When Paul traveled to Athens, he was shocked by the large numbers of idols in the city. Athens was a place where there were countless idols dedicated to the many gods created by the human imagination. He even saw one that was called “The Unknown God.” When Paul got an opportunity to speak a large group of Athenians, he referred to the “Unknown God” as being the one true God that the Athenians worshipped but were very ignorant about.
Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: 24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. (Acts 17:23-25)
Paul makes the point that his God is the Lord of Heaven and earth. He was not created by the craftsmen that carved stone and gold into whatever they desired to worship. Instead, this God created the gold, stone, and even the craftsmen themselves. This God is real and requires real devotion.
28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:28-31)
Being that this God is real, we must take it seriously when He commands all men to repent. He has appointed a day on which He will judge us all. We must be diligent to keep God’s commandments knowing that He will hold us responsible one day for whether we sought Him or not. Now is the time to awake and take personal responsibility for our spiritual life. This is not a game or just another path to explore. We are dealing with the Lord of Heaven and Earth, and we must treat His path for us with the reverence that it deserves.
On this final Day of Judgment, we will not be able to plead ignorance. Often in life we try to escape consequences by pleading innocent due to our lack of knowledge of the situation. For example, we might tell a police officer that we were not aware of the speed limit as we try to escape a ticket. Paul says that this argument will not protect us from God’s divine judgment. God will not accept an answer of “Lord, I did not know what to do,” or “I did not know what you wanted.” God has provided us with His word so we might know everything that He requires from us.
We can terminate our ignorance by reading His word. We can also join bible studies, and listen to, preaching that can help equip us with the knowledge to escape our ignorance of God’s will. By gaining the knowledge of His word we can reach out to God with confidence. We will not be ignorant, and we will be fully equipped to live our lives the way the Lord of Heaven and Earth would have us. We can have a saving relationship with Him and gain His wonderful and great promises that He has made to His servants.
— Andrew Smith