And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.
Acts 17:26 – Scripture of the Weekend (March 29-30, 2014)
Some of you may have recently seen Noah, the visually stunning yet glaringly inaccurate film released this weekend which is far removed from the biblical account of the flood that its claim to even be “inspired” by the Genesis record is laughable. (See my review for an account of most of the errors shown in this film.) Because of the thousands who are currently lining up in theaters to see this travesty, I have no doubt that the origin of mankind is a topic of interest for many these days. That’s why I’m glad that my Scripture Desktop Calendar pulled up Acts 17:26 as the Scripture of this particular weekend.
Noah’s titular character gives to his family a watered-down, theistic evolution-embracing account of the Genesis account of creation which starts off by saying, “In the beginning there was nothing,” rather than the more accurate “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). After stating there was nothing in the beginning and then implying that God (or “the Creator”) just appeared out of nothing rather than being eternal as he really is (1 Tim. 6:16), Noah voice-overs a series of visuals which imply that “the Creator” used the Big Bang to create the universe and this world, followed by a series of special-effects shots which heavily imply that Adam and Eve were the end result of fish “evolving” into mammals which in turned “evolved” into humans, a.k.a. the popular scientific-hypothesis-touted-as-fact-despite-being-continually-disproven theory of macro-evolution.
However, the film at least never went off the biblical rails by implying that the human race originated from people other than Adam. This is in keeping with what Paul preached to the Athenians in this weekend’s Scripture when he talked of God making “from one man every nation of mankind” (Acts 17:26a). We all are descendants of Adam, and later from his descendant Noah, whose family was the only one to survive the worldwide flood which wiped out all of mankind (Gen. 6-9). The people who make up every nation of mankind today and throughout history are descended through their various genealogies back to Noah and then to Adam. One can read an interesting example of this in Luke’s record of Jesus’ genealogy, which traces Jesus’ heritage all the way back to Adam (Luke 3:23-38). Another interesting example can be found in how the origins of various ancient tribes and nations are traced through their ancestries back to Noah (Gen. 10; 11:10ff), and thus back to Adam (Gen. 5:1ff).
It’s interesting that Paul preached this biblical human origin account to these Greeks, considering that some of them promoted then what is promoted today: an evolutionary development of humanity. As Solomon said:
What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us.
The fact that we all come “from one man” shows the ridiculousness of racism, another foolish notion as old as humanity. Paul’s Jewish contemporaries looked down on all Gentiles, going so far as to not allow foreigners to enter the Temple (Acts 21:28-29) and thinking that they would be defiled if they entered a Gentile governor’s headquarters (John 18:28). The Athenians to whom he was speaking considered all non-Greeks to be barbarians (cf. Rom. 1:14), as did the Egyptians with those outside their race. We see racism alive and well today and in recent generations in which blacks were thought to be inferior by some white Americans, who in turn were hated by some blacks for simply being white. Even the American Red Cross was known as recently as World War II to segregate the blood donations of various racial groups. By contrast, Christianity breaks down all ethnic barriers (Gal. 3:28)…and yet ironically is deemed as “backward” and “non-progressive” by some of the very people who promote racism. How sad.
Paul also told the Athenians that God made every nation of mankind to live “on all the face of the earth.” In other words, this planet was designed for man to live upon it. As the years go by, we continue to discover through the wonders of science just how complex this earth’s environment is and how its temperature and atmosphere, combined with its distance to the sun, the moon, and the other planets of our solar system, are so precise that even the slightest change in them would result in our extinction. As David and Paul said:
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge….Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
Psalm 19:1-2, 4
For what can be made known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
Paul ended his discourse in this weekend’s Scripture by informing the Athenians that God has already “determined allotted periods and the boundaries of (every nations’) dwelling place.” Daniel said, “…he removes kings and sets up kings…” (Dan. 2:21) to Babylonian monarch Nebuchadnezzar, who in turn would later declare, “…the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men” (Dan. 4:17).
I’m reminded of what Bill Cosby humorously said to his children on The Cosby Show: “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out!” Almighty God brought the United States and every other country into existence, and he can and will at his own time take them out of existence. May we Americans, and citizens of all other nations, tribes, and peoples, remember this great and important fact.