How do we decide which God to follow?

Who is your god? Why did you choose your god? Did you actually choose your god or do you simply follow the god your parents followed? Did you choose your god based on what you get, or did you have a different basis for choosing your god? What is the correct basis for choosing a god?

Genesis 28 tells us how Jacob chose his God. Jacob’s brother was threatening to kill Jacob, so Jacob fled his home to go visit some relatives and hopefully find a wife. On the way, he had a dream which led him to choose his god. Jacob’s basis for choosing his god was very practical, but is that a correct basis for choosing a god? Let’s look at Jacob’s choice, and then we will see what the Bible tells us about choosing a god.

In the NASB and ESV translations, whenever you see the word LORD in all capital letters, the Hebrew word that was used there is “Yahweh”. “Yahweh” is God’s personal name. This is the name that distinguishes Him from every other so called god. Notice the word “LORD” in the following verses. These verses tell us that Yahweh appeared to Jacob in Jacob’s dream, and He identified Himself as Yahweh, the God of Abraham and Isaac.

Gen. 28:10 ¶ Then Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran.

Gen028001028019.001Gen. 28:11 He came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place.

Gen. 28:12 He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

Gen. 28:13 And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants.

Gen. 28:14 “Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

Gen. 28:15 “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

When Yahweh appeared to Jacob, He gave Jacob the same promises He had given Abraham and Isaac. Yahweh had promised Abraham and Isaac that their descendants would possess that land; and He had promised that their descendants would be too numerous to count. Now, Yahweh was promising that His promises to Abraham and Isaac would be fulfilled through Jacob. The land would be given to Jacob’s descendants and Jacob’s descendants would be too numerous to count.

Notice that when Jacob awoke, he was aware of who had appeared to him.

Gen. 28:16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.”

Gen. 28:17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

Jacob understood that it was Yahweh Himself who had appeared in his dream, and he believed that he had stumbled upon God’s residence.

Notice the name “Bethel” in the following verses. “Beth” is the Hebrew word for house and “El” is the Hebrew word for God. “Bethel” literally means “House of God”.

Gen. 28:18 ¶ So Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on its top.

Gen. 28:19 He called the name of that place Bethel; however, previously the name of the city had been Luz.

In the following verses, notice Jacob’s vow. Yahweh had made a promise to Jacob and now Jacob was making a promise to Yahweh. Jacob vowed to choose Yahweh as his God; however, he put some conditions on his choice. Notice the word “if” and the word “then”. What conditions did Jacob put in his vow?

Gen. 28:20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me on this journey that I take, and will give me food to eat and garments to wear,

Gen. 28:21 and I return to my father’s house in safety, then the LORD will be my God.

Gen. 28:22 “This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

Jacob had three conditions:
1. If God kept him on his journey …
2. If God gave him food and clothing …
3. If God brought him back to his father’s house …

Jacob promised that if Yahweh did these three things, then he would choose Yahweh as his God. Jacob had just seen God in a dream and Yahweh had just given Jacob some unconditional promises, but now Jacob was only giving God a conditional promise. Jacob was only promising to choose Yahweh as his God if Yahweh did something for him.

What about us? On what basis should we choose our God? Should we choose our God based on what we get, or should our choice be made on something else? Consider the following:

Is. 45:5 “I am the LORD, and there is no other;
Besides Me there is no God.

Is. 45:18 ¶ For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited),
“I am the LORD, and there is none else.

Is. 45:22 “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth;
For I am God, and there is no other.

Is. 45:23 “I have sworn by Myself,
The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness
And will not turn back,
That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.

Yahweh is the only God and He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. Someday everyone will bow down to Yahweh. Our basis for choosing a god should be the fact that there is only one God. We should choose Yahweh as our God because there is no other choice; He is the one and only God.


Further Reading

Does it matter if God exists?

What happens if we ignore God?

How do we know that God exists?


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“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”