When All Men Again Worship One God
1. On December 6, 1956, what did two officials of a New York publishing society note at Mars’ Hill in Athens?
One day in 1956—it was the sixth of December—the president and the vice-president of an internationally known publishing society* climbed up Mars’ Hill in Athens, Greece. The pagan Greeks of long ago called the hill A·re·opʹa·gus. Stone steps lead to the top. Near the bottom of these the two men stopped. Look! A bronze plate imbedded in the rock to the right of the steps! It is inscribed with words in the common Greek speech of nineteen hundred years ago. The words are, in fact, a quotation from the Sacred Bible. Yes, they are from that part of the Bible which was first written in Greek to the Christians and which is generally called “The New Testament.” The words quoted are from its book of the Acts of the Apostles, chapter seventeen, verses twenty-two through thirty-one. Translated into modern English here are what the words say:
2. What did the inscription on the bronze plaque say?
2 “Men of Athens, I behold that in all things you seem to be more given to the fear of the deities than others are. For instance, while passing along and carefully observing your objects of devotion I also found an altar on which had been inscribed ‘To an Unknown God’. Therefore what you are unknowingly giving godly devotion to, this I am publishing to you. The God that made the world and all the things in it, being, as this One is, Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in handmade temples, neither is he attended to by human hands as if he needed anything, because he himself gives to all persons life and breath and all things. And he made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth, and he decreed the appointed seasons and the set limits of the dwelling of men, for them to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us. For by him we have life and move and exist, even as certain ones of the poets among you have said, ‘For we are also his progeny.’ Seeing, therefore, that we are the progeny of God, we ought not to imagine that the Divine Being is like gold or silver or stone, like something sculptured by the art and contrivance of man. True, God has overlooked the times of such ignorance, yet now he is telling mankind that they should all everywhere repent. Because he has set a day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has furnished a guarantee to all men in that he has resurrected him from the dead.”Ac 17:22-31
3, 4. To what fact did that plaque on the rock testify, and how did this happen?
3 Why was that plaque with those remarkable words imbedded in the rock? To testify that Paul of the city of Tarsus, Asia Minor, spoke those words there on Mars’ Hill nineteen centuries ago. Paul was an apostle or envoy of Jesus Christ, who had been unjustly killed about eighteen years before this at Jerusalem, but whom the Almighty God had made alive from the dead on the third day. Paul himself had met this Jesus Christ years after his resurrection from death. This miraculous meeting helped to change Paul from being a persecutor of Christ’s followers to becoming a faithful follower of him. Paul was therefore a witness to the fact that the Almighty God had resurrected Jesus Christ out of death and had transformed him into a glorious spirit person in the invisible heavens.
4 So now the Christian apostle Paul stood on top of Mars’ Hill, or the A·re·opʹa·gus. The highest legal court in ancient Athens had brought him up there to listen to him, because on Mars’ Hill was where this court held its meetings. Members of this court were philosophers known as Stoʹics and Ep·i·cu·reʹans. As Paul reminded them, they believed in many deities to whom they had built temples and altars out of fear. They were afraid they might leave out one god. So to avoid punishment they erected an altar to whoever this god might be. They confessed that they were ignorant of this god by inscribing on this altar the words, “To an Unknown God.” Who was He? Paul knew. Those men of Athens did not know.
5. What did Paul prove to the legal court concerning the terms “Jesus’ and “resurrection”?
5 What was the name of this Unknown God? Those men of Athens had heard Paul talk about Jesus and about resurrection. So they thought that Jesus and Resurrection were the names of gods strange to them. They brought Paul into the Mars’ Hill court to defend himself against the charge of religious blasphemy, for which he could be put to death. Paul proved to them that Jesus and Resurrection were not the names of the Unknown God. Had Jesus resurrected himself from the dead? No. History tells us that Jesus had resurrected or raised other persons on earth from the dead. But himself he could not raise from the dead. His being dead prevented his doing that.
