*** w77 1/1 12-17 Serving with the Faithful "Slave" ***
"Look! I am coming as a thief. Happy is the one that stays awake and keeps his outer garments."—Rev. 16:15.
"HERE I AM! Send me." In the spirit of these words of the prophet Isaiah, in recent years multitudes of honest-hearted persons have offered themselves for service to the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. And with what result? The joyous good news that Jehovah has established his heavenly kingdom in the hands of his Son Jesus Christ has been proclaimed "to the extremities of the inhabited earth." Those who have made great sacrifices in order to share fully in this grand work have been greatly blessed.—Isa. 6:8; Rom. 10:18.
Along the way there have been bitter trials and persecutions, and many of us have grown old in Jehovah’s service. Like faithful Isaiah, we have had to endure in witnessing, time and again, to people whose hearts are "unreceptive," whose ears are "unresponsive" and whose eyes have been ‘pasted together’ so that they are unable to recognize the glorious message of God’s kingdom now in operation. Like Isaiah, at times we may have asked the question, ‘How long, O Jehovah, will these people continue to show such obstinacy?’ Jehovah answers: "Until the cities actually crash in ruins, to be without an inhabitant, and the houses be without earthling man, and the ground itself is ruined into a desolation; and Jehovah actually removes earthling men far away, and the deserted condition does become very extensive in the midst of the land."—Isa. 6:10-12.
Patiently and with zeal we must keep on giving the Kingdom witness to the full extent purposed by Jehovah. And as we hold fast to "the full assurance of the hope" we can know for a certainty that ‘God is not unrighteous so as to forget our work and the love we showed for his name.’ (Heb. 6:10-12) How grand our privilege of serving out of sheer love for our God Jehovah!—Mark 12:28-31; 1 Tim. 1:5.
Jehovah’s marvelous Kingdom purposes will be carried out to their completion and on time. (Isa. 55:11; Heb. 10:37) For our part we must continue to praise his beauteous name with thankfulness, as we eagerly anticipate the early fulfillment of his precious Kingdom promises.—1 Chron. 29:11-13; Isa. 9:6, 7; 2 Pet. 1:4, 11.
The true followers of Christ Jesus have always served in expectation of "the end." At Luke 19:11 we read that Jesus’ disciples "were imagining that the kingdom of God was going to display itself instantly." Later, when Jesus appeared to them after his resurrection, these disciples asked him: "Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?" (Acts 1:6) And to expectant Christians at a still later time, Paul wrote: "Brothers, respecting the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we request of you not to be quickly shaken from your reason nor to be excited either through an inspired expression or through a verbal message or through a letter as though from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here." Rather, they were to be made "firm in every good deed and word."—2 Thess. 2:1, 2, 17.
Though they lived in hope of that "day of Jehovah," none of those first-century Christians survived to see its arrival. Did this affect their zeal and faith? Not at all! No matter when the wicked system might end, the "good news of the kingdom" remained just as glorious, the service of the Kingdom just as joyful, and their blessed relationship to Jehovah and his Christ just as precious. Though they did not live to see the "end," yet they got to preach the good news "in all creation that is under heaven."—Col. 1:23.
But what of our present day? Have God’s people lost out on anything in that the great day of Jehovah has not yet burst forth upon the wicked of the earth? No, for along with the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s Witnesses, some two million persons now stand in the place of spiritual security. (Ps. 91:9, 10) Even though some may yet die from persecutions, old age or other causes, their resurrection is assured. (1 Thess. 4:13, 14) Those who keep feasting upon God’s Word and who keep zealous in their service to God will not be disappointed.—Rom. 10:11.
Continuously from 1879, when it was first published, this magazine has encouraged such wholehearted Kingdom service. For example, there was this passage in The Watch Tower
of January 1, 1914, page 3:
"So far as our judgment goes, the Year 1914 is the last one of what the Bible terms ‘Gentile Times’—the period in which God has allowed the nations of the earth to do their best to rule the world. . . . We believe that the year 1914 gives evidence of greater possibilities of service for the truth than has any previous year of the harvest. . . . Let us be more than ever on the alert, therefore, to be used and useful in the service of our king. Let us remember that the moments and the hours are important, that no matter how many cares of life we may have, we can always find some time for the service of the truth."
