Both PilgrimAgain and 1013 are both doing a magnificent job of presenting their respective views on this subject.The following are some thoughts that might be of interest.
1013 uses words from Paul from Acts 17:26 and then says,"So God arranged the nations so that men may seek him."
He then says,"according to restrictivism,the times set and the exact places for the nations work out to the opposite effect that Paul had in mind."
Perhaps the following verse teaches that both history and geography have been determined by God´s purposes toward Israel:
"When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance,when He separated the sons of Adam,he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel"(Deut.32:8).
The Lord did that so that the nations would see Israel living in a way that God intended all men to live,and by seeing them living a righteous life the nations would then be drawn to Israel.In that way they would seek God and find Him.
"Behold,I have taught you statutes and ordinances,even as the Lord my God commanded me,that ye should do so in the land to which ye go to possess it.Keep,therefore,and do them;for this is your wisdom and your understanding IN THE SIGHT OF THE NATIONS,who shall hear all these statutes and say,Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people"(Deut.32:5,6).
So the Lord´s purpose in setting the bounds for all people was that they would see a righteous nation and be drawn to it.
But Israel proved to be unfaithful.As time went by,the nation of Israel became a hindrance to God´s purposes because "the name of God" was "blasphemed among the Gentiles through" them (Ro.2:24).
And that is why Paul says that the Lord could overlook their ignorance.
And was it not God´s purpose that the whole world should have knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ,as it was in Paul´s day.Paul wrote that in his lifetime the gospel had gone to "all the world"(Col.1:6).Therefore,that is why we read that no one can come to the Father but by Jesus Christ.
But the ministers of the New Testament have not been faithful.The gospel is not now known throughout the world.Perhaps the Lord God will not hold those responsible who have not heard the gospel.Perhaps they will only be judged by the revelation that they have received:
"For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen,being understood by the things which are made,even His eternal power and Godhead,so they are left without excuse"(Ro.1:20).
In His grace,--Jerry