Week 1 November 2022, Devotion Part 1
And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus…you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash.” Acts 19:35-36
The town clerk… You mean the mousy little man with the pinched look who is every inch the colorless bureaucrat the public loves to hate? The one who lives in a nondescript house with a drab wife and average children? Is he the one who mingles with the other faceless people of society whose services we employ without having regard for their humanity? Why should we waste small courtesies or kind words on sulking public servants? Are we not paying taxes to support and keep them quiet?
The town clerk of Ephesus…? You cannot possibly mean that this mousy little man turned into “the mouse that roared” because he smelled the bloodlust of a mob and skillfully coaxed the rioters back toward a lawful assembly! Of course, it could all be blamed on a certain apostle with a pronounced knack for stepping on toes. Today’s missionary might step more gingerly on cultural sensitivities, but Paul lost no sleep over impoverishing the silversmiths of Ephesus. They crafted shrines of the celebrated Artemis and along the way prospered other tradesmen. Along came the spokesman for The Way and insisted that gods made by human hands were a joke. He did put it differently, but in either case nobody was laughing. Instead, a riot was brewing and a cool-headed public official was able to placate the crowd and avoid bloodshed. (Part 1 of 2)
Comment: His associates could have had a field day placing Paul’s pamphlets into the city’s hotels. The “Great Artemis of the Ephesians” drew a steady stream of worshipers from all over Asia. Her temple was one of the seven wonders of the world. It also doubled as a bank that generated the kind of wealth no Chamber of Commerce could have dreamed of. The image of the goddess was strikingly many-breasted, symbolizing fertility, long life, sexual fulfillment, and protection during pregnancy and childbirth. Hundreds of eunuch priests, virgin priestesses, and religious prostitutes served her. Predictably, the worship rituals were racy.
Instead of taking a whiff of Sin City and running in disgust, Paul held his nose – but not his tongue – and for over two years taught and lived out the Gospel. Demetrius, the preeminent silversmith, finally had enough and incited a crowd to get rid of Paul, also known as “pestilent fellow.” When the mood of the mob turned murderous, one man risked stepping into the fray. If Paul had plastered Sin City with pamphlets, would he have milked Isaiah 66:11 for its relatable content? Speaking of the millennial Jerusalem, it read, “…That you may nurse and be satisfied with her comforting breasts, that you may suck and be delighted with her bountiful bosom.”