Jehovah’s faithful people have always regarded the "service of our king" as being of paramount importance.
Yes, for over thirty years until 1914, a small group of devoted Christians had been serving as the modern-day "faithful and discreet slave" in providing spiritual food for fellow servants of the household of God. (Matt. 24:45; Eph. 2:19-22; Gal. 6:10) And now, from 1914, the prophecies that they had pointed to began to be fulfilled in World War I and other "pangs of distress" and they themselves came to be persecuted by the war-mad nations. Clearly the "sign" was evident that Christ had arrived to "sit down on his glorious [heavenly] throne" and was proceeding to the judgment of the nations. (Matt. 24:3, 7-9; 25:31, 32) What did the future hold for the "slave" class?
"HAPPY IS THAT SLAVE"
It was now that the Master judged the "slave" to be worthy of further privileges, in line with his prophetic promise:
"Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings."—Matt. 24:45-47.
How wonderfully have these words been fulfilled! In the year 1919 God’s people experienced a complete release from the politico-religious bondage that had been imposed on them during World War I and their joy was great when Jehovah’s energizing spirit was poured out upon them as they assembled in convention at Cedar Point, Ohio, U.S.A. Vigorously, they now took up the work with a new instrument of service, the Golden Age
magazine (known today as Awake!
). A further high point of happiness was reached at the Cedar Point assembly of 1922, when the call went forth: "Advertise, advertise, advertise, the King and his kingdom." Truly, the Master had entrusted to this "slave"—to the exclusion of faithless Christendom—all his "belongings," the performing of a Kingdom role on earth. And in what would the intensified activity of this happy "slave" result?
Jehovah had richly rewarded his anointed Witnesses as they continued faithfully to proclaim the Kingdom during those years. (Matt. 25:21, 23) And later their joy overflowed when the "great crowd," with hopes of living forever on this earth, began to join them. (Rev. 7:4, 9) By the end of World War II, these integrity-keeping Christians had grown to about 140,000 in number. Now they learned that a great work remained to be done and they shouldered this responsibility with the attitude described in The Watchtower
of September 15, 1944, page 280:
The awake ones . . . do not say, ‘It is a long time yet to the wind-up, and, according to the present understanding of Bible chronology, six thousand years of human history will end first in the coming seventies and till then it is a long stretch to serve the Lord continuously and undividedly.’ No; the faithful watchers and servants do not worry about chronology, whether it is to be the second or third watch of the night, or even if the apparent extension of the time is one day more, until tomorrow. They keep their eye and heart on Jehovah’s kingdom, and not on the time clock."
To this day, it is the Kingdom that is all-important. The "slave" class and all coworkers must keep on the watch as they hold fast the joy of Kingdom service, appreciating that any who become sluggish are in danger of losing everything.—Mark 13:35-37; Matt. 25:26, 29.
Today, we find more than 2,000,000 persons actively engaged in proclaiming the Kingdom, and further expansion is in prospect, for at the 1976 celebration of the Memorial of Jesus’ death, in some 40,000 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses around the earth, the attendance totaled 4,972,571, of whom only 10,187 professed to be of the anointed "slave" class. How happy is this "slave" that Jehovah’s ‘patience’ has resulted in an ingathering far beyond the early expectations!—2 Pet. 3:9; Isa. 60:8, 22.
KEEPING ON WATCH FOR THE MASTER
In 1971, the Governing Body of the "slave" class began to be enlarged in order to give broader spiritual supervision over the "belongings" of the Master here on earth. This includes caring for the interests of the "great crowd." It includes giving oversight to the preparing of Kingdom publications, to teaching God’s people and to helping them in their service in the field.
Over the years, the Governing Body of the "faithful and discreet slave" was always associated closely with the corporate body now known as the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania, which was first incorporated in 1884, and which administers necessary matters for Jehovah’s Witnesses world wide. There is no question that the first president of this corporation, C. T. Russell, was used mightily by Jehovah during the period when basic Bible truths were being restored among God’s true worshipers on earth. Then, from 1917 to 1942, J. F. Rutherford served as president, and fought courageously against Christendom’s efforts to discredit and destroy God’s organized people on earth. From 1942, N. H. Knorr, who is still serving as president of the Watch Tower Society, has energetically pushed a great Bible educational campaign to the very ends of the earth. Administration by these faithful men and their fellow workers in the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses has been marvelously blessed by Jehovah. It is indicative of heaven’s direction, and of the permanence and stability of the organization, that in the space of almost a hundred years, only three different men have served as president of the Watch Tower Society, each with abilities particularly suited to the needs of the time.
