by Diane Boring
I will always remember the first time that Acts 17:26-27 jumped out at me. My first grandchild, Summer, was just a few weeks old. I remember going in and sitting on the bed next to her and reading this passage to her mother who was standing in the room. I said something like this: “Look at this verse. It makes me think of little Summer.” Then I quoted it:
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.
God had created Summer at this time in history, and given her to this family, in this place, because He loves her and wants her to seek Him and find Him. I will never forget how that verse affected me.
But did I understand it correctly? Today I read it again, and it is just as clear to me now as it was then. I believe that God so loved the world that He created each person at the best time in history for them to be born, and under the best circumstances for them to seek Him and find Him if they so desire. But He never forces Himself on anyone. He offers Himself as a free gift.
I was curious to see what The Grace New Testament Commentary said, and was pleased to see that it confirmed what I noticed years before. In his commentary on Acts 17:26-27, Al valdes states:
Paul reflects the Book of Genesis, affirming that God created every nation of men from the same blood for the purpose of inhabiting the earth. In addition, God determined when and where they fit into history. God established these beneficial chronological and geographical boundaries “so that they should seek the Lord.” He did this so they would perhaps grope for him and find him. In this way Paul explains how the unknown God has placed mankind in the best possible position to come to the knowledge of Him. In fact, the apostle asserts that he is not far from each one of us…Paul’s statement shows that all persons of sound mind can seek and find Him. Paul did not contradict what he says here when he wrote in Rom 3:11 that “no one seeks God.” In Rom 3:11 Paul is saying that men never seek God on their own initiative. But since God draws all to Himself (John 12:32), all can respond to God and seek Him.
Commenting on the next verse (v 28), valdes said that Paul, “explained God’s nearness to everyone (and thus His accessibility), affirming that in him we live and move and have our being.”
I am reminded of Zvi, a 10-year-old Jewish boy who was separated from his parents during the Holocaust and survived on his own during Hitler’s terrible reign. He found his way to Israel and to faith in the Messiah. His story testifies to God’s drawing. Zvi looked to Christ and was saved. The same thing can happen to anyone. God has placed people in the best possible circumstance to find Him, so long as they want Him and respond to the light He gives them along their life’s journey.
We read in John 1:9: “That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (emphasis mine).
Jesus said in John 12:32, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all to Myself” (emphasis mine).
Dale and I now have many grandchildren. We thank God for each one of them. They all bring such joy to our hearts. When I look at each one of them I remember Acts 17:26-27, and rejoice at a loving, caring, merciful, gracious God who put them in our lives in the hope that they would seek Him and find Him.
To God alone be all the glory and praise for what He has done!