Jehovah’s Change of Instrument
1. (a) How do we know that Jehovah’s purpose will be carried out without fail? (b) Does this mean he cannot change the instrument he chooses to use?
“I AM the Divine One and there is no other God, . . . the One telling from the beginning the finale, and from long ago the things that have not been done; the One saying, ‘My own counsel will stand, and everything that is my delight I shall do.’” (Isa. 46:9, 10) Jehovah, with his perfect wisdom and foresight, with his unlimited power and resources, does not need to change his purpose when once it has been determined. No unforeseen emergency can arise, no crafty enemy can make a surprise move or attack, causing Jehovah to alter his purpose. That does not mean, however, that Jehovah may not change the instrument that he chooses to use in the outworking of his purpose. It is such a change that we wish to examine in our next line of evidence respecting the Bible’s single, divine Authorship.
2. What was the conception of Jehovah’s instrument according to the writers of the Hebrew Scriptures?
2 As before, we will first look at the question from the human viewpoint. Presuming the Hebrew Scriptures were but the product of devout Hebrew writers, we ask, What was their conception of Jehovah’s instrument? The answer is clear. Their writings unanimously declare that it was their own nation, God’s chosen people, Israel. As the prophet Amos wrote, Jehovah said concerning them: “You people only have I known out of all the families of the ground.”—Amos 3:2.
3, 4. (a) How do those Scriptures show that Israel was fully qualified to be God’s chosen instrument? (b) How might some argue as to the inspiration of the Hebrew Scriptures?
3 The Hebrew Scriptures build up a complete, harmonious pattern as to Israel’s qualifications for being such a chosen instrument. Besides coming within the scope of the great Abrahamic covenant, with its promised seed, the Messiah, foretold to come through them, they also had their own law covenant. This was instituted at Mount Sinai, through their national leader Moses. This covenant specifically made them a nation separate from all others, Jehovah’s “special property.” Besides, they also had their own priesthood, with an unbroken line of high priests. They had their tabernacle, with its Ark representing Jehovah’s presence, and later their temple, with all the prescribed sacrifices to be offered on its altar. In due time they had their line of kings, and though there had been no one of this line ruling over them from the time of going into captivity to Babylon in 607 B.C., their Scriptures contained promises of an ultimate restoration. For instance, the prophet Ezekiel recorded that Jehovah said concerning Israel’s throne and rulership: “It will certainly become no one’s until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give it to him.”—Ex. 19:5; Ezek. 21:27.
4 Many might argue that none of the foregoing would necessarily require divine intervention or divine inspiration to direct the theme of those Hebrew writings. Could it not have been just human inspiration prompting those men, all of them Hebrews, to write thus of their own people? Was it not the natural expression of their nationalistic spirit and fervor?
5. What can be said of the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures, and how can Paul be cited as an example?
5 All right! Again we will put this theory to the test. We will not stop just now to give the various reasons, beyond those already mentioned that give strong evidence of divine direction, not only in their sacred writings, but in the actual outworking of Israel’s history as a nation. Instead, we will pass straight on to that later and smaller group of writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures. First, please note that these Christian writers, all of them, were also Hebrews, or Jews. As such, they would naturally be expected to have the same nationalistic spirit and outlook as their predecessors. An outstanding example in proof of this is the apostle Paul, who described his original status and condition in these words: “A Hebrew born from Hebrews; as respects law, a Pharisee; as respects zeal, persecuting the congregation [of Christians]; as respects righteousness that is by means of law, one who proved himself blameless.”—Phil. 3:5, 6.
6. (a) What change of instrument is shown by these Christian writers? (b) How is it evident that the disciples, while with Jesus, had no expectation of any such change?
