1. To whom are the challenging words of Jehovah addressed?
WHOM does Jehovah mean when he says concerning all the nations and national groups: “Who is there among them that can tell this? Or can they cause us to hear even the first things? Let them furnish their witnesses, that they may be declared righteous”? By those challenging words Jehovah means the gods of all those nations and national groups. These gods are the ones that are called upon to furnish witnesses who by their testimony can prove that their gods are gods of prophecy and are righteous gods, the right gods to be worshiped, gods who can clear themselves of the charge of being false gods. Let such gods plead their case in court against Jehovah.
2. While there has been plenty of time for Jehovah’s words to be proved true, what pointed questions are asked of all other gods, including Christendom’s trinitarian god?
2 Jehovah’s written Word, the Holy Bible, was completed by the end of the first century C.E. In the more than eighteen centuries since then there has been plenty of time for Jehovah’s prophecies written in his Word over his own name to be fulfilled. But what about the gods of all the worldly nations, including the trinitarian god of Christendom? Was there or is there among all the nations of this world any god that “can tell this,” that is, tell what Jehovah has told in his written Word? Or can those gods of the nations “cause us to hear even the first things,” that is, things in advance? Did those gods make predictions in the past that later on came true in the past? Did those gods make predictions concerning the present time of perplexity? Do the events and conditions of the world since A.D. 1914 prove that those gods spoke the truth and that they are truthful gods of prophecy who have the power to make their prophecy come true?
3. What are these gods called on to do?
3 Let these gods bring forth their witnesses from all the many nations whose total population today numbers over three thousand millions. Surely among so many people the gods should find the required two or three witnesses to prove them to be true gods. Let these witnesses hear what their gods have to say in their sacred religious books in order that such witnesses may point to and say regarding the prophecy of their gods: ‘“It is the truth!” Our gods have proved true!’
4, 5. (a) How many of the gods of the nations are able to produce witnesses to their godship? (b) What does Jehovah now say?
4 Where, though, in the midst of the world trouble do those gods have witnesses who are thus testifying, “It is the truth!” concerning their gods? Which of those gods has foretold for any length of time in advance this present anguish of nations with perplexity and then provided an explanation of it and foretold its outcome? Not one of those gods can furnish the required number of witnesses to this effect! Not one of such gods can be declared righteous by proofs submitted by witnesses on earth. But there is one God who has done these things by which to prove his Godship. To his representatives in court he now speaks:
5 “‘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, 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.’”—Isa. 43:10-12.
6. Who are these serving the true God as his witnesses and how are they made witnesses?
6 Plain common sense has to agree in all honesty that persons who thus serve in this spiritual court trial are Jehovah’s witnesses. A person does not prove that he is one of Jehovah’s witnesses by just adopting the name and advertising himself as such. Back in the year 1931 dedicated Christian Bible students, being gathered together in international assembly in Columbus, Ohio, embraced that name by formal resolution, after which Christian congregations around the earth adopted that same resolution in order to be publicly identified by that designation. Today there are upward of 22,761 congregations in 194 lands who are known as Jehovah’s witnesses. Their adopting the resolution concerning the name did not in itself make them his witnesses. It is Jehovah himself who makes his own witnesses and they have to meet his conditions before he chooses them.
7. How is proof given that one is a witness of the true God?
7 Witnesses have to be wholly dedicated to Jehovah God through Jesus Christ as the Mediator of the new covenant, that they may become members of spiritual Israel. This puts them under the obligation to be Jehovah’s witnesses, because his name is called upon them and they bear his name. However, they must prove that they actually are such by bearing witness to his name, in this way proving their faith by their works. Did any persons of our day make such a proof prior to the year 1931?
8, 9. (a) What may those in doubt about this do? (b) Why is the charge that Jehovah’s witnesses have arbitrarily interpreted Isaiah 43:10 and applied it to themselves a false one?
