Clash of religions

Sunday service, Kjell Olsen, 30 Oct 2016

Acts 19:23
23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way.
24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen;
25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth.
26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:
27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth.

Your culture is your deepest held beliefs, the way you live. It has been said that “culture is religion externalized”. One of the great clashes of cultures happened on 31 Oct 1517, Reformation Sunday. It sent shockwaves throughout the world, which is still being felt today.

In our text we see the gospel come into conflict with the deeply held beliefs of the people. Jesus is the Prince of peace. But Jesus also said, “I have not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matt 10:34). He didn’t come to cause trouble, but it’s your reaction to it that causes the trouble. Jesus indeed brings peace, but if you fight with Him you will be in trouble and be on the wrong side, and you will fail.

We find here that even Christians were busy with curious types of witchcraft. But when God moved powerfully as we read in this text, the fear of God fell on them and they brought their evil works to the light, and their evil books were burnt. Some calculate it at more than $10,000,000.

How did this happen? Ephesus was the centre of religion of that time. The greatest temple in the world was at Ephesus. It was one of the seven wonders of the world. Just the seating part of the temple could seat 25,000 people. It had beautiful marble statues. There were artisans who made and sold small shrines made of silver for the people to take home and worship Diana at home. (Diana was the Roman Latin word and Artemis was the Greek word.)

It was in the midst of this culture that God started to work mightily. But Satan and his demons were very disturbed by the events that unfolded, and they worked through a certain man named Demetrius.

He starts his speech reasonable but it ends in a riot. He exposes himself when he correctly quotes that Paul says that “gods made with hands are no gods”. That should be obvious and self evident. A person who creates something is obviously greater than the thing he created, and therefore those gods were worthless.

Demetrius makes it sound as if he wants to protect the goddess Diana, but in fact he was simply protecting his own business.

Paul warns Timothy that in the last days perilous times will arise. This word perilous was only used twice in the New Testament. And once was with the demon possessed man. Paul’s warning therefore could refer to a demonic time in the last days. Like the “fees must fall” movement of our days in South Africa, who burn and destroy! These are perilous wild times where social structures are being destroyed.
The riot in Ephesus had no logic in the end like the fees must fall movement who cannot reason logically but simply wants to disrupt. They’re destroying their own future.

It was the same rage against Martin Luther, without logic and full of murder, hate and death.

They couldn’t get Paul and so grabbed a companion of Paul and would’ve killed him if the authorities didn’t intervene.

It’s the same with the gay rights movement, which comes with a great, illogical rage. They accuse Christians of intolerance while being blind to their own intolerance. There’s no one as intolerant as those who demand tolerance.

But this revival was a true revival and Satan’s rage couldn’t quench it. In Revelations there’s a letter from Jesus especially for the church in Ephesus. He commended them for dealing with false teachers, but rebuked them for having left their first love, that burning, fervent love for Jesus.

Whose side are you on? The temple of Diana in Ephesus is gone, but the Gospel of our Lord Jesus marches on.

What are you holding on to? All the kingdoms of this world will be shaken. Why hold on to it? In God’s eyes they’ve already failed. In Thessalonians it says that Jesus will destroy the false Christ by the breath of his mouth! He needs no effort. He simply breathes and the kingdom of Satan melts away.

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KwaSizabantu Choir: USATHANE AKANAWO



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