To the Unknown God
The setting is the Areopagus, in Athens, Greece. A man who is a natural born Roman citizen of jewish decent stands before the High Council to answer a charge of preaching about gods not recognized by the Greeks. This Jew named Paul had been speaking of events in Jerusalem, asserting a man named Jesus who had been crucified by the Romans was raised from the dead and was alive.
The intellectual climate of Athens was one of listening for new ideas and discussing them. We find Paul in front of the High Council of Athens to explain his new ideas. The basic reason Paul is there is that anyone who debates Paul cannot best his arguments so they accuse him of insurrection to silence him and submit him to judgment. The High Council of Athens allowed him to defend himself before them as a Roman citizen who had the right to free speech and a fair trial.
Paul is given the floor. His first words are, “You men of Athens are very religious. As I was sightseeing on Mars Hill, I notice among all the shrines, an altar inscribed ‘to the unknown god’. I am here to introduce you to this unknown god.”
Paul has the full attention of the Council and the audience now.
Paul’s introduction of the unknown god points out His unique existence…
- This God made the world and everything in it
- Being Lord of heaven and earth, He does not live in temples made by humanity
- Nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything. He has no needs
- He himself gives to all humanity life, breath, and everything
- From one man He made all the nations of the world
- He determines when and where those nations will exist
- His purpose is for all humanity to seek Him, feel their way to Him, and find Him
- He is the source of our existence and He is near by and available to us
- He rightly calls all humanity to repent or face judgment
- He chose one man by which to communicate this with humanity
- He assured humanity of this truth by raising that man from the dead
This demonstrates how relational our Creator is. He has an active plan to bring humanity to Himself. He actively demonstrates His incredible love in that at the right moment in human history, He sent Jesus Christ, His beloved Son, to die for us. The resurrection of Jesus is the proof that we now have the means to have the right standing with our Creator.
Evidence of His Relational Identity
Our Creator existed before creation and time began. His Core being expressed Himself through His creation. He also desired a relationship with humanity. Look up these passages which I list for your in-depth study that lead us to the evidence of God’s Relational identity.
- He was known as the God of our fathers because of a promise given and kept
- the God of Abraham — Genesis 17 (His promise to Abraham)
- the God of Isaac — Genesis 26 (His promise to Isaac)
- the God of Jacob — Genesis 28, 46 (His promise to Jacob)
- His introduction to Moses and Israel as Jehovah — Exodus 6
- Nine nouns that display God’s Relational being as evident by His actions toward humanity
- Jehovah jireh (Genesis 22:14) “The Lord our Provider”
- Jehovah rapha (Exodus 15:26) “The Lord our Healer”
- Jehovah nissi (Exodus 17:15) “The Lord our Banner”
- Jehovah shalom (Judges 6:24) “The Lord our Peace”
- Jehovah raah (Psalms 23:1) “The Lord our Shepherd”
- Jehovah tsidkenu (Jeremiah 23:6) “The Lord our Righteousness”
- Jehovah shammah (Ezekiel 48:35) “The Lord who is Present”
- Jehovah sabaoth (Amos 4:13) “The Lord of Hosts”
- Jehovah m’kaddesh (Exodus 31:13) “The Lord who sanctifies you”
- How we see God’s Relational being from the time of Christ’s presence in our world.
- Father — Holy, Righteous Judge
- Son — Our Redeemer, Our Reconciler, Our Advocate
- Holy Spirit — Our Promise, Our Comforter, Our Teacher
Journal your insights gained from reading the passages above. This will acquaint you with or remind you of what an incredible Creator we have. Now use this as an opportunity to look at your Relational identity.
Make a list of 5 nouns that describe what people around you know that you do. It is usually through what others know of what we do that we are known and given Identity.
Next look at the list of your 5 adjectives. Do the things that you do reflect your Core desires? Or, are the things you do motivated by acceptance and a desire to please others. For the human being our identity is often driven by what others expect of us rather than truly living from our Core being or identity that our Creator intended.
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