To meet further demands of expansion, it was arranged in 1971 to increase the number of "older men" serving as the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses from seven (the directors of the Watch Tower Society) to a total of eleven members. Further expansion, to eighteen members, took place late in 1974; of these, John Groh has since finished his earthly course. And it was during the next year, 1975, that one of the most significant organizational readjustments in the 100-year history of the modern-day witnesses of Jehovah came under consideration. After discussions that continued through most of that year, the reorganization was approved on December 4, 1975, by a unanimous vote of the seventeen members of the Governing Body. It became operative from January 1, 1976.
What was involved in this reorganization? As always, Christ Jesus continued to be recognized as Head over the "slave" class, his congregation here on earth. (Eph. 1:22; 5:23) Under this one Head, the anointed members of the Governing Body serve as equals, with a chairman rotating alphabetically each year. Administrative responsibilities are divided among the Chairman’s Committee of three members (comprising the chairman for the current year, for the previous year and for the year to follow), and five permanent committees of from five to seven members, which oversee the activities of Jehovah’s Witnesses world wide. Each of these five committees has a chairman rotating each year and a permanent coordinator or secretary.—Prov. 11:14.
The Writing Committee supervises the preparation of all publications; the Teaching Committee prepares materials for the various schools, meetings and assemblies arranged for God’s people; the Service Committee takes care of all matters related to Kingdom-preaching and disciple-making; the Publishing Committee handles all printing operations and business affairs; and the Personnel Committee watches over the interests of all persons serving in the Bethel homes and factories of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Thus responsibilities are shared, as was done among "older men" in the first-century Christian congregation. Moreover, the organization is now well equipped to handle further expansion, as well as problems that may arise due to the worsening world crisis.—Acts 15:1, 2, 6-29; 1 Cor. 14:40.
On February 1, 1976, a similar arrangement was put into effect in all branch offices of the Watch Tower Society throughout the earth. No longer is there a branch overseer, but three or more experienced "older men" serve as a committee under the Governing Body in watching over the interests of Jehovah’s Witnesses in that area. In these committees, too, the chairman rotates each year, while one member serves continuously as coordinator.—Prov. 15:22.
With Jehovah’s blessing, the work of his self-sacrificing Witnesses has borne marvelous fruitage, and the organization has expanded accordingly. There are some faithful workers in the field who have served Jehovah loyally for forty, fifty, sixty and more years, and these continue as outstanding examples to the entire congregation. There are those, too, who have expended themselves in "pioneering" difficult territories, in carrying the Kingdom message into new cities and lands, and in serving "underground" for decades in countries where Jehovah’s Witnesses are banned. As all of us continue to serve with zeal, we can be confident that fine fruitage will be produced right through to the time when "Jehovah’s day" brings sudden and instant destruction on this wicked world.—1 Thess. 5:1-4.
Clearly, "expressions inspired by demons" are now going forth "to the kings [rulers] of the entire inhabited earth, to gather them together to the war of the great day of God the Almighty." It is in this situation that our Master adds the warning: "Look! I am coming as a thief. Happy is the one that stays awake and keeps his outer garments, that he may not walk naked and people look upon his shamefulness." That would be disastrous! Therefore, the "slave" class will continue to encourage all lovers of truth to put on, and keep on, "garments" that identify them as those who serve God with zeal and "in true righteousness and loyalty." Such zealous, loyal service will keep us in the place of spiritual security now, and result in our being saved from destruction at Har–Magedon.—Rev. 16:14-16; Eph. 4:24.
[Chart on page 16]
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"Faithful and Discreet Slave" Class—Matt. 24:45-47
Chairman’s Writing Teaching Service Publishing Personnel
Committee Committee Committee Committee Committee Committee