Is Religion Filling Your Needs?
AIR, water, food, shelter—these are universally recognized as human needs. Without them you face deprivation and death. Long ago, however, the Israelite leader Moses drew attention to another human need, one even more important than food or water. Said Moses: “Not by bread alone does man live but by every expression of Jehovah’s mouth does man live.”—Deuteronomy 8:3.
By these profound words, Moses showed the importance of filling our religious or spiritual needs. He indicated that our very lives depend on satisfying them! During their 40-year wilderness trek, the Israelites literally lived by means of the ‘expressions of Jehovah’s mouth.’ They survived what would otherwise have been a fatal ordeal. At God’s command, a food named manna miraculously fell from the skies. Water came out of rocks to quench their thirst. But God did more than care for their physical needs. Moses said: “Just as a man corrects his son, Jehovah your God was correcting you.”—Deuteronomy 8:4, 5; Exodus 16:31, 32; 17:5, 6.
The Israelites were not left to fend for themselves as to working out what was right or wrong, morally or religiously. They received direction from God himself. He gave them the Mosaic Law, a remarkable legal code that outlined a healthy diet, a strict sanitary code, and sound moral and religious principles. God therefore promoted the health and spiritual welfare of Israel. They lived by ‘the expressions of Jehovah’s mouth.’
Israel thus stood in clear contrast with other nations. In Moses’ day Egypt ruled as the foremost world power. It was a very religious land. Says the World Book Encyclopedia: “The ancient Egyptians believed that various deities (gods and goddesses) influenced every aspect of nature and every human activity. They therefore worshiped many deities. . . . In each Egyptian city and town, the people worshiped their own special god in addition to the major deities.”
Did this polytheistic worship fill the spiritual needs of the Egyptians? No. Egypt became a land steeped in superstition and degrading sexual practices. Far from promoting life and health, the Egyptian way of life led to “evil diseases.” (Deuteronomy 7:15) Little wonder, then, that the Bible spoke of Egypt’s gods with contempt, calling them “dungy idols.”—Ezekiel 20:7, 8.
A similar situation exists today. Most people have at least some sort of religious faith; few would call themselves godless. Clearly, though, religion in general has failed to satisfy mankind’s spiritual needs. Would the problems of war, racism, starvation, and unrelenting poverty exist today if people were truly living “by every expression of Jehovah’s mouth”? Of course not! Even so, few people would consider changing their religion. Why, some are not even willing to discuss religion or give attention to fresh religious ideas!
For example, a man in Ghana, West Africa, told a Christian minister: “I believe that God has revealed himself to us Africans through our powerful priests and priestesses, just as he revealed himself to the Jews through their prophets. It is a pity that some of us Africans fail to recognize our own priests but talk instead of Jesus, Muhammad, and others.”
In many traditional African societies, Christianity is seen as the white man’s religion—an imported system that has done far more harm than good. But will a closed-minded attitude help or hinder your efforts to get your spiritual needs filled? An African proverb says: “You do not dip both hands into the food bowl just because you are hungry.” Such an eating habit is both discourteous and hazardous—especially if you do not know what is in the bowl! Yet, many choose their religion, not on the basis of thoughtful examination, but on the basis of sentiment or family tradition.
The worship that fills your spiritual needs should be “a sacred service with your power of reason.” (Romans 12:1) It should be an informed, intelligent choice. Let us therefore examine the issue of choosing one’s religion from the African perspective. However, what follows will be of interest to readers everywhere.
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Moses showed the importance of filling our spiritual need
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Africa’s experience with Christendom’s missionaries has closed the minds of some to the Bible