Year 3 Day 123
Read - Acts 17v16-34
Message - Scott Woodburn
“First posted Year 2 Day 50 - 11th May”
The culture and heritage of the ancient Greeks is revered to this day and yet when Paul walked through Athens "his spirit was provoked within him". What caused such anguish? Everywhere Paul went he was surrounded by idols. The Greeks honoured a wide range of false gods and archaeology has shown that the Athenian marketplace was littered with statues to Themis the god of justice, Eueteria the god of prosperity, Apollo the god of music, Hekate the goddess of magic, Hermes the messenger of the gods, Zeus the god of the sky and Athena the goddess of wisdom. No wonder Paul's spirit was so grieved!
Humans are so inventive when it comes to idol worship. We imagine gods in our own image and pour out our love and attention upon them. Yet the one true God is clear, He does not tolerate rivals. In His moral law written on tablets of stone He says "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments." (Exodus 20v3-6)
Idolatry is a grave sin and the idolator walks a path that leads to hell. Paul knew the danger that the Athenians were in and so he began to reason in the synagogues and the marketplace (v17). Soon Paul's message began to filter throughout the city and he was approached by Epicureans and Stoics who wished to converse. The Epicureans saw nothing to fear in the gods while the Stoics were pantheists - god in all things. Some thought Paul was a babbler (v18) while others thought he was preaching foreign gods. Regardless they took him to the Areopagus to present his "new" teaching. At that place there were people who spent their lives telling and hearing new things (v21).
We can often scoff at the ancient world. They thought themselves so enlightened and yet they seem so primitive to us. Really though, not much has changed. Humanity is still obsessed with the "new". Humanity still excels at building false idols. Humanity still pretends to be wise in the midst of foolishness.
Today Christ is not a lifestyle choice or just another option among many so called gods. He is the way, the truth and the life. Many still reject Him and count Christianity as foolish "but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1 Corinthians 1v24)
If we would be truly wise then we cannot avoid Jesus. He is not like Zeus or the other gods of stone who cannot hear or speak. Jesus is wisdom. Jesus is the word. Jesus is Lord. "Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power." (Hebrews 1v1-3) Listen to Him!
Q7 What are the decrees of God?
The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. (Eph. 1:4,11, Rom. 9:22–23)