The eyes of Jehovah are on the righteous, and his ears listen to their supplication.
The righteous include “a great crowd” who “come out of the great tribulation.” These survivors are not just “a crowd.” They are “a great crowd”—a very large number of people. Do you see yourself among them as a survivor of “the great tribulation”? Where do those making up the great crowd come from? They are being brought together because of what Jesus foretold as part of the sign of his presence. He said: “This good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” In these last days, this is the chief work of God’s organization. Because of the global preaching and teaching activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses, millions of people have learned to worship God “with spirit and truth.”
In 1935 J.F. Rutherford spoke on the topic of the “Great Multitude” at a national convention of the newly-named Jehovah’s Witnesses. He asked those in attendance who did not entertain the heavenly calling to please stand up. He thus introduced the “great multitude,” as the traditional King James Version phrased it, as those who will survive the great tribulation.
But, alas, in all likelihood all of those “Jonadabs,” as they were called then, have died off, thus rendering it impossible for them to come out of the great tribulation. I suppose it is feasible that if someone had been born, say around 1916, making them 19-20 years old in 1935, they could still be alive now at 100 years of age. But surely that entire World War One generation has for the most part passed away.
The point is, the great crowd are identified by one characteristic. They come out of the great tribulation. Obviously, no one has come out of the tribulation alive for the simple reason that the world’s greatest time of trouble has not occurred.
So, while Rutherford may have correctly interpreted the great multitude as being composed of sanctified believers who will live on earth after the battle of Armageddon, those 800-plus souls whom Rutherford identified as the original members of the great multitude were not really, for the reason already stated.
The question really is, when is the great crowd? When does it form? The answer is, the great crowd is gathered during the great tribulation – not before. That truth is expressed in the prophecy of Haggai, which states: “For this is what Jehovah of armies says, ‘Yet once more—in a little while—and I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. and I will shake all the nations, and the precious things of all the nations will come in; and I will fill this house with glory,’ says Jehovah of armies.”