His Own People Had to Know Who He Is
1. At the disaster for the Egyptians and the triumph for their former slaves, what did each nation respectively come to know?
TRULY Egypt must have taken a slump as the leading military power of that ancient day. When the news of this disaster reached the Egyptians who had been left back home, they should have known at last that the God of their former slaves was Jehovah, the one living and true God. As for the liberated Israelites, at this triumphant hour they were able to appreciate what their God had said to Moses concerning them: “I shall certainly take you to me as a people, and I shall indeed prove to be God to you; and you will certainly know that I am Jehovah your God who is bringing you out from under the burdens of Egypt.” (Exodus 6:7) Now they could appreciate God’s name as even their forefathers had never been able to appreciate it, just as he had also said to Moses: “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty. But I did not let myself be known to them by my name JEHOVAH.”—Exodus 6:2, 3, New English Bible of 1970.
2. To whom were the liberated Israelites now under obligation to become witnesses, and concerning what?
2 Now the responsibility was upon those liberated Israelites to serve as witnesses to their descendants. They had come under obligation to serve as Jehovah’s witnesses to their offspring, just as he had said to Moses before striking Egypt with the eighth plague, the plague of locusts: “Go in to Pharaoh, because I—I have let his heart and the hearts of his servants become unresponsive, in order that I may set these signs of mine right before him, and in order that you may declare in the ears of your son and your son’s son how severely I have dealt with Egypt and my signs that I have established among them; and you will certainly know that I am Jehovah.” (Exodus 10:1, 2) Good reason there now was for him to say to that nation, through his prophet Isaiah about eight hundred years later:
3. Good reason there now was for Jehovah to say what to the liberated nation, in Isaiah 43:1-12?
3 “And now this is what Jehovah has said, your Creator, O Jacob, and your Former, O Israel: ‘Do not be afraid, for I have repurchased you. I have called you by your name. You are mine. In case you should pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not flood over you. In case you should walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, neither will the flame itself singe you. For I am Jehovah your God, the Holy One of Israel your Savior. . . . You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even my servant whom I have chosen, in order that you may know and have faith in me, and that you may understand that I am the same One. Before me there was no God formed [by the idolatrous nations], and after me there continued to be none. I—I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior. I myself have told forth and have saved and have caused it to be heard, when there was among you no strange god. So you are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and I am God.’”—Isaiah 43:1-12.
4. During their long journey through the fiery wilderness, whom did the Israelites learn their Provider to be, and in what way?
4 As matters turned out, the liberated nation of Israel had yet to go through the fiery desert on their way to the Promised Land. As this wilderness was no “land of milk and honey,” as the Promised Land was reported to be, the nation of his witnesses needed to learn to know Jehovah as the One who could provide for their needs all along the way. Think of providing food and water supplies for several millions of people and their livestock out in the wilderness of the Sinai Peninsula! About a month after they had left Egypt and the people were disposed to murmur about the matter of food, Jehovah declared that he would not let his name be reproached in this regard by saying to Moses: “I have heard the murmurings of the sons of Israel. Speak to them, saying, ‘Between the two evenings you will eat meat and in the morning you will be satisfied with bread; and you will certainly know that I am Jehovah your God.’” Thus they learned to know him as their Provider and Sustainer when he sent an abundant supply of quail in the evening and the miraculous manna in the morning. (Exodus 16:1-18) Throughout the four decades of their journey to the Promised Land of milk and honey, Jehovah regularly provided for them the life-sustaining manna. It was no ordinary bread.
5, 6. God’s provision for Israel in the wilderness should have caused them to know what, and yet at the end of their journey what could be said about their heart, eyes and ears?
