ACTS – Acts of God
They came to town council asking for a license to serve alcohol so they could open a country music hall and bar that would bring in headliners from across the country. One of our pastor friends sat on that council. Seeing he was outnumbered, he voted yes with the rest. Whiskey River came to town and opened it’s doors with huge crowds. This establishment sat across the street from our church. The only course of action we had was to refuse the parking of their cars on our lot. They did anyway. We had them towed off. Randy stood his ground and told patrons that you can visit your bar but you cannot park on ground dedicated to God. Surprisingly, the patrons understood. “You’re right.”
After much prayer, and loss of revenue over their “headliners” not showing up because of various reasons, Whiskey Rivers closed it’s doors almost as quickly as they opened them. Some of you will say, “What a witness you could have had.” It’s hard to reason with a person fully loaded with alcohol. But standing our ground on holy ground seemed, at the time many years ago, to be the best course of action.
I am reminded of this episode in our ministry journey as we read what happened when Paul’s preaching began to undercut the profits of a local idol making business. A riot ensued. One person stood up told them how to take care of their grievance in an orderly manner. God intervened. All settled. God’s work progressed.
Acts 19, The Message
The Goddess Artemis
21-22 After all this had come to a head, Paul decided it was time to move on to Macedonia and Achaia provinces, and from there to Jerusalem. “Then,” he said, “I’m off to Rome. I’ve got to see Rome!” He sent two of his assistants, Timothy and Erastus, on to Macedonia and then stayed for a while and wrapped things up in Asia.
23-26 But before he got away, a huge ruckus occurred over what was now being referred to as “the Way.” A certain silversmith, Demetrius, conducted a brisk trade in the manufacture of shrines to the goddess Artemis, employing a number of artisans in his business. He rounded up his workers and others similarly employed and said, “Men, you well know that we have a good thing going here—and you’ve seen how Paul has barged in and discredited what we’re doing by telling people that there’s no such thing as a god made with hands. A lot of people are going along with him, not only here in Ephesus but all through Asia province.
27 “Not only is our little business in danger of falling apart, but the temple of our famous goddess Artemis will certainly end up a pile of rubble as her glorious reputation fades to nothing. And this is no mere local matter—the whole world worships our Artemis!”
28-31 That set them off in a frenzy. They ran into the street yelling, “Great Artemis of the Ephesians! Great Artemis of the Ephesians!” They put the whole city in an uproar, stampeding into the stadium, and grabbing two of Paul’s associates on the way, the Macedonians Gaius and Aristarchus. Paul wanted to go in, too, but the disciples wouldn’t let him. Prominent religious leaders in the city who had become friendly to Paul concurred: “By no means go near that mob!”
32-34 Some were yelling one thing, some another. Most of them had no idea what was going on or why they were there. As the Jews pushed Alexander to the front to try to gain control, different factions clamored to get him on their side. But he brushed them off and quieted the mob with an impressive sweep of his arms. But the moment he opened his mouth and they knew he was a Jew, they shouted him down: “Great Artemis of the Ephesians! Great Artemis of the Ephesians!”—on and on and on, for over two hours.
35-37 Finally, the town clerk got the mob quieted down and said, “Fellow citizens, is there anyone anywhere who doesn’t know that our dear city Ephesus is protector of glorious Artemis and her sacred stone image that fell straight out of heaven? Since this is beyond contradiction, you had better get hold of yourselves. This is conduct unworthy of Artemis. These men you’ve dragged in here have done nothing to harm either our temple or our goddess.
38-41 “So if Demetrius and his guild of artisans have a complaint, they can take it to court and make all the accusations they want. If anything else is bothering you, bring it to the regularly scheduled town meeting and let it be settled there. There is no excuse for what’s happened today. We’re putting our city in serious danger. Rome, remember, does not look kindly on rioters.” With that, he sent them home.
Acts 20, The Message
1-2 With things back to normal, Paul called the disciples together and encouraged them to keep up the good work in Ephesus. Then, saying his good-byes, he left for Macedonia. Traveling through the country, passing from one gathering to another, he gave constant encouragement, lifting their spirits and charging them with fresh hope.
Think about it…
–We don’t need to attack the world, but we need to stand for Truth and speak Truth in love always.
In Jesus Name, Amen