“Who Is Jehovah,” So That All Should Worship Him?
1. What question about worship is a live and relevant one today, and why so?
FROM ancient time and until this twentieth century, heads of political states have been worshiped as gods. Persons familiar with human history know that. The royal Pharaohs of ancient Egypt were viewed as gods, each ruling Pharaoh being considered as the son of the Sun-god. Caesar Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire, was deified after death; so were successors of his. Even during life, the emperors were addressed as “Your Divinity.” Almost two thousand years later, after the close of World War II in 1945, Emperor Hirohito of Japan publicly disclaimed being a god, the son of the sun-goddess Amaterasu. But some few diehards still hold onto emperor worship in that Land of the Rising Sun. In the face of all the gods and goddesses of nations ancient and modern, the question is a live and relevant one for even today, Who is the god worthy of being worshiped?
2. Since the beginning of the man-made political state, of what kind of worship have most people been guilty?
2 As time has gone on, one national god after another has been debunked. Not beyond our recollection is the recent case where Nikita Khrushchev of the Communist Party debunked the defunct dictator Joseph Stalin as the god of Soviet Russia. The debunking process becomes almost comic. But the worship of heads of political states has had serious consequences for the world of mankind. Untold numbers of people may think that they are now too intelligent, too modernized, to worship political gods. And yet, what about worship of the political State itself? Or of the worldwide political system of rulership? Since the beginning of man-made political states thousands of years ago, the vast majority of mankind has been guilty of such State worship. It is not stretching matters to say this.
3, 4. (a) How did the political State get started on earth, and why is there little left to argue against that fact? (b) How does John, in Revelation 13:1-8, picture the start of such state?
3 Nineteen centuries ago, a man who has gone down on the pages of history and whose writings have been read by hundreds of millions till now, used vivid symbols to show how worldwide worship of the human political system got started. It got started by someone whom this man, John the son of Zebedee, likened to a dragon, fiery red in color. John does not give to this dragon the meaning that the nation of China gives to its popular one-headed dragon. John uses the dragon as a symbol befitting a superhuman person, whom John identifies by the expression “the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan.” (Rev. 20:2; 12:3, 9) Is it sheer imagination, is it naïve to believe that the human system of politics originated with this one? When we consider how man-made political systems from times of old have governed and acted, there is little left to argue against the fact that the political system started with the dragonlike Satan the Devil. Let us note now how John pictures this:
4 Likening disturbed, discontented, self-seeking mankind in general to the restless sea, John proceeds to say: “And it [that is to say, the fiery-colored dragon] stood still upon the sand of the sea. And I saw a wild beast ascending out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, and upon its horns ten diadems, but upon its heads blasphemous names. Now the wild beast that I saw was like a leopard, but its feet were as those of a bear, and its mouth was as a lion’s mouth. And the dragon gave to the beast its power and its throne and great authority. And I saw one of its heads as though slaughtered to death, but its death-stroke got healed, and all the earth followed the wild beast with admiration. And they worshiped the dragon because it gave the authority to the wild beast, and they worshiped the wild beast with the words: ‘Who is like the wild beast, and who can do battle with it?’ . . . and authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation. And all those who dwell on the earth will worship it.”—Rev. 13:1-8.
5, 6. What does that oddly formed wild beast picture, in the light of Daniel’s dream of the wild beasts out of the sea?
5 People asked: “Who is like the wild beast?” So we ask: What does it picture? From John’s description of this symbolic wild beast and what happens to it, there can be no question about what it pictures.
6 The role that the wild beast plays in the book of Revelation shows what it pictures, the worldwide system of political rule over all mankind. The fact that the wild beast looked like a leopard but had bear’s feet and a lion’s mouth harmonizes well with the fact that the world system of politics has expressed itself through various forms of government at different times and places. Most likely John was led to think of what the ancient prophet Daniel saw in a prophetic dream: that first a lionlike beast came up out of the disturbed sea, and then a beast like a bear, and after it a beast like a leopard. Moreover, Daniel was plainly told that those beasts pictured political rulerships that would arise and control the earth like superpowers. (Dan. 7:1-18) So the oddly formed wild beast that John saw symbolized the worldwide political system that has expressed itself through a number of governmental kinds.
