“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 all of them rushed into the theater together.”
– Acts 19:28,29
Today, I want to continue looking at the church in Ephesus, which we began discussing yesterday. The first major act of persecution against the Ephesian believers happened at the hand of a silversmith named Demetrius. He made a good living crafting images of the goddess Artemis, and because he saw that Christians posed a threat to his business, he gathered a group of his fellow craftsmen together to incite a riot against the Apostle Paul and his traveling companions. At this, the whole region was thrown into an uproar, and a mob forced the believers into a 25,000-seat Roman theater where they tried to bring charges against them. Chaos ensued, and ultimately, the city clerk came to quiet and disperse the crowd. However, the tension between the two groups remained, and it came to a head 30 years later when the emperor Domitian called himself god and demanded that the people bow to him. He built a 27-foot statue of himself, placed it on a pedestal, and required everyone in the city to make offerings to it or be killed. Since Ephesian Christians remained strong in faith and refused to be taken hostage by this gross idolatry, many of them lost their lives. Though they could have complied out of fear, they stubbornly refused to succumb, no matter how much it cost.
My friend, if not Jesus, flee from whatever beckons you to its worship. Though idolatry looks different in the 21st century, its practice is equally as prevalent. Images of things that promise fulfillment abound at every turn, and resisting the temptation to seek satisfaction in the wrong places requires strength and fortitude. While you may have to stand against the crowd and be mocked for not fitting in, it’s important to keep your soul anchored in the Lord, and remember that nothing the world has to offer can truly satisfy. You are made for eternity and everything else is fleeting, so grab hold of your Savior’s hand, and let Him be your deepest and most passionate desire.
Jesus, protect my heart from idolatry and help me to keep my eyes fixed on you, even if it costs me everything.
Which idols tempt you to their worship? How can you flee from them?
If you’re unable to attend your local church or need some additional weekly inspiration, be sure to tune into Hour of Power every Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. PT on TBN or watch online at hourofpower.org/episode.