5 What if we of today were to have forty years of private experience with God our Creator just as the Israelites had it back there in that Middle Eastern wilderness? Would our hearts then become warmed with affection for the knowledge that God imparted? Would our eyes get to the point of seeing with understanding and appreciation what God was doing and would our ears hear what God says with an inclination to obey? Would we feel that now we knew God our Creator? We ought to do so. And yet, toward the end of the forty years of wandering in the wilderness, the prophet Moses summed up the effect of God’s dealings upon the Israelites, when Moses said to them:
6 “And yet Jehovah has not given you a heart to know and eyes to see and ears to hear down to this day. ‘While I kept guiding you forty years in the wilderness, your garments did not wear out upon you, and your sandal did not wear out upon your foot. Bread you did not eat, and wine and intoxicating liquor you did not drink, in order that you might know that I am Jehovah your God.’”—Deuteronomy 29:1-6.
7, 8. At Rephidim in the wilderness, how did the Israelites learn who their Protector was, and how did the name of the newly built altar confirm this?
7 Early in this forty years of intimate experience with God they should have learned to know him as their Protector against violent enemies. In the second month of their journeying by stages in the wilderness they came to Rephidim. There they could have made the observation that, although they themselves might fight in self-defense, it is their God that gives them the victory over their foes. How so? What happened there? Let us read:
8 “The Amalekites came and attacked Israel at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, ‘Pick your men, and march out tomorrow to fight for us against Amalek; and I will take my stand on the hill-top with the staff of God in my hand.’ Joshua carried out his orders and fought against Amalek while Moses, Aaron and Hur climbed to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses raised his hands Israel had the advantage, and when he lowered his hands Amalek had the advantage. But when his arms grew heavy they took a stone and put it under him and, as he sat, Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on each side, so that his hands remained steady till sunset. Thus Joshua defeated Amalek and put its people to the sword. The LORD said to Moses, ‘Record this in writing, and tell it to Joshua in these words: “I am resolved to blot out all memory of Amalek from under heaven.”’ Moses built an altar, and named it Jehovah-nissi and said, ‘My oath upon it: the LORD is at war with Amalek generation after generation.’”—Exodus 17:8-16, New English Bible. (The name “Jehovah-nissi” means “Jehovah Is My Signal Pole.”)
9. According to later history of the Amalekites, to whom is it better to gather as to a signal pole?
9 It took generations, in fact, centuries, as history shows, to wipe out the last of the Amalekites, the traditional enemies of God’s people. Jehovah’s resolve against them was not frustrated. So history proves that it is better to gather to Jehovah as our Signal Pole rather than to rally to the aid of those who are the foes of Him and his people. We will do this if we know him.
THE SORT OF GOD THAT HE IS
10. At Mount Sinai, what showed the criticalness of the situation because of the breaking of the First and Second Commandments?
10 All these historical experiences help us to appreciate what kind of God this Jehovah is. On one critical occasion he gave to Moses a description of what sort of God he is. This happened in about the fourth month after the Israelites had left their slavery in Egypt. While still at Mount Sinai thousands of the Israelites broke the first two of the Ten Commandments by committing idolatry with a golden calf. Moses as the mediator for the nation had to intercede for them to make sure that God’s presence would continue with them in their journey through the wilderness. Then, while up in the mountain with God’s angel, Moses made a request, and God favored Moses with a special revelation concerning the divine Name. As regards this, we read:
11. At Moses’ request up in the mountain, what proclamation concerning God’s name was made?
11 “And Moses prayed, ‘Show me thy glory.’ The LORD answered, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will pronounce in your hearing the Name JEHOVAH. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.’ . . . And the LORD came down in the cloud and took his place beside him and pronounced the Name JEHOVAH. Then the LORD passed in front of him and called aloud, ‘JEHOVAH, the LORD, a god compassionate and gracious, long-suffering, ever constant and true, maintaining constancy to thousands, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin, and not sweeping the guilty clean away; but one who punishes sons and grandsons to the third and fourth generation for the iniquity of their fathers!’”—Exodus 33:18 to 34:7, New English Bible. (In this Bible where the expression “The LORD” occurs it also stands for the Hebrew name of God, “Jehovah.”) Also, see Acts 7:37, 38, 53; Galatians 3:19.