WORSHIP OF THE STATE AS A GOD
7, 8. (a) The worship of the symbolic wild beast was at the same time the worship of whom? (b) Why is worship of the State something for those people to think about who deny worshiping anything?
7 It is not necessary here to discuss all the details of what John saw in his inspired vision. The big thing upon which we here desire to focus our attention is that this “wild beast” out of the sea was worshiped by the whole world of people; it was treated as an unconquerable god. The worship of the political State as a god, which was thus pictured in John’s vision, was at the same time the worship of someone higher than the political State. Who was that? That one was the dragonlike Satan the Devil, for he is pictured as giving the authority, the power, the throne or seat of government to the political State.
8 It is no wonder, therefore, that the Master of whom John was a disciple spoke of Satan the Devil as “the ruler of this world.” (John 14:30; 16:11) And Paul, a fellow disciple of John, called Satan the Devil “the god of this system of things.” (2 Cor. 4:4) This is something for those many people to think about today who boast that they do not worship anything at all. Do they, like the atheistic Communists, worship the political State? They may deny doing so, but when a serious national issue arises, when international war breaks out or national sovereignty is threatened, what do they do then? Yes, what is it that they then worship as a god? Their course of action then discloses the truth and speaks so loud as to drown out what they say with their mouths.
9. What question on worship does each of us need to ask himself, and, at the time of decision, what defiant question might politicians ask?
9 Today nationalism is running rife throughout the earth. Regardless of whether a person professes to be religious or not, nobody can sidestep the personal question, Whom or what do I worship? The invisible power behind the worldwide political system of things, namely, the dragonlike Satan the Devil, wants, sneakily, to force every inhabitant of the earth to worship him through his protégé, the political State. However, it is not worth while worshiping him, for, some fine day soon, he himself will be debunked as a god. But it will be impossible to debunk the true God of the universe. Are we sincerely wanting to worship that One? The time for our decision on this cannot be delayed much longer. Especially the political elements of this world will have to make a final decision as to what they really want to do in this regard. It will be too bad for them if at that time, in a defiant manner, they raise the question, ‘Who is that One (the One mentioned to us by name), so that all, including us politicians, should worship Him?’
10, 11. When was a similar question raised by an ancient Pharaoh of Egypt, and why?
10 We have history to help us to make a right decision. The political rulers and their patriotic backers do well now to consider the historical case of the head of an ancient political state who raised just such a question. That individual was the royal Pharaoh of late in the sixteenth century before our Common Era. The occasion was when he was being confronted by two brothers, Moses and Aaron, and other elders of the enslaved people of Israel. The question of who the true God is was then being put to the test. Using Aaron as his spokesman, Moses said to Pharaoh: “This is what Jehovah the God of Israel has said, ‘Send my people away that they may celebrate a festival to me in the wilderness.’” If the Pharaoh here addressed considered himself like other Pharaohs, a god, he was not disposed to renounce his own godship in obedience to the God of those people whom Pharaoh was then unjustly exploiting as slaves of Egypt. So, back came Pharaoh’s challenging question and his own answer thereto:
12, 13. (a) Here there was a confrontation between whom, and who turned out to be the winner? (b) What command concerning worship did the Deliverer of Israel have the right to give at the beginning of the Ten Commandments?
12 If anything, that situation meant a confrontation between the God of the enslaved people of Israel and the Egyptian Pharaoh, whose statue as of a god may have been placed among the statues of all the other many gods of Egypt, then the superpower of the inhabited earth. Who the winner was in this dramatic confrontation, reliable history shows. All the gods of ancient Egypt were debunked, and the victorious God of the Israelites led them out of Egypt’s house of slavery, across the Red Sea and to Mount Sinai in Arabia, where he gave them the Ten Commandments and hundreds of other laws for the government of them as a nation. At the beginning of those Ten Commandments the divine Deliverer of the Israelites had the full right to command his liberated people, saying:
13 “I am Jehovah your God, who have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slaves. You must not have any other gods against my face. You must not make for yourself a carved image or a form like anything that is in the heavens above or that is on the earth underneath or that is in the waters under the earth. 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 error of fathers upon sons, upon the third generation and upon the fourth generation, in the case of those who hate me; but exercising loving-kindness toward the thousandth generation in the case of those who love me and keep my commandments.”—Ex. 20:1-6.
