Athens, Greece was one of thee places to be during the time of Paul.
It was a great city. The streets bustled with high-energy commerce and it was the intellectual capital of the world.
High above the city stood the Acropolis including the Parthenon temple, which was the showpiece of Greek architecture.
Marketing fresh ideas provided energy to the city.
Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.
– Acts 17:21
Athens was also full of idols. There were images of all shapes and sizes made of every material representing all gods and goddesses… all housed in the Greek temple.
When Paul saw all of this he was angry. You can read about it in Acts 17.
For days he reasoned with the Athenians to turn from false gods and worship the one true God.
Eventually he came into contact with members of the Areopagus, the well-known philosophical society that met on Mars Hill. These men were the sensors who controlled the religious lectures that were given in Athens.
They also served as a kind of think-tank. They were open to new ideas and to change.
Wanting to learn more about what Paul was saying, they invited him to address their assembly.
So… if you were in Paul’s shoes what approach would you have taken?
Tell the philosophers they were worshiping the wrong gods?
Quote the First Commandment… no other god before me?
Paul did neither. Instead he approached them with the heart of the 2nd Commandment.
He told them that God cannot be worshiped by way of idols. Their problem was not simply that they were serving the wrong gods, but they were worshiping the wrong way altogether.
He introduced them to… “The unknown god.”…in response to an altar they had erected to cover their bases, knowing there was something they had left out.
Since the fall, men have had the propensity to define the god they want to serve and then construct some image that represents and gives credence to what they want.
This is a Big Deal!
There is more said by God about the 2nd Commandment than any of the other 10… and for good reason.
Left to ourselves, what men want in life and what men hope for becomes narcissistic.
Rather than striving to properly reflect God’s image, men create distorted beliefs and images of Him that serve us…and these bad photos reduce and diminish who He is.
The heart of the 2nd Commandment serves to provide refreshing clarity to all of this.
Join us at the tables this Friday as we unpack the RULE, the REASON, the WARNING and the the PROMISE connected to Commandment #2.
Hope to see you early!
This Week’s Key Verses
(Rule) You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; (Reason) for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, (Warning) visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, (Promise) but showing loving kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. Exodus 20:4–6
For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Romans 1:21-23
These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Matthew 15:8