12. What does such a God have the just right to command all his creatures to render to him, and what arrangements for this were made among the Israelites in the wilderness?
12 The above-given qualities distinguish Jehovah from all the so-called gods whom men and nations have worshiped. Moses was deeply moved to worship such a God as Jehovah. What reasonable person, with a proper appreciation, would not want to worship a God such as Jehovah is? He deserves to be worshiped. He has the exclusive and just right to command to be worshiped by all his creatures in heaven and on earth. He required of the Israelites whom he had liberated from oppressive Egypt to worship him. He had a sacred tent of meeting constructed at which his chosen people could worship him out in the wilderness. He provided a priesthood for them in the family of Aaron, the brother of Moses. He prescribed a list of sacrifices that they could offer to him on certain occasions and for certain reasons, these sacrifices having a special meaning and pointing forward to the Great Sacrifice that Jehovah would provide in due time to take away the sin of the whole world of mankind. Concerning this sacred tent of meeting and its priesthood, God said to Moses:
13. By God’s sanctifying the tent of meeting, its altar and its priesthood, what would the Israelites come to know?
13 “And I will present myself there to the sons of Israel, and it will certainly be sanctified by my glory. And I will sanctify the tent of meeting and the altar; and I shall sanctify Aaron and his sons for them to act as priests to me. And I will tabernacle in the midst of the sons of Israel, and I will prove to be their God. And they will certainly know that I am Jehovah their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I may tabernacle in the midst of them. I am Jehovah their God.”—Exodus 29:43-46.
14. Centuries later, with what was that tent of meeting replaced, and for what did the builder thereof pray?
14 This transportable tent of meeting was replaced centuries later by a stationary temple built on Mount Moriah in the city of Jerusalem. King Solomon, the son of David of Bethlehem, was the builder of it, during the years 1034-1027 before our Common Era. Jehovah sanctified this temple as a place of worship just as he had done with the tent of meeting constructed by Moses. (1 Kings 6:1-38) King Solomon prayed that this might be so, and concerning the divine response to his prayer, we read, in 1 Kings 9:2, 3:
15. With what words did Jehovah respond to Solomon’s prayer respecting the temple?
15 “Then Jehovah appeared to Solomon the second time, the same as he had appeared to him in Gibeon. And Jehovah went on to say to him: ‘I have heard your prayer and your request for favor with which you requested favor before me. I have sanctified this house that you have built by putting my name there to time indefinite; and my eyes and my heart will certainly prove to be there always.’”
16. Properly, who was interested in what went on there at the temple, and why?
16 For that reason the name of Jehovah became associated with that temple at Jerusalem, and even far distant nations came to know this. Properly Jehovah was highly interested in what went on there at that temple, forasmuch as this would reflect upon his holy name. It was no light offense for anyone to defile his temple.
ISRAEL AND SYRIA WERE MADE TO KNOW WHO HE IS
17. Because of Solomon’s unfaithfulness, what new kingdom was established, and how did Jehovah still give it reason to know who he is?
17 Because the temple builder, King Solomon, turned unfaithful to Jehovah in his old age, God ripped ten of the twelve tribes of Israel away from Solomon’s son and successor, Rehoboam. Thus he permitted a ten-tribe Kingdom of Israel to be set up with a different royal capital city. This new kingdom quickly turned away from the worship of Jehovah at his temple in Jerusalem and established the worship of golden calves at the cities of Dan and Bethel, in the year 997 B.C.E. Fifty-seven years later Ahab the son of wicked King Omri became king of those ten tribes of Israel. He went still farther in idolatry by marrying the daughter of a foreign priest of the false god Baal and setting up Baal worship in his capital city, Samaria. (1 Kings 16:29-32) Not desiring this ten-tribe kingdom to forget him completely, Jehovah sent his prophets to them and still gave the idolatrous kingdom reason to know that he is Jehovah the God of their forefathers.
18, 19. When Ben-hadad of Syria and his allies came to attack Samaria, what message did Jehovah’s prophet give to King Ahab?
