“I Jehovah your God am a God exacting exclusive devotion.”—Ex. 20:5, NW.
1. Why may man’s Maker rightly require exclusive devotion from every human?
JEHOVAH, the living God, has the right to demand exclusive devotion. He is the Maker of man and of the earth upon which man lives. All mankind should bring glory and praise to this One, the only Sovereign Ruler, for he himself said: “I am Jehovah, that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise unto graven images.” (Isa. 42:8, AS) Jehovah himself reveals that he first made the earth. Then from earth’s dust he created our first parents, Adam and Eve, and placed them in Eden, a paradise home. Jehovah told these two persons to fill the earth, subdue it, and make the whole globe a paradise for their offspring. These two disobeyed God. They preferred to follow the words of another creature, joining him in his rebellion against Jehovah. For rebelling, Adam was sentenced to death. (Gen. 3:19) “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men.” (Rom. 5:12, NW) Mankind, still in the loins of their first parents, thus became subjects of the “god of this world,” Satan the Devil.
2. How and when will the disputed issue of Jehovah’s sovereignty be settled?
2 Today mankind lives on this earth, not by right, but by the undeserved kindness of the true God. Not until he chooses to do so will the Almighty God interfere with the false god, the ruler of this world, Satan. Already nearly six thousand years have passed since the rebellion in Eden; still Jehovah has allowed that first disrespectful creature (now Satan) to remain. However, Jehovah will not tolerate Satan’s disrespect forever for predictively he said: “For this cause I have kept you in existence, for the sake of showing you my power and in order to have my name declared in all the earth.” (Ex. 9:16; Rom. 9:17, NW) The time for final settling of this issue as to who rules supreme has now come. Jehovah will receive exclusive devotion from all free creation when the false god, Satan, is abyssed in “the war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Armageddon.—Rev. 16:13-16; 20:1-3, NW.
3, 4. (a) What steps have already been taken for settling the disputed issue? (b) How may prudent persons now avoid making a fatal mistake?
3 Students of the Bible have knowledge of God’s purposes, and they know that he sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to lay down his life as a perfect sacrifice in order to redeem mankind from death. This was done 1,923 years ago. Jesus proved himself worthy of being Jehovah’s vindicator, and in 1914 Christ Jesus was placed in a position to rule. His first act in establishing the kingdom of his Father was to cast the Devil with all of his demon hordes out of heaven down to the earth, and with that done we now are very near to “the war of the great day of God the Almighty.” Then Jehovah will show his sovereign power and prove that all devotion is exclusively his. Persons who love righteousness have given to the Sovereign Ruler exclusive devotion. We are living in wonderful days when God-given prophecies about the end of this system of things are having fulfillment. All persons should acquaint themselves with the Bible, read it, study it and get accurate knowledge of it. “For if we practice sin willfully after having received the accurate knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left, but there is a certain fearful expectation of judgment and there is a fiery jealousy that is going to consume those in opposition.” (Heb. 10:26, 27, NW) By right thinking, by thinking the way God teaches us to think, we shall be happy to give exclusive devotion to the Sovereign Ruler of the universe. There will be no fear of the expected judgment.
4 The system of things in which mankind now find themselves keeps them in a very morbid state of mind. Concerning the future, many have no hope. Such live only in the present, saying: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.” (1 Cor. 15:32, NW; Isa. 22:13) Men are hateful, lustful, selfish—believing the only way to gain happiness is by conquest of others. They seek this false happiness through conquest in business, in politics, in religion; and often whole nations try to conquer other nations. This world and its people are devoted to selfishness. This will lead to world destruction. There must be a change, and there will be.
5. Mankind’s present and past ways of worship prove what?
5 Today men worship themselves or other men in high places. They make of themselves idols and love to have it so. People today are no better in this respect than those of centuries gone by. History shows us the worship of stone gods, goddesses, four-footed animals, fish, birds. All kinds of creatures have been carved in wood or stone, then put on pedestals for people to prostrate themselves before. Even God’s chosen people, the Israelites, bowed themselves down before images made of metal, stone or wood; and what was the result? Here is Jehovah’s command through Moses: “You must not bow down to them nor be induced to serve them, because I Jehovah your God am a God exacting exclusive devotion, bringing punishment for the iniquity of fathers upon sons down to the great-grandsons and great-great-grandsons in the case of those who hate me.” (Ex. 20:5, NW) The whole world knows that it has chosen gods to worship other than Jehovah; and today mankind, wittingly or unwittingly, are against the Sovereign Ruler.