14. How does Jehovah God differ from the “god of this system of things” as to images, and why so?
14 Those first two of the Ten Commandments identify by name a God who is without equal, a God whose record is not matched by that of any so-called “god,” not even Satan the Devil, himself, “the god of this system of things.” Satan the Devil allows for idolatrous images to be made even of himself and of “gods” associated with him. But the God whose name is Jehovah strictly forbids the making of any image to represent him and forbids any other idolatrous image to be associated with the worship of Him. He cannot be compared to any created thing, to any man-made image. By another prophet who came after Moses, he said: “I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to no one else shall I give my own glory, neither my praise to graven images.”—Isa. 42:8.
15. Why may Jehovah be said to be “a Jealous God,” and so what question might holders of political power ask as to this?
15 This divine declaration calls for exclusive devotion toward Jehovah as God and bars the use of all man-made images to which a relative worship is given. Because of his invisibility men may think that He needs images to be made to help worshipers in directing their attention toward Him. But such images would only be a lie, unable to picture Him as he really is. They would be really distracting the worshiper and cheapening God in the estimation of the worshiper. The one living and true God can never be represented by a lifeless created image. He does not associate himself with any self-made gods and his true worshipers must have ‘no other gods against his face,’ as sharers with him in real godship. He demands the exclusive devotion of his worshipers, and because of this he may be said to be “a jealous God.” Like it or not, all his intelligent creatures will be required to render exclusive devotion to him if they want to live happily forever. For this reason, the holders of political power today may borrow from Pharaoh’s language and ask, “‘Who is Jehovah,’ so that all should worship him?”
MATERIALISM GIVEN WORSHIP AS A GOD
16, 17. (a) Besides the State, what other things are people worshiping today? (b) How do many make materialism a god to themselves?
16 Unaware of what it is really doing, the vast majority of mankind is worshiping the symbolic “wild beast,” the political State that, in one form or another, governs “every tribe and people and tongue and nation.” (Rev. 13:7) But there are other things that selfish, imperfect humans can elevate to the position of gods in their lives. Modern-day physical science has been made a “sacred cow” for worship in the lives of many who think that human scientists can do anything, solve all problems. Also, in this day of entertainment and amusements of so many kinds, there is an idolizing of theatrical “stars,” movie celebrities, radio and television acclaim-winning performers. Sexual immorality is constantly gaining more and more worshipers as earlier standards of morality and decency break down.
17 Also, in this time when the world of mankind was never so rich in the so-called “comforts of life,” laborsaving devices, means for rapid travel to distant places, and a wider variety of things to eat, a person might be lured to seek an abundance of these things. Or, the world’s inflation and its increasing economic problems may pressure a person into concerning himself most with gaining material things. In either case, he may become materialistic, to the extent of having no time or interest for spiritual things. Although he may not like to think so, materialism has become a god to him.
18. Is worship of Materialism wise, and why did Agur the son of Jakeh not want to become satisfied with material riches?
18 The worship of Materialism is not wise. It is bound to hurt one’s spirituality. Agur the son of Jakeh, a man of ancient times who wanted to avoid the disastrous worship of false gods, recognized the dangers of materialism. Addressing himself to the Creator of the earth, the wind and the rain, Agur said: “Two things I have asked of you. Do not withhold them from me before I die. Untruth and the lying word put far away from me. Give me neither poverty nor riches. Let me devour the food prescribed for me, that I may not become satisfied and I actually deny you and say: ‘Who is Jehovah?’ and that I may not come to poverty and I actually steal and assail the name of my God.”—Prov. 30:1, 7-9.
19. What attitude toward God does materialism produce in a greedy person, like that of the politicians, and why will the materialist not gain life from God?
