A Universal Court Case
DID you know that there is a universal court case now being tried? that witnesses are being called and arguments being heard? In this case almost everyone is interested, though he may not understand all the issues thoroughly; and everyone is involved, whether he knows it or not. Everyone is a witness in this case, for one side or the other. The question at issue is: Is there a true God who has the power and the willingness to deliver mankind from their present distressful and seemingly inextricable condition and bring about the right kind of government?
People are bearing witness for their gods and are holding them up as the means by which the world will be saved. Babylon the Great, the empire of worldly religion, is especially interested in this controversy, particularly the part of Babylon known as Christendom, which represents a trinitarian god. Looked to also as deliverers are communism, science and national governments. Then there are Jehovah’s witnesses, Christians who are most active in bearing witness, who say that Jehovah is the name of the true God and that he will bring deliverance and peace to the earth. They point out that the Bible explains this God and his purposes and that he is no trinitarian god, but alone is supreme and is the Universal Sovereign.
In order to make a decision on a case, lawyers and judges always look for precedents, especially those set by decisions of higher courts. On this universal case, in which even the heavens are interested, we therefore look for a precedent. We find a very conclusive one, in which we have a record of the testimony of witnesses, the arguments in the case, the decision and ruling of the court. Moreover, we find that it is a judgment of the highest Court, the Supreme Court over the universe. So if we want to take the right side in this matter we can check; we do not have to guess or be left in doubt; we can thoroughly investigate all the litigants, all the events involved, all the evidence and the arguments; and we will find that they exactly correspond with the factors existing and the arguments presented in the controversy today, enabling us to see the issue and know the correct position to take. We find this precedent in what took place between ancient Israel and Babylon.
The one used to make a court record of that case is the prophet Isaiah, who did his prophesying and his writing between about 775 and 732 B.C.E. The Israelites had been witnesses of a great deliverance by Jehovah from Egypt centuries before, but now they were to be witnesses of something greater. Since they themselves had become blind in failing to see or recognize God and deaf as to hearing his commands with obedience, they would suffer adverse judgment and be scattered, but he would regather them for his glory. (Isa. 43:1-7) In the court session that Jehovah would call, they would be his witnesses. On the opposing side would be the worldly nations, supporting gods of their own making. In this judicial inquiry the point to be proved before everyone was, Who is the true God?
Let us look in on the courtroom. On one side are Jehovah’s people Israel; on the other side, the worldly nations. We shall listen to the testimony and the arguments presented in the case.
GODS OF THE NATIONS CHALLENGED
Jehovah is the first speaker. He addresses the officers of the crowded courtroom: “Bring forth a people blind though eyes themselves exist, and the ones deaf though they have ears. Let the nations all be collected together at one place, and let national groups be gathered together. 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, or let them hear and say, ‘It is the truth!’” Jehovah here issues a challenge directed, not against the nations, but against their gods.—Isa. 43:8, 9.
The worldly nations come to the witness stand. They feverishly discuss the matter with one another. It is not a question of what they can do, but a question concerning what their gods can do. They search the records. Can anyone of their gods tell the first things, that is, the things still ahead in the future? If they can find an instance where that has been done, then they can find a witness among their number, or perhaps more than one, to relate how and where their gods foretold the future correctly, and can say: ‘“It is the truth!” Our gods have spoken the truth and proved themselves true gods.’
But the court, despite all the clamor and confusion of the devotees of the worldly rival gods whom Jehovah challenges, hears only silence from the worldly nations as to the issue. Not one can produce any evidence that his god is a living, true god, able to make prophecy or to bring about any reliable, accurate statement concerning the future. On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that their gods are impotent; for example, the trial that God’s prophet Elijah had carried out years before with the priests of Baal.—1 Ki. 18:21-40.
Jehovah speaks again, turning to his people Jacob or Israel, whom he created and formed, and makes plain to them their responsibility in this universal controversy over the question, Who is God? He says: “‘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 [El] 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 [El].’”—Isa. 43:10-12.
JEHOVAH THE ONLY ETERNAL GOD
But before Jehovah’s people answer, the nations are put on the stand as to the age of their gods. They have rejected Jehovah and have formed gods of their own, but none of them can show where they have formed a god who was ahead of Jehovah. The strongest testimony these nations can give is that they can trace their own existence only since the flood of Noah’s day. Jehovah has witnesses prior to that, all the way back to Abel, the second son of Adam. And Jehovah himself had no beginning; he always existed.—Heb. 11:1-7; 12:1; Ps. 90:1, 2.
Jehovah’s people Israel can testify that he had already said, through Isaiah: “I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to no one else shall I give my own glory, neither my praise to graven images.” (Isa. 42:8) So he had certainly not formed any god [el] superior or equal to himself. The Israelites are also witnesses to the fact that in past deliverances it was Jehovah who saved them, because he acted in their behalf only when they had cleaned out all other gods, ‘when there was no strange god among them.’ They therefore knew that Babylon would experience the truth of God’s statement: “Also, all the time I am the same One; and there is no one effecting deliverance out of my own hand. I shall get active, and who can turn it [my hand] back?”—Isa. 43:13.
ONLY JEHOVAH KNOWS THE FUTURE
Jehovah now puts himself on record as forecasting something that his people would be able to bear witness to in the future when he says: “This is what Jehovah has said, the Repurchaser of you people, the Holy One of Israel: ‘For your sakes I will send to Babylon and cause the bars of the prisons to come down, and the Chaldeans in the ships with whining cries on their part. I am Jehovah your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.”’—Isa. 43:14, 15.
