Yesterday we saw there was a great band of Gentiles, Greeks, who were tired of the emptiness of their pagan philosophies and responded to the Message of Life in Yeshua and surrendered their lives to him.
There was a tremendous impact on the city because of this conversion of this “great band of Gentiles” including these leading women. If you present the Truth to people—they’ll be set free and will be able to rejoice! That’s God’s way of moving into Thessalonica. He had these prepared hearts ready to listen. The devil struck back immediately. But God permitted it because God always uses the devil for his own purposes. The next section shows us what occurred when Paul and Silas, with their preaching, had reached these people in the city:
“But the Jews became jealous, and gathering together some worthless men from the rabble in the marketplace, they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar. They attacked Jason’s house, trying to find Paul and Silas to bring them out to the assembly. When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, screaming, ‘These people who have stirred up trouble throughout the world have come here too, and Jason has welcomed them as guests! They are all acting against Caesar’s decrees, saying there is another king named Jesus!’They caused confusion among the crowd and the city officials who heard these things. After the city officials had received bail from Jason and the others, they released them” —Acts 17:5-9
Wouldn’t you know it—it happens all the time. Especially in the last days of The Churche’s work on Earth: the tactics of the rabble who are unwilling to accept defeat at the hands of logic and reason, always resort to violence to accomplish their purpose. We see continually on the news today. In Michigan, it was noteworthy that in 2009 Detroit remembered the 40th anniversary of the Detroit riots. Every time a group feels slighted or angry about something, they riot. History in East LA confirms this as well.
We’re told here in the 17th chapter of Acts that the Jews were “jealous.” They were unable to win against the power of the Scriptures and the logic of the apostle, so they revealed the lawlessness in their own hearts by turning, literally, to “the loafers of the marketplace,” young men who were what today we would call hoods or thugs, radicals, who knew how to manipulate a crowd.
It continually happens in our day. The angry-manipulated minds and hearts of men haven’t changed any. Have you ever noticed who starts the most violent clashes we see on the news? Paid protestors. Seriously. This is documented. Paid SEIU and the paid Union members are notorious for instigating violent protests and once they get the “masses” provoked, they step back. That’s what we see here in Acts.
They are quite simply following a classic pattern. They started a disturbance which attracted a crowd. When the crowd gathered around them, they inflamed them with emotional words and propaganda until the crowd was brought to a fever pitch. Then they gave them a victim to attack. In this case, they turned them against Paul and Silas, for no reason whatsoever. This is how easily a crowd can be manipulated. It does whatever its leaders direct. As these men were skilled at this, they were able to incite these people to an unprovoked and groundless attack on these two men who were there preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. They came to lynch them.
But now, notice how God works. His hand was fully in control, and just before the mob arrived he sent Paul and Silas out to Starbucks for a cappuccino or something. They simply weren’t there when the crowd arrived. So the mob had to be satisfied with dragging out Jason, the host, and some of the brethren, and bringing them before the city authorities. The charges against them are very interesting. There’s a germ of truth in them, but, in the way they were intended, they are palpably false. They were charged with two things:
First, with being notorious troublemakers: “These people who have stirred up trouble throughout the world have come here too.” I don’t know whether these authorities had heard about the trouble in Philippi or not. They might have. Or they may simply have recognized Paul and Silas as Jews and, since the Jews were in trouble in Rome at that very time, maybe they identified them with that. But whatever the reason, what they said was true. These were indeed men who had turned the world upside down (what a great testimony! Have you turned your local community upside down, yet?)
But what they didn’t realize was that the world was already upside down. When you turn something upside down which is already upside down, you turn it right side up. (Ooh, good point, don’t you think?). The world was turned upside down at the Fall, and it’s been operating in reverse ever since. That’s why it never works right. In the final analysis everything seems to fall apart. Even the best efforts of men never seem to accomplish the solution of the dilemma. That’s why we’re still struggling with the same problems they wrestled with in the days of Noah, before the flood. Isn’t that amazing? No progress has been made, none whatsoever. Despite all our vaunted technology and abilities, we have made no progress in solving basic human problems—problems in the hearts of men. That’s because the world is upside down.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Book of Acts: