"In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."
Thoughts for Today:We're in the last part of a five part series on The Many Faces of God. We've completed: God the Creator, God the Provider, God the Ruler, God the Father, and now we conclude with God the Savior. Paul has been speaking before the Areopagus, and has come to the conclusion of his very scholarly presentation. I thought it might be beneficial to break down his last comments in greater detail:
* In the past God overlooked such ignorance -- the King James translation uses the word "winked" rather than "overlooked." God is the ever-patient father winking as He watches His children fumbling about trying to figure things out, that is until He sends His Son Jesus to save the world.
* But now he commands -- no longer is God willing to overlook man's ignorance; but this isn't a request or a suggestion, it is a command.
* All people everywhere -- the call of God is not limited to the Jews only.
* To repent -- God doesn't want anything that's superficial or temporary, He wants real repentance.
* For he has set a day -- it is unavoidable, the day has already been set, and it has been determined by God.
* When he will judge the world with justice -- when a magistrate judges, his ruling is based upon a set of laws; in this case, God's law, not man's perception of justice (the "I lived a good life" defense won't work).
* By the man he has appointed -- the judge will be Jesus.
* He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead -- Jesus' life and death were pretty amazing, but the ultimate proof of His identity came from His defeat of death (the resurrection).
The final Face of God as expressed by Paul is as God the Savior. Although I appreciate Paul's organization of thought and sequence of presentation we have been looking at for the last several devotions, I really struggle with his presentation of Jesus. Paul had a great opportunity to hammer home the saving grace of Jesus the Christ, but instead he doesn't even mention Him by name. He speaks only about "the man." Speaking from my own admittedly limited perspective, I think it's a crucial omission. Maybe Paul learned from this experience as he wrote later in Philippians 2: 9-11, "God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Now that leaves no doubt about the identity of Jesus!
Questions to Ponder:When was the last time you spoke without compromise on the identity and authority of Jesus? Is it possible that Paul succumbed to the pressure of his audience? The Areopagus were a scholarly bunch and Paul was a scholar second to no one, but for some reason he held back on Jesus. Have you ever done the same thing? What part of the gospel message is difficult for you to express? Certainly the world has bought into the philosophical components of Jesus teaching on gentleness, love, forgiveness, etc, but how is He identified? As the Son of God or a great philosopher? How do you identify Jesus?