Part 1 of a Two-part Series

Witnesses for God

DURING THE LONG AND dreary nighttime of man’s history, people in general have been without God and without hope. But the Lord has had his witnesses in the earth. These have had God’s hand upon them, and their faithful testimony concerning him have made them as lights in a dark place. At no time have these witnesses convinced very many of the truth pertaining to God’s plan, but they frequently have served as guides to some who have sought after God in an earnest endeavor to find and serve him.—Acts 17:27

Going back to the time of the Flood, we find that Noah was a witness for Jehovah, the Creator. The Apostle Peter informs us that Noah was a “preacher of righteousness.” (II Pet. 2:5) He did not reform the world of his day, but he was a light in that world because he bore witness concerning God and his purpose in allowing the coming Flood. Noah’s stand for God and for righteousness was vindicated when the Deluge came.

During all the centuries prior to the First Advent of Jesus, God demonstrated his keeping power in the lives of his witnesses in a miraculous manner, which increased the effectiveness of their testimony. The Lord promised, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper,” and this was literally true in connection with all his faithful witnesses during those ancient times.—Isa. 54:17

The enemies of Joseph sold him as a slave into Egypt, but through the wonderful providences of God he became the ruler of Egypt and the savior of his people. How wonderfully this demonstrated the power and the glory of Joseph’s God! There is no record that Joseph ever preached a long sermon. His life of faith, and the occasional “word in season” by which he made known his faith, were more eloquent than any discoursing he could have done, particularly after God openly vindicated his faith and rewarded his faithfulness.

Later, when a pharaoh came to power in Egypt “who knew not Joseph,” the Israelites then dwelling there were made his slaves. In the providence of the Lord, Moses was raised up to deliver them. The name and glory of God were at stake as Moses and Aaron appeared before the king to demand the release of the Israelites.

Moses himself was powerless to accomplish the Lord’s design for his people, but he stood loyally on the side of the Lord, and in the name of the Lord demanded deliverance for the Israelites. We know the result. Plague after plague fell upon the Egyptians, and finally the death of their firstborn. Then the king demanded that the Hebrew children leave the country, which they did.

But Pharaoh changed his mind, and sent his army to recapture the Israelites. Again the Lord intervened, opening up a passageway through the Red Sea for his people, and allowing the waters to close in on Egypt’s army as they tried to follow. Then they sang that majestic song of deliverance, “I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation.”—Exod. 15:1,2

This brilliant testimony of God’s ability to fight for and deliver his people did not impress the Israelites sufficiently to enable them to put their full trust in him to go forward and possess the Promised Land. They rejected the report of the two faithful spies, Caleb and Joshua, and voted against trying to drive the Canaanites out of the land. Because of this God allowed them to wander in the wilderness for forty years.

But even so, he miraculously cared for them. He provided manna from heaven, and water gushed out from a rock to refresh them. He provided them with a priesthood and the Tabernacle as a center of worship. During all that time Moses reminded them, “Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.” (Deut. 8:4) Moses himself knew that it was the Lord who cared for his people during their wilderness journey, but he feared rightly that they would forget, and so reminded them that it was Jehovah “who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint.”—Deut. 8:15

It was indeed the Lord who had done these marvelous things for Israel. Through his dealings with them, and despite their own lack of faith, they were being used as his witnesses. And this continued to be true as, under the leadership of Joshua, and by another miracle, he enabled them to cross over the River Jordan and possess the Promised Land.

Crumbling Walls

Immediately upon entering Canaan the Israelites were confronted with the fortified and walled city of Jericho. Possession of the land would be impossible until this city had been conquered. But they were incapable of accomplishing this in their own wisdom or by their own strength. Then “Joshua … lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand.” Joshua challenged this ‘man’, asking, “Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?”—Josh. 5:13-15

The man with the drawn sword identified himself as the “captain of the host of the Lord” Joshua followed his instructions, and the walls of the city crumbled before them.—Josh. 6:27

Another outstanding victory which brought glory to the Lord was Gideon’s defeat of the Midianites by his little band of three hundred. Again it was the Lord who gained the victory. When Gideon’s three hundred, carrying out the instructions of their leader, broke the earthen vessels letting the light of their torches shine out in the darkness, and blew their trumpets and shouted, “The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon … the Lord set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host [of Midianites]: and the host fled.”—Judg. 7:20-22

Jehovah Is God

Through the Prophet Elijah, God also manifested his glory in a very outstanding manner. The influence of Jezebel, King Ahab’s wife, had led Israel into the idolatrous worship of Baal. By the Lord’s direction Elijah arranged for a test to be made on Mount Cannel to demonstrate whether Jehovah or Baal was the true and living God. The one who would cause fire to come down from heaven and consume a sacrifice would be proven to be the true God.

