Work to Enhance the Spiritual Paradise
“I will glorify the place for my feet.”
1, 2. In the Hebrew Scriptures, to what can the term “footstool” refer?
JEHOVAH GOD has appropriately proclaimed: “The heavens are my throne, and the earth is my footstool.” (Isa. 66:1) Regarding his “footstool,” he also stated: “I will glorify the place for my feet.” (Isa. 60:13) How does he do that? And what meaning does this have for us, since we live on God’s “footstool”?
2 Besides referring to the earth, the term “footstool” is also employed figuratively in the Hebrew Scriptures to describe the ancient temple used by the Israelites. (1 Chron. 28:2; Ps. 132:7) Located on the earth, the temple served as the center of true worship. For that reason, it was truly beautiful in Jehovah’s eyes and its very existence glorified the place for Jehovah’s feet.
3. What is God’s great spiritual temple, and when did it come into existence?
3 Today the center of true worship is no longer a literal temple on earth. There is, however, a spiritual temple, which glorifies Jehovah far more than any building. This is an arrangement that makes reconciliation with God possible by means of the priesthood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It came into existence in 29 C.E. at Jesus’ baptism when Jesus was
4, 5. (a) How does Psalm 99 describe the earnest desire of Jehovah’s true worshippers? (b) What question should we ask ourselves?
4 In appreciation of the spiritual temple arrangement, we praise Jehovah by making known his name and we exalt him for his merciful provision of the ransom. How thrilling to know that over eight million true Christians are today actively glorifying Jehovah! Unlike some religious people who mistakenly think that they will praise God once they have left the earth and gone to heaven, all of Jehovah’s Witnesses realize the need to praise him here and now on the earth.
5 We thereby follow the example of the faithful servants of Jehovah described at Psalm 99:1-3, 5. (Read.) As that psalm indicates, Moses, Aaron, and Samuel offered their full support to the arrangement for true worship in their day. (Ps. 99:6, 7) Today, before moving on to serve as priests with Jesus in heaven, the remaining ones of his anointed brothers faithfully serve in the earthly courtyard of the spiritual temple. Millions of “other sheep” loyally support them. (John 10:16) Although having different hopes, both groups unitedly worship Jehovah here at God’s footstool. As individuals, however, we do well to ask ourselves, ‘Am I giving full support to Jehovah’s arrangement for pure worship?’
IDENTIFYING THOSE WHO SERVE AT GOD’S SPIRITUAL TEMPLE
6, 7. What problem arose among the early Christians, and what became necessary centuries later?
6 Less than a century after the Christian congregation was established, a foretold apostasy began to develop. (Acts 20:28-30; 2 Thess. 2:3, 4) Thereafter, it became increasingly difficult to identify who was truly serving God at his spiritual temple. Only centuries later did the time arrive for Jehovah to clarify matters by means of his newly enthroned King, Jesus Christ.
7 By 1919, those approved by Jehovah and serving at his spiritual temple were clearly identified. They had been spiritually refined in order to make their service to God even more acceptable to him. (Isa. 4:2, 3; Mal. 3:1-4) What the apostle Paul had foreseen centuries before in a vision began to be fulfilled in a limited way.
8, 9. Explain the three aspects of the “paradise” that Paul saw in a vision.
8 We find Paul’s vision described at 2 Corinthians 12:1-4. (Read.) What Paul saw in a supernatural vision was referred to as a revelation. It involved a future event, not something that existed in his day. When Paul “was caught away to the third heaven,” what “paradise” did he see? The paradise that Paul spoke about would have a physical, a spiritual, and a heavenly fulfillment, all of which will coexist in the future. It can refer to the physical, earthly Paradise yet to come. (Luke 23:43) It can also refer to the spiritual paradise that will be experienced to the full in the new world. Additionally, it can refer to the blessed conditions in heaven in “the paradise of God.”
9 Why, though, did Paul say that he had “heard words that cannot be spoken and that are not lawful for a man to say”? It was not the time for him to explain in detail the marvelous things that he hadseen in that vision. But today it is lawful to speak of the blessings that now exist among God’s people!
10. Why are the terms “spiritual paradise” and “spiritual temple” not the same?
10 The expression “spiritual paradise” has become a part of our theocratic vocabulary. It describes our unique, spiritually rich environment, or condition, which allows us to enjoy peace with God and with our brothers. Of course, we should not conclude that the terms “spiritual paradise” and “spiritual temple” are the same. The spiritual temple is God’s arrangement for true worship. The spiritual paradise serves to identify clearly those who have God’s approval and who are today serving him at his spiritual temple.