6. Who, then, had performed the resurrection of Jesus, and what relationship did they therefore hold to each other?
6 Who, then, performed the resurrection of Jesus Christ out of death? It was God. He raised Jesus Christ from the dead and not only brought him back to life again but also transformed him into an undying spirit person to live up in the heavens. Do you not think that he had to be God in order to be able to do that? Yes; any Being that could do such a miraculous thing must be the one true and living God. He must be almighty to do such a thing. None of the gods of the men of Athens or of any other people had ever done or could do such a thing. Also, by raising this Jesus Christ from the dead to enjoy superhuman, spirit life with Him in the highest heavens, the Almighty God showed that he was the heavenly Father of this Jesus and that this resurrected Jesus was the Son of God. His receiving body and life from Almighty God made him the Son of God, a heavenly, spiritual Son of God.
7. What else is this Resurrector of Jesus Christ?
7 This almighty, immortal God did more than give life to his Son Jesus Christ. In order to make the men of Athens better acquainted with the Unknown God Paul on Mars’ Hill told them that this is the God that “made the world and all the things in it.” He is therefore the great Creator, the greater Former and Shaper of all things that exist, whether unseen to us or seen to us. Well, then, this One is, as Paul says, the “Lord of heaven and earth,” that is, the Master and Owner of all heaven and earth. Hence we rightly call Him the Lord God.
HIS NAME AND WORSHIP
8. By what personal name may we call him, and where and how many times therein does that name occur?
8 Can we call this Lord God by a personal name in order that we may set him apart from all others who are called “gods”? Yes, we can. What personal name, then? Well, have you ever heard anyone sing or shout out the long word “Hal·le·luʹ·jah”? That is a Hebrew word and it means “Praise Jah!” But who is this Jah that we are thus called upon to praise? Hebrew scholars tell us that this name Jah is a shortening of the full name Jehovah. Some scholars prefer to pronounce the name Jahʹveh or Jahʹweh, but today Jehovah is the most popular way of pronouncing the name. No man gave him this name. He named himself this way. By his invisible force by which he made the world he also caused a book to be written on earth by men who served and worshiped him. Because he moved these men by his unseen active force to write this book it is called holy or sacred. Some call it the Holy Scriptures, because it is made up of holy writings. Others call it the Holy Bible, because it is made up of many little books, sixty-six books being in most versions of the Holy Bible. The first thirty-nine books were written in the Hebrew language, and in those books the Almighty God tells us that his personal name is Jehovah—at least 6,823 times.
9. What does he declare at Isaiah 42:8, to identify himself?
9 In the book of Isaiah, chapter forty-two, verse eight, the Almighty God says: “I am Jehovah, that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise unto graven images.” (AS) So now this only true and living God is no longer unknown to you by his personal name. He is Jehovah God.
10. Why is there today no man-made temple to Jehovah, and what did King Solomon say in this regard?
10 In most lands of the earth there are thousands of temples made by the hand of man. But do you know of any one of them that is consecrated to Jehovah God? No, you do not. Nineteen hundred years ago there used to be a temple to Jehovah at the city of Jerusalem, now in the land of Jordan. But Jehovah God himself let it be burned and broken down in the year 70 of the Christian era. Why? Because that temple was misused and because, as Paul told the men of Athens on Mars’ Hill, the one living and true God “does not dwell in handmade temples, neither is he attended to by human hands as if he needed anything.” (Acts 17:24, 25, NW) How could the God who made the measureless heavens and the big earth dwell in the really tiny temples that the hands of men make? We must not dishonor God by belittling him. Almost three thousand years ago King Solomon built a glorious temple to Jehovah at Jerusalem. Yet when this wisest king of ancient times dedicated the temple to Jehovah he prayed and said: “But will God in very deed dwell on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded! Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O Jehovah my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer which thy servant prayeth before thee this day; that thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place whereof thou hast said, My name shall be there.”—1 Ki. 8:27-29, AS.
11, 12. What state of dependency is there between God and us?
11 The Creator of all things in heaven and on earth is too big to dwell in temples made by our hands. He does not need anything such as a temple of wood, brick or stone. Instead of our needing to give him things to keep him well and happy, “he himself gives to all persons life and breath and all things,” said Paul.
12 Our life is from God. Our power to breathe and the air that we breathe are from God. The earth and all the things that we enjoy are from God, his gifts to us. Why, then, should we think that He has to depend upon us and that we have to build temples to Him? Since he is our Life-giver and the One upon whom we depend for everything good he ought to be our God whom we worship, adore and please. This should be true of us regardless of what nation we belong to today.