6. How has Satan’s activity affected Jehovah and earth’s inhabitants?
6 There is one archenemy of Jehovah, Satan the Devil, whom the Scriptures call “the god of this system of things.” (2 Cor. 4:4, NW) That false god wants to turn every person’s heart and mind away from Jehovah God, to hate him even as Satan and his demons hate Jehovah. The Devil has done and is doing everything conceivable to blind the minds of unbelievers and he puts forth strenuous effort to mislead and blind believers too. He wants all men to worship any object, no matter how degrading, selfish and loveless. He will go to any limits to debauch mankind. But no matter what maneuvers the Devil makes, no matter how loud the propaganda to praise men and worship them, and no matter how severe the pressure of persecution on true followers of Jehovah’s enthroned Christ, the true God still demands of his genuine worshipers exclusive devotion For Jehovah’s witnesses there is no room for compromise. They must not bow down to any other gods or serve them. If they do they die, for Jehovah will not tolerate any worship of men or idols.
7, 8. (a) Why is obedience to Jehovah essential? (b) What results of obedience and of disobedience may we profitably compare?
7 The life that Jehovah gave to man in the very beginning was a gift, and man, by being obedient to his Maker, was free to use this life to praise and worship Jehovah and so maintain his own life. Obedience to his Maker was essential. The doing of the Sovereign’s will is required of every person living on earth and of every creature in the universe. God’s Son, Christ Jesus, gained eternal life through obedience, thus showing exclusive devotion to Jehovah. The Israelites, on their long trek through the wilderness after they were brought out of the land of Egypt, many times failed in their worship of God. But throughout all of this period Jehovah God was very merciful toward faithless Israel. There were occasions, one after another, that would have given Jehovah just reason to destroy the whole nation. However, for his own name’s sake and because of the promise he had made to their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, he kept on dealing with them as his chosen people. For centuries those stiff-necked Jews went their way and continued to bow down to other gods, forgetting the true worship of the One who gave them their daily needs, and by their actions said: “Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of Jehovah, and he delighteth in them.” (Mal. 2:17, AS) About a thousand years after being delivered from Egypt the Israelites actually used these words, showing how corrupt the nation had become. Can anyone think that the only true God of the universe can allow such disrespect to go on forever?
8 Later, in Paul’s day, the situation was even worse, and he sized up humankind in this manner: “Although asserting they were wise, they became foolish and turned the glory of the incorruptible God into something like the image of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed creatures and creeping things. Therefore God in keeping with the desires of their hearts gave them up to uncleanness, that their bodies might be dishonored among them, even those who exchanged the truth of God for the lie and venerated and rendered sacred service to the creation rather than the One who created, who is blessed forever. Amen.”—Rom. 1:22-25, NW.
ARE TODAY’S PEOPLE BETTER?
9, 10. How does the worship practiced by so-called heathen peoples compare with that of Christendom?
9 Today some humans may think they have advanced since the days of the Roman Empire, or that they are not like the Israelites, the Greeks or the Egyptians. But are the people today any better in their thinking and in their worship? Look at the so-called heathen nations. They still bow down before their gods of wood, stone and metal. But the Christian nations—surely they are better! On the contrary, they too are still bowing down before crosses, altars and images or dolls supposed to be “the virgin” and other “saints.” Not only in religious practice do we find men, women and children bowing down before their own handmade images and pictures of dictators but we find many worshiping statues of great men, heroes of war, and praying before “eternal” flames or a monument for an “unknown soldier”! Are they not worshiping the dead, who they claim have died, not in vain, but to “make the world safe for democracy”?
10 Have these millions of men and women who have died in world wars made the world safe for democracy or for any of mankind? No; today Christendom bows low and honors her war dead, just like millions of so-called heathens who for centuries have been worshiping all their dead ancestors. Today, in Christendom, men and women seriously trust in carnal weapons and in strong men whom they see, and they actually worship such leaders. This is the world of today. Wherein do they worship the true and living God, Jehovah? Many claim that all this ancestor and image worship, regardless of what it is, brings one closer to God. But does it? To which deity does it bring you closer—to the “god of this world,” Satan the Devil, or to the Sovereign Ruler, the living God, Jehovah?
11, 12. Why is true worship timely today?
11 Today mankind is worshiping idols just as much as did the ancient Israelites and the pagans of olden time. Jehovah rejected his chosen people because they were not giving him exclusive devotion. Today Jehovah God will be casting off a whole world, yes, most of more than two billion now living, because they willfully choose not to recognize the Sovereign Ruler. (Jer. 25:32, 33, AS) It is time for everyone to turn to the living God, Jehovah, to study his Word, and to learn his way of life eternal. This “whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one,” said John. (Matt. 13:19; John 12:31; 1 John 5:19, NW) In the very beginning Satan was successful in misleading Eve and through her to trip up Adam and to turn them both away from true worship. The wise counsel of Jehovah’s spokesmen of the past and present he has given “that we may not be overreached by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his designs.”—2 Cor. 2:11, NW.
