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the importance of Jersey’s reputation

About that time [Ephesus AD 55] there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Acts 19: 23-28

For many decades now Jersey has been jealously guarding its reputation. Going back some years the Jersey Senator who was then responsible for Jersey’s financial services industry became concerned about the use of the word “reputation”. His concern was that a reputation can be for good – or for bad. He was troubled that constant mention of Jersey’s reputation might be counterproductive….

Take a look then at the incident in bold above recorded by a doctor named Luke in the book which he wrote to record accurately what happened to the followers of Jesus Christ immediately after Jesus’ death and resurrection. The book is known as “The Acts of the Apostles” – the word apostle means “sent-out-one” – and it contains many such interesting eye-witness events.

Ephesus in AD 55 was a thriving city. It boasted the temple of Artemis – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. At the time of the incident above Claudius the Roman Emperor had just rebuilt the theatre there, accommodating 20,000 people. Its impressive ruins remain today. (Ephesus came to an end when its harbor silted up – its ruins are now 30 miles inland.)
‘Whatever our trust is most in, that is our god.’ (Richard Sibbes, theologian, 1577-1635)

This incident is of interest because it concerns the reputation of Ephesus and of Artemis, the female God whose huge temple had been rebuilt in the fourth century BC. That temple surroundings were central to the life of Ephesus and at one time it acted rather like a bank for its citizens.

However, as can been seen from Luke’s record, Demetrius, a silversmith, became deeply concerned – or so he said - that the reputation of the city might suffer from the preaching of the apostle Paul who taught that the only true God was the Father of Jesus Christ who, within the past 25 years had been crucified and had risen from the grave to an endless life.

Jesus Christ alone disclosed the only living God. All other Gods were dead things which had no life.

But did you pick up the reason for Demetrius’ concern? It was that “in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods”.

What do you think? Is it true that “gods made with hands are not gods”? How amazing to us in the here and now that anyone could think that if someone makes a God using a piece of a tree (or whatever) that carved thing can be God.

Demetrius disclosed an underlying fact which may have motivated him. He said, “Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth.”
‘Ultimately, all idolatry amounts to worship by the idolater of himself.’ (R B Kuiper, pastor, 1886-1966)

Yes, the reputation of Ephesus and of Artemis was very important because of the wealth factor.  If Demetrius and his fellow workers in that industry had thought more they would have realized that “gods made with hands are not gods”. And they might have realized (perhaps) that Artemis, if she was truly the living God and had such enormous power, would have despised those who worshipped her merely to get wealth out of her.

No sooner had Demetrius articulated his concerns than all those engaged in this successful industry began to shout. Not only that but they started a huge rebellion in the 20,000 seat theatre. When the authorities tried to calm them down they shouted for two hours with one voice, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

Paul could do no more. But others stayed in Ephesus and continued to speak of Jesus and the Resurrection and of the living God.
Richard Syvret

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