As reported there has been severe unrest among organized labor in a certain city. Apparently one man has proposed radical changes that are perceived to affect the wellbeing of certain segments of organized labor both in that city and in fact the entire state and nation. Supporters of organized labor have gathered in mass to protest both the man responsible for the proposed changes and the proposed changes themselves. The protesters have really gotten out of hand to the point the safety of the man proposing the changes along with those supporters involved in introducing the changes are at risk.
No, this isn’t about Madison Wisconsin. It’s about a similar situation which serves as an example and purveyor of the events in Madison.
“And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way.” Acts 19:23
The ‘Way’ was the new found movement of Christianity so named because Jesus said He was the Way…
“For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana (Artemis), brought no small profit to the craftsmen. He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: ‘Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people…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.’” Acts 19:24-27
The leader of the organized labor movement stressed that not only was their financial wellbeing under attack, but the very basis of their prosperity was being targeted. That rhetoric really stirred up the crowd.
“Now when they heard this, they were full of wrath and cried out, saying, ‘Great is Diana…!’ So the whole city was filled with confusion, and rushed into the theater with one accord…” Acts 19:28-29
The crowd vehemently protested the proposed changes with great confusion as they rushed into the public meeting place. Then Paul, the one accused of instigating the changes, wanted to address the crowd.
“And when Paul wanted to go into the people…his friends, sent to him pleading that he would not venture into the theater.” Acts 19:30-31
Paul’s friends feared for his safety.
“Some therefore cried one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together.” Acts 19:32
Then a representative from a neutral faction attempted to explain to the crowd that his constituency was not part of, or responsible for, the proposed changes.
“And they drew Alexander out of the multitude…and Alexander motioned with his hand, and wanted to make his defense to the people. But…with one voice (they) cried out for about two hours.” Acts 19:33-34
So Alexander was shouted down for two hours without being given an opportunity to express his position. The crowd was completely out of hand.
Finally a city official stepped in to restore order.
“And when the city clerk had quieted the crowd, he said: ‘Men of Ephesus, what man is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is temple guardian of the great goddess Diana…Therefore, since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rashly.’” Acts 19:35-36
The city official restored order by convincing the crowd that things really wouldn’t change and they would not lose the coveted niche that provided for their prosperity as they had feared. He further suggested they settle down and be civilized. Then he continued his plea for order by justifying the accused.
“For you have brought these men here who are neither robbers…nor blasphemers of our goddess. Therefore, if Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a case against anyone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. Let them bring charges against one another.” Acts 19:37-38
The crowd was reminded there really was nothing illegal about the proposed changes; furthermore, if organized labor had a problem the judicial system was in place to address any such grievances. The city spokesman then reminded the crowd they may face more serious problems.
“But if you have any other inquiry to make, it shall be determined in the lawful assembly. For we are in danger of being called in question for today’s uproar, there being no reason which we may give to account for this disorderly gathering.” Acts 19:39-40
“And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly.” Acts 19:41
This brings to mind the words of the wisest man in the world, i.e.
“That which has been is what will be…and there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9