Saturday, January 30, 2010

Acts 19:21--20:1

Ephesus was an important city in Asia Minor, a center of the goddess Diana. Paul spent nearly three years there (cf. 19:8,10; Acts 20:31). The church in Ephesus was prominent among those seven to whom the apostle John wrote. According to John Gill, the temple of Diana at Ephesus "was about seven furlongs distant from the city, and was 425 feet long, and 220 feet broad, and had in it 127 pillars, 60 feet high." It is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

"Other sheep have I" Acts 19:21-22
19:21 After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome...

Follow the Lord. Paul was following the Lord in Ephesus, but he was determined to follow wherever he led. Too often the conservative Christian falls into the ease of believing all of the work God is doing right where he is. There is an old bromide that caricatures the sectarian Christian's prayer: "God bless me, my wife, my son, his wife, us four no more. Amen." Even if God has established us in the place where we are, let us never sing the refrain of Elijah, “I, even only I, remain a prophet of the Lord.” Hear God thunder, “Other sheep have I. I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal.

"For the love of money" 19:23-27
19:25 Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.

“Follow the money” is an oft-stated expression. By following the money we often find the root cause of the thing that befuddles us. Demetrius had a keen mind. Though Paul had not directly taken on Diana (cf. v. 37), but rather preached Jesus. But Demetrius understood that a people who did not believe in gods made with hands would not need craftsmen who made gods with their hands. There was a sure economic downsizing coming to the silversmiths if this new religion caught a foothold in Asia Minor. Though Demetrius also appealed to their religion and their pride (cf. v. 27), the foundation of the objection was money. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

"Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil" 19:28-34
19:29 And the whole city was filled with confusion...32 and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

Follow the crowd. Get on the bandwagon. From religion to politics to mobs to fads, folks get caught up in what the crowd is doing. The shout “Great is Diana of the Ephesians” became a horrendous din in which most participated but few understood. For two hours this went on, though “the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.”

"He by his wisdom delivered the city" 19:35-41
19:35 And when the townclerk had appeased the people...41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.

Follow good sense. Nothing in the text indicates that the townclerk was a Christian. But he was a man of prudence and common sense. He got an audience and reasoned with them. He championed the stability of Diana in Ephesus; he questioned the wisdom of rash action; he the deportment of the Christians; he recommended legal if there was a legitimate cause; and he warned the people of the trouble they could be bringing on themselves. Through his actions the mob was dispersed.

"The Lord knoweth how to deliver" 20:1
20:1 And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.

Follow the Lord. We know all things work together for good to them that love the Lord. Many and varied are the ways the Lord delivers his people. Some through the fire, some through the flood. When God delivered Paul in Philippi (16:25-26), it was the earthquake He wielded. When God delivered Paul in Ephesus, it was an official of the city of Ephesus who did God’s bidding. When God finally delivered Paul in Rome (II Tim 4:6,18), it was the hand of death by which he became absent from the body and present with the Lord. Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us. Amen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is indeed sad the "pied piper" approach has infiltrated religion. A minister will proclaim, "We need to build." They build and then he will leave, often with the congregation paying the consequence. First it was only the large congregations who built "family life centers." Now it seems all sizes feel the need to have one. Seems as if congregations are competing against one another.

So many ministers have unfortunately been guilty of "following the money." They are not usually "called" to a smaller congregation. The physical all too often takes precedence over the spiritual. Spiritual blessings are where the true riches lie.