Acts 19:11-21:4

How to Worship Idols

In Acts 19 we read that God was doing extraordinary miracles through Paul in Ephesus and people were putting their faith in God and destroying the things they formerly believed in. This caused great concern among those who made idols and shrines for the goddess Artemis. Starting with verse 23, on through verse 36, we read what the people believed regarding this Idol.

First, they believed that the idol could be made by man, and since it was made by man, it was up to man to protect his idol. Since the idol needed protection it was important that they acted to protect the name of the idol in order to keep people believing in it. They also believed that their idol was worshiped all over the world. However, they were afraid that their idol could be robbed of its majesty and its temple discredited.   

In the case of the idol Artemis, they believed she fell from Heaven and landed in Ephesus; therefore, she needed a guardian, for which they were happy to oblige.  After all, idol worship was providing them a great income. Of course money was the real idol they worshiped. Jesus said we can’t serve two masters in Matthew 6:24.  He said that we cannot serve God and money. If we set our eyes and hope on money, we will find that money will rule us and our decision making just as it ruled those in Ephesus.

We may not worship idols like Artemis today, but we certainly worship silver, gold, and paper money. In this example, the worship of money was just one of two idols that were worshiped there in Ephesus, and they could not be separated. As I said, we may not worship idols like Artemis today, but there are many man made idols that are worshiped today in our culture. The characteristics listed above will always be evident when a man made idol is worshiped. In most cases the worship of money will be a motivating factor in the protection of the idol as well, but not always. Fear of loss is another motivating factor. 

When I was in business school we were taught to make our business decisions, including legal ones, based on money. For instance, if we were being sued we were advised to settle out of court if we didn’t have a 60% or greater chance of winning regardless of right or wrong. Money was the deciding factor regarding justice.

I don’t know if it is just me, but it seems like people are thinking they need a six figure income and a seven figure retirement if they are going to be happy and secure. The idol worshiped here along with money is security. And again, the means to security is man-made and man defined. Idols are usually made in the image of man. The foolishness of man-made idols is clearly described in Isaiah 44:9-20 and 46:5-7. From these passages we can see that when man makes an idol and worships it, he is clearly overlooking the obvious.

As the people in Ephesus put their faith in God they were doing away with the idols they had worshiped and began to seek God. Jesus told us in Matthew 6 to seek God first and His righteousness and all the things we worry and fret about will be taken care of. Jesus promises hope and we are to respond by faith and worship of Him.

If Jesus is in your heart, what is in your wallet is not going to matter as much.

Pastor Dave