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Jehovah's Witnesses In The Divine Purpose


Jehovah Identifies His Purpose with His People

LOIS: Last week, John, you told us about the seven judgment proclamations issued by Jehovah's witnesses from 1922 to 1928. And you showed us how each had been distributed by the millions, either in the form of a tract or a booklet. But you didn't say whether the same thing was done with the Declaration Against Satan and for Jehovah.

JOHN: Both the lecture and the resolution were published in the booklet The Peoples Friend and subsequently distributed to the number of more than 5,400,000 copies in a number of languages in the United States and abroad. a It struck a mighty blow in defense of true worship.

Another severe blow was delivered to Satan's world when the books entitled "Reconciliation" and "Government" were released at this assembly in Detroit, Michigan. This latter book exposed the weaknesses of the governments of this world and the reason why Jehovah had pronounced his doom upon them; at the same time it championed Jehovah's theocratic government as the real hope for the people of the world. So the book served again the twofold purpose of the witness work, the marking of persons for life or for destruction.

Not only had Jehovah restored his people to active praise but he had emboldened them through the restoration of his truth and an understanding of the divine will to stand at the gate of the enemy in defense of true worship. There was no sleepiness or drowsiness now within the ranks of these active warriors. Nor was there any compromise with apostate religion and her dupes. It was a time of action, and Jehovah's witnesses were eager to offer themselves.

TOM: Did the Society make very extensive use of radio in this campaign they were conducting? You mentioned that at several of the conventions networks of stations were used to broadcast the public talks.

JOHN: In the fight that was to develop following 1928, radio played an important part. The Society had early recognized the possibilities of using this means of public communication, and in 1922 had purchased land on Staten Island in New York city to build their own radio station. Finally, after some difficulty, on February 24, 1924, the president of the Society inaugurated this station by delivering an important lecture entitled "Radio and Divine Prophecy." b The station was licensed by the U. S. government as WBBR and operated first on a


broadcasting power of 500 watts, which was increased three years later to 1,000 watts.c For more than three decades it broadcast as a noncommercial, educational station throughout the entire New York metropolitan area and the neighboring states of Connecticut and New Jersey. In such a setting it proved to be an international voice, available to almost as many persons of Italian extraction as in the entire city of Rome, Italy, more persons of Irish descent than in the city of Dublin, Ireland, and more Jews than in the entire country of Palestine. Studios were eventually located at the Bethel home, 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York, and in 1948, under government authorization, its broadcasting power was increased to 5,000 watts. d


Like their first-century Christian forerunners, Jehovah's witnesses were eager to take advantage of any new development that would advance Kingdom activity. The early Christians had been quick to see the advantages in the new codex style of manuscript, which consisted of pages in a book similar to modern-day books, and began to use these in preference to the clumsier scrolls that had been in use before that. e So Jehovah's witnesses recognized the far-reaching effect of radio and in those days of small numbers used it effectively to reach the largest number of people in the shortest space of time.

MARIA: You see, in 1924 there were, on an average, only 1,064 Witnesses doing weekly preaching with books and booklets from house to house throughout the United States. f Of course, the Memorial attendance report showed there were 65,105 persons world-wide g who had embraced the truth, and, no doubt, most of these performed tract and handbill distribution and incidental witnessing to friends and acquaintances. But the organized house-to-house service was still not extensively carried on. So the radio was a real boon to them in reaching thousands of people simultaneously.

TOM: Did you ever operate any other stations besides WBBR?

JOHN: Yes, at one time the Society owned and operated six stations h and had special contracts with two others for all their allotment of religious program time. i Of course, WBBR was the principal station, but WORD in Batavia, Illinois, was used extensively, too.


TOM: Operating WBBR was not your first use of radio, though, was it?

