hand side turns out to be the side of a favorable sentence, and the left-hand side that of an unfavorable sentence. This outcome makes the situation for the people of all the nations of today a serious one. The question upon which each individual must make his decision is, Am I gaining the favor or the disfavor of the Son of man now seated upon his glorious heavenly throne, attended by all the angels? Each individual will inescapably be called to account. The fact that the reigning Son of man is invisible during his parousia does not excuse anyone, allowing for him to plead, “I did not know.” The invisible parousia of the Son of man has been proclaimed world wide, and this obliges each one to consider with deep concern whether what he is or is not doing finds favor or disfavor with the King and Judge.
19. Where did the speech by President Rutherford at the I.B.S.A. convention at Los Angeles in 1923 locate the fulfillment of the parable of the sheep and goats?
19 Who, though, are the symbolic sheep and who are the symbolic goats? On Saturday, August 25, 1923, a startling explanation of who these respectively were was given to Christian students of the Holy Bible. This was the eighth day of a nine-day regional convention held by the International Bible Students Association in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. That day the Association’s president, J. F. Rutherford, addressed an audience of 2,500 on the subject “Parable of Sheep and Goats.” This Biblical presentation did not locate the fulfillment of the parable of Matthew 25:31-46 after the “time of distress” with which this present system of things ends and during the thousand-year reign of Christ. It located the parable’s fulfillment now, since 1919 C.E., during the invisible parousia or “presence” of the reigning Son of man and down to the destruction of this system of things. The material of this convention speech was published on pages 307-314 of the October 15, 1923, issue of The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.—See paragraphs 17-21 of said article under the heading “The Time.”
20. Why, therefore, did it become advisable for each individual to consider what kind of personality he was developing?
20 In this manner the readers of The Watch Tower and members of the International Bible Students Association were alerted to the fact that the parable was already undergoing fulfillment and the present generation of mankind was vitally involved. This made it advisable for each one to study what kind of personality he was developing and on which side of the reigning Son of man his course of conduct put him.
21. What efforts were made to help Jews to become symbolic “sheep,” and till when did this special interest in Jews continue?
21 Over a period of years a special effort was made to help the natural, circumcised Jews of the world to become symbolic “sheep” on the right side of the reigning Messiah. This effort was made by public lectures on the subject “Jews Returning to Palestine,” such as delivered to large audiences by the I.B.S.A. president, J. F. Rutherford, during the year 1925, also by the public address on the subject “Palestine for the Jews—Why?” delivered by him on Monday night, May 31, 1926, in the famous Royal Albert Hall of London, England, which seats 10,000 and which was well filled by a Jewish audience. Besides such public lectures there was published the book Comfort for the Jews, under the publication date of October, 1925, and, later, the 360-page book entitled “Life,” which was released for public distribution on Sunday, August 25, 1929, after a nationwide radio chain broadcast from Station WBBR, Staten Island, New York, on the subject “Health and Life for the People.” This special interest in the natural circumcised Jews continued until the release of the book Vindication, Volume 2, in 1932, which volume showed that Ezekiel’s prophecies concerning Israel applied to spiritual Israel today.
22. How was interest in the sheeplike ones on a wider scale stirred by the information given out at the Columbus convention in 1931?
22 However, interest in the “sheep” class on a wider scale was stirred up in the year 1931. On July 30, at the international convention of the International Bible Students Association in Columbus, Ohio, the Association’s president delivered the talk on “The Man with the Writer’s Inkhorn,” after which Robert J. Martin announced the release of the new book entitled “Vindication,” Volume 1. This book gave a detailed, verse for verse discussion of chapter nine of Ezekiel’s prophecy, which presents the vision of this linen-clad man with the writer’s inkhorn. Both the speech and the book called attention to the fact that a marking work had to be done by the anointed remnant of Christ’s disciples in behalf of sheeplike people of the earth, not merely of natural Israelites but also of people of all the nations. This was a lifesaving work, inasmuch as the Holy Scriptures show that only the marked ones will be spared alive with the anointed remnant through the coming “great tribulation.” They become earthly subjects of the Kingdom.
23. For years, what interest had existed regarding the “great multitude” of Revelation, chapter seven, and how did the release of the book Jehovah in 1934 fail to clarify matters?
23 For decades of time there had been keen interest in what is called “a great multitude” in Revelation 7:9, King James Authorized Version Bible. Just who were the ones that made up this great crowd? On November 19, 1934, at Brooklyn, New York, there was released to God’s devoted people the book entitled “Jehovah.” This 384-page book spoke both of that “great multitude” and of the parable of the sheep and the goats. (See page 159 under “Great Multitude”; also pages 354, and 359 regarding “sheep.”) However, this then latest publication did not identify the “sheep” of the parable as being the same as that “great multitude” nor as being those who are marked in their foreheads by the symbolic man clothed in linen with the writer’s inkhorn at his side. Nor did it disabuse the minds of the Bible students of the long-held idea that the “great multitude” was a body of spirit-begotten Christian martyrs who are bound for heavenly life even though they were no part of the 144,000 joint heirs of Jesus Christ the King. Those of the “great multitude” were thought to be yet “prisoners” of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion.
