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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Zion's Watch Tower (1879)

Acting upon this leading of the Lord, I gave up traveling, and in July, 1879, the first number of ZION'S WATCH TOWER and Herald of Christ's Presence made its appearance. From the first, it has been a special advocate of the "ransom for all," and by the grace of God we hope this it will ever be. - Charlest Taze Russell, - July 15, 1906

Let us look back 133 years—back to 1877 C.E. By that time the religious sects and denominations of the realm of Christendom had multiplied greatly. However, at that time there was a small congregation of dedicated Bible students in Allegheny (now a part of Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania, U.S.A. This congregation was completely divorced from the religious systems of Christendom, which was then under attack by the evolution theory, the so-called Higher Criticism and materialism. Within that small congregation in Allegheny unsectarian study of God’s inspired Word aroused a driving sense of urgency. An elder of that congregation saw the need of publishing a new magazine that would champion the basic, underlying doctrines of the Holy Bible. His material wealth he decided to use in this behalf. So in July of 1879 he founded the desired magazine with himself as editor and publisher. This magazine was due to pose a problem for the world system of things, particularly for Christendom. It was entitled “Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.” Its editor and publisher was the self-sacrificing Bible student Charles Taze Russell.

This editor and fellow contributors to the new magazine and the congregation that backed it up stepped upon the world stage in the name of the God of Jeremiah, who served as priest at ancient Zion. The Bible speaks repeatedly of the Zion of Jeremiah’s time as being the residence of Jeremiah’s God. (Ps. 74:2; 48:1, 2) The magazine’s designation “Watch Tower” had to do with the Bible text quoted on the title page: “Watchman, what of the night?” “The morning cometh.” (Isa. 21:11, 12, Authorized Version) This suggested the purpose that the magazine was going to serve with regard to the fulfillment of Bible prophecies. But on page 2 of the second issue of the magazine (Volume 1, Number 2), at the top of the first column there appeared the heading: “Do You Want ‘Zion’s Watch Tower’?” Under this heading, paragraph three said:

“Do not suppose these remarks to be an appeal for money. No. ‘Zion’s Watch Tower’ has, we believe, JEHOVAH for its backer, and while this is the case it will never beg nor petition men for support. When He who says: ‘All the gold and silver of the mountains are mine,’ fails to provide necessary funds, we will understand it to be time to suspend the publication.”


There is no room for debating the point. The publisher of Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence stepped into the world arena of religious activity in the name of JEHOVAH, just as the prophet Jeremiah of old did. So, then, did Jehovah fail to provide the necessary funds for the continued publication of this magazine? The answer to this question is obvious from the fact that never, since July of 1879 till now, did this magazine, in spite of being banned at various times in various lands, suspend publication or miss even a single issue!

This is the first number of the first volume of "ZION'S WATCH TOWER," and it may not be amiss to state the object of its publication.

That we are living "in the last days"--"The day of the Lord"-- "the end" of the Gospel age, and consequently, in the dawn of the "new" age, are facts not only discernable by the close student of the Word, led by the spirit, but the outward signs recognizable by the world hear the same testimony, and we are desirous that the "household of faith" be fully awake to the fact, that--

"We are living, we are dwelling

In a grand and awful time;

In an age on ages telling

To be living is sublime."

And not alone to help awaken, but to assist them to "put on the whole armor of God, that they may be able to stand in the evil day;" and, besides all this, that giving all diligence, they add to their faith, virtue, and to virtue, knowledge, self control, [temperance,] brotherly kindness, charity; when, as a result of these indwelling and flourishing graces, they shall be God-like [godly].

But, recognizing the beauty and necessity of these adornments of the spiritual man, they fail not to recognize that the merit toward God lies not in these moral virtues, but in Christ's perfect sacrifice, and though adorned by all these gems of character, we could not be recognized as God's children now, nor permitted ever to enter His presence without the robe of Christ's righteousness, the "wedding garment" necessary to our participation in "the marriage of the Lamb."

"Let us wear the white robe here,

E'en on earth our Father dear,

Holding fast they hand, and so

Through the world unspotted go."

Christians to whom an apology would be needed for directing attention to these things, should blush and be ashamed. Everything desirable, hopeful and precious stands closely and ever connected with them. They embrace nearly all the great motives to faith, watchfulness, obedience, holiness.

If God has given us a revelation, and tells us that it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto every good word and work, where do so many Christians who profess to accept that Word of God as their rule and guide, get liberty to ignore more than one-half of it, thereby virtually saying it is unprofitable? When God has given us "a sure word of prophecy whereunto we do well to take heed," and when "the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show unto His servants the things which must shortly be done," shall those servants feel under no obligation to seek to understand those heavenly messages?

Should they heed worldly men and a worldly church who deem it pious and wise not to bother with these things, who would have us put them aside as empty fables and curious stories, and strange imagery, which could only unsettle our minds and interfere with Christian work; or shall we heed God who declares "these saying faithful and true" and says: "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep the things that are written therein?" Surely He knows what is best calculated to inspire "a zeal according to knowledge," and what is necessary that we "be not soon shaken in mind."

"To him that hath an ear to hear what the spirit saith unto the churches," ZION'S WATCH TOWER hopes to give assistance and encouragement. It is in bondage to no man, no party and to no creed but the Bible; yet in the bonds of love and sympathy to "all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in truth and sincerity." It aims to represent "the chaste virgins," the prospective "Bride of Christ," and with them acknowledges only one master and head--Christ Jesus.

As its name indicates, it aims to be the lookout from whence matters of interest and profit may be announced to the "little flock," and as the "Herald of Christ's Presence," to give the "meat in due season" to the "household of faith."

It issues monthly, and if you desire its visit to your home, address at once as per notice on this page. If you have a neighbor or friend whom you think would be interested in or benefited by its instructions, you might call it to their attention; thus preaching the Word and doing good unto all men as you have opportunity.

The terms, fifty cents a year, (postage paid,) are moderate; but to all interested and desirous of having it, who cannot afford to pay, we will gladly send it free, but you must ask that ye may receive.


(Each Issue: 6,000 in English)

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THE PURPOSE OF THIS MAGAZINE, The Watchtower, is to honor Jehovah God, the Supreme Ruler of the universe. Just as watchtowers in ancient times enabled a person to observe developments from afar, so this magazine shows us the significance of world events in the light of Bible prophecies. It comforts people with the good news that God’s Kingdom, which is a real government in heaven, will soon bring an end to all wickedness and transform the earth into a paradise. It promotes faith in Jesus Christ, who died so that we might gain everlasting life and who is now ruling as King of God’s Kingdom. This magazine has been published by Jehovah’s Witnesses continuously since 1879 and is nonpolitical. It adheres to the Bible as its authority. This publication is not for sale. It is provided as part of a worldwide Bible educational work supported by voluntary donations.

Each Issue: 42,162,000 in 188 Languages (per the April 1, 2011 Watchtower, WTB&TS)