JOHN: No. Radio was still in its infancy in 1924, but Judge Rutherford made use of it for the first time two years before WBBR began to operate. He broadcast a public talk from the Metropolitan Opera House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April


16, 1922. A detailed account appeared in the Philadelphia Record the following day. It stated, in part:

Radio Tells the World Millennium is Coming. Judge Rutherford's Lecture Broadcasted from Metropolitan Opera House. Talks into Transmitter. Message is Carried Over Miles of Bell Telephone Wires to ... the radio telephone broadcasting station of WGL on North Broad Street. j

From this small beginning, radio broadcasting of the Kingdom message spread through North and South America, Europe, Africa and Australia. In the decade following 1927, hundreds of broadcasting stations were utilized. First, as we have mentioned, was the special N. B. C. commercial network for the international convention at Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1927. The Watch Tower or "White" network, organized in 1928 especially to serve the Detroit, Michigan, convention, was so successful that the Society decided to operate a weekly network of thirty stations throughout Canada and the United States. A one-hour program was arranged for, emanating from the studios of Watch Tower station WBBR at New York city's Staten Island. Every Sunday "The Watch Tower Hour" included a lecture by Judge Rutherford, with introductory and concluding music furnished by an orchestra maintained by the Society. The first of these live broadcasts was November 18, 1928, and they continued through 1930. k

While these broadcasts served as an excellent advertisement of the Kingdom and enabled the brothers throughout the United States and much of Canada to encourage the public to tune in for this weekly Watch Tower Hour, they occupied much of the time of Brother Rutherford, making it impossible for him to travel or organize conventions in various parts of the earth. Eventually, in 1931, it was decided that the Society would present transcribed programs instead, and 250 stations were organized to present Brother Rutherford's transcribed lectures. These could be made at Brother Rutherford's convenience and also could be played at the convenience of the radio stations, making it possible to add more and more stations to these facilities being harnessed for Kingdom work. 1

These fifteen-minute talks proved to be extremely successful. Besides the convenience, they were much cheaper, since it was not necessary for the Society to rent telephone lines to tie together a large number of radio stations simultaneously. In 1932 this radio service, called the "wax chain," had expanded to 340 stations, and by 1933 there were 408 stations being used by the Society, carrying the good news to all six continents. m

This year, 1933, proved to be the peak year for this service, and the report shows 23,783 separate Bible talks broadcast. Mostly, these were fifteen-minute electrical transcriptions. n Then the trouble really began in earnest.

TOM: If those lectures were anything like the ones delivered at the seven conventions from 1922 to 1928, I'm not surprised if you ran into difficulty.

JOHN: Well, of course, there was real comfort in these lectures for persons of good will, but, at the same time, Judge Rutherford was convinced that this was the time for apostate religion to be thoroughly exposed so that those who really loved God might come out and take their stand before Armageddon brought an end to these false systems.

LOIS: Well, I know my mother used to take exception to the lectures but I can remember when my Dad used to argue with her about it she would just walk away.


He got so he could quote the Bible very well and he never did go to church. It used to make Mother mad because she could never answer his arguments.


JOHN: There is much more to be said about our radio campaign, but first there are a few other important factors you should be aware of. In America early in 1927 the work of distributing bound books and booklets for a contribution from house to house began to be carried on every Sunday. o There was immediate response to this new work.p Here is a letter to illustrate:

DEAR BROTHER RUTHERFORD: On June the 12th [1927] I had the privilege of serving the friends at Plainfleld, N. J. Instead of having a public meeting it was thought well to have a one hour canvassing drive.

Right after the morning talk, thirty-five of the friends engaged in the field work, with the result that 240 books were sold. That was a real one hour "public meeting".

The friends came back filled with joy, feeling that each one had a part in the public witness. The testimonies were fine. They all sent their love, and expressed their desire to give a real witness in the earth that Jehovah is God. Your brother in Christ, N. H. KNORR. q

The writer of this letter became the third president of the Society in 1942. It was on this issue of Sunday preaching that the first serious difficulty was raised by those opposed to the good news.

In 1928 at South Amboy, New Jersey, some of Jehovah's witnesses were arrested for preaching the good news on Sunday. This firing of the opening gun against the Witnesses opened a decade-long fight often referred to by the Witnesses as "the battle of New Jersey." But soon the front line of opposition spread until it extended to almost every part of the earth.

LOIS: Was it the Protestant groups that gave you the most opposition, the same as before?

