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Acts Reading Plan | Week 14 | Day 5
As you come to spend time with Jesus, calm your mind and body until you feel fully present.
Psalm 104:1 says, “Praise the Lord, my soul. Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty.” As you come to meet with Jesus today, you may be resonating with the Psalmist, or you may be needing to remember Jesus’ majesty. Either way, echo the verse as prayer or a praise.
Bible Reading: Acts 19:23-41
Read these verses three times slowly.
About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there. He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: “You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business. 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 gods made by human hands are no gods at all. 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.”
When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and all of them rushed into the theater together. Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.
The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander to the front, and they shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: “Fellow Ephesians, 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? Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to calm down and not do anything rash. You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly. As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of what happened today. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.” After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.
Reflection & Questions
We’ve learned this week as Paul has reached out to the people of Ephesus, that the gospel is provable and powerful. We can be confident in it! In contrast, today we read of the fear of some in Ephesus who feel they must defend their (false) beliefs against the gospel.
Demetrius, an idol maker, reveals his fears: “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…will be robbed of her divine majesty.” It makes one wonder: If this god is so great, how could she so easily be robbed of divine majesty? Wouldn’t she just rise up in power and show her majesty?
The city clerk tries to calm the people down: “Fellow Ephesians, 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? Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to calm down and not do anything rash.” In other words, if what we believe is true, we ought not fear. However, they are full of fear and confusion, for their belief is not provable or powerful.
When the gospel encounters resistance our reaction can be very different. We do not need to fear. Our God’s majesty can never be robbed. If people don’t praise him, the rocks will! (Luke 19:40). We don’t need to persecute those who preach false beliefs. We can faithfully, gently continue to be truth-tellers, knowing that what Jesus said will come true: His gospel will spread to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8).
- Do you fear false beliefs? How would Paul encourage you?
- The news is often filled with reports of the decline of the church. How might you respond to those after today’s reading?
Talk to God in response to the reading today.
You might use this song today to worship Jesus today:
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