Trusting for others

Acts 19:23-41

23 About that time, serious trouble developed in Ephesus concerning the Way. 24 It began with Demetrius, a silversmith who had a large business manufacturing silver shrines of the Greek goddess Artemis. He kept many craftsmen busy. 25 He called them together, along with others employed in similar trades, and addressed them as follows:

“Gentlemen, you know that our wealth comes from this business. 26 But as you have seen and heard, this man Paul has persuaded many people that handmade gods aren’t really gods at all. And he’s done this not only here in Ephesus but throughout the entire province! 27 Of course, I’m not just talking about the loss of public respect for our business. I’m also concerned that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will lose its influence and that Artemis—this magnificent goddess worshiped throughout the province of Asia and all around the world—will be robbed of her great prestige!”

28 At this their anger boiled, and they began shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was filled with confusion. Everyone rushed to the amphitheater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, who were Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia. 30 Paul wanted to go in, too, but the believers wouldn’t let him. 31 Some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, also sent a message to him, begging him not to risk his life by entering the amphitheater.

32 Inside, the people were all shouting, some one thing and some another. Everything was in confusion. In fact, most of them didn’t even know why they were there. 33 The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander forward and told him to explain the situation. He motioned for silence and tried to speak. 34 But when the crowd realized he was a Jew, they started shouting again and kept it up for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

35 At last the mayor was able to quiet them down enough to speak. “Citizens of Ephesus,” he said. “Everyone knows that Ephesus is the official guardian of the temple of the great Artemis, whose image fell down to us from heaven. 36 Since this is an undeniable fact, you should stay calm and not do anything rash. 37 You have brought these men here, but they have stolen nothing from the temple and have not spoken against our goddess.

38 “If Demetrius and the craftsmen have a case against them, the courts are in session and the officials can hear the case at once. Let them make formal charges. 39 And if there are complaints about other matters, they can be settled in a legal assembly. 40 I am afraid we are in danger of being charged with rioting by the Roman government, since there is no cause for all this commotion. And if Rome demands an explanation, we won’t know what to say.” 41 Then he dismissed them, and they dispersed.

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 and 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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