19 In a world where both extreme wealth and dire poverty exist side by side, we are obliged to be like Agur the son of Jakeh and follow the safe course. We have to avoid the two opposites that can turn us against worshiping the true God. Material abundance for the satisfaction of greed can put us in the same position as the rulers of state who are greedy for political power, so that they take up the defiant words of ancient Pharaoh and say: “Who is Jehovah?” If that is the attitude that not only political power but also greed for material riches produces, then what is the seeker for overmuch earthly treasures doing but making Materialism, not Jehovah, his God? Since Jehovah is a jealous God, that is, a God who requires exclusive devotion of his worshipers, a person cannot serve both at the same time and win the prize of eternal life in happiness at the hands of the true God.
20. What did one wiser than Agur say about trying to slave for God and for Riches at the same time?
20 A man far wiser than Agur the son of Jakeh said: “No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. You cannot slave for God and for Riches [Mammon].”—Matt. 6:24, NW; King James Authorized Version.
21. Of what kind of worship are those who claim to believe in no personal god nevertheless guilty?
21 Today mankind in general is caught between the forces of nationalism and materialism. Many are falling to the worship of both nationalism and materialism. The others, although having no special personal interest in national politics, are yielding to the worship of materialism. What individual on earth today can say that he worships nothing? He may think that, because he boasts of believing in no intelligent personal God, he is not worshiping a god or gods. But if he honestly examines himself, he will find that he is making nationalism, materialism, sports, sex, his own belly, and other selfish things, his gods and is slaving for them. Furthermore, in worshiping these selfish things of the world, he is unwittingly worshiping the personification of selfishness, Satan the Devil, “the god of this system of things.” There is no sense in a person’s fooling himself. Let us all be honest with ourselves and admit the facts.
22. In view of what the worship of such gods has brought upon the people, how ought people to be reasoning regarding worship?
22 The worship of all these false gods has brought the world of mankind to the distressing state in which it finds itself today. The worship of all such gods has not worked for the peace, happiness and general well-being of the human race. Any reasoning person would think that it was about time for the people in their distress to question the advisability of further serving the gods that have brought upon them such perplexity and difficulties. They ought to reason out that there must be a true God, a God of real, lasting benefit to his worshipers. Who could that be?
23, 24. Who is the god that is opposed to all such false gods, and how is He the God of the Bible?
23 There is only one God that stands opposed to all those false and harmful gods. He is not unknown by name. His name has been proclaimed throughout the length and breadth of the land particularly since the end of World War I in the year 1918. His name is the most prominent name in the book that has had the greatest circulation among mankind of any book ever published, and in that book his name occurs around seven thousand times. That book is the one book inspired by the Bearer of that oft-mentioned name. For that reason the book is the most attacked book in all the world, with the result that it is the most disbelieved book of all. That book is called The Holy Bible, The Sacred Scriptures. The name of the One that the Bible sets forth from start to finish as God is Jehovah. So He is the God of the Bible. There is no use in disputing this fact, for in Psalm 83:18 the Bible says:
24 “That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.”—King James Authorized Version.
25. Who are the ones that have particularly been confronted with the challenging question about worshiping Jehovah, and with what questions about Him do we now go to the Bible?
25 Particularly since the year 1919 C.E., his worshipers, known world wide as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, have been the ones that have publicized and exalted his name throughout the earth in at least 207 lands and island groups down till this date. Quite logically, they are the particular ones that have been confronted with the challenging question, “‘Who is Jehovah,’ so that all should worship him?” That is a valid question. It deserves an answer that is authoritative. The authoritative answer that can carry the proper weight of conviction is drawn only from the Bible, Jehovah’s Book. In it, what does he have to say for himself? In it, what has he caused to be put on record about his works and his dealings with mankind? How is He better than all the other gods that men have worshiped throughout the ages? What will he do about the world’s present state of affairs? How will he prove that he alone deserves our worship of him as God? So, then, to the Holy Bible for the answers!
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A powerful head of state once said in challenge: “Who is Jehovah, so that I should obey his voice?”
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. . . He found out—too late—when his defiance of the true God led to calamity for himself and those who followed him