Year 2 Day 68
Read - Acts 19v28-41
Message - Scott Woodburn
Our God is a God of order and not of chaos. In the beginning the earth was without form and void (Genesis 1v2) until the Lord spoke and brought order to the universe. Later Paul reminds us that when we worship everything should be done decently and in order for our God is not a God of confusion but of peace (1 Corinthians 14v40,33). The same cannot be said for the false god Artemis.
Demetrius realised that Christianity was a clear and present danger to the Ephesian way of life. He was a silversmith who made idols for the worship of Artemis and suddenly Christians said that gods made by human hands weren't actually gods at all. His speech stirred up the crowd who started crying out “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (v28) The city was filled with confusion and soon two Christians named Gaius and Aristarchus were dragged into the theatre (v29). Both men would survive their ordeal and thankfully Paul was kept from going in among the crowd (v31).
Eventually a man named Alexander calmed the crowd. He realised that they could all soon be charged with rioting and they didn't actually have any cause for their commotion (v40). Neither Gaius or Aristarchus had done or said anything against Artemis (v37) and so it was time for everyone to go home (v41).
I find this whole account tragic. Demetrius had whipped the crowd up into a frenzy and they spent two hours crying out “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (v34). Some of the crowd cried out one thing, some another thing and others had no idea why they had even come together (v32). Chaos reigned in Ephesus and all for the false goddess Artemis.
All of this is an example of spiritual blindness. Paul would write to the church of Corinth and say "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2v14) The crowd chanted for two hours straight "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians" and yet they did not see their need for Jesus Christ. They did not accept the things of God, the Gospel seemed like folly to them, ultimately they needed to be spiritually awakened by the Gospel and the Spirit.
Today Ephesus is in ruins but still thousands of tourists flock each year to take photos of the places Paul once stood. I wonder how many people who pose in the ruins of the theatre know about the day that thousands chanted the name of Artemis? Not too many chant that name any longer but the silver idols of Artemis have been replaced by a multitude of modern idols which still mask the truth that this world needs Christ.
A Christian by the name of Augustine once said "our heart is restless until it rests in God." He was right and lost souls in our land could do with hearing it. Idols only bring disorder, chaos and ultimately death, they cannot speak or hear or save. Jonah once declared that "those who put there trust in idols forsake their hope of steadfast love" (Jonah 2v8) He was right too.
Brothers and sisters may we reach out with compassion to those who remain blind to their need of Christ. May we be zealous in prayer asking the Lord to open their eyes. May we speak the Gospel to them when opportunity arises and may we live to see days where the Lord brings order from chaos and many hearts find their rest in Jesus.
Q75 What is forbidden in the eighth commandment? The eighth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever doth, or may, unjustly hinder our own, or our neighbor’s, wealth, or outward estate.