From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
Have you ever given thought to just what an amazing statement this is? When I consider it, my understanding comes on different levels. First, I am astounded by the Creation; that from one man, Adam, all the nations (or every single person) have descended and populated the entire world. God has determined not only when each human being would be born, but where he would be born, and his circumstances.
The Scripture says that He did this so each man and woman would seek Him; would reach out and find Him. Then the passage reminds us that He is not far away from any of us. We have the ability to do that because God instilled, within us, the knowledge that there is a Creator and the desire to know Him. It just blows me away that every living being on this planet has the innate ability to seek that relationship. You may not have the knowledge of what to call Him (I'm thinking of those proverbial natives deep within some remote and undiscovered jungle); but you still know that there is a Power that you owe your life to, and it is awesome and fearful. We are each born because He has determined it; and there is a purpose for each life --- to revere Him, to obey Him and to serve His will.
The same could be said of my second understanding of this Scripture. Not only does it apply to a person, but it all speaks to "nations" as countries, sovereign states, and kingdoms. God has appointed the times that nations/countries will be in existence and has determined the boundaries of their lands.
It is not pure happenstance that Empires have come and gone throughout history. God's hand has been in the rise and fall of each world power, and the extent of their dominance and influence have all served His plan and purpose. You can see it in the Biblical stories of Kings such as Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Darius and Antiochus 1V. Whether good or evil, each one was used to further God's plan for His world.
Do you remember what we studied in Junior High World History classes? I loved learning about the Spanish Armada and the fact that "the sun never sets on the British Empire." I was mesmerized with the historic battles between the British and the French over who would claim rulership of the North American continent. To me, these were ancient, almost romantic, tales of world history.
But now I see that they were just a continuation of God's action in determining "their appointed times" and "the boundaries of their lands." Leaders and rulers and nations don't come into existence and then disappear due to their own efforts. God is constantly working out His plan!
So what makes we Americans think that we are above the fate of any other nation? Can we not see that God planted this nation Himself? And do we not think that our blessings and protection can be removed just as other nation/empires have experienced?
The Bible is full of the disobedience and judgment against the historic nation of Israel, who is God's favorite of all the nations He has spoken into existence. When they abandoned Him for false idols and removed His influence from among their culture, they secured their fate. Their enemies were allowed to defeat them. But when they repented and returned to Him, God would forgive them of their sins and they dwelt in the land in peace and prosperity.
The same holds true for us; both as individuals and as a nation. He instilled something in each of us and in our cultural history; the knowledge that He created us. No matter what anyone says ..... that you exist because of evolution, or that the United States of America is not a Christian nation .... the truth is that our soul and our land were ordained by God. And all He wants is for us to acknowledge our relationship and keep the connection. As the Scripture says, He is not far away. I pray that we will reach out and reclaim our destiny.