8 Let any person in doubt examine the history of Jehovah’s witnesses from the year 1919, and particularly from 1926, down to July 26, 1931, when this designation was embraced, and he will find that these dedicated, baptized Christians met Jehovah’s requirements for being His witnesses. In a book entitled “Religion in the Soviet Union,” the well-known journalist and writer on political affairs, Walter Kolarz, tells on pages 338-344 about the campaign of Communist Russia to destroy Jehovah’s witnesses, but he opens up saying:
The name ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ has been in use since 1931. The members of the sect trace it back to various arbitrarily interpreted Bible passages, especially to Isaiah (43.10) ‘Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen. . . .’ This is changed into ‘Ye are my witnesses, says Jehovah.’ Jesus himself was ‘Jehovah’s Chief Witness’. Until 1931 members of the sect were known by various other names such as ‘Bible Students’ or ‘Russellites’ . . .
9 However, in this regard Jehovah’s witnesses are not guilty of what Kolarz calls “various arbitrarily interpreted Bible passages,” and they did not change the expression “the Lord” into the name “Jehovah.” They merely used such modern translations as the American Standard Version, Robert Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible, and so forth, instead of the antiquated three-hundred-year-old Authorized or King James Version of the Bible published away back in 1611. Such modern translations do not mistranslate God’s name.
WITNESSES FOR MESSIAH
10. For whom else are genuine Christians to act as witnesses?
10 It is true that genuine Christians, such as Jehovah’s witnesses of today are, must be witnesses of Jesus Christ. Just before ascending to heaven Jesus said to his disciples: “You are to be witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:48), and, “You will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) And in the last book of the Bible it speaks of the true Christians as those “who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” (Rev. 12:17; 1:9; 19:10; 20:4) So, even since 1931, Jehovah’s witnesses have continued to bear witness to Jesus, and this they do because they “observe the commandments of God.”
11, 12. (a) Why must Jehovah’s witnesses testify in behalf of both Jehovah and Jesus? (b) With what was Jesus anointed, and by whom?
11 However, in the last book of the Bible, its writer the apostle John says concerning himself as a Christian: “John, who bare witness of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 1:1, 2, American Standard Version) A true Christian has to bear witness of both God and of his Christ or Messiah. Let no one forget or hide the fact that the title Christ or Messiah means “Anointed One.” For there to be an anointed one there has to be an anointer or anointing one. So, in order to bear full witness concerning Jesus Christ, we also have to bear witness to the One who anointed Jesus and made him the Christ or Messiah. We have to bear witness to the Anointer as well as the Anointed One. Well, then who anointed Jesus, and with what—oil, or what? Jesus himself tells us who anointed him. When, in the Jewish synagogue, the book of Isaiah was handed to him, he turned to chapter sixty-one, verses one and two, and read them in the Hebrew, as follows:
12 “The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me; because Jehovah hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me . . . ; to proclaim the year of Jehovah’s favor.” (Isa. 61:1, 2, AS) After reading those words in the Hebrew text, in which the Hebrew name of God occurs (יהוה), he opened up his sermon to the Jews, saying: “To-day hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears.” (Luke 4:16-21, AS) Thus Jesus publicly said that the Lord Jehovah had anointed him with holy spirit. Jesus on earth did not anoint himself with holy spirit from heaven. Three and a half years later he baptized his disciples with holy spirit from heaven, but Jesus did not baptize himself with spirit. The Lord Jehovah did that; and Jesus said that the Lord Jehovah was the One who sent him to preach and to “proclaim the year of Jehovah’s favor.” So Jesus and Jehovah are not the same individual. Jehovah is the Sender; Jesus is the Sent One. Jehovah is the Anointer; Jesus is the Anointed One or Messiah.
13. Of whom was Jesus a witness, and what proof did he give of this?
13 Jesus was all the time bearing witness of his Anointer, who is the Lord Jehovah. Jesus was born under the obligation to be a witness of Jehovah, for, by the Jewish virgin girl Mary, Jesus was born into the very nation to whom God by his prophet Isaiah said: “Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen.” (Isa. 43:10, AS) On trial for his life before the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate, Jesus said: “To this end have I been born, and to this end am I come into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” (John 18:37, AS) Bear witness to whose truth? In his last prayer with his apostles Jesus said to God in heaven: “Sanctify them in the truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17, AS) It was the truth of the Lord Jehovah.
14. What did John say about Jesus as a witness?
14 There was every reason why the apostle John, in the last book of the Bible, should call Jesus Christ “the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. . . . and he made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father.” (Rev. 1:5, 6, AS) And the apostle John quoted Jesus as saying to him: “These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.”—Rev. 3:14, AS; AV.
