The Universal Court Case That Involves You
“‘Bring your controversial case forward,’ says Jehovah. ‘Produce your arguments.’”—ISAIAH 41:21.
1, 2. (a) Who is involved in the most crucial court case ever to be argued? (b) What is at issue?
THROUGHOUT history there have been countless court cases. In these, witnesses have been brought forth and evidence presented to contend for one side or the other. Many of these cases have involved individuals, while others have affected greater numbers of people. But all such cases pale into insignificance compared to the universal court case that is now being argued. It is by far the most crucial court case in history. Its results will affect every person on earth, whether he chooses to be involved or not.
2 The central figure in this case is the highest personage in the universe, Jehovah God, “the Creator of the heavens and the Grand One stretching them out; the One laying out the earth and its produce, the One giving breath to the people on it.” (Isaiah 42:5) What is at issue? His godship is at issue—the righteousness of his rulership of the entire universe, including the earth and its inhabitants. This can be called the issue of universal sovereignty.
3. What questions are basic to the issue of universal sovereignty?
3 Basic to the issue are these questions: Which of all the gods worshiped have proved so trustworthy that you could stake your life and your future on them? Which have actually existed, and which have merely been human inventions? Is there a true, living, supreme God who can deliver mankind from its present desperate condition and bring about the right kind of government that will ensure genuine peace, security, prosperity, and health?
4. What can be said of those who feel that there is no issue, since they say they already believe in God?
4 Many people feel that there is no issue for them, since they say that they already believe in God. But can they present evidence that the deity they worship is indeed the true God, that his promises are reliable, and that his purposes and laws guide their lives? If such people answer yes, then they should also be able to answer these questions: Just what is the evidence that there is a true God whose promises are reliable? What is God’s purpose for humankind and the earth? Where are we in God’s timetable, and what does the immediate future hold? What does he want us to do as individuals if we are to uphold him?
5. To whom may people be likened when they do not produce evidence to support their belief in God?
5 Most people who say that they believe in God are unable to answer these questions authoritatively. Such ones may be likened to those who professed to believe in God in the first century but whose works belied their claim. Of them God’s Word states: “They publicly declare they know God, but they disown him by their works.” Yes, “faith without works is dead.” (Titus 1:16; James 2:26) Hence, those who say that they believe in God but cannot produce solid evidence to support it are in no way different from people of past centuries who believed in false gods that have long since disappeared as objects of worship.
6, 7. (a) Describe the religion of the ancient Egyptians. (b) How were the Israelites involved in the issue between Jehovah and Egypt’s gods?
6 An example of this was the case brought against the gods of ancient Egypt about 1,500 years before our Common Era. The Egyptians worshiped a multitude of gods, including animals such as the bull, the cat, the cow, the crocodile, the falcon, the frog, the jackal, the lion, the serpent, the vulture, and the wolf. Many of these animals were considered to be incarnations of a god or goddess, and deliberately killing one brought the death penalty. Sacred animals were mummified and given elaborate burials.
7 Opposed to all those gods was the God whom ancient Israel worshiped, Jehovah. His representative, Moses, was sent to ask Pharaoh to release Jehovah’s people, who were then in slavery, since Jehovah had promised them their freedom. (Exodus 3:6-10) But Pharaoh declared: “Who is Jehovah, so that I should obey his voice to send Israel away? I do not know Jehovah at all and, what is more, I am not going to send Israel away.” (Exodus 5:2) Pharaoh felt confident that Egypt’s gods were superior to Jehovah.
8, 9. (a) How did Jehovah prove his superiority over Egypt’s gods? (b) In view of what happened, what must be said of the gods of Egypt?
8 Who would prove to be the true God who was able to keep his promises and able to protect his people? The answer was soon to come. Jehovah foretold: “On all the gods of Egypt I shall execute judgments.” (Exodus 12:12) Did he fulfill that prophecy? Yes! Jehovah brought ten devastating plagues designed to humiliate Egypt’s gods. None of those gods could protect the Egyptians. And the tenth plague was especially significant, for it killed the Egyptian firstborn, including Pharaoh’s. This was a direct blow to their chief god Ra (Amon-Ra), since the rulers of Egypt considered themselves gods, the sons of Ra. To the Egyptians, the death of Pharaoh’s firstborn meant the death of a god.
