"The longer Paul waited in Athens for Silas and Timothy, the angrier he got -- all those idols! The city was a junkyard of idols.
"He discussed it with the Jews and other like-minded people at their meeting place. And every day he went out on the streets and talked with anyone who happened along. He got to know some of the Epicurean and Stoic intellectuals pretty well through these conversations. Some of them dismissed him with sarcasm: 'What an airhead!' But others, listening to him go on about Jesus and the resurrection, were intrigued: 'That's a new slant on the gods. Tell us more.'" Acts 17:16-18 (The Message).
Angry? Why was Paul angry when he saw the city of Athens dotted with idols? Did it really matter that they used images to decorate their city?
Yes, it did matter to Paul because idols were the evidence of "foreign occupation". The city of Athens, capital of Greece. was announcing, through the visible symbols of their allegiance, that they were part of the devil's domain. They were "occupied territory" and subject to his rule. and, therefore, they would not be rescued without a fight.
Unlike the countries that Germany occupied during WW2, the people of Athens, and the rest of the world, accepted Satanic occupation without resistance. You see, they didn't know any better. Satan exploited their ignorance and their gullibility to entrench himself in their belief system because they knew of no alternative.
It is the devil's avowed intention to wrest worship from the rightful King of the universe, Jesus. Long before God prepared the earth to be a suitable home for man, He evicted the devil from His domain for rebelling against Him, and banished him to the earth.
"And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down -- that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him." Revelation 12:7-9 (NIV).
Why was Paul angry? Was he angry with the Athenians for worshipping idols? No, he was angry with the devil for hoodwinking the people. All they needed to do was to follow the whims of their rebellious hearts and they were suckers for any lying suggestion the devil made to them.
Without supernatural revelation from God, human beings cannot know Him or even conceive of a being like Him. All we can do is create beings in our imagination who are caricatures of human beings, and can never be any greater than we are, and then worship them as though they really exist. And the devil is laughing because he is the inspiration behind our foolishness and gets the glory for it.
Whatever we put our confidence in that is not God is an idol. The tragedy is that we become what we worship. People who put their confidence in money, for example, are most often times greedy, stingy and even dishonest to hold on to what they have and to get more.
God said of His people: "When they came to Baal Peor, they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol and became as vile as the thing they loved." Hosea 9:10b (NIV).
People are not only held captive to Satan's lies but also suspicious of the truth. Some Athenians laughed at Paul and walked away. Others waited around a little longer to listen to him. What does it take to convince a person that God is telling the truth? It takes an honest person and a mighty, supernatural act of God's Holy Spirit to rescue a deceived soul from the clutches of the devil and transfer him into the realm of God's truth.
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