Jehovah always claimed to be the only god: “Is there any God besides Me, or is there any other Rock? I know of none” (Is. 44:8). “Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other” (Is. 45:22). “Remember the former things long past, for I am God and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me (Is. 46:9). King David said, “For Thou art great and doest wondrous deeds; Thou alone art God” (Ps. 86:10).
Other gods of the nations were gods of wood and stone, made by the hands of men, which did not see or listen, eat or smell (Deut. 4:28). The Psalm 115 speaks of the spiritual poverty of the idolatrous nations, whose gods are made by the hands of men. Abraham’s father’s name’ was Terah, and he was an idolater (Josh. 24:2). According some traditions, Terah made idols. In the book of the traditions of Israel, there is one tradition very interesting. Abraham did not agree with the idolatry of his father. One day he went into the temple and destroyed an idol. This was found out and the people wanted to kill him for the crime. Abraham said: Place a dish of food before this god during the night. If he eats it, he is alive. If he does not eat, he is not a god. The next day, when everybody went to the temple to see what had happened, the dish was empty. Abraham’s enemies were getting ready to kill him. He, then, said: Look to the ground. Whose are those footprints? Abraham had spread wheat meal on the ground along the corridors of the temple, and the feet of the priests were imprinted on it. Abraham was set free.
Jehovah gave the first commandment of the Ten Commandments: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex. 20:3). They were not really gods, but idols of human fantasy to take advantage of the belief of spiritually blind people. The truth is that men have a mystic nature, and religion accompanies them from the beginnings of time. Sly men have always existed to take advantage of gullible people. They formed a caste of priests to lead, explore, and pervert the people. Jehovah, the god of Israel, had as the center of his mission to put an end to idolatry, therefore, the first commandment. The second Commandment says: “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath on in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, Jehovah your God, am a Jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Ex. 20:4-6).The punishment of idolatry was death by stoning (Ex. 22:20; Deut. 8:19; 13:6-10). The hatred of Jehovah for the idolater was so great that, besides dying by stoning, their offspring was cursed with a curse that reached the third and the fourth generations, as we read in the second Commandment.
The method that Jehovah used to eradicate idolatry was based in five points:
- Prohibition under death penalty.
- Vengeance on the offspring until the third or fourth generations (Ex. 20:4-5; Deut. 13:6-10; 17:3-5).
- Promise to reward faithfulness (Deut. 7:9).
- Demoralize the other gods or idols (1 Kings 18:27).
- Get promoted by the prophets and psalmists. Moses said: “Who is like Thee among the gods, O Jehovah? Who is like Thee, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders? (Ex. 15:11). “For Jehovah your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God (Deut. 10:17). “For great is Jehovah, and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods” (Ps. 96:4). “For Thou art Jehovah Most High over all the earth; Thou art exalted far above all gods” (Ps. 97:9). In his war against the idols (gods), Jehovah measured himself against them. When he took the people from Egypt, he declared: “For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the first-born on the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am Jehovah” (Ex. 12:12). In the book of Numbers, we read: “While the Egyptians were burying all their first-born whom Jehovah had struck down among them. Jehovah had also executed judgments on their gods” (Num. 33:4). These two narratives together prove that the judgment of Jehovah over the gods of Egypt was to kill all the first-born, both of men and of beasts. Why did Jehovah commit this crime against innocent victims? Animals do not have understanding, and among the first-born of men there were also many innocent children. The reason is simple: the sacrifices were part of the religion of the peoples, the first-born of the animals were offered as sacrifices to the gods in their worship, for the first-fruits belong to the gods. “And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds” (Acts 14:13). This happened in the days of Peter and Paul. The flesh of these sacrifices was sold in the butcher’s (1 Cor. 8:4-7). They also used to sacrifice their first-born to placate the wrath of the gods. The Canaanite, which dwelt the Promised Land were used to doing this, and Israel adopted the costume. “[Ahaz] even made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom Jehovah had driven out from before the sons of Israel” (2 Kings 16:3; Ex. 34:23-24; Lev. 18:24; Deut. 7:1). “Now these are the nations which Jehovah left, to test Israel by them. These nations are: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath” (Judg. 3:1-8). By destroying their first-born, the people could not sacrifice to their gods. This was the judgment on the gods.
The conclusion of this study:
- Behind those idols of wood and stone, which, as Jehovah said, do not walk, speak or hear, there were demons and devils, as Moses said: “They made Him jealous with strange gods; with abominations they provoked Him to anger. They sacrificed to demons who were not God” (Deut. 32:16-17). “And they shall no longer sacrifice to the goat demons with which they play the harlot” (Lev. 17:7-9). It is an interesting fact that Jehovah desired those sacrifices for himself (Lev. 17:9; Deut. 32:17). Jehovah leveled himself with the demons and devils behind those idols, accepting the same abominable sacrifices. Jeroboam, son of Nebat, made two golden calves and set one in Bethel and another in Dan. His plan was to keep the people away from Jerusalem’s temple (1 Kings 12:26-30). Behind those calves there were demons (2 Chr. 11:14-15). Jehovah never succeeded in totally removing the idolatry from Israel. And why was that? The demons did not threaten, and Jehovah threatened. The demons did not take vengeance, and Jehovah took vengeance. The demons did not curse, such as Jehovah did. Violence does not achieve anything, and Jehovah lost the war against the demons. The only solution was to destroy his own people (2 Kings 17:16-21; 23:26-27).
- Jehovah hated the Egyptians and did not want to save them (Gen. 15:13-14; Ex. 4:21; 12:29; 14:27-28). The glory of Jehovah was to destroy the Egyptians (Ex. 15:1-7). The question is this: If Jehovah did not want to save the Egyptians, why did he execute judgments on their gods? (Ex. 12:12). Demagogy. The objective was to get promoted through killing ants. When the ark of Jehovah was taken by the Philistines and placed side by side with Dagon, god of the Philistines, on the next day Dagon was found on the ground. Then Jehovah hurt the Philistines with hemorrhoids, and filled the city with rats. We pose the same question. Why did Jehovah demoralize the god of the Philistines if he did not wish to save them? The answer is: In order to promote himself. He wished to reveal his destructive and hateful glory, with no saving purposes. Pure demagogy (1 Sam. 5:1-12; 6:4). Jehovah built fear through terror (Deut. 2:25; 11:25; Jer. 7:15; 1 Chr. 21:30).
- The sacrifices of the law of Jehovah were a copy of those of the other peoples, and Jehovah accepted them (Ex. 20:24; Deut. 12:11; 32:17; Num. 25:4 ) — sacrifices that God, the Father of Jesus, did not accept (Heb. 10:4-8).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira