Deprived of Majesty
Acts 19:27 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 will be scorned, and she will be deprived of her majesty that brought all Asia and the world to worship her.”
The goddess of Ephesus was Artemis and her temple was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. People came from all over the world to see the temple and to worship her. Now, the Apostle Paul was preaching that people should not worship gods made with human hands, but they were to worship Jesus — the living God. The artists who made money by selling Artemis trinkets were furious because Paul was disrupting their business. The silversmith Demetrius was leading an uprising against Paul. He was probably mostly concerned with his own profits, but he argued that Paul’s work was causing the majesty of Artemis to be called into question.
The problem with Demetrius’ argument is that the true God can never be deprived of majesty because of the attitude of a bunch of humans! Majesty is a state or a condition of God himself and not something bestowed upon him by us. And that was the rub with Artemis. She had no majesty except that which was given to her by the people. If the people refused to make her into a god, she would cease to be a god. On the other hand, God, whether we worship him or not, will always continue to be God.
For those who choose to ignore God, or fail to recognize his existence they will not change the condition of God. However, they will cause harm to their own lives. Unfortunately most humans will give majestic space to something in their lives and this, for them, will be their god.
These days we don’t worship trinkets like Artemis, or do we? Is it important for us to have the latest computer gadget, smart phone, or Coach purse? Have we somehow ascribed “majesty” to some of our things because we value them too much? We may look at the Ephesians and think that it’s crazy that they loved their Artemis so much and yet, what do we really love? Have we turned some of the things of our lives into trinkets to whom we have ascribed majesty?
Maybe we have forgotten what true majesty is about because we fail to worship God in all his majesty. The root of the word majesty is “greatness.” Our God, the one we worship, he is great. He is not great because we think he is great — he simply is! Artemis was “majestic” because of the way in which the people worshiped her. Think about our worship experiences — if they were the things that made God great well….I’m glad God isn’t dependent upon us. The sad truth is that too often we think that worship is about us and we want the way in which we worship to make us happy. Who is getting the majesty in that scenario? Maybe it’s about us?
What would happen if we were willing to deprive ourselves of all majesty and instead, worship the one who is truly majestic! God is great and worthy of all our praise and worship. When Paul helped the people of Ephesus turn their eyes away from the powerless goddess whom they were worshiping and fix their eyes on Jesus, they began to understand what real majesty was. They lost nothing but gained everything. We are invited into that same encounter. Deprive the things of this world of their majesty and worship the only one who is majestic. Anything less is simply folly.
Lord, I worship you today. Amen.