“God is a God not of disorder but of peace.”—1 COR. 14:33.
1, 2. (a) Who was God’s first creation, and how did Jehovah use him? (b) What indicates that the angelic creation is organized?
JEHOVAH, the Creator of the universe, does things in an organized manner. His first creation was his only-begotten spirit Son, who is called “the Word” because he is God’s principal spokesman. The Word has served Jehovah for ages, for the Bible states: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.” We are also told: “All things came into existence through him [the Word], and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.” A little over 2,000 years ago, God sent the Word to the earth, where he faithfully did his Father’s will as the perfect man Jesus Christ.—John 1:1-3, 14.
2 During his prehuman existence, God’s Son served loyally as His “master worker.” (Prov. 8:30) By means of him, Jehovah brought into existence many millions of other spirit creatures in heaven. (Col. 1:16) Regarding such angels, one Bible account informs us: “A thousand thousands kept ministering to [Jehovah], and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.” (Dan. 7:10) God’s numerous spirit creatures are referred to as the well-organized “armies” of Jehovah.—Ps. 103:21.
3. How great is the number of stars and planets, and how are they organized?
3 What can be said about material creation, such as the countless stars and planets? Regarding stars, the Houston, Texas, Chronicle reports on a recent study suggesting that there are “300 sextillion of them, or three times as many as scientists previously calculated.” The report adds: “That is a 3 followed by 23 zeros. Or 3 trillion times 100 billion.” The stars are organized into galaxies, each containing billions or even trillions of stars, as well as many planets. Most galaxies are further organized into groups called clusters and into larger superclusters.
4. Why is it reasonable to conclude that God’s servants on earth would be organized?
4 Like the righteous spirit creatures in heaven, the physical heavens are superbly organized. (Isa. 40:26) Therefore, it is logical to conclude that Jehovah would organize his servants on earth. He wants them to maintain good order, and that is vitally important because they have so much important work to do. The splendid record of faithful service established by Jehovah’s worshippers past and present provides powerful evidence that he has been with them and that he is “a God not of disorder but of peace.”—Read 1 Corinthians 14:33, 40.
GOD’S ORGANIZED PEOPLE IN ANCIENT TIMES
5. How was the orderly arrangement for the human family to fill the earth interrupted?
5 When Jehovah created the first humans, he told them: “Be fruitful and become many, fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving on the earth.” (Gen. 1:28) The human family was to grow in an organized way so as to populate the earth and extend Paradise until it covered the entire globe. The outworking of that orderly arrangement was temporarily interrupted by the disobedience of Adam and Eve. (Gen. 3:1-6) In time, “Jehovah saw that man’s wickedness was great on the earth and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time.” As a result, “the earth had become ruined in the sight of the true God, and the earth was filled with violence.” Therefore, God purposed to bring about a global flood that would destroy the ungodly.—Gen. 6:5, 11-13, 17.
6, 7. (a) Why did Noah find favor with Jehovah? (See opening image.) (b) What happened to all the unfaithful people in Noah’s time?
6 However, “Noah found favor in the eyes of Jehovah” because he “was a righteous man” who “proved himself faultless among his contemporaries.” Because “Noah walked with the true God,” Jehovah instructed him to build a huge ark. (Gen. 6:8, 9, 14-16) Its design was well-suited for the preservation of human and animal life. Obediently, “Noah did everything that Jehovah had commanded him,” and with the cooperation of his family, he completed the building work in an organized way. After living things were brought into the ark, “Jehovah shut the door.”—Gen. 7:5, 16.
7 In 2370 B.C.E. when the Flood came, Jehovah “wiped every living thing from the surface of the earth,” but he kept faithful Noah and his family safe in the ark. (Gen. 7:23) Everyone on earth today is a descendant of Noah, his sons, and their wives. But all the faithless people outside the ark perished because they had refused to listen to Noah, “a preacher of righteousness.”—2 Pet. 2:5.
8. What evidence of good organization existed in Israel when God instructed his people to enter the Promised Land?
8 More than eight centuries after the Deluge, God organized the Israelites into a nation. Good organization was to involve all aspects of their life and especially their worship. In addition to Israel’s numerous priests and Levites, for example, there were “women who were organized to serve at the entrance of the tent of meeting.” (Ex. 38:8) When Jehovah God instructed the people of Israel to enter Canaan, however, that generation proved unfaithful, and he told them: “None of you will enter into the land that I swore to have you reside in except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun” because they brought back a good report after spying out the Promised Land. (Num. 14:30, 37, 38) In harmony with God’s direction, Moses later commissioned Joshua to be his successor. (Num. 27:18-23) When Joshua was about to lead the Israelites into Canaan, he was told: “Be courageous and strong. Do not be struck with terror or fear, for Jehovah your God is with you wherever you go.”—Josh. 1:9.
9. How did Rahab feel about Jehovah and his people?
9 Jehovah God really was with Joshua wherever he went. For instance, consider what happened as the Israelites were encamped near the Canaanite city of Jericho. In 1473 B.C.E., Joshua sent two men to spy out Jericho, and there they met the prostitute Rahab. She hid them on the roof of her house, concealing them from potential captors sent out by Jericho’s king. Rahab told the Israelite spies: “I do know that Jehovah will give you the land . . . , for we heard how Jehovah dried up the waters of the Red Sea before you . . . and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites.” She added: “Jehovah your God is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” (Josh. 2:9-11) Because Rahab aligned herself with Jehovah’s organization of that time, God saw to it that she and her household were spared when the Israelites conquered Jericho. (Josh. 6:25) Rahab exercised faith, had reverence for Jehovah, and showed respect for his people.