13. Regardless of our nationality, in what sense are we God’s progeny?
13 Listen again to what Paul on Mars’ Hill said in explaining this God: “He made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth, and he decreed the appointed seasons and the set limits of the dwelling of men, for them to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him, although, in fact, he is not far off from each one of us. For by him we have life and move and exist, even as certain ones of the poets among you have said, ‘For we are also his progeny.’ Seeing, therefore, that we are the progeny of God, we ought not to imagine that the Divine Being is like gold or silver or stone, like something sculptured by the art and contrivance of man.” So we all come from the one first man that God made, no matter of what nation we might now be, no matter where we dwell on this earth. Inasmuch as that one first man was made or created by God and was thus a “son of God,” we are in a way the “progeny of God” because of our coming from that man. Certainly, then, we ought to worship as our God the Creator whose progeny we are.—Luke 3:38.
14. Why do we no longer need to grope for God without hope of finding him?
14 Times of ignorance of this God have long prevailed on earth, even long before Paul discovered the altar “To an Unknown God” at Athens nineteen hundred years ago. Because of this, many of us who longed to know the living and true God have groped for him. Just think: He is not far off from any one of us, so that we ought to be able to find him! Just think, too: He decreed the appointed seasons for us to seek him, that we might find him! And think of it: Now is the appointed season for us to seek him with good hope of actually finding him and knowing him!
ORIGINAL WORSHIP OF ONE GOD
15. What can finding God lead to, and what was Adam’s condition when he knew Him?
15 Finding him so as to know and understand him and have friendship with him means finding our heavenly Life-giver and Sustainer. Such a successful find can lead to our gaining everlasting life in perfect happiness and peace. The first man knew him but lost him. That great loss brought death upon that one first man and upon all the nations who were made from him. When the first man, whose name was Adam, knew God as his heavenly Father and had family relationship with God as His earthly son, Adam was in union with the divine Source of his life. Continued life on earth required Adam’s keeping in touch with this only Source of life. Jehovah God desires his sons in heaven and on earth to be perfect. He creates them perfect. “Perfect is his activity.” (Deut. 32:4, NW) His creating of the first man Adam was perfect. To quote from his Holy Bible: “Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen. 2:7, AS) Not an imperfect dying soul, but the first man became a perfect living soul.
16. What was the possibility before Adam in Eden, and upon what did this depend?
16 Do we appreciate what that means? As a perfect human soul Adam could have lived on earth forever, and it would have been a pleasure for him and for us his offspring to live here forever. How is that? Because God put him in an earthly paradise, desiring him to stay in it, for he loved this earthly son and wanted him to remain in the family of God. His Holy Bible tells us: “Jehovah God planted a garden [a paradise] eastward, in Eden [Pleasure]; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made Jehovah God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Gen. 2:8, 9, AS) Upon what did Adam’s remaining in this paradise of pleasure in union with the Source of life depend? Upon his carrying on the one and only right way of worship.
17, 18. (a) Why would Adam not be inclined to worship ancestors? (b) Nor the trees? (c) Nor the beasts, birds and insects?
17 But whom would Adam worship? Whom would Adam in his human perfection want to worship? Earthly ancestors? Adam had no human ancestors. Then would he want to worship the trees of that garden or the river that went out of Eden to water that garden? No; he was put into the garden to take care of its trees: “Jehovah God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” (Gen. 2:15, AS) The man Adam had not received his life from trees, not even from the “tree of life” that God had planted in the midst of the garden. If given authority from heaven, Adam could have chopped down any of those trees and killed them.
18 Well, then, would Adam be inclined to worship any of the lower animals, the beasts and the birds and the insects in the garden, or any of the fish that swam in the river and its branch streams? No; he was put in charge of those lower animal creatures and he named them. Jehovah God “brought them unto the man to see what he would call them: and whatsoever the man called every living creature, that was the name thereof.” (Gen. 2:19, 20, AS) But Adam did not call even one of them “God.” He had dominion over them, not they over him. They stood in awe of him, not he of them. He had not descended from them, but was created specially separate from them. He saw them die! Why worship any of them?
