Monday 15 August, 2016

Acts 19:23-41

23 At that time many people became very upset about the Way of Jesus. 24 There was a man named Demetrius who made things out of silver. He made silver models of the temple of the goddess Artemis. He brought in a lot of business for the other skilled workers there. 25 One day he called them together. He also called others who were in the same kind of business. “My friends,” he said, “you know that we make good money from our work. 26 You have seen and heard what this fellow Paul is doing. He has talked to large numbers of people here in Ephesus. Almost everywhere in Asia Minor he has led people away from our gods. He says that the gods made by human hands are not gods at all. 27 Our work is in danger of losing its good name. People’s faith in the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be weakened. Now she is worshiped all over Asia Minor and the whole world. But soon she will be robbed of her greatness.” 28 When they heard this, they became very angry. They began shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon people were making trouble in the whole city. They all rushed into the theater. They dragged Gaius and Aristarchus along with them. These two men had come with Paul from Macedonia. 30 Paul wanted to appear in front of the crowd. But the believers wouldn’t let him. 31 Some of the officials in Asia Minor were friends of Paul. They sent him a message, begging him not to go into the theater. 32 The crowd didn’t know what was going on. Some were shouting one thing and some another. Most of the people didn’t even know why they were there. 33 The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander to the front. They tried to tell him what to say. But he motioned for them to be quiet. He was about to give the people reasons for his actions. 34 But then they realized that he was a Jew. So they all shouted the same thing for about two hours. “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” they yelled. 35 The city clerk quieted the crowd down. “People of Ephesus!” he said. “The city of Ephesus guards the temple of the great Artemis. The whole world knows this. They know that Ephesus guards her statue, which fell from heaven. 36 These facts can’t be questioned. So calm down. Don’t do anything foolish. 37 These men haven’t robbed any temples. They haven’t said evil things against our female god. But you have brought them here anyhow. 38 Demetrius and the other skilled workers may feel they have been wronged by someone. Let them bring charges. The courts are open. We have our governors. 39 Is there anything else you want to bring up? Settle it in a court of law. 40 As it is, we are in danger of being charged with a crime. We could be charged with causing all this trouble today. There is no reason for it. So we wouldn’t be able to explain what has happened.” 41 After he said this, he sent the people away.

The Gospel was a direct challenge to the cult of Artemis, and this passage shows those with vested interests became anxious. They whip themselves into an emotional frenzy and, grab a couple of Paul’s companions, dragging them to the city theatre. Understandably Paul wanted to defend his friends. But God stops him using the wise words of friends and even city officials. An amazing scene follows where God uses two very different men to speak in Paul’s place. A Jew and a city clerk.

I wonder what would have happened had Paul ventured into that theatre following his own wisdom? God knew the heart of the irrational mob and on this occasion protected Paul by using a city clerk, ensuring he continued his ministry beyond Ephesus.

How hard must it have been for Paul to see his companions so treated. I’m sure he felt powerless and like he’d let them down. Could he trust God to protect his friends? Or would he rush into the situation against godly advice? When I face situations where I want to fix things, do I remember God is in control, or do I rush in and seek to sort it my way? I can trust my own abilities & experience, or I can listen to wise advice from godly people I trust. When I seek God’s heart I see a God who loves and cares for me in every situation, my Sovereign God who has a plan for my life. I want to lean into that love and walk in that plan, and not “lean on my own understanding”.

Dear God, like Paul, I want to trust you in every situation that life puts before me. I acknowledge you are Lord and that you love me. Thank you that you care for me. Amen

Written by Claire Moore

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