Expectant Prayers ®

Jennifer Jo Weiss

Paul and the Riot

In prayer this morning, the Lord lead me to Acts chapter 19, which gives account of the riot at Ephesus.  Let's read starting with verse 23:

"About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: "Men, you know 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 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. 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 rushed as one man into the theater. 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 account goes on to say that crowds went on yelling, etc. for two hours.  Then the city clerk came out and said that everyone knew that Ephesus was the guardian over the great temple of Artemis and that because this was fact and undeniable, they should quiet down and not do anything rash.    Basically he was telling them that they were the majority (consensus) and so anything causing a riot would not be able to be justified.  Then the clerk dismissed the assembly.

There were a few things that stuck out to me in this passage:

 First of all, we need more Paul's - those who are not afraid to tell things like they are and draw a line in the sand.  We need men and women who rightly divide the Word of truth and operate in discernment.  God calls all of us to shine our lights in a dark world.   Lord, help us to be steadfast and immovable in what we believe -  no matter what the crowd says.  If none go with us, still we will follow!  Paul was also an encourager of those in the faith.  In times like these, we need to be encouraging each other to fight the good fight of faith and not give up!

Secondly, we need to be careful not to be like the Ephesians and worship the god of our hands - or anything else that we set up in our lives (idols).  This goes not only for the world, but for the church as well.  Spirituality is not a business.  It's not something we should look to materially profit from.  Yet, when we continually cater our churches to what is desired by those 'consuming' whatever it is we are selling - we are steering ourselves far from the will and purposes of God.  We shouldn't be lowering the bar in order to become more "marketable".  The more we compromise to gain numbers and pad our budgets, the more we will HAVE to compromise to keep those numbers and budgets.

The biggest (and final) impression I am getting with this passage is that we can expect more riots and public displays of discontent by those who feel they have a consensus as we live out the last days.   Anyone can have a notion of what is "right" and widely acceptable... even saying facts to substantiate such views are undeniable.  But, apart from the standard of God's Word, the crowd is in danger of forcing our families, our states, our churches, our nation, and our world into destruction and chaos.    But remember, God will never leave or forsake us no matter what the consensus decrees!

Because the Word says that lawlessness and sin would abound in the last days, there will be no reasoning with those inciting these riots or expecting them to abide by the law.  In fact, they will be so convinced that they are "right" and justified in what they are doing that those who hold to Biblical standards will be the ones accused of doing wrong! 

We see this happening in many facets of life today - man lives as he sees fit and lives by the standards he has created.  There is no telling him otherwise.   Furthermore, he will fight until he gets what he wants - even if that means threatening the rights of others.   Yes, we see this all around us!

The church is in for a battle and widespread persecution in the form of overt opposition.  Don't expect it to decrease in the days ahead.  We need to hold steady to the faith we profess and expect the Lord to watch over us and fight for us.  He will be our fore-guard, walk beside us, and be our rear guard.
Don't ever forget - with God, we are always going to be the majority.

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