But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called [you] by your name; You [are] Mine. When you pass through the waters, I [will] [be] with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I [am] the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you; Therefore I will give men for you, And people for your life. Fear not, for I [am] with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, And gather you from the west; I will say to the north, `Give them up!’ And to the south, `Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar, And My daughters from the ends of the earth–Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.” Bring out the blind people who have eyes, And the deaf who have ears. Let all the nations be gathered together, And let the people be assembled. Who among them can declare this, And show us former things? Let them bring out their witnesses, that they may be justified; Or let them hear and say, “[It] [is] truth.” “You [are] My witnesses,” says the Lord, “And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I [am] He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me. I, [even] I, [am] the Lord, And besides Me [there] [is] no savior. (Isaiah 43:1-11 NKJV)
As students of the inspired Word of God, we’ve come to understand that the Creator has a wonderful Plan, a systematic method of dealing with mankind. During the various ages and dispensations, and when completed this plan will glorify God and completely satisfy the desires of all mankind. In carrying forward this plan, God had graciously invited the voluntary co-operation of individuals, and groups of individuals, human and spiritual.
From the Genesis account we learn that God created the first human pair to live happily and everlastingly in harmony with Him upon this planet, as we read in Genesis 1:26-28:
“And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. And God bless them and said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply”
Through lack of experience man fell from his perfect state into sin – a disobedience that has since brought a trail of woe and misery. This was foreseen and permitted by the Creator; therefore it is an essential part of the Divine Plan and the best means of indelibly impressing upon the characters of His human family (and angels too, by observation) the value of obedience to Him, and the desire for His protection as the only one who can supply their every need and shelter under His love and power.
Look around you, on the television, on the radio at the newsstands, crime, violence, sickness, sorrow, evil, wars and death all attest to the fall of man. This is not the natural state of man, as evidenced from the fact that all are seeking, in one way or another, relief from these things, and much study and effort is undertaken to eliminate them.
It is not the intention of the Creator to allow this state of affairs to continue indefinitely, neither is it the wish of mankind that it should continue. Evil and evildoers are allowed to demonstrate the fruits or results of their actions and misgovernment; and we are today witnessing the harvest of confusion, trouble and bitterness from the sowing of past ages and decades – Luke 21:26 tells us: “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on earth.”
The world in general, and professing Christians, have not taken heed to God’s counsels. Nevertheless, all down the ages, the Creator has had His witnesses that He does exist and is not indifferent to the reign of evil, terror and calamities through which mankind is passing. He has declared that when these conditions have served their purpose they shall cease to exist, and that the righteous only will remain active in the ages to come. Revelation 21: 4, 27 tells us: …”And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away…But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”
Revelation 22:3 tells us:…”And there shall be no more curse, but the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve him.”
Our text in Isaiah 43:10, 11 declares: – “Ye are my witnesses that I am God…Beside me there is no savior.” Who are these witnesses? To whom do they witness? And what is their origin? The answer can be found in their history books, thirty-nine of them. These Books have been written by herdsmen, shepherds, Judges and Kings, by poets, sages, philosophers and statesmen, by men learned in wisdom of ancient Egypt, and in schools of Babylon, by rich men and poor men, by preachers in exile and legislators. The facts to which they bear witness were written in times of victory and honor, in peace, in godly times, in times of unbelief and rebellion, in times of defeat and captivity.
Being greatly favored by the creator, God bearing witness to them by His overruling providence’s and miracles, they became a target of the jealous and hated by many cruel and evil persons to the present time. They have been made the scapegoat’s on which to lay the blame of misfortunes, or to divert from politicians’ broken promises or misgovernment.
