Monday after Populus Sion, The Second Sunday in Advent
Scripture: Acts 17:16-34 (NKJV)
17:16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. 17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there. 18 Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” 21 For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.
22 Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you:
24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. 26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’
29 “Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
God’s providence—the way in which all creation is geared toward supporting human life—points to God’s existence and His goodness. But the Athenians were groping around in the dark for God, as all non-Christians still do. There’s a reason for that. In the beginning God walked with Adam and Eve. But when they rebelled against Him they plunged our race into darkness. We no longer walk with God by nature. We’re alienated from Him, sinners who are hostile toward Him, blind to who He is, unwilling and unable to know or worship the true God. God’s providence alone still leaves Him unknown.
All of God’s providence to mankind has this purpose: that when He sends His Word, as He did through the Apostle Paul and as He still does through His ministers, men should hear God’s call to repent, to turn from their idolatry, to turn from their sin, to turn from their ignorance and know the true God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; who created all things; who revealed Himself to Israel; who came in the flesh, lived under the law, died for our sins, was raised and exalted to the right hand of God, and will come to judge the Earth.
The unknown God has revealed Himself in the Gospel of Christ, and to know Christ by faith is to have eternal life. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).
We pray: O Lord God, we give You thanks for all that You provide for us, but especially for graciously providing Your Gospel, that we may know You rightly, believe in You steadfastly, and confess You joyfully. Preserve us, O Lord, in the true knowledge of You in Jesus Christ! Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.