“Your Word Is Truth”
‘No Other Gods’
SHORTLY after Jehovah God brought the people of Israel out of Egyptian bondage he gave them the Ten Commandments. The first of these reads: “You must not have any other gods against my face.”—Ex. 20:3.
What is the import of this commandment? As the footnote of the 1963 edition of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures shows, it means not having any “gods in defiance of me.” That is, Jehovah’s people were not to have any other gods as rivals to Jehovah God.
Jehovah’s people were to worship only him, for he alone was their Maker. As the psalmist so well noted: “Serve Jehovah with rejoicing. . . . Know that Jehovah is God. It is he that has made us, and not we ourselves”—nor any other god. (Ps. 100:2, 3) Since Jehovah was their Maker, they all belonged to him, and he had the right to require them to worship him and him alone. Moreover, as “God Almighty” and “the Most High” he is “the Sovereign Lord, Jehovah of armies.” For this reason also Jehovah God was entitled to the sole worship of his people Israel.—Gen. 17:1; Ps. 83:18; Jer. 50:25.
Especially was the nation of Israel under obligation to worship only Jehovah God, for he and none other had delivered them from Egyptian slavery and given them nationhood. As he himself stated in what might be termed the preamble of the Decalogue: “I am Jehovah your God, who have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slaves.”—Ex. 20:2.
Jehovah God gave Israel the First Commandment not only because he was entitled to their sole worship, but also for their own protection and blessing. But Israel did not faithfully observe this commandment. Time and again they turned to worshiping other gods. So often, in fact, did they turn away from serving only Jehovah God that his long-suffering with them at last reached its limit. He permitted them to go into captivity and their land to be desolated for seventy years.—2 Chron. 36:15, 16, 20, 21.
Some five and a half centuries after they returned to their homeland Jesus Christ the Son of God came to the nation of Israel. He brought a new commandment to his followers: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”—John 13:34.
Does that mean that Christ’s followers are not bound by the First Commandment? That is true. It is part of the Law covenant that God made with the nation of Israel, and Christians “are not under law but under undeserved kindness.” (Rom. 6:14) However, its underlying principle and the truths on which it is based do apply to them. For Christians, Jehovah God is also their Maker, the Almighty One, the Most High, the Sovereign Lord, Jehovah of armies and their Deliverer. What the nation of Israel could say of Jehovah God, Christians can also say of him: “Jehovah is our Judge, Jehovah is our Statute-giver, Jehovah is our King; he himself will save us.” So they too must worship only Jehovah God.—Isa. 33:22.
It is even as the apostle Paul made clear: “I say that the things which the nations sacrifice they sacrifice to demons, and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers with the demons. You cannot be . . . partaking of ‘the table of Jehovah’ and the table of demons. Or ‘are we inciting Jehovah to jealousy’? We are not stronger than he is, are we?”—1 Cor. 10:20-22.
From the words of Paul we can see that the early Christians had to separate themselves from all worship of pagan deities. They felt as Paul when he wrote: “For even though there are those who are called ‘gods,’ whether in heaven or on earth, just as there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords,’ there is actually to us one God the Father, out of whom all things are, and we for him; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ.”—1 Cor. 8:5, 6.
It might be said that Adam himself was the first human willfully to violate the underlying principle of the First Commandment. When he listened to the voice of his wife and ate of the forbidden fruit in violation of God’s command he was putting her above God and so, in effect, was ‘venerating and rendering sacred service to her rather than to his Creator.’ So today, any time men let themselves be influenced by the pressures or temptations presented by others or by their own fallen inclinations to go contrary to God’s requirements, they are guilty of violating the principle of the First Commandment.—Rom. 1:25; Gen. 3:6, 7, 17.
Many others, again, are guilty of this by making material riches their god. They love money and put their trust in it instead of loving and trusting Jehovah God. They show this by neglecting the study of God’s Word, by failing to associate with God’s people and by their not sharing in making known his name and kingdom. And to the extent that dedicated Christian ministers allow materialistic interests to interfere unduly with their worship of Jehovah, they also are violating the principle of the First Commandment. Succumbing to the love of money, they are ‘led astray from the faith and suffer many pains.’—1 Tim. 6:10.
Still others neglect the worship of Jehovah God for the sake of pleasurable excitement, making it their god instead of Jehovah. They evince a consuming interest in sports, or become gambling addicts, or engage in risky pastimes, endangering their lives, all to satisfy their craving for pleasurable excitement, for thrills. They are not among those who are happy because of being conscious of their spiritual need.’ They show what comes first in their lives by being “lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.”—Matt. 5:3; 2 Tim. 3:4.
And perhaps never before have so many persons made a god out of sensual gratification, or “loose conduct” as it is called in the Scriptures. Since all loose conduct is strongly condemned by God’s Word, those who make a practice of it might be said to have raised it up in defiance of the true God Jehovah. Because the worship of Jehovah God includes the fear of displeasing him, it follows that all who indulge in such practices are not worshiping God in an acceptable manner. They may read their Bibles, go to church on Sundays and profess to be Christians, but none such will “inherit God’s kingdom.”—Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Cor. 6:9, 10; Prov. 8:13.
Truly the First Commandment is full of meaning for Christians. Its underlying principle and the fundamental truths on which it is based do apply to them. To be pleasing to Jehovah God, to gain everlasting life, they must make its principle the governing factor in their lives. They may not let anyone or anything come between them and their God Jehovah. At all times God’s worship and service must come first in their lives.