Such a stir has been made against a people so small in number. They as well as Christians, have been fiercely persecuted. Why? Because the great truths and principles for which both stand are more important to them than their lives. Jehovah, the only true God, is just and true; the Psalmist wrote: “Justice is the habitation of thy throne.” It is not likely that Jehovah would give His witnesses any law short of His own standard. Listen to His just principles –
“You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, [and] they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry; and My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless. If you lend money to [any] [of] My people [who] [are] poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest. If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down.” (Ex. 22:21-26)
“If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it. You shall not pervert the judgment of your poor in his dispute. – Ex. 23:4- 6
“You shall have the same law for the stranger and for one from your own country; for I [am] the Lord your God. ” – Lev. 24:22
These are samples of some of their laws and standard of Justice. Their political system was the most practical demonstration of freedom and equality that has ever existed before or since. Can we wonder why they are hated by dictators?
Jehovah’s witnesses have done more toward the civilization of the world than any other nation, and these laws were enforced hundred of years before the rest of Europe and Asia dreamt of anything but absolute rule – dictatorship.
These witnesses were the first light in the unrelieved despotism of the east; they were the light of civil and religious toleration in remote and savage times, the pioneers of liberty and civilization; and quite a number of them have been winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. What we have in the New Testament is the fulfillment and perfection of the truth to which they are witnesses, culminating in that perfect Witness, Jesus of Nazareth, Revelation 3:14 tells us: “For to him give all the prophets witness”, yes, a true witness of Jehovah.
What is it that made these people different, and their living and moral standards so much higher than other nations around them? What is the basis of their special privileges and knowledge, and why were they severely punished for disobedience to their laws? The answer is: “To them were committed the oracles of God.” They were an enlightened people. “This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise.” “Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen.” – Isa. 43:21, 10.
Jehovah takes responsibility for the existence and preservation of Israel. Their existence bears testimony that God exists, and their experiences, both of prosperity and adversity, bear testimony that Jehovah has created Israel as a nation, and is responsible for their preservation, even to this day.
We read in Isaiah 43:2,16,17:…”When you pass through the waters, I [will] [be] with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you….Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea And a path through the mighty waters, Who brings forth the chariot and horse, The army and the power (They shall lie down together, they shall not rise”
This has been literally true in their experiences. Remember also Moses’ vision of the burning bush at the time he was called to deliver Israel from bondage; the bush that burned yet never was consumed.
Notice Isaiah 17:12-14: …”Woe to the multitude of many people [Who] make a noise like the roar of the seas, And to the rushing of nations [That] make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters; But [God] will rebuke them and they will flee far away, And be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind, Like a rolling thing before the whirlwind. Isa. 17:14 Then behold, at eventide, trouble! [And] before the morning, he [is] no more. This [is] the portion of those who plunder us, And the lot of those who rob us.”
The prophet here predicts the ruin of Israel’s enemies who come against them like a mighty flood. The Lord is the keeper of Israel, as is stated in Isaiah 43:3, 4: …”For I [am] the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place.”
The fire of persecution, hate and jealousy raged fiercely against them – “When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt be consumed”; their enemies were defeated. The witnesses of Jesus also find great consolation in this promise.
As a people they were saved out of their troubles and afflictions; they will still have more, but God’s promises of final deliverance will never fail. They are His people, and His care of them is yet to be a mighty witness to His glory among all the nations.
“Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am he” – that I exist, that I live, the self existing One. “Beside me there is no Savior.” There is no one, no dictator, no power, no nation, or combination of nations that can destroy His witnesses. “None shall deliver out of my hand; I will work and who shall turn it back?” He alone is the preserver of Israel. Zechariah 12:3 – “I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people; all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered against it.”
Again the Prophet Isaiah tell us in 43:12 … “I have declared and saved, I have proclaimed, And [there] [was] no foreign [god] among you; Therefore you [are] My witnesses,” Says the Lord, “that I [am] God.”
