While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.) Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. Acts 17:16-25 NIV
Worshiping gods was nothing new to people when Paul preached the Good News. For centuries–man made idols–with their own hands–of stone, bronze, gold, wood, whatever they used at any given time–shaped into images to represent events that they didn’t understand. They had fertility gods, sun gods, moon gods, season gods, agricultural gods, –all these gods they created to explain what they didn’t understand because they didn’t have access to science (as we know it today) to discover the “whys” of what occurred.
And then there was the representation of the “unknown god” (science still cannot explain) who had a place in their worship venues. This altar bore this inscription because the men of that day and even now, could not explain certain events, but they attributed it a god.
Mankind is still worshiping idols–gods made by their own hands. They think the “things” have dominion of events that occur in our lives. Most of us understand superstitious nonsense and know that there are no “things” that have any power–no images created by mortals can do anything of their own accord. But then there are those whose faith is in statues, and beads, and images and their faith in the things cannot be shaken.Some worship all they develop and to keep what they make in the forefront of their minds–they emblazon their name on everything–and expect others to worship them, too.
However, since they do not know God or understand God, their faith in Him is tenuous at best because they are ignorant of His ways and purposes. The God of Heaven, the Creator of all things and without whom, nothing was ever created, is still the unknown God to many–who think they are the masters of their destiny. These did not read about Jeremiah and the conversation God had with him, “before you were formed in your mother’s womb, I knew you,” and later He said, “I know the plans I have for you.”
Now while it is true that we all have choices to make, when we follow God’s plans we are going to be successful as He defines success. God does not define success as man does–especially when man’s success is contingent upon a lack of integrity, intimidation, and bullying. When success is obtained by questionable means (leaving others holding the bag of their debts) that is not godly success. Godly success is only achieved by doing things the way God directs us. That success may not mean being a billionaire–but it will mean we are pleasing God.
So while many are still serving and worshiping gods created by human hands or machines, out of a religious spirit, there are some of us who are led by the Spirit of God and will only serve Him–the unknown God for those who don’t know Him.