12 Today the world is under the influence and guidance of “the god of this world,” who has blinded the hearts and minds of the people in it. He has blinded them so that they will not see who is the Sovereign Ruler of the universe or understand his purposes. That wicked one does not want man to live; he wants him to perish in Jehovah’s ‘war at Armageddon.’ Mankind, by continuing in their works of the flesh—which are “fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism, hatreds, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these”—will go on to the day of destruction. That is exactly what the Devil wants. “Those who practice such things will not inherit God’s kingdom.”—Gal. 5:19-21, NW.
WHO GIVE EXCLUSIVE DEVOTION?
13. What essential requirements for New World living may now be recognized, and by whom?
13 Today upon earth there is a New World society of men, women and children who are determined to give exclusive devotion to the true God, Jehovah. They are done with the works of the flesh, for they have been washed clean in the blood of Jehovah’s faithful Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph. 1:5-7, NW) Now they must bring forth ‘fruitage of the spirit, which is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.’ (Gal. 5:22, 23, NW) These sound principles of right living may and must be followed by anyone desiring now to survive and enjoy the approval of the Sovereign Ruler. By making the mind over, that is, by thinking now as Jehovah wants you to think, by thinking beneficially, uprightly, you surely will equip and prepare yourself for New World living. Every person who survives the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” will have proved to his fellows, as well as to himself and to the true God, that he or she really wants to be obedient to Jehovah, giving him exclusive devotion and joyfully worshiping him in his new world of righteousness forever.
14, 15. (a) Why has Almighty God selected certain humans to become his Son’s associates in heaven? (b) Who comprise the “one fold” under Jehovah’s one Shepherd?
14 The issue of sovereignty—Who rules supreme?—must be settled; but Jehovah chooses his own time. In many centuries now past he has proved that integrity-keeping persons can be faithful even under extreme adversity. He has proved this by all kinds of men and women from every nation, kindred and tongue. When Jesus Christ was upon earth nineteen hundred years ago he opened up the way for willing ones of mankind to be reconciled to Almighty God. A new nation was being created that would truly bring glory and honor to Jehovah God. That nation, consisting of 144,000 and called the “little flock” (Luke 12:32), Jehovah destined to become joint heirs with Christ Jesus in his heavenly kingdom to rule and reign with him for a thousand years. “Furthermore,” Paul wrote to them, “it is you God made alive though you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you at one time walked according to the system of things of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience. Yes, among them we all at one time conducted ourselves in harmony with the desires of our flesh, doing the things the flesh and the thoughts willed, and we were naturally children of wrath even as the rest. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, made us alive together with the Christ, even when we were dead in trespasses—by undeserved kindness you have been saved—and he raised us up together and seated us together in the heavenly places in union with Christ Jesus, that in the coming systems of things there might be demonstrated the surpassing riches of his undeserved kindness in his graciousness toward us in union with Christ Jesus. By this undeserved kindness, indeed, you have been saved through faith; and this not owing to you, it is God’s gift.”—Eph. 2:1-8, NW.
15 Exclusive devotion Jehovah God is being given by all of these, for they “are being built up together into a place for God to inhabit by spirit.” (Eph. 2:22, NW) Now even more people of all nations, kindreds and tongues are coming to worship Jehovah. Indeed, a “great crowd” are manifesting themselves in these days along with the remnant or remaining ones of the “little flock.” These all are brought into one fold under Jehovah’s one Shepherd, Christ Jesus. These “other sheep,” as the Bible calls them (John 10:16), know too that Jehovah their God is a God exacting exclusive devotion, and that he will not tolerate any rivalry; therefore they have separated themselves from the world. All in the “one fold” heed Jesus’ statement that he was in the world but not a part of it (John 17:14-16), and: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his [Jehovah’s] righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.”—Matt. 6:33, NW.
16. Why is it necessary now for every human to recognize Jehovah’s sovereignty?
16 Seeking first the kingdom of God demands of one exclusive devotion to Him. The now-established kingdom of God vindicates Jehovah’s name and word. About forty years ago its first operation or act was to cast the Devil from his position of rival in heaven. (Isa. 14:12, AS; Rev. 12:9, NW) Now Satan and his invisible hordes can operate only in earth’s vicinity. Here, too, their ousting is due. Here, too, the issue of sovereignty or unrivaled rulership Jehovah’s now-established kingdom will settle. (Isa. 9:7; Dan. 2:44, AS) “I Jehovah your God am a God not tolerating rivalry.” (Ex. 20:5, NW, margin) Jehovah will not give his glory to any other person. His principles of truth and righteousness will be carried out. From now on, in the mind of every living creature, universe-wide, his identity as the Supreme Sovereign and his name Jehovah must stand alone! (Isa. 2:11; Hab. 2:20, AS) “You must not bow down to another god, because Jehovah is exclusively devoted to his name. He is a God exacting exclusive devotion.”—Ex. 34:14, NW; Fenton.