Jehovah informed Israel; giving them His oracles and utterances; they were given the true form worship. He informed them that all nations would be blessed through them. [Psa. 147: 19, 20] Jehovah had informed them that if disobedient to His instructions He would drive them out of their inheritance, lead them captive into strange lands, and scatter them among all nations until. Luke 21:24 states: “the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” A punishment which all the world knows has come to pass. Israel has witnessed the glory and decay of four universal empires, Babylon, Persia, Greece and mighty Rome. But the witnesses still exit; yes, more than exist; they show definite signs of vitality which has astonished even their enemies. Yes the dry bones are resurrecting. Truly, they remain a separate and distinct people. Why? “I am thy Savior”, saith the LORD. “None can deliver (snatch) out of my hand.” “Ye are my witnesses” – You prove that I am God, the preserver of Israel.
“I have saved.” [Isa. 43:12] Many attempts have been made in the past, as well as in recent times, to annihilate these defenseless people, but the decree has always been – “Thus far, and no further.” And suffer they did, but as a people they were never destroyed. Through one means or another the Lord delivered them out of the hands of their enemies. We are all no doubt well aware of the two outstanding attempts made to annihilate them – ancient and modern. In the book of Esther, chapters 3-7, a lengthy account is given respecting Haman, the prime minister of Persia, who, under Persian monarch obtained a decree from the king to have all Jews in the realm destroyed because he hated a Jew’s honorable position at the king’s court. But the plot failed; Haman the Jew-hater was destroyed – hung on the gallows he prepared for Mordecai. The modern attempt, as all the world knows, was by Hitler, the German dictator; again the destroyer was himself destroyed and his empire divided. Although millions of Jews were destroyed by Hitler, the Jews soon after became an organized nation, established in their own land. To the ancestor of the Jews, the Jehovah declared; “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee” Gen. 12:3.
In verse 21 of Isaiah 43 we read: …”This people I have formed for Myself; they shall declare My praise.”
You see the Lord has a purpose in preserving His witnesses. They are the ones who will transmit the knowledge of the true God in future times as Isa 2:2, 3 states: “The word of the Lord shall go forth from Jerusalem.”
Returning to verse 12: “I have showed.” Another translation read – “I foretell.” The Lord has foretold many things concerning His ancient people, Israel. The history of the Jews was written in advance – their rise to fame, their disobedience, their punishment, their scattering among the nations.
Hosea 3:4, 5 states: …”For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days.”
The Lord has foretold their experiences, past, present and future, no strange god or prophet could do this. The Jewish people, God’s witnesses, are one of the most outstanding proofs of the inspiration of the Bible: They witness to the existence of a Supreme Being, the Creator and Preserver of Israel. They witness and prophesy accurately to the work, office and glory of the Messiah; no false witness or prophet could do this. If others bear witness to Jehovah, it could be only a second-hand witness, for of necessity the witness would be a repetition of the words of Israel’s recorded witness, written in the Old Testament. So, beware, Satan has his counterfeits in this matter too – false witnesses, and therefore, a witness against Jehovah.
Verse 4 of Isaiah 43 states: …”Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you; Therefore I will give men for you, And people for your life.”
God made them honorable because He chose them and made them the depository of the precious truths of true worship; therefore, they are precious in His sight. Because of His strange and miraculous dealings and providence’s with His ancient people, Israel, God and His Word will be glorified in the eyes of all nations. Remember, all this applies to a people whom the Lord chose hundred of years before the Christian dispensation.
When the Book of Isaiah was written there were no Christians, we read of them only in the New Testament, and they followed Jesus Christ. They are not referred to particularly as Jehovah’s witnesses, but as the sons of God, as Christ’s brethren, and witnesses of Jesus. Rev. 20:4 states: “And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God.” Also Rev. 2:13 we read of “Antipas, my faithful martyr (or witness)”. And so faithful Christians give their lives particularly for the witness of Jesus.
What is the present state of these witnesses of Jehovah? Verse 5 and 6 of this 43rd chapter of Isaiah tells us: … “Fear not, for I [am] with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, And gather you from the west; I will say to the north, `Give them up!’ And to the south, `Do not keep them back!’ Bring My sons from afar.”