6 Now comes the question, What was the conception of these Christian writers as to Jehovah’s instrument? Speaking humanly, we would have to say that they produced a completely new instrument for the outworking of the divine purpose. They showed a change of instrument; no longer fleshly Israel under their mediator, Moses, but instead, spiritual Israel, the Christian church, or congregation, under its Head and Mediator, Christ Jesus. How is this explained? Our friends will say, It was Jesus himself who, when on earth, was responsible for putting this new conception into the minds of his disciples. Ah! no, we say, that just is not true. The record discloses that not even his closest followers had the slightest expectation, or even a glimmering, that God was about to change his instrument. This is proved by two references. First, when Jesus, after his resurrection, appeared to the two disciples on their way to Emmaus, they said to him (not knowing who he was): “We were hoping that this man [Jesus] was the one destined to deliver Israel.” Secondly, and more pointedly, on the last occasion when the resurrected Jesus appeared to his disciples, they asked him: “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” Even then, Jesus did not tell them of a change of instrument, or that they needed to alter their conception of things. He simply said: “It does not belong to you to get knowledge of the times or seasons which the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction.” If anything, this would confirm their thought that God would still keep to the same instrument, but merely that the time for its restoration would be later than they had anticipated.—Luke 24:21; Acts 1:6, 7.
7. Comparing our position with that of those disciples, how is it seen that we cannot afford to boast in comparison to them?
7 Are any of our readers tempted to think that, if they had been with Jesus during his earthly ministry, they would have gotten the idea that some change was imminent? We remind you that, though Jehovah’s witnesses had made a clean break from many of Christendom’s false doctrines ever since 1879, when this magazine was first published, it was not until 1932 that it was realized that we had been following a false trail with respect to the natural Jews. Like many others, we had expected them to return to Palestine and then be restored to God’s favor and be used by him as an earthly part of his instrument in the millennial reign of Christ. It was only in 1932 that it began to be clearly seen that the true “Israel of God,” the chosen instrument for the major fulfillment of the many Hebrew prophecies of restoration, would be composed, not of natural Jews circumcised in the flesh, but of spiritual Jews or Israelites, that is, spirit-begotten Christians. As Paul argues: “He is a Jew who is one on the inside, and his circumcision is that of the heart by spirit, and not by a written code.” We therefore have nothing to boast over any more than those early followers of Jesus.—Gal. 6:16; Rom. 2:28, 29.
8. What pattern does God’s new instrument follow, but does this mean merely lifting it to a higher human level?
8 Taking a closer look at this new instrument as described by the Christian writers, what do we find? The first remarkable thing we notice is how closely it follows the same pattern as fleshly Israel. But by no means can it be asserted that this latter group of Bible writers merely lifts the conception of God’s instrument to a higher human level. Rather, we have to admit that in their writings the conception is lifted to a level the like of which had never before entered the mind of mortal man. In fact, to this day, as we shall show, this conception is not really appreciated, and certainly not duplicated or followed by men, not even by those of Christendom who reckon to accept the Bible as God’s Word. How do we prove this?
9, 10. (a) How was fleshly Israel specifically made a “holy nation”? (b) How was Israel otherwise qualified to be called a nation, leading to what question for further discussion?
9 Going back again to fleshly Israel, we saw that the first distinguishing feature in their case was that they were, in themselves, a separate nation, especially from the time of the law covenant at Mount Sinai. As Jehovah instructed Moses then to tell the Israelites: “If you will strictly obey my voice and will indeed keep my covenant, . . . you yourselves will become to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Ex. 19:5, 6) Of course, apart from that, they would still have been a separate nation. They met the fundamental requirements for the term “nation” to be used in their case. The Israelites were of a common stock, descending from Abraham, through Isaac and Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. (Gen. 32:28) They spoke the same language, Hebrew. Their institutions, customs and traditions were all held in common. They were all subject to the one government, with its set of laws. Even during their forty years’ wandering in the wilderness, they never scattered, like nomads, but kept close together. They finally entered their promised inheritance, dwelling in their own land, with its well-defined boundaries—a nation in every accepted sense of the word.
10 It is not necessary for a people to comply with all the foregoing characteristics in order to be properly called a nation. Fleshly Israel, however, did indeed fulfill them all. But how does this apply in the case of the Christian church? Is this new instrument a properly constituted nation? We will examine this question in the next issue of The Watchtower.