9 However, not one Israelite firstborn was killed, as they had Jehovah’s protection. Too, God gave his people the freedom that he had promised them. And as a final blow to Egypt’s false gods, Pharaoh and his army—every one of them—were destroyed in the Red Sea. Thus, Jehovah proved to be the true God. His promises were the ones that were fulfilled, and his worshipers the ones that were protected. (Exodus 14:21-31) On the other hand, Egypt’s gods were powerless to help their worshipers. Those gods had not really existed at all but were the inventions of humans.
10. What issue confronted Jehovah’s worshipers and Assyria?
10 Another case involving godship came to the fore some eight centuries later, in the time of King Hezekiah.* Jehovah’s worshipers were being threatened by the ferocious Assyrian World Power that had conquered all nations in its path. Now it demanded the surrender of Jerusalem, the city that held “Jehovah’s throne,” representing his worship on earth. (1 Chronicles 29:23) Judah’s king, Hezekiah, acknowledged that the Assyrians ‘had devastated all those other lands and had consigned the gods of those lands to the fire because they were no gods, but the workmanship of man’s hands.’—Isaiah 37:18, 19.
11. How did Jehovah rescue his worshipers, and what did this demonstrate?
11 Faithful Hezekiah then prayed to Jehovah, asking for his protection. Jehovah promised that not one Assyrian weapon would strike Jerusalem. (Isaiah 37:33) True to that prophecy, not one did. Instead, “the angel of Jehovah proceeded to go forth and strike down a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians.” After that crushing defeat, the king of Assyria, Sennacherib, retreated. Later, when he was worshiping his god Nisroch, his sons assassinated him. (Isaiah 37:36-38) Thus Jehovah again proved to be the God of true prophecy who can deliver his worshipers. The gods of Assyria and the surrounding nations proved to be false, nonexistent, unable to protect their followers.
12. In what way did Belshazzar mock Jehovah?
12 About two centuries later, God allowed his people, who had been unfaithful, to be taken captive by the next world power, Babylon. Its chief feature was its multitudes of gods, goddesses, and temples of worship. But in a boastful fit of ego, Babylonian king Belshazzar mocked Jehovah. At a huge feast, he ordered the sacred vessels that were captured from Jerusalem’s temple brought in. “From them the king and his grandees, his concubines and his secondary wives drank. They drank wine, and they praised the gods of gold and of silver, copper, iron, wood and stone.”—Daniel 5:1-4.
13. What did Jehovah cause Daniel to say to Belshazzar?
13 This was a direct affront to Jehovah, a challenge to him in the name of Babylon’s gods. Jehovah then had his prophet Daniel boldly bear testimony to King Belshazzar and to all who were present at the feast. Daniel upheld Jehovah’s godship and told King Belshazzar: “You have not humbled your heart . . . But against the Lord of the heavens you exalted yourself, . . . and you have praised mere gods of silver and of gold, copper, iron, wood and stone, that are beholding nothing or hearing nothing or knowing nothing; but the God in whose hand your breath is and to whom all your ways belong you have not glorified.”—Daniel 5:22, 23.
14. How did Jehovah demonstrate that he was the true God?
14 Then Daniel delivered Jehovah’s message, which was this: Arrogant King Belshazzar and Babylon would be overthrown by the Medes and the Persians that very night! (Daniel 5:24-27) Did this prophecy come true? Yes. “In that very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed and Darius the Mede himself received the kingdom.” (Daniel 5:30, 31) Again, as with Egypt and Assyria, Jehovah proved to be the true God, the God who fulfills his promises. God’s servants benefited, for they were released from captivity and returned to their homeland. Those who persisted in following false gods came to disaster.
Prophecies for Our Time
15. (a) What feature do many Bible prophecies have? (b) To what do we also refer when we use the word “god”?
15 The prophet Isaiah was inspired to record prophecies that had a fulfillment back in ancient times. But often in Bible prophecy, there is another larger fulfillment having to do with our time. This was the case with many things that Isaiah wrote. Part of his message contained prophecies regarding Jehovah’s modern-day challenge to all the nations and their gods. And by the word “gods” we refer not only to the gods directly worshiped by people in all parts of the world, including so-called pagan nations today, but also to those things that fit the definition of that word. One dictionary definition of the word “god” is: “One controlling a particular aspect or part of reality; a person or thing of supreme value.”
