“From one man he made every nation of the human race to inhabit the entire earth, determining their set times94 and the fixed limits of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope around for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” —Acts 17:26-27
The true God is the God of history. He made man as one race, originating from one source. The interesting thing is that today this statement is as scientifically sound as when it was first uttered. Science today admits that there is only one race of men, one species: Homo sapiens. Despite the differences of pigment, stature, and feature that exist around the world, there’s only one race of men. They all come from one source. This one God has also intervened to direct their lives through the course of history. All this wasn’t done arbitrarily, but based on their reaction to the one great reason for which human beings exist: That they might find God, “that they might feel after him and find him.” That’s why God has allowed history.
The events of human history have all been to this end—that they might find God; that man might be motivated to search for him. Remember, Hebrews 11:6 says, “For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” In Jeremiah 29:13 we read, “Thus says the Lord: … when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you.” God is urging men to seek him. It is ridiculous, absurd, nothing but a self-delusive, deceitful trick, and dishonest in the extreme, to think that anyone can operate, as a man or a woman, without God. Their very life and breath is coming from him.
There are many people who could stand up and testify that they lived for years in the grip of this idolatrous delusion that they were sufficient in themselves until something occurred that put them flat on their back, or broke their heart, or came crashing in as some great disappointment, and made them realize for the first time that they couldn’t live without God. Those events allow God to reveal himself as the God who draws men, who awakens them, who urges them to find him, to seek him, and who will reward those who diligently seek him.
Now, in the next section of his talk before the group gathered, the apostle concludes with a wonderful statement about man. Here we learn some new things:
“From one man he made every nation of the human race to inhabit the entire earth, determining their set times and the fixed limits of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope around for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move about and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring. So since we are God’s offspring, we should not think the deity is like gold or silver or stone, an image made by human skill and imagination. Therefore, although God has overlooked such times of ignorance, he now commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has set a day on which he is going to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom he designated, having provided proof to everyone by raising him from the dead’” —Acts 17:26-31
What a fantastic statement! It begins with the fact of the dignity of man, recognizing that man is God’s offspring. It’s not Biblical to go around telling people that man is nothing, that he is vile, that he is a worm, etc. This isn’t the Biblical view of man as he was created. “What is man that your mind is filed with thoughts of him,” cries the Psalmist. “You made man only a little lower than yourself and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority . . . (Psalm 8)
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Story of Acts