Babylon was a commercial and manufacturing people and did much business on land and sea. According to Huet’s History of Commerce (Histoire du Commerce), chapter 11, Babylon is said to have had a fleet of three thousand galleys. Boats, or barges, were provided for the Babylonian gods to use on Babylon’s waterways. These ships would be overthrown when God would release his people. Then he would bring his people back home to Palestine, and they would have new things to bear witness to, and evidence that he had wiped out their transgressions and remembered their sins no more.—Isa. 43:16-28.
Jehovah shows his people that when this deliverance and return should take place they would be glad to be known as his people. He says: “And now listen, O Jacob my servant, . . . This is what Jehovah has said, your Maker and your Former, who kept helping you even from the belly, ‘Do not be afraid, O my servant Jacob, . . . I shall pour out my spirit upon your seed, and my blessing upon your descendants. And they will certainly spring up as among the green grass, . . . This one will say: “I belong to Jehovah.” And that one will call himself by the name of Jacob, and another will write upon his hand: “Belonging to Jehovah.” And by the name of Israel one will betitle himself.”’—Isa. 44:1-5.
Why does Jehovah do most of the speaking in this case? Because when the nations are called upon they fail to have an answer. Jehovah makes the challenge stronger to prompt an answer from them: “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 [Elohím]. 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.’”
But no answer is forthcoming from the nations.
This is something that should encourage Jehovah’s people to become even more bold in their testifying to him and to his sovereignty. He encourages them: “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 [Eloah] besides me? No, there is no Rock. I have recognized none.”—Isa. 44:6-8.
DEVOTEES OF WORLDLY GODS ASHAMED
The witnesses for the gods of the worldly nations have rejected Jehovah and his Word, so they should have something to say to justify their gods. But the trouble is, the gods they have they have manufactured for themselves, and the worshipers are like the gods they have made—they are nothing, and hear nothing in proof of godship on the part of their man-made deities, and are therefore put to shame. Why are they in this embarrassed state? Jehovah explains: “The formers of the carved image are all of them an unreality, . . . 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, . . . They will all of them collect themselves together. They will stand still. They will be in dread. They will be ashamed at the same time.”—Isa. 44:9-11.
The witnesses out of the worldly nations stand absolutely stupefied and silent before the court. There is no point in calling further on them for evidence; so Jehovah spurs his witnesses on to speak out and calls upon all heaven and earth to rejoice at what he has to say about the coming liberation of his forgiven people from Babylon. He says to them: “Remember these things, O Jacob, and you, O Israel, because you are my servant. I have formed you. 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. Do return to me, for I will repurchase you.”
In forgiving his people he hides their transgressions from him, just as though a cloud blocked his vision. And then he says: “Joyfully cry out, you heavens, for Jehovah has taken action! Shout in triumph, all you lowest parts of the earth! . . . For Jehovah has repurchased Jacob, and on Israel he shows his beauty.”—Isa. 44:21-23.
And now, by a powerful forecast that brings the test to a climax to show that he is the one true God, Jehovah prophesies: “This is what Jehovah has said, your Repurchaser and the Former of you from the belly: ‘I, Jehovah, am doing everything, stretching out the heavens by myself, laying out the earth. Who was with me? I am frustrating the signs of the empty talkers, and I am the One that makes diviners themselves act crazily; the One turning wise men backwards, and the One that turns even their knowledge into foolishness; the One making the word of his servant come true, and the One that carries out completely the counsel of his own messengers; the One saying of Jerusalem, “She will be inhabited,” and of the cities of Judah, “They will be rebuilt, and her desolated places I shall raise up”; the One saying to the watery deep, “Be evaporated; and all your rivers I shall dry up.”’”—Isa. 44:24-27.
JEHOVAH AND HIS WITNESSES VINDICATED
The fortunetellers, the diviners, the astrologers, the political forecasters who made unfavorable predictions toward Jehovah’s people (particularly the forecasters of Babylon)—all these Jehovah has proved to be frustrated fools, having things backward. At the same time he has proved his own servants, his messengers, his witnesses like Isaiah and Jeremiah, to be true by fulfilling the inspired counsel he gave through these prophets. Even though Judah and Jerusalem were absolutely desolate without human inhabitant for seventy years, they would be rebuilt at Jehovah’s command. What if the Euphrates River, the “watery deep,” formed the main defense of the walled city of Babylon? It would be as though it evaporated. The tributaries of the Euphrates would pour their water into it for nothing. Babylon would fall.
The facts corroborate the prophecy. Ancient Babylon, the Third World Power, is no more. What, then, was the Supreme Court’s decision on this ancient issue? That Jehovah alone is the one living and true God who fulfills his prophetic word. We can review the record even more thoroughly, and we shall find that history proves Jehovah God true.*
After our reviewing the record, what stand will we take as individuals? is the question. We can and must become witnesses for one side or the other. Our choice determines our own destiny, because even though God proved himself true in connection with Babylon and his people Israel, the issue is now alive on a larger scale and is being pressed for settlement. Babylon the Great stands now as the foremost earthly opponent of God in this case. Do we, then, want to be witnesses for the gods of Babylon the Great, and prove ourselves false witnesses, frustrated fools? In God’s law to his ancient people Israel, a witness who lied about God or blasphemed him was put to death. Will we, after reviewing the facts, make the proper choice and be true witnesses of Jehovah? If so, then God will be our Repurchaser. He is both able and willing to help us and to give us life. The Supreme Court is sitting. Jehovah the Judge calls on all to bring forth their testimony. There is no middle ground. We are either actively for Jehovah God or actively or tacitly for the gods of this world. Make your choice, and know that your decision means life or death for you.
For fuller discussion, see the book “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules!, published by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn, New York.