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Sunday, June 02, 2013

Which Gods Do You Worship?

A week ago I returned from an exciting cruise to the Adriatic. Our ports included several places in Greece, Croatia, Ephesus and Venice, Italy. The tour did not disappoint. I joined throngs of people exploring the wonders of the ancient world which, in some cases, have been excavated and preserved for our benefit. It was wonderful to see my history books, and the Bible, come alive.

Part of Poseidon's temple, Athens, Greece

Many of us chuckled as our guides recounted some of the stories of the gods who have graced the pages of Greek mythology. There is the popular story of the contest between Poseidon and the goddess Athena after whom Athens is named. She defeated Poseidon in becoming the god of the city by creating an olive tree  as a symbol of peace and prosperity on the earth.  Poseidon's gift of water, which later turned salty, was rejected by the king. Poseidon was known to be moody and bad-tempered, often seeking revenge on those who crossed him. The ruins of his temple can be seen in Athens, Greece.
Here I am standing in front of one of the gates of the Acropolis

Then there was Zeus, the supreme god, ruler of mankind, worshiped by Greeks. Zeus, unlike Poseidon, was usually fair in his dealings, but even he had his moods. In a good mood he would bless the world with beautiful weather; in a bad mood he would send rain, lightning and thunder. He must have been in a bad mood when we visited the ruins of his temple in Olympia, for it was raining when we got there.

What did I tell you about the rain? Near the temple of Zeus

But why am I telling you all this? Because as I said before, the Bible also came alive for me on this trip. Our guides in Ephesus and in Athens each mentioned the apostle Paul's work in those cities and how he was able to convert many people from paganism to Christianity.

Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said , Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.  For as I passed by , and beheld your devotions , I found an altar with this inscription , TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship , him declare I unto you.  God that made the world and all things therein , seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;  Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; Acts 17: 22 - 26.

The Greeks, zealous as they were in their worship of many gods, were only too willing to hear about another god,  made an altar to the UNKNOWN GOD who, perhaps, might excel over their gods.  But Paul explained that the true God is not man-made.

Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.  And the times of this ignorance God winked at ; but now commandeth all men every where to repent : (v 29 - 30).

After Paul's teaching the Bible says,   "And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked : and others said , We will hear thee again of this matter.  So Paul departed from among them.  Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed : among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them (v 32 - 34).

So, I ask you, which gods do you worship? Do you worship gods made by hands, as the ancient Greeks did, or do you worship the gods of this present world? Money, power, beauty, possessions? History has taught us that the gods of the ancient Greeks were just myths, invented by the minds of men who erected monuments to make them seem real. The God we worship requires no monument; in fact he forbids it. Exodus 20: 4. Neither is He moody. He is the same yesterday, and today and forever. Hebrews 13 : 8. He wants us to love Him and worship Him by faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Then one day we will see Him face to face. But until then, let's worship Him and only Him.
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