The Book of Acts in the Bible is one of my favorite stories ever – talk about adventure after adventure! Acts 19 records some of Paul’s time with the Ephesians. He spent three years in Ephesus during his third and final missionary journey. During this time, the city of Ephesus was changed forever through the power of the Gospel.
Acts 19:11-12 says, “Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them.”
When I read the Bible, I imagine what it was like to live during those times. Since God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), I try to picture the exact same events happening today!
Imagine if an evangelist, or maybe your pastor, walked in the power of God to the extent that people literally waited for him to hand out his personal garments so they could take it to the sick that they would be healed. Imagine a hospital today getting cleared out because God’s power to heal was so present and so explosive that no one could stay sick. Because of the power of Jesus’ blood throughout all ages, we can still see awesome miracles today!
God’s work in the city through Paul and the other believers was so impactful that people were in complete awe and wonder. It changed their lives forever. Acts 19:18-20 says, “And many who had believed come confessing and telling their deeds. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.”
The goodness of God brings people to repentance (Romans 2:4), which is why the Ephesians recklessly burnt their magic books. When the Gospel takes over a city, it changes everything! The Gospel made such an impact on Ephesus that it forever impacted the city’s financial market.
Acts 19:23-41 describes a silversmith named Demetrius who had become rich from making and selling shrines of the Ephesian’s goddess Diana. Angry that the Gospel stole his business, Demetrius gathered up all his fellow shrine makers and said in Acts 19:26-27, “Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.”
The Gospel made such an impact that people literally stopped worshipping the goddess they had faithfully revered for generations! So much so that the people who depended on this trade freaked out!
We may not bow down to shrines and statues as a society anymore, but there are certainly idols that have captured our society’s love and worship:
- What if people were so on fire for the Gospel that the R rated movie business panicked and started attacking local churches because they knew pastors were guiding their congregations away from the filth?
- What is the pornography business collapsed because Christians started boldly preaching purity and showed people that they could completely renew their minds in Jesus, being free from sexual bondage?
- What if the marijuana market failed because people who love Jesus showed the world through their behavior that the joy of the Lord far surpasses any temporary high you could ever get from a drug?
- What if the jails slowly started to clear out because people were won over by God’s goodness and turned away from their crimes?
Seeing any of these things in our world today would be a close equivalent to what Paul saw in Ephesus! The same God who worked through Paul works through us today! We can see our cities transformed through the power of God!
The shrine makers were hurt financially to the point that if they did not take some drastic measures, there industry would be COMPLETELY destroyed. So, they stirred up a mob.
Acts 19:28 says that the city was “full of wrath”. You know you are preaching God’s Word with boldness when it starts to make some people angry! Verse 29 says that “the whole city was filled with confusion”. Acts 19 says that whole city was so angry that they mobbed the theater (the public gathering spot) and chanted for two hours “Great is Diana of the Ephesians!”. The city clerk eventually forced the crowd to disperse because he was concerned that this riot would attract the attention of the Roman leaders. Shorty after the riot, Paul says goodbye to the Ephesians and continues his journey to other cities.
When you preach the Word of God, it will cause division. Darkness and light cannot cohabitate. When you bring The Light, the darkness will get angry at you (like the mob in Ephesus). Jesus’ Light brings a beautiful revolution to every place it touches. Let’s walk in the same boldness that Paul exhibited. We will see God perform miracles, and our communities will be shaken up and transformed through the love of Jesus!