The Bible’s Viewpoint
Is There Only One True God?
MOLECH, Ashtoreth, Baal, Dagon, Merodach, Zeus, Hermes, and Artemis are some of the gods and goddesses mentioned by name in the Bible. (Leviticus 18:21; Judges 2:13; 16:23; Jeremiah 50:2; Acts 14:12; 19:24) Yet, only Jehovah is identified in the Scriptures as the Almighty God. In a victory song, Moses led his people in singing: “Who among the gods is like you, O Jehovah?”—Exodus 15:11.
Clearly, the Bible places Jehovah above all other gods. But what role do these lesser gods play? Are they and the countless other gods that have been worshipped through the ages real deities subordinate to the Almighty God, Jehovah?
Figments of the Imagination
The Bible identifies Jehovah as the only true God. (Psalm 83:18; John 17:3) The prophet Isaiah recorded God’s own words when he said: “Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none. I—I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior.”—Isaiah 43:10, 11.
All the other gods are not merely inferior to Jehovah. In most cases they are nonexistent—strictly figments of human imagination. The Bible refers to these gods as “the product of the hands of man . . . , which cannot see or hear or eat or smell.” (Deuteronomy 4:28) The Bible plainly teaches that Jehovah is the only true God.
It is no wonder that the Scriptures sternly warn against worshipping any deity other than Jehovah. For instance, in the first of the Ten Commandments given to Moses, the ancient nation of Israel was told not to worship any other god. (Exodus 20:3) Why?
First, to venerate a god that does not even exist is a great insult to the Creator. The worshippers of these false gods are described in the Bible as having “exchanged the truth of God for the lie and venerated and rendered sacred service to the creation rather than the One who created.” (Romans 1:25) Often these imaginary gods are represented by idols made of materials found in nature, such as metal or wood. Many deities are associated with certain aspects of nature, such as thunder, the oceans, and the wind. Surely, then, the veneration of such pseudo gods is a gross act of disrespect to the Almighty God.
To the Creator, false gods and their idols are repugnant. Yet, God’s words of displeasure are mainly directed to the people who have fabricated these false gods. His sentiments are forcefully expressed in these words: “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of the hands of earthling man. A mouth they have, but they can speak nothing; eyes they have, but they can see nothing; ears they have, but they can give ear to nothing. Also there exists no spirit in their mouth. Those making them will become just like them, everyone who is trusting in them.”—Psalm 135:15-18.
There is another reason for the Bible’s stern warning against worshipping anyone or anything other than Jehovah God. Such worship would be a monumental waste of time and effort. The prophet Isaiah aptly stated: “Who has formed a god or cast a mere molten image? Of no benefit at all has it been.” (Isaiah 44:10) The Bible also says that “all the gods of the peoples are valueless gods.” (Psalm 96:5) False gods are nothing, and worshipping nothing achieves nothing.
Jesus, the Angels, and the Devil
The Scriptures do at times refer to actual persons as gods. However, a careful examination clearly reveals that the term “god” in these instances is not intended to designate these individuals as deities. Rather, in the original languages in which the Bible was written, the term “god” was also used to describe a mighty person or an individual who is divine or closely associated with the Almighty God.
For example, some Bible verses allude to Jesus Christ as a god. (Isaiah 9:6, 7; John 1:1, 18) Does this mean that Jesus is to be worshipped? Jesus himself said: “It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.” (Luke 4:8) Clearly, although Jesus is mighty in power and divine in nature, the Bible does not portray him as an object of worship.
The angels are also referred to as “godlike ones.” (Psalm 8:5; Hebrews 2:7) Still, nowhere in the Scriptures are humans encouraged to venerate the angels. In fact, on a certain occasion, the aged apostle John was so awestruck by the presence of an angel that he prostrated himself to worship the angel. However, the angel responded: “Be careful! Do not do that! . . . Worship God.”—Revelation 19:10.
The apostle Paul described the Devil as “the god of this system of things.” (2 Corinthians 4:4) As “the ruler of this world,” the Devil has promoted countless false gods. (John 12:31) Hence, all worship addressed to man-made gods is, in effect, worship rendered to Satan. But Satan is not a god who merits our worship. He is a self-appointed ruler, a usurper. In time, he himself, as well as all forms of false worship, will be eliminated. When that happens, all humanity—yes, all creation—will forever acknowledge Jehovah as the only true and living God.—Jeremiah 10:10.
HAVE YOU WONDERED?
◼ What does the Bible teach about idol worship?—Psalm 135:15-18.
◼ Should Jesus and the angels be worshipped as gods?—Luke 4:8.
◼ Who is the only true God?—John 17:3.
[Pictures on page 28, 29]
Images from left to right: Mary, Italy; Maya maize god, Mexico and Central America; Ashtoreth, Canaan; a fetish idol, Sierra Leone; a Buddha, Japan; Chicomecóatl, Aztec, Mexico; Horus falcon, Egypt; Zeus, Greece
Maize god, Horus falcon, and Zeus: Photograph taken by courtesy of the British Museum