For the better part of our lives, we settle to worship and pray to an unknown God. Worse still, we pervert who God is and equally worse, we create our own version of God. We spend our lives knowing about God, but not actually knowing Him. The devil and his cohorts of darkness are even credited to knowing about God.
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that- and shudder.
God became somewhat ambiguous to us when the first man, Adam, fell. When Jacob wrestled with God, he still did not know who He was and even beseeches, ‘Please tell me your name’ but he (God) replied, ‘Why do you ask my name?’ (Genesis 32:29). Moses also had the same dilemma. When he first encountered God, he still could not tell who God is and asks, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them. ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ And they ask me, what is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them? God says to Moses, ‘I AM THAT I AM’. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you… This is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations’ (Exodus 3:13-14, 15).
The memory of God however slipped out of people’s minds. God’s Word about who He was to Moses from the beginning was slowly being eroded. People were intermittently knowing God, then for some reason unknowing Him. God through David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Joel, Micah and other prophets had to remind them that His name would be forever and that His memorial would be unto all generations. Over 1,400 years later, I AM revealed Himself and declared, ‘I AM the way, the truth and the life’ (John 14:6).
Even after God had revealed Himself once and for all, to some, He still remained an unknown God. He was certainly unknown to Paul, who when he ‘found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem’ (Acts 9:2). When he met God, like Moses and Jacob, he asks, ‘Who are you Lord?’ (v5). The I AM that was not yet revealed to Jacob, Moses and the Israelites was finally here, and God responds, ‘I AM Jesus, whom you are persecuting’ (v5).
Paul, now knowing God and filled with His Spirit walks in the streets of Greece and sees a people not knowing God. When he tries to make God known to them, some call him a babbler and is questioned by an aristocratic council, ’May we know what new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing strange ideas to our ears and we want to know what they mean’ (Acts 17:19). Paul stands before the people who have a plethora of gods and an Unknown God, and declares;
Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and carefully looked at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore you ignorantly worship, him I am going to proclaim to you.
Paul proceeds to give a detailed account of who God is (the Creator who does not live in structures built by hands) and who we are to Him. ‘Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold, or silver or stone- an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past, God overlooked such ignorance…He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead’ (v29-31).
‘When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some sneered, but others said, ‘We want to hear you again on this subject’ (v32). For some, God remains unknown out of sheer ignorance, for others God remains unknown out of downright rebellion, while for many God remains unknown out of passivity. When like Jacob, Moses, and Paul we ask Who are you God? God has a final response, ‘Search the Scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life and they are they which testify of me’ (John 5:39) because God has become KNOWN to us all.