JOHN: They were still opposed, but the strongest force of opposition came from certain Catholic Action groups. Most of these had their origin in the early 1920's and were composed of certain semireligious movements organized and pushed in various countries to spread the social and political ideologies of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy. Several of these had become active in the United States by 1921. But when these arrests began in 1928 and continued on into 1929, the witnesses of Jehovah took a radical stand with reference to obedience to human governments that oppose God's commands.

TOM: That's something I've been wanting to ask you about. You have just told us of the positive position Jehovah's witnesses take in regard to the governments being a part of Satan's world. How did you then explain your exact relationship to them? I was talking to a man the other day who criticized Jehovah's witnesses because they won't vote, yet they take advantage of the courts in trying their cases. How about that?

JOHN: Well, of course, a man doesn't have to be a registered voter to take a case to court. You don't even have to be a citizen to do that. The courts are supported primarily by taxes, and Jehovah's witnesses pay their taxes. So they are entitled to every benefit of legal protection the government provides, including fire and police protection, which are also maintained by taxes.

The apostles of old took advantage of every safeguard erected by the Roman government to protect individual rights, and Paul even carried his own case to the supreme court of Rome, to Caesar himself. He recognized that he was primarily a citizen of heaven, yet he still stood on his rights as a Roman citizen and he did so,


not for personal gain, but in order to advance the interests of God's work. That is why Jehovah's witnesses took that same position then. Paul spoke of his prison bonds while in Rome and of the brothers sharing with him "in the defending and legally establishing of the good news." r

LOIS: What was the doctrinal position you said that Jehovah's witnesses took during this period?

JOHN: It was based on Romans 13:1, a text often misused and misinterpreted by those who want to make people subject to the authority of human governments when acting against God's commandments.

LOIS: I remember that. It's the one about being in subjection to the higher powers. Let me read it. "Let every soul be in subjection to the superior authorities, for there is no authority except by God; the existing authorities stand placed in their relative positions by God." TOM: That certainly sounds like men should be subject to these governments of the world.


JOHN: Well, in June, 1929, The Watch Tower carried an article entitled "The Higher Powers," which appeared in two parts. s A few quotations will demonstrate how that point was taken by the Witnesses at that crucial time.

Many comments have been written of and concerning the thirteenth chapter of Romans to the effect that the Gentile powers or governments of this world are the "powers that be" and that such governments derive their powers from Jehovah God. At once it is seen that the foundation is laid for the doctrine of "the divine right of kings," for the reason that the argument is that whatever power a nation has and exercises, that power is ordained of God, and that therefore the child of God must be obedient to that power, t

Numerous examples are then given of certain acts permitted by law in one country but denied as illegal in others. The question is then asked, Has God delegated a different power or authority to these different nations? In summarizing this particular phase of the argument the article states:

The fundamental law of the United States declares that a man may exercise his religion in any manner he may choose. Contrary to this fundamental law, some of the states enact a law that the gospel cannot be preached in certain places or under certain conditions, and arrest and punish those who attempt thus to preach it. In Russia the law is that one can not preach the gospel at all without a permit from the government. God's commandment to his sons, which commandment is given through Jesus Christ, is that his gospel shall be preached in all the nations as a witness. (Matt. 24:14) Shall the child of God be obedient to the law of the United States or of Russia, or to the law of God? Is it possible that God has delegated to these various nations the right and authority to make and enforce laws that are inconsistent with and in derogation of his own expressed will?

Is it not therefore clear that there has been a decidedly improper application of the words of the Apostle Paul when applied to the governments of this world? When he says, "The powers that be are ordained of God," does he have any reference whatsoever to the Gentile nations of the earth? Is it not more reasonable that he directs his words exclusively to the powers possessed and exercised in God's organization, and not to those that are exercised in Satan's organization? u

Many scriptures and further argument followed to substantiate this conclusion.

This new view of the Christian's relationship to the governments of this world put new fire of zeal into Jehovah's witnesses, enabling them to stand their ground against the onslaught of court battles that came on them like a flood. v This bold stand of Jehovah's witnesses in subjection to Jehovah God and Christ Jesus as the true "superior authorities" merely hardened their opposers against the enthroned King of God's government.


TOM: About all I remember of the year 1929 is that it was the year of the big stock-market crash that started one of the world's worst depressions.

