Summary: Can God be known to the Athenians?

The Unknown God Part 1

Acts 17:16-34

The Bible tells us about the unpardonable sin, meaning the rejection of God that will lead you to Hell, but I believe the greatest sin a Christian can commit is to distort the true knowledge of God. We all have established in our hearts that the purpose of our church is “To Give Every Individual in our Community an Accurate Picture of God.” But we also know that it is impossible for any of us to communicate an accurate picture of God, if we ourselves don’t have an accurate picture.

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 1John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

1. What Paul Saw

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.

A. Idols

Athens had been home to philosophers like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. The entire city is filled with intellectuals. But the people of Athens still hungered fro spiritual things. According to R.C.H. Lenski “In Athens it was easier to find a god than a man.” Athens had a population of 10,000, but the city contained over 30,000 idols.

Rather than viewing it from the perspective of a tourist, he saw Athens as a city full of lost men and women, doomed to a Christless eternity. Jerusalem moved the Lord both to tears and to anger, and Athens likewise stirred Paul to holy anger. He hated idolatry because it robbed God of His glory.

Romans 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Luke tells us that Paul’s spirit was provoked. At Sinai, Moses spirit was provoked of the same reason. When he received the laws of God, the things that are an abominations to the Lord.

Exodus 20:3-5 "You shall have no other gods before me. [4] "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. [5] 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,

When God told Moses to go down to see how corrupted the children of Israel have become.

The Golden Calf was an example of worshipping God by an Image

Exodus 32:4-6 And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!" [5] When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made proclamation and said, "Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord." [6] And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. 7 And the Lord said to Moses, "Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. (8) They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ’These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ [9] And the Lord said to Moses, "I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. [10] Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you."

Moses Reaction

Exodus 32:19 And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain.

God’s Judgement

Exodus 32:27-28 And he said to them, "Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ’Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.’ " [28] And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell.

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