There was a tremendous gathering at Mount Cannel that day. Elijah insisted that the priests of Baal give their demonstration first, which they did, with no result. All day they agonized and cried unto Baal, but Baal did not respond. Elijah taunted them saying, “Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.”—I Kings 18:27

The priests of Baal continued their pleas until evening. Then Elijah prepared an altar and placed his sacrifice upon it. In order to demonstrate that no trickery was being practiced, he dug a trench around the altar and filled it with water, drenching the altar and the sacrifice. Then Elijah prayed:

Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at they word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God.”—I Kings 18:36,37

In response to this eloquent prayer, fire came down “and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the, people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.”—I Kings 18:38,39

Assyrian Army Destroyed

During the reign of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, in a campaign of aggression, demanded that Jerusalem be surrendered to him. He sent a messenger to Hezekiah asking for his surrender, but the demand was not granted. The messenger was sent again, with the following message:

“Let not thy God in whom thou trusteth deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands, by destroying them utterly: and shalt thou be delivered?”—II Kings 19:10-13

Here was a direct challenge to the ability of Israel’s God to thwart the design of Sennacherib to capture and enslave Jerusalem. Upon the advice of the Prophet Isaiah, King Hezekiah prayed earnestly to Jehovah, saying:

“O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. … Lord, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, Lord, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God. … Now therefore, O Lord our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only.”—II Kings 19:15-19

The Lord replied to this prayer assuring the king that he would indeed defend Jerusalem, “for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.” And he did.—II Kings 19:34-36

God’s Glory in Babylon

Because his chosen people continued to be unfaithful to him, the Lord allowed them to be taken captive to Babylon. Among them, however, were faithful individuals whom he used as his witnesses even during the period of their captivity. Notable among these were Daniel and his three young friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.—Dan. 1:6,7

Daniel first came into prominence before the king when by the Lord’s help he was able to recall Nebuchadnezzar’s dream for him and interpret its meaning, after the “magicians, and the astrologers, and the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans” had failed in their attempt to do so. This was a most effective witness for Jehovah, causing the king to acknowledge to Daniel, “Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets.”—Dan. 2:47

Daniel was then made ruler over the entire province of Babylon, “and chief of the governors over all the wise men of Babylon.” Daniel, in turn, remembered his three young friends, and requested that they be appointed his assistants.

But Nebuchadnezzar soon forgot what he had confessed concerning Jehovah being the “God of gods and a Lord of kings.” He wanted to be recognized as supreme ruler, and his gods worshiped in the realm. So he had a great image erected symbolizing his authority as civil ruler, and his right to demand that the people worship his gods. He commanded that all officials of the realm, at a given signal, bow down and worship this image. Those who refused to obey were to be cast into a fiery furnace. Apparently Daniel, because he “sat in the gate of the king,” was exempt from this command.

But his three friends were not. Enemies, jealous of the position to which these Hebrews had been appointed, reported that they had not obeyed the king’s command to fall down before his golden image. In a rage Nebuchadnezzar summoned the three Hebrews before him, demanding to know if the report were true. They assured him that it was. Then he indicated his willingness to give them another chance, but made it plain that if they still defied his edict they would surely be cast into the fiery furnace. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, saying:

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful [afraid] to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us … out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”—Dan. 3:16-18

We all remember the outcome. The three Hebrews were cast into the fiery furnace—a furnace in which the fire was burning so furiously that the king’s servants who hurled them into it inhaled the flames and died. But the three Hebrews were protected by divine power.

When the king peered into the roaring furnace, he discovered that not only were the three Hebrews alive, but there was a fourth person with them, “like the Son of God.” (Dan. 3:25) He called them forth from the flames, saying: “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in. … Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.”—Dan. 3:28,29

We might go on recalling these thrilling incidents in which the Lord glorified himself in the eyes, not only of Israel, but frequently of the surrounding nations also, by the wonderful manner in which he fought for his people and delivered his faithful servants. They were witnesses of the great Jehovah, not so much because they explained his glorious characteristics to the people, but because he manifested his favor to them on account of their unwavering faithfulness to him.

The Lord himself sums up this viewpoint for us very clearly and beautifully, saying: “I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior. I have declared, and have saved, and I have showed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore, ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God.”—Isa. 43:1-3,11,12

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Dawn Bible Students Association
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