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Wondering What to Believe?

  1. Does Nature Give Proof of God?
    8 Digging Deeper
  2. Can I Hear God's Voice?
    8 Digging Deeper
  3. Who is God?
    8 Digging Deeper
  4. Who Wrote the Bible?
    8 Digging Deeper
  5. Can I Trust the Bible?
    7 Digging Deeper
  6. Is there a Right and Wrong?
    7 Digging Deeper
  7. Why Does God Allow Evil?
    9 Digging Deeper
  8. Who Am I?
    7 Digging Deeper
  9. What is the Meaning of Life?
    7 Digging Deeper
  10. Does God Love Me?
    5 Digging Deeper
Lesson 3, Digging Deeper 1
In Progress

God reveals himself throughout time so that people can worship the one true God.

Throughout history, people all over the earth have worshiped some type of god. The idea of “God” automatically means that man is inferior to God. Man worships that which is far beyond him. Man is often viewed as weak, mortal, sinful, unreliable, temporary and dependent compared to God who is powerful, immortal, holy, reliable, eternal and independent.

Some worshipers view their gods as awesome beings who must be appeased in order to gain their favor and avoid their wrath. Others, like those of the Judeo-Christian perspective, worship God because he is good, gracious and worthy of worship and devotion.

In some religions, man seeks to appease his gods because he does not want them fighting him or opposing him. He seeks to appease them by offering valued or precious gifts (called sacrifices) of grain, fruit, wine and animals. These sacrifices are proofs that the worshiper is devout and sincere. These sacrifices are usually animals because they are living and have the blood of life. The worshiper believes that his life is spared because the sacrificed animal represents him and dies in his behalf. The worshiper believes that the shedding of the animal’s blood is a means of obtaining the forgiveness of wrongdoings. Some religions believed when the worshiper drank the blood of these sacrifices or ate their flesh that the power of the deity indwelt them. Some ancient religions offered their own children and other human sacrifices because that was the greatest life form that could be given to their god.

People have worshiped god with prayers, songs, dances, musical instruments, festivals, feasts, assemblies, fasting, infliction of bodily pain (penance), pilgrimages to holy sites, giving gifts to the poor and mutilations (as the worshippers of Baal did on Mt. Carmel, I Kings 18:25-29). Some worshipers believed that the gods inhabited holy places like Delphi, Greece where they spoke through prophets or prophetesses. At the temple of Aphrodite at Corinth, Greece, and other places, people worshiped the goddess of fertility with sexual acts because they believed these would encourage the gods to imitate their acts and increase fertility and productivity in the livestock and crops.

In the Old Testament, God wanted people to know him as the real God so he revealed himself to them through powerful acts and words. When they responded to God’s initiatives toward them by believing in him, they entered into a relationship with him. This prompted them to worship him. He commanded his people to worship him as he directed and not to follow the beliefs and worship practices of the nations around them. These instructions and commands are recorded in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. For example, notice what God says in Deuteronomy chapter 12:

28. Be careful to obey all these words that I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God. 29. When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30. take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, “How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.” 31. You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. (12:28-31)

At the end of his life, Joshua, the successor to Moses, urged the people of God not to imitate the nations in the worship of their gods. He commanded them,

Be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, 7. that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you or make mention of the names of their gods or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them, 8. but you shall cling to the Lord your God just as you have done to this day. (Joshua 23:6-8)

Joshua exhorted them to “fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped….and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel” (24:14, 23). After Joshua’s death and the deaths of those who remembered him, Israel turned to worship the gods of the nations. This brought God’s displeasure and anger (Judges 2:10-15). The book of Judges records three hundred years of “dark ages” of idolatry, oppression, and deliverance.

God reveals himself through mighty acts and words so that people can know him and enjoy a loving relationship with him. When the people listened to God’s words and did what he said, they enjoyed that relationship and experienced his help and support. When they did not listen to God’s words, God disciplined them so that they would return to him. This means that God is involved in our lives and not pleased when we disobey him.

In the Old Testament, God instructed Israel how to love and worship him. Similarly, in the New Testament Jesus and his apostles revealed God’s will and showed us how we can have a relationship with him and love and worship him.

Jesus said that not all worship is true worship and acceptable to God. Listen in on his conversation with the woman at the well in Samaria:

The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21. Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:19-24)

When the Apostle Paul was in Athens, “his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols” (Acts 17:16). He stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus (Mars Hill) and said,

Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25. nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. (17:22-26)

Paul continued his message by saying that since we are God’s offspring, ”we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man” (17:29). He concluded by calling for man to turn from his false worship and believe in God’s Son, Jesus:

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31. because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead. (17:30-31)

We get to know God by listening to his word and doing what he says. When we love God, we will want to please and serve him in every way possible. We will desire to worship him in the manner and way that pleases him. Jesus and Paul teach us that not all worship offered to God is acceptable to him. God desires that we worship him according to the truths that he revealed to us in the Bible.