18 In the days of King Ahab there came occasions for this. Ben-hadad the king of Syria, together with thirty-two kings in league with him, came with a tremendous military force and laid siege to the capital city of Samaria. After some unsatisfactory negotiations with King Ahab, the Syrians and allies set themselves to attack Samaria with full force. Then what happened?
19 “And, look! a certain prophet approached Ahab the king of Israel and then said: ‘This is what Jehovah has said, “Have you seen all this great crowd? Here I am giving it into your hand today, and you will certainly know that I am Jehovah.”’”—1 Kings 20:1-13.
20. Whom did the Israelites then learn the God of victory to be, but what forewarning was now given to King Ahab?
20 Under the direct command of King Ahab, who was designated by Jehovah, the besieged Israelites moved out to the attack and were enabled to cause a great slaughter of the Syrians. King Ben-hadad of Syria managed to escape on horseback together with his horsemen. What a reason for the ten-tribe Kingdom of Israel to know that the God of victory is Jehovah! However, Jehovah knew that the Syrians had not learned their lesson but would misinterpret their humiliating defeat and that therefore King Ben-hadad would muster up new military forces and resume the attack on Samaria in the following year. By means of a prophet Jehovah mercifully forewarned King Ahab of this and told him to strengthen himself for this in advance.—1 Kings 20:22-25.
21. At King Ben-hadad’s return in force, why did God say that he would intervene this time for the Israelites?
21 Jehovah’s prophecy did not fail, for in the following year King Ben-hadad did come back with apparently overwhelming military forces, to fight against the God of Israel, this time on the level land. “And,” says the historic record, “the sons of Israel went into camp in front of them like two tiny flocks of goats, while the Syrians, for their part, filled the earth. Then the man of the true God approached and said to the king of Israel, yes, he went on to say: ‘This is what Jehovah has said, “For the reason that the Syrians have said: ‘Jehovah is a God of mountains, and he is not a God of low plains,’ I shall have to give all this great crowd into your hand, and you men will certainly know that I am Jehovah.”’”—1 Kings 20:26-28.
22. How did the later battle engagement turn out, and why did King Ahab return to Samaria dejected?
22 A week later the battle engagement took place, and the Syrians were proved wrong in their estimate of Jehovah. In one day the Israelites whom He was backing slaughtered a hundred thousand Syrian footmen and, by no mere accident, a wall of the city of Aphek to which the surviving Syrians had fled fell down upon twenty-seven thousand of them and killed them. The defeated King Ben-hadad felt obliged to hand himself over to the victors and trust to their tender mercies. Because King Ahab did not put the finishing touch to this God-given victory by acting as Jehovah’s executioner and killing the God-defying King Ben-hadad, Jehovah expressed his disapproval of King Ahab. Because King Ahab now had reason to believe that what Jehovah’s prophet said would come in punishment for this failure, King Ahab returned to Samaria, not flushed with victory, but dejected.—1 Kings 20:29-43.
23, 24. What national calamity did the ten-tribe Kingdom of Israel finally suffer, and what does 2 Kings 18:11, 12 state to be the reason why?
23 The national outcome to the ten-tribe Kingdom of Israel stands as a solemn warning to the nations of Christendom today. Because the Israelites failed to profit religiously from having learned that the God of salvation is Jehovah, they suffered national disaster in the year 740 B.C.E. In that year, because of their continuing to worship false gods and to violate the commandments of Jehovah, their ruin as an independent nation was consummated with the destruction of their capital city, not by the Syrians, but by the then Second World Power, Assyria. The surviving Israelites were carried off into exile in the distant provinces of Assyria, where the prophets of Jehovah did not visit them. Thus the Jehovah-forsaking Kingdom of Israel lasted for only 257 years. The nations of Christendom today have no reason for mistaking why this national calamity befell the ten-tribe Kingdom of Israel, for the inspired prophet and Bible writer (Jeremiah) states why, saying:
24 “Over the fact that they had not listened to the voice of Jehovah their God, but kept overstepping his covenant, even all that Moses the servant of Jehovah had commanded. They neither listened nor performed.”—2 Kings 18:11, 12.