16. What gods do people of the nations, including Christendom, worship today?
16 Those regarded as gods today include the millions of gods worshiped by Hindus, as well as those worshiped by Buddhists, Shintoists, animists, and other religionists. It also includes the god of materialism, the thing of supreme value for most people on earth, the main motivation in their lives. It also includes the gods of military might and science that the nations look to for security and salvation. Too, most people even in Christendom who say that they believe in God do not really trust him or loyally serve him, but instead they trust and serve people or things as their objects of primary loyalty.
17. To what does the greater fulfillment of Isaiah’s message point?
17 The greater fulfillment of Isaiah’s message is pointed to all such gods in our time. Jehovah tells national groups to collect themselves and “speak.” He challenges them: “Let us come up close together for the judgment itself.” (Isaiah 41:1) Today, we live in the “judgment” time for this world. It is in its “last days” as foretold at 2 Timothy 3:1-5 and Matthew 24:1-14. At this time Jehovah challenges the gods of the nations to foretell accurately the future and so prove that they are gods. He also challenges them to protect their adherents if they can. “Bring your controversial case forward,” he states. “Produce your arguments . . . and tell to us the things that are going to happen.”—Isaiah 41:21, 22.
18. How does almighty God identify himself, and what does he promise his worshipers?
18 The almighty God identifies who he is: “I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to no one else shall I give my own glory, neither my praise to graven images.” (Isaiah 42:8) And he tells those who uphold him: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not gaze about, for I am your God. I will fortify you. I will really help you.” He promises them: “All those getting heated up against you will become ashamed and be humiliated. The men in a quarrel with you will become as nothing and will perish.” “Any weapon whatever that will be formed against you will have no success . . . This is the hereditary possession of the servants of Jehovah.”—Isaiah 41:10, 11; 54:17.
19, 20. (a) How does Isaiah show that there is an appointed time for Jehovah to settle matters? (b) Whom does Jehovah bring forth in these “last days,” and how do they represent him?
19 For a long time, for centuries, Jehovah has let the nations go their own ways. However, his appointed time for settling matters on earth has arrived. So he declares: “I have kept quiet for a long time. I continued silent. I kept exercising self-control.” But now, “like a mighty man Jehovah himself will go forth. Like a warrior he will awaken zeal. He will shout, yes, he will let out a war cry; over his enemies he will show himself mightier.” (Isaiah 42:13, 14) In the prophecies of Isaiah and other Bible writers, as well as those of Jesus, Jehovah foretells his raising up a people in these “last days” to bear zealous testimony to him, as if they were witnesses in a court case.
20 The people that Jehovah brings forth to serve him present evidence that he is the true God, the Saver of his worshipers and the Destroyer of false gods and their adherents. Jehovah’s people today ‘sing his praises from the extremity of the earth, from all the nations and islands, from the top of the mountains.’ (Isaiah 42:10-12) This fulfills yet another prophecy of Isaiah that foretold: “In the final part of the days [in our time] . . . the mountain of the house of Jehovah [his true worship] will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will certainly be lifted up above the hills [above all other types of worship]; and to it [people from] all the nations must stream.” And what do they urge others to do? They entreat honesthearted ones: “Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, . . . and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.”—Isaiah 2:2-4.
21. What questions are raised by Jehovah’s challenge to the gods of the nations?
21 Thus, as though addressing a court, Jehovah says: “Let the nations all be collected together at one place, and let national groups be gathered together. . . . Let them furnish their witnesses, that they may be declared righteous, or let them hear and say, ‘It is the truth!’” (Isaiah 43:9) This is a direct challenge to the gods of the nations. Can any of them tell what is in the future? Were they able to do this in the past? Can they find anyone to bear witness with solid evidence that such gods have proved to be true, worthy of our loyalty? What record have the gods of the nations, and their followers, produced in our time? Has it been any better than what the gods of the ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians produced? On the other hand, have those who bear witness to Jehovah produced solid evidence that Jehovah is the true God, the only One worthy of our worship? The following article will discuss these matters.
The January 15 issue of The Watchtower discussed how Jehovah rewarded Hezekiah’s trust in Him. Those dramatic events also involved godship.
□ What is the issue of universal sovereignty?
□ What gods of the nations are involved in the issue today?
□ What outcome of three test cases shows Jehovah’s superiority over false gods?
□ How does Isaiah show that Jehovah will settle matters in our day?
□ What questions need to be answered about the adherents of all religions today?
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Egypt’s gods were powerless before the true God, Jehovah
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Assyria’s gods and their adherents were dealt a crushing blow by the true God
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Daniel delivered Jehovah’s message to the worshipers of Babylon’s false gods