19. Whom would Adam be inclined to worship, and why, even though such one was unseen?
19 Whom, then, would Adam be inclined to worship? Himself? No, even though he did hold dominion over the lower animals. His Life-giver, then? Yes, because he had created Adam in perfection and had created all those living creatures and also the beautiful paradise of Eden for him to live in. Jehovah was no unknown God to Adam. He had created Adam of such elements and physical powers that Adam was not able to see God and remain alive. (Ex. 33:20) Yet God talked to him from the unseen and told him why he had been put on this earth. He told him how he could live on earth in his paradise forever. “And Jehovah God also laid this command upon the man: ‘From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.’” (Gen. 2:16, 17, NW) Adam accepted this information as from his Creator. He cultivated and took care of the paradise garden, but he did not eat from that tree. He wanted to live and be able to keep on talking and having association with his loving Creator in that perfect earthly home.
20. How did God add to single Adam’s happiness, and what worship continued thereafter?
20 In order to add to Adam’s happiness God created for him a perfect wife. That she might be really a part of Adam God put him into a deep sleep and then painlessly removed a rib from his side and used this to build up a woman. God then presented her to Adam in marriage. He explained to them his purpose for them: “God blessed them [he did not curse them] and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is creeping upon the earth.’” (Gen. 2:18-25; 1:26-28, NW) Adam and his wife Eve heard God talk to them. They knew who their Creator was. He was the One and the only One whom they worshiped as God.
21. How did Adam and Eve worship God, and thus what was true of all men then?
21 How did they worship him? By building temples? No; God did not need any house in which to talk to them only there. By making an image of some kind of shape? No; no image could be a copy of God. Every man-made image would picture him wrongly and would be a lie against him. By offering up sacrifices? No; God did not command them to kill animals and burn them upon altars. Adam and Eve were perfect human souls and had no sins for which to shed blood and offer up sacrifice. How, then, did they worship their Creator as God? By thanking and praising him and by obeying him as their heavenly Father and Lawgiver. This they did for some time and were pure and happy, knowing no pain, no sorrow, no fear. Adam and Eve and the unborn human race within their loins united in worshiping Jehovah their Creator and Life-giver. Thus the time was when all men worshiped one God. That was the practice of mankind at its very beginning, and it was the one and only correct practice. It was the original pattern for us.
ATTEMPT TO PRODUCE MORE GODS
22. How did the coming into existence of so many gods to worship have its start?
22 Today there are so many that are called gods and worshiped as such. This is all so contrary to what was the case at mankind’s pure beginning in the paradise of Eden. It started when some self-seeking creature wanted to be God and thus to put two Gods in the universe. Unseen, this creature presented himself in the paradise. He began talking to the woman Eve, not directly, the way God did, but indirectly through a serpent in the garden. He lied against the one and only God by telling Eve that God had lied about the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. This liar wanted Eve to worship him as god by obeying him rather than to worship her Creator as God by obeying Him. This self-glorifying creature showed he wanted to be worshiped as a god by saying to Eve: “You positively will not die. For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it [the forbidden tree] your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.” He became a god when Eve and then her husband Adam obeyed him by eating from the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and bad.—Gen. 3:1-7, NW.
23. What is sin, and what worship did the sin of Adam and Eve involve?
23 Disobedience against God is sin; it is the missing of the mark of perfection. God punishes sin with death. He condemned the first man and woman to death for their sin and their worship of a false god and drove them out of the paradise of Eden. But before he did so he let them hear him tell the false god that he would not forever be permitted to steal worship away from Jehovah God.
24. What did God’s warning to the Serpent mean, and why are we all imperfect and dying?
24 Instead of comparing this false god with himself, Jehovah God likened him to the serpent and cursed him and said: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” (Gen. 3:14, 15, NW) Bruising a serpent’s head would mean killing it. That is what will yet happen to the original false god under the heel of the promised Seed of God’s woman. That, too, is what will yet happen to all the other false gods, these being the “seed” of the first false god. Worship and obedience to any false god is sin. It is punished with death. That is why we read concerning Adam who sinned: “He became father to sons and daughters. So all the days of Adam that he lived amounted to nine hundred and thirty years and he died.” (Gen. 5:4, 5, NW) He could have lived forever in his paradise if he had not sinned either by eating the forbidden fruit or in any other way. All his children down to us today inherited sin and death from him. (Rom. 5:12) Do you know why we are all imperfect and dying? That is why.
25. What did Jehovah call the first false god, and evidently how did the worship of false gods spread from the third generation on?
