Down through history, government and church authorities have ordered the collection of books on their black list and then ordered their burning. For example on May 10, 1933, university students in Germany collected over 25,000 volumes of books labeled “un-German.” Then throughout the country as the bonfires ignited, bands played and orators preached against corrupting foreign influences that sought to pervert the purity of the German geist.
That night they burned the works of American authors like Ernest Hemingway, Jack London, and Helen Keller, German Jewish authors like Franz Werfel, Max Brod, and Stefan Sweig, and even the beloved Jewish poet Heinrich Heine who wrote, “Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people.”
As the truth about Jesus was proclaimed in Ephesus and the superiority of his power was demonstrated over the magic and sorcery that dominated the city, there was a scroll burning, but is this burning the same as the burning executed by the Nazis? Is the scroll burning described by Luke orchestrated by government officials, church officials, or other external forms of coercion? Take a careful look at the book burning in Ephesus.
“Now when this became known (the failure of the sons of Sceva’s exorcism) to the Jews and the Greeks living in Ephesus, reverent fear fell upon all of them and the Name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many of those who had believed now came and openly announced and confessed their deeds of sorcery.
Many of those who had participated in occult practices brought their materials together and burned them before all. When the price of this material was calculated, it was found to be fifty thousand drachmas (a drachma was an average day’s wage). Thus, the Word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
After all these events happened, Paul decided in his spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and then to proceed to Jerusalem, saying, ‘After I’ve been there, I must see Rome.’ He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer.” Acts 19:17-22
This burning was not manipulated or ordered but was the personal expression of those who had believed in Jesus and his superior power. Previously, sorcery, curse formulas, and rituals to use demonic power had enslaved them in fear. Now their reverence for Jesus moved them to declare his superior power and his forgiving grace. This burning was not an attack against free speech or the expression of a hyper-nationalism. It was a declaration of the liberating freedom of Christ’s kingdom grace and love.
LORD, thanks that you transform us from the inside and move us to reject and destroy those things that enslave us to Satan’s murderous influence. Protect us from any syncretism between occult powers and the power of your Son. Help us not to be afraid of totaling depending upon your Son alone for life.
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