Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Craft (as in handcraft) (02/08/07)
TITLE: The Silversmith's Apprentice
By joe hodson
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A dirty fog hung in the sky from the dust kicked up by the hot day and the clamoring of the craftsmen gathered in the city. Violence grew as the fierce crowd waited to hear what was to be done about this rising cult – the Way. They were a growing threat in the Greek world, and some places were calling them “Christians”.
A fight broke out between two men over an unsettled debt. The crowd pushed back and made a makeshift arena. Then, just as quickly as it had formed, it filled back in hiding from view the loser of the fight, who lay motionless on the ground.
Then, the crowd died down as they watched the silversmith lift himself up onto the platform to speak. His hands looked hard as rocks, and locked inside one of them was a hammer well-known to most everybody in Ephesus. It had fashioned the most venerable, the most esteemed shrines of Artemis, which were considered highly acceptable by the goddess herself.
“Quiet!” shouted a voice from the crowd, “Demetrius is about to speak!”
Demetrius paced in agitation, as though driven by another spirit. He spit in the dirt, and with some of it still glistening in his beard, addressed the craftsmen with a loud voice:
“Men, you know we receive a good income from this business. And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all. There is a danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty (Acts 19:25-27).”
At this, a wave of hostility rolled backwards from those standing nearest Demetrius, crashing into an angry sea of fists shaking hammers, butcher knives, and other metal tools in the air. It surged and swayed as others in the crowd spoke up.
A temple butcher with blood on his apron cried out, “In the last three months, meat sales have declined. This blasphemous cult protests meat sacrificed to gods!”
Then, a man no one had seen before appeared among the crowd. His face was ugly, and his eyebrows stuck up like tiny pitchforks. Hate and murder buzzed above him like flies over some decaying thing.
The ugly man moved about unnoticed, but some saw him and watched how effortlessly he weaved through the bodies. No one bumped into him. Nothing obstructed his movement.
To some who were undecided about the message Demetrius spoke, he said, “They are savages! They eat human flesh and drink blood! They are slothful and wicked, refusing to work the first day of every week!” His words almost hissed as they passed through his stained and broken teeth. “What nonsense! Claiming God is invisible while also insisting God is a man who died and came back to life!”
“Our great goddess will judge them harshly!” shouted a man toward the back.
Sounds of agreement rose up for letting fate run its course. “Artemis is a mighty goddess, and will strike them. Let Artemis be their judge!” some said.
But the ugly man said to these men, “Won’t we be the ones who are judged? Our businesses will crash, and our families will be put out into the streets! Paul and his cult will rise to power, crushing the good people of Ephesus with their deception and false, invisible God! Our courts have failed to respond to their blatant crimes! So, let’s cut these men to pieces before they destroy us!”
The ugly man continued to work the thoughts of the craftsmen, one by one, using words to either fuel or quench their opinions as he saw fit, until soon the crowd was of one maddening mind.
After this, the tumultuous sea began again to surge and sway, making it impossible to stay in one spot. It broke its borders, spilling out into the streets, rushing after an indescribable fury.
Left behind by the crowd, unnoticed, was the ugly man. The demon grinned as he admired his workmanship. Wait ‘til Satan hears about this!
A fictitious account of the assembly addressed by Demetrius the silversmith in Acts 19.
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