25 Because the first false god was his enemy and slanderer and had used a serpent to lead Eve and Adam into sin, Jehovah God called him “the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan.” (Rev. 20:2; 12:9, NW) Many of Adam’s grandchildren must have worshiped false gods. Many things that have to do with worship and that searching men have dug up from the earth from long ago serve to show that they did so.* In the days of Adam’s grandson Enosh they even reached the point of calling other things by the name of Jehovah: “At that time a start was made of calling on the name of Jehovah.” (Gen. 4:25, 26, NW) False worship must have been speeded up when angelic sons of God in heaven disobediently came down from heaven by taking on the form of handsome men and marrying the good-looking women and raising children called Nephʹi·lim· “The Nephʹi·lim proved to be in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God continued to have relations with the daughters of men and they bore sons to them, they were the mighty ones who were of that world, the men of fame. Consequently Jehovah saw that the badness of man had become great in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time.” What wonder that the earth was full of violence as a result of them! False worship always leads to that harmful result.—Gen. 6:1-5, 13, NW.
26. Who was first of men not to give way to false worship, and what did he prove to be?
26 Not all men back there gave way to false worship. Adam’s second son, named Abel, turned to the worship of Jehovah God in whom he had true faith. He is the first one in the Holy Bible who is reported to have offered an animal sacrifice to God, and God accepted such a sacrifice, as a prophetic picture of a greater sacrifice that would really take away sin and lift the condemnation of death off men and women who would have faith in that sacrifice and accept the benefits of it. Because of Abel’s right worship of the one God his older brother Cain jealously murdered him. (Gen. 4:1-8) There is always danger that false worshipers will hate and persecute true worshipers. The Holy Bible names Abel as the first faithful witness of Jehovah on earth. It says: “By faith Abel offered God a sacrifice of greater worth than Cain, through which faith he had witness borne to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness respecting his gifts, and through it he, although he died, yet speaks.” He was the first of “so great a cloud of witnesses” of ancient times.—Heb. 11:4; 12:1, NW.
27. Who next is mentioned as a witness of Jehovah, and concerning what did he prophesy?
27 The seventh man in line of descent from Adam was named Enoch. Like Abel, he also was a faithful witness of Jehovah God, for the Holy Bible tells us: “Enoch kept walking with the God.” (Gen. 5:18-24, NW) Concerning his witnessing for Jehovah we also read: “Yes, the seventh man in line from Adam, Enoch, prophesied also regarding them, when he said: ‘Look! Jehovah came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment against all and to convict all the ungodly concerning all their ungodly deeds that they did in an ungodly way and concerning all the shocking things that ungodly sinners spoke against him.’” (Jude 14, 15, NW) This gives us an insight into the religious conditions on earth in Enoch’s day. It also points forward to the judgment day that Jehovah has set “in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and he has furnished a guarantee to all men in that he has resurrected him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31, NW) Just three generations after Enoch Jehovah God gave a world-wide demonstration of how he can execute judgment upon the whole inhabited earth. Note how this was.—Heb. 11:5; 12:1, NW.
28, 29. How did Noah prove himself Jehovah’s witness, and how did false worship pass from the earth in his day?
28 In the third generation after Enoch there was a man full of faith named Noah. In his days the Nephʹi·lim, the offspring of the disobedient “sons of God” by the daughters of men, were the “mighty ones who were of that world, the men of fame.” They were creatures making a big name for themselves, but Noah bore witness to the name of Jehovah as the one living and true God.—Gen. 6:4, NW.
29 Noah was past five hundred years of age when Jehovah warned him of a global flood to come within the next hundred years. By this destructive flood Jehovah purposed to drown out all the worshipers of false gods, in expression of his judgment against sinful false worship. Early enough before the flood Jehovah told Noah to begin building an ark or large vessel in which to be protected against the engulfing waters. While building the ark Noah was a “preacher of righteousness” and a witness for Jehovah. (Heb. 11:7; 12:1, NW) On the very day that the flood broke from the distant skies Noah and the seven members of his household went into the ark into which they had already brought specimens of all the birds and animals. After God had closed the door behind Noah down came the great deluge, catching all the false worshipers outside. All the Nephʹi·lim perished with them. But the disobedient “sons of God” shed the human bodies in which they had lived with their wives and Nephʹi·lim sons and returned to the invisible spirit realm, there to become demon angels under the ruler of the demons, Satan the Devil. (Gen. 7:11-13; 1 Pet. 3:19, 20, AS) That old world of before the Flood perished unconverted to God. “He did not hold back from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people.” “By those means the world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water.” (2 Pet. 2:5; 3:6, NW) By one big stroke Almighty God destroyed false worship from the earth by wiping out all false worshipers at one and the same time. Will he have to repeat such a performance?