JOHN: That's right, it did. Modern historians attribute more social changes to the results of the depression than one might think possible. It's true this country had seen other major financial depressions, but this one really rocked the security of the nation and demonstrated too how shaky are the foundations on which this world's society is built. Many students of modern history attribute much of the success of Hitler's political rise to the effects of the depression that reached into Europe. His attempt to gain power in his "beer hall putsch" at Munich in 1923 failed. But, by Catholic intrigue and maneuvering through von Papen and assisted by the insecurity of the people during this trying time, he became Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. Early in July of that year von Papen, now Vice-Chancellor, negotiated in Hitler's behalf a concordat with Pope Pius XI. Cardinal Pacelli, who six years later was crowned as Pope Pius XII, signed for the Vatican.w In 1929 Mussolini had completed a program of co-operation with the Vatican through the Lateran Treaty signed by the Roman Catholic Church and his new totalitarian government. x

All these evidences of deterioration among the nations merely strengthened the position of Jehovah's witnesses to serve God as Ruler rather than men and added weight to the message they were delivering to the distraught peoples of the world. Further contrast came during 1931 and 1932 with two events of great importance in the development of the New World society; the first, at another convention of Jehovah's witnesses at Columbus, Ohio, July 24-30, 1931. At this assembly 15,000 active associates adopted the resolution embracing the new name "Jehovah's witnesses."


LOIS: You weren't called Jehovah's witnesses until 1931? What were you called before that?

JOHN: In our own publications we had identified ourselves by such designations as "the Church," "the Lord's anointed," "members of Christ's body," "the brethren," or simply "Christians," "footstep followers of Jesus," "Bible Students," "International Bible Students," y and the like. Of course, such expressions are Scriptural. But outsiders generally called us "Millennial Dawn people" and reproachful names, such as "Russellites." The resolution adopted in 1931 called attention to the confusion that this condition resulted in and, presenting the true position of these Christians, declared:

THAT . . . the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society and the International Bible Students Association and the Peoples Pulpit Association are merely names of corporations, which corporations we as a company of Christian people hold, control and use to carry on our work in obedience to God's commandments, yet none of these names properly attach to or apply to us as a body of Christians who follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ; that we are students of the Bible, but, as a body of Christians forming an Association, we decline to assume or to be called by the name "Bible Students" or similar names as a means of identification of our proper position before the Lord; we refuse to bear or to be called by the name of any man;

THAT, having been bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ our Lord and Redeemer, justified and begotten by Jehovah God and called to his kingdom, we unhesitatingly declare our entire allegiance and devotion to Jehovah God and his kingdom; that we are servants of Jehovah God commissioned to do a work in his name, and, in obedience to his commandment, to deliver the testimony of Jesus Christ, and to make known to the people


that Jehovah is the true and almighty God; therefore we joyfully embrace and take the name which the mouth of the Lord God has named, and we desire to be known as and called by the name, to wit, "Jehovah's witnesses."—Isa. 43:10-12; 62:2; Rev. 12:17.z

Needless to say, this resolution was joyously acclaimed by all present, and, in the weeks that followed, at fifty extension conventions in all parts of the earth Jehovah's people met to add their joyful voices in the embracing of this remarkable new name.

In order that the leaders of the world might be duly notified of this proper designation for Jehovah's people this resolution and the text of Brother Rutherford's convention address were published in the booklet The Kingdom the Hope of the World. Included was another resolution adopted at the convention, again indicting Christendom for her apostasy and for treating Jehovah's counsel with contempt, and proclaiming: "The hope of the world is God's kingdom., and there is no other hope." aa During October of that year a campaign was conducted by the congregations to visit every clergyman, politician and big businessman in their territories with this booklet. In just the United States and Canada 132,066 booklets were put out in this way. bb Within the next few months this booklet reached the homes of five million others in all parts of the earth. cc

LOIS: That must have been one of your biggest campaigns to the rulers and to the people.

