A Revival That Ends in a Riot
NOVEMBER 12 - Nº 316 Acts 19:10-41
God did wonderful things through Paul while he was in Ephesus. Not only did everyone in the entire region hear God’s Word, but God allowed him to heal the sick and cast out demons. When some young men saw what Paul was able to do, they tried to cast out demons just like he did. They said, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” A Jewish chief priest named Sceva had seven sons who tried this. But one day an evil spirit responded angrily, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?” The demon-possessed man jumped on them and beat them. He ripped off their clothes, and they ran out of the house wounded and naked. The news about this incident spread all over Ephesus. The citizens began to fear and respect the name and power of Jesus. Many believers confessed their involvement in the occult and repented. The people who had practiced sorcery brought scrolls filled with magic formulas and burned them publicly. (In our currency, several million dollars’ worth of scrolls went up in flames that day!) Others threw away their idols. There was a magnificent temple in Ephesus dedicated to the goddess Artemis (also known as Diana). It was so beautiful that it became one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Tourists and pilgrims came from hundreds of miles to see it and worship there. The sale of trinkets and idols associated with Artemis had become a huge source of income for the Ephesians! But sales suddenly dropped significantly. So, a silversmith named Demetrius called a meeting of all the craftsmen in the city. “This man named Paul is insisting that any god made by human hands is not really a god at all,” he protested. “This is an insult to our beloved Artemis—besides, we are losing money!” The craftsmen became furious and began shouting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” They went into the streets and spread the chant. Soon the city was in an uproar. A mob grabbed Gaius and Aristarchus, two companions of Paul’s, and dragged them into the city’s huge amphitheater. Crowds of people followed them. They kept shouting and chanting. Most of the people did not even know why they were there—they had just followed the crowd into the theater during the chaos. When Paul realized what was happening, he wanted to go to the theater and speak to everyone. He thought it would be a great opportunity to share the Gospel, but the other believers would not let him. Even some city officials warned him that his life would be in danger. The crowd was far too agitated. For two hours they kept chanting, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Finally, a city official was able to quiet everyone. “People of Ephesus calm down!” he said. “The men you have brought here have done nothing wrong to Artemis. They haven’t robbed her temple or blasphemed her name. Let the silversmiths take their complaint to a court. But please go home, or the Romans will charge us all with starting a riot for no reason!” The people knew the consequences would be severe if that happened, so they finally left the theater.
God worked mightily in Ephesus. But so did Satan! He did not want this center of travel and commerce to become a center for the spread of Christianity. So, he used evil people to incite a naïve mob against God’s messengers. But God controlled the angry mob. Don’t be surprised when you face opposition for sharing the message of Jesus. But always remember—God knows exactly what is happening, and He has your back!