Do You Trust in a God Who Is Real?

An expedition commissioned by the American Museum of Natural History was on its way to study an Arctic land that explorer Robert E. Peary had reported seeing some seven years earlier, in 1906.

FROM Cape Colgate in the extreme northwestern part of North America, Peary had observed what seemed to be the white summits of a distant land. He named it Crocker Land after one of his financial backers. How thrilled the members of the follow-up expedition must have been when they caught a glimpse of an area ahead with hills, valleys, and snowcapped peaks! But they soon realized that they were looking at nothing more than an Arctic mirage. This optical atmospheric effect had fooled Peary, and now they had committed time, energy, and resources to explore something that was not real.

Today, many people give their devotion and their time to gods they believe are real. In the days of Jesus’ apostles, such gods as Hermes and Zeus were worshiped. (Acts 14:11, 12) Today, gods worshiped by those of the Shinto, Hindu, and other religions of the world number into the millions. Indeed, as the Bible says, “there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords.’” (1 Corinthians 8:5, 6) Can all of these be real gods?

Gods Who “Cannot Save”

Consider, for example, the use of images or symbols in worship. To those trusting in them or praying through them, idols appear to be saviors possessing superhuman powers that can reward people or deliver them from danger. But can they really save? Concerning such objects, the psalmist sang: “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of the hands of earthling man. A mouth they have, but they can speak nothing; eyes they have, but they can see nothing; ears they  have, but they can give ear to nothing. Also there exists no spirit in their mouth.” Indeed, they are gods who “cannot save.”—Psalm 135:15-17; Isaiah 45:20.

Granted, those making idols may credit the work of their hands with life and power. And those who worship idols place their trust in them. “They carry [an idol] upon the shoulder,” said the prophet Isaiah, “they bear it and deposit it in its place that it may stand still.” He added: “From its standing place it does not move away. One even cries out to it, but it does not answer; out of one’s distress it does not save one.” (Isaiah 46:7) The truth is that an idol remains lifeless no matter how fervent the belief of those trusting in it. Such carved images and molten statues are “valueless gods.”—Habakkuk 2:18.

The idolizing, venerating, or adoring of entertainment personalities, sports figures, political systems, and certain religious leaders is also commonplace today. Moreover, money is a god to many. In each case, these idols are made out to be something they are not. They do not and cannot provide all that is hoped for by those believing in them. For example, wealth may appear to hold the answer to many problems, but the power of riches is deceptive. (Mark 4:19) One researcher asked: “How are we to account for the fact that something so eagerly desired by so many people, and believed in as a kind of cure-all, when obtained should have a range of effects varying from the disappointing to the traumatic?” Yes, the pursuit of wealth may require that a person sacrifice what is of real value, such as good health, a satisfying family life, close friendships, or a precious relationship with the Creator. His god turns out to be nothing more than an ‘idol of untruth’!—Jonah 2:8.

“There Was No One Answering”

It is foolish to call real what is not real. Worshipers of the god Baal in the prophet Elijah’s day learned this the hard way. They firmly believed that Baal had the power to cause fire to come down from heaven and consume an animal sacrifice. In fact, “they kept calling upon the name of Baal from morning till noon, saying: ‘O Baal, answer us!’” Did Baal have ears that could hear and a mouth that could speak? The account continues: “There was no voice, and there was no one answering.” Indeed, “there was no paying of attention.” (1 Kings 18:26, 29) Baal was not real, alive, or active.

How essential that we recognize and worship a God who is real! But who is he? And how can trusting in him benefit us?

[Pictures on page 3]

Peary’s companion Egingwah scans the horizon for land

Robert E. Peary

[Credit Lines]

Egingwah: From the book The North Pole: Its Discovery in 1909 Under the Auspices of the Peary Arctic Club, 1910; Robert E. Peary: NOAA

[Pictures on page 4]

Many are deceived by what is idolized in this world