JOHN: It was. It would have to be, because now Jehovah's witnesses were on record as true servants of God, dedicated to the bearing of testimony to his name and kingdom. This set them apart from all persons of the world, since no others recognized the enthroned King of heaven placed there by Jehovah's power for the purpose of subduing all nations. Further, the context of this name in the Scriptures emphasized even more the issue existing on earth between the true servants of God and those who professed to serve him. Maria, would you read Isaiah 43:8-10.

MARIA [reading]: "Bring forth the blind people, though eyes themselves exist, and the deaf ones, though they have ears. Let the nations all be collected together at one place, and let national groups be gathered together. Who is there among them that can tell this? Or can they cause us to hear even the first things? Let them furnish their witnesses, that they may be declared righteous, or let them hear and say: 'It is the truth!' 'You are my witnesses,' is the utterance of Jehovah, 'even my servant whom I have chosen, in order that you may know and have faith in me, and that you may understand that I am the same one. Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none.' "

LOIS: That doesn't leave much doubt as to what Jehovah requires of those who carry his name, does it?

JOHN: No, it does not. Furthermore, during this period of time following the birth of the New World society and the birth of these opposing societies, now gathering strength on their own part, it was to become a contest of authorities, with the facts presented to the people so that all could determine clearly in their own minds which society occupied the rightful position in Jehovah's purpose. But before the contest was due to begin in earnest, Jehovah had another purpose to perform in his organization in order to restore the sanctuary to its proper place.


You will recall that at the 1926 convention of Jehovah's witnesses at London,


England, it had been declared that the League of Nations was the "beast" of Revelation 17:11 and that it was certain to suffer destruction at God's hands. dd This testimony was served upon the nations of the world. But did they heed this testimony? No, they did not abandon this abomination that makes desolate and turn to support God's kingdom as the real hope for the world. By ignoring this proclamation from God through his servants on earth they were turning their back on God's provision for their salvation, were actually transgressing against God. It was revealed to Daniel by Jehovah's angel that they would do so. ee

Then the prophecy was made that 2,300 days afterward, God's sanctuary would be victorious. This was to mark the cleaning out from God's congregation those called "elective elders," who had been elected to an office in democratic fashion. The Watch Tower in its issues of August 15 and September 1, 1932, contained the two-part article entitled "Jehovah's Organization." This exposed the system of "elective elders" as being an unclean practice of this world and not according to the principles of the great Theocrat, who rules his sanctuary from the top down. The article concluded by presenting a resolution with a recommendation that it be adopted by all congregations. Note this excerpt:

Therefore be it resolved that there is no Scriptural authority for the existence of the elective office of elders in the church and that henceforth we will not elect any person to the office of elder; that all of the anointed of God are elders, as that term is defined by the Scriptures, and all are servants of the Most High.

THAT, to the end that our service may be orderly, we will select certain ones of our company to perform specific service that may be necessary, including the following, to wit: A service director who shall be nominated by us and confirmed by the Society's executive or manager, and which service director shall be a member of the service committee of this company.

This resolution was adopted by congregations of Jehovah's witnesses throughout the earth, and the announcement in the Watch Tower magazine of October 15, 1932, at the exact end of the time period mentioned in Daniel's prophecy, was the official notification made by Jehovah through his visible channel of communication that his sanctuary had been cleansed and had been restored to its rightful state as regards the elimination of this democratic procedure in electing elders. ff

TOM: I can see how that would unify your organization. It looks to me like a significant forward step.

JOHN: Of course, Jehovah's organization was not by this act fully restored to theocratic operation as had existed in the days of the apostles. This was still ahead as the final shaping of the New World society in vindication of Jehovah's purpose toward his people. Yet now, more than ever before, Jehovah's hand of approval could be seen upon the channel he had singled out decades before. From the time Pastor Russell had stood firm for true worship in 1878, throughout all the years The Watch Tower and its publishers had continued the war against compromise and apostasy, the evidence had been mounting to identify this body of Christians as having a singular place in the divine purpose. Snatched from the jaws of death in 1919 and inspired to a bold and fearless stand against Satan and for Jehovah, their position in the divine purpose was now secured for them in being unmistakably identified with the name of the Supreme Sovereign. Thus fortified, this society of Christian men and women was now prepared to embark upon a campaign the like of which had not been known by Jehovah's servants up to this time.

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