Our next passage brings to mind several implications for life. How far will we go to protect our business? Who or what do we really believe to be really real? Who guides our daily lives? Who do we call on for decision making and problem solving? How low will we stoop in making a buck, protecting our business, along with who will be used and abused who get in our way?
Who is God and who is not? Our lives will always reflect who we believe and follow.
As I read our passage for today, I would guess that Demetrius didn’t believe in any god or goddess but the making-a-swift-buck god. He didn’t really believe in the local goddess, Artemis. He believed in gaining wealth through making hand craved images to sell to those who did believe. He shamelessly incited a riot only to save his business with hopes that the disciples work could be stopped…so God would be stopped. But God is unstoppable. Read on…and watch God at work.
ACTS—God’s Actions through His Disciples
Acts 19:21-41, The Message
The Goddess Artemis
21-22 After all this had reached its peak, 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.
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
Inciting a riot for personal gain does not get solve problems.
Truth always will rise to the top. Cowards lie when threatened by Truth.
God is unstoppable. He worked through a town clerk who did not believe in Him to protect His work and calm the rioting to protect His people.
We are reminded of the Ten Commandments, written by God upon two tablets of stone and then given to Moses on Mount Sinai. (The record of the Ten Commandments can be found in the Bible, both in Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21.) Number One is: “You shall have no other gods before Me.” The second one clarifies God Alone: “You shall make no idols”—no hand-graven images of any kind to be exact. (Read Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5) The commandments of God have not changed. God has not changed in His love and care for us.
As believers we know that God was, is, and always will be God. His Son, Jesus is alpha and omega—beginning and the end—the One and Only who reconciles us to God in a holy relationship that is eternal. This is real life. This is who we really believe to be really real.
The story of our favorite place of business to fill our tummies is relevant to consider.
Chick-fil-A franchises are closed on Sundays. The founder, Truett Cathy opened his first restaurant on a Tuesday, and he found that by Sunday he was “just worn out.” He noted that, like himself, many of his customers preferred to observe the Christian Sabbath and not eat out on Sunday. He’s kept his restaurants closed on Sundays ever since, as much to honor the religious beliefs of his customer base, the evangelical Southern U.S., as his own. Truett put his day off to good use, teaching Sunday school for over 50 years.
Did closing on Sundays to honor the Sabbath, (another commandment), hurt his business?
Have you ever waited in line lately at your local Chick-fil-A? Truett Cathy’s chain continues to thrive with consistently opening new locations. The Chick-fil-A restaurant, for example, on the Auburn University campus set a record in June 2017 with $3 million in sales, at this location alone, earning an award. So, there you have it. God honors those who honor Him.
Thank you for reminding us who is always in control. You are God, the One and Only God—and we are not. I worship You with all that is in me with grateful praise for all you are, all you have done and will do. There is no other like you! I believe.
When I am afraid, dissolve my fears with ever developing trust in you. When I am perplexed, lead me to your wisdom. When I take a few steps from under your protective wing, draw me back in. When filled with confusion, calm my soul with your truth. I’m yours, Lord—imperfections and all, I’m yours. Continue to grow and mature your character in me. I’m not there yet.
In Jesus Name, Amen