Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The Scriptorium

Tumult

What we've seen before, we see again. Acts 19.22-29

Ephesus: Acts 19 (5)

Pray Psalm 54.1, 2.
Save me, O God, by Your name,
And vindicate me by Your strength.
Hear my prayer, O God;
Give ear to the words of my mouth.

Sing Psalm 54.1, 2.
(Beatitudo: Father of Mercies, in Your Word)
Save us, O God, by Your great Name; vindicate us with power.
Answer our prayer, remove our shame, in this our desperate hour.

Read Acts 19.1-29; meditate on verses 23-29.

Preparation

1. Why were Demetrius and the others upset?

2. What did the people do?

Meditation

Tumult. Again. Yawn.

The Gospel threatened to bring economic hardship to a certain class of Ephesian citizens (vv. 23-25). From Demetrius’ speech we can see that Paul was pointing the Gospel directly at the cultural lives of the people of Ephesus, calling them to forsake certain specific practices and ways and to come to Jesus and His Way (vv. 26, 27). For many today, the Gospel threatens a way of life they have come to enjoy – autonomous, materialistic, self-indulging, and free of unbending moral restraints. Like Demetrius and his cronies, they will find some phony premise, sure to rile the masses, on which to take their stand against the Good News.

But what such people are really seeking to preserve has little to do with truth, and much to do with moral practice.

In Ephesus, someone would have to pay for all this upset – caused not by the believers, we note, but by the unbelievers – and when they couldn’t find Paul, they laid hold on two of his companions in ministry (vv. 28, 29).

The world of unbelief will often lash out at the Gospel in one way or another. This is because their putative unbelief is no such thing. They have strong beliefs, usually of their own devising or choice, which allow them to be their own god in their own minds and to do as they please. We should neither be surprised nor dismayed when outrage or oppression come against us. God uses even these responses to further the ongoing work of Christ.

The Gospel wants to jar people out of their sins so that they can find full and abundant life in Christ. Unless we, making room for the Holy Spirit to work, point out the specific sins of our generation, and the lies in which they have become ensnared, believing in Jesus won’t benefit them very much.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Unbelievers, confronted with Jesus’ truth, may lash out, and it will be at the wrong thing. In this situation Demetrius, a silversmith, was angry because Paul’s preaching was threatening the Diana shrine purchases which they feared, would begin to wane. But let’s think about this for a moment. If you are a talented silversmith, and one god goes out of fashion, there are lots of other gods and jewelry you can make to keep the money flowing. But alas, what Paul was preaching was “threatening a way of life” … “autonomous, materialistic, self-indulging, and free of unbending moral restraints.” Cash-flow was secondary.

The children of Israel did the same thing in the wilderness.
“They made a calf in Horeb, and worshiped the molded image.
Thus they changed their glory into the image of an ox that eats grass.
They forgot God their Savior, Who had done great things in Egypt,
wondrous works in the land of Ham, awesome things by the Red Sea.” (Ps. 106.19-22)

Their problem was not so much the golden calf, but that they forgot God. And in forgetting God, they did things that angered God. Like worshiping a golden calf.

Unbeliever’s unbelief is, indeed, as strong belief. And when the Holy Spirit treads near it, or on it, they are “full of wrath” and everything around them becomes “filled with confusion” (Acts 19.28, 29).

The only Assuager of this anger and rage is the Holy Spirit. And the gift of a new heart. And a new way of life. And new ways to behave. And new thoughts to think.

God said that He would cleanse us from all our filthiness and from all our idols: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezek. 36.25-27).

There is a very good reason why Jesus said, “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?” (Matt. 5.44-46)

God showed us mercy. We are called to do the same for others.

Because who knows, maybe our loving actions, and total dependance upon prayer and the Holy Spirit, will assist unbelievers to be angry at the right person. “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (Jn. 8.44). Satan is tumult. And a deceiver. And deserves everyone’s wrath.

“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.”
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
(Rom. 5.5, 6, 8)

He did it for us. He will do it for others! He turned our misplaced anger in the right direction and gave us a new heart. Which makes all the difference.

For reflection

1. What is the “heart” in a person? What makes the heart so important in helping a person change?

2. Why do some unbelievers “lash out” at the Gospel? Should that keep us from proclaiming it? Why not?

3. How can believers support and encourage one another in sharing the Good News of Jesus?

But in the case of Demetrius it is plain how injurious the plague of avarice is. For one man, in the interests of his own private gain, does not hesitate to throw a great city into an upheaval with sedition. But the artisans, who are like torches set alight by him and spreading fire everywhere, are a warning to us, how easy it is to incite sordid people, who are devoted to their bellies, to any sort of crime, especially if their living comes from an unrewarding occupation and their expectation of making money is snatched away… John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Acts 19:24.3

Pray Psalm 54.3-7.
Call on the Lord to embolden and protect you as you head out into your Personal Mission Field as His witness. Pray for the Church throughout the world, that Jesus might protect His Bride from all adversaries and adversities.

Sing Psalm 54.3-7.
(Beatitudo: Father of Mercies, in Your Word)
Strangers and foes against us rise, threatening woe and strife.
They have not set You in their eyes, but seek to take our life.

You are the Helper of our soul; You will sustain and bless.
Recompense evil to our foe in Your great faithfulness.

Willingly will we praise You, Lord, gladly adore Your Name!
You have redeemed us by Your Word and blessed us by the same.

From all our trouble, by Your grace, You have redeemed us, Lord.
While all our foes in sad disgrace reel backward from Your Word.

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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