The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Acts 19:13-20 tells of a serious conflict in Ephesus. Some people, apparently seeing the success of Paul’s ministry, decided to cash in on it. They would try to heal people or cast out demons. Sadly, their credentials were not genuine. This came to head when several people, sons of a Jewish high priest, tried to cast out a demon. The demons showed what they were made of. They knew Jesus. They knew Paul. They neither knew nor respected the sons of Sceva. Those poor men were attacked and humiliated.
Some Christians will try to look for spiritual encounters which show God’s power against sin and the Satan. We seem to glorify this picture of a person wrestling in the power of the Holy Spirit and prevailing - just barely. It’s the stuff of movies. Lots of screaming, shaking, people glowing or flying, maybe throw in a few explosions and some disembodied cackling laughter and you could sell a lot of tickets. Those theatrical events, and we do occasionally read of such things in real life at various times and places, are not the norm for the Bible. By God’s Word the demons have to leave the person who believes on Jesus. There’s no question about it. They know Jesus. If he says to be gone, they must leave. This is why the proclamation of God’s Word is so very powerful. It is essential in the Christian life.
What kind of a difference is made in the people of Ephesus when they realize God’s Word? This passage is often used in a negative way by those who would misunderstand it. People who had books and materials they now considered idolatrous brought them and burned them. They didn’t want to have their lives characterized or dominated by messages that brought glory to anyone other than God. What do you do with the amulet promising protection, but promising it by use of an evil spirit? You can’t give it to someone else, that would be foolish. You don’t want to keep it and endorse that evil spirit. So you destroy it. The same with your books of magic, of Greek oracles, of comments on how the appearance of the inside of animals will predict the future, all the rest. Christians did not confiscate books from people to burn them. Not at all. They brought things which they thought were destructive and voluntarily destroyed them. After all, they would never want to pass those things on to others. The people of Ephesus showed a love for their neighbor which was rooted in a love of God as revealed in Scripture. They knew Jesus. He changed their lives.
If this brief meditation was helpful to you, I hope you will check out the other materials on our website at www.WittenbergCoMo.com and consider supporting us.