BABYLON AND OTHER NATIONS HAD TO KNOW HIM
25. What did the prophet Isaiah foretell about the exile of the people of the Kingdom of Judah and of their restoration to their homeland?
25 The sister kingdom composed of the two remaining tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with capital at Jerusalem, continued on for 133 years more. In this kingdom of Judah Jehovah raised up his prophet Isaiah more than thirty-five years before the destruction of Samaria by Assyria, the Second World Power. Under inspiration of the spirit of Jehovah the prophet Isaiah foretold that in course of time Jerusalem also would be destroyed by the next world power, Babylon, and that the land of Judah would be left lying desolate because the surviving inhabitants would be carried off into exile in Babylonia. But in Jehovah’s due time Babylon itself would be overthrown as the Third World Power, and the conquering king, Cyrus, whom Isaiah foretold by name, would let the Jewish exiles return to their homeland and cultivate it again to become like a paradise. The returned exiles were also to rebuild the holy city of Jerusalem and its temple for the worship of Jehovah. (Isaiah 44:24 to 45:7; 35:1-10) Using this bringing back of the Jewish exiles as a prophetic picture of something still greater to occur in our own twentieth century, Isaiah went on to say:
26. At whose signal were the exiles to be brought home, and how, and with what knowledge resulting?
26 “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: ‘Look! I shall raise up my hand even to the nations, and to the peoples I shall lift up my signal. And they will bring your sons in the bosom, and upon the shoulder they will carry your own daughters. And kings must become caretakers for you, and their princesses nursing women for you. With faces to the earth they will bow down to you, and the dust of your feet they will lick up; and you will have to know that I am Jehovah, of whom those hoping in me will not be ashamed.’”—Isaiah 49:22, 23.
27, 28. Knowledge of the restoration of the Jewish exiles was to become how widespread, and thereby who were to know that he is Jehovah?
27 By the restoring of the exiles that came in the year 537 B.C.E. more than merely the earthly organization of His witnesses were to know that he is Jehovah. The pagan nations were also to know this. This spread of such important knowledge internationally was foretold by the prophet Ezekiel after the desolation of Jerusalem and of Judah occurred in 607 B.C.E. and while the displaced Jews were still exiles in Babylon. To the desolated “mountains of Israel” the prophet Ezekiel was inspired to say as the spokesman for Jehovah (according to the American Standard Version Bible):
28 “For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown; and I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it; and the cities shall be inhabited, and the waste places shall be builded; and I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and be fruitful; and I will cause you to be inhabited after your former estate, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah.” “Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I do not this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for my holy name, which ye have profaned among the nations, whither ye went. And I will sanctify my great name, which hath been profaned among the nations, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the nations shall know that I am Jehovah, saith the Lord Jehovah, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.”—Ezekiel 36:8-11, 22, 23.
29. How is the importance of the knowing of who God is emphasized in the prophetic book of Ezekiel alone?
29 Is it important that this knowledge that he is Jehovah should be made so widespread? At least he thinks so! In the entire prophecy of Ezekiel alone the Sovereign Lord God indicates the importance of it by repeatedly declaring that nations and peoples and individuals must “know that I am Jehovah,” making such a declaration sixty-two times. The last occurrence of this outstanding expression in the prophecy of Ezekiel is in Ezekiel 39:6, 7, where the Sovereign Lord God in all earnestness says:
30. Who does the last expression in Ezekiel’s prophecy say “shall know that I am Jehovah”?
30 “And I will send a fire on Magog, and on them that dwell securely in the isles; and they shall know that I am Jehovah. And my holy name will I make known in the midst of my people Israel; neither will I suffer my holy name to be profaned any more: and the nations shall know that I am Jehovah, the Holy One in Israel.”—American Standard Version of the Bible. Note also Ezekiel 29:17, 21.
