Your word is a lamp
for my feet and a light
for my path.
Psalms 119:105

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Q3. Are we only allowed to worship God?
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"Thou Shalt Worship the Lord Thy God
And Him Only Shalt Thou Serve."
--Matt. 4:10--

It is claimed by some that the fact that our Lord Jesus received worship without rebuke signifies that he is Jehovah. Our Lord's words above quoted are supposed to imply that for any being but Jehovah to receive worship would be wrong. We answer, Not so! To so interpret these words is to think into them a meaning which they do not contain, and to make them contradictory to the teachings of other scriptures. Jehovah's decree respecting Christ, "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee," had already been recorded through the prophets; and also his decree, "Let all the angels of God worship him." (Psa. 2:7; 97:7; Heb. 1:5,6) Our Lord Jesus knew this. He also knew that the angelic messengers of Jehovah had in the past been worshiped as representatives of Jehovah; and that he himself was the chief messenger, the Only Begotten Son, the "Messenger of the Covenant," whom the Father had sanctified and sent into the world: he knew consequently that whoever honored him honored the Father also.

Indeed, his own words were, "He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father which sent him." John 5:23; Mal. 3:1

The Greek word translated worship in the New Testament is proskuneo, which signifies "to kiss the hand," as a dog licks the hand of his master. The significance is reverence.

The Hebrew word rendered worship in the Old Testament is shaw-kaw and signifies to bow down. The significance is reverence. The word occurs 170 times and only about one-half of this number refer to the worship of God. But this fact is hidden from the English reader by reason of its having been 74 times translated bow down, bowed himself, did reverence, did obeisance, etc., when referring to homage to great earthly beings. We will give examples:

Abraham "bowed himself [shaw-kaw] toward the ground, and said, My Lords [Adonai]...let a little water be fetched and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree." These words and acts were while he thought them merely "three men." Gen. 18:2-4

Lot "bowed down [shaw-kaw]" to two of the same three. Gen. 19:1

Abraham "bowed himself [shaw-kaw]" to the people of Canaan. Gen. 23:7,12

Isaac blessed Jacob, saying, "Let nations bow down [shaw-kaw] unto thee;...and let thy mother's sons bow down [shaw-kaw] unto thee." Gen. 27:29

"David stooped and bowed himself [shaw-kaw] to the earth" Saul. 1 Sam. 24:8

Abigail "bowed herself [shaw-kaw] to the ground" to David; and again to David's representatives. 1 Sam. 25:23,41

The woman of Tekoah "fell on her face...and did obeisance [shaw-kaw]" David. And Joab and Absalom did likewise, translated "bowed himself [shaw-kaw]." 2 Sam. 14:4,22,33

"When Mephibosheth...was come unto David, he fell on his face and did reverence [shaw-kaw]." 2 Sam. 9:6

From these evidences it will be apparent to all that the prohibition of the First Commandment--"Thou shalt not bow down thyself [shaw-kaw] to them nor serve them," was not understood, nor meant to be understood, as a prohibition of reverence, homage, etc., to the honorable, or to those in honored positions among men. Nor did the Jews err in doing reverence [shaw-kaw] to angels who came with messages in Jehovah's name and acknowledging him. And such reverence was approved--never reproved. The Commandment warns against image worship or any worship of any rival gods. This Jehovah cannot tolerate. Hence there was no impropriety for any Jew who recognized Jesus as the "Sent of God" to do him reverence, obeisance; and much more proper is it for all those who recognize our Lord Jesus according to his claims--as the Son of God.

Indeed, we may be sure that those Pharisees who took up stones to kill our Lord because he declared himself the Son of God would have been wild beyond bounds, and not only have stoned our Lord Jesus, but also his worshipers, claiming idolatry, had they entertained as a people any such extreme thought of worship, obeisance (proskuneo), as is entertained by those whose extreme views respecting this word we are combating and have proved erroneous.

Exceptions to this liberty would be in cases where the man to whom reverence, obeisance or worship is rendered is the recognized representative of a false god--as a pseudo-Christ or false Christ--Antichrist. Homage to the popes would, we believe, come under this head of false or wrong worship; because in his office he claims falsely to be "Vicegerent Christ." It was on this ground that our Lord Jesus refused to acknowledge Satan and his great power in the world. It was an actively evil power, designedly opposed to the laws of Jehovah. Hence the proposition that by not opposing evil, by respecting or reverencing evil customs already established under Satan's regime, Satan would cooperate with our Lord in the establishment of his kingdom, was at once declined and the answer signified--I am in full accord with Jehovah God and therefore in full accord with the prophetic declaration: "Thou shalt reverence Jehovah thy God and him shalt thou serve"--and since you are his wilful opponent I can render no reverence to you or your methods, nor could I either serve your cause or cooperate with you. Our causes are distinctly separate. I will have nothing to do with you. Compare Matt. 4:10; Deut. 10:20,21.

Had our Lord Jesus set himself as a rival to Jehovah instead of as his Son and servant, any homage to him would have signified disrespect to the Father and would have been sinful--idolatrous. On the contrary, however, while accepting homage reverence as the Son of God he declared most positively and publicly, "The Father is greater than I," and taught his disciples to make their petitions to the Father, saying, "Whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he will give it you." John 16:23

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