24. At what convention did the satisfying, factual explanation of the “great multitude” come, and who especially were invited to attend that convention?
24 At what time, then, did there come to those who were so eager to know, an explanation of the vision of the “great multitude” that proved satisfying and that agrees with the developing facts? In the year 1935, six months after the release of the book Jehovah. This was on the occasion of the Washington (D.C.) convention of Jehovah’s witnesses, May 30 to June 3, 1935. The full-page announcement on this on page 127 of the April 15, 1935, issue of The Watchtower expressly said: “All persons who are on the side of Jehovah and his kingdom are welcome.” It also went on to say: “This is a service convention, and it is expected that all the remnant and the Jonadabs will participate in the service. . . . Arrangements will be made for all who desire to symbolize their consecration by water immersion.” Later announcements of the convention said: “Heretofore not many Jonadabs have had the privilege of attending a convention, and the convention at Washington may be a real comfort and benefit to them.”
25. (a) When did the so-called Jonadabs realize the special reason why they had been invited to the Washington convention? (b) Whom did the speaker on “The Great Multitude” identify these as being?
25 It was on Friday afternoon, May 31, that those interested persons who saw a resemblance between themselves and ancient Jonadab the son of Rechab came to realize why they had specially been invited to attend this Washington convention. Why so? Because it was then that the principal convention speaker, J. F. Rutherford, addressed his visible audience there at the Washington Auditorium and a countless invisible audience simultaneously over radio stations WBBR and WHPH (Petersburg, Virginia) on the subject “The Great Multitude.” This explanation of Revelation 7:9-15 set forth that the “great multitude” (AV) is not a multitude of worshipers who are destined to have a spiritual resurrection and go to heaven. Rather, it is an earthly class of Jehovah’s worshipers to whom is held out in God’s Word the hope of everlasting life on a Paradise earth under the heavenly kingdom of Jesus Christ and his glorified church or congregation. At that time such worshipers with earthly hopes were likened to Jonadab the son of Rechab and were designated as “Jonadabs.” As The Watchtower later said:
These are otherwise called “the Jonadabs.” These are being baptized in symbol, thus testifying that they have consecrated themselves to do the will of God and have taken their stand on the side of Jehovah and serve him and his King; thus they have cleaned up and are now “arrayed in white robes.” Thus the great multitude is definitely identified, not as a spirit-begotten class whose hopes are for a place in heaven, but . . . they “come out of the great tribulation,” . . .—The Watchtower as of August 15, 1935, page 248, paragraph 21.
26. (a) How was the speech publicized still more, and how many were baptized after the speech? (b) Did the baptismal candidates put themselves in any class, and how would they come to know to which class they belonged?
26 The material of this remarkable address was published in the two-part article entitled “The Great Multitude” in the issues of August 1 and 15, 1935, of The Watchtower, for the information of Jehovah’s worshipers all around the globe. On the day following the address there were 840 who presented themselves for immersion in water, to symbolize their becoming disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.* (Matthew 28:19, 20) These 840 baptismal candidates were not Scripturally authorized to put themselves into either the heavenly class of joint heirs of Christ or the earthly class represented by the “great multitude.” It was not their will that was to be done, but was Jehovah’s will. He was the One to express his sovereign will in placing them in either class according to his good pleasure. If, after their baptism, he begot anyone of these with his holy spirit to become a spiritual son of God, he thereby brought such one into the spiritual class with a heavenly inheritance. If He did not beget anyone as a spiritual son and deal with him as He does with spiritual sons, then the one not spirit-begotten was reserved for the earthly great multitude.
27. What did this newer information on the “great multitude” provide with respect to the parable of the sheep and the goats?
27 The Washington (D.C.) speech on the “great multitude” and the material thereafter published on that subject provided a new backdrop against which to view the parable of the sheep and the goats. It made stand out more clearly and fully what are the requirements for membership in the “sheep” class than the requirements that were set out in the speech on the parable of the sheep and the goats twelve years previously in 1923 at Los Angeles, California.
28. How were the requirements for the “sheep” class shown to be greater than those set forth in 1923?
28 For example, those of the “sheep” class must be more than merely kindly disposed, righteously disposed persons who were humanitarian and did some kindness to the anointed remnant of Christ’s disciples. They themselves must be Christ’s disciples, baptized in “the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit,” and also be acting as Christian witnesses of Jehovah. The “great multitude” of Revelation 7:9-17 (Authorized Version) were identical with the “sheep” class of Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25:31-46.*
In awareness of this, The Watchtower under date of May 1, 1936, identified the “sheep” class with the “great multitude” in its article entitled “Armageddon Survivors,” page 140, paragraphs 47, 48.