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

Disaster Averted

The lesson of the mob for Christians. Acts 19.30-41

Ephesus: Acts 19 (6)

Pray Psalm 5.1-3.
Give ear to my words, O LORD,
Consider my meditation.
Give heed to the voice of my cry,
My King and my God,
For to You I will pray.
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up.

Sing Psalm 5.1-3.
(Angel’s Story: O Jesus, I Have Promised)
O Lord, attend and hear me, consider how I groan.
Receive my cries and near be, and love me as Your own.
By morning, Lord I seek You, for You will hear my voice.
My every need You speak to, and make my soul rejoice!

Read Acts 19.1-41; meditate on verses 30-41.

Preparation
1. What did Paul want to do? Why could he not do it?

2. What directive did the city clerk give?

Meditation

What began as a loud vocal protest and demonstration was turning into a riot. Most people didn’t know what all the hubbub was about (v. 32), but they joined in the drama anyway.

Paul thought he might go among this throng and explain himself, but neither those he was teaching in the faith nor those public officials he had befriended were willing for this to happen (vv. 30, 31). As is clear from the reception given Alexander (vv. 33, 34), Paul would not have had any success in trying to speak to this mob, and worse could have happened than merely being shouted down. The Romans believed in order. It only took a warning from the local magistrate to remind the irrational crowd that there were proper ways to deal with grievances, and this was not one of them (vv. 35-41).

Demetrius and his colleagues were told, in effect, to shut up and put up – disperse and, if you’re serious about your complaint, take it to the courts (vv. 38, 39). End of discussion. Disaster averted. It’s quite possible this whole situation might have had a powerful effect on Demetrius.

The restraining power of the Holy Spirit sometimes works through civil magistrates. God is the King of all the earth, and rulers are His servants for good (Rom. 13.1-4). We can’t know how many disasters have been averted for the progress of the Kingdom because of the rule of law. We should not take the rule of law and an orderly society for granted, but give thanks to God and pray for our civil authorities (1 Tim. 2.1-8).

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together” (Acts 19.32). Unruly mobs are very frightening; most certainly, not everyone there knows why they are there, or what they are mad about. It is tumultuous. It is confusing. It is a rebellious rabble without purpose and meaning.

But what about the church? What about the gatherings of believers all over the world? Do we know why we come together? Is it that we can all be happy together? Or maybe simultaneously feel gratified about our salvation? Are we, indeed, merely a self-serving, law-abiding, clueless mob?

“Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones,
give unto the LORD glory and strength.
Give unto the LORD the glory due His name;
worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.” (Ps. 29.1, 2)

Church time today reminds me of the way one of our grandchildren, at the ripe old age of 2, sang a praise song she had learned and then jumbled. And her version went like this: “Make me a servant, humble and me. Lord, let me lift up, those who are me.”

Cute, right? And funny. But sadly, she was singing the attitude of many in today’s Church. It seems that the church is more about how we’re feeling, how we’re doing, or how happy we are, than it is about: worshiping God correctly. Are we glorifying Him? Are we celebrating His beauty and greatness?

He is not looking for a thumbs up from us as we intone, “My God’s enough.” Well, of course He is enough! HE IS GOD!

We might really be a bit confused as to why we have come together.

Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4.23, 24).

Worship is defined as: to honor or show reverence for; to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion. Ramp that up exponentially for our worship of the holy God (Ps.99.5), and we might come close to what we are supposed to be doing: “…for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God…” (Ex. 34.14). “…but the LORD, who brought you up from the land of Egypt with great power and an outstretched arm, Him you shall fear, Him you shall worship, and to Him you shall offer sacrifice. And the statutes, the ordinances, the law, and the commandment which He wrote for you, you shall be careful to observe forever; you shall not fear other gods” (2 Ki. 17.36, 37).

Worship is serious business. And we must count the cost (Rom. 12.1, 2). We must know for certain why we have come together to worship. And it’s not about us.

The catechism asks: What is the chief end of man? The answer: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
It is only and always about Him. “Worship God” (Rev. 22.9).

We must not be confused.

For reflection

1. Mindlessness – doing things in a careless and unthoughtful manner – is always wrong in the church, as well as in our lives with the Lord. Explain.

2. What can you do to keep your focus on the Lord, His glory, and His honor as you come before Him in worship?

3. Why do people get upset about the Gospel? Does that mean we shouldn’t try to explain the Gospel to them?

The regular methods of the law ought always to stop popular tumults, and in well-governed nations will do so. Most people stand in awe of men’s judgments more than of the judgment of God. How well it were if we would thus quiet our disorderly appetites and passions, by considering the account we must shortly give to the Judge of heaven and earth! Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 19.32-41

Pray Psalm 5.7-12.

Declare your trust in the Lord and your confidence in His grace. Call on Him for power to serve Him today as you go forth to work your Personal Mission Field. Rejoice in His promises and Presence.

Sing Psalm 5.7-12.
(Angel’s Story: O Jesus, I Have Promised)
O Lord, Your lovingkindness escorts me in this place.
I bow before Your highness and praise Your glorious grace!
In righteous ways You guide me; Your pathway I will know.
No good will be denied me as I with Jesus go.

My foes would fain deceive me and crush me in the way;
their lying tongues would grieve me and lead my soul astray.
Their guilt hangs on above them; their guile shall be their fall;
they spurn the One Who loves them: reject them, one and all!

Let those rejoice who seek You and shelter ‘neath Your wing.
Their tongues shall rise to speak to Your praise; Your grace they sing.
Your people You will bless, Lord, all those who to You yield;
preserve them with Your best Word, and guard them like a shield.

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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