“You are my witnesses,” declares Jehovah.
The Israelites worshipped their God, Jehovah, whereas the other nations worshipped their own deities. At the time of the prophet Isaiah, Jehovah compared the world situation to that of a court trial. He challenged the gods of the nations to produce witnesses to confirm their divinity. The gods of the nations were unable to produce any evidence of their godship. They were mere idols that were speechless and that needed to be carried around. On the other hand, Jehovah’s chosen people were to attest loud and clear that Jehovah is the one true God. In effect, their stance was to be like that later set forth for God’s present-day people by the prophet Micah: “All the peoples will walk, each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of Jehovah our God forever and ever.”
It may well have been by divine providence that Judge Rutherford first proposed the resolution to adopt the name of “Jehovah’s Witnesses” at the convention of International Bible Students in 1931.
We know that it is God’s will to have his name declared in all the earth. And there is no dispute that Jehovah’s Witnesses have published the Name far and wide. But, are the witnessing efforts of the so-named Jehovah’s Witnesses the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah where God calls upon a certain people to serve as his witnesses?
As we know, the prophecy of Isaiah was one of the first prophetic books written. Long in advance God foretold that Israel would be conquered by Assyria and Jerusalem would be conquered by Babylon and Jacob would become a captive in a foreign land. God was going to punish Jacob because he brought reproach upon Jehovah. That is why the concluding words of the very chapter where Jehovah calls upon Jacob to be his witness, states: “I, I am the One who is blotting out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. Remind me; let us bring our case against each other; tell your side of it to prove you are in the right. Your first forefather sinned, and your own spokesmen have rebelled against me. So I will profane the princes of the holy place, and I will give Jacob over to destruction and subject Israel to insulting words.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses realize that the prophecy applies foremost to the return of Christ —“Jacob” being synonymous with Christ’s congregation. The eighth chapter of Daniel similarly foretells that the holy ones of the Prince of princes and the holy place will become desolate.
It is, then, when God extends mercy to those that have experienced destruction that Jehovah calls upon the forgiven to serve as his witnesses. According to the opening words of the 43rd chapter Jacob is called by God’s name only after he is repurchased: “Do not be afraid, for I have repurchased you. I have called you by your name. You belong to me.”
The exhortation not to be afraid comes at a moment in the future when men will be faint with fear in expectation of the horrors to come. Jesus also exhorts his followers not to be terrified. Jesus foretold that the nations will be in anguish due to the roaring of the sea. Similarly, at Isaiah 43:2 Jehovah assures his reclaimed witnesses: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not flood over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame singe you.” Also verse 16: “The One making a way through the sea and a path even through turbulent waters…”
Further, God speaks of gathering back the redeemed from the north, south, east and west, saying: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will bring your offspring from the east and gather you together from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ And to the south, ‘Do not hold them back. Bring my sons from afar, and my daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by my name and whom I created for my own glory, whom I have formed and made.’”
Jesus echoed this prophecy when he stated: “And he will send out his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity.”
So, the call for his people to serve as witnesses to the Godship of Jehovah is to come about after the tribulation —after “Jerusalem” has been made desolate. Again, Jesus spoke of a great final witness to be given to the governors and kings of this world then: “You will be brought before kings and governors for the sake of my name. It will result in your giving a witness. Therefore, resolve in your hearts not to rehearse beforehand how to make your defense, for I will give you words and wisdom that all your opposers together will not be able to resist or dispute.”
Why cannot the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses see these interconnections? Because they are deaf and blind, spiritually. Again, Isaiah answers: “Bring out a people who are blind, though they have eyes, and who are deaf, though they have ears. Let all the nations assemble in one place, and let the peoples be gathered together. Who among them can tell this? Or can they cause us to hear the first things? Let them present their witnesses to prove themselves right, or let them hear and say, ‘It is the truth!’ ‘You are my witnesses,’ declares Jehovah, ‘Yes, my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and have faith in me and understand that I am the same One.’”
The “one place” to which the nations are assembled and made to answer to God must be that same place identified in the third chapter of the prophecy of Joel as the Valley of Jehoshaphat, which says: “For look! in those days and in that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather together all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. I will enter into judgment with them there in behalf of my people and my inheritance Israel, for they scattered them among the nations, and they divided up my land among themselves.”
Sadly, the blindness and arrogance of the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses can only be remedied by the most unpleasant and strongest measures short of absolute destruction. But in God’s mercy he will repurchase a remnant who will serve as Jehovah’s true witnesses for the finale.