“LET YOUR NAME BE SANCTIFIED”
17, 18. What claims of Jehovah should every human creature properly recognize today?
17 Jehovah cannot tolerate any other name to stand equal with his. He is above all. At one time he was alone, with all the power and authority in the whole universe. This supremacy he never has given and never will give to another. Everything that was made, created, brought forth, given life, was at the instance of this One, Jehovah. Creation is his work. He is the source of all life. He can create and destroy when he desires. But Jehovah, the eternal One, from everlasting to everlasting, is the creative God who wishes other persons to enjoy life; hence he gives life as a gift. (Ps. 90:1-17, AS) In Jehovah’s doing so, however, he requires that his creature must recognize him as Sovereign Ruler and give him exclusive devotion. There is no room for competition or rivalry. When Jehovah created man and woman he did not create them to be worshiped. They were to be the worshipers. Jehovah is in the position of a potter. He makes the clay of the ground into a form for his pleasure. The clay on the potter’s wheel is subject to his fingers. It is for the potter to decide the kind of vessel to make—what it will look like, the glory it shall have, whether it should be one of great beauty or just one for common use. After the potter has made many beautiful specimens and set them upon his shelf for people to see, the persons looking at the work of the artist do not worship or praise the vessel. Honor or glory is not given to what is created; but the complimentary remark, the praise, goes to the one that formed the vessel. We should think a person quite unbalanced who stood before a piece of pottery, praising it and glorifying it; but if he spoke complimentary words to its creator we could understand his expression.
18 Jehovah is the potter. He is the maker. He has produced these beautiful creatures upon earth. He shaped them. He formed them. He gave them their loveliness and made them attractive. He did more. He gave them life. It is Jehovah, then, who is to be complimented. He is the one who should receive the adoration, exclusive devotion. We are the things made. We glorify our Maker, in the same way that the vessel of a potter would bring honor to its creator. It is Jehovah God that has brought us into existence. He is the one to whom credit is due. He does not need to tolerate any rivalry, nor will he.
‘WALK NOT AFTER OTHER GODS’
19, 20. (a) What is indicated by any human creature’s desire for praise? (b) What examples of disrespect toward Jehovah serve as warnings to us?
19 In these days of great selfishness and striving among nations and people there are too many individuals that want praise rather than to give praise. In requiring praise they become rivals of God. The Devil told Eve that ‘if you eat of this tree of knowledge of good and evil you will be like God.’ This idea is still instilled in man, and man wants to be worshiped, even though he is nothing—just dust of the ground, clay formed into a beautiful creature by the Sovereign Ruler of the universe and given life by that Creator. But the living creature does not want to praise his Creator. He becomes proud, haughty, self-important; and it is not long until he begins to tell God wherein He is wrong. It is a common thing to read in newspapers the comments of Christendom’s clergy, and to see how they criticize the Bible, God’s Word. Many clergymen have written books on “higher criticism,” going so far as denying the ransom sacrifice of Christ Jesus. They claim to be Christians but deny Christ himself as the Son of God. How could such be Christian?
20 Other clergymen of Christendom go so far as to call Jehovah a “bully,” thus bringing the Sovereign Ruler of the universe to a low, despicable position in the minds of those whom this One created. All of this is done to bring disrespect to the Sovereign Ruler and to bring praise to the one who was created, a man. Christendom and its representatives are not giving exclusive devotion to Jehovah. They are interested in their own aims, their own nation, their national wars; even believing that Catholics and Protestants in one country are more blessed, more greatly favored, than Catholics and Protestants in another country. Where is their unity, their brotherly love? Is it just vain words?
21. For what other reasons is exclusive devotion to Jehovah of first importance now?
21 There is only one true God, and one people living upon this earth, all from God’s original creation; and in his due time all will be of one nation, having one God. He will not tolerate rivalry. His kingdom will endure forever. All mankind who refuse to get in line with true worship will be annihilated, destroyed, there being no place in his universe for rebels. “You must not walk after other gods, any gods of the peoples who are all around you, (for Jehovah your God in your midst is a God exacting exclusive devotion,) for fear the anger of Jehovah your God may blaze against you and he must annihilate you from off the surface of the ground.” (Deut. 6:14, 15, NW) This statement is so definite and positive: “You must never have any other gods against my face,” or, as the margin says, “You must never have any other gods in defiance of me.” (Deut. 5:7, NW) But still there are many persons today who worship this world and this system of things, all of which is in defiance of God’s righteous kingdom. On the one hand, they pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10); and, on the other hand, they go forward and support the United Nations organization, which is definitely set against God’s enthroned King Christ Jesus. Religionists have supported and keep on supporting today’s United Nations and yesterday’s League of Nations. Indeed they went so far as to say that this “League” was the political expression of God’s kingdom. Is it not plain to see that they are setting up something of their own in defiance of Jehovah?