Scripture reading for June 29th: Acts 19:13-41
Idols have a way of crowding out a true relationship with God. Satan offers a cheap substitute for God and promises us that we can have spirituality and a god we can control. We actually make a god that looks like what we want so we can do what we want without fear of punishment. This may be a nice arrangement, but it is deadly and brings eternal separation from God in the end!
As Paul was preparing to leave Ephesus, there was a great uproar caused by a silversmith named Demetrius. This man was a part of a trade union that made shrines and idols out of silver for the worshipers of Artemis, the goddess of the Ephesians. They got together and began discussing how Paul had taken away many of their customers in the city and province. “He (Paul) says that man-made gods 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.” (Acts 19:26b-27)
Note how irrational these idol makers were! They refused to contemplate that what they made with their hands was really not a ‘god’! Their real motive was money! Their way of making money was being threatened and their idol was being exposed for what it really was–a fake! Many were seeing this and had to make a choice. Would they continue to worship a lie or would they turn to the true God and worship Him through His Son Jesus Christ! This was the message that Paul was preaching!
This group of idol-makers stirred up a riot and tried to kill those who were threatening their idols! Satan loves to create chaos and confusion! His tactic is to create disorder and to keep people in bondage by blinding their minds with a lie! They began shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:28) The people seized several of Christ’s followers and Paul wanted to appear before the crowd but was restrained by the disciples. Finally the crowd was calmed down by the city clerk and dispersed. Confronting idolatry can be hazardous to your physical health but is part being a disciple of Jesus!