This is being fulfilled today: the God of Israel is regathering His witnesses, His afflicted people to their home. Yes, it is now time for them to go home. And home they went. In a past issue of the journal “Jews in the News” it had this to say: “It was the power of God which brought the New Jewish State into being, for how else could such victories have been won by a handful of untrained people in the face of such overwhelming odds, with the surrounding states as enemies, and greater enemies supporting them in the background. Many believed in God and the fulfillment of their promises, and when they saw this wonderful protection even the unbelieving were conscious of miracles working on the side of Israel.”
They became established in Palestine against the will of many people. Not one nation helped them; even as some of them approached their beloved land in unseaworthy ships, they were turned back by the powers that be, to their great disappointment and anguish, but the promise still held good – “I (Jehovah) will work, and who shall hinder it” – turn it back – Isa. 43:13. The Jews in Israel have a saying, that he who does not believe in miracles is not a realist. They have witnessed the greatest Divinely inspired phenomenon of our day.
But there are those who say, didn’t God cast away natural Israel when they rejected and put the Messiah to death? And didn’t Jesus say, “Your house is left unto you desolate?” – Matt. 23:38. Therefore, does not spiritual Israel inherit the promises? This is partly true, the chief place of favor and some of the most choice promises will be inherited by spiritual Israel – “Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for, but the election hath obtained it.” However, natural Israel has not been cast off forever. The 11th chapter of Romans refers to this temporary casting off, and shows how the followers of Jesus of both Jews and Gentiles inherit the best of the promises. These are referred to as the priesthood, the holy nation, a little flock.
This is the day of the Lord’s preparation; the hour has struck in the Divine Plan of the Ages, for the deliverance and regathering of God’s ancient people. The God of Israel is moving swiftly and mightily on behalf of Jacob’s posterity.
Isaiah 11:11, 12 reads: …” It shall come to pass in that day [That] the Lord shall set His hand again the second time To recover the remnant of His people who are left, From Assyria and Egypt, From Pathros and Cush, From Elam and Shinar, From Hamath and the islands of the sea. He will set up a banner for the nations, And will assemble the outcasts of Israel, And gather together the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth.”
In this pioneering effort, to reclaim their waste and barren land, there is of course much sacrifice, hardship and austerity among them. They complain and grumble, and they have over 65 languages in which to grumble, and they have come from about that number of countries. But beneath this surface there is a powerful, vigorous vitality, as if some invisible force is driving them on. During the first few years of being established as a nation was witnessed the most spectacular migration of the 20th century. Picture this; 150,000,000 homeless, penniless, sick and bitterly persecuted people swarming into the United States of America during the same period of a few years, to seek a haven of refuge, and you have some idea of how many destitute newcomers, proportionately speaking, the tiny State of Israel has taken in. And these migrants are not hand picked, as is usually done by other countries, but the poor, the rich, the lame, the disabled, the sick and the old are all taken in, even the dying. It is astounding, and the wandering Jew is still going home, and he is there to stay. I remind you of Amos 9:14, 15: “… I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; They shall build the waste cities and inhabit [them]; They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, And no longer shall they be pulled up From the land I have given them,” Says the Lord your God.”
Remember this was promised to a people who were given an inheritance in a special way, the bounds of which were marked out by Divine decree; they transgressed, they were plucked up out of their land and scattered among all nations and now are being regathered.
It does not make sense, nor harmonize with the Scriptures to try and spiritualize these Scriptures, or force them to apply to a nation, or group which has not even the features of a Jew, not even the customs nor the unique experiences and promises which belong exclusively to the Jew, to Israel. How strange it is that many people and groups want to make the Jewish promises apply to themselves, their particular group, or to a Gentile nation. All of this, is of course a trick of the Adversary, to distract attention from the real people, and the purpose of fulfillment. How odd of men to choose the Jewish God, yet spurn the Jew.
