Wednesday, September 02, 2009

God is One

“Although the Bible teaches that there is only one God (Is 45:18, 21-22; Mk 12:32), heathen people in ancient times quickly developed a belief in large numbers of so-called gods (Jer 10:11) and goddesses. Eventually each nation created and worshiped its own deities, usually more than one. Many of these "foreign gods" (1 Sm 7:3) are named in the Bible, and in most cases we are told to what nation each belonged. The list from Mesopotamia, a center of idol worship, is the longest: Adrammelech and Anammelech (2 Kgs 17:31), Bel (also known as Marduk, Is 46:1; Jer 50:2; 51:44), Kaiwan (Am 5:26), Nebo or Nabu (Is 46:1), Nergal (2 Kgs 17:30), Nisroch (19:37; Is 37:38), Rephan (Acts 7:43), Sakkuth (Am 5:26), Succoth-benoth (2 Kgs 17:30), Tammuz (Ez 8:14), and Tartak (2 Kgs 17:31). The Syrians were devoted to Ashima (v 30) and Rimmon (5:18), who was also worshiped under the compound name Hadad-rimmon (Zec 12:11). Israel's eastern neighbors, Ammon and Moab, worshiped Milcom or Molech (1 Kgs 11:5-7, 33; 2 Kgs 23:13) and Chemosh, respectively, although the Moabites also worshiped a local manifestation of Baal (Nm 25:3-5). The Philistine gods were Dagon and Baal-zebub (2 Kgs 1:2-3, 6, 16), who is the equivalent of the NT Beelzebul (Mt 12:24; Lk 11:15). One Canaanite god, Baal, and two Canaanite goddesses, Asherah and Ashtoreth, are mentioned frequently in the OT; Ashtoreth was the same as the Mesopotamian Ishtar, also known as the "Queen of Heaven" (Jer 7:18; 44:17-19, 25). The gods of Egypt are represented by only two names in the Bible: Amon (Jer 46:25) and Apis (v 15). Nibhaz (2 Kgs 17:31) was probably an Elamite god. At least three Greco-Roman deities are mentioned in the NT: the Greek goddess Artemis (Acts 19:24-28, 34-35), known as Diana by the Romans, and the Greek gods Zeus and Hermes (Acts 14:12-13), known as Jupiter and Mercury, respectively, by the Romans.

The Bible clearly teaches that the gods of the nations have no objective reality (Jer 2:11), even though their worshipers sincerely believe that they actually exist (v 28). But the Lord proclaims that "they are no gods," (Jer 2:11; 16:20) or "gods that are not gods" (5:7, NIV). The NT further declares of idols that "an idol has no real existence" (1 Cor 8:4) and that "gods made with hands are not gods" (Acts 19:26). It is not surprising, then, that when the Israelites began to encounter other nations in significant ways-that is, as early as the time of the exodus-they were told repeatedly that the Lord is greater than all other gods (Ex 15:11; 18:11; Dt 10:17; 1 Chr 16:25; 2 Chr 2:5; Pss 86:8; 95:3; 96:4-5; 97:7-9; 135:5, 136:2; Dn 2:47; Zep 2:11).

Such so-called gods were not worthy of Israel's attention or veneration” (Tyndale Bible Dictionary) because there is only one God. And to believe that there were more than one God was blasphemy and idolatry against the One God.

Deut.6:4 says, “The LORD our God is one LORD.”
1 Cor.8:6 says, “There is only one God.”
1 Tim.2:5 says, “There is one God.”
Isa.44:6 says, “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me.”
Ex.20:5 reveals that God is a jealous God which means He alone is to be worshiped.

“There can be but one infinite” (Elisha Coles, The Golden Treasury of Puritan Quotations). Because Israel lived in the midst of a polytheistic society, it was vital that they give their allegiance to the one true God. The same is true today. Where is your allegiance?

No comments: