Henry David Thoreau said, “Every people have gods to suit their circumstances.” Whether you subscribe to that view or not, it does appear that as the population grows, more gods are introduced around the world than at any other time in history — but who’s counting?
For example, in modern Hinduism, thousands of gods and goddesses are believed to carry out individual duties as deities in different departments of life.
There is also the present-day worship of Greek gods at the Prometheia festival in modern Greece — the most important festival for followers of The Return of the Hellenes — a new movement trying to bring back the religion, values, philosophy and way of life of ancient Greece. Its followers are currently seeking recognition for the “Religion of the Twelve Gods,” Zeus, Hera, Hermes, Poseidon, Artemis, Apollo and others. Of course, this is nothing new.
Nearly 2,000 years ago, when Christian missionaries Paul and Barnabas preached to Greeks, Acts 14:8-15 tells how they were mistaken for gods because Paul was able to heal a man who was born crippled.
Verses 11-15 says, “When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in their local dialect, ‘These men are gods in human form!’ They decided that Barnabas was the Greek god Zeus and that Paul was Hermes, since he was the chief speaker. Now the temple of Zeus was located just outside the town. So the priest of the temple and the crowd brought bulls and wreaths of flowers to the town gates, and they prepared to offer sacrifices to the apostles.
“But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they tore their clothing in dismay and ran out among the people, shouting, ‘Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings — just like you! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them.’” — New Living Translation.
The God who “made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them” is very different from the gods worshiped around the world. In fact, He is described as the “God of gods,” at Deuteronomy 10:17. One of the ways this “God of gods” earned that title was by humiliating the gods of the Egyptians through Moses and the 10 plagues.
To shed more light on who He really was, this God told Moses at Exodus 6:3, “I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them.” — King James Version.
As the Almighty, Jehovah had Moses deliver a message to Pharaoh at Exodus 9:16: “I have spared you for this reason. I want to show you my power and make my name famous throughout the earth.” — GOD’S WORD Translation. Did you know those 10 plagues were direct assaults against Egypt’s gods?
Take the first plague. By turning the Nile River and all the waters of Egypt into blood, Jehovah brought disgrace to the Egyptian Nile-god Hapi (Ex 7:19-21). The frog, regarded as a symbol of fertility and resurrection, was considered sacred to the frog-goddess Heqt. Hence, the plague of frogs brought disgrace to this goddess who was powerless to prevent it (Ex 8:5-14).
The third plague saw the humiliation of the god Thoth, who was credited with the invention of magic, but even this god could not help the magic-practicing priests duplicate turning dust into gnats (Ex 8:16-19). While swarms of bloodsucking gadflies invaded the homes of the Egyptians during the fourth plague, the Israelites were not affected, which disgraced the Egyptian insect god, Khepri. (Ex 8:23, 24). The fifth plague of pestilence upon the livestock humiliated the cow-goddess Hathor and the Egyptian bull god, Apis (Ex 9:1-6).
The sixth plague of boils brought disgrace to the gods and goddesses regarded as possessing healing abilities, such as Isis and Ptah (Ex 9:8-11). In the seventh plague the severe hailstorm put to shame the god Thoth, who was said to have power over rain and thunder (Ex 9:22-26). The eighth plague of locust spelled defeat for the fertility god Min, who was viewed as a protector of the crops. (Ex 10:12-15). Among the deities disgraced by the ninth plague of darkness were the sun-gods, Ra and Horus, as well as Thoth, the god of the moon (Ex 10:21-23).
The 10th plague, the death of the firstborn, resulted in the greatest humiliation for the Egyptian gods. As Jehovah told Moses at Exodus 12:12: “I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment.” — King James Version.
This was a severe blow to “all the gods of Egypt” who were unable to save the firstborns of Egypt. In doing so, the God of gods executed judgment against the puny Egyptian gods as being false. Philosopher Emile Cioran wrote, “A civilization is destroyed only when its gods are destroyed.”
The truth of this statement is seen in the words of Exodus 10:7: “And Pharaoh's servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve Jehovah their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed?” — American Standard Version.
In this way, Jehovah made a great name for Himself in all the earth and promised to do so again, according to Psalms 83:16-18. At 2Corinthians 4:4 the Devil is called, “the god of this world.” — King James Version. Even humans with great power, like kings and judges, can be referred to as “gods,” according to Psalms 82:6, which states: “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.” — King James Version.
In fact, Jesus used this very Scripture when he was accused of blasphemy at John 10:31-36: “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” — King James Version.
Even though people around the world worship many gods, the One whom Jesus called “the only true God,” at John 17:3, has not changed. The first of His 10 Commandments at Exodus 20:3 states: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” — King James Version.
True Christians heed those words and follow the example of early Christians in which it was said at 1Thessalonians 1:9-10: “They talk of how you turned to God from worshiping false gods. Now you worship the true and living God. They tell us how you are waiting for His Son Jesus to come down from heaven. God raised him from the dead. It is Jesus who will save us from the anger of God that is coming.” — New Life Version.
For anyone who recognizes this “God of gods” and His only-begotten Son as the means for salvation, His Word promises life without end under His mighty hand and a blessed day in which all humans will embrace the words of 1Corinthians 8:5-6:
“For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, as there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.” — New King James Version.