Bible Stories

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of Turkey  , İzmir,
Monday, December 7, 2009

To wander through a place that held such significance in the past, and has references in the Bible.  What a strange feeling to be in this kind of place.  To walk along the same streets that some of the apostles walked.  To read through the book of Acts and know that many of the instances mentioned happened in this place.

Beyond the historical significance, it was interesting to see that this was a real place that real people lived and carried out their daily lives.  Even though thousands of year have gone by, parts of this great city are still here to look at today, and are not just piles of rubble.  I found more intimate evidence of life as well.  Bits of pipe from sewage systems poke through the earth.  Wheel ruts from wagons have left deep ruts in the road.  Carvings of games are etched in the marble road.  \Remnants of streets paved with mosaics.  Such remarkable evidence of life and lives lived. Even some of the building facades have been re-created to give a better idea of scale.

All of this makes what I’ve read in the bible a little more real to me.  I always knew it was real .  This is history after all.  But head knowledge and heart knowledge are different from being able to see and touch things.  Now on this trip so far, we’ve been to many famous places where historical figures have been.  But this one is a little more personal to me. 

In just a few days, I’ve been surrounded by encounters of Biblical references I wasn’t expecting:  Hierapolis is to be the place the apostle Philip was crucified, Selcuk is to be the place the apostle John lived and was buried, and outside Efes is to be where Mary lived and died.  These accounts cannot be based on fact, but are the tradition that has been passed down over the years. 

There are a few instances that can be referenced with the Bible though:  Paul’s preaching against the temple of Artemis, and the riot at the great theater that followed - Acts 19. 

Paul had been preaching in the area for some time trying to get people to turn from the worship of idols and look to God.  Specifically worshiped in this area was the goddess Artemis (Greek) or Diana.  A very large temple was erected for her - one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.  All with Diana's larger-than-life statue was standing right in the middle. 

[Now I saw this statue in the Ephesus Museum and my first reaction was to run from this lady rather than worship her.  I mean, how many boobies does one girl need?  Even so, the Ephesians seemed to love her very much, but some people were listening to Paul and turning away.]

This change of heart had some back-lash throughout the community.  The silversmiths, led by Demetres, got really riled up about this.  Their principle job was to make silver statues of Diana.  If people stopped worshiping her, they would have no need for Diana key chains, Diana lamp stands, or Diana hood ornaments anymore, and the silversmiths would be out of business!  So they stole away 2 of Paul’s helpers and rushed to the assembly theater (located in the city of Ephesus).  I can just imagine the great theater filled with angry men and the poor city clerk trying to shout over the noise and speak rational sense to the mob. 

What a ‘trip’ indeed to walk through these places.  Most interesting to me was being able to see these ancient statues of Diana and going to see the remains of the temple.  What was so grand, is no more.  This ancient wonder of the world, 127 columns in total - grander than anything at the Acropolis in Athens - is gone!  What the people of the city were so confident in and fought so hard for does not exist.  Destroyed several times by earthquake and fire, rebuilt countless times, but finally looted for spare parts.  Only a few bits and pieces of stone remain now. 

And what of the great goddess herself and all the commissions the silversmiths were concerned about?   Only 2 partial marble statues remain - nothing silver has been excavated. 

It’s amazing to think that something so important, so fixed in people’s minds, so irrefutable of the day can be gone so easily.

Makes me begin to wonder about what man-made things in my life hold esteem like that.  What pillars do I lean on?  What ideas do I hold on to?  What statues are stand solidified in my life?  Are they of this world like the columns and statues of old?  Perhaps it’s better to look to beyond such things, to something that will last. 

For the things of this world are transient and will all pass away…
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