What does all this mean? what relationship have these things to the nations in general? It means that the Gentile times have ended. Jesus said – “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” – Luke 21:24
The word “until” marks a turning point in the times and seasons of Israel’s experiences and captivity. The time is up that was allotted to the powers that be to rule the world; the retribution and breaking down of the Gentile powers has begun; the saving and restoring of Israel is well under way, and we are witnessing these movements. It means, as stated in Isaiah 43:21 – “This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise.” Jesus, the Witness of Jehovah, said – “Salvation is of the Jews” John 4:22 – “The word of the LORD shall go forth from Jerusalem” – Isa. 2:3.
This means that the blessing of all the families of the earth through Abraham’s seed will soon take place, for the Millennial reign of Christ and His Glorified Saints, His joint-heirs, will soon begin. The blindness of Israel concerning their Messiah will soon depart, as predicted by Jesus in Matt. 23:39: … “for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, `Blessed [is] He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”
The word “until” marks a turning point in the religious life of Israel. There will also be a great change in human society – a desire to learn the ways of the Lord, and the beating of swords into plowshares as Micah 4:1-4 tells us.
There are a number of Jews, some being rabbis, who are bearing testimony by word and pen that Jesus of Nazareth is their Messiah. One of them has said: “Can anyone today be such a Jew as Jesus was?” Decidedly no! In recent years thousands of New Testaments in Bulgarian, Hebrew, French, German, Yiddish, Polish, and other languages have entered Israel duty free. When Benjamin Disraeli was asked if he was a converted Jew, he replied – “I am not a converted Jew, but a completed Jew.” Israel is being regathered and being made a completed Israel, and it is reported that the New Testament is being read also in schools, not so much to believe its contents at the present time, but to become acquainted with its history.
The natural blindness of Israel to the fact that Jesus is their Messiah continues only for a definite period. This hinges upon another part of God’s plan to be completed first, namely, the selection from among the Jews and Gentiles of the required number to make up God’s elect, the joint-heirs, joint-rulers with Christ; all these must first come into the Church. This number will constitute the governing body with the King of the Jews to administer the Laws of the impending Millennial Kingdom, as stated in Romans 11: 25-27: “… For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this [is] My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.” Notice these are the same names given in Isa. 43.
In Romans 11:11 we have the question: “… I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation [has] [come] to the Gentiles.” Verses 12 and 15 continue: “…Now if their fall [is] riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! … For if their being cast away [is] the reconciling of the world, what [will] their acceptance [be] but life from the dead?”
The restoration and recovery of natural Israel will yet mean, in the age to come, the enrichment of life for the whole world of mankind. Zec. 8:23 states: “… “Thus says the Lord of hosts: `In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard [that] God [is] with you.” ‘ ”
Verses 28,29,32 and 33 of Romans 11 continue: “…Concerning the gospel [they] [are] enemies for your sake, but concerning the election [they] [are] beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God [are] irrevocable. … For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable [are] His judgments and His ways past finding out!”
The Lord will do these things not because the Jews are righteous, but because of His great name’s sake. Three reasons why He will do this are thus shown from Romans 11:28,29,32: (1) Because of the Father’s sakes – Israel’s ancestors. (2) Because of his unchangeableness; He will honor His promises. (3) Because of His love and great mercies’ sake.
Aren’t we glad that we are free from the creeds and interpretations of men, of whom Paul warns are as “wise in their own conceits”: for these make verse 32 read quite differently, namely: “Concluded them all in unbelief that he might condemn everlastingly.” We’re glad this is wrong, and the Apostle Paul has stated it right, and presents to us a God of wisdom, Justice, Love and power. Then, in due time, man shall say;…” “So they will say, `This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities [are] [now] fortified [and] inhabited.’ …I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” – Ezek. 36:35,26
If you would like more information about the “Bible Students” feel free to contact us. We recommend to all “Jehovah’s Witnesses” as well as interested ones to request their copy of “The Divine Plan of the Ages.”