Today’s focus is a little different from the rest, for the object of our study is not a historic woman, but merely a statue with a woman’s name. My goal is to help you see the glory of the God not made by human hands.
Image vs. Reality
Acts 19:23-29a And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain to the craftsmen; Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, “Sirs, you know that by this craft we have our wealth. Furthermore, you see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are no gods, which are made with hands: 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 worships.” And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, “Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” And the whole city was filled with confusion.
Diana was the Roman goddess of the ancient city of Ephesus. She was often depicted with many breasts to denote her being the fountain of many blessings. The worship of Diana included all forms of sexual perversion. While it may have been an exaggeration that “all the world” worshiped Diana, it is true that her temple was one of the seven great wonders of the world, and many men, Demetrius included, made their living in creating and selling her images. The spread of Christianity was a threat to their way of life. After all, as men and women turned from the worship of Diana to the true and living God, sales naturally went down. So you see, Demetrius did not care at all about the people, but about his pocketbook. Who did Diana care about? No one. She did not exist except in their minds.
Psalm 115:1-8 Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto Your name give glory, for Your mercy, and for Your truth’s sake. Why should the nations say, “Where is now their God?” But our God is in the heavens: He has done whatsoever He has pleased. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is everyone that trusts in them.
And in Diana’s case, with all her breasts, not a one of them ever provided any fountain of blessing. They are as dry and cold as the silver from which they were formed. But God is rich in blessings, and He waits to pour them out upon His children.
Psalm 36:9 For with You is the fountain of life: in Your light shall we see light.
Proverbs 14:27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.
Jeremiah 2:13 For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
Jeremiah 17:13 O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake You shall be ashamed, and they that depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.
Revelation 21:6 And He said unto me, “It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.”
Satan is good at making counterfeits. He made Diana to counterfeit the Lord, the fountain of life. But the fountain Satan made never quenched anyone’s thirst. By contrast, God’s fountain never left anyone unsatisfied.
Genie vs. Friend
Diana is just one of many goddesses and gods that men have fashioned throughout the centuries because they refused to put their trust in the one true and living God. They want a god they can see, handle, control, and command. In short, they want a genie. They want a being who will get them out of scrapes, vanquish their enemies, make life easy for them, and then leave them alone until the next time they are in need or in danger. In other words, they want a god who will serve them.
But that is not God’s way. God is looking for people to serve Him. But it goes far beyond that. God wants a personal, intimate relationship with you and me. He wants to be your Father, Friend, Guide, and Brother. When He created Adam and Eve and set them in the Garden of Eden, He did not give them instructions and then return to heaven to sit and watch. No. He came down every day to walk with them in the garden and fellowship with them. He longs to have the same form of communion with you and me today. He does not come down physically like He did then, but in the Person of the Holy Spirit He communes with us in our hearts. How do I know He is there? I sense His presence when I am still.
Chaos vs. Stillness
As I study the Bible (and modern history), one thing that jumps out at me is the contrast between the behavior of those who worship false gods and those who follow Christ. We already read about the riot that broke out in Ephesus. What did the followers of Christ do? Nothing. God was their defense. They decided to be still let Him be God.
I also recall an incident in the Old Testament with the prophet Elijah. It had not rained for three long years in Samaria. Ahab and Jezebel were in the palace. Rejecting the God of their fathers, they had chosen to worship Baal. Elijah called all the prophets of Baal together and challenged them to see which god would answer by fire. He had them construct an altar, kill a sacrifice, and then implore Baal to rain down fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice. All day long they waited for the fire to come down. The prophets yelled, prayed, cried, begged, cut themselves, and carried on like mad men, but nothing happened. Then toward evening, Elijah too built an altar and laid his sacrifice upon it. Then he dug a trench around it and had his servants pour several large pots of water all over the sacrifice until the water filled the trench. He lifted his hands toward heaven, prayed to the God who hears, and the Lord immediately sent fire that consumed the sacrifice, the water, and the altar. What a contrast! The people praised God, saying, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!”
Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
Let me ask you a question. If you pray for five minutes, how much time do you spend talking to God? Five minutes? Prayer is supposed to be a conversation—a two-way conversation. May I suggest that when you pray, take time to pause and wait for God to talk to you. Don’t do all the talking. You will not hear an audible voice, but in your heart you will know what God is saying to you, if you will only learn to be still. We cannot see God, we cannot touch Him, and we certainly cannot command Him to do what we want. He is not a genie. But to those of us who know Him, He is our Father, Christ is our Brother, and the Holy Spirit is our Guide.
The disciples got to see Him. They lived and worked with the Lord Jesus Christ for three years while He walked this earth as a Man. At the appointed time He died to pay the penalty for our sins, according to the eternal redemptive plan of God. Three days later Christ rose from the dead, victorious over sin, death, and hell. Over the next forty days He showed Himself to the women, to the disciples, and to many others, so that there would be witnesses of His resurrection. Since the beginning of time men have been creating idols, images of gods, because they think they cannot trust what they cannot see. Jesus said,
John 20:29 Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.
Isn’t that wonderful! Jesus Christ blessed you and me because we have trusted in Him whom we have not seen. He is not a lucky rabbit’s foot. He is not a genie we carry around in a bottle. And although He is the source of all our blessings, life can and will still be hard. But that’s okay, because the best is yet to come….
1 Peter 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In which you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold trials: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see Him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
Next week: Gomer
Photo courtesy of estall of Pixabay