So in my last post about Psalm 136 I mentioned that it also made me think about another strange passage. This passage is also about repetition – but this time it is some serious STRANGE stuff (like all the “s” alliteration??) going down.
We find our intriguing little story in Acts 19:23-41 – to give a little background, Paul had come to Ephesus and was preaching about Jesus and was leading people to a saving knowledge & faith in Jesus. He was immersing people and the movement that they called the “WAY” was growing. A silversmith named Demetrius wasn’t down with this cause he and his buddies made TONS of money off people who worshipped the goddess Artemis because people would buy silver images of this likeness of the goddess to worship. As you can imagine, with Paul’s success in teaching people about Jesus it was going to cut into the business of Demetrius and his cronies.
So all of this tension came to a head in this passage in Acts 19 and led to a CRAZY CONFRONTATION. Basically what went down was that these guys whipped the city into an uproar and got the people chanting “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” over & over & over. The mob madness broke out and they grabbed some of Paul’s traveling companions and took them to a place to sort of “put them on trial”. When one of the men tried to calm the crowd and bring some civilization to the scene the people realized that he was a Jew and went crazy again.
Here is where it goes to a whole other level of insane – check these words out from verse 34:34But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”
DID YOU CATCH THAT? They shouted IN UNISON FOR ABOUT 2 HOURS!!! Man talk about perseverance – just stop for a minute and think about that. It can be easy to read it and just gloss over it – 2 HOURS – do you REALIZE how long that is? Think about most movies today are around 2 hours – think about while trying to watch a movie at a theatre some group of people stand and chant “GREAT IS ARTEMIS OF THE EPHESIANS!” for the ENTIRE MOVIE!
Think of it like this – have you ever seen some awards show or a celebration of someone’s life or accomplishments and the crowd gives a standing ovation – when we think “whoa that was long” – what has it been like 1 minute, 3 minutes – in fact to give you some perspective – the longest standing ovation in Oscars history was when Charlie Chaplain received an award and the people stood and cheered for 2.5 minutes or so – then there was President Clinton at the DNC when the people stood and cheered for about 2 minutes. I dug a little further and found the following info about the longest ovation dealing with the Opera – Placido Domingo holds the world record for the longest ovation ever on the operatic stage: 101 curtain calls and 80 minutes of applause, in Vienna, after singing Otello on June 30, 1991.
I mean COME ON – 80 minutes of applause? Sitting and listening to 2 minutes is crazy enough – almost becomes awkward – but imagine 2 WHOLE HOURS of chanting the same thing OVER & OVER & OVER – that is just plain madness.
But what if we were that same MAD about God’s power, love, and the impact He has on our lives? What if we were willing to shout about God’s love for 2 solid hours? Now I’m not suggesting we attempt to be some kind of nutcases, cause that is CERTAINLY how I would describe the scene there in Epehesus in Acts 19. But what if we were so MADLY passionate and in love with God and who HE is and what HE has promised us that we might be willing to shout HIS praises for lengthy periods of time. Maybe that whole REPETITION deal in Psalm 136 wouldn’t seem quite so strange anymore????
I don’t know about you, but I wish maybe we could find a little of that same passion and maybe others might begin to think “Okay just stop already – I GET IT – God LOVES ME & HIS MERCY ENDURES FOREVER!”