19:23 And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen. 25 He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: “Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. 26 Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. 27 So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.”
The "Great goddess Diana" was a mythical goddess combining the attributes of Ashtoreth and Artemis. She was the goddess of nature, especially the woodlands. She was the virgin matron of childbirth and mothers. She was claimed to be especially fond of deer and oak trees. When you say or hear "mother nature" referenced you are referring to Diana. Scattered through the Old Testament you will find references to idol worship under oak trees. Even the famous Psalm of David "As the deer panteth for water, so my soul longeth after Thee..." is a contrast between false worship and David's longing for the true and living God. It also contrasts the material nature of pagan worship with the relationship foundation of true worship. The deer longs for the water that "Diana (Ashtoreth provides" but David longs for God Himself.
Religion seeks a kingdom. Love seeks the King.
So into this well established and widely believed mythology steps Paul. He speaks of a living God who sent His Son to die for us. He spoke of a God who made the sacrifice rather than demanding sacrifices. He spoke of an entirely different relationship between God and humanity. His teaching combined with the undeniable miracles that thwarted and superceded the dark magic of Ephesus grabbed the attention and the hearts of many.
Then came trouble. Whenever you trace trouble you usually find $$$ at the root and this case was no exception. When people became followers of Jesus and realized idolatry was a man made scam they didn't need or want idols any more. This created an economic problem for the silversmiths and craftsmen who made the idols. The revolt was on and once again Paul and faith in Christ were public enemy number one.
The lesson for us? We live in a world where the value system is opposed to faith in Christ and the more closely we follow Him the more resistance we will face. It may cost us a job, friendships, family, etc... It may turn our entire world upside down. Myths come and go, jobs come and go, even people we care about come and go but Jesus remains. We'll explore the rest of this story tomorrow.