Traveling in Bible Lands
Rising up proudly from an ancient harbor now silted in from centuries of disuse, an open amphitheater faces the Aegea Sea, waiting no longer for Greek and Roman ships but for air-conditioned buses carrying loads of tourists.‑‑The amphitheater is the largest structure in the restored city of Ephesus located in the modern country of Turkey. For almost two thousand years it fell into disuse and decay, covered by soil and overgrown by weeds, a haunt of scorpions and a pasture for grazing sheep. Several decades of research by archeologists have brought to light some of the best Greek and Roman ruins anywhere in the Mediterranean and have once again supported a belief that Christians have long held to be true:‑the Bible really is historically accurate.‑
‑The New Testament Book of Acts speaks extensively about Ephesus.‑At one time it was the largest city in the world, a commercial, intellectual, and cultural center of ancient civilization.‑Its importance quickly drew the attention of the early Christian evangelists, the foremost of whom was the Apostle Paul.‑But their efforts to proclaim the message of salvation in Jesus Christ did not come without intense resistance when it challenged the celebrated goddess Artemis of Ephesus.‑
‑This summer my family gazed at the huge stone amphitheater on the hillside as we drove our 1985 Volkswagen van down the road that follows the now long-gone sea approach to Ephesus. We walked about the stairs and stood on the platform in the same spot Paul must have stood when the crowds loudly protested him.‑We also drove a couple of miles away to what little is left of the once splendid Temple of Artemis.‑All we found there were a few foundation stones mostly submerged by a marsh and a single column supporting a large stork sitting on her massive nest.‑It provided an unforgettable contrast.‑Acts chapter 19 says that city people shouted for hours, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians.”‑Obviously they didn’t shout loud or long enough.‑The temple ruins not only testify to the triumph of a greater power but to the fact that it all really happened in a historical place and time.
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