The Multitude Rose Up, Acts 16:22



We learn much about human nature and the reactions of people from reading the Bible.  And we shouldn’t ignore these things when we’re preaching just because they don’t move us to a particular response at the time.  The inspiration of scripture is profitable for instruction in righteousness, as much as it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, and for correction, 2 Tim 3:16.

When you observe people, it’s important to know how they are going to act under certain circumstances.  Why did the multitude rise up in Acts 16:22, for instance?  They had nothing to do with the problem between Paul and the masters of the woman who had the spirit of divination.  However, when you see why the multitude rose up you begin to understand what gets people stirred up.  The multitude rose up because:

Choler is more compelling than cheer.  Acts 16:19-21.  The multitude cheered Jesus’ triumphal entry in Matt 21:8-11.  But their cheers were not enough to make him king.  However, when the multitude angrily cried for Jesus’ crucifixion just days later, they were persuasive enough to have him killed, Matt 27:19-24.  Look at the angry way the multitude handled Paul in Acts 22:22-25.  He came preaching salvation to Israel.  They should have cheered.  We regard him as one of the greatest Christians who ever lived.  And yet they were ready to kill him in anger.

Therefore, you are going to see anger displayed by the multitudes to move people to action.  They won’t cheer the right man.  They will angrily try to take him down.  Anger is what wins over the multitude to action.

Feeling is more convincing than fact.  Acts 19:26-32.  When the multitude ran into the theater, most of them didn’t even know why they were there.  They weren’t there over the facts; they were there over their feelings.  Then when the town clerk showed up, he quieted the crowd and explained to them the legal way to express their grievance, Acts 19: 33-41.  He was talking about facts.  The crowd wasn’t interested in facts and they dispersed.  Nothing more was done.  Paul left town.  The tumult accomplished its intended purpose.

Therefore, people are going to be motivated to action by feeling not by facts.  The facts don’t matter when you are trying to get a multitude to rise up.  They don’t care about the facts.  You’re wasting your time to argue facts.  The multitude is moved by feelings.

Fear is more contagious than faith.  Contrast Num 13:28-14:4 with Num 14:6-10.  Look how the congregation reacted to the fear displayed by the ten spies versus the faith displayed by Joshua and Caleb.  The congregation bade stone them (Joshua and Caleb) with stones.  That’s why, in Deut 20:8, the fearful were to stay home in battle.  Their fear is contagious and causes others to run when they should stand and fight.  Remember how the armies of Israel were stuck in their trenches until David came up and killed Goliath.

Therefore, fear and terror are going to continue to be fed to the multitude to get them stirred up.  That’s why we keep encouraging you to go to your Bible.  Some people that should be in church are staying out of church because they have been moved by fear rather than faith.  Heb 13:7 reminds you to follow the faith of those “who have spoken unto you the word of God.”

Complaint is more crowd-stirring than commendation.  In Num 12:3, 6-8, Moses was as good a man to lead Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness as there was.  He was God’s man.  But the people never commended him.  Instead, they complained.  See Ex 15:24; 16:2-3; 17:2; Num 14:2, for examples.  The crowd really got stirred up when they complained.   But you never heard them get together and commend Moses.

Therefore, you are going to hear a steady stream of complaints against those who are trying to lead our country on a path of correction. When it’s tough sailing, as it always is, you aren’t going to hear the at-a-boys.  That doesn’t get the multitude going like complaints do.

Conclusion: we have gone to the Bible to understand what is going on around us in our world today.  And we now have a better understanding of why the multitude rose up.  The multitude always gets stirred up over complaining, fear mongering, feeling, and anger.  It’s the way people get something done when the legal way or the right way doesn’t support what they’re doing.  There’s more to come.