30. What did Noah and his household do after stepping out of the ark, thus what was then true of all mankind?
30 One solar year after Noah and his household of seven members safely went into the ark they safely came out from it upon the mountain range of Arʹa·rat and let loose the birds and animals. What was the first thing that Noah and his household did on stepping out on the cleansed earth? These eight witnesses of Jehovah worshiped him as the one God. “And Noah began to build an altar to Jehovah and to take some of all the clean beasts and of all the clean flying creatures and to offer burnt offerings upon the altar.” Jehovah God was pleased with this renewal of his pure worship and he solemnly promised a global flood would no more bring all flesh to ruin for false worship. He produced the beautiful rainbow as a symbol of this unbreakable promise. (Gen. 8:20 to 9:17, NW) For some time these eight remaining inhabitants of the earth faithfully carried on Jehovah’s worship. Two years after the flood came there was a son born to Shem, Noah’s son whom Jehovah specially blessed. Thus again there was a time on earth when all men worshiped one God. But now due to the coming in of sin and death through Adam animal sacrifice was added to the worship of Jehovah. Mankind again started off with the one right worship, and with fathers who were righteous in God’s sight.
HIGH TIME FOR IGNORANCE TO END
31. How did the ignorance of the true God as commented on by Paul at Mars’ Hill set in and spread?
31 Over twenty-four hundred years later the Christian apostle Paul stood on Mars’ Hill and gave a witness to the highest legal court of the city of Athens. He remarked on the fact that there were then many deities—demons—who were being worshiped, by the vastly greater portion of mankind, even by philosophers. The true God, the Creator of heaven and earth and Maker of all nations of men, was unknown to such. This widespread ignorance of Jehovah set in some time after the deluge of Noah’s day. It was due to the efforts of Satan the Devil and his demon angels to break up the oneness of mankind in worshiping the God who had delivered them from destruction in the Flood. Nimrod, the great-grandson of Noah through his son Ham, led off in violating the commandments of Jehovah and bringing in hero worship, the idolizing and deifying of men. “He made the start in becoming a mighty one in the earth. He displayed himself a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah. That is why there is a saying, ‘Just like Nimrod a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah.’ And the beginning of his kingdom came to be Baʹbel.” (Gen. 10:8-10, NW) The making of many false religions followed as time moved on and as different tribes and nations were organized, each with its own style of religion.
32. How did the true religion live on from Noah down to Christ?
32 Did not the true religion, the true worship of the one living and true God, live on? Yes. During all those centuries of falling away from the pure faith one thin strain of humanity continued to hold the true faith and to increase in the knowledge of Jehovah God. That strain led from Noah on through other witnesses of Jehovah like him, such as his son Shem and, many generations later, faithful Abraham, who “came to be called ‘Jehovah’s friend’.” (Jas. 2:23, NW) Abraham was the great-grandfather of the twelve tribes of Israel. With the ancient nation of Israel Jehovah made a national covenant or agreement through the prophet Moses, and to them he gave his laws and the approved form of worship. To them he sent his prophets to guide and correct them and to give them marvelous revelations of truth. To them finally he sent down his own Son from heaven to live on earth for thirty-three and a half years as a perfect man.—John 3:16, 17.
33. How did Jesus show whether he wanted to get men to worship him, and how is he alone the mediator between God and men?
33 When Jesus Christ was on earth did he imitate the mighty hunter Nimrod and try to lead men to worship him? No, he did not. When Satan the Devil tried to tempt him into Devil worship, he said: “Go away, Satan! For it is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’” (Matt. 4:10, NW) He sought first a share in the kingdom of God and told his followers to do the same thing, saying: “You must pray, then, this way: ‘Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will come to pass, as in heaven, also upon earth.’ . . . For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things. Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:9, 10, 32, 33, NW) To a Jewish questioner Jesus said: “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” (Mark 10:18, RS) Then to show there is only one right form of worship and only one way to the one true God, Jesus said to his followers: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6, RS) The reason why Jesus said this was that he had come here to be the go-between or mediator between Jehovah God and men. Under divine inspiration the apostle Paul declares: “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.” (1 Tim. 2:5, 6, NW) Being a perfect man on earth and dying sinless as a martyr for God’s kingdom, Christ Jesus offered to God the one acceptable ransom sacrifice for the sins of mankind. So he alone can serve as mediator.