15. What further evidence have we to show that Jesus was obliged to be a witness of Jehovah?
15 Of whom was Jesus Christ “the faithful and true witness”? By his birth into the nation to whom the words of Isaiah 43:10-12 were directed, Jesus Christ was obliged to be a witness of Jehovah. He lived up to this obligation, for all the written record as to what he said and as to all the Hebrew scriptures that he quoted proves that he was Jehovah’s witness. If the question were today directed to Jesus Christ, Of which God are you a witness? he would reply: Of Jehovah! He was and still is in heaven the “faithful and true witness” of “his God and Father.”—Rev. 1:5, 6, AS.
16. To whom else besides Jewish Christians are the words of Isaiah 43:10-12 addressed?
16 In this respect all his disciples must copy him, whether they be natural-born Jews or Gentiles. (1 Cor. 11:1) Gentile Christians as well as Jewish Christians must be Jehovah’s witnesses, for at the conference of the apostles and elders in Jerusalem it was to the Gentile Christians that the disciple James applied the prophecy of Amos 9:11, 12 and said: “Symeon hath rehearsed how first God visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written.” (Acts 15:14, 15, AS) Hence God’s name Jehovah is called upon the Gentile Christians as well as the natural-born Jewish Christians, and for this reason Isaiah 43:10-12 is directed to Gentile Christians who belong to spiritual Israel as well as to Jews who are converted to discipleship of Jesus Christ.
17. If Christendom were to live up to its claim, what would all of her people be?
17 This is no case of tracing the designation Jehovah’s witnesses “back to various arbitrarily interpreted Bible passages,” as Kolarz says. God’s holy spirit by the disciple James shows that there must be such persons as Jehovah’s witnesses and also shows who they are. If Christendom were living up to its claim of being Christian, then everyone in Christendom who professes to be a Christian would be one of Jehovah’s witnesses. There is no escaping it.
NO GOD FORMED BEFORE OR AFTER
18. How does Christendom’s clergy claim that they are Jehovah’s witnesses, and what interpretation do they place on Isaiah 43:10?
18 Clergymen of Christendom cannot defend themselves by saying that they are Jehovah’s witnesses by being witnesses of Jesus because, as they say, Jehovah is the Old Testament name for Jesus and so Jesus is Jehovah and they (the clergy) merely use Jesus instead of the name Jehovah. They point to Isaiah 43:10 in which Jehovah says not only “Ye are my witnesses” but also these words (in the King James Version): “Before me there was no God formed,a neither shall there be after me.” And also to Isa 43 verse 11, which reads (in the same King James Version): “I, even I, am the LORD; and besides me there is no saviour.” This, the clergy say, proves that Jehovah and Jesus are one and the same God, because here the Lord Jehovah says: “Besides me there is no saviour,” and the New Testament says that Jesus is our Savior.
19. What do the clergy of Christendom overlook by this interpretation?
19 In arguing this way those clergymen do not point to the later prophecy of Obadiah, verse 21 (AV; AS; RS), which reads: “And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD’S.” Please, note here that there are other saviors besides the Lord Jehovah. Those clergymen also do not point to the following scriptures that speak of other saviors: “And the LORD gave Israel a saviour, so that they went out from under the hand of the Syrians.” (2 Ki. 13:5, AV) “According to thy manifold mercies thou gavest them saviours, who saved them out of the hand of their enemies.” (Neh. 9:27, AV) “And it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto the LORD of hosts . . . and he shall send them a saviour, and a great one, and he shall deliver them.” (Isa. 19:20, AV) So Jehovah can raise up others to act as saviors.
20. Explain how Jesus is a savior for mankind.
20 In harmony with this fact the Holy Scriptures testify that Jesus Christ was only an agent of Jehovah God for the salvation of mankind. In Acts 5:30-32 (AV) the Christian apostles said to the Jewish Sanhedrin: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things.” In Acts 13:23 (AV) the apostle Paul says: “Of this man’s [David’s] seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.” In 1 John 4:14 (AS) the apostle writes: “And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father hath sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” For anybody to argue that Jesus Christ is the one and only Savior would be, in the face of all these Bible texts, to deny that God, the Father of Jesus Christ, is a Savior. But God the Father is the only Source of salvation in that he sent his only-begotten Son to this earth to become the man Jesus Christ and to die as a ransom sacrifice; and God the Father raised up his Son from the dead and thus also saved his own Son.—Heb. 5:5-8.
