Summary: In this sermon and text we look to the past, present, and future to interpret the meaning of the confrontation between Artemis of the Ephesians and the Gospel.
NOTE: POWER POINT PICTURES WERE USED IN THIS SERMON WHICH GREATLY ENHANCES THE EXPERIENCE OF THE SERMON ITSELF. I USED MANY PICTURES FROM WHAT IS LEFT OF EPHESUS AND ARTEMIS’ TEMPLE TO HIGHLIGHT THE ’GHOST TOWN’ CONCEPT. I FOUND MOST OF THESE ON-LINE, BUT IF YOU NEED THE ONES I USED CONTACT ME.
Introduction: Hearing voices of the past.
1. Listen carefully to the past when you visit a ghost town.
During the gold rush and western migration, boom towns popped up everywhere along the routes to California and other western destinations. These towns buzzed with excitement and anticipation of great things to come. Today, many of them are ghost towns, completely abandoned…now a historical curiosity. Have you ever visited one of these towns? You stand in the middle of an old dusty dirt road between old closed up stores and bars and listen carefully. If you listen through the silence, you can almost hear voices and activity all around you. You can hear the sounds of life in the 19th century. Horses and carriages, people discussing a price for clothing or food. Laughter of small children who are just excited to be there. These sounds fill our imagination of what used to be and causes us to wonder what happened.
2. Ephesus, the biblical ghost town.
Today, we are going to travel to a ghost town called Ephesus. When we get there we can see nothing but a muddy marsh and a few abandoned ancient dwellings. We do see one pillar sticking up from the marsh marking the site of one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the temple of the goddess, Artemis. It is hard to imagine that this ruin in the marsh of modern day Turkey was once a booming city of over 200,000, and the center of imperial worship and the worship of the great goddess Artemis. It was an important seaport. It was a financial, cultural, and religious phenomenon of the ancient Roman Empire. (Time machine) With the help of the biblical writer, Luke, we return to that city when it was at its peak.
Move 1: The Ephesian skyline and Demetrius (23-27)
1. What Paul saw when he entered Ephesus.
As we travel with Paul into ancient Ephesus we see an impressive skyline. In America, we usually see the skyline dominated with financial institutions and huge corporate buildings. But when we enter Ephesus we see a skyline that is populated with religious temples and temples built for the imperial cult. As we walk down the main thoroughfare we see statues of the emperors. We also can see beautiful fountains. But it is not a religious city alone. We see the huge agora, full of people shopping in the ancient mall. But nothing dominates the skyline more than the gigantic temple of Artemis. It is the first structure ever constructed of all marble. It rises 60 feet in the air, but as we come close we see its dimensions are in its sheer mass. It is 425 feet long and 225 feet wide. It is supported by 127 columns. One look at this temple and we know this is what defines Ephesus.
2. Demetrius rallies the troops.