34. How did Jehovah heal the wound of the Seed of his woman, and what is this Seed now in position to do?
34 By inducing the false religious leaders on earth to kill Jesus, Satan the Devil like a serpent bruised the Seed of God’s woman at the heel. But by resurrecting Jesus from the dead on the third day after he died Jehovah God healed the wound inflicted on the Seed of his woman. Jesus thus entered into life immortal in the heavenly spirit realm and presented the value of his human sacrifice to God as a “corresponding ransom.” He could thus act as the “one mediator between God and men” down to our own day in this twentieth century. The resurrected Jesus is now in the position as the Seed of God’s woman to bruise the great Serpent at the vital spot, the head, and thus end all false religion.
35. Why could Paul on Mars’ Hill rightly say something about future judgment?
35 The apostle Paul had a miraculous vision of the resurrected Jesus in his heavenly glory. Paul also personally knew many of the five hundred followers of Jesus Christ who saw him at one time after his resurrection. So when Paul stood on Mars’ Hill before the supreme court of Athens and was reminded of legal judgment, he could rightly say something about a far greater judgment. What? This, that by resurrecting his Son Jesus from the dead Jehovah God had given a guarantee to all men, including us today, that he has set a judgment day for judging all the inhabited earth by the one whom he has appointed, the resurrected Jesus.
36. When, then, is it high time to repent from false religion?
36 Jehovah’s judgment by his appointed Son in heaven has already begun upon all modern-day nations. That is the meaning of all the world-shaking events since the year 1914, when World War I burst upon mankind. Jehovah God overlooks the times of ignorance concerning himself no more. Now as never before, by hundreds of thousands of witnesses of Jehovah throughout the earth, he is “telling mankind that they should all everywhere repent.” (Acts 17:30, NW) It is now high time to repent from false religion, for no false religion will stand up under the execution of his judgment through his appointed Judge Jesus Christ. Jehovah’s time has come when all men must and will again worship the one God.
37. Is it now through world repentance and conversion that all men are to worship the one God, and what is the explanation?
37 Are we, then, at the conversion of all this old world to the worship of Jehovah God? Are all living humans going to become Jehovah’s witnesses? Are all men everywhere going to repent and turn from the many different religions of Christendom and of the non-Christian world to worshiping Jehovah as God? No! World repentance and conversion are impossible! Well, then, how are all men again going to worship one God at his set time? By the stupendous act of God concerning which he has been warning the nations by his witnesses both before and since World War I. He will take action toward all false religion the same as he did during Noah’s presence on earth. Jesus Christ on earth foretold, not world conversion and preservation, but world destruction.
38. How will this old world end, and as in whose days will it occur?
38 When foretelling the end of this world with its confusion of religions, Jesus said World War I would mark the beginning of the world’s “time of the end” and that a time of tribulation such as never was since the world began would mark its close. This final tribulation will come suddenly upon all false worshipers. “For,” said Jesus, “just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man [namely, Jesus Christ in the heavenly kingdom] will be. For as people were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” (Matt. 24:7-22, 36-39, NW) The flood swept the Nephʹi·lim, the unnatural children of the disobedient “sons of God,” and all other careless false religionists into sudden, swift destruction. Only the eight worshipers and witnesses of Jehovah God in Noah’s ark lived through the flood. Thus only one religion survived.
39. For what course will false worshipers pay amid the destruction of the old world?
39 Just like that it will be at Jehovah’s set time, although the Flood itself will not be repeated. His Son Jesus Christ is now present in the heavenly kingdom as royal Judge and Executioner. Within this generation of mankind he will, as the greatest Champion of the pure worship of the living and true God, render his decision and will execute judgment against all the many wrong forms of worship that ignore and oppose Jehovah God. All false worshipers will be executed amid the destruction of the unrepentant, unconverted old world. They will thus pay for taking no note of the lifesaving witness and warning that the witnesses of Jehovah have persistently given. As Jesus foretold concerning these days following World War I: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations, and then the accomplished end will come.”—Matt. 24:14, NW.