21, 22. What argument is next used by the clergy in explaining Isaiah 43:10, and by their doing so what happens?
21 Nevertheless, not wholly satisfied with the foregoing, the clergy of Christendom refer back to Isaiah 43:10, where Jehovah, in addressing his witnesses, says: “Before me there was no God [El] formed, neither shall there be after me.” (AV) Then they point to Isaiah 9:6 (AV), which calls Jesus Christ “The mighty God [El], The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,” and they say that, since there was no God formed before Jehovah and there was to be no God after Jehovah, this proves that Jehovah and Jesus are one and the same God and that Jehovah is Jesus. They say that this also proves that the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures is wrong in translating John 1:1 as follows: “In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god,” that is, a god in addition to Jehovah.
22 By using such an argument the trinitarian clergymen lift Jehovah’s words in Isaiah 43:10 out of their context and show that they do not understand what Jehovah by his prophet is talking about.
23 In the first verse of the forty-third chapter Isa 43:1 Jehovah tells Isaiah’s people that He is the Creator of the nation of Jacob, He is the Former of the nation of Israel. Jehovah created and formed that nation. The nation of Israel did not create and form Jehovah as their God. The other nations, the Gentile nations, had created their gods and had formed images to represent their gods, but this was not the case with the nation of Israel and their God Jehovah. Because of this vital fact Jehovah challenges the many gods of the nations and tells such gods to furnish their witnesses to testify with proof that they are really gods who foreknow the future and who foretell the future. But the nation of Israel could tell many actual historical facts about their God in proof that he is a real living God, although he permits no material idol image to be made to represent him. Hence Jehovah tells the Israelites that they are his witnesses and are his servant whom he has chosen. Why?
24 Jehovah explains, saying: “In order that you [people] 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, and after me there continued to be none. I—I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior.” (Isa. 43:10, 11, New World Translation) Jehovah the God of his chosen people is not like the created, formed gods of the Gentile nations. In Isaiah 43:10 Jehovah did not say: ‘I did not form a God before me, and I did not form a God after me.’ No, but he said: “Before me there was no God formed,” that is, by others. So he is talking about other persons forming their gods.
25-27. What now does Jehovah say about godship of the gods of metal, stone and wood?
25 That Jehovah is here talking about the non-Jewish nations creating their own gods and forming metallic, stone or wooden idol images of them is very plain from the context before and after Isaiah 43:10. After telling in the rest of chapter forty-three how he will deliver his people from Babylon, where they will be exiled for sinning and transgressing against him, Jehovah goes on to say in the very next chapter:
26 “And now listen, O Jacob my servant, and you, O Israel, whom I have chosen. This is what Jehovah has said, your Maker and your Former, who kept helping you even from the belly [where you were made and formed],‘ . . . Do not be in dread, you people, and do not become stupefied. Have I not from that time on caused you individually to hear and told it out? And you are my witnesses. Does there exist a God besides me? No, there is no Rock. I have recognized none.’
27 “The formers of the carved image are all of them an unreality, and their darlings themselves will be of no benefit; and as their witnesses they see nothing and know nothing, in order that they may be ashamed. Who has formed a god or cast a mere carved image? Of no benefit at all has it been. Look! All his partners themselves will be ashamed, and the craftsmen are from earthling men. . . . As for the carver of iron with the billhook, he has been busy at it with the coals; and with the hammers he proceeds to form it, and he keeps busy at it with his powerful arm. Also, he has become hungry, and so without power. He has not drunk water; so he [the former of a metallic idol god] gets tired.” How, then, can a metalworker who gets thirsty and tired and who gets hungry and powerless form with metal a god that does not get tired and powerless?
