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Will what you are doing die or remain 2,000 years later? (Acts 19:26-41)

Acts: The Book of Mission, Pastor Heo, Sermons

Will what you are doing die or remain 2,000 years later? (Acts 19:26-41)

The Riot in Ephesus

23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. 24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. 25 He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: “Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”

28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater. 30 Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. 31 Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.

32 The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. 33 The Jews pushed Alexander to the front, and some of the crowd shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. 34 But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

35 The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: “Men of Ephesus, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? 36 Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to be quiet and not do anything rash. 37 You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. 38 If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. 39 If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly. 40 As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of today’s events. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.” 41 After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.

Acts 19:26-41

Today’s story = there was a huge rally / riot / demonstration / strike against God – but in the end it came to nothing.

At that time, Ephesus was the center for the occult, superstition, exorcism, etc. Even some exorcists used the name of Jesus – without knowing him – for their own evil purposes. But they were found out, and many eventually believed in Christ and turned from their sins. They brought their magic books (last Sunday) and burned them in a public bonfire. The value of those books was 50,000 drachmas (several million dollars). So, the fear of the Lord and the Word of God came to that area and grew in power. Such success filled Paul with passion for a wider experience – and he set his eyes on Rome.

At the same time, with this great success in ministry, we must remember that Satan is not lazy in his mission. We have our mission, as does Satan.

Be self-controlled and alert, because your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

So, whenever you get great success in your ministry or work, you must be even more self-controlled, because this is when Satan wants to attack.

v. 23-27

23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. 24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. 25 He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: “Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”

Artemis: Goddess of hunting, production, fertility (daughter of Zeus, sister of Apollo) Roman name: Diana
Still today, it is one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. It has 127 marble pillars (each was 6 stories tall). Festival of Artemis was wild orgies and parties.

Thus, making a miniature statue of Artemis (an idol) was a big business.

But wherever the gospel is preached, it will be strongly opposed by those who make much money from idolatry and sin. Paul did not even say, “No idols! Destroy this temple!” Actually, the gospel message itself has life-given and life-changing and lifestyle-changing power.

When travelers came to Ephesus, they often bought shrines – images of Artemis (so it was a huge business). But it is impossible to live in Christ AND live in sin continuously. So, consequently, the gospel came under scrutiny and doubt, attack and persecution. It became offensive and intolerable to the makers of money who sold idols.

v. 24

24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen.

Demetrius was the leader of the guild and he called the makers and traders in this business together and he appealed to their love of money – but he encouraged them to hide their greed behind the mask of patriotism and religious devotion… He made patriotism and religious devotion mixed together.

Still today there are many religions made by man – and whenever we preach the gospel, Jesus confronts them to replace whatever has secured their devotion with himself. The Lord of every person and culture is Christ. This challenge and confrontation cannot be avoided. There is a ripple effect as hearts are touched – and it eventually results in lifestyle change.

Disciples of Christ = followers, imitators

The disciples of Christ no longer find in themselves the desire for worldly things.

You are the light of the world; the salt of the earth.

Jesus

What does this mean? We should pray and ask God to help us have an impact on this world.

God, use me to change others; to change lives – on a wide scale (world-wide).

Prayer

But, we must be changed first. Once I am changed, then I can have power to change others.

v. 28-34

28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater. 30 Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. 31 Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.

32 The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. 33 The Jews pushed Alexander to the front, and some of the crowd shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. 34 But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

At first, Demetrius – gathered just a few people related with the trade of Artemis idols – but the people grew in number continuously.

  • For good things, people often join very slowly
  • But for bad things, people often join very quickly and easily

v. 29 “Soon the whole city was in an uproar.”

It started with just a few workers, but soon the whole city was rioting. And they seized two men (maybe they couldn’t find Paul) who were Paul’s helpers, and marched on the street shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (This was standard worship for pagan gods at that time.) “Great is XYZ god!”

They rushed as one accord into the theater. (v. 29) But this theater is not like a movie theater. Actually, more like the open air auditorium / stadium behind Sori Cultural Center in Jeonju. This stadium could seat 25,000 people – like a basketball gymnasium. And they shouted “Great is Artemis!” for two hours.

Can you feel God’s feeling at this moment?

“Most of them did not know why they were shouting / rioting.” (v. 32) This is just falling into a group and feeding off of the rage of the group. This “Mob Psychology” is a worldly pattern that is still used by Satan to cause many people to fall into sin together.

Remember Christ’s crucifixion? Those who wanted to kill Jesus were actually very small. The rest of the people, as a mob, chanted together.

  • Exodus 23:2 “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.”
  • Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is; his good, pleasing, perfect will.”

Especially today, when your blood is boiling, or your passions are hot, take a step BACK, and consider how Jesus would have you act.

I wonder if Paul had stepped into this situation, what would have happened? What an opportunity! (he may think) To preach the gospel to such a huge crowd. (But other believers would not allow him to venture into the theater – for his own safety and for the fear of the possibility of an accident.)

But, this crowd was AGAINST God and anything that is against God will end as NOTHING.

v. 35-41

35 The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: “Men of Ephesus, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? 36 Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to be quiet and not do anything rash. 37 You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. 38 If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. 39 If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly. 40 As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of today’s events. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.” 41 After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.

We don’t know the name of the City Clerk, but he stepped into this chaos. We usually think that a clerk has a low position, but at that time, he was the highest ranking civic official – keeping the public records.

Ephesus at that time was under the rule of the Roman Empire. So, the main responsibility of the local city officials was simply to keep public peace. If they failed to do so, Rome would remove the appointed officials from office (and the whole city may have been put under martial law).

That is why the City Clerk entered the theater and appealed to their civic pride and religious devotion. Then, he discussed the facts:

  • no robbery
  • no cursing / blasphemy

He suggested that the idol makers take up this matter through legal channels. Then, he dismissed the sinful assembly.

Practical Lessons

v. 41 ” After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.”

This event ended as NOTHING because they fought against God.

This event happened 2,000 years ago – and now, what remains?

2,000 years later:

  • Ephesus is gone
  • Artemis is gone
  • Worldwide worship of Artemis is gone
  • the Temple is gone
  • the worker’s guild is gone
  • the theater is gone
  • Ephesus is the only place visited primarily by archaeologists and religious tourists
  • But, the gospel and the church of Christ remain
  • The Word of God written TO Ephesus (Ephesians) remains

Think about yourself.

Now, at this moment, you are worshiping God. Will this act be gone and dead or remain alive 2,000 years later? This is the challenge given to us through this story.

  • We minister by persuasion.
  • Our motive is love (not rage).
  • Our purpose is the glory of God (not the praise of men).

“Heaven and earth will pass away but my word will never pass away.” – Jesus

“This world will pass away soon, but the person who does the will of God will live forever.” – Bible

The will of God?

  1. believe in Christ – enjoy joy and peace in him

Let’s pray.

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So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen
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