In past generations
He allowed all the nations
To follow their own ways;
Yet he has not left himself
Without a witness in doing good –
Giving you rains from heaven
And fruitful seasons
And filling you with food
And your hearts with joy.
In a place called Lystra (now called Klistra in modern day Turkey), Paul trusted in what God showed him about a man who had been crippled since birth (Acts 14:9) – that he had faith enough to be healed after hearing Paul proclaim the Good News. The Lystran response to the man springing up and walking was to declare Paul and Barnabas as the gods Hermes and Zeus come in the flesh, and to try to worship and sacrifice to them. Paul and Barnabas tore their clothes when they heard about their response. The tearing of clothes is a deeply symbolic act in Judaism, expressing deep distress and mourning, usually practiced in the presence of a death or upon hearing of the death of someone close to them.
Paul explains to the would-be worshippers that worship of god-men belonged to the past when God allowed nations to do their own thing. They had the proof supplied in nature that there was a Living God and that He was good, and that they were to stop worshipping worthless things (idolatry) and worship that evident Creator – the only living God.
Today, there are many and various ‘gods’ being worshipped around the world, along with those who worship themselves as god (there is no god, but me), who worship there-is-something-greater-than-us-but-who-knows-who-or-what-that-is, and those who worship the you-are-entitled-to-worship-whatever idea.
But nothing has changed since Paul’s day – God allowed nations to, as someone has said, ‘express their ancestral customs’ before the advent of the Good News of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach. With His revelation that access to the only living God for all Jews and Gentiles was through Him, all forms of idolatry became off limits. The continuing evidence of the living God and His goodness also left (leaves) ‘non-adherents to anything’ without excuse. The revelation and the evidence are still in force.
All humankind has been told to – Step away from that idol!
The message hasn’t changed: The Living God desires your constant presence – to give you life and to give it more abundantly, more than you could have ever dreamed or desired.
The Lord is coming!