28. How does he show the utter foolishness of the worshiper of wooden gods?
28 Then Jehovah by his prophet Isaiah goes on to tell about the wood-carver who makes a wooden god. For this purpose he selects a good tree for its wood. “He also works on a god to which he may bow down. He has made it into a carved image, and he prostrates himself to it. . . . and prays to it and says: ‘Deliver me, for you are my God.’” But the rest of the wood from that same tree does not become a god, but the wood-carver burns it for a fire at which to warm himself or to bake bread or roast meat. The wood-carver never stops to reason and say to himself: “The half of it [the tree] I have burned up in a fire, and upon its coals I have also baked bread; I roast flesh and eat. But the rest of it shall I make into a mere detestable thing [an idol]? “ How could such an idol made of wood that the wood-carver can burn in the fire be a god?—Isa. 44:1-20.
29, 30. Then what invitation does Jehovah give to his witnesses, and what does he next say to give added proof that he is a God of prophecy?
29 After this simple line of reasoning, Jehovah God addresses himself to his chosen people and says: “Remember these things, O Jacob, and you, O Israel, because you are my servant. I have formed you [not you me]. You are a servant belonging to me. O Israel, you will not be forgotten on my part. I will wipe out your transgressions just as with a cloud, and your sins just as with a cloud mass [so that I cannot see them from heaven]. Do return to me, for I will repurchase you.”—Isa. 44:21, 22.
30 After that Jehovah God the Repurchaser foretells, more than one hundred and ninety years in advance, the very name of the one who would overthrow the mighty world power of Babylon and release his people for them to return home and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. Jehovah named Cyrus, the Persian conqueror whom secular history says overthrew Babylon in 539 B.C. and afterward released the Jewish captives. Thus Jehovah repurchased his people. (Isa. 44:23-28) Is that not one of the many facts that proves that Jehovah is God, the God of true prophecy? Yes, indeed!
31. (a) Sum up now the right understanding of Isaiah 43:10. (b) What did Jehovah state he would do, however, in behalf of his only-begotten Son?
31 So, then, to come back to Isaiah 43:10, the Gentile nations of earth did not exist before Jehovah, and therefore there was no god formed by the idolatrous nations before Jehovah, who is without beginning. (Ps. 90:2) It is also true that, in all the nations that came into existence after the flood of Noah’s day four thousand three hundred years ago, no real, live god able to prophesy truly has been formed by the nations. Hence, after Jehovah, there has continued to be no God as He is. But according to his own prophecy in Isaiah 9:6, in the eighth century before Christ, he declared his purpose to make his only-begotten Son “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (AV) Jehovah did not fulfill this prophecy in Isaiah’s day or in the year when He said the words of Isaiah 43:10, 11. Well, then, when did Jehovah fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6, 7? This is what Jehovah God did with his Son in the first century of our Common Era, which Son of God became Jesus Christ.
32. What, then, is our conclusion about Jehovah God?
32 Is there, then, any God like Jehovah, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ? No, we can bear witness that there is none. To this day it remains true that, as the Almighty God of true prophecy, he is the First and the Last, and no creatures in heaven and earth can form any god like him; no creature can even constitute himself a god in comparison with Jehovah. As it is written in Isaiah 44:6, 7: “This is what Jehovah has said, the King of Israel and the Repurchaser of him, Jehovah of armies, ‘I am the first and I am the last, and besides me there is no God. And who is there like me? Let him call out, that he may tell it and present it to me. From when I appointed the people of long ago, both the things coming and the things that will enter in let them tell on their part.’”
33. (a) Has there been any God that could meet Jehovah’s challenge on Godship? (b) What, therefore, should each of us resolve to be?
33 To this day no god of the worldly nations has answered that divine challenge. Not one of their gods has produced witnesses and given them evidence in proof of his godship. But, to the contrary, Jehovah the Challenger has given his representatives the evidence in proof of his own Godship. In his Holy Bible and in the recorded facts of history the evidence is before us concerning the Godship of Jehovah. If you are not an atheist or an agnostic, but if you follow some religion inside or outside of Christendom, the question is put to you, Of which God are you a witness? Regardless of how all the rest of the world answers, we as followers and imitators of the Lord Jesus Christ answer, We are the Christian witnesses of Jehovah!
a In the King James Version Bible with marginal references another reading for “no God formed” is given, namely: “nothing formed of God.”
[Picture on page 117]
With part of the wood he makes a god to worship and with another part he cooks his food