31. How does Joel’s prophecy match the militarization of the nations today, and what will those on the winning side certainly know?
31 In these critical days of our twentieth century, when the nations have militarized themselves with the deadliest of war weapons, the words of the prophet Joel seem to fit as never before, even though his words were spoken and written down in the ninth century before our Common Era and hence before Ezekiel’s prophecy: “Proclaim this, you people, among the nations, ‘Sanctify war! Arouse the powerful men! Let them draw near! Let them come up, all the men of war! Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning shears into lances.’” A conflict over world domination is impending. From its outcome, what will the people on the winning side learn? This: “You people will have to know that I am Jehovah your God, residing in Zion my holy mountain. And Jerusalem must become a holy place; and as regards strangers [worldly nations], they will no more pass through her.”—Joel 3:9, 10, 17.
32. To what extent does Ezekiel call attention to the divine name?
32 As regards the later prophet, Ezekiel, from start to finish he calls attention to the divine name. In the opening verses of his prophetic book Eze 1:1-3 he ascribes his prophecy to the inspiration of Jehovah. At the very end of his prophetic book, in the last two Hebrew words thereof, he gives the name of the Sovereign Lord God. According to the way that the New English Bible (1970) translates the very last verse, which foretells a remarkable city on earth, he says: “The perimeter of the city shall be eighteen thousand cubits, and the city’s name for ever after shall be Jehovah-shammah.” This name means “Jehovah Himself Is There.”—Ezekiel 48:35; NEB; NW.
33. Since the Jewish restoration in 537 B.C.E., what about any further need for God to make himself known by name to all nations and peoples?
33 The prophet Ezekiel completed the book of his prophecy in 591 B.C.E., fifty-four years before the exiled Jews were restored to their homeland, which occurred in 537 B.C.E. (Ezekiel 29:17) This remarkable event made some impression on the pagan nations back there. After that, was it no longer important or necessary for the Sovereign Lord God to oblige the nations and peoples to know that he is Jehovah? In our day, the day of all days, does there not exist a need as never before for Him to cause all nations of the earth to know that He is Jehovah? Certainly ours is the day for the one living and true God to step forward and make himself known by his name to all nations and peoples. He needs to do this in vindication of his very existence, his Godship, his Creatorship, his truthfulness and his universal sovereignty. Yes! The very expression “Sovereign Lord Jehovah” occurs 215 times in Ezekiel’s prophecy.
34 In this the last third of the twentieth century one thing must not be overlooked with respect to that last declaration of God’s purpose, in Ezekiel 39:7, that “the nations shall know that I am Jehovah.” What is that? This: the prophecy must come true “in the latter years,” “in the final part of the days.” (Ezekiel 38:8, 16, AS, NW) When we take into consideration all things since World War I, which broke out in 1914 C.E., more than fifty-six years ago, the foretold latter years and days, the final part of the years and days, ought to be upon us soon! All nations of today are on the brink of coming to a knowledge of this one living and true God, Jehovah, in a way that they never knew him before. Not one of us can escape it. We are all part of those nations. Do we stand to gain or to lose when there is imparted to us that highly important knowledge of Jehovah?
35. In view of God’s oft-declared purpose, into what prophetic book does it behoove us to peer now, and in what way is it best to come to know Jehovah?
35 Since He made so many declarations about what nations and peoples must come to know, then, whether we now like Jehovah and his name or not, it behooves us to peer into the prophetic book of Ezekiel. Thus we can observe how outstanding parts of it have had modern-day fulfillment. Many honest-hearted persons today are still confused about the Supreme Being, the Almighty God. They cannot do otherwise than benefit themselves by discovering his wise and timely counsel for today. Why be forced to know that he is Jehovah in the way that Pharaoh, ancient ruler of Egypt, was? Far better is it for us as lovers of life and happiness to accept his gracious invitation to come to know Him now in a peaceful, friendly way.