32. To whom do this “great crowd” ascribe their salvation, and with what benefit to themselves?
32 As we read Revelation 7:9-17, let us note that this unnumbered “crowd” is said to “come out of the great tribulation”:
“Look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands. And they keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: ‘Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.’
33. What are some things that differentiate this “great crowd” from the previously mentioned 144,000 spiritual Israelites, and why are they fit to serve God in his spiritual temple?
33 That numberless “great crowd” is not a part of the numbered 144,000 spiritual Israelites. They are not sealed in their foreheads with the “seal of the living God.” They are not envisioned as standing on the heavenly Mount Zion with the Lamb of God. They are not spoken of as being “bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.” As to nationality, in comparison with the 144,000 spiritual Israelites, they are Gentiles, as people of all the nations. Yet they have come to know Jehovah God and to recognize him as seated on the throne of the universe, as Universal Sovereign. They know and confess who the slaughtered Lamb of God is, for they exercise faith in the purifying, cleansing power of his blood in order to get a clean appearance before God on his throne. Thus cleansed, they render sacred service to him day and night in the earthly courtyards of his spiritual temple.
34. The “great crowd” is classified as being made up of which “sheep,” and what hope do they have for future life?
34 What about the hope that they hold in common? It is not a heavenly hope. Revelation 7:17 likens them to sheep, of whom the Lamb is their Shepherd. The “fountains of waters of life” to which he guides them are “fountains” bubbling forth divine provisions for perfect human life in the promised earthly paradise. They are part of the figurative “sheep” for whom the Fine Shepherd has surrendered his human soul. After he spoke about the “fold” into which John the Baptizer as “the doorkeeper” opened the door in 29 C.E., Jesus went on to say: “And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; these also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:3, 16) Accordingly, the “great crowd” of Revelation 7:9-17 consists of “other sheep” who are alive today and who commit themselves to following Jesus Christ, the Fine Shepherd.
35. With whom does the “great crowd” become “one flock” under “one shepherd”?
35 With whom, then, did this “great crowd” become “one flock” under “one shepherd”? It is with the “sheep” of the other “fold,” namely, the remnant of the “little flock” of spiritual Israelites. (Luke 12:32; 1 Peter 2:25) Although the “great crowd” are not in the new covenant that Jesus Christ mediated for spiritual Israel, he unites them with the anointed remnant as of “one flock” in one pen. From when onward has the Fine Shepherd been doing so?
36, 37. (a) By what event was the beginning of the gathering of the “other sheep” marked? (b) What prospect was set before them, to their great joy?
36 From 1935 onward. At the end of May of that year a five-day convention of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses was in session at Washington, District of Columbia, U.S.A. There were specially invited to this convention persons who associated with the anointed remnant and yet who were interested in surviving the “great tribulation” and entering, without dying, into God’s new order with its earthly paradise. They had no heavenward aspirations. Everlasting life on a paradise earth would completely meet their heart’s desire.
37 Great, then, was their joy at that Washington convention when the president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society discussed the subject of the “great multitude,” spoken of in Revelation 7:9-17, Authorized Version. He made it clear that the “multitude” was no spiritual or spirit-begotten class; it would not attain the angelic nature in heaven so as to assist the 144,000 joint heirs with Christ. It was distinctly an earthly class with hope of endless perfect human life in the earthly paradise under Christ’s kingdom. Now, by means of the Fine Shepherd Jesus Christ, Jehovah God was beginning to gather this “multitude” into active service with the anointed remnant.
38. How did the “spirit” of those of the “great crowd” react to the hope set before them, and what hope has since been held forth prominently before all seekers of God?
38 The hearts of hundreds present at that Washington convention had never been warmed by a prospect of joint heirship with Christ. But now at the making clear of the earthly hope contained in Revelation 7:9-17, their “spirit,” the reactive force within them, surged forth in heartfelt responsiveness. They hailed such a hope with vigorous applause. Later on, when thousands of others read in the columns of the Watchtower magazine the reproduction of the discussion of the “great multitude,” their “spirit,” too, responded. Ever since, the hope of the “great multitude” has been prominently held out to all seekers of God earth wide. Hundreds of thousands have been baptized in the name of God’s Son and have been put in line for realizing such a beautiful hope.
39. In view of what differences between them and the anointed remnant is the question raised as to whether the dedicated, baptized “other sheep” have holy spirit upon them?
39 Of course, these dedicated, baptized “other sheep” of the “great crowd” have not been begotten to be God’s spiritual sons, with a heavenly inheritance. They are not spiritual Israelites. They have not been taken into the new covenant with the opportunity to become God’s “kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:5, 6) They have never been sealed with God’s spirit as an advance token of their heavenly inheritance. They have not been anointed with God’s spirit as prospective joint heirs with Christ in his celestial kingdom. (Isaiah 61:1-3; 1 John 2:20, 27; 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22) But do they nonetheless have holy spirit on them?
40. What Scriptural proof is there to show whether a person on earth who is devoted to God has to be begotten of God’s spirit in order to have holy spirit operate on him?
40 Overwhelmingly the facts answer Yes! Especially since 1935 C.E., the “great crowd” have worked with the spirit-begotten, anointed remnant. They have given convincing evidence that God’s holy spirit is operative upon them. A person on earth does not need to be begotten by God’s spirit in order to have His active force go into operation upon him. Look at the prophet Moses, at Judge Othniel, at Judge Gideon, at Judge Samson, at King David, at John the Baptizer. Yes, look at all the pre-Christian prophets upon whom Jehovah’s spirit came to inspire them to write the Bible books from Genesis to Malachi. Granted that no heavenly hope was set before such ancient persons, yet Jehovah God put his spirit upon them because they devoted themselves to him and lovingly offered themselves for his service. God enveloped them with his active force. He filled them with his holy spirit. It operated on them.