The city of Athens, Greece in the first century was notorious for its idols. It was said there were more gods than there were people! Yet, not a single one of their hundred—perhaps thousands—of gods had ever spoken a word to them. “Where are the gods? Why can’t they be found? Why won’t they come to our aid??” “Because they are the figment of your own imaginations—the works of your own hands!” (cf. Deut. 4:28; Isa. 37:19; Jer. 25:6; Hos. 14:3).
In Acts 17:24-31, Dr. Luke records the account of when Paul the apostle strolled into Athens, saw these thousands upon thousands of gods, and said, “Let me tell you about a God that is not like your gods”…
A God that Created the Universe (Acts 17:24a)
The very first verse of the Bible speaks to this fact:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).
The apostle John proclaimed that
“All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made” (John 1:3).
The apostle Paul likewise published that
“…in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him” (Col. 1:16).
The inspired writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews declared:
“By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which appear” (Heb. 11:3).
Paul was trying to tell the Athenians that the Creator of the universe wanted them to know something; something that he wants you to know as well: the universe in which we live is not eternal; nor was it formed by some cosmic accident of freak coincidence. Rather, the universe was created by a higher Being.
A God that Rules the Universe (Acts 17:24b)
In Daniel 4, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar had his frightful dream. A “watcher” and “holy one” came down from heaven, and pronounced a judgment upon him, that he would be as a brute beast of the earth for seven years (15,16). The purpose of this vision or dream was declared to be
“…that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the lowest of men” (17).
The Most High does not share His throne with any—even if their were any with which He could share. Indeed, Nebuchadnezzar came to at least one piece of truth in his time with Daniel, as he confessed (albeit in his own ignorant way), “I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in thee” (Dan. 4:9). In other words, despite continuing to worship his false gods (cf. 4:8), Nebuchadnezzar came to see that something was different about Daniel’s God; Daniel’s God gave Daniel the ability to do what his seers, sorcerers, and magi could not. Daniel’s God, Nebuchadnezzar knew, was special; Daniel informed his king that He is not just a special “god”—He is the God that rules over the entire universe.
A God that Sustains the Universe (Acts 17:24b)
Again the writer of Hebrews declared that it is not only that this God created the universe, but He also is responsible for the perpetual sustaining of it:
“He upholds the universe by the word of his power” (1:3 | ESV)!
Think of the immaculate precision of this immeasurable universe. Consider, for instance, that the earth, in its elliptical orbit, shifts or “turns” ⅑ inch every 18 miles. This microscopic shift is what keeps the earth on the same old beaten path year after year. Did you know that if some error or malfunction occurred, and the earth suddenly began shifting ⅛ inch every 18 miles, the Sun’s gravity would overpower the centrifugal force of the earth’s orbit (think of a baseball tied to a string being swung like a lasso over the top of a person’s head) and would therefore suck the earth right into itself and we’d all be dead in an instant. Likewise, if a similar error occurred and the earth began shifting ⅒ inch every 18 miles, the opposite would result: the centrifugal force would overpower the sun’s gravity and we’d be slung out into space, and, in “the twinkling of an eye,” no eye would ever twinkle again. In other words, the earth’s elliptical orbit is so precise; so mathematically and physically impeccable, that a fluctuation of even ⅒ inch in its massive annual orbit would be the end of all life.¹ Any logically thinking, open-minded person understands that someone has to keep this system in order in all its perfection. The apostle Paul informed the Athenians that it is not Zeus, Poseidon, Demeter, Hermes, Artemis, Athena, Aphrodite, or Apollo, or any other of the gods they worship; nor is it Baal, or Asherah, or Molech, or any other ancient god of the peoples of the world. Rather, the One who sustains this great universe is One they do not know. In fact, this God does not merely sustain the universe—He does so with nothing more than His word (cf. Heb. 1:3b).
¹ And we’re supposed to believe that the earth is still “standing,” when its entire formation was due to an freak accident in the first place; that—despite having no Designer, no Creator, and no Overseer, all is well and in order, with no recorded miscalculations, malfunctions, misfires, stalls, etc., in 4-5 billion years? Really? And those who believe in the concept of “Intelligent Design” are supposedly the crazy ones? Oh, come off it, mate.
[Part 2 Coming Soon]