There is a riot in the theater in Ephesus, targeted at Paul. Many of the townspeople don’t know exactly why they are there, yet there has been an explosion of local pride as they cheer, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians” for two hours. “And when the town clerk had quieted the crowd, he said, ‘Men of Ephesus, who is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple keeper of the great Artemis, and of the sacred stone that fell from the sky? Seeing then that these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash’”(Acts 19:35-36). This clerk appears baffled by the crowd. Everyone knows that Artemis’ temple is here! Why are you yelling?
He seems particularly concerned about Paul’s companions who have been brought into the theater (and are probably terrified). “For you have brought these men here who are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess”(Acts 19:37). There is no reason to single them out. If there are crimes or complaints, he urges them to go see the proconsul instead of rioting (Acts 19:38). Then he reveals his true concern: “For we really are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion”(Acts 19:40). What seemed so urgent moments ago is shown to be mere panic.
I cannot help but see providence in the clerk appearing as a voice of reason in this moment. Paul has been working in Ephesus for some time and there are many Christians there. This furor is a threat to them and the future of the church there. Yet God providentially ends this riot and the opposition to his people. He can use the political positions and rational arguments of pagans to accomplish his purposes.
------------- One Thing to Think About: How is God providentially using people in my life to accomplish his will?
One Thing to Pray For: Sound judgment to discourage others from making poor decisions
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