A DYNAMIC FIRST-CENTURY ORGANIZATION
10. What did Jesus tell the Jewish religious leaders of his day, and why did he make such a statement?
10 Under Joshua’s leadership, the people of Israel conquered city after city and occupied the land of Canaan. But what happened in later times? Over the centuries, the Israelites repeatedly violated God’s laws. By the time Jehovah sent his Son to the earth, their failure to obey God and listen to his spokesmen was so pronounced that Jesus called Jerusalem “the killer of the prophets.” (Read Matthew 23:37, 38.) God rejected the Jewish religious leaders because of their unfaithfulness to him. Jesus therefore told them: “The Kingdom of God will be taken from you and be given to a nation producing its fruits.”—Matt. 21:43.
11, 12. (a) What proves that in the first century, Jehovah transferred his blessing from the Jewish nation to another organization? (b) The new God-approved organization consisted of whom?
11 In the first century C.E., Jehovah cast off the unfaithful nation of Israel. However, that did not mean that he would be without an organization of loyal servants on earth. Jehovah transferred his blessing to a dynamic new organization centered on Jesus Christ and his teachings. It had its start on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E. At that time, about 120 disciples of Jesus were gathered at a place in Jerusalem when “suddenly there was a noise from heaven, just like that of a rushing, stiff breeze, and it filled the whole house.” Then “tongues as if of fire became visible to them and were distributed, and one came to rest on each one of them, and they all became filled with holy spirit and started to speak in different languages, just as the spirit enabled them to speak.” (Acts 2:1-4) This amazing event furnished undeniable evidence that Jehovah was backing the new organization, the one consisting of Christ’s disciples.
12 On that thrilling day, “about 3,000 people were added” to the number of Jesus’ followers. Furthermore, “Jehovah continued to add to them daily those being saved.” (Acts 2:41, 47) So effective was the activity of those first-century preachers that “the word of God continued to spread, and the number of the disciples kept multiplying very much in Jerusalem.” Even “a large crowd of priests began to be obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:7) Many sincere individuals thus accepted the truths proclaimed by members of this new organization. Later, Jehovah gave similar evidence of his backing when he started to bring “people of the nations” into the Christian congregation.—Read Acts 10:44, 45.
13. What was the work of God’s new organization?
13 There was no doubt about the God-given work of Christ’s followers. Jesus himself had set the example for them, for soon after his baptism, he began preaching about “the Kingdom of the heavens.” (Matt. 4:17) Jesus taught his disciples to do the same work. He told them: “You will be witnesses of me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) The early followers of Christ definitely understood what was required of them. At Antioch in Pisidia, for example, Paul and Barnabas boldly told their Jewish opposers: “It was necessary for the word of God to be spoken first to you. Since you are rejecting it and do not judge yourselves worthy of everlasting life, look! we turn to the nations. For Jehovah has commanded us in these words: ‘I have appointed you as a light of nations, for you to be a salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Acts 13:14, 45-47) Since the first century, the earthly part of God’s organization has been making known his provision for salvation.
MANY PERISH, BUT GOD’S SERVANTS SURVIVE
14. What happened to first-century Jerusalem, but who survived?
14 The Jews in general did not accept the good news, and calamity was to befall them, for Jesus had warned his disciples: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near. Then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains, let those in the midst of her leave, and let those in the countryside not enter into her.” (Luke 21:20, 21) What Jesus foretold took place. Because of a Jewish revolt, Roman armies led by Cestius Gallus surrounded Jerusalem in 66 C.E. Those forces suddenly withdrew, however, and that gave Jesus’ followers an opportunity to leave Jerusalem and Judea. According to the historian Eusebius, many fled across the Jordan River to Pella in Perea. In 70 C.E., Roman armies under General Titus returned and devastated Jerusalem. However, faithful Christians survived because they heeded Jesus’ warning.
15. Despite what did Christianity flourish?
15 Despite the hardships, persecution, and other tests of faith experienced by Christ’s followers, Christianity flourished in the first century. (Acts 11:19-21; 19:1, 19, 20) Those early Christians prospered spiritually because they had God’s blessing.—Prov. 10:22.
16. To fare well spiritually, what was required of each Christian?
16 To fare well spiritually, each Christian had to put forth personal effort. Diligent study of the Scriptures, regular attendance at meetings for worship, and zealous activity in the Kingdom-preaching work were essential. Such activities contributed to the spiritual health and unity of Jehovah’s people at that time, even as they do today. Those associated with the well-organized early congregations benefited greatly from the willing and helpful efforts of overseers and ministerial servants. (Phil. 1:1; 1 Pet. 5:1-4) And what a delight it must have been when traveling elders, such as Paul, visited the congregations! (Acts 15:36, 40, 41) The similarities between our worship and that of the first-century Christians are remarkable. How grateful we are that Jehovah organized his servants then as well as now! *
17. What will be discussed in the next article?
17 As Satan’s world nears its end in these last days, the earthly part of Jehovah’s universal organization is moving ahead at an ever-increasing speed. Are you keeping pace with it? Have you been making spiritual progress? The next article will show how you can do so.
^ par. 16 See the articles “Christians Worship With Spirit and Truth” and “They Keep On Walking in the Truth” in The Watchtower of July 15, 2002. An extensive discussion of the earthly part of God’s organization today has been published in the book Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom.
THE WATCHTOWER—STUDY EDITION