40. Who will be preserved through the end of this old world, to enjoy what thereafter?
40 The Kingdom is not of this old world, but is of the new world that God will create. The old world will end and with it its billions of false worshipers. Satan the Devil, who is the “god of this world,” will be bound and imprisoned as in a sealed abyss, and with him all his demon angels by whom the nations of this world have been misruled and misguided. (Rev. 20:1-3) But the Kingdom preachers will be preserved through the end of this old world. The Judge and Executioner whom Jehovah God has appointed will not execute these faithful preachers but will protect them and spare them alive into God’s new world. On earth they will enjoy the blessings of God’s established kingdom under Jesus Christ.
THE BEAUTY OF UNITED WORSHIP
41. What will thus be the situation on earth immediately after the great tribulation?
41 Do we appreciate what that will mean? It will mean Almighty God will have achieved his purpose that all men shall again worship the one God, Jehovah, the Creator and immortal Source of all life. Only his worshipers will survive the great tribulation in which the Devil-worshiping old world will end. By the revelation then of his power and justice the prophecy will be fulfilled: “The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. 2:14, AS) Like Noah and his family, after the flood had destroyed the ancient, ungodly world, the Kingdom-preaching witnesses of Jehovah will unitedly carry forward the worship of the one God on an earth cleansed of all false religion. The false god Satan the Devil and his demons will not be free to start religious prejudice and wars. The kingdom of the new world will tolerate none but the true religion.
42. What will soon make its reappearance on earth when all men then living are again worshiping one God?
42 When all mankind originally worshiped the one God Jehovah it was in an earthly paradise, the garden of Eden. Likewise, when all the Kingdom-preaching survivors practice the one pure and undefiled religion after the great tribulation now near at hand, paradise will soon make its reappearance, not just on the site of the former one in Eden, toward the east, but all around the globe. The terrible results of thousands of years of tribal and international wars between men of different religions will be made to vanish as the tribulation survivors set themselves to the God-given task of subduing the earth. (Gen. 1:28) Through his kingdom under Jesus Christ Jehovah God will bless their efforts in beautifying man’s eternal earthly home, just as he blessed the land of the ancient nation of Israel when its inhabitants worshiped and obeyed him, so that it was a land “flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands.”—Ezek. 20:6, 15; Ex. 3:8.
43. What other creatures will enjoy that lovely paradise, and why?
43 Not only will the tribulation survivors enjoy this lovely paradise but harmless animals will roam through it and birds of beauty and of song will flutter and hop around in it. Animals and birds issued forth from Noah’s ark after the flood long ago, and Bible prophecy assures us that animals and birds will likewise be preserved through the time of great tribulation and be in subjection to the inhabitants of the new world. In view of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ it will not be necessary to sacrifice any of them when worshiping Jehovah God.—Gen. 8:15-22.
44. How will the dying evildoer have Jesus’ promise to him fulfilled, but first after whom?
44 When Jesus was dying as a sacrifice upon a torture stake, he said to an evildoer hanging alongside of him: “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43, NW; Ro) How will Jesus’ promise to this sympathetic evildoer now dead for the past nineteen centuries come true? By his resurrection from the dead under God’s kingdom, when paradise will have been restored on our earth. More than that, all of Jehovah’s faithful witnesses from Abel down to the prophet John who baptized Jesus will be resurrected ahead of that evildoer who died because of crime. Jesus has assured us so. (John 5:28, 29; Matt. 22:31, 32) The resurrection of Jesus is a forerunner and guarantee of a resurrection of the just and the unjust ones.—1 Cor. 15:20; Acts 24:15.
45. How will the one worship of the one God by all men be carried forward and preserved?
45 Those resurrected ancient witnesses of Jehovah will resume his worship together with the tribulation survivors, but with greater knowledge and understanding. All those brought forth by resurrection will be taught the knowledge of Jehovah and his right worship. Any refusing to unite in the one pure worship of Jehovah and to obey him as God will be destroyed as unreformable, uncorrectable. The willing and obedient worshipers will receive the benefits of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus and will be freed from condemnation and be healed and uplifted to human perfection, to live for all time in blessed paradise. Forever all men who live will worship one God, the one whose glorious name is Jehovah.
Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania, incorporated in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. in 1884.
See Qualified to Be Ministers, Study 69, entitled “Evidences of Preflood Unclean Worship,” pages 267-270.
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