Saturday, October 24th, 2009
"You will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name." (Matthew 24:9)
Over the years, Jehovah’s Witnesses in many lands have endured bitter opposition and cruel persecution. Yet, Jehovah has proved to be with his people. (Romans 8:31) His Word assures us that nothing—‘no weapon formed against us’—will stop our Kingdom-preaching and teaching work. (Isaiah 54:17) Despite the world’s hatred, Jehovah’s Witnesses are flourishing in 236 lands—compelling evidence, indeed, that Jehovah is with us to protect us from those who wish to crush or silence us. Can you recall the names of mighty political or religious leaders who during your lifetime bitterly oppressed God’s people? What has happened to them? Where are they now? Most have been brought to nothing, just like Pharaoh in the days of Moses and Joshua. And what of God’s modern-day servants who died faithful? They are protected in Jehovah’s memory.
(Watchtower issue: 11/1/07, 1:15, 16)
*As additional reference material, I wanted to include this account from the book of Acts as a reminder of what the 1st century Christians dealt with in this regard...
"Moreover, through the hands of the apostles many signs and portents continued to occur among the people; and they were all with one accord in Sol′o·mon’s colonnade. True, not a one of the others had the courage to join himself to them; nevertheless, the people were extolling them. More than that, believers in the Lord kept on being added, multitudes both of men and of women; so that they brought the sick out even into the broad ways and laid them there upon little beds and cots, in order that, as Peter would go by, at least his shadow might fall upon some one of them. Also, the multitude from the cities around Jerusalem kept coming together, bearing sick people and those troubled with unclean spirits, and they would one and all be cured.
But the high priest and all those with him, the then existing sect of the Sadducees, rose and became filled with jealousy, and they laid hands upon the apostles and put them in the public place of custody. But during the night Jehovah’s angel opened the doors of the prison, brought them out and said: “Be on YOUR way, and, having taken a stand in the temple, keep on speaking to the people all the sayings about this life.” After hearing this, they entered into the temple at daybreak and began to teach.
Now when the high priest and those with him arrived, they called together the San′he·drin and all the assembly of older men of the sons of Israel, and they sent out to the jail to have them brought. But when the officers got there they did not find them in the prison. So they returned and made report, saying: “The jail we found locked with all security and the guards standing at the doors, but on opening up we found no one inside.” Well, when both the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they fell into a quandary over these matters as to what this would come to. But a certain man arrived and reported to them: “Look! The men YOU put in the prison are in the temple, standing and teaching the people.” Then the captain went off with his officers and proceeded to bring them, but without violence, as they were afraid of being stoned by the people.
So they brought them and stood them in the San′he·drin hall. And the high priest questioned them and said: “We positively ordered YOU not to keep teaching upon the basis of this name, and yet, look! YOU have filled Jerusalem with YOUR teaching, and YOU are determined to bring the blood of this man upon us.” In answer Peter and the [other] apostles said: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men. The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus, whom YOU slew, hanging him upon a stake. God exalted this one as Chief Agent and Savior to his right hand, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these matters, and so is the holy spirit, which God has given to those obeying him as ruler.”
When they heard this, they felt deeply cut and were wanting to do away with them. But a certain man rose in the San′he·drin, a Pharisee named Ga·ma′li·el, a Law teacher esteemed by all the people, and gave the command to put the men outside for a little while. And he said to them: “Men of Israel, pay attention to yourselves as to what YOU intend to do respecting these men. For instance, before these days Theu′das rose, saying he himself was somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined his party. But he was done away with, and all those who were obeying him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Gal·i·le′an rose in the days of the registration, and he drew off people after him. And yet that man perished, and all those who were obeying him were scattered abroad. And so, under the present circumstances, I say to YOU, Do not meddle with these men, but let them alone; (because, if this scheme or this work is from men, it will be overthrown; but if it is from God, YOU will not be able to overthrow them;) otherwise, YOU may perhaps be found fighters actually against God.” At this they gave heed to him, and they summoned the apostles, flogged them, and ordered them to stop speaking upon the basis of Jesus’ name, and let them go.
These, therefore, went their way from before the San′he·drin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy to be dishonored in behalf of his name. And every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus." (Acts 5:12-42)
*so anytime we face opposition just keep in mind what the angel said to the apostles in prison, and what the Pharisee Gamaliel said to the members of the Sanhedrin: "if this scheme or this work is from men, it will be overthrown; but if it is from God you will not be able to overthrow them."
just a quick glance at the history of our preaching work during the past century should instill confidence since "the proof is in the pudding" (as they say)