11. What privilege do we have today in connection with the spiritual paradise?
11 How exciting it is to know that since 1919, Jehovah has allowed imperfect humans to work with him in cultivating, strengthening, and expanding the spiritual paradise on earth! Do you see yourself playing a part in this marvelous work? Are you moved to continue working with Jehovah in glorifying ‘the place for his feet’?
JEHOVAH’S ORGANIZATION IS BEING MADE MORE BEAUTIFUL
12. What confidence do all of us have regarding the fulfillment of Isaiah 60:17? (See opening image.)
12 A marvelous work of transformation in connection with the earthly part of Jehovah’s organization was foretold at Isaiah 60:17. (Read.) Those who are young or comparatively new in the truth have read about the evidences of this transformation or have heard about it from others. But how privileged the brothers and sisters are who have personally experienced it! No wonder they are convinced that by means of his enthroned King, Jehovah is guiding and directing His organization! They know that their confidence is well-founded, a confidence all of us share. Hearing their heartfelt expressions will fortify your faith and strengthen your trust in Jehovah.
13. What obligation does Psalm 48:12-14 place on us?
13 Regardless of how long we have been in the truth, we must tell others about Jehovah’s organization. The existence of a spiritual paradise in the midst of a wicked, corrupt, and loveless world is a modern-day miracle! The wonders about Jehovah’s organization, or “Zion,” and the truth about the spiritual paradise must be joyfully passed on “to future generations.”
14, 15. What organizational adjustments were made in the 1970’s, and how have they proved beneficial?
14 Over the years, the older ones in our midst have personally experienced some of the organizational adjustments that have increased the beauty of the earthly part of Jehovah’s organization. They remember when congregations had a congregation servant rather than a body of elders, when countries had a branch servant rather than a Branch Committee, and when direction was given by the president of the Watch Tower Society rather than by a clearly established Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Although all these devoted brothers were supported by faithful assistants, one person wasbasically responsible for making decisions in the congregations, at the branch offices, and at world headquarters. During the 1970’s, adjustments were made to put the responsibility for oversight on groups of elders rather than on individuals.
15 Have these adjustments proved beneficial? Yes, and logically so. Why? Because the adjustments were based on increased knowledge about the pattern set in the Scriptures. Instead of having the influence of one individual dominate, the composite good qualities of all the “gifts in men” whom Jehovah has provided benefit the organization.
16, 17. What recent adjustments have particularly impressed you, and why?
16 Think, too, of more recent adjustments, such as the changes in appearance, contents, and methods of distribution of our publications. What a pleasure it is to offer practical, appealing, and attractive literature in the ministry! And when we use the latest technology to spread the truth, such as by means of the jw.org website, we reflect Jehovah’s interest in providing people everywhere with the guidance most of them lack but so desperately need.
17 Not to be overlooked is the wisdom behind the adjustment that allowed us to have a Family Worship evening or more time for personal study. We also appreciate advances made in assembly and convention programs. We often say that they get better every year! And we certainly rejoice over the increased training being provided by our many theocratic schools. In all these adjustments, Jehovah’shand is clearly seen. He progressively enhances the beauty of his organization and of the spiritual paradise that we enjoy even now!
YOUR SHARE IN CONTRIBUTING TO THE SPIRITUAL PARADISE
18, 19. How can we contribute to the beauty of the spiritual paradise?
18 It is an honor to be allowed by Jehovah to contribute to the beauty of our spiritual paradise. We do that by zealously preaching the Kingdom good news and making more disciples. Each time we help a person progress to Christian dedication, we have worked to extend the borders of the spiritual paradise.
19 We can also enhance the beauty of our spiritual paradise by steadily improving our own Christian personality. In that way, we make this paradise more appealing to onlookers. More than even Bible knowledge, it is often our chaste, peaceful conduct that initially draws people to the organization and in turn to God and to Christ.
20. In harmony with Proverbs 14:35, what should be our desire?
20 How pleased Jehovah and Jesus must be when they observe our beautiful spiritual paradise today! The enjoyment we have now in working to enhance its beauty is but a foretaste of the joy we will have later in working to make the earth a physical paradise. Let us keep in mind Proverbs 14:35, which states: “The king finds pleasure in a servant who acts with insight.” May we